Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Newsletter: A Passion for Evangelism

Do you remember the controversy du jour from just a few months ago? Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, dominated movie theaters, talk radio, and late night cable talk shows. In spite of the controversy or maybe because of it, the movie became the eighth-highest-grossing domestic film of all time. According to the Barna Research Group, almost one-third of adults in the United States actually saw the movie, and film viewers generally praise the movie.
However, the movie did not become the great evangelistic tool which many hoped it would become. Marketing surrounding the movie suggested as much, and Christians across the country invited un-churched friends to see it. The Barna Group, a polling organization which follows cultural trends and Christianity, suggests that the movie only made a modest impact. The study concludes, “less than one-tenth of one percent of those who saw the film stated that they made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film’s content.”

Mel Gibson’s film will probably set the standard for biblical epics for years to come. It certainly raises questions about one’s faith. It may even shape how this generation of Christians will view the suffering of Jesus. However, the movie will not accomplish the hard work of evangelism on its own. Jesus Christ has chosen his people to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). Rather than a movie or a tract, we are the clay jars which carry the treasure of the good news of Christ (2 Cor 4:7). We are the ones with a cup of cool water to quench our neighbors’ thirst. We are the ones who visibly and tangibly show God’s love to a hurting world. We are the instruments of the Holy Spirit trumpeting God’s praises.

I could have guessed the statistics discovered by the Barna study. Movies can entertain, enlighten, and provoke. Unfortunately, they can’t touch. Evangelism is hard work that requires the human touch.

Grace & Peace,