Thursday, June 23, 2005

how can churches use film?

How can churches use film? This was an assignment I set my Gospel and film class.

Help, they began to cry. There is very little in books Steve. There is very little on the web Steve. So I compiled the following notes for them, under the following headings.
1. Environments
2. Devotion
3. Communication
3.1 Illustration
3.2 Dialogue
3.3 “Roll your own”
4. Community building
5. Missional dialogue
6. Film Festivals

The notes are here (download file) if you want. Please respect the copyright notice. And if you think of any gaps, or find them helpful, I’d love to know.

Posted by steve at 04:05 PM


  1. The bible society have some downloadable PDF’s that are samples from their ‘Reel Issues’ booklet.

    Comment by Ben Edson — June 23, 2005 @ 10:20 pm

  2. Yeah! Film!

    You can’t deny it, the new ‘literature’ of the illiterate world, the new format of Christian expression for the postmodern, techno-savvy next generation!

    Comment by Iain — June 23, 2005 @ 10:47 pm

  3. Thanks for your paper about the teaching. I agree with Iain very much – George Lucas said it: Film is the new church, people are influenced by it, learn from film and live their lives acording to film values.
    I taught at University here in Karlsruhe (just once) about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and their love of storytelling – I really think they told their stories as an echo of the great story, the real myth they put it that way: the gospel. And good films do it to, all the great heroes, it’s the same story over and over again.
    Lets tell the gospel with all the help we can get – again thanks for your thoughts….

    Comment by Bjoern Wagner — June 24, 2005 @ 2:52 am

  4. Thanks for this Steve, it’s very helpful. I used your Zaffereli and Luhrman comparison at our leaders retreat on the weekend (from Mission and the Western Mind and gave you the credit) as a starting point for our discussions for what our future directions as a church might be. This was all very new for our people but they loved it, embraced it and allowed it to begin to trigger some important discussisons. Thanks again.

    Comment by Andrew — June 24, 2005 @ 12:55 pm

  5. Thanks Steve. Very helpful.

    Comment by Paul Fromont — June 24, 2005 @ 1:16 pm

  6. The one caution I have when people start using film in their church services is that they keep to the spirit of the creator’s work, including honoring copyright.

    I once interned at a church where the pastor had the media minister “edit down” films to a 5-10 minute clip that he would then show in the service to illustrate a point.

    This is clearly a violation of the piece of work, and plainly outside copyright and fair use. We had several discussions with the pastor over this issue, and he insisted on continuing as he had done.

    It’s funny, because we chastise people who use bible verses out of context (as a proof text), and yet there’s a real chance for people in the church to do the same with films. Film artists have carefully crafted their works as a whole. Ripping out a piece here and a piece there so that it can fit the message we want is also wrong.

    /end rant

    BTW, Regent University in the U.S. has a very strong film program that produces short student films every year. They have several DVD collections that are available. The film professor I’m sure would be happy to send them to anyone who’s interested.

    I saw several of them at a recent conference on faith and the academy, and the subject matter varied. The quality was superior for student projects, and they weren’t all “preachy,” either.

    Comment by Bryan Murley — July 3, 2005 @ 6:09 pm

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