The Chosen: Stan Jantz on Reaching 1 Billion People, Ministry Innovation & Helping Your Church

Thanks for tuning in to the unSeminary podcast. We’re happy to be talking with Stan Jantz today, the Chief Executive Officer of The Come and See Foundation. In partnership with ministries around the world, Come and See is on a mission to share the authentic Jesus with 1 billion people worldwide.

Throughout history, followers of Christ have used any means possible to take the good news out into the world. From Roman roads, to the Gutenberg Press, and now “The Chosen”, technology is being leveraged in exciting ways to spread the Gospel. Stan is with us today to discuss the impact of the TV series “The Chosen,” the role of technology in spreading the Gospel, and how churches can use this series as a tool for evangelism and discipleship.

  • A tool for the Gospel. // Stan believes that “The Chosen”, a multi-episodic, multi-season portrayal of Jesus and his chosen, is the greatest publishing event in his lifetime. With a goal to distribute all seven seasons in 600 languages, with 100 of them dubbed, Come and See is working to make the show accessible for free to anyone, anywhere, leveraging the potential of reaching billions of people through digital devices. They are currently on track for the first three seasons to be translated into 50 languages by the end of the year. Watching the series can entice people into exploring the scriptures to see if the things they’ve watched really happened.
  • Help with translations. // While AI may be used in the translation process, Stan stresses the need for human subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and nuance in the translations. The Come and See Foundation works with a subject matter expert in each of the languages and cultures to which they are translating. This expert can be a theologian or pastor who will take the translation and ensure that it is maintaining the integrity of the message, even if it’s not scripture. They also ensure that the correct words are used in the translations. It takes creativity and human understanding to make a final work that is not only clear, but also correct.
  • Partnering to spread the word. // Come and See has partnered with Gloo, which helps churches obtain free licenses to access segments of “The Chosen” along with suggested outlines for use. In addition to being useful for sermon series or broadcast events, “The Chosen” can function as a discipleship tool in small groups alongside study guides offered on the TV series’ website. It’s also a great evangelistic tool for seekers and raises compelling questions, driving viewers to the Scriptures.
  • Reaching Gen Z. // In particular, Stan believes there is a significant opportunity here to bring young people, especially Gen Z, back to the church. Each generation has a gateway question that reveals what they value which they will ask when exploring something. For example, a boomer will ask, is it true? Gen X will ask, is it authentic? A Millennial will ask, is it good, for me and for the world? But Gen Z asks, is it beautiful? The approach “The Chosen” has to the Good News resonates with younger generations because of the beautiful, intimate story it portrays. The wonderful thing is it is also a true story.
  • Go to them. // Whether it’s for outreach, discipleship, missions or more, don’t wait for people to come to you, go to them. Use the free tools and resources available on The Come and See website to create opportunities for sharing the Gospel. Students are hungry to get involved in something meaningful; collaborate with Christian colleges and student ministries to unleash the next generation to use “The Chosen” in powerful ways in their communities.

Explore the resources available from The Come and See Foundation at

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. You know every week we try to bring you a leader who will inspire and equip you, and today is no exception. I’m really excited privileged to have Stan Jantz with us. He is the chief executive ah Chief Executive Officer of The Come and See Foundation. And they have this incredible mission. I love this—a mission that really draws us out—is a big idea to try to share the authentic Jesus with a billion people. You might be familiar with The Chosen. Well they’re on a mission to try to get this ah message out to remote villages, prisons, halfway houses, and beyond and they’re in in the middle of all of this incredible translation work. I’m super excited—and Stan’s in the middle of all that—so super excited to have Stan with us. Welcome to the show, Stan, so glad you’re here.

Stan Jantz — Thank you, Rich, appreciate it. And love being on your show, and love what you do. Thank you.

Rich Birch — Love it. Why don’t you fill out the picture there a little bit. Tell us a little bit about yourself, give us more your background. I know you’ve been involved on, you know, you know, the publishing side. Ah but tell us a little bit about yourself and about The Come and See Foundation for folks that are unaware.

Stan Jantz — Well I have been my whole life about Christian content. So it started with Christian bookstores. My family owned a chain of Christian retail bookstores in California. I grew up in that. I was around all the books. I was around the media, which back in the old days was sixteen millimeter films, I went to video…

Rich Birch —Love it.

Stan Jantz — So all that stuff, you know, [inaudible] and all that kind of thing. And went to Biola University and got my degree there. I got married, got went back in the family business. And we actually sold that in the late 90s, not because we were so smart knew Amazon was going to change retail, but it’s just something, another chapter.

Stan Jantz — So I started writing books. And I wrote with a partner who is a lawyer and we’ve written about about 50 or so books together…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Stan Jantz — …mostly around kind of taking theology and putting on the lower shelves. We did a Christianity 101 series with Harvest House. And most recently I’ve done a couple of solo projects – one is called “Fire and Wind” about the Holy Spirit and then “The Healing Power of God”. And this from a guy and went to Biola where the trinity was Father, Son, Holy Bible, right? So I’ve kind of…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Stan Jantz — …had this this new discovery, and by the way, Biola too has has embraced the Holy Spirit. There’s a center there for the Holy Spirit. So.

Rich Birch — So good.

