Monday, January 26, 2009


Next month sees the start of MovieChurch @ Tab.
A few people have asked about the thinking behind this, so here's some of my reasoning. It's brief, and owes something to the thoughts of Steve Taylor at emergentkiwi.

I begin with scripture, it seems a good place for a Jesus-follower to start! Reading the gospels Jesus is revealed as seeking to draw people into the Kingdom of God, identifying his role as to seek and save the lost, and giving his followers instructions to do the same. In Acts we see how the disciples carried this mission on, the growth of the faith community, and the expansion of the church beyond the realm of Jewish sect to faith for people of any people group / culture.

By the time we get to Acts 17 Paul has been on missionary travels, calling people to follow Jesus, inviting them to become part of the kingdom. The second part of Acts 17 sees Paul in Athens, where he uses elements of the Athenian culture as a springboard for talking about faith, indeed he quotes from their own poets as something that contains God-truths.

Part of what Paul was doing was revealing Christ from within their own cultural framework. I wonder what parts of our culture might be used to reveal Jesus, what might illuminate, explain, or provide a springboard to begin discussing our faith?

And so I turn to movies. I think movies are the stories that our culture tells about itself. I also think that movies involve and move the viewer in ways other artforms don't. As the USA has a kind of cultural Christianity at its heart, it's not surprising that spiritual themes appear in films so often, and even when they are not overtly spiritual there are still themes of redemption, forgiveness, grace, hope, salvation and love regularly present.

Churches and Christians have often ignored or misunderstood films, seeing them as moving wallpaper, or having little merit other than as a form of escapism. More and more recently practical theologians and pastors have been discovering the usefulness of movies, not merely as a way of illustrating a sermon point (and showing off our great technology), but as a way of exploring faith themes, and even as a way of engaging in mission activity.

So, with this in mind, we're starting MovieChurch. It'll happen on the last Sunday each month, when we'll watch a whole movie together, break for refreshments then facilitate a discussion on the film's themes and ideas.

My hopes for this include a desire that our congregation gets used to “reading” and talking about films, so that they become more equipped to respond to topical films, as well as beginning to use films as a means of faith-sharing themselves (inviting a friend to go to the cinema then talking about it afterwards) as well as using movies as a way of exploring their own faith. I also hope that by using films instead of a sermon we might find ourselves discussing themes that might otherwise be ignored. It will also create an opportunity within the life of the church that people might feel more able to invite friends. It could be accessed like a book club, only with a film.
So, watch here for updates, I'll be blogging after each one, and looking for feedback from participants to be included here too.


Anonymous said...

What age group(s) will Movie Church be aimed at - I know of a few young teenagers who will have nothing to do on Sunday evenings after Easter. Also, will the films being shown/discussed be published in advance?

Jonathan said...

Hey John,
If there is an age restriction on the movie it will be well publicised, and we'll have to enforce it.

It won't be weekly, just the last Sunday of each month for now.

Yes, the title and discussion points will be advertised beforehand.

BrianDavison said...

Let me know how it goes and what films you choose.

I've used clips from harry Potter and the goblet, & Shrek the halls recently (but more as illustrations / discussion starters)