Our August 2014 series will be titled "Reel Grace: Gospel Shadows in Today's Movies."
If you're considering visiting GraceSLO, August is a great time to jump in. We hope to see you here. The "Reel Grace" movie list is near the bottom of the post. Feel free to scroll down there.
If you're a current attender, you may have some questions about this series, since it's a bit different from our normal flow. If that's you, keep reading . . .
What’s the purpose of the “Reel Grace” series?
Movies are a primary storytelling medium in our culture. As such, like all stories, movies tell us about ourselves, our culture and point us to God’s Gospel story. . . sometimes explicitly, but more often indirectly . . . sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. Movies tell us about our brokenness, our longings and the things and people we look to for redemption/salvation. I thought it would be fun to dive in and demonstrate how this works and the ways movies point us to Biblical/Gospel themes. We as Christians need to get better at cultural engagement without Biblical compromise. You better believe we’ll be opening the Bible in the Reel Grace series, but in a fun and different way.
Our vision at GraceSLO is to preach the Gospel at all times to all people, because we all need it! My goal in these 5 August Sundays is to show the glorious riches of the Gospel to those who might be exploring or curious about Christianity as we connect the cultural stories they know and watch at the movies to God’s Gospel Story in the Scriptures. Think of these Sundays as outreach Sundays (much like you might think of Easter Sunday) and think about who you might invite to join us for the series. You’ve got roughly 4 weeks to invite some friends.
Does this "Reel Grace" series represent a direction change for GraceSLO?
Yes and no.
Yes, in the sense that we’re trying something new to connect with those curious about and exploring Christianity.
No, in the sense that we’re more committed than ever to passionate, relevant, systematic Bible teaching. We see the summer as an opportunity to try some things, experiment just a bit, and have some fun. "Reel Grace" is just another example of how we mix in a topical series once in a while. I’m looking forward to picking up our Route 66 series in October, after Fall Kick Off.
Is the "Reel Grace" series really just a series of movie reviews from a Christian perspective?
No, not at all. My aim is to connect themes in these movies to Gospel themes. There are great movie review sites and services out there, but we're not trying to be one of them. We're trying to do some reflective Gospel thinking and some relevant Gospel sharing through a discussion of movie themes.
How were the "Reel Grace" movies chosen?
4 criteria were used to select these movies . . .
1. I chose recent movies, yet movies available via DVD/download. I chose movies that were released in theaters in the last 12 months and yet are available on DVD now. There’s a whole bunch of great classic movies we might have looked at, but remember, we’re trying to reach out to those curious about the Christian faith. Current movies are the best way to do that.
2. I tried to choose movies that are entertaining, yet familiar, meaningful, thought-provoking, worth talking about. Some movies are banal and empty. Some movies are filled with big blasts and fun. Some movies no one sees. I tried to pick movies that were more.
3. I tried to choose movies that are clean and family friendly. All of us have different sensibilities and standards regarding the entertainment we enjoy. We ought to respect and give grace to one another in these matters. I am not recommending you watch all these movies! Let your own sensibilities and standards guide whether you watch each of these movies or not. And parental discretion is advised. We will not let our under teen kids watch all these movies. 3 of the 5 movies I chose are rated PG-13 for various reasons. (Sadly, it's just not easy to find 5 G rated or PG rated movies people will recognize and that are worth talking about.) Even if you or your kids do not see these movies before the message, the message will be relevant, Biblical and worth hearing. . . I guarantee it!
4. I tried to choose movies that are varied. I choose an animated movie, a romantic comedy, a comedic drama, and a couple different serious dramas.
Should I watch each movie ahead of each "Reel Grace" message?
That’s up to you! Personal and parental discretion is advised. (See point #3 in the question just above.) If you do choose to watch each movie, consider inviting some friends from the community over to watch the movie with you. Start the conversation ahead of the message and continue the conversation afterward!
So . . . what are the "Reel Grace" movies?
I thought you’d never ask. Here they are with the dates I will talk about them and their trailers . . .
Sunday , August 3: Frozen
Sunday, August 10: Gravity
August 17: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
August 24: The Book Thief
August 31: Saving Mr. Banks
Any more questions? Throw them in a comment and I'll do my best to answer them.