- Features Archive
- Film and Entertainment
- Jesus House
1. What gave the leadership of Jesus House the idea of using film and entertainment to reach out to your local community?
Absolutely everyone wants to be entertained once in a while in one way or another. Already, the cinema culture is strong and thriving in this country and movies continue to provide recreation across ages, gender and creed. We saw in our hands a medium that already appeals to everyone, which meant it would be easier to attract an audience. We then decided to seek out content within that medium that agrees with what we preach. Now, that was the hard part.
Also, a movie provides a superb opportunity to present realities and words to people in a way that motivates them, encourages, teaches and challenges their thinking, all in a relaxed and enjoyable environment. Now that’s a fantastic starter-kit for preaching the Gospel!
2. Can you tell us what happens at such an event? What does the visitor experience?
When we organise a movie event, we come up with ways to match or even exceed what the audience would normally experience during a night out in the cinema So, our guests enter a fitly themed venue, have a full array of nibbles, popcorn, ice cream, slush drinks, etc and sometimes after the show, an opportunity to meet the makers of the movie on a live video conference where they can ask questions. All this happens either free or at a very subsidized rate for tickets and nibbles. We have also made our crèches available to serve parents who may want to make a date of the movie night.
However, all these only serve to create a fitting atmosphere for the actual experience we want our audience to come away with – an encouraged heart, a provoked mind, an illuminated perspective, an understanding of the message of the movie.
3. What influences your choice of movie and what films or other entertainment have you used?
This has often been the hardest part of the equation. Since we are not a cinema house and do not have many showings of each movie, finding the right movie usually means we have to get a near-perfect blend of everything that appeals to the widest demographic, since we only have that one opportunity every now and then.
In doing this, it helps to be unbiased about personal favorites (hard!), careful about undertones that misrepresent the Biblical gospel, even subtle ones (very hard!), and still an enjoyable and entertaining 90 minutes thereabout. Generally, we just start by asking God’s Spirit to guide us to the right one, and then exercise that all-important fruit of the Spirit – patience!
Some good titles have been Jerusalem Countdown, The Climb and The Lion of Judah.
4. How do you measure the success of such events?
Feedback is very important when we host such events. Most audiences do not mind to spare a few minutes filling a short survey that informs us of their experience. This helps us to do better in the next event.
We have also had instances where people were so impacted by the movie that they made up their minds right there to follow Jesus. For us, that is good success.
5. Is this kind of outreach something only for the big churches or can it be adapted for smaller churches?
I dare say this kind of outreach may even be more effective in smaller Churches, or at least equally effective. The challenges to be expected are such as cost of copyright licenses, cost of subsidy for tickets and treats, and perhaps ability to achieve good publicity – small problems for a big God, and a little price to pay for the cost of a soul.
6. Is there any other advice you would have for other pastors and leaders wanting to follow your example?
Simply that: anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Showing movies can be a great tool in the hands of the Church if quality and purpose is maintained and entertainment remains the means to an end. However, even if we slip on any of the other contributing factors to the quality of the experience, showing the wrong movie especially can damage a lot of goodwill and credibility.
In order to end this on a good note, if God has laid the idea on your heart, He is willing and able to see your movie ministry through to success and the salvation of souls.