“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:33-37
In the Coffee household, we have been on our usual Christmas steady fare of Christmas movies. Christmas, it seems, is such an enormous cultural event, Hollywood just cannot make enough “Christmas miracle” movies. It’s a standard template: there is a hero (or a heroine) who is flawed and relatable in some fashion and who does not believe in the magic of Christmas. Enter conflict (or an antagonist or dire circumstances or a hilarious parade of unforeseeable events) and there is an ensuing struggle. Finally, there is a Christmas miracle and our hero is saved and now believes in the magic of Christmas.
This year, my attention has been grabbed by how the church is portrayed in these Hollywood versions of Christmas (if it is portrayed at all). It seems to me that, more often than not, the church is portrayed as a bit silly and irrelevant and disconnected from anything, well… normal. I don’t know, but I strongly suspect these portrayals betray the writers’ own stories about their church experiences growing up. …
This year will see an unusual number of “Hollywood” versions of Biblical stories. Son of God releases later this week. One month later, Noahhits theaters. And more will follow. The Christian bloggers will, of course, be all over these movies with their critiques.
You know what is annoying? Have you ever been in a situation where a small “clique” of insiders who have developed their own expertise on a subject sit back and make fun of those who are on the outside and who do not seem to know nearly as much as they do? You remember, don’t you? It was a favorite middle school or even high school past time: the GT and AP students sitting together and making fun of the ignorance of other students…the athletes ganging up on the non-athletic types and making fun of them…the snobby musicians looking down their noses at the pop music lovers at prom. And do you know why this is annoying? Because it is just a form of bullying.
So, I am wondering if we can make a sincere attempt to guard our testimonies in how we offer our critiques of these upcoming “Biblical” movies? Let’s not become bullies in how we communicate. Let’s keep the snarky, judgmental, arrogance out of our comments and posts. In talking about these movies, here are a few questions we might ask ourselves before we click the “publish” button on our social media screen:
1. Did I actually go and see the movie…all the way through? If not, then say that clearly right at the beginning of your critique. And then stop and don’t bother finishing the critique, because nobody is going to read …
Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.
Last year, with its release of Doubt, Hollywood wandered not-so-innocently right into the middle of my world and, naturally, got my attention…and my $8 for a ticket. Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play, it tells the story of a young pastor (i.e., priest) trying to bring a warmer, more relevant leadership style to a church and falling prey to the distrust and manipulative ways of an established church leader. Sound familiar, anyone? I’ve seen this play out in hundreds of situations and I’m sure you have seen it before as well. Sometimes there is moral failure involved (as alleged in this case), and sometimes not so much. But there is always plenty at risk, including the fragile spirituality of innocent bystanders, the continued credibility of established leadership and the future ministry of one “called out” to shepherd God’s people. I must say, this movie tells the story well. You can find some clips from the movie here.
I recommend the movie, because it is an accurate and startling depiction of a truth every church leader needs to know: when it comes to ministry, your testimony is the only currency you have. Once it is tarnished (i.e., once the people you “lead” no longer wish to be led by you), your leadership is done. You can lead no more. And by the way, it doesn’t take truth to tarnish your testimony…all it takes is credible allegations and a little persistence on the part of those who stand to benefit from your departure. In short, all it takes is sustainable doubt…doubt about you, about your past, or about your motives.
So how does a church leader protect his/her testimony from these …