What I particularly like is the version of God that they are promoting. One that looks and feels and loves like Jesus. Less flashy, more real. Less western more Bible. Less boxes, more freedom.
I admit it, I’m a huge fan of his work. So I reached out to Señor Wilson and asked a few questions. He was kind enough to answer them all.
1. Tell me about your ideal church? My ideal church probably looks a lot like the one I’m attending right now: Bridgeway Church in Greenville, SC. There’s a tension sometimes in the American church between those who want to focus on the “spirit” and those who want to focus on the “word”, but my ideal (and, I think, God’s as well) is one that fully embraces both. Don’t be afraid of the Spirit, but don’t be afraid of the Word either. To me that’s the true, full gospel.
2. You’re sitting in front of a lesbian friend who’s inviting you to her wedding, “Darren, can you do a prayer at the end?”… You say? Boy, that’s a tough one! I’m actually going to be making a movie about the whole homosexuality controversy in the church within the next year or two, so I’m still sorting through a lot of this stuff myself. To me the biggest issue is really defining what “sin” is, and then defining what “love” is. I don’t think most people really dig too much into those two things—we’re happy with simple constructs and facsimiles of sin and love that may not be what Jesus modeled. I reserve the right to change my mind, but right now, I’d have to politely decline. Anyone who is a friend of mine, lesbian or no, would know where I stand, and I doubt they’d ask me to do this in the first place. For me, I can’t bless the “union”, but I can happily (and indeed it is my duty as a follower of Christ) bless you. What that looks like, I suppose, depends on the circumstances of our friendship.
3. What’s the future hold for young filmmakers? Hopefully more films! The walls are breaking down fast. Films are getting cheaper to make, and distribution is opening up in ways no one could have guessed even 5 years ago.
4. Do you have any thoughts on how the church can reach the rich and influential? Well, I guess my first response would be: why do you want to reach the rich and influential? If the Body of Christ does their job, then the rich and influential will reach each other, and I’ll reach my crowd, and you’ll reach your crowd. It’s not a popular opinion, but I’m not really of the mind that we need to get more “famous” people in our club so other people will then want to join our club too, and soon Christianity will be popular or something. Famous, rich people need Jesus just as much as I do. I just want them to meet Him. Everything changes when you meet Jesus. So I guess my answer to that question is simply, become rich and famous yourself, then be the best example of Jesus you can be to everyone you meet.
5. How do you balance travels, filming, family, ministry? Sometimes well, sometimes horribly. It’s a constant battle for me—to be fully engaged in what God has called me to do and yet to be fully engaged with my family. The best answer is to simply make sure I’m truly present when I’m home. It’s something I try hard to do, but like most men, I stumble at this one sometimes. When you have a kind of career like I do, you definitely need to set up good boundaries—not just with others but with yourself as well.
6. Elections are coming in a year. Comments? Suggestions? Another unpopular answer, I’m sure, but I’m only vaguely aware of the political landscape. I’ll vote for the man (or woman) with the best ideas, but my hope isn’t in the government. Of course I want the country to do well and to prosper, but right now it just seems like everyone is kind of an idiot. Why we can’t just let the best ideas win is beyond me. Ego, pride, and bitterness are nasty things—and they can tear people (and countries) apart.
7. What are your thoughts on the recently released Planned Parenthood videos? Well I’ve always thought Planned Parenthood was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but even I have to admit that this one took me by surprise. I can actually respect someone who disagrees with me on major issues as long as they are modest and gentle in their beliefs. I mean, that’s how I TRY to live myself. But when you start getting aggressive—and with PP, they are just so aggressive in their embracing of abortion—that it becomes very grotesque to me. I think the only way we will ever receive healing as a nation is to agree to meet each other in the middle somewhere and really empathize with each other. But extreme in any direction breeds abuse. These videos are simply another example of that.
8. What are you reading these days? What movie/show is inspiring you? I’m a history nut and I love young adult fantasy of all things. I’ve got about 7 books I’m reading in different stages at the moment, which is just dumb. Add to that me trying to write my third book, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I’m finally discovering Breaking Bad WAY after the fact, but man is that incredible storytelling. I just love good, fun stories well told, no matter what the subject matter.
9. Do you have any thoughts on how the church can help break the racial divide in our nation? It’s the most lame answer ever, but it’s absolutely true. The church needs to be the brightest example of love in the world. We don’t need better programs or services or worship or outreach events as much as we just need to challenge ourselves to be real, tangible agents of love. But on a more practical level, I have absolutely no idea how to overcome racial bigotry. It’s the most idiotic thing in the world to me, so it’s almost so foreign that I can’t even relate in any meaningful way. I guess my answer is just…Jesus.
10. New Star Wars movie… heaven or hell? Oh man, the highest form of heaven. I may lose my mind in the first few minutes.
11. Who are your biggest influences? My biggest influences on a personal level are, without question, my Dad and my grandfather. My Grandpa was a preacher and a writer, and my Dad still is a working artist and a college professor. Any spiritual depth I may have comes directly from the MANY conversations I had with those two growing up. On an artistic level, there’s one guy: Bono. I always tell people I try to make movies that touch people the way U2’s music touches me. It’s smart, searching, and never panders—but it’s honest and there is a celebration of the divine in their music that just wakes me up. Plus, they’re not afraid to make mistakes while reaching for the stars. I think a lot of my artistic fearlessness comes from a lifetime of studying the lives and career of U2.
12. What you want people to say about you in your funeral? “He loved his family well, and He was a true friend of God.” If I can live that to the end, I’ve won.
Darren’s new film Holy Ghost Reborn is coming to a city near you. Click Here to find a showing and make sure to share this interview and the trailer with your friends