WHERE ARE WE GOING WITH THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST?
Spencer Burke, founder of The Ooze, wrote an interesting article about the church's promotion, marketing and attitude towards Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion of The Christ." He shares some very good perspectives... Check it out here.
A few quotes from the article:
- "First of all, I want to applaud the church for its boldness in supporting an R-rated movie. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard plenty of sermons over the years on why Christian adults shouldn’t see R-rated movies. To discount a film purely because of its rating has always seemed a bit shortsighted and narrow to me. So I’m thrilled to think that perhaps we’re finally moving past a policy of blind abstinence."
- "After years of opposing popular culture and non-traditional art forms, I’m encouraged that we’re moving forward. I’m pleased to see that we’re attempting to address culture in the movie house, not just the “house of the Lord.” At the same time, however, I’m nervous that we’re attempting to shrink wrap the gospel and turn art—Mel Gibson’s personal vision of the crucifixion of Christ--into something it was never meant to be: propaganda.
The church marketing machine is strong. (Been to a Christian bookstore lately?) We can do bracelets, mugs and T-shirts with the best of them. But is it right? Are we interested in engaging with culture, or simply trying to convert people? When we invite friends to see the movie, will we feel that our night was a waste if we don’t get a chance to share The Four Laws? Is our agenda to buy people tickets so that the whole night feels like an awkward first date—you know, the “Well, he bought me dinner so I guess I have to kiss him,” scenario? Are we interested in people’s honest questions about the film, or only their response to the film (i.e. did they pray the prayer)?
My sense is that all our enthusiasm could actually backfire and keep people away from what may or may not be a great film. At the same time, however, all our efforts will no doubt demand a payoff. You just know that elders somewhere are going to be counting how many people attend post-February 25 services and trying to calculate how many people came to Christ because of this film."
We are encouraging people in our church community to invite someone to the movie and series with whom they have already begun establishing a relationship with. I think it will be odd for people to go up to complete strangers or their neighbors and invite them to this movie - ESPECIALLY if there has never been an attempt at developing a relationship with them. CHRISTIAN PEOPLE: Please do not do this. Let's quit living up to our stereotype that we are "selling God" to people. Let's work on relationships. (i.e. 'earning the right to be heard', 'people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.', etc...)
So as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to think about those in my life whom I have connected with and taken the time to get to know and maybe invite them - because it's a story that I want them to experience - for a lot of reasons. But I'm not going to look at this as a tool to "win" them. If that happens, great. But if not, that's ok too - I'll still be their friend, because I'm not their "friend" so that I can fix them or make them better. I'm their friend because I truly and authentically care for them. Besides, I have a lot of fixing that needs to be done in my life and no one but God has the ability to do that.
So I agree with Spencer when he says, "I’m interested in seeing people’s personal experiences and struggles with Jesus. I’m also interested in seeing films that go beyond blatant religious themes." Such a good statement...