The Beacon Show: Emmy Winner Dan Merchant on Faith, Creativity & Finding Purpose (Full Episode)

Discover how Dan Merchant's faith & experiences inspired a groundbreaking show, and gain invaluable insights into navigating the creative process with purpose.

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Are you called to tackle topics that others may shy away from? Dan Merchant is living proof that when we stick with the ideas God places on our hearts, He can use them to transform lives in a way that we have never imagined. In this heartfelt episode of The Beacon Show, Dan opens up about his hit TV show “Going Home” and his real-life faith journey, and shares invaluable insights into navigating the creative process with purpose.

Dan Merchant is an Emmy Award-winning television writer, producer, and director best known for his hit series “Going Home.” But beyond the accolades, Dan is a storyteller with a burning passion to express truth in a way that connects with the human experience. 

From a young age, Dan found solace and inspiration in the music of the Beatles, discovering a world of creativity that bore little resemblance to his own turbulent upbringing. As he began to explore his own voice through writing and filmmaking, Dan couldn’t escape the sense that he had been entrusted with something sacred, a calling to tell stories that matter. 

Fast-forward to the launch of “Going Home,” a poignant drama about hospice nurses that almost didn’t see the light of day. When the idea first struck Dan, he knew it was a Holy Spirit download, but the degree of difficulty was daunting. How do you make a show about death and dying that people actually want to watch? 

But Dan leaned into the challenge, assembling a team of talented actors and crew members who shared his vision. He even invited his wife to join the writers’ room, recognizing her unique gifts of observation and empathy. Together, they crafted a series that honestly explores the beauty and pain of life’s final chapter. 

In this candid conversation, Dan pulls back the curtain on his creative process, sharing powerful stories of how “Going Home” has touched lives and opened doors for authentic connection. He also opens up about his own journey of loss and legacy and why he believes our most impactful work often springs from our deepest wounds. 

Whether you’re a fellow creative, a person grieving the loss of a loved one, or simply someone wrestling with life’s biggest questions, Dan’s wisdom will leave you encouraged, challenged, and inspired to be a good steward of the message that is burning in your soul.

Watch or listen to Dan’s full interview on YouTube and Apple Podcasts!

The Power of Creative Expression to Heal, Connect, and Inspire

Dan Merchant traces his love for creative expression back to his childhood, when he discovered the Beatles during a difficult period of his life. 

“I think what I found [in their music] was evidence of a much larger world, and evidence of a much more interesting, hopeful, dynamic world that bore no resemblance to the one I was living in,” he explains.

Over time, Dan channeled that passion for creativity and storytelling into playwriting at school and summer camp, and then eventually into television writing, producing, and directing. 

Now, through the hit TV series “Going Home,” he seeks to connect with others and offer the same kind of hope and healing that he found in the Beatles’ music as a child. 

“‘Going Home,’ in a more tangible way, speaks to people who are grieving or have lost loved ones — or guess what, we all will,” Dan says. “So being able to do a dramatic show about a thing that every single person on the planet has in common, it’s a pretty special thing to tell stories about that kind of topic.”

Telling Stories About Death with Authenticity and Respect

Dan says the idea for “Going Home” came straight from the Holy Spirit, so he felt a strong responsibility to be a good steward of the task he had been given, to faithfully tell authentic stories, and to surrender the results to God.

It wasn’t an easy task, however, and Dan admits he sometimes wondered if it would even be possible. 

“You just have to approach the degree of difficulty with respect, and be thoughtful about how you do it, and then hold it with an open hand and let God do what God wants to do with it,” Dan says in retrospect. 

Through faithful perseverance and obedience to God’s direction, “Going Home” came together in ways Dan could not have imagined. Time and time again, the people he wanted to work on the show rejected his offer, only for someone else to accept, bringing talent and ideas beyond his expectations. 

Even aside from the difficulty of gathering the right people to make it happen, telling powerful stories about death and loss can be challenging. But, as Dan has learned, it can also be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. 

Death, after all, is part of life. And while talking about it often involves pain and uncertainty, those conversations can also be powerful sources of beauty and hope. 

How Art Helps Us Process Grief

For Dan, one of the most powerful impacts of “Going Home” is that it creates space for conversations about death and grief. 

“We all have those stories,” he says. “And so being able to share those things with each other means we get to carry each other’s pain a little bit. And there’s something beautiful in that ability to connect with each other.”

In some ways, art allows us to process our own emotions at a safe distance. It provides a degree of separation between ourselves and fictional characters — or even other people like ourselves — who face similar heartaches to our own but who may offer us a new perspective. 

Similarly, working on “Going Home” helped Dan work through the grief of losing his own father while working on set. Dan’s research for the show had already given him fresh insight into the realities of hospice care, and reflecting on his experience later inspired him to include references to a real-life grief recovery support group in hopes of helping more people who might need resources and support. 

Finding God’s Truth Even in Fiction

From interviewing actual hospice nurses to including elements of true stories in the fictional narratives, Dan has made it a priority to keep his characters and storylines true to the real-life experiences of the people who inspired them. 

“There’s a real potency to the actual experiences we all go through,” he explains. “And so there is a true kind of magnetic north principle behind these things, where we just feel like these are stories that are stuck in our brains… The reason these things stick with us is because they affirm our shared experience.”

Over the years, Dan has discovered that the stories that he finds both moving and memorable are always stories that bear the truth of God’s grace, that are faithful to the life and ministry of Jesus and counterintuitive to the ways of the world. 

“I think that’s at the heart of this show,” he concludes. “It’s counterintuitive. This show about hospice nurses and death is a beautiful, life-affirming show that connects us. So in a way, it’s counterintuitive in a way that I’ve seen other things be counterintuitive that changed my life.”

Pursuing God-Given Passion Despite Challenges and Uncertainty

While telling stories other people might shy away from is difficult — and making a successful TV show is nearly impossible for most people — Dan advises against giving up on your dream just because it seems unlikely to come true. 

“It’s all impossible anyway, so you might as well try,” he says. “If something is on your heart, or if you’re you’re blessed enough to have the Holy Spirit visit you and give you an idea, figure out how to be the best steward you can. It’s no less likely that that’ll work than any other kind of thing.”

Furthermore, when considering the legacy he wants to leave through his life and work, Dan says he’s gained a greater perspective on what it means to live well in the present. 

We don’t have to wait until the end of our lives to reconcile with others and fulfill our desires — we can start today to make the most of however much time we have left, while doing our best to reach out to others with the message God has laid on our hearts. 

“If it’s on your heart, it’ll probably connect to other people’s hearts too,” Dan says in closing. “And if your motivation is to express yourself to the world, to try and connect with other people, and to be helpful to the world by sharing your experience, it’s likely that’ll be a good thing for other people, too. As long as that burns in you, then that’s probably a good motivation to try and figure out how to do it.”

About Dan Merchant

Dan Merchant is an Emmy Award-winning television writer/producer and oft-mocked youth basketball coach. He has been happily married for twenty years and is the Father of two. Dan Merchant is a veteran writer, producer, and director best known for SyFy’s Z Nation and his documentary feature Lord, Save Us From Your Followers. His latest series “Going Home” is produced in association with Sony AFFIRM Originals for Great American Pure Flix. 

Season 2 of his hit show “Going Home” streaming on Great American Pure Flix has just launched.

Visit Dan’s IMDB page here. Watch the “Going Home” series on Pureflix.

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