By Stephen George (Minister: Trinity North East)
Last week I saw the pre-release of the movie Risen, and as I walked out of the cinema I thought to myself, “I can’t believe we are about to let a massive evangelistic opportunity pass us by unnoticed”.
Let me give you the background story. I am a minister in the Trinity Network in Adelaide, Australia, and I had heard nothing of this movie until someone in my congregation sent me an email link to the trailer, along with an invitation to the pre-release. When I got that invite, I have to admit that my immediate thought was, “Oh great, another mediocre ‘Christian’ movie”. However, when I followed the link and saw the trailer I suddenly doubted everything I thought I knew about Christian movies. It was actually very good. So I went to the pre-release and, while I don’t think everyone is going to love everything about this movie, I think it provides a great opportunity for evangelism.
The movie is incredibly well-shot. The story-line is good, if a little slow at one or two points (but I get bored easily). It is really accessible to non-Christians, partly because the story is told through the eyes of an unbelieving Roman soldier. There’s action, it’s not ‘preachy’, and there’s even a bit of humor. What excited me most is that it opens a huge door for conversations about the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, as well as the difference knowing Jesus makes to life now and into eternity.
I asked around my ministry friends to see how they plan to use it. I discovered that, like me, most of them had not really heard much about the movie, and so they had no plans! I couldn’t really find much on the internet either.
So, for what it’s worth, let me tell you how I plan to try and make the most of this opportunity. First, I want to get as many people on board as possible. So I plan on playing the trailer to my congregation (once the children have left for Sunday School). Then I am going to suggest they invite any of their friends or family who are not yet Christian to watch the movie with them some time. I am going to recommend they take their friends out for dinner after the movie and ask them, “So what did you think?” It’s that simple.
The movie inserts a skeptical character into the story who sorts through evidence for the resurrection, so it’s natural to ask someone after seeing the movie what they think of that evidence. Another question that naturally flows is what difference would Jesus’ resurrection make to their life if it were true.
I will also recommend to people in my congregation that they have a book somewhere at home, ready to go, about the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. Something like Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace or More that Carpenter by Josh McDowell could be good.
That’s it. That’s the plan. There’s not much to it and there doesn’t need to be. It’s why this is such a good opportunity.
The movie comes out in normal, everyday cinemas on the 18th of February in Australia, the 19th in North America, and during March in most of the rest of the world. If you want to see it personally before recommending it, I would encourage you to go as soon as it opens in your area to make the most of it if the cinema runs is short.
I hope we all make the most of this opportunity, as we do every chance we have to share the news of Jesus (Col 4:5).