Stan Jantz — But it is the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. so I I cherish the word of God, I’ve love it, I’ve taught just on, you know, in my own life, my wife and I in terms of you know classes and that kind of thing – just love it. I love taking people through discipleship journeys.

Stan Jantz — And so you know as I was kind of going along and worked in the publishing world as well and led the evangelical Christian Publishers Association, which is a trade group that represents Christian publishers worldwide, and so I just I just love published simply means to make public.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — We associate it with books but it’s really any kind of media. In fact, the angels who came about Christmas time, the angels when they came to announce to the shepherd…

Rich Birch — First publishers!

Stan Jantz — …they published glad tidings…

Rich Birch — Yes, love it. Love it. Yeah.

Stan Jantz — …as said in the King James. so it just means to make known, especially with the good news.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — And there’s been this huge, you know, effort through history to use any means possible to take the good news out into the world. And so um, you know I am just so thrilled to be a part of what I think is perhaps the greatest publishing event that, in my lifetime maybe even longer, is The Chosen…

Rich Birch — Yeah. It’s amazing.

Stan Jantz — …this multi-episodic, multi-season portrayal of Jesus and his his chosen. And they just the experience that we’ve all read about in the gospels. And and it just it just has presented this intimate, what I guess we call authentic portrayal of Jesus in a way that’s so vivid, and and and and accurate, and it’s just people are just compelled, as I was too when I first saw it.

Stan Jantz — So the foundation exists to really to make it possible for all 7 seasons. That’s the map. That’s what’s coming. There’ve been there have been 3, number 4 is coming in the first of 2024 to make it possible for all 7 seasons to be distributed around the world. And we’re going to depend on ministry partners like YouVersion and Bible Project and One Hope. The Chosen is working with commercial distribution so coordinate those together to get into places, for us especially, where the commercial enterprises aren’t going to go.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — So make sure that everybody has a chance to see it, and then the translation as you mentioned into what we’re kind of shooting as a goal of 600 languages…

Rich Birch — That’s amazing.

Stan Jantz — …that would be subtitled, but 100 would be dubbed. And we can talk about that later because that’s an extraordinary goal. And then to keep it free so anybody can watch anytime on their device. And and you probably know this, Rich, but I just learned this recently – there are 8 billion people in the world; 6 there are 6 billion smartphones. I mean I just…

Rich Birch — Wow. Yeah, that’s astonishing.

Stan Jantz — …it’s just amazing. I mean, yeah, and so you think, well it’s just kind of a western technology. No they’re all over the world.

Rich Birch — No, yep.

Stan Jantz — And The Chosen is something that is being then distributed through these devices. And of course there’s streaming services, theatrical, all that, but the key is for free that anybody anywhere can watch it anytime and not have to pay for it. So, those are our goals, and it’s it’s a long, you know, many year plan because the seasons obviously haven’t been finished yet. But we think even beyond when they finish the final season in 2027 that we’ll still be reaching the world, that we want to say the first billion, right, because it is a billion.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stan Jantz — But there’s 8 billion people so we want to keep going after that.

Rich Birch — We got a long ways to go.

Stan Jantz — We do.

Rich Birch — Well I love that. I I love that. And I, you know, I love the the big vision. I love, you know, I love what the The Chosen has done. You know, my own kind of I think there’s a lot of people share this kind of experience. I I was a late comer, I was a sleeper on The Chosen. I was, you know, I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been in vocational ministry for so long. I’m like, man, do we really need another Christian thing? And I and my I remember my wife she was like, no, this you got to watch this. And I remember the first couple episodes I was just sucked right in. And it’s been amazing to watch time and again it’s like people who are brand new to faith, sucked in, and are like wow they you know, go back to scripture want to want to read the real story. Or then longtime, who I would count myself in that, longtime Christ’s followers seeing the bible in a new way, and like it bringing the the story to life. And so I just want to honor you, honor the team, honor you know you know, obviously Dallas and his whole team, what they’re doing on The Chosen side ah to to actually make this happen. So honored to have you on.

Rich Birch — But I’d love to talk about some of your goals here. This is crazy six hundred languages, a hundred dubs – that is there anybody doing anything at that scale? That to me seems, as an outsider to this industry, that seems like massive like that’s ah, that’s a huge goal.

Stan Jantz — No, you are right. I mean typically, and this is really what drew, you know, the folks in ah, you know, probably the Mark Green the the Green family.

Rich Birch — Yup.

Stan Jantz — They’ve been such huge supporters of bible translation. And so translation was kind of the heart and they knew and they they saw this show, and said man this this is this is something the world needs to see. But if it’s just on the commercial side they’re only going to do 40 languages, maybe 50 tops. and I think the record they they in the Guinness Book of World Records the show the tv show that’s been translated the most is Baywatch. Now isn’t that isn’t that quite a record.

Rich Birch — Really!? That’s crazy!

Stan Jantz — Yeah, it’s like it’s like 46 languages.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Stan Jantz — And otherwise they kind of stop, you know…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — …or it could stop. It’s not commercially viable to go much beyond that.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — So for us to set this goal up 600 and 100 dubbed… And so right now we’re on track, Rich, for the first 3 seasons to be translated, not all dubbed, but translated into 50 languages by the end of this year.

Rich Birch — Wow, that’s amazing.

