Over half a million tickets have been pre-sold, virtually all to ministries and churches. In some multiplex theaters, every screen has been claimed by churches. Compassion International pre-bought a stunning 250,000 tickets.
My church won’t be doing that.
I don’t have a problem with Son of God being made. And I haven’t seen it, so I have no judgment on its merits. I’m also not saying that the churches that bought out entire theaters are wrong.
I just have a different take on it.
Here are two reasons my church won’t be taking over a theater this weekend.
1. We need to engage the culture, not reinforce the Christian subculture
Yes, we are called to be a holy people, set apart from the things of the world. But we’re also called to engage the world. That’s the message of the Gospel, after all – that God chose not to remain separate, but lovingly and redemptively interacted with the culture, warts and all, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
In fact, it’s one of Mark Burnett’s stated purposes for making this movie. Not to create entertainment for believers, but to infiltrate the marketplace with the message of Jesus.
That will be hard to do when many theaters will be closed to anyone who hasn’t pre-bought tickets from a church. I’m concerned that in our enthusiasm to support this movie, we may be diminishing its usefulness. I hope it doesn’t end up being perceived as the movie for “those church people.”
2. Christian-themed art and media deserve the chance to stand or fall on their own merits
I have no idea if Son of God is a great, average or awful movie. Given the many public statements of faith made by its producers, I have no doubt it will be a sincere and devout one.
But Christian-themed media and art need to be more than sincere and devout. They should be able to stand on their own as legitimate works of cinematic art.
They need to be good.
Rather than being propped up by massive ticket buys from churches, Christian-themed movies need to face the same critical and box office heat that every other movie does. If it’s a good movie, it will survive and thrive. If it’s not a good movie, it won’t – and it shouldn’t.
I don’t think we do the world, the church, Christian movie makers or the Gospel a favor by propping up mediocre movies.
Again, I’m not saying this movie is mediocre. I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know. It may be great. I hope it is. But it may be almost impossible for people to make an objective judgment on its artistic merits in this atmosphere.
My prayers for the Son of God movie
Even though my church won’t be joining in, I appreciate the intent of the churches and church leaders who are buying tickets in bulk. I expect that many of the church people who bought tickets for this weekend will invite their unbelieving friends and family members. That’s a great thing.
So I have several prayers about this movie:
- That it turns out to be a great movie, theologically and artistically
- That it encourages millions of Christians
- That it opens a door for those outside the faith to know more about Jesus
- That it sparks conversations
- That Christians will engage lovingly in those conversations, listening and responding, not just adding pre-packaged answers
- That this movie and the conversations which follow it will lead people into a new and/or deeper relationship with Jesus
Lastly, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey for the risk they took with their finances and their reputations to make this movie and the TV series that triggered it. For that alone, they deserve our prayers and support.
Sure, they may end up making a ton of money on this. But that was never guaranteed. Most who try a project of this magnitude lose their shirts before it sees the light of day.
Let’s make some more!
I hope other believers follow in their wake, put their money and reputations where their mouths are, and make some really great movies.
If you do, I’ll support you, pray for you and probably see your movie. But my church won’t buy out a theater. If you make a movie worth watching, you won’t need us to.
So what do you think? Do you have a different take on how churches are using this movie?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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