Three times in my life Iâ€™ve been involved with church
projects that use movies to teach Gospel truths. Perhaps
reading about them will encourage you to try something
1. Vermont Avenue Filmfest--Michio Nagai, elder and
minister for the Vermont Avenue Church of Christ on the
old Pepperdine campus, introduced me to the possibilities
of movies at church.
He conceived and carried out a variation on the gospel
meeting that he called Filmfest. He would select a theme,
often a parable of Jesus, then choose movies made by
religious production companies to illustrate it. A panel
would discuss the various aspects of the theme, and
everyone would answer questions on handouts about it.
Though we were a small congregation at that time, our
numbers would double for Filmfest as members brought
their friends, and members of sister congregations in the
area joined us.
2. A Motion Picture of Jesus--Don Butler, a member of
the Culver Palms church, has an extensive collection of
commercial movies about the life of Jesus. He and Josan
Wright and I put together a series of Bible class lessons
using them. They included two versions of King of Kings,
The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Gospel According
to St. Matthew, Jesus of Nazareth and many more.
Each week, we covered a different story from Jesusâ€™
life, from his birth to his teachings to his miracles to his
death and resurrection. Don would read from one of the
Gospels and illustrate the account with snippets from two
or three different movies to give a variety of â€œtakesâ€�
on the same story. Then weâ€™d discuss it using Philip
Yanceyâ€™s book, The Jesus I Never Knew.
3. Sermon on the Mount series--Mark Manassee, our
minister at Culver Palms, was planning a series of sermons
this fall on the Sermon on the Mount. Because the Culver
Palms church includes several members who work in the
movie industry, he decided to use their talents to produce
short films on â€œThe Sermon on the Mount for Today.â
Writers wrote scripts, directors directed, members acted,
served as extras, decorated sets, and worked on lighting
and sound. Steve and Victoria Fraasa produced the films,
using their equipment for the project. Itâ€™s a wonderful
way to involve people with varied skills in communicating
Mark wrote questions on each lesson to serve as the basis
of study for our new Growth Groups, which meet during
the week in various homes around the city.
These are just three examples Iâ€™m acquainted with that
use movies at church. You may think of many more. Weâ
€™re charged with sharing the Gospel. To do it
effectively, we may want to consider the rich visual
resource of movies.