I recently went and saw the new Iron Man 2 in theaters and got to thinking not only about how incredible the special effects were, but I saw a clear connection between summer blockbusters and evangelism. Every May begins the summer rush at your local cineplex as studios send out some of the most anticipated movies of the year. The summer is constantly full of the latest sequels and high budget flicks that create a huge draw to the theater. Which is interesting because summer is usually the best time of year to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather, yet society tends to find itself drawn to the dark, air conditioned sanctuaries of entertainment.
Think about this summer's movie lineup, and ponder which movies you anticipate seeing this summer. Maybe you've yet to see Iron Man 2 so that's at the top of your list, but it could be followed by a long list of cinematic treats such as Shrek 4, Toy Story 3, A-Team, Robin Hood, Twilight: Eclipse, Prince of Persia, or even the latest remake of The Karate Kid. Whatever you taste in movies there's probably at least one or two, if not more, that you're thinking about going to this summer. You'll shell out $10 for the ticket, sneak in some candy in your pockets and if you're in a good mood you'll drop another $15 for popcorn and soda. During the movie you'll be whisked away into another land by special effects and plotlines, and then the movie concludes and you return back to your life.
My question is how did you get the desire to spend the time watching that movie? You might have seen a preview, maybe you read a review or blog, and quite possibly you had heard some buzz of conversation among your friends. No matter the method, excitement was established and it hooked you, you decided to spend your time and money discovering the truth behind all of the hype and hysteria. Then after you start leaving the theater your mind starts to create and articulate your opinions and reviews of the film. Then the outbreak of your movie critique begins to spread as you enter into quick conversations with your friends, peers, and social networks. What's interesting to think about is how quickly our anticipation to see a movie can be affected by these quick conversations and interactions with our peers. When a handful of friends start sharing how great a movie is you'll notice that your interest in it starts to perk up, but when the comments are negative or even nonexistent we can find that our interests begin to fade.
The more I thought about this the more I thought about how our lives can be used to share the excitement of what God has done in our lives. Think about how this metaphor carries over into our spreading of the Gospel.
Movie Trailers/Advertising - As Christians some of us are like the movie previews and advertisers for Jesus. The way that we interact with people, live our lives, and exemplify our faith can either attract or repulse people from Jesus, church, and Christianity. We need to always remember that our lives are living representations for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5)
The Movie - the actual movie experience is like a person's personal experience with Jesus. This is when God becomes real to them. This personal encounter with Jesus could be at a church service, at a summer camp, at a retreat, or even a personal quiet time with God. A relationship with God can't be "transferred" or given to someone by someone else. It is an experience with God that each person must pursue and experience for themselves. Just as having someone tell you the storyline of a movie isn't as good as watching it for yourself. We worship a God that loves each and every person and He desires a relationship with everyone; we should all be pursuing a deeper understanding of who God is, who He's created us to be, and his plan for our lives.
The Buzz - After a personal experience an individual must tell others about it. Think about the joy and excitement you feel after seeing a great movie, you feel that you have to tell everyone you come in contact with. Its not weird, awkward or uncomfortable; its simply sharing your thoughts and feelings about the experience so that others will experience it as well. When God does something in our lives we shouldn't hide it or forget about it, we should share it with joy and excitement. So often I hear people sharing their testimonies and its like they're reciting an old presidential speech with a blank look on their face and a monotone voice. Instead Christ followers should be spontaneously and enthusiastically sharing about their experiences with God because these moments have been real and life changing. Remember evangelism isn't just about rehearsed content, but your tone, emotion, and even body language can play a part in effectively communicating your faith.
Hopefully this summer as you're having a plethora of conversations, interactions, tweets, and Facebook updates; try to mention what's happening in your life more than just the latest and greatest movie you've seen or song you've downloaded. Take initiative to mention what God is doing in your life that week.