1. I loved all the movies you mentioned, except God’s Not Dead, because I haven’t seen it. The answer isn’t cut, clear, and dry as some would like to think and I believe your post responded to the problem about Christian entertainment by providing the challenges that face those who want to create Christian movies.

    Honestly, as a writer of what is considered edgy Christian romance and spec fiction, I think our entertainment can be more than just feel goodies. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to protect your mind from sinful acts and thoughts. Some people want affirmation of their faith. Others want to be challenged to strive further. More still seek to always delve deeper into the mystery of God and how He takes the filth of sin and turns it into gold. Gosh, how He still continues to take this idiot girl (me) and still call her His daughter is downright mind-boggling.  And humbling.

    I look forward to how others respond to the post. Thank you!

    • Kim Kouski says:

      I agree. I hate over the top, sentimental Christian moves that make me roll my eyes and think, really??? I also hate it when the writer needs to explain something for me b/c I might not get it. I will get it. I also write a little edgy fantasy, so I”m not afraid of edgy as long as it not super sexual sex scenes that would make a sailor blush. I think it’s ok to add a little more emotions to the movie. Why should Hollywood make all the cool movies? It seems the christian writing world is a bit scared about stepping in real life for fear of ‘offending’ someone. PFFFTHHH!!! Who cares?

    • Kaci says:

      That was far too well-stated for you to be calling yourself an idiot.  🙂

  2. Excellent post. this is actually a topic I’ve adressed before personally.

    See, I have a Christian Geek podcast, and we have talked about this only a few weeks ago.

    Christian Copycats: http://upstreampodcast.blogspot.com/2015/08/episode-11-christian-copycats-really.html

    Christian Media: Subtle or Overt? : http://upstreampodcast.blogspot.com/2015/07/episode-7-christian-media-subtle-or.html


  3. Lisa says:

    Hmm. Well, I can’t say I’ve never seen a Christian movie, because I have. Mainly I haven’t enjoyed them, because I get irritated at the cliches and the (sometimes) out and out false doctrine I see portrayed. There have been others I have liked a great deal more, as they have avoided those two errors, but I have to say those are few and far between. Basically I avoid Christian movies, to be honest.

    I would definitely agree with this: But should Christian movie critics also do some loving teaching about why Christians should do art? Should we gently and directly challenge some bad ideas about creativity that Christians have absorbed?

    But I disagree with this: Should we consider avoiding some of our many critiques about editing, dialogue, and plot clichés that are arguably subjective and will confuse a Christian who isn’t a film buff? I don’t agree that these things are subjective. And certainly, those who MAKE Christian films should be well conversant in these things, don’t you think? If you don’t understand the basic tools, why are you doing the job? What you end up with is a slipshod and shoddy construction, which is basically how I feel about most Christian movies. Heart in the right place, but please….give your audience some credit for understanding subtlety and for being comfortable with being left with questions, not being hammered over the head with the “answer” over and over. 

    I suppose this would speak to “who is the audience you are trying to reach?” If the audience is strictly the Church, I think you can be a little more direct. But, please, here and there give us some “meat” along with the milk. But if you think your film is going to be promoted to and seen by secular culture, well….just keep in mind that Jesus only spoke parables to the crowds. He kept the explanations for the disciples.

  4. notleia says:

    Another question we can throw in there is how much audiences are willing to forgive. Some of us can forgive a horrible script if there’s enough CGI explosions. Some of us can forgive amateur & cheap effects if the story’s good enough. But I think the kicker is that only Christian audiences can forgive a movie for being badly written and on the amateurish and cheap side because it’s got a Christian message.

    Let’s take a moment to let the reality sink in: entertainment beats edification just about every time. I would much rather watch Veggie Tales’s Lord of the Beans because it’s at least halfway clever at spoofing LOTR than Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and especially Flywheel (there’s a reason we never heard of Flywheel until that company got famous with the others).

    • Julie D says:

      Ditto on Lord of the Beans.  In some ways, I am glad that VeggieTales went for parodies instead of containing to do Bible stories.

      • Alex Mellen says:

        Ooh, I’ve got to disagree here. I love the parody stories–Lord of the Beans, Minnesota Cuke, Veggies in Space, and the like–but I miss the Bible stories. Maybe it’s because I grew up with them, but Josh and the Big Wall, King George and the Ducky, and others were great at helping me understand Bible stories in a big-picture way. Jonah was especially deep because it didn’t provide a perfect, everything’s-good ending. Maybe it’s just that those are better for kids than for adults.

  5. Julie D says:

    Hmm, these are good meat for thought.

  6. Walter Cantrell says:

    When I think about why Christian movies generally are not that good there’s a lot that comes to mind.  Having to work on a low budget could be one issue, but I don’t think that’s the main reason.

