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The Bible begins with God. In the book of Genesis, we see his power, creativity, and splendor in what he made. But we also see his mercy, love, and redemption through the flawed people he has made. While Genesis sets the stage for the rest of the Bible, it also helps us see God’s glory in his creation and teaches us that he can make something out of imperfect people like you and me.
Last year, our team traveled with Dr. Charlie Dates to the redwood forests of Northern California to film a series on the book of Genesis. After speaking at the 2021 RightNow Conference, Dr. Dates spoke with us about his experience on that shoot and his hopes for this series.
Charlie: Preparing for Genesis is very different than preparing to teach other books. Genesis is a genre of history that doesn’t really fit the Psalter, Judges, or the prophets. It doesn’t have to be decoded like apocalyptic literature. I learned about the genre sensitivity of the study—that is, wrapping our minds around what the point of Genesis is—is really the best way to see God’s activity so we can teach and preach it.
Genesis could tell us about dinosaurs, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and all that kind of stuff but it doesn’t. It has a view toward chapter 50, getting the scene set for a savior who is going to come. That’s something I came to appreciate while working through the book of Genesis.
It’s different. The Bible gives us varying shades of color in different sections. It’s not monochromatic. When we study the genre, we get to see God’s Word in the fullness of his color—it comes alive. Is there anything better than 4k resolution? If there is, I don’t know. God beats that high-def stuff. Genesis helped show me that.
Charlie: I want viewers to be like, “Man, the Lord is amazing, and Charlie Dates works for Jesus.”
[laughs] Okay, seriously, I want viewers to walk away with a bigger picture of God. If God really did create time, space, and matter and if he did choose one family, and through that family wove this wonderful narrative, then surely he can work through the matters of my life. Surely God can bring something out of nothing where I live. I hope when you see Genesis, you feel the power and presence of God.
Charlie: When you film with RightNow Media you need to do, like, four weeks of yoga. We were in the middle of nowhere—in the Redwoods with trees that looked like they were out of a Narnia book—and I climbed on a [fallen] tree and was walking on it, balancing. I was thinking, “If I don’t get home safely, my wife’s not going to be happy about this.” [laughs]
They go to great lengths to capture the most epic and beautiful scenery to match the picture of the text, so they can deliver what I think is the highest quality video content.
Now, here’s what else I learned: I’m jealous. I didn’t think I was jealous, that I was envious. But the fact that they don’t live in Chicago and don’t work for us at our church . . . I had to repent of some of that. Other than that, it was great. It was fantastic.
Our production team holds themselves to a high standard of excellence. They work hard to find the best locations, the best teachers, and to film exciting and insightful content for your church and small groups. But every shoot has its own unique challenges and, sometimes, things don’t go exactly to plan.
While filming our upcoming series The Acts of the Apostles, our team and pastor Louie Giglio had to deal with unexpected weather changes and rogue tow trucks during a marathon two days of shooting. We caught up with Louie Giglio to learn about his experience filming this study, what God taught him while preparing his teaching, and his prayer for everyone who goes through this study of Acts.
Louie: It was your typical “I am doing something that is going to make a difference in the kingdom” experience. We recorded in an old factory in Atlanta—metal roof, open spaces, and open-air in many ways. The temperature inside was the same as the temperature outside and the beautiful weather we had the week before had turned into forty-nine degrees and pouring down rain. So, for two days, the amazing RightNow Media team shot this thing under not-the-best conditions.
We got one shot going, it was happening, we were rolling, and a guy comes driving up through the shot! His headlights were shining behind me right into the camera. A tow truck—because some people who had been at the building a few days before left a rental car there—came driving through the shot. I was talking about how the gospel is going to go to the ends of the world and he stops in the shot and starts to back up! BEEP BEEP BEEP. It was like, “Cut. Let’s start over. Hey, can you get your car and go, please?”
But that’s what it’s like when you are shooting one of these Bible studies. When you’re watching it, it’s so put together; the team does an amazing job! But it is a hustle to shoot because the enemy doesn’t want this message to get out. And we’re shooting this in the wild, so you never know what the next distraction will be.
It was like that for two straight days, but props to the RightNow Media team! They’re the best, they did a fantastic job. We had a bond like a family after going through a book like Acts. It was a family event. God was in it. I felt like I had run a marathon after the second day, but it was worth it!
