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Friday, January 30, 2004

Do you encourage students to see 'The Passion' or avoid it because it's 'R' rated?
by Doug Fields
A note from Rick:
Having seen Mel Gibson's, "The Passion of Christ," twice, I can tell you that it is a cinematic masterpiece, and I would encourage you to use it as an outreach tool within your community. This week and next week we will help you identify some of the methods and resources available to you, and next week in this column I will provide you with an editorial encouraging seekers to see the film. You are welcome to adapt the editorial to your specific needs.

In the meantime, below is an article by Doug Fields, youth pastor at Saddleback, discussing the 'R' rating on the film. We believe the film is excellent, but we would not recommend anyone under 13 see it, and in our discussion with Mel Gibson, he agrees. Doug explains more ...

I just saw a premiere screening of Mel Gibson’s new movie about Jesus’ crucifixion. Here’s my one word response to this controversial movie—WOW! This movie impacted my life, it got me thinking, and I became so excited that teenagers might actually see what we’ve been teaching.

Upon reflection, I also became very aware that many youth workers will probably get in some trouble for suggesting that their students watch an R rated movie.

This amazing movie is rated R because of the violence.*
As a youth worker you’re going to be faced with a dilemma—do you encourage students to see this movie or do you avoid it because of its rating? I hope you promote it—with caution and intelligence. The movie will cause students to think and ask questions. It’s really an amazing movie.

Let’s be honest, the Cross was violent! Crucifixion was a brutal form of execution. When Jesus died for my sins, the nails were real, his flesh broke, and the blood fell. This incredible (and violent) act paid the price that I couldn’t pay.

<> <>
Jesus (JIM CAVIEZEL) in a scene from The Passion of the Christ, a film by Mel Gibson. © 2003 Icon Distribution Inc. All Rights Reserved. A Newmarket Films release. Photo credit: Philippe Antonello
After seeing the violence that Jesus may have suffered, I want to know Him more, I want to be a more committed follower of Jesus, I want people to know what Jesus did. Because of this, I personally believe it’s worth the risk of taking some heat by promoting this movie.

Because I was privileged to see the movie, I wanted to tell my youth ministry friends to get ready. Think about it. Discuss it with parents. Consider the options. But, be ready for the opportunity, because the movie releases in a few weeks.

I’ve read about Jesus on the Cross hundreds of times. I’ve spent my life pointing kids to Jesus and trying to explain the reason behind the Cross. I’ve intellectually studied the evidence, I’ve read about the brutality of crucifixion, but I’ve never felt the emotion of the crucifixion like I did when I saw Mel Gibson’s movie. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same.

I wept as I saw the Scriptures come to life. I felt the humanity of Jesus like never before. You see, when I teach about Jesus, I typically talk about his divinity ... often to the neglect of his humanity.

This movie reminded me of his humanity. Honestly, I can’t put into words what I felt as I watched this.
One controversy that you may hear about the movie is that it’s anti-Semitic. That wasn’t my observation. It didn’t portray an indictment toward Jewish people—rather humanity. Jews didn’t put Jesus on the Cross, sin did—it was my sins that put Jesus on the Cross. I don’t see the controversy.

After the movie, Mel Gibson spoke and revealed his heart. He was great. He said he didn’t feel called to make the movie ... rather he felt pushed. Not making it would have been an act of disobedience.

Mel said that making this movie may be a “career killer,” but he had to make it. As you may have heard, no one was willing to finance a movie about Jesus that was true to Scripture. So, he financed it himself. I was impressed with his heart, his motive, his faith, his transparency and his spiritual journey. He’s the real deal!

After the preview, I met with some youth ministry friends and talked about how we might use this with students at our church. Honestly, I don’t know yet.

Here’s what I know we’re going to do:
1. Write to parents and encourage them to take their kids to see this.
2. Contact our local movie theatre and see if we can rent it out for a private screening for our teenagers and their friends.

3. Purchase large quantities of the Gospel of John so non-churched students can further investigate Jesus.
4. Create discussion opportunities following each screening.
5. Show the trailer to our leadership students and begin brainstorming how they might want to bring their friends to the movie when it opens February 25th (Ash Wednesday).

6. Create a handout for our regular students: 10 ways to get your friends to see this movie.
7. Start talking about the movie to our students to create a little pre-view hype. Honestly, I think the R-rating will work to that advantage for students to be interested in seeing it.

As you prayerfully consider this movie and how you might use it as a way to introduce students to Jesus, I would encourage you to visit some of the movie’s websites.

Here are a few to check out:
Outreach ideas: <>
The official movie site: <>
May the passion of Christ keep you going,
Doug Fields <>®-

*Because movie ratings are assigned by the dozen members or so of the ratings board of the Motion Picture Association of America <>, the board’s rating decisions are entirely subjective. Nor does the ratings board base its decisions on scriptural standards of conduct or of art. Ratings simply advise viewers about the level of “adult” content in a movie so parents can exercise appropriate control over what their underage children see.

This article appears courtesy of Doug's website, <>

Monday, January 26, 2004

I am posting my comment on Gman's previous post because I would like some feedback as well...

You know, I think it is a matter of what is best for a community. What is good for my community may not be best for anyone elses. So that means we have to seek ways to connect youth with the church the best that we can in situation that we find ourselves in.
The first thing is to stop buying the "How to Build a Mega Youth Group" books. A lot of the time it is being at the right place at the right time, and those who have been in charge have no idea how it got big.
If we are faithful to the students and seek to plug them into a faith community- whatever that looks like for you- then we are successful even if we have only one student. Stop trying to be something you aren't and just be faithful to the church you are at... and if that can't happen- quit.

I also wanted to add that it is not even our job to "build" youth ministries- God does the building. Still somehow we feel like it is something that we did.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

I was watching VH1's the 80s strike back ...anyways ....

It was Said Canadians love 3 things - beer, Rush (The band, not the talk show host), and Hockey (Of course this with a great insight to the Great One).

Now you're thinking what does this have to do with rethinking youth ministry?

What about youth ministry strikes back? How do we want it to look?

3 things - Love of God, love of each other, and love of be..I mean church.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

I have been thinking (that is what happens when you have a newborn and have to get up and feed him at 2am) a lot about the discussion here and my feelings about youth ministry. It seems like maybe- and this is just a thought based on my own experience- that youth workers tend to be more frustrated and critical after periods of exerting a lot of effort in ministry. Like the end of the school year and possibly the end of the summer- or when there is a lack of effort by the church to be involved. I know that is when I am pissed. I feel like everyone is expecting me to "raise" their kids spiritually without investing effort themselves. Sure they are investing their money in paying me, but we all know that is a weak cope out.

Anyway I am rambling, but my point is that I have done very little- or have given less effort lately in youth ministry and I feel good about that. Sure the youth are meeting and doing things, but because of the holidays and the birth of my second child, I have been involved less and other have had to pick up the slack. That is a good thing and I am much better off emotionally and spiritually.

I think if I (we) are honest with ourselves, we would say that we have too much control over our youth ministries and are not willing to let that go- even to the detriment of our own well being.

I am reforming the relationship that I have with my church and hopefully leading them to take an active role in the spiritual development of the youth group. They (the youth and the adults) need each other more than they need me. I just hope that I can convince them all of that fact.