Missions Misunderstood » Blog Archive » One Punk, Under God, On TV

Posted December 19th, 2006 by E. Goodman

A couple of weeks ago, I itunsed the first episode of “One Punk, Under God,” a six-part documentary on the life of Jay Bakker (Jim and Tammy Faye’s son). It basically tells the story of his unique childhood (growing up in a Christian theme park?) and his life now, as the pastor of Revolution, a church he started in an Atlanta bar. Whether you’re a fan of Jay’s or not, the series is something that’s been needed for a long time. Specifically, it’s a creatively-made look into the life of a real person who is struggling to make sense of his faith.

For some reason, any time an evangelical gets in front of a television camera, he/she feels the need to preach a sermon (or a political speech, but that’s another post). The problem is that television evangelists have been around for a long time. Their crazy theology, bad hair, and pleas for money have inoculated the world against any bit of truth that they might present. Most end up on the Tonight Show punch line end of a scandal. All that telling and so little showing has left people with spiritually debilitating assumptions about the gospel and it’s relevance to real life. Now, here comes Jay Bakker, who is honest about the messy side of his life in Christ, and millions of people (many for the first time in their lives) see someone who calls himself a Christian but doesn’t presume to have all of the answers.

Again, my point here is not Bakker’s show. There’s been lots of talk in the blogosphere about his theology, and some are concerned that he’s not a good representative of the faith. I say we need to present more “real live” Christians (good examples or not) and fewer talking heads on the “O’Reilly Factor.” To me, this is the incarnation that’s been lacking for some time now.

So why don’t we see more documentaries like this one, or like Morgan Spurlock’s “30 Days” series, done by believers? It’s not like we don’t have the equipment- how many of our churches have crack A/V teams?

This summer, we’re bringing in a team of media students to do just this sort of thing. I’ve got some really creative, interesting, and articulate team members who will be the subject of this short series we’re going to do. I don’t want them to preach, and we’ll edit out any prepared remarks. We’re looking for authentic Christianity as it’s lived out in real life. The goods and the bads, the highs and the lows.

I think that’s what’s been missing from our “witness.”

Filed under:Art, Culture, Evangelism