NEW YORK A small church in Staten Island hosted a Narnia preview event for pastors, youth leaders, and Boys Scout personnel.
After watching the eight-minute preview, a question-and-answer discussion ensued and leaders were, for the most part, positive about Walt Disney's marketing its Dec. 9 movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to the "family and faith" segment of the population through churches.
"This is a good opportunity for Christians to get their story out in a different venue and through a great art form," said Glenn Blossom, senior pastor of the Bethel Evangelical Free Church in Staten Island, N.Y. Blossom hopes that churches in his neighborhood will come to know about it more and will host events of their own.
Bethel church is one of approximately 150 nationwide that are hosting preview events this fall to create a buzz on the movie by way of word of mouth the most powerful known marketing tool.
"We believe the film will provide schoolteachers, parents, church leaders, youth leaders, and others a wonderful opportunity to share positive moral values and lessons," stated Paul Lauer, founder of Motive Entertainment, which successfully marketed The Passion of the Christ to the same constituency.
To that end, along with the preview were guides for teachers, children's pastors, youth pastors, and parents. Outreach materials such as doorknob hangers, posters, postcards, follow-up cards, business cards, and church bulletin inserts were also handed out free of charge.
Responding to a question about the church being used by Disney for profit, the organizer of the event and a deacon at the church, Michael Weinberg, said he doesn't know whether it is Disney or the church who is using the other.
Weinberg supposed that Disney was using the church if the message in the movie was a watered down version of the Gospel], but he said the movie is a clear message of God's grace - getting something you don't deserve."
"I don't know who's using who," he concluded.
The movie is based on a popular children's series written by famed Christian theologian, C.S. Lewis. The series has caught the imaginations of hundreds of millions of readers over 50 years, bringing Biblical morals of forgiveness, love, and grace to life.
The Rev. Jay Jhong, who pastors children at N.Y. Korean Evangelical Church, said he was "looking for something to connect to the children."
According to research, 80 percent of believers find God before they reach their 18th birthday, making Narnia a much needed evangelistic tool, he said.
Senior Pastor Todd Foster of Church on the Rock came from New Haven, Conn. to attend the event at Bethel church. He compared the movie media to money.
"It's kinda like money," said Foster. "It's not evil in it of itself, but it's what you do with it."
He added, "I hope they make lots of money, and I hope we win lots of souls. That's a match made in heaven, I think."
The live-action motion picture adaptation of C.S. Lewis' beloved literary classic is set for release Dec. 9. This film marks the first live-action adaptation of Lewis' seven-book series.