A Los Angeles-based preacher who has learned firsthand the ins and outs of the entertainment industry over the past decade says that, despite negative messages coming from Tinseltown, he has high hopes for Hollywood’s theological future.
Pastor Touré Roberts, founder of One Church International, a nondenominational house of worship in Los Angeles, Calif., told TheBlaze Thursday that he’s seeing Hollywood insiders change the way they work and interact in the industry as a result of budding relationships with God — and that Jesus could soon become a more positive and predominant theme in entertainment circles.
And Roberts should know. He’s attracted an array of famed singers, actors and media professionals to his pews, giving him a unique view on the struggles and rewards that come along with an often cut-throat industry.
The pastor told TheBlaze that he had no idea that the tiny church he started in South Los Angeles back in 2002 would end up becoming a major theological hub for Hollywood elite — especially considering that One Church, which has grown to more than 3,000 members, attracted only 30 congregants in its first two years.
After experiencing minimal growth, Roberts said he felt “divinely inspired” to move the house of worship to North Hollywood, where the church quickly caught the attention of young performers and artists.
The influx of actors, singers and Hollywood staffers profoundly changed the pastor’s outlook on entertainment industry.
“I really developed a love for artists,” he said. “I had never seen so many people from all around the world coming to [one specific] area to pursue their dreams.”
While that particular facet of the industry was inspiring, Roberts said that he also learned about the downside of the entertainment realm — and the fact that “the industry was beating [performers] down and devaluing them and seducing them.”
The preacher described disdain for the way that he saw actors and singers being used and manipulated by Hollywood elite, and said one of the biggest challenges in ministering to that community was “getting people to come outside of a ‘me mentality’ or an ‘I mentality.'”
“Everyone wants to be someone. They want to be famous. They want glory in a sense,” Roberts explained. “I’m generalizing, but it’s true, really having to break down the pursuit of fame.”
The pastor, who believes it’s okay for people to crave success, said that there’s a difference between realizing personal aspirations and truly “being significant.” Teaching this sentiment, though, can be an uphill battle in an industry that encourages narcissism as a professional asset.
Despite the challenges, Roberts said he has seen a transformation, with artists and executives making Bible-based decisions surrounding how they conduct themselves at work. While he didn’t name names, he shared some of the transformational stories.
Some singers, for example, had embraced “salacious” and “seductive” themes, but upon reflection and time at One Church, these same individuals instead started chasing songs with meanings about love and relationships. While they by no means embraced gospel music, the performers began embracing a more positive turn.
He also spoke about a television executive who successfully challenged her boss to temper some “dark” content being placed on the network. And then there’s a well-known actor who he says spoke out about the negative portrayal of a Christian character in a script he read.
Rather than being combative, Roberts said the actor explained that there might be a better way to present the character, who appeared only briefly in the script.
In the end, by approaching the situation in a loving way, Roberts said the actor not only convinced the writers to change the script, but that they also wrote the individual into the show to serve as a positive representation of a Christian character.
“I’ve seen people’s art change as a result of coming to the church, understanding that gifts that God has given to them,” Roberts said. “I think the most rewarding thing is to see someone in their artistic expression change because God has changed their life.”
While there’s still much for Christians to balk about in Hollywood, Roberts believes that believers in the industry are increasingly speaking up.
“Hollywood overall is very trendy — and we know that that can be positive or negative depending on what the trend is,” he said. “I am seeing a real trend toward God … our church is 85 percent industry. There’s a lot of support for Christians in Hollywood now.”
Roberts said he’s hopeful about Tinseltown’s theological future. He believes there’s an old Hollywood regime that might be dying off and a new one ready to come in with a fresh perspective — which could lead to more Christian and Bible-based themes in TV and movies.
The pastor’s new book “Purpose Awakening” challenges all individuals — not just those working in Hollywood — to live their lives with meaning, he said.
“The way someone can be content living their live without [purpose] blows me away. Their life really, really is a good idea. It’s a brilliant idea,” Roberts added.
He hopes readers learn that God has strategically created each and every individual.
Featured image via @ToureRoberts’ Twitter account