Uniting faith, film, and family
After two decades of experience in ministry and media, Tim Gray launched Gray Media in 2004. Transitioning from traditional media into the streaming era, Gray Media represents many of the largest churches and nonprofits and distributes films and programs in over 150 countries and on platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Studios, and Apple TV.
In the past decade, Tim had some life-altering setbacks, including bankruptcy, marital separation, and battles with addiction within his family. He had lost all hope, but through rediscovering his faith in Christ, his life, marriage, and family were restored, which led him to create FaithChannel to help people experience hope again and encounter the God who rebuilds, renews, and restores.
For over 30 years, Tim’s passion for his faith and for film has urged him to discover new, creative ways of combining the two and now through FaithChannel.com.
In April 1996, he streamed “Washington for Jesus,” the first major Christian event and one of the first live events online with Shark Tank star, Mark Cuban. Back then, their business sign was a RadioShack phone and words that read, “Don’t Hang Up!”
In 2015, Gray negotiated the first religious program on E! Entertainment. He also launched the first “Faith in Film” panel at Sundance Film Festival to standing–room–only crowds. In 2017, he received the only invitation extended to an American to speak on a panel of experts who discussed film distribution at the Chinese International Film Congress in Beijing.
In an exclusive interview with SACONNECTS magazine, Gray spoke candidly about his faith, his channel, and his family.
SACONNECTS: How did you get started in Christian media?
Tim Gray: I grew up in southern Illinois and my dad watched Oral Roberts on Sunday. That’s how my dad got saved. I later went to Oral Roberts University to study television. I then started working with various TV stations and got into media ministry. I also worked with a lot of the secular networks such as BET and Discovery Channel and networks in Europe and India. I attended many conferences such as the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Religious Broadcasters, Sundance film Festival, and all of that.
Then in January 1996, I was at a computer conference, and I saw a thing called the Internet. At that time, I had a personal computer, but I didn’t have a website. Back then, I didn’t even know I could have one.
I met a guy who worked with Mark Cuban’s company who was streaming sports and I asked if he would work with me to stream “Washington for Jesus.” That’s when my streaming career began.
How did you convince E! Entertainment that their audience would go for Christian programming?
Well, there’s two things. They must meet the needs of their subscribers, and they must grow from a business standpoint. As a faith and family network, we have a worldwide niche. They will take those inspirational, feel good, found God, type stories to grow.
In 2007, FaithChannel.com really inspired me. We are now re-launching it as its own subscription–based, video on–demand platform. It’ll have top preaching, movies, documentaries, kids’ series, uncensored news, and podcasts. I want people to experience an open encounter with God.
We’ve turned down about 90 percent of the content that has been brought to us because I want the stories to be great, and it to be trusted content. When people go to the FaithChannel, I want them to trust that it’s great content. So, we are selective and strategic in our growth.
We want wonderful worship, music, and different and episodic series. We’re also developing original content by working with great producers in their field of expertise. We’re bringing international content from Australia, London, Nigeria, and Israel to bring our international church together.
In this age of “cancel culture,” we want Christians to realize that they’re not alone. What they believe is shared by many global ministries.
Your own story seems to be such a compelling and fascinating journey. How does it inform your faith and your work?
I got saved as a young boy, I worked in ministry, and I’ve been married for 38 years. But I found that during this past decade, I really lost my faith. I was separated from my wife, I had a bankruptcy in business, we had an addiction wreck our home, and I had bad relationships with most of my children.
But through finding who I was in Christ, I got down to the basics such as surrender and humility. In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about how his weakness became a portal to God’s power. That’s what I have really found.
Now my marriage is restored, business is doing wonderful, and my relationships with my children and my wife are great.
But this is from really working hard. I go to counseling, I have coaches in my life, and I have a great pastor and I’m involved in my local church.
My purpose, and why I drive so much to help people experience hope, is because I had lost it. I know what it is to find it again and for people to encounter God. Since I had that encounter, my life has been truly changed.
What do you hope FaithChannel will accomplish?
I want FaithChannel to be a wonderful place for content providers to find a home. They don’t have to pay to be on. We have a revenue stream that backs our content creators so they get paid for creating their content so they can go back and create more content.
In July 2021, FaithChannel will be available on an app, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, and Roku and through other strategic partnerships.
by Warren L. Maye