What Can a Campus Pastor Learn From Dallas Jenkins
A great deal. Dallas Jenkins, creator, producer, writer and director of the international hit series The Chosen, understands the art of formulating and keeping audience engagement, which is a skill each campus pastor must also learn and cultivate.
For Jenkins’ job as director of The Chosen, he shares this. See if it resonates with the daily demands of being a campus leader: “The director on any project is the final storyteller. I want to make viewers react.”
In telling a story, just as a campus pastor must do before a live room in a worship space and perhaps in video messaging too, Jenkins wants viewers of The Chosen to identify with what they’re seeing. To be drawn in and invested in the content.
“Like with any Chosen scene, it’s not just about the miracle,” Jenkins states. “We want [viewers] to identify with the stakes, with Jesus. So many Bible stories go from miracle to miracle, but you need to be showing the personality [of the characters].”
Jenkins adds (speaking of TV shows like The Chosen, vs. film, and yet his message can easily apply to campus pastors up on the worship platform and bringing the stories of the Bible to life for an audience), “You can develop the backstory of the character, and provide all the spiritual and emotional context. People fall in love with the characters and their journey from season to season [of the series], and it becomes their journey.”
Another top skill Jenkins possesses as a TV and film director is the ability to delegate, giving other players on his team a chance to add in their unique talents—ones Jenkins says are oftentimes superior to his own.
“A director is there to influence how the story is told,” Jenkins notes, for example. “All the other parts, people on my team can do better than me. I’m a good writer, but not as good as my writer. And I’m a good cinematographer, but not as good as my cinematographer.”
Still another reality the director faces daily during the production of The Chosen—one that any campus pastor can relate to—is how to flourish under tight budget constraints.
“Don’t try to do more than you can afford,” Jenkins notes. “But you can make an impact. Don’t try to do a poor man’s version of something bigger and better.”
Instead, work with what you have at your disposal—and make it the best it can be.
“I’ve done no-budget testimonial videos for my church that had a huge impact,” Jenkins says of his early days, pre-Chosen, as a church film team member with an early vision of The Chosen series brewing in his mind. His key storytelling approach at this time was the same as it is today, essentially.
As Jenkins states, “I was … before God stepped in. But God did this to change me. And now here I am.” And he adds, “It’s all about storytelling.”
Partnership in telling the message is another thing Jenkins understands about the modern church with many satellites–and the unified mission of them all.
“I love the church. We’re in a partnership,” he says. “The show The Chosen helps people know and love Jesus more. What [churches] are doing is enhancing the Gospel message. We’re helping each other do this mission.”
As for the ultimate takeaway and impact on viewers, Jenkins knows that still another Director has that part under control. “I put all that in God’s hands,” as he puts it.
Images courtesy of The Chosen. Check out the series