Movies Making Way to the Pulpits

The growing phenomenon of "theater churches" and movie-like screens at the pulpits has more churches talking relevance in the 21st century.

The latest survey by the Leadership Network, which fosters church innovation, revealed at least 250 churches are meeting in theaters in at least 36 states. These theater churches are one of the latest popularized trends integrating culture and the gospel message to bring in the unchurched.

And with films more influential today than churches, according to the Barna Research Group, movies have made it to church jumbo screens to start off many of America's pastors' sermons.

Capitalizing on the growing trend of multimedia in churches, WingClips.com was recently launched to give pastors content from Major Motion Pictures. The site caters to demand for sermon illustrations and Christians looking for new inspirational films.

Categorized by specific themes, including acceptance, abuse, confession and creation, film scenes are made accessible for churches to download.

A 2005 Barna survey found that the use of large-screen projectors to show slides and videos increased from 39 to 62 percent in 2000 and 2005, respectively. Additionally, live video segments shown during worship services rose from 30 to 61 percent in that same time period.

The newly launched web resource provides both materials from Christian documentaries and mainstream Hollywood films with new movie clips added every week.

"By allowing pastors to use our clips at their discretion, we give them a voice in Hollywood," said Mitchell Irion, former pastor and president of WingClips, in a released statement. "Our goal is not only to provide pastors and teachers with great movie illustrations, but also to help promote good, quality films."

The majority of Americans are already talking about the content of movies or television programs - the most popular topic of conversation, Barna reported in 2003. And WingClips notes that most people can recount scenes from favorite films but only a few can recall the central theme of last week's sermon.

"Let's face it, movies are our modern-day parables," the statement said.