Stan Jantz — And then as we work toward because the dubbing is is something that it still requires a hands-on…it’s a voice actor who is…

Rich Birch — Yep

Stan Jantz — …they want to find a voice that matches the original, you know, that’s in the, you know, the first version of that the English version. And to capture so it looks it looks credible and that you’re not distracted because the sync is off and that kind of thing. So it’s it’s a it’s an art form…

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Stan Jantz — …and when you go then from languages 51 to 100 it starts, Okay which ones? Because some of those, and we’ll talk maybe a little bit later about what happened to Madagascar, you know, and there’s some of these languages that are are important, but they don’t fit into that top 50 or even you know top 25.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — And yet what what an opportunity that people can experience the gospel as portrayed through this through this media portrayal in their own heart language. Same thing with scripture. And as you said, then to drive people or to entice people who then look at the scriptures. And for a lot of us, I look at it and said, did that that really happen?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — And so I want to go back and look at it. You know and read that passage.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Stan Jantz — But I’ll tell you for people who have never read the bible, it is it is we we see that. It is encouraging and I would just say driving people to want to look at the scriptures.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — And there’s been no pretense that The Chosen is inspired. It’s a show about Jesus.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah.

Stan Jantz — The word of God is inspired. That’s where we want people to go…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Stan Jantz — …where they will meet the Holy Spirit, you know, working in their heart as they to help them understand what they’re reading. And if if you know that means then too a life-changing experience of coming to Jesus through that, absolutely. So that translation work is really really key.

Stan Jantz — And then to go from 101 to 600, now it hits that would hit 95% of the of the world’s population…

Rich Birch — Wow, wow. Okay.

Stan Jantz — …that can understand. And now doesn’t mean it could be that you your first language is Swahili, but you understand English.

Rich Birch — Right? right.

Stan Jantz — And it’s like you’re so… people would be able to but we’ll hit obviously Swahili and Telugu and qnd Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Portuguese Portuguese, and all these major languages. And in fact, right now we’re working on translations into Arabic, which is I’m sure you’ve had on on your show people who are tracking what’s happening in in…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — …in Iran. I mean we’re we’re really nervous about Iran. But, you know, but one of the greatest per capita people coming to Jesus, the greatest number right now, percentage-wise, is happening in Iran.

Rich Birch — That’s amazing. It’s amazing.

Stan Jantz — And Jesus meets them in different ways than we’re, you know, we would…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — …experience here in the west, through dreams…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — …and through those kinds of things. And so we think it’s so important. And so right now there are three Arabic dialects: there’s classic Arabic, Syrian Arabic, and Egyptian Arabic, and we’re working on those, and it’s not easy, especially with what’s going on there. But it’s so important to bring this message to people that are so hungry for it. They don’t know it yet, perhaps…

Rich Birch — Yeah. Right.

Stan Jantz — …but they’re hungry for hope, hungry for something that gives them their life meaning, and and helps in this world we’re we’re living in. And obviously for eternity. So we have a great point we have someone who’s leading that for us – I’ll tell you about him in a second. But just how God’s brought this team together is is pretty amazing because you bring, as you’ve experienced too, people who… he doesn’t just kind of start you from scratch. He’s using everything you’ve done…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — …you’ve worked with, you’ve trained for, for this moment, right, for what you’re doing right now.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Stan Jantz — And I’m sure you could say the true same thing in your life too. It’s ah…

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s amazing.

Stan Jantz — …no waste, right? Yeah, so.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s cool. Well, and I love, so obviously love um, you know, the Green family what they’ve done in a lot of different places, a lot of different ah segments of the Christian world. They, man, have really stepped in and with some pretty innovative like, hey let’s try to see this happen. And I love what’s happening here with come and see they’ve obviously been ah, critical piece of, Mark’s been a critical piece of this, you know, of this thing.

Rich Birch — Let’s get under the hood a little bit, and talk about, so I love the technology solution here, like trying to leverage kind of up-to-date they even that that whole thing around smartphones and like, man, let’s let’s be smartphone first and how do we get this app available. How do we do that? Um, challenge us help us kind of stretch our minds a little bit around what how you guys are thinking, how you see that as kind of a tool for the gospel? You know this is this is as old as time, going back to Paul leveraging Roman roads to send letters to each other. You know, this is there’s lots of examples of this, but help us think through you know, how how did you pick the first 50 languages? What’s that look like? Help us wrestle through those things.

Stan Jantz — Yeah, well I’m glad I’m glad you brought up the Roman roads because I’m just going to say this: God loves technology. He uses it for His purpose.

Rich Birch — Yes, true! Yes!

Stan Jantz — You know, now now the Christians didn’t build the Roman roads, right?

Rich Birch — No.

Stan Jantz — It was built by Romans.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — And they didn’t use it for the gospel. They used for for commerce and and [inaudible] you know, and to keep the peace and the in the in the empire.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — But Christians then took that and could go out and take that Gospel, was already…

Rich Birch — Yes, yep.

Stan Jantz — …the way was paved, literally. And then you have another great one was Gutenberg, the Gutenberg press. And you know we say the first by first book to be printed was the bible. But then it was really kind of a, you know, it was an artistic achievement and a cultural achievement. And it blossomed the whole world. But God used it to get the word out. And that’s when the big translation boom happened was after the printing press, you know. Suddenly we realized, oh I can afford a bible now, you know, because it’s not copied. And well I need it in my language. So people like John Wycliffe and Tyndale and others started translating, and it just became the spread. Now you have this, I would call it, this third innovation in the last two thousand years that just massive and that’s the that’s the internet.

