Churches often hold events for kids, youth ministry, families, and the community. A movie night can be a great non-threatening outreach event. Although movies are a wonderful form of entertainment, how does a church select a movie that will not conflict with the Christian worldview, be viewable for an audience of all ages, and also manage to be entertaining? Considering the types of movies available, your church might wonder if you should choose something that’s purely Christian or if it’s okay to watch a secular film.
Things to Consider for Church Movie Night
There are certain things to think about when considering a secular movie for church. For example, you need to decide the purpose of the movie you plan to watch. Is it just for entertainment or is the intention to teach parishioners a particular lesson? For instance, a Christian movie would be a better pick if the objective of the lesson is to teach about the birth of Christ or the story of Moses since only the Bible can tell the accounts of those stories accurately.
Another thing to consider is what type of movie you’ll watch. Does a comedy sound good, or are you more in the mood for drama? What is the mood you’re trying to set, calm or upbeat? The atmosphere plays a part in the viewing experience.
Next, you’ll have to take into account the ages and backgrounds of the audience. It’s important to choose a movie that is kid friendly yet entertaining to adults as well. You don’t want half the audience to zone out because they’re bored or uninterested in the content of the film. Also, children and teenagers, in particular, will be influenced by the message of the movie, so choosing a secular pick may not be in their best interest if the subject matter is geared more toward an adult crowd. (At the end of the article, there is a helpful list of G and PG-rated movie options.)
Remember that some homes may not allow secular entertainment at all, so making a list of the pros and cons of the movie you plan on playing is a smart idea. The list could look something like this:
4 Pros and Cons for Using a Secular Movie at Church
Pro: Showing a secular movie could entice non-Christians to attend church. In Matthew 28:19 (NIV), Jesus commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…,” so showing a secular movie might draw in a diverse crowd and could be a means to preach the Good News to those who might not otherwise hear about the saving power of Jesus.
Con: On the flip side, the movie could promote non-Christian values or attitudes. The church is meant to be set apart as holy in the world. People won’t get that message if the movie’s content blends in with the rest of society and doesn’t set a good example for people to follow.
Pro: Depending on the subject matter, the movie could still portray a good lesson or moral story. Disney, for instance, typically shows family-friendly movies. Lessons having to do with faith or carrying on persevering through a tough situation are some examples of the types of things you’d want parishioners to learn from the movie.
Con: The subject matter may offend some members, particularly ones who expect solely Christian entertainment. Again, some people may not allow un-Christian influences in their home, so they especially may not understand why their pastor has decided to show a worldly movie in church.
Pro: The film’s content could open up a discussion that could turn into a good sermon. The pastor could ask what Jesus would do if put in the same situation as the characters in the movie.
Con: Christian movies offer people a way to bond through their faith, whereas secular ones are based on worldly situations. A church is a place to share the love of Christ and a place to be spiritually uplifted. A secular film just can’t provide that same type of connection with Christ.
Pro: Watching a worldly movie could help church members understand the perspectives of characters that come from different backgrounds or cultures than they do. The Bible teaches us not to judge each other (Matthew 7:1), and by opening up parishioners eyes to other lifestyles they’ll be able to understand the Bible’s lesson all the more clearer.
Con: Many worldly films show characters who struggle with their faith or who want questions answered about where we come from. In an attempt to find their way, characters think that making more money, gaining popularity, relying on themselves or others, etc. is the way to fill the hole inside of them that only Christ can fill. Secular movies don’t touch on the importance of relying on God instead of outside influences to solve problems or in living out our daily lives.
What’s Right for Your Church?
Whatever you decide to watch at church movie night, remember to think about the types of things you think the audience would find important when it comes to picking the right movie, but don’t be afraid to explore the possibility that a secular movie could be entertaining or teach a valuable lesson.
Rated G Movie Options
Rated PG Movie Options
- Pete’s Dragon (2016) – Rated PG for action, peril, and brief language
- Christopher Robin (2018) – Rated PG for some action
- The Jungle Book (2016) – Rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril
- Finding Dory (2016) – Rated PG for mild thematic elements
- Up (2009) – Rated PG for some peril and action
(Rating definitions according to IMDb)