Shooting Stories

This is a video that I shot for RHCC a few years ago. I think it must have been after I watched my first NOOMA film and decided that Rob Bell was on to something. And while I probably went overboard with the whole shaving my head and wearing black rimmed glasses, there is a good reason that this kind of genre resonated with me so deeply.

Because it’s a great way to tell stories, and Jesus told great stories.

So I spent the better part of yesterday, along with the RHCC video production team, shooting the first of the RHCC small group video series for July. It involved a hospital, us going to Scrubs inc.. to get a Dr. uniform, stethoscope, and borrowing some X-rays from a friend. At one point walking around the hospital we realized that dressing up like a doctor there was probably illegal. Anytime a church video involved committing a minor felony you know it’s got potential.

Next week we have partnered with Haltom City Police Dept. to block off part of a street for a few hours for another video shoot. I love getting to tell gospel stories like this. On some level, these kind of videos are tapping into the way I think good preaching functions. I know it’s because my generation has been heavily influenced by media, and specifically film/video, but there is something to telling a story so vividly that you can picture it.

All the stories that Jesus told dipped into the things that his audience lived everyday. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, or fishing nets, or a field of wheat and weeds. Jesus took the stories that they were already living and showed them something deeper that was already there.

I once heard a minister friend say that he learned more about the Kingdom of God in a movie seat than he had in a pew. And while I don’t think that he was writing off the church’s role in his formation, it can reveal how inadequately we’ve used a media that has tremendous potential.

So what about you? Have you ever watched a movie that has made you think deeply about the nature of God? Have you ever seen a church video that you thought was effective? (Not counting the one above, that one obviously was amazing).If so, what did they do right?

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

12 thoughts on “Shooting Stories

  1. I have always learned through stories. If a movie or a book tells the right story, or sometimes even the wrong story in the right way, I learn something about God. As an example, a passage in on of Stephen Lawhead’s Arthurian Cycle books taught me more about spiritual warfare and made it more real to me than anything else I’ve read, seen, or heard.

    Movies or video have one very definite advantage in conveying feeling. Pictures make us feel in ways that words do not. Easterners think in terms of pictures and symbols, and we Westerners have learned to think in terms of proposition and definition. If you look at Jesus’s teachings, he not only used story almost all the time, but he used words that painted pictures.

  2. hopefully the people in the neighboring rooms were assured by some hospital personnel that none of their doctors “just wing it” during surgery, like pretend doctor yesterday planned to.

  3. Bro. Danny, I’ve had those same kinds of experiences with other stories. Lord of the Rings was amazing for me. There were entire chapters of that book that, when I was reading them, I wanted to have them canonized. J.R.R. Tolkien actually said something along the lines of, When we write stories, as imperfect and broken people, they are of course, imperfect and broken. But even in this state they can, and almost always do, reflect a bit of a grander story, one that we had been hoping to be a part of all along.

    Matt, thanks man, I hope they drop those impersonating charges soon.

  4. Your media ministry is wonderful! But at the same time we grow in ‘presenting’ story, we need to encourage those who are receiving that ministry to grow in ‘imagining’ story , without needing media to prompt thought. When my now twenty-something sons were little guys they could work together to present the most amazing productions, including costumes, their own script and songs, each portraying multiple characters. When video games and other entertainment entered their world, their imagination was limited by the borders of their chosen media. They lost, just as we lose when production entertainment becomes a requirement to learning. Nevertheless…keep up the good work!

  5. I love the NOOMA videos and use them for teaching studies and classes from time to time. I also like The Skit Guys.

    The easy movie choice being that I’m a male is Braveheart. Save for William Wallace and his buddies mooning folks, the fight for freedom is one that I understand daily as I have to battle the sin that wants to enslave me. Remember The Titans is a movie that makes me think about social justice and how we treat our fellow man. The Passion of the Christ brought me to tears as I felt the pain of the wounds I have caused my Savior.

  6. The Godfather trilogy has much to say about the nature of humanity. The decision Michael made beside his dad’s hospital bed in part 1 began a slow fade that ultimately ruined his life in the worst possible way in part 3. Fredo’s betrayal, Sonny’s temper, the flashbacks of Vito earning the respect of the little people in his neighborhood in part 2…it’s loaded.

  7. Carla, thanks for saying this. It’s possible that any media or too much of it, can have some real negative implications, and it’s true that media shapes the way we think and the outlets we create. I hope the good of it outweighs the negative. It was good seeing you last week!

    Thanks Paula!

    Lauren, it was great meeting you and your family this weekend! Looking forward to getting to know y’all!

    Jeff, great movies, I’m thinking about writing out a blog soon and throwing out my favorite movies and asking some people to add some to the list. Those are a good start.

    Wes, you should be a church planter, they can get away with anything!

    Josh, great movies, they touch me because I can see how those people made those decisions that eventually lead them to becoming monsters. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Superman…you know we are both huge fans right?

  8. I can’t help, but use the word ‘relevant’ when I think of your ministry and your posts. I know you’re seeking ways to be more relevant, but I think you’re definitely heading in the right direction. Our venues are similar, but different. However, I am seeing my friends, colleagues, clients, readers, family, etc are now more than ever being receptive to the Jesus that I’m telling them about. I’m not a techie, I’m well-liked, but certainly not popular, I’m learning, but I’m not an expert. What I’m finding that’s working is stripping down the church-talk, eliminating judgement of any kind, not inviting them to church, but instead of showing and telling them how crazy in love with them God is despite how screwed up they feel.

    I know this sucks for a preacher, but I encounter folks all the time who have been so burned in church that they never want to go back, but they are interested in a relationship with God, they do want prayers for their lives, they will allow you to serve and love them. Furthermore, people who aren’t yet mature Christians have allegiances to lifestyles, politics, beliefs, habits, etc that are outside of Jesus . . .and if the first thing the creepy Christian does is try to get them to alter and change something that’s important to them, then they stop listening. I’m seeing that people are receptive to Jesus until you say, but you’ll have to live like this, vote like this, dress like this, stop drinking that, break up with her, go to this building with a cross on it when we say. Just expose people to Jesus in whatever medium necessary, but then let them decide what that means. Love them, serve them. God gave them a brain – they can decide the rest. Give ’em God and if they wanna get entangled in religion, then so be it, God can use that, too, if He must.

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