Your spin and the twist it creates

Cameron MitchellAnyone else intrigued by this story?

Cameron Mitchell, a 20-year old Christian and competitor on the Glee Project show, was increasingly challenged by the directors and producers to use sexuality as a tool. After a few episodes where things got heated, he squares off on his faith with Glee megamind Ryan Murphy.

You likely have one of two reactions to something like this:

  • Cameron made the right choice and protected his faith.
  • Cameron made the wrong choice and blew an opportunity to share his faith.

Either way, Glee creator Ryan Murphy saw something rarely seen in this world – consistent Christianity. Hopefully that in itself is enough of a seed that if/when he does write a “Christian” character he uses a 3-dimensional template versus a 2-dimensional one.

The real question underneath the question, however, is why you feel as you do and how your spin influences how you lead your student ministry.

For example, would you say that if you agree with his decision you’re more of a “discipleship” person, and if you think he made the wrong call you’re more of an overt “evangelist?” Likewise, how much of that impacts how you lead students in similar choices? For example:

  • A discipleship-oriented youth worker: “You should quit your extracurricular if it keeps you from church”
  • An evangelism-oriented youth worker: “You shouldn’t worry about coming to church if it means you can be a witness to others in your extracurricular.”

Which of these statements more closely resembles your approach? We’d obviously like to say “BOTH!” – but honestly, how does your spin create a twist in your ministry? (And along the way, are you suffocating the discipleship or evangelism bent in students that isn’t yours?)

Posted on August 17, 2011

  • I love this. I think we definitely need more of this. Do I wish he would have stuck it out to see what kind of a role they would have written for him? Absolutely. But the thing I love about it is that he stuck to his convictions of his faith and didn't compromise them.

    So am I a 'discipleship' guy or an 'evangelism' guy? I'm an evangelism guy. But at the end of the day I'm a "stick to your convictions" guy as well. I don't think evangelism or discipleship plays a role in how we see this story. It should be more about where our convictions are not where our personal ministry style lies.

  • adamwormann

    I think that this may also beg the question, what if the direction you swing toward is different from the church culture.

    My guess is that the culture at most churches, even if unsaid, is discipleship. Really, most churches want programs, and hence our current (typical) culture of youth ministry. If you're an evangelism guy, and say "don't come to our program, go be Jesus at the baseball field," does that really fly?

  • David

    i am more of the discipleship, but encourage others to be the overt evangelist. There is a guy at my church who teaches an adult sunday school class then heads off to the juvenile detention center to have a small worship service for the kids who want to attend. He returns anywhere from half way trhough the sermon to the closing. however I would caution those who feel their morals or convictions are being comprimised. by taking a stand and leaving he and others do share their faith.

  • This might seem unnecessarily argumentative, but thats not my intention I promise…
    I have a couple of problems with some of the statements in this article. First of all, I've never seen the show and can only go on what I've heard from various sources. But it seems to me like we would not be talking about this guy and his faith if he hadn't quit. He made a statement about his faith, and now he has a big platform to share it. Much bigger than a show that I've never even heard about until this.
    Secondly, I know you're not setting up an either/or proposition with your statements about evangelism and discipleship. But, I think the problem is not evangelism but priorities. People in our culture put a priority on sports, school, work, vacation, TV, etc. When we ask them to make church a priority we're looked at as crazy. We have the church for a reason – not for programs, but for building each other up. When people consistently put church on the bottom rung of their priority list, that tells me they are probably not out there sharing the gospel. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.
    I don't think you can be an evangelism guy without being a discipleship guy. And vice versa. They're two sides of the same coin.

    • Good thoughts regarding priorities, Bill. Not argumentative at all. :)

  • By following his conviction to bow out, I think it created a bigger evangelistic opportunity than staying would have. Ultimately, there's no way to know but applaud him for taking a stand regardless of whether that meant staying or leaving.

  • Stephen

    My question is this…. What was Cameron Mitchell expecting would happen. This is Glee… by the end of the show everyone will have dated everyone else… so of course he would be expected to act in these ways. As an actor, he would be slave to his script…. and that's dangerous when you have morals and values you want to uphold. Unfortunately, he made the mistake by being a part of this whole thing in the first place… in my opinion.

    • I don't think entering was a mistake. He used it to make a stand for what he believed and had a platform to share those convictions with a world that rarely sees them…. in my opinion. :)

    • Interesting point. Cameron actually admitted he went into this somewhat naive, knowing that while Glee had sex on the show he didn't realize it would be expected of him. Honestly, I think he's telling the truth – how many of us have signed up for something not realizing all that would be expected of us? What I love is that even in the midst of that moment/pressure he searched for something deeper than the big buck being dangled in front of him.

  • jdh

    A variety of thoughts…
    -I definitely admire Cameron for taking the stand that he did. It had to be incredibly difficult and took a ton of guts.
    -I also agree with Stephen…I'm not sure what exactly Cameron was expecting if he didn't think he would face a situation like this. If he was planning on bowing out all along, when the going got rough, then that would seem more manipulative than living out convictions. But I'm not suggesting that's what he was doing…it seems like he was just naive. So maybe a good lesson to discuss from this scenario would be wisdom in choosing one's situations.
    -I do, despite respecting the stand he took, wish he would have stayed. The reason why all comes back to Ryan. Ryan very clearly said, when they were in the dressing room, "Would you be willing to say if we wrote the character to fit your morals?" and yet Cameron chose no. This seems to me to be almost a Daniel-esque opportunity to live radically different while still residing in a different kingdom. If Ryan had said "We're going to make you do things you don't want to, so either get on or get off," (which was what the hypothetical that Ryan asked sort of started with, but not where the episode finished) that would be a different story.
    -For the record, I'm a discipleship oriented guy, but I guess my answers put me in the other camp.

    • Maybe he did know what he was getting into all along. It's possible that he thought he could stick it out. Or maybe he didn't think he could, but he felt God leading him that way anyways. Either way, we need more people like him who will take this kind of risk and stand up for their beliefs in the entertainment industry.

  • I'd be on the fence, but I realize that being in that kind of situation would cause a lot of stress. He said he'd been losing sleep for a while over the decisions he had to make and the stand he had to take. So, I think that he made the right decision. We really don't know how well it would have turned out had he stayed, but it worked out well this way.

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