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Stan Jantz — That’s that’s the you know the digital age. And let’s use it. It’s a tool and it’s like God is saying, there it is. It’s like the Roman roads of our day. Here you go; you can take it out and it’s going to go everywhere. And you can. It’s portable and it’s it’s possible about any it’s just you know the innovation of its set of this information superhighway is just incredible. So why and we have been using it, obviously, but the beauty of this is you’ve got this visual representations, visual story…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — …that people…we’re we’re in a visual age, right?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — People are, I mean if it’s YouTube or whatever it is, we’re getting so much more information now by looking at a phone, or at at a streaming service or whatever to get that information. So the timing is just right for this.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — And but how do we use it so it becomes a tool and not a master. And I think you you mentioned earlier about AI and I think a lot of people are concerned, and rightly so. I mean there are some ethics that are so important. And it it goes everywhere from what the big, you know, [inaudible] has been, some of that is about image and likeness. You know what are you going to do with that?

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — Or you know doing first draft script writing, but you could just you know use Chat GTP, GPT excuse me.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yep.

Stan Jantz — But even you know colleges we’ve had this discussion at Biola University about this, you know, at the board level about how do you use it? But make it a tool; don’t let it master you.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — So so yes the the idea of how you choose those languages, and in your right, Rich, once you get past past fifty, there’s not a lot of precedent for some of these, especially when you get into dramatic, you know, voice actors, that kind of thing. And I’m not saying we would use AI to do everything, but it’s certainly going to help in the translation process. And there already are missionally-minded technology companies that are focused on this. There’s one you can look it up lilt L-I-L-T dot com.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Stan Jantz — And we were introduced to them. There was ah there was an AI missional conference in Orlando this earlier this year – they’re going to do another one in April. Again, leveraging this technology for for the purpose of getting the good news out to the world. And so they’ve been working with us and we’re just kind of how do you create efficiencies. It’s kind of like I somebody explained to me. It’s like nobody does long division anymore.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Stan Jantz — We have calculators that do it. And now our phone is the calculator. So we don’t have to do that. But it used to take a lot of work. Or Excel helps us organize numbers in a spreadsheet. So you know AI is to words what excel is to numbers. It’s a tool to help us take some of that that effort that would you spend endless hours trying to get to that point where you can now take the content you have and turn it into something.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stan Jantz — And that’s where AI can really be helpful especially in language translation. So and to answer your question of how you choose it, well there had been some wonderful precedents already. I mean the Jesus film is in 1500 languages.

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Stan Jantz — And you’ve got the you’ve got the LUMO project that one that One Hope does which is a narrative of the story of Christ. Alpha, you know, has done wonderful translation for their purposes. So we’re we’re looking at what’s the priority that you’ve used Alpha or YouVersion or some of these partners…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — …that we have, and then kind of start then taking those, you know, literally one at a time to then get to that that 600. But getting to the hundred will be the next goal.

Rich Birch — That’s the next major milestone kind of thing.

Stan Jantz — And then beyond that. Yeah, exactly.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — Once we hit this 50. And then of course the season are the seasons won’t be finished till 2027.

Rich Birch — Okay, yep.

Stan Jantz — For season 7 and so we’ve you know we’ve got 8 seasons. And it’s it’s ah it’s more complicated because, versus a narrative of the story of Jesus, these are actors multiple actors doing multiple lines of dialogue, and so that creates more challenges for translation. That’s just one one voice narrating it, so to speak. And and then capturing the nuance and all of that. But we we want to use it as a tool, but here’s the key, absolute key.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stan Jantz — We have ah, we work with in each language, so each culture, a what’s called a subject matter expert. Someone who’s either a theologian, a pastor that takes this translation, you know, whether it was done by human. Now again, we’re so far humans are doing the translation so that we haven’t used AI for that yet.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stan Jantz — But once it does, and they it’s like you vet that. Okay number one, we want to see is that…

Rich Birch — Does that… yep, right.

Stan Jantz — …translation not just after it, but does it show the the nuance of the theology and the meaning of of that, even if it’s not scripture. You know, lot of scripture’s quoted because Jesus when he talks often he’s quote quoting from or he’s talking the line that was given in scripture. But that the same meaning and the same understanding can come from that.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — And so we rely on these subject matter experts. We call them “Smee’s”. Now for those of you who are anybody who’s a Disney fan, there was a character in Peter Pan named Smee – he was [inaudible] a little little a little flunky, you know?

Rich Birch — Oh yeah, yeah, yeah – Hook’s sidekick. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Stan Jantz — Yeah, yeah, sidekick. Now here’s what so here’s what’s funny about that. So the person who’s working to lead our team is a retired Disney executive.

Rich Birch — Oh funny.

Stan Jantz — And he worked he worked for 35 years as heading up their translation and localization…

Rich Birch — Oh wow. Wow.

Stan Jantz — …department for Disney films and animation all that.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — So he has vast experience in terms of how this dubbing is done, how the translating works, but that’s where we kind of kid him around that what Smee is you kind of know about Smee because that’s from Disney.

Rich Birch — Yes, brought that in.

