The National Religious Broadcasters Convention held their annual meeting in Nashville on February 22-26, 2016–a four day event, plus a pre-convention Digital Media Summit. Using the theme, Proclaim 16, the organizers’ goal is that it be a gathering that connects, equips, and teaches the thousands of communicators who attend. Accomplished speakers and artists were invited to share their knowledge with the Christian media community through keynote addresses and industry workshops.
The event which used to be mainly for “broadcasters” has broadened their audience in recent years to include film and digital. This new focus has made NRB a great gathering place for filmmakers. There were also great networking events: The NRB industry reception and an Ice Cream Social sponsored by ICVM. Screenings of upcoming films were offered three of the four nights, giving attendees a chance to see upcoming films before they are released.
Much of the daytime activities consists of learning from experts in industry summits–some of the top professionals in the world of broadcasting and communication were highlilghted. Each brought a unique perspective and experiences that enabled attendees to hone their own skills. Deals are often made in this rich atmosphere and new ministries were given the opportunity to expand their horizons as they networked with people they don’t have access to every day.
In the Pre-Conference Digital Media Summit, leaders from some of the Internet’s hottest organizations expounded on the newest trends. Representatives from Facebook, HubSpot, LifeChurch.tv, Christianity Today shared what the future holds for platforms used by media and ministry to get their messages out to the public. New York Times best-selling author (“Do Over,” “Stuff Christians Like”), Jon Acuff, shared four investments every organization needs to effect change. He brought both knowledge and his trademark humor to the platform as he communicated what it takes to connect and build the relationships that make a difference. Acuff stated, “Real community can happen and it happens when you listen. Relationships + Skills + Character x Hustle = Career Savings account.” He explained that Hustle does not mean a frenzy of activity, but being focused on what you are trying to accomplish.
In the Film Summit, actor Kevin Sorbo shared about his time of reconnecting with God during his recovery following three strokes, and said to those in attendance, “God wanted me to reach out with a message to the world. This is what He has called broadcasters to do.” Other professionals who taught included Phil Vischer of Big Idea Productions, Paul Lauer of Motive Entertainment, and Rich Peluso of AFFIRM Films, a division of Sony.
A Pitch-A-Thon was also held which gave filmmakers a chance to pitch their projects to top studios and distributors. Who knows, maybe this year’s ideas may be films screened at an upcoming NRB.
In the Opening Session, Roma Downey, president of Lightworkers Media, reminisced, “We make a real effort to get to NRB each year, starting in 2013 for ‘The Bible’ miniseries. Then in 2014, it was ‘Son of God,’ 2015, the ‘AD’ series, and now in 2016 it’s ‘Ben Hur’.” Downey said that she and husband, Mark Burnett, never make a decision without prayer and are privileged to have a platform to reach souls. People still come up to her who were affected by her character, Monica, in “Touched By An Angel,” and how the message of that series resonated with multitudes.
Another evening session included a worship service with Pastor Rick Warren, and a special concert by Michael W. Smith. Michael W. Smith spoke on writing songs for movies. “I had two weeks to write a song for my latest movie. Talk about pressure. As most songwriters know, getting ideas come and go. I wasn’t able to come up with anything but a few days before the song was due, I was driving in my car and it came to me. The latest movie I was in, I cry every time I reflect on it. ’90 Minutes in Heaven’ was one of the most touching experiences of my life.” The program included the President’s Award presented to Kim Davis, the Kentucky Court Clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage license because of the conflict with her Christian beliefs.
At the conclusion of the worship service, the legendary Pat Boone introduced the movie, “God’s Not Dead 2,” which opens nationwide on April 1, 2016. Boone, a multi-talented singer, composer, author, and actor has appeared on television and film for six decades. His character in GND2, Walter Wesley, is his 28th movie appearance
Other films screened at the conference were ‘The Young Messiah,’ based on an Anne Rice book, “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.”and written and directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh. Also ‘Miracles From Heaven,’ which tells the true-life story of nine-year-old Annabel Beam.
The event wrapped with a Closing Gala Dinner with Special Service Awards. Next year’s conference was announced to be held of February 27 – March 2, 2017 in Orlando. To keep up with the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, go to NRBconvention.org.