Can Television Drama be used as "Common Ground? YES!!!!!
Frequently, it can be very difficult to connect with unbelieving people. Over the years we have used the idea of building relational bridges based on common ground. The challenge is that there is an increasing chasm between those who are Christ followers and those who are not. In just about every area of life it is growing more polarizing as time marches on and culture changes accelerate the growth of the chasm. As a result, this significantly alters many scenarios where we seek to be used by God with unbelieving people.
Believe it or not, I have found that television is producing some tremendous shows that provide great opportunities to have meaningful discussions with people about the big questions of life. Having said this, I have to state that overall, television is a sea of horrible programing with the vast majority of the shows promoting and enticing people to focus on the antithesis of a biblical point of view. A minority of programs are however quite good for engaging people with serious moral, ethical and biblical issues.
Evaluating television programs from the perspective of an unbeliever is far different than those who are Christ followers. Those who are not yet Christ followers typically watch them to be entertained. Television programing can be raw and present a vivid picture of an unredeemed world. It is frequently a mirror image of what we are or what we are becoming from a cultural standpoint. While Hollywood often glamorizes sin they can also immunize people to the raw consequences of immoral choices. Frequently however, the raw images we see are not that far removed from the pain that people experience - the people we rub shoulders with every day. These programs provide tremendous bridges to big questions and ultimately spiritual conversation. What family or person has not wrestled with guilt, pain, jealousy, divorce, anger, lust, illness, adultery, greed, despair, power, control, self-acceptance, and pursuit of happiness, just to scratch the surface. Life can be an intense journey and and television can prove to be a reflection of the levels of depravity of the human heart. Many of which are depicted in the scriptures! Some may view this position as being biblically twisted or spiritually immature, but the story lines in some shows are phenomenal mechanisms to draw people into conversations about spiritual matters. They can act as great planks as we build relational bridges of common ground with unbelieving people.
Television drama enables you to have a third person conversation about some of these critical issues without the person having a personal stake in the conversation. It provides a safe environment for discussing some giant moral issues without confrontation. Television drama can launch people into a safe fictional universe with real world world realities that everyone can be drawn into for the purposes of meaningful dialog. Confronting difficult topics becomes a connecting point without the emotional baggage that comes in first person encounters.
Jesus provides a great example for us, He is the one who capitalized on drama in the form of fictional stories. He also used parables of everyday life issues that touched on similar topics. He taught spiritual lessons through the stories of every day life issues that everyone would understand and they were stories that captured their attention. It is quite likely that people left hearing those stories reflecting on and talking about the parables. Did every parable that Jesus told have the gospel presented? - NO! Jesus taught about a lot of different things and he raised very big questions that everybody should ask themselves.
Television can be a useful tool to connect with people. It is a medium that men have devised, but we can use it for a bridge for eternal purposes. It is important that everyone possess a discerning spirit when watching television. Some programs are horribly evil and diabolical in nature and have absolutely no redeeming qualities. However, not all programs can be painted with the broad brush of "worldliness." Develop a keen eye and a discerning spirit for good quality writing and acting - you may be surprised how God can use secular stories and drama to build a redemptive bridge via the common ground of television drama.
I have heard some people claim that watching programs that may contain "questionable issues" essentially means that you are giving approval or agreement to what is being depicted. The difficulty with this perspective is that it forces us to live in a cocoon of unreality. We are not here to establish heaven on earth or institute a "safe-zone" of believers in the midst of a pagan culture. We are here to invade the pagan culture with a redemptive message of the good news of the gospel. Further, every day - we see things on television newscasts or internet stories that are overtly sinful or objectionable but it does not mean that one gives tacit approval to the activities being depicted! If you do find that specific programing causes you to sin then you should clearly avoid viewing those programs. Be discerning!
I find that AMC has some of the finest programs that raise questions that connect with unbelieving people. Each program forces the viewer to wrestle with great moral questions and the really big questions of life. The clip below is a portion of the show "Breaking Bad" where the character Jesse Pinkman wrestles with the whole concept of "self acceptance" that he was being fed by a counselor. This is just one example of a connecting point that can be used as a launching point for great discussions about the big questions of life.
Click on the Link below to view the video mentioned above from the hit television show "Breaking Bad."