Stan Jantz — Yeah, exactly so so these subject matter experts are really key…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — …because we don’t want miss because of a word a certain word the way it’s translated, or a phrase that kind of changes the meaning and and freaks people out.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — We just we want it’s so it’s so important to vet that and it’s ,you know what, that’s true of anybody [inaudible]…

Rich Birch — That’s laborious work. That’s… yeah.

Stan Jantz — It is. But you have to have it. And that’s where the creative part comes in.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — Because it’s not but it takes a human, it takes creative understanding, and then of course knowing your subject. That’s you know a subject matter expert. I I know this subject and and working together so that the final product is one that is not just clear, but it’s correct. You know?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yeah.

Stan Jantz — And not vear off from that as well. So.

Rich Birch — Love it. Well I love I love the front footed nature of this. I love your approach to saying like, hey you know there’s a technology there’s technology out there. How can we leverage that? What can we do to try to say. hey maybe there’s a way we could use this to reach people. It’s opportunistic to say hey…

Stan Jantz — Right.

Rich Birch — …we want to take advantage of what’s there, but not saying that there’s no downside but like, hey maybe there’s an opportunity. Maybe there’s an upside to it in the same way the Roman roads they were not all upsides not not not everything that printed was a great thing. Not everything that ended up in film was a great film. Ah, but man, what could we use it for. Have you seen have you, just as you’ve been kind of journeying with Come and See, have you heard of any churches that have used The Chosen in any kind of innovative ways that has helped them in their mission. Is there anything that maybe as we’re thinking and maybe there’s a way we could leverage this in in what we’re up to?

Stan Jantz — And I would yeah, yes that it it has. We one of our partners is Gloo G-L-O-O.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah.

Stan Jantz — They are a resource for churches. So if you go to the the website you’ll see a place called resources, and you can kind of scroll down. And then there is actually, you have to get a get a license to show it, but anybody can show; it doesn’t cost anything. And there are segments that have been pulled along with like suggested outline that you can use it for. They’ve done this for He Gets Us, the He Gets Us campaign, if you’ve seen that. They have the resources…

Rich Birch — Um, absolutely.

Stan Jantz — …we can show the commercial and then talk about it. And this we actually have clips and those clips have been selected. And that’s going to be throughout the 7 seasons. But right now we’ve got you know they’ve got seasons 1 through 3. And I expect, Rich, that there will be… we just met with the folks from Bible Project. And that is such a creative innovative innovation.

Rich Birch — Yeah, they’re great. Yeah, totally.

Stan Jantz — Those guys are on fire. And so they they want to, so again, create resources and materials for different segments. And of course integrated into their style, what they’re doing. And I’ll give you another example. I mentioned the Jesus film, and ah they they have done extraordinary work and we we are working together. We’re collaborating. And right now they’re doing a test at now the this is CRU which is the kind of a parent ministry of the Jesus film. CRU has been running tests on college campuses in the U.S. about 20, I think, 15 to 20. And where they say, okay, free food and a movie. And so students show up and…

Rich Birch — Oh, that’s cool. Yep.

Stan Jantz — …and they show them, you know, an episode or two of The Chosen, and then they have a little study guide they’ve come up with…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — …to then talk to the kids about. And they actually have seen some extraordinary results. In just one I’ll just tell you it happened at Columbia University, which is New York City, I mean it’s ah it’s a very, you know, kind of and I don’t know it’s an IV league but it’s it’s pretty close. And there was a young woman, Iranian woman who had been coming to the to the meetings. And when she saw, that was like that was the kind of the tipping point for her and she prayed to receive Christ. I mean it was like, wow, this is…

Rich Birch — Wow. Wow. Praise God. That’s great.

Stan Jantz — …you know, because yeah people are on a journey. So now that’s not going to happen with everybody, but there’s still there’s a there’s a great hunger among Gen Z. There’s a in fact, there’s a there’s a special ah documentary that was produced by The Chosen called Unfiltered. And yeah your your listeners can go to just go to YouTube, The Chosen Unfiltered. And it’s a documentary about nine GenZ adults who were brought in blind to to say we’re going to show you a movie. They didn’t know what they were seeing.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — And they pulled them from different, you know, ran… I don’t know if it was random, but they chose these these young people, these these young adults. And then they respond to it, interview them. It’s ah it’s a very, very powerful thing to watch. And here’s my take on this, Rich, and this is not this is not original to me, I I picked it up from Walter Kim, who is the president of the National Association of Evangelical he was quoting James Choug C H O U N G who wrote a book called “True Story”. And in that book he talks about that each generation has a gateway question…

Rich Birch — Oh good.

Stan Jantz — …meaning that this is the question that you would ask about something. And anyway so let’s as as a Christian, I’m a boomer. So my gateway question to open up a conversation is, well is it true? That’s what I would value. A Gen X will ask, well is it real? Is it authentic? A millennial will ask, is it good? Is there goodness in this for me, for the world? Okay, here’s what Gen Z asks: is it beautiful?

Stan Jantz — Now notice you got truth, goodness, and beauty, with the authenticity thrown in there. But truth, these three values, they’re all important. We’ve been leading with truth pretty much as a church. And I think rightly so. But then you have to look at the generation that’s coming up and yeah, truth’s important, but what they, what they value more than anything is beauty.

Rich Birch — Right. Love it.