Louie: I love the story of Acts because it’s our story. We are still living in the story of Acts. One of the things that really stuck out to me was as Paul was on his way to Rome—there was a shipwreck, a storm, they were wrecked on the island of Malta—the Bible says everyone was accounted for. Luke, who was writing this, says there were 276 people and they were all accounted for. God is writing a big global story, but he also knows every single one of us. We are all accounted for, and we all have a role in taking the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
Louie: You know, the place where we filmed this series was a working factory about a hundred years ago. On either side of the factory was a huge building with multiple train tracks going into it. Then there was another huge building on another side with lots of tracks leading into it. A small channel with a single set of tracks connected all the buildings. I don’t know what they made at this factory, but a train came into one building, a cart took something from that train across to the factory. Then, whatever they made, was taken from the factory to a departing train and sent away. Everything was connected.
As we shot, I thought, “That’s Acts. We are standing in Acts!” God brings the gospel to us in multiple tracks and stories, the gospel changes us, then he takes us somewhere else in the world to people who need to hear that story.
The takeaway from that story is that you are in Acts. It is not just about Peter, Stephen, Paul, Lydia, or all the churches that were planted. The Acts of the Apostles are still in motion taking the story of Jesus to all people. The gospel spread from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and now to the ends of the earth. We are in Acts.
The Christmas season is full of light, joy, and beauty. At the center of our celebrations and family traditions is a vulnerable baby in a feeding trough—Emmanuel, God with us. As Christmas approaches, the season of Advent offers us a chance to reflect on our savior, his purpose, and the surprising ways he invited people near to him.
To help you and your church reflect on the coming, or advent, of Christ, pastor Derwin Gray spent time with our team filming Advent, a five-part series exploring the ways the birth of Jesus changes everything. We caught up with Derwin after he preached at the RightNow Conference to hear about his experience making this series and his hope for everyone who watches it.
Derwin: Filming with the RightNow Media team is not only fun—because they are all hilarious and we have good chemistry because they are great people—but also, they have professional expertise. The way they are able to take content and match it with locations and editing encourages me in my faith. I am excited about this Advent series because they make me better than I am!
Derwin: The biggest thing I learned about Advent was a greater awareness of God’s heart. Advent means “arriving” or “coming.” In the beginning, the Father had already determined that Jesus was going to come and reconcile all things to himself. The way he goes about that is beautiful, mysterious, life-giving, and powerful.
Derwin: I want them walking with Jesus more. Jesus is not just a Sunday friend; he is an all-week, all-the-time companion. He’s Lord. He’s Master.
The beauty of Advent is that we see the beauty and vulnerability of God entering into humanity in a fragile state and form. We see God use people to do incredible things! You don’t have to be the biggest or the best. Mary was just a teenager. Joseph was just some guy! God takes ordinary people and does extraordinary things.
So, I want people to be overwhelmed with God’s grace and the gift of his Son this Christmas.
The book of Hebrews can be intimidating. It is long, theologically dense, and full of cultural references that feel distant from our everyday lives. So, sadly, many of us keep our distance from this rich and encouraging book. But not Dr. Derwin Gray.
Derwin spent time with our production team in North Carolina filming our new series, The Book of Hebrews, an eight-part series walking through the thirteen chapters of Hebrews. We caught up with Derwin Gray after he preached at our recent Men's Conference to hear about his experience making this series and his hope for everyone who watches it.
Derwin: Filming with the RightNow Media crew was awesome! Not only are they professional, they are genuinely good people who love Jesus. We worked hard, but we had a lot of fun. They also helped me find some new fishing spots to catch bass. I enjoyed being around them—I feel like I made friends [working on this study]. It’s always a good thing when you can make friends and talk about Jesus while making content that helps other people make friends and talk about Jesus as well.
Derwin: Hebrews is a pensive, beautiful book that calls us to the ancient way of following Jesus in the midst of circumstances that are not going your way. There was a great deal of persecution and a great deal of suffering [in the ancient church] and the Holy Spirit led the author of Hebrews to communicate, “Trust his grace.” Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the radiance of his glory. While preparing for this study, my picture of Jesus got bigger.
