Monday, August 11, 2008

It’s A Church AND A Movie Marketing Tool

This article reminded me of one of the things I find so reprehensible about the modern evangelical/mega-church movement:
“Today, Christian filmmakers can count on a very savvy pastoral community that’s looking to highlight films like these to their congregations,” says Doug Phillips, founder of the Christian Filmmakers Academy and the 5-year-old San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

And it’s just not the Christian message these pastors are endorsing. Phillips said the technological revolution, with the rise of digital, has made it possible to produce quality films at a reasonable price. So reasonable that Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., was able to make “Facing the Lions” for just $100,000 — thanks in large part to its amateur cast. The movie about a small-town football coach who finds hope through a renewed faith in God went on to make more than $10 million.

Alex Kendrick, an associate pastor at Sherwood Baptist who directed the film and played the coach, will unveil his latest movie next month. “Fireproof” is another inspirational Christian movie about a firefighter who saves his struggling marriage by following a 40-day “Love Dare” journal.

You know, I really have a thing about churches that funnel so much time, energy and resources into message carriers like Hollywood movies instead of, you know, actually helping people in need.

It just strikes me as such a vanity-indulging effort for those involved. I’m sure they would argue that this is just a modern way of fulfilling the “Great Commission”. Fair enough. But there’s so much cultural baggage attached to Hollywood film-making. It’s glamorous, there’s a lot of money involved, and it’s definitely an ego-stroking environment. It really doesn’t seem conducive to walking humbly. Most of all, I have to wonder who it's really designed to serve.

I get that there are a lot of ways of serving God and living out one's faith. I understand the whole point of 1 Corinthians about the body of Christ. And I have no problem with people of faith who actually work in the arts and media wanting to express their worldview through the creative process; that's what art is all about.

But for a church to put its treasure into such an endeavor while telling itself that this is mission work -- feh. And those churches that shamelessly hawk Hollywood product at their congregations, using the pulpit as a marketing tool -- double feh. That's just not right.