Stan Jantz — And I think what’s happening with this particular approach to the to the good news to telling it. We’re telling this beautiful, intimate story and it’s drawing people in. Now you get to the truth eventually; if it’s not true, then it’s just a story, and it doesn’t really matter.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Stan Jantz — But this is a true story, and guess what? It’s also really good. It really is good for…we’ve seen it in culture how it’s good for the world…

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah.

Stan Jantz — …to when when when people come to Christ their their life has changed for the benefit of of others as well. So so that’s what I love about is that this beautiful, beautiful story and Dallas give him all the credit for the way he’s telling this…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — …and the the way he’s using close ups, and and how he directs these actors. And oh my goodness it’s it’s really it draws people in like nothing else I’ve ever seen.

Rich Birch — It does, it does. And and it’s you know there are and this is a part of what I love about it, he makes some risky choices. Like it is not a safe portrayal, but but that’s great because Jesus is not safe, right? He’s he’s good, right? It’s the CS Lewis thing. Is he you know is he good?

Stan Jantz — Right.

Rich Birch — Of course he’s good, but he’s not safe, right?

Stan Jantz — Yeah.

Rich Birch — And and I love what what Dallas has done; I totally agree with that now. The interesting thing I wonder if you could shed a light on on what Come and See has done or kind of the broader Chosen movement. Man, it really, it’s one of those few places, which I think is a wonderful thing, it’s one of those few places that seems to be a gathering point for Christians of a lot of different stripes. A lot of different backgrounds have been able to kind of connect with this. And I was saying to a friend, I was saying, oh I’m really looking forward to this conversation later this week. And I said, you know, I I’ve been in ministry for a lot of years, 20, 30 years. And was when I started Billy Graham was kind of in his later days. And but he was still out doing festivals and that sort of thing. And there really hasn’t been, I don’t think, a gathering point like that in a number of years, until this has come along. And there there seems to be like a coalition building thing that you’re doing that I don’t see a lot of people doing. Help us understand, so am I right, am I reading that correctly? And then help me understand how you’re able to do that, because that is I say I would say is pushing against kind of the the flow of what’s happening in the church. It seems like we’re fracturing [inaudible] I think it’s having a huge detriment to us. But how are you doing that? How is that working? What’s what’s happening there um with the foundation.

Stan Jantz — Um, that’s a very good observation, Rich. I really appreciate that and I think that’s where working with these partners. You know, that that part of that I said we we’re making it possible for the show to to be completed, to be translated and distributed. That distribution portion is what’s really key because um, you know those that’s the boots on the ground like the CRU already have students coming or you have, you know, what YouVersion is is doing in different parts of the world. And ministries like One Hope ah, which is God’s word for every child is their goal. It’s an international ministry. So how do we provide a tool that they can then use. And they’re going to create these resources that then people can use and gather together. And the thing about it is there they so they did this with season 3, a theatrical release. Remember they did that with the first two episodes?

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yep, yep yep.

Stan Jantz — And then the last two episodes that Jesus walking in the water scene which it concluded was dramatic. And they’re going to do that with season 4. And I think it gets people together and I think, Rich, to your point about churches I didn’t quite finish my your answering your question about how do we you know work with churches. That’s going to be a real key. And the resources not just for and certainly, yes, for a pastor if they want to show a clip and illustrate a sermon with a particular, you know, scene from The Chosen. But also to create, you know, I I’m just going to say like a watch party or something. I mean I told you that we were, when I grew up in the Christian bookstore seeing we had these big sixteen millimeter film – I mean big they really were they big reels of acetate film.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stan Jantz — And churches used to do what they call watch party, especially like around holidays, like New Year’s Eve. And people would come in, watch a movie, or they would call binge watch them maybe put in two or three.

Stan Jantz — And I think where you get people together and then talk about it when you’re done. That’s the really… We, just on a small scale, my wife and I are taking another couple who are pretty new to the faith through kind of a discipleship journey showing episodes of The Chosen and then talking about it. And The Chosen has produced, Amanda, Dallas’s wife, has written these study guides for each season. And it really drives you to scripture and asks compelling questions. And I’ll tell you this couple is growing like I can’t believe. And it’s because and what’s great about it…

Rich Birch — It’s true.

Stan Jantz — …because they’re going to the bible. They want to know more. What is the bible telling me about this? And so I think there’s an opportunity for The Chosen to be that gathering point, as you said, bringing people together. And it’s always, hey if we can’t gather by Jesus, what are we going to gather about, you know?

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Stan Jantz — And I think it’s the it’s going to unify where we can get sidetracked on different issues, whether it’s politics, or culture, or whatever’s going on. And and this brings us together and I think helps us see how he dealt with these issues too. And because he especially starting with season 4, the opposition is going to grow. You know we think, you know, we’re dealing with some tough things. aAnd yes in many parts of the world it’s really tough to be ah, be a Christian. Well it was tough in the first century.

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Stan Jantz — And and we see that opposition starting to build and I think he he’s been through as the scripture says, he’s experienced everything we have yet without sin. He knows the pressures, he knows what loneliness, he knows rejection, and you see it. And and what I find interesting, Rich, when you when you read the but the scriptures. Ah, and you real, you kind of especially get into John where the you know as the things get a little more intimate. It’s like these guys don’t get it, these followers. They keep asking him, so what do you have to do? You’re going to do what?

Rich Birch — It’s so true.

