Invite Jesus into the everyday.
I say this to parents a lot. It’s something I feel very passionate about, but also something I recognize isn’t easy to do. It requires intentionality, creativity, and patience. But our family has experienced some really special moments in these times of everyday life where we make room for Jesus in the midst of it and one of those places is our Family Movie Night.
Our kids get SO excited when we say, “Take dinner to the living room; it’s Family Movie Night!” As the girls have gotten older (11 and 9) it’s become increasingly more difficult to find movies that are both appropriate for their age and fun for the whole family. As we’ve broadened their movie selections, we have been intentional in doing so and have tried to use these family times as springboards for deeper faith conversations.
Here’s four faith-forming movie moments you might want to utilize for your Family Movie Nights
1. The BIG Story
Every movie has an overall plot and many times the plot has something to do with good vs. evil. Of course, we always want good to win and just when it looks like evil has taken the lead, good comes from behind for the BIG win. Does this sound anything like another story you’ve heard in your life or read in the pages of the Bible? The original good vs. evil story took place in the narrative of Scripture and is repeated in all of the small stories we read over and over again, not the least of which was the resurrection of Christ that we celebrate on Easter. Some examples of questions you could ask your kids:
- Where does the idea of good and evil come from?
- Who was the good guy in the movie? Who is the ultimate good guy?
- Can you give an example of the Bible where good beat evil, like in the movie?
2. The BIG Lesson
Most movies have a “lesson” or moral they are trying to get across to their audience. It may not be a deep lesson (Dumb and Dumber anyone?) and it may not be a healthy one (50 Shades of Let’s Not Go There) but there is some lesson behind the story. Before you watch the movie with your kids, be aware of what the messages are and ask your kids if they can find it or figure it out. I’ve been amazed by some of the insights my girls have come up with about the messages in movies. Here are a few questions to help you get started.
- What is the main message this movie is telling you about life? love? relationships? friendship?
- Do you think the message is true or false?
- Do you think that is a the same message Jesus would give you?
3. The BIG Picture
Movies try to paint a certain reality, whether it is set in a high school or outer space, the movie tries to pull you into their alternate universe and have you believe it’s real. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the movie, the fact is that reality is not real. Sometimes kids especially have a hard time discerning that as their minds are still developing the skills necessary to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Here are a few thoughts you might want to share with your kids before and after the movie.
- Before the movie: Look for things in the movie that are different from your reality.
- After the movie: What did you think was unrealistic? Why? How has that been different from your experience? As a Christian, what would you have done in that situation?
4. The BIG Hero
Oh, we love our heroes! My girls recently discovered Indiana Jones and MacGyver (Thank you Daddy and Netflix) and they think these two men are simply amazing. Every good movie has a great hero who always rescues the needy ones, loves the unloved ones, and saves the lost ones. It’s as though they had a prototype to work off of (hmmmmm), an ultimate Hero that could change the whole world (AHA). We of course know His name, but let’s make sure our kids know Him too. Here’s some ways to start that conversation.
- Who in the movie needed rescued and who was the hero?
- How did we know that he/she was the hero? What makes a hero heroic?
- Who is the ultimate Hero of the world? Who has He rescued?
These questions and conversations flow easily in our house now since we started them a long time ago, but at first it can be a little awkward. Don’t let that awkwardness stop you.
These types of conversations carry more meaning than in just that moment; they begin to help your children build a framework through which they watch television and movies in the future. They will approach these things with a mind that is looking for more, critically reviewing the messages they receive, and developing a worldview based on the reality of God’s word.
And to think it all started with some pizza, popcorn, and pop (soda, coke, whatever) in your living room on Family Movie Night.
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.