Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

7 Tips For Turning Movies Into Messages

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With #BatmanvsSuperman out I thought it would be good to offer some tips for turning media into messages, for those who like to preach the movies.

I did a video on the subject and added a few more below.

1. Choose the right movie

Not every movie is going to offer something useful so be sure to investigate the movies online to compare buzz and reviews. I did this with the movie Noah and it was super helpful to get two perspectives on the movie and temper what my expectations of the movie should be. In addition to picking the right movie you can then invite kids to see it, if it’s appropriate, and let them see some some of the same spiritual points you see. Picking the right movie makes it easy to craft your message and pull it out when the movie is released on dvd or through streaming channels where you can show clips to go along with your message.

2. See the movie by yourself

See the movie by yourself (after you have seen it opening night of course) because there will be less of  a crowd and you will not have to worry about things like people talking during the movie, your phone light bothering anyone, etc. Going by yourself also means no one is talking to you, distracting you from some points in the movie where the Holy Spirit can nudge you.

3.Have an app handy

You can use apps like Evernote or just the notes app included on your phone. Take notes when inspiration hits you and then sort the notes out later.

4. Jot down the big themes

What are the big themes of the movie? Love? Relationships? Rescue? Tragedy? Hope? Write the big themes first and then sort them into which are the central themes and which are supporting themes or sub-themes.

5. Reflect

I would not craft my message too early. It’s easy to cherry pick quotes, sayings, etc from the movie and miss the larger picture of what God may be saying to you and may want to say through you.

Consider how the theme of the movie relates to

  • Your own life. Prayerfully take the movies themes to heart, then figure out how it connect with others.
  • The Scriptures. Are the themes or characters reflections of biblical characters who faced similar circumstances?
  • Your youth group. Does the movie and it’s themes relate to where your kids are now and where these themes best reflect what they need to grow in God.

6. Write down the best quotes from the movie

I love quotes in general but movie quotes add that extra visual dimension. Quotes like “What we do in this life echoes in eternity” from Gladiator is a truism but has biblical implications such as the verse from Ecclesiastes,  “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11. Ask yourself if any of the quotes from the m quotes reflect a biblical principle.

7. Get the context right.

What is the movie really about? Movies like Anchorman may have some great themes tucked away (in some really really, dark corner) but the overall context of the movie is not worth mining for half a nugget. If you can’t show the whole movie to your kids, it’s best not to reference it or use it for the basis of a message.

I hope these tips will lead you to better dissect the next movie you see. It could result in a message that connects with the teens you serve and result in a life changing, mind blowing, Jesus encounter.

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You can check out my reflections from these movies

The Hobbit

The Lego Movie

Iron Man 3

You may also be interested in these two posts

Take Clues Not Cues From Popular Culture

Can Comic Book Movies Be A Catalyst For Spiritual Growth?






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