Stan Jantz — You know, he he he was real plain about it: I’ve got to die and [inaudible] come back.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stan Jantz — What what do you mean? You know, I mean, huh?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — And so it’s like and so for us to realize, yeah it takes we have to kind of keep keep reading it and keep experiencing it. But realize that’s that’s been the issue with Jesus is that people don’t always right away understand it, but you have to keep stick with him. And then and then it’s it’s like, oh it’s like the the blinding flash of the obvious. Oh that’s what it meant but he said he come back, you know? And I I really I think that again, but the visual part, that beauty part is such a gateway for people to experience and then to be drawn to the Word.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stan Jantz — Ah, to really encounter what God’s message for us is, you know, as as his people here.

Rich Birch — It’s great. That’s super good insights, and it’s good stuff for us to think about, and wrestle with as we think in our our context. So kind of as we’re coming to land today’s episode, you’ve got a few thousand, 3-, 4000 ah church leaders listening in. What would you say to them? What would your kind of message be to them to be thinking about from from your seat at, you know, at Come and See? Is there something we can do to help? How can we, you know, I think so many of us are you know we’re we’re cheering for The Chosen and we see the impact it’s had. We have very similar, you know, stories.

Rich Birch — I’m, you know, I lead stuff obviously, but I volunteer as a Alpha Leader in my church. And there’s a woman in my Alpha group doesn’t know him and, you know, doesn’t she’s I’m just like some guy to her, which is wonderful. And you know she’s talked about same thing. How like, I watch this show called The Chosen and, man, it’s like just drawn her to the bible.

Stan Jantz — Yeah.

Rich Birch — And I’m like Praise God – Like that’s amazing. I want to see that replicated. So what would you say to church leaders that are listening in today…

Stan Jantz — Yeah, well…

Rich Birch — …just kind of today as we as we land this episode?

Stan Jantz — Yeah, first of all, thank you for all that you do, and the the creative things that we’re seeing that I’m seeing personally. Rich, we mentioned before we start chatting the church I’m involved with a network of churches called Bayside in California. And just they’re using innovation and just reaching into places where churches, we’re not waiting for the church people to come to us. Let’s go to where they are.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — So whether it’s a business gathering, or a student gathering, or whatever it might be. And so I would just encourage we we would love to hear your ideas. We this is available to you. It’s it’s it’s free for you to use. And tell us you’re going to use it so we can you know we want to be able to ah, keep track of who’s doing what. So there’s a licensing form on our website. But just shoot shoot an email to us and you can do that. Say, hey, we’d like to do this or the other. And it could be it could be a weekend, I know one person came up with a thought… by the way in Christian colleges I think are really key to this too. Students, and I had this experience at Biola when I actually sought for the first time at Biola University. They sponsored ah kind of ah…

Rich Birch — Okay.

Stan Jantz — …a showing and 2500 people came.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Stan Jantz — And and The Chosen was was there. They represented with some of the actors and and some of their key people. And there were students and there was faculty, and people from the community, and it was extremely… showed outside on the big screen. And it’s it’s inspiring to young creatives. Don’t don’t you think, Rich, We need this generation coming up of young creatives…

Rich Birch — That’s so true.

Stan Jantz — …and direct them and use their talent, as you said this innovation, by telling beautiful stories and the church to embrace that.

Stan Jantz — And whether it’s in a home group, or or the a church service itself, to be able to be able to show this the story. So I would say we’d love to hear from you. But the the show is available and and we just, you know, want to work. And again as I mentioned Gloo has already done some things, excuse me, with a resource page and they’ve done wonderful work in a lot of ways with churches. They’re now working with Outreach Magazine. And so there’s there’s some, I think we’re going to see these resources and we we’re not out to create them, but we want to partner with churches, with organizations to help you if you want to create resources or derivative material. You know, let us know, and let’s work together to how we can make that work.

Stan Jantz — And a lot of churches with their missions program, they have connections overseas and other countries and let’s think of resourcing. You know, yes, we’ve been blessed in the west with great churches and great organizations. But most of the Christians in the world live, used to be called the global south, now they call it the majority world, if you especially if you throw China into that. I think it’s that 60 to 70% of all the believers on earth live in South America, Africa, or Asia. And it’s it’s, you know, and maybe it’s the difficulty.

Stan Jantz — I mean the church in the early church grew because of pressure right? It was something about that. And I think that that’s in many places it’s not easy to be a Christian, but how can we resource and churches that have missions programs, that kind of thing, we’d love to work with you and where we we see this as an international um you know tool to be used. That’s why the language translation is so key. So again I just encourage you, leaders, that this is a tool to use. And let’s be creative in how we can use it. But the story is going to get really interesting as we go into see said 4, 5 and 6.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — We they had an event called Chosen Con…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stan Jantz — …that ran three weeks ago in Dallas. And you know they had these panels with actors like they do and those kinds of events. And they had ah they had one panel with all the the actors who play the the followers, you know, the disciples, including Jonathan, and he happened to be sitting next to the active plays Judas. That was kind of interesting to watch them interact with each other.

Rich Birch — That’s fun. Yes.

Stan Jantz — Yeah, so but they said that this season 4 was harder than season 3. Up till season 3…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Stan Jantz — …it’s been fairly, not light, but it’s been like the wedding at Cana, and these different…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stan Jantz — …[inaudible] things. And now season 4, it starts to get and this is this is not a spoiler alert…

Rich Birch — No.

