Leader's Insight: The Da Vinci Opportunity
The Da Vinci Code star Tom Hanks predicts the controversial film will have people flocking to church; and a new poll shows pastors hope he's right. "If they put up a sign saying: This Wednesday we're discussing the gospel, 12 people show up. But if a sign says: This Wednesday we're discussing The Da Vinci Code, 800 people show up," Hanks told Entertainment Weekly. "I think the movie may end up helping churches do their job."
Many churches are taking that prospect seriously. In a poll by Leadership, 53 percent of churches leaders surveyed indicated they were planning sermons, classes, or seminars in response to the film. A number of pastors see the movie not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to present the real truth of the gospel to skeptics, and to advance discussions of historical and biblical significance that otherwise may not take place.
"The trend that started with the release of The Passion of the Christ in 2004, whereby churches used a movie for evangelistic opportunity, was refined with the release of The Chronicles of Narnia last year," Eric Reed, Leadership managing editor said. "Now, with The Da Vinci Code movie, the challenge for church leaders is to encourage meaningful theological discussion of a film that denies basic truths of the gospel, instead of simply waging war on it. Christians boycotted the last major film that alleged a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. With this film, it appears many pastors are preparing to turn a negative and skeptical portrayal of the gospel into a faith-sharing event."
That's the approach Scott Weber took after the novel was published, and it worked. When he was about to embark on his annual teaching trip to Ukraine last year, the pastor needed reading material for the lengthy flight. Since Dan Brown's bestseller would soon be made into a movie, Weber decided to take it with him on the plane. On the return flight, Pastor Weber decided to change his preaching schedule out of conviction that his church needed to respond to the content of Brown's book.
Back at home at Christian Church of Estes Park in Estes Park, Colorado, Weber began a six-week sermon series emphasizing the facts surrounding the historical validity of scripture versus the facts contained in The Da Vinci Code. "I knew that the movie was a year away, but I wanted to help equip people ahead of time to be able to give reasons for the hope that they have," Weber says. "I'm actually glad that I did it a year ago, because now I feel like the people in my congregation are prepared to talk about it at the water coolers at work." Following the sermon series, four individuals were baptized, and all four indicated that the series had played a major role in their new faith in Christ.
Like Christian Church of Estes Park, many pastors are responding to the release of The Da Vinci Code movie as an opportunity rather than an affront to the gospel. "I wish the immediate impacts of The Da Vinci ...