I grew up loving the Buttercream Gang, and it’s wildly successful follow up “The Buttercream gang and the Secret of Treasure Mountain.” Trying to google that second title brought back so many memories of all the classic christian movies of the late 80’s and early 90’s that were ever popular in my house as a kid.
But although the quality of Christian film making has drastically improved since that era, I feel we are still completely missing the mark, and it’s more than just the notion of “How can a movie be a Christian, it has no soul” idea I’ve often heard. I believe the primary reason why Christian movies are no good has a lot more to do with a poor understanding of the Gospel, evangelism, and discipleship, which is shown by these ideas:
1 | They don’t aim to entertain, but to save.
2 | They are overly marketed to just Christians, who should do no.3
3 | Are portrayed as evangelism tools, to bring your lost friends to (which doesn’t work because of no.1, and people know when they are being sold something).
4 | They seek to be a replacement for mainstream movies, rather than part of.
5 | They rarely show true reality, where someone accepts salvation and things still go wrong.
How often does a new Christian movie come out with huge pushes to bring an unsaved friends to see the movie? What’s the idea there, that they see this movie of someone just like them struggling, but then God comes in and saves the day and life ends happy? Is that really in line with the Gospel we read in the Bible or, hopefully, teach in our ministries?
But even more so, that does seem to be the intent of the writers, directors, producers. It seems that what constitutes a movie as “Christian” is that a group of people have an idea for a story that will get people saved. Their number 1 (or even top 5) goals isn’t to produce a great movie, it’s to get people saved, have a great coinciding bible study, maybe a book to go along with it, and sell a lot of T-Shirts. As though when this movie comes out, for the following few months, this is going to be the center of Discipleship.
That’s why, almost always, I’d rather spend my money on seeing a “secular” version of a Bible Story made into a movie then invest in any more of the “Christian” machine. And I hate that.
I hate that the movie Noah leaves plenty of room for artistic liberty and someone took it and ran with it in a direction that is in direct opposition to the Bible. I hate that God’s and King’s had so little to do with the one true God, and instead was just Moses and Ramses in a brotherly duel. But I’d wager more non-Christians read the Bible after seeing those two movies than did after any other Christian movie thats come out in the last few years. Because they aren’t trying to sell them salvation in a movie, but the movie they make leads to wanting to know more about the story.
It’s a shame that many of these “Christian” movies express the idea that the only way to show the gospel is to have someone in a movie lead someone else in the sinners prayer. I’d rather help my students learn to see the Gospel all around them. God isn’t limited to only showing up in movies with His name in the title, and our job of redeeming things around us doesn’t mean we mimic.
My prayer is that our students in our youth ministry would be able to see the Gospel in all the world around them, to see God at work in lives of those around them, to see God revealed in the movies they watch and the games they play, and not be limited to only understanding the gospel as this neat, 30-second presentation in a clean life.