Two weeks ago the second episode of Harvest, the film series on discipleship of which I’m the executive producer, was released to the world. This episode focuses on how discipleship is the vehicle for reaching the nations with the Gospel. It’s taught by Dave Wirgau who uses a little-known tool called the Archer illustration, drawn out on screen, to explain his lesson. Dave discipled me for over four years when I lived in Tallahassee, and I still remember when he first showed me this illustration as a sophomore at FSU.
A Little History
The first episode of Harvest was released on April 29, 2013, nearly two full years ago. It was the natural evolution of the short videos I’d been creating with Bryan Zhang featuring students and staff of the FSU Navigators. Bryan expressed his desire to make something bigger, and at about that same time a friend of mine at Wildwood Church gave a very generous donation to my work on campus, singlehandedly funding the first film. Episode 01 was well-received by the Nav staff and students in Florida. I was pleased with its impact and looked forward to making more films just like it.
That first film’s release came right after I’d gotten engaged. A few months later Kathy and I were married. Immediately thereafter I started a job search, and at the start of 2014 we found ourselves moving from Florida to Colorado for me to work for The Navigators as the director of collegiate communications. And even though my new job was, in part, to see to it that great content like this was created for the Campus Navs web presence, a project of this scope was a little too large to take on at first. Between the funding requirements for the film and the challenge of producing 1,500 miles away from the production company, not to mention the bevy of needs right in front of me, I put Harvest on the back burner for a season.
Falling into Place
God has been very good to me. He’s brought to me some incredibly generous donors—or, as I like to call them, associate producers—many of whom actually sought me out to give to my ministry efforts. This episode would never have gotten off the ground without them. The team of guys making the film back in Tallahassee never let distance from me hinder its creation; they’re true professionals. The leadership of the Navs collegiate ministry caught my vision too, and they fully supported my desire to continue creating these kinds of educational films. It took all those pieces falling into place just as they did for Harvest Episode 02 to see the light of day.
By the Numbers
I’m encouraged by the traffic Harvest Episode 02 has received thus far. The Harvest website has already accrued more pageviews in 2015 than it did in 2013 and 2014 combined. The YouTube play count is roughly 1,000. I created a Facebook advertisement to drive traffic and that ad has done pretty well for itself.
I can’t overstate the value of having a larger, more prominent platform when trying to get content into the hands of a target audience. Episode 01 had an audience of Nav staff and students in Florida. That was based purely on the fact that those were the people I had the ability to reach. Now my reach is much wider: a national Navigator website and a social media presence that has attracted followers from all over the country.
Only time will tell what its longterm impact will be. My hope is that someone on Nav staff, or an upperclassman student for that matter, could use this film with the student they’re discipling to start a conversation about their role in fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus gave. Or maybe it could be used in a Bible study or Nav Night to accomplish the same goal, just in a larger group setting. I may never hear those stories, at least not many of them, but I can hope and pray that they’ll happen.
Episodes 03, 04, and 05 are all half complete. We filmed Dave’s teaching for episode 02 through 05 all at once, so all that remains is to add in things like animation, B-roll, and all the post-production work necessary to polish those films. Funding is coming in from my monthly donors, but I’m still a ways off from having what I need to finish up the next episode.
Harvest is one of my favorite ministry efforts I’ve ever been a part of. I think it has the potential to leave a lasting mark on The Navigators, an organization known for its discipleship tools. I can’t wait to share more films with you.