In the past few years, there has been a tidal wave of Hollywood movies based on biblical topics and featuring overtly evangelistic stories. These include “Risen,” “The Young Messiah” and “Apostle Paul,” as well as “Miracles From Heaven,” “Unbroken” and “Heaven Is for Real.”
There are also more independent movies with faith and values, such as “God’s Not Dead” and “War Room,” that are racking up significant numbers.
This increased move toward faith and values (and even toward moral principles in blockbusters like “The Jungle Book,” “Furious 7” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”) isn’t just the result of one or two successful movies. Nor is it the result of more evangelical filmmakers in Hollywood. It’s the result of 20 years of promoting the Annual MovieGuide Report to the Entertainment Industry, which shows how to make more money at the box office.
The work of the filmmaker can be enhanced by faith and moral business practices in varied ways.
Thus, you don’t have to make a biblical epic to make a successful movie with faith and values. You can insert a positive character with faith and values into your story. Or, you can insert positive references to biblical places, biblical characters and biblical principles, such as “Love thy neighbor,” into your story. Or, you can insert some Christian biblical metaphors into the movie, such as symbolic representations of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Numerous successful movies of the distant and recent past have done this, from popular classics like “Drums Along the Mohawk,” starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert, and “San Francisco,” starring Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald, during the golden age of Hollywood, to modern blockbusters, like “Frozen” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Naturally, the Bible has some important things to say about work.
For example, God tells the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 65:22 that those who work diligently for the Lord, and for the benefit of others, will “enjoy the work of their hands.” Proverbs 10:4 also says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” This verse is similar to what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Paul adds in Colossians 3:23, however, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
In the last 20 years or so since MovieGuide began reporting to Hollywood decision-makers its findings in the Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry, the number of movies with strong faith and values has increased 470 percent.
Also, the financial success of such movies has grown exponentially, from only a couple of hundred million dollars overall to significantly more than $5 billion or $7 billion annually. And that doesn’t include all the money that movies with strong morally and spiritually uplifting content make overseas and on home video.
Success isn’t measured just in percentages, dollars and cents, however.
Numerous filmmakers have told us personally how taking our advice and turning from making movies without faith and values to making movies with faith and values has brought meaning, purpose, dignity and many blessings to their own lives and the lives of their families.
Thus, even the work of making entertaining movies for a mass audience can be a great benefit, not only with regard to financial prosperity but also to one’s personal growth and fulfillment — especially when you apply biblical principles of faith and values to your endeavors.
MovieGuide’s own work of honoring the people behind family-friendly movies with strong faith and values has itself prospered, as the above statistics clearly suggest.
God has mightily blessed MovieGuide’s work, but we couldn’t have done it without the faithful support and prayers of our many friends and allies. So, we pray that God will continue to bless this work of our hands, and the work of the filmmakers and friends who have responded so positively to our appeals to honor God and redeem the entertainment industry by applying faith and values.
Adhering to moral business practices and Christian, biblical principles of faith and values is extremely rewarding work. No doubt about it.
For more about our Report to the Entertainment Industry and about our advocacy work in Hollywood, visit MovieGuide.org.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about the value of work in Hugh Whelchel’s seminal book, How Then Should We Work: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work, now available on Audible!
This article originally appeared in “Faith at Work: Individual Purpose, Flourishing Communities,” a special report released by IFWE and the Washington Times. Reprinted with permission.