Most weeks in Film Forum we survey Christian opinion of the country's most popular movies. Our purpose is partly to inform our readers about current films, but more importantly to help reveal the different ways that Christians are interacting with American culture. To that end, we'll occasionally break from our regular format to focus on a particular Web site's approach to culture and purpose in reviewing movies. This week, we're taking a closer look at Movies and Ministry, a site run by a University of Arizona film student to help pastors and youth leaders use films as part of their ministry.

"The church needs to reenter the surrounding culture," says Doug Cummings, editor of Movies & Ministry, about the goal of his online efforts. "Many denominations train missionaries to understand and embrace a specific culture before they're sent abroad. If we want to communicate the gospel to the rising generations of Americans, we're going to have to discern our new cultural framework, and it's my conviction that understanding movies is a key to that process."

Cummings believes the church is mobilizing to meet the challenge. Using movie clips in a service "has actually become a common tool for a lot of 'contemporary' and 'seeker' churches," he says, to "illustrate particular spiritual themes like grace, forgiveness, temptation." As a workshop leader for The Leadership Network, Cummings has been at the forefront of that mobilization, teaching church leaders how to restructure ministry for a Generation X mentality. He explains several ways movie clips interest a congregation: "Some have direct applications, like a scene from a Woody Allen movie where characters discuss God. Some have an emotional application, like the scenes of grace ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.