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Roar over Narnia just the ticket for evangelism efforts


In a land where it’s “always winter,” icebreakers are the best conversation starters.
That’s why the College Hills church, Lebanon, Tenn., rented a theater and invited the community to two showings of the snow-filled fantasy The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
John Grant,equipping minister at College Hills, said evangelism isn’t as simple aswatching a movie with someone and leading them into a baptistery. But somefilms, such as the much-anticipated release of C.S. Lewis’ symbolicallyChristian classic, can be used in a special way, he said.

“It’s not as muchlikely to change a life as it is to start a conversation,” Grant said ofNarnia. “But sometimes, that’s a gift all its own.”

Congregationsthroughout the U.S.were hoping to capitalize on an audience familiar with — or at least intriguedby — Lewis’ 1950 bestseller reaching the big-screen. Christian moviegoers werecredited with helping to ring up $67 million in ticket sales during the openingweekend.

A month beforethe movie’s debut, more than 140 ministers and youth leaders from Houston-areachurches gathered at the West Houston Church of Christ for a presentation thatincluded a nine-minute trailer and suggestions for church activities thatrelated to the movie.

“What the clipsdid was reassure me that the movie would be high-quality,” Matt Soper, seniorminister at West Houston, told the HoustonChronicle. “Up until now, a lot of Christian movies have been B-grade.”

Disney’s $200 million,big-screen release isn’t an overtly Christian story, and many have speculatedwhether Lewis intended his fictional characters to resemble biblical ones.

While the answeris unclear from a historical perspective, the allegory is difficult to ignore formany in the church, including those who preached sermons or taught children’sministry book studies on Narnia during December.

In Oklahoma, children at the Memorial Road church, Oklahoma City, and the Edmondchurch discussed the characters and themes of the movie in study settings.

The audience atthe Highland Streetchurch, Memphis, Tenn., was expanded somewhat, as sermons on“The Chronicles of Christ: The Real Narnia” were preached on Sunday mornings.

Church leadersasked small groups to initiate home studies, where members and their friendscould read the story and discuss the movie in an informal setting.

For those whospecialize in planning outreach initiatives, the prevailing thought was thatwhile silence may be golden inside the theater, talking about the movie isequivalent to thinking about faith.

On Dec. 10, about150 guests sat alongside the same number of church members at a 9 a.m.screening at Lebanon’sRoxy 10 Theater. The audience munched on free popcorn, sipped complimentarysodas and drank in the cinematic retelling of the story of the magicaladventures of four children, talking animals, mystical creatures, redemptionand resurrection.

The congregation planned an identical event the followingweekend, planning for equal numbers of current and prospective Christians,Grant said.

The cost to church members for themselves andguests: $5 per person – tickets and snacks included.

The opportunity: priceless.

“The community participants were appreciative and the movietheater employees were intrigued,” Grant said. “Already we have seen one familyexpress interest in attending College Hills as a result of the movie invitation.”

Filed under: Culture Staff Reports

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