Derwin: I want people to walk away from this study saying, “I had no idea Jesus was so lifegiving, powerful, near, and present.” I want people to understand that we can approach his throne of grace and mercy in our time of need. Jesus’s grace is infinite—it never runs out.
It’s no overstatement to say that we are more distracted now than we’ve ever been. The “chaos machine” in our pockets constantly diverts our attention away from what matters, gluing our eyes to the things that don’t. And with our attention goes our focus.
Addressing this very topic, New York Times bestselling author and speaker Jon Acuff recently filmed a new series with our team entitled Focus: In a World of Bottomless Distractions and Endless Opportunities. We caught up with Jon to hear what he learned while preparing this series and his hope for those who go through it.
Jon: One thing I learned is how distracted we all are. I like to say that our distraction technology has outpaced our ability to focus. Think about how fast distraction has scaled. I mean, twenty years ago the only distraction I had on my phone was a game called snake. I don’t know if you’re my age, but it just was a line that went “doot, doot, doot, doot, doot.” Now, you have every movie ever made, every book ever written, and every podcast ever recorded in your pocket. You have a chaos machine in your pocket. So, it was really interesting to learn—that’s part of why it’s challenging. You shouldn’t feel bad that it’s hard to focus; the odds are stacked against you because of our technology. But there are some really simple things you can do, and that’s what was so fun about filming this series.
Jon: I want viewers to walk away with the idea that you can learn how to focus. It’s not a personality trait. It’s not something that some people are good at and others are bad. When you talk to people about, “Is it easy for you to focus?” or “Do you ever get distracted?” sometimes they make identity statements. They say, “I’m a really distracted person. I can never focus,” as if they can’t learn. But the one thing I want you to walk away with is you can learn, and there’s some very practical things you can do that are actually really fun. And you get to see pretty quick progress. So I want you to walk away with the idea that you can do it and that there’s things you can do.
Jon: My most memorable moment of any series—we’ve done because we’ve done three together (so, I know I’m talking about Focus, but we’ve done Soundtracks and Finish)—my most memorable moment was where I got to the shoot and there was a cliff. They had set up the shoot on the edge of a cliff that was three-hundred feet high, overlooking a river, and there was a rock that was, in my opinion, very close to the edge of the cliff. And they said, “Hey, we just want you to stand on this rock, it’ll be an amazing shot.” And I said, “What’s your second idea?” Because I talk with my hands, I move around a lot, I’m very animated. So, I said, “There’s no way I’m getting on that rock.” So, if you watch that video, I’m perched on the rock. I’m sitting on the rock, that was our compromise, but I’m kind of looking over my shoulder. That was the most memorable. The second was, we filmed in Nissan Titan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, where I live. And it was an amazing shot, and they had a drone, and it was just gorgeous. So, I love partnering with RightNow because they always do such beautifully well-thought-out work.
As the senior producer, Courtney Davis spent weeks scouting locations, double-checking equipment, planning car rentals and logistics, and scheduling her team to make sure everything went smoothly. “We brought extra people to make sure we could get everything shot. We had people at multiple locations ready to go so Bob could get the shot and move on. We normally have more time—a couple of days at least—so we were ready for the shoot to be stressful.”
When our video team spoke about their time with Bob, they didn’t talk about the logistics of a one-day shoot, the California traffic, or catching connecting flights. Instead, they told stories about Bob’s cars (every car in Love In Chaos is one of Bob’s) and how four sailors, all of whom were also named Bob, taught Bob Goff to raise the sails on a pirate ship. Then, how the ship’s owner had to stop Goff from climbing the ship’s mast.
A difficult day became fun. But Bob was more than an energetic person; he wanted to get to know the people he was working with.
“Bob was so kind, so engaged—the Bob you meet in his books is who he really is,” Courtney said.
“He wanted to take pictures with us! We’re usually the ones asking to take pictures at the end of a shoot.”
We are so used to being wary of strangers or assuming the worst of people online that encountering someone like Bob—someone who genuinely cares for the people around him—is refreshing, life-giving, and makes us wonder, “What’s different about you?” There is something irresistible about a person who loves Jesus in today’s world.
What if we, like Bob, made a point to let everyone around us know that we care about them, even those we disagree with? What if we swapped the division of our culture for the love of Jesus? That’s what Love In Chaos is all about.
