Boring messages and tired clichés – there’s only so many ways to deliver a Sunday morning sermon without putting the congregation to sleep – or not. Enter Pastor Dan Stallbaum from East Coast Christian Center in Merritt Island, Fla. His mindset is that God’s word never changes, but the way it’s presented changes with time. Therefore, preach to something that’s relevant in our culture right now, like music or movies.
So his unique approach to a continuing summer series called faithFLIX – Life’s Lessons from the Big Screen, derives a message from popular movies, and not just so-called religious ones. Hollywood writers have always taken poetic license with Scripture. But the current trend is not just taking license with the Bible, they’ve taken a Humpty-Dumpty nose dive away from reality and crashed and burned. Now they have Noah condemned by rock monsters and Moses holding conversations with a petulant, vengeful nine year old boy in the place of God.
But faithFLIX’s premise is that despite the secular nature of a film, there are nuggets of truth hidden within, if you dig for them. A twist in this summer’s series, which began three weeks ago, is called People’s Choice where members of the congregation voted on which movie they’d like to hear a sermon on. Each sermon begins with showing the movies trailer.
So far the movies in this current series have included:
Part I – Fantastic Four – The trailer starts with the words, “If you change the world, prepare to defend it.” In the movie it takes the four superheroes combined to defeat the villain, Doom. The message derived from that is how it will take the combined efforts of the church to defeat the enemy of man’s soul, Satan.
Part II – Braveheart (People’s Choice winner in the action movie category) – This tells the story of William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior who led the 1st war of independence against King Edward I. Because of the conditions at the time, it took an issue of the heart to motivate the hero to stand up when wrong was done and fight against oppression. Several questions are raised which present food for thought to the believer. “What does it take for our hearts to be moved?” And, “What are our hearts automatically hard to?” Finally, “What do we allow to mover our hearts?”
Part III – Finding Nemo (People’s Choice winner n the kid’s movie category) – The tie-in to Nemo is his getting captured and lost at sea so his father goes in search of him. The message isn’t about being unsaved, but that believers can also lose their way and end up in a place they didn’t intend to be.
The series will continue for the next several weeks. Tune in on-line here to view the first three sermons mentioned above. Also tune in at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time to listen to the next sermon live.
The lesson believers can take away from a series such as faithFLIX is, rather than look at the world as us vs. them, find out what unbelievers are into and meet them where they are. And always remember that God advises his children to be in the world, but not of it.