…but it’s John the Baptist his thing happens right?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stan Jantz — And the raising of Lazarus and we know that was a wonderful thing, but we know from scripture that ignited opposition.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stan Jantz — That got really intense. Aand so some of those things and then Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus, said I had to learn a lot of lines and they’re all scripture. So they’re bringing, you know, because you’re getting into where you know again, the Gospel and John, which has so much dialogue, that you’ve got this this happening and it’s like boy. And so only you can imagine then seasons 5 6 and 7 which will in holy week, crucifixion, and resurrection. So it’s so so pray for the and pray for for Dallas and and the cast. This is I’ll just be real frank, the enemy isn’t happy with this proclaiming the name of Jesus the way it is…

Rich Birch — Sure, sure. Yeah, you can imagine that. Yep.

Stan Jantz — Yeah so and and nobody’s afraid, but we’re aware, and and needing to pray against that and that God would bring, you know, not just clarity but also strength, you know, to kind of carry this through. And all ministries are facing this. I mean it’s it’s a it’s crazy.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Stan Jantz — You know, Chosen is not unique, Come and See is not unique. All ministries are facing this. And it’s like, you know, it’s almost like the devil knows, hey things are cranking up. I got to do what I can, you know? And and he and he focuses on things that are effective, I think, that’s which is if we learn anything from CS Lewis you know with Screwtape Letters, and say go go for the where the work is really being done. So but we have, you know, we have such great [inaudible] working together. And the media you’re doing, let’s use all the media.

Rich Birch — Yeah, absolutely.

Stan Jantz — Because people listen to podcasts, people watch movies…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stan Jantz — …people go to events, I mean let’s get it all to working together. And I think too one of the things I’m learning, Rich, is ah collaboration. We could do more together than we could do individually, you know?

Rich Birch — Right. Love it.

Stan Jantz — And and the business schools used to call that collective impact, right? So let’s work together whether it’s in your community, with other organizations and ministries and churches, or regionally, or internationally, you know. And so I think that is is a key and when you find a tool that will help draw people and draw them but draw them to Jesus…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stan Jantz — Somebody asked Dallas at this Chosen Con in a Q and A from the audience, what’s the heart of The Chosen? He did not hesitate and he said: it’s Jesus.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — It’s not a show about Jesus. It’s not this production we’re doing.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — It’s not all the plans we have. It’s Jesus – that’s the heart, you know. And I think when we when you make him the focus as we as we always should, lives will be changed. Because people are drawn today as they were in the first century, people were drawn to him. And he has a words to give life, you know. And he still does. He’s still real, and speaks, and prays for us, and is drawing people to himself and that’s all about Jesus. So that’s what I, folks, that’s for me as as kind of a a place when I’m doing from publishing to everything else, this is really exciting and and I’m I’m honored and humbled to actually be a part of it. So yeah, yeah.

Rich Birch — That’s great. Well, Stan, I really appreciate you being here. We want to send people to if they want to learn more. I love that challenge of like, hey how’s your church using it? Why don’t you try something, you know, set up the licensing and try some ah, you know, maybe something innovative, something that hasn’t been trying, maybe partner with some other churches in town. Maybe it could fit into your ah you know into a series or do something, you know, to try to leverage this tool. I appreciate your openhandedness of, you know, and The Chosen’s openhandedness to try to say, hey let’s try to do this in a way ah, where we can see more people ultimately pointed to Jesus. Ah Stan, I really appreciate you being here today – is there anywhere else online we want to send people to connect with you, or to connect, you know, with with Come and See?

Stan Jantz — That’s the one. You can and you can send in fact I just you know I probably shouldn’t do this, but Bob Goff puts his phone number in all this books. So I’ll just tell you my emails, my emails real simple but just stan at, so…

Rich Birch — Great.

Stan Jantz — …if anybody’s got you know feel free to reach out or just go to the website. There’s other points of contact. But, you know, I love I love what church are doing. We were talking offline, Rich, about the the church we’re involved with here in California, and you know the church, and it’s ah it’s just extraordinary the work that churches are doing. And not just. I mean yes proclaim the gospel, but to reach out to the community and to bring hope and healing, right? And it is ultimately about Jesus, but there’s on entry points to get there. And I just I think churches are doing remarkable work. And I think we’re seeing young people being drawn back to the church. Ah, a lot of people have left. There’s you probably have if you haven’t had them on but the book The Great De-churching or The De-churching I think is – those guys have did the study on that I think 40 million people have left the church in the last twenty years.

Rich Birch — Yep, yes, yes.

Stan Jantz — And what’s going to bring them back? And I think for the for the church, there’s a huge opportunity, especially among Gen Z – I’m really convinced about that.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it.

Stan Jantz — And if you have a Christian college in your in your area, work together with their student ministry leaders, Christian college students, and there’s a lot of on secular campuses too, so it’s not just Christian colleges. But work with CRU or Intervarsity. These students are hungry to get involved in something meaningful.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stan Jantz — Let’s unleash students, you know, to do something that, you know, could could take this out and to work through your church organization in extraordinary ways.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Stan Jantz — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Well, well I really appreciate being on, Stan. Thanks for spending some time with us today. Cheering for you and the Foundation. Thanks so much, man.

Stan Jantz — Thank you, Rich. God bless.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.