What our production team captured in San Diego became a series that will exhort and encourage Christians to get out of their comfort zones for the sake of the gospel. “We’re so used to getting on social media and just seeing a lot of arguing,” Courtney said.
“But Bob encourages us in this series to actively care for the people around us. Jesus calls us to love people who are hurting, and I hope this series helps us do that more.”
When asked about how long the shoot day was, Courtney laughed. “We actually wrapped an hour early, which never happens.”
In Matthew 5, Jesus begins his most famous sermon with a list of characteristics, commonly known as the Beatitudes, that offer us a glimpse at what it looks like to live “the blessed life.” But they’re not exactly what we might expect.
We sent a film crew with author and pastor Matt Chandler to Big Bend National Park to film The Beatitudes, an eight-session series examining Matthew 5:1–12. In this series, Matt teaches us what a blessed life really looks like. It may not look the way we imagine, but it’s better than we could ever hope.
While filming, our team asked Matt a few questions about his preparation for and teaching of this impactful series.
Matt: Going into the series, I was familiar with the Beatitudes. I mean, I’ve been a Christian for thirty years. I don’t know that I’ve ever explicitly taught through them but certainly understood them to be Jesus unpacking what the kingdom of God would look like. So, the thing that was in plain sight that really ministered to me as I prepared was that the Beatitudes aren’t a list of things that I need to work on, but rather the kind of person that Jesus is turning me into. And I think that was the big thing that stood out, that Jesus doesn’t show up looking for this kind of person, like “let me find the man of peace” or “let me find the meek.” But, rather, he’s saying, “my people that I’m going to work in, that the Holy Spirit’s going to—this is the kind of person they’re going to become.” So, it’s not eight different people, right, but eight characteristics of the same person. So, it honestly gave me a lot of confidence that God is working these things in me and that I will continue as long as I’m here.
Matt: If I think about people in living rooms or in church rooms and buildings, and watching this, the thing that I most want them to walk away with is a confidence that God is at work in their lives. I don’t want them to listen to a single one of these episodes and feel crushed by it or feel that it’s impossible. That by episode after episode after episode that they would grow in their deep and earnest belief that God is at work in the mess of their lives. That God’s patience is there, that his shaping power is there, and that he has not forgotten them, but is actively turning them into this kind of person.
Matt: So, the thing that always stands out when I get to shoot these things is it’s always done in just stunningly beautiful places. So, there is the team, of course, that you laugh with, and you have a good time with. But you’re getting to . . . I said to somebody, I think it was early this morning, “Can you believe we get to do this?” We’re up early, everything’s new, the sun’s coming up, everything’s beautiful, and then we get to talk about the creator God of the universe. We get to point toward the gospel. We get to marvel at his goodness and grace. I think that’s the thing, and really, through all my shoots with RightNow, that’s been the thing that always has stood out as I head home or as we wrap up, that in these really beautiful places, these really privileged spaces, that we get to just talk about and point towards the king of the universe.
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul gives readers the most in-depth, comprehensive explanation of the gospel in all of Scripture, showing us what it looks like to live according to the good news. And this good news is better than we could have imagined.
We sent a film crew with pastor J.D. Greear to Rome, Italy to film The Book of Romans: Part 1 and Part 2, a series examining one of the most important books ever written on the Christian faith. In this series, J.D. helps us see just how good the gospel really is. It exceeds all our expectations.
While filming, our team asked J.D. a few questions about preparing for this series and his hopes for small groups.
J.D.: One distinctive thing I think I re-learned as I was prepping for this series is just the distinctive message of grace that the gospel offers. The power of grace to transform our lives. Especially being on location here in Rome where you’re associated with so many different symbols of religion, and all the works-righteousness that goes into religion, and people doing things to try to earn God’s favor. Paul’s message in Romans is [righteousness] is a gift. Righteousness is not a standard that we obtain to; it’s a gift that God gives us. And then in response to that, out of love, we serve God, and we serve others. The power of the gospel, it was renewed in me, rekindled in me, not only as I studied and prepared for this but as I actually taught through it as well.