    I get a sense that there’s a strong “seeker-sensitive” influence on those making these movies.  I think they’re trying to be Christian-Enough to attract a Christian audience, but Not-So-Christian that it turns off more of a mainstream audience.  I think the result is that they usually don’t end up winning over either audience.

    • Notleia, someone else shared that piece which I read a couple of days ago. I think it’s a great challenge to the underlying perceptions of faith that some Christians have. We tend to see the words God has communicated to us as means to, well, more words, rather than as vital means of having our eyes opened to everything–first and foremost Jesus Christ, and secondly other people, and thirdly our world and how it is versus how it should be.

  7. From this article:

    Why do we actually like Christian movies? … some people gives answers like … []”We need a tool for evangelism, to reach unbelievers in a place outside the church.[“]

    My Christ and Pop Culture colleague Christopher Hutton incidentally rebuts this notion in his new review/article about War Room at The Federalist.

    … the Kendricks’ work unintentionally cemented a framework for Christian media where viewers have learned to frown on departing from “making this to present a truth.”

    Movies Will Save You
    But why is this bad? After all, the Kendricks themselves have said in past interviews that their main goal in making these films is to save souls. But is that really happening? And is that the sole goal of the film?

    While Alex and Stephen have mentioned multiple times in past interviews that their films have inspired others to make first-time confessions of faith, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what the market is using them for. A recent Lifeway study revealed that the vast majority of Christian media consumers are self-proclaimed Christians. If you add the recent data points from Christian media advocacy group Faith Driven Consumer to the equation, it becomes clear that the Kendrick brothers’ box-office “success” is driven by a select number of religiously motivated consumers who are more interested in art that advocates for their view than in art that is aesthetically excellent.

    This is disappointing to hear. I’ve had higher hopes for the Kendrick brothers’ storytelling because of the genuine human moments in some of their last movies. But it appears these are incidental to the main mission of the movie: to promote a Message–which ends up not only failing to promote a Message but often ends up promoting some very incorrect messages.

  8. Kaci says:

    I’ve never really seen a need to separate “Theme/Message” from “Entertainment,” as in my experience the best stories do both.  The biggest problem for me, personally, is that Christian film tends to fall into two categories: kids’ films or “Hallmark.”  And, ultimately, I don’t really like Hallmark movies. It’s not my thing.  I really don’t see myself in them, and I grew up in the biggest Christian bubble possible.


    But really, I think Christian film needs to figure out how to show real themes and real people without compromising its hallmark (no pun intended) for keeping immoral behavior off-screen. We see it done all the time elsewhere, and I see no reason for Christian film not to capitalize on that storyteller’s toolbox. (And sometimes I just think viewers need to put their big kid pants on.) That inability or unwillingness to actively deal with sin and darkness and evil is, I think, largely why so much of the message winds up flat or askew with Scripture.

    Personally, I think the Christian film buffs tend to feel somewhat strapped. They know how to do it, but when organizations like the Dove Awards will disqualify you over a list of things, their hands get tied.

    In this case, may it be fair to suggest these answers by fans of particular Christian movies?

    Fireproof—You will enjoy the story and commit to strengthening your marriage.
    Courageous—You will enjoy the story and commit to being a better father.
    God’s Not Dead—You will enjoy the story and commit to telling others God is alive.


    I haven’t seen Courageous, or most of God’s Not Dead (because after Unstoppable I just gave up on the genre), however, I have to say I couldn’t actually enjoy Fireproof for two reasons: one, it didn’t press any of the real issues far enough, at all, and, two, I was too distracted by how badly the movie failed to address the wife’s infidelity whatsoever.

    As for God’s Not Dead, the parts I did watch reminded me way too much of an old scare tactic people used to use to keep kids away from smoking. (I know peer pressure is a thing, but the first time I was offered a cigarette it was with no more effort than offering a stick of gum.)  That professor…Kevin Sorbo did much too good a job at playing a length of colorful words I will not type.  I am not sure how much “evangelism” is accomplished by painting atheists as psychotic professors out to fail their students for their religious beliefs, especially in such an openly disgusting manner. That was a wonderfully villainous character, but he was offensive to me, and I’m a Christian. It just seemed to play off stereotype, scare-tactic, and an “up yours” attitude that I’m not sure is something Christian film should be known for. If that was supposed to be a “seeker-friendly” movie, it wasn’t; and if it was supposed to educate Christians, it didn’t.



  9. Update: Yesterday the trailer released for God’s Not Dead 2.

    I’m not fan, really, but perhaps what’s most hilarious is the amount of critics who are going, “haw, haw, it releases April 1 and this movie is a joke.” They have no idea of the “Fools says in his heart, ‘There is no God'”-style (Psalm 14:1) marketing slogans that are surely already in development even now.

What do you think?