J.D.: One of the things I think I’m hoping—I’ve been hoping and praying for out of this study—is that this study of the book of Romans, which is one of the deepest and richest looks at the gospel anywhere in Scripture, would have this effect of not only getting us excited about the gospel and transforming our relationships but just burning in our hearts until we have to tell others. The gospel is kind of like a spiritual tornado, it never pulls you in without also wanting to thrust you back out. And so, I think just pressing into the beauties of God’s grace, it just does something to you that changes you so that you not only treat people differently and think about yourself differently, you just find yourself having to talk to other people about the things that you’re learning.
J.D.: So, the most memorable moment, spiritually, is probably going to be down in Paul’s prison. When we’re pretty sure it is the actual cell he stood in before he was executed, and just to think about that—that was amazing. I loved filming from there. You know, always my favorite memories with this are slow walking with Will (Senior Producer at RightNow Media). Just to follow me around with a camera, and just to kind of zoom in on my feet and to make me really self-conscious about my posture, "Am I walking crooked?" So, that definitely is what I’ll take away. Will’s got a special place in my heart.
At RightNow Media, our goal is to provide churches and student ministries with access to a library curated with the latest teaching for youth Bible studies from premier teachers. Including series like Not A Fan: Teen Edition by Kyle Idleman and a number of RightNow Media Originals, we have thousands of options for your Bible study. Here are five video Bible studies that are perfect for your youth group or student ministry—plus check out our youth Bible study roadmap to make curriculum planning a breeze.
Christians today face all kinds of challenges when it comes to understanding who they are and what they’re meant to do. There’s no shortage of options that claim to offer “truth.” If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves chasing after popular opinion all the while neglecting the unchanging truth found in Scripture. In this four-session youth Bible study, pastor and author Francis Chan invites students into the power that comes from anchoring their identity in Christ.
Today’s world tells teens to walk around life with a mirror in front of their face. They question their looks, persona, and acceptance nonstop, thinking that one more post on social media might gain people’s attention. But God offers an alternative mirror. When God rules over our lives, he flips everything upside down. In this youth Bible study, Jonathan Evans will walk students through the parables in Luke to teach what it looks like for God to rule our lives.
Teenagers often feel trapped. They’re stuck in the same habits, depression sets in, and they wonder about their purpose. The lie that nothing will ever change pulls teenagers deeper into the rut. But Jesus offers us a way out. In this four-part youth Bible study, Nick Hall talks to students about how a relationship with Jesus changes everything—our identity, relationships, habits, and mission.
Have you ever felt stuck? Sometimes life feels rigid—as if nothing could ever really change. Maybe we’re afraid of taking a step of faith. Or maybe we’re too injured from the past to move forward. No matter where you find yourself, you can make the most of today. In this inspirational series, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow shares stories from his life to illustrate what it means to seize each day for God’s glory.
What do you want to be when you grow up? It was an easy question to answer when they were little, but life gets complicated for teen girls. When they get stuck in drama, discontentment, sadness, and shame, how can they even begin to look ahead to the future? In this four-part Bible study, Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering, inspires teen girls to throw off everything that holds them back and be energized by God’s dream for them. Dreaming big starts now.
When The Creators first began, some of the actors had never worked on a show before. But by the end of this season, the young actors had not only worked on a show but acted in episodes from over a dozen TV genres, flexed their acting muscles, and even recorded their own music.
Series producer Lindsey McNally shared how the cast visited a music studio to record their vocals for Season 3. “Season 3 is the first time each cast member sings their own music—they have all grown so much as performers.”
The weeks of production included laughter, birthday parties (facilitated by the cast members' wonderful mothers), and the joys of watching the growth of the amazing cast. The show may be coming to an end, but make sure to keep an eye on the cast as their careers continue. Niko (Art) and Sydney (Zoey) have already done some work together for Nike, and we are sure there is more to come from these talented teenagers.
“This type of production was uncharted territory for RightNow Media,” McNally said. “But we took the plunge—in the chaos of 2020, mind you—and God has blown us away!”
“It’s so cool to see how many young lives have been impacted. I don't think any of us expected there to be three whole seasons, but here we are almost four years later.”
We have loved reading your fan mail and watching the videos you were inspired to create after watching The Creators. And, while Season 3 will be the final season of The Creators, we will never forget how the show has entertained, inspired, and encouraged us all.