Worship team opens communication between church and community over movie (March 3, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Worship team opens communication between church and community over movie

March 3, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0033}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

ORLANDO - When the worship design team at Aloma United Methodist Church decided they wanted to get out of the box and do something different they really did something different.

The church rented a local movie theater and invited both church members and residents in the surrounding community to attend private showings of "The Passion of the Christ."

The Rev. Bruce Williams, senior pastor at the church, said it took about six weeks of planning. The effort was worth it when 226 people were seated for the first showing at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 24.

"They really got outside of the box," said Williams, who had initially viewed the movie during a screening with Mel Gibson and other religious and community leaders six weeks before its national release. "It was a great idea."

It was an idea that didn't end when patrons exited the theater. Church members were available to pray with people and gave away free religious books for seekers.

Williams also designed several sermons to help provide answers to questions raised by the movie for people who aren't members of the church and want to learn more.

"We want to open the scriptures and be able to invite people in to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," Williams said. "This is a very impactful movie, and I believe it can assist people to come to Christ. I think it one of the greatest outreach tools for the church in a long, long time."

The Rev. Andy Searles, associate pastor at the church, said the outreach has already begun.

"We had one lady attend who has only been a Christ follower for a few months go home and spend four hours reading the gospels wanting to see if it was really true," Searles said. "The build-up to its preparation has been focused around how do we assimilate new believers. There undoubtedly must be much work to do in that area, but after just one showing our challenge is how do we plug all of these hungry Christians into a discipling strategy?"

Jim Bullard, a member of Aloma United Methodist Church, said he is working to bring both Christians and non-Christians into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. He gave away tickets to people living in his neighborhood as an outreach tool. He said he wanted others to see the movie because of "its indescribable power of placing viewers at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ."

"It is a graphic representation of what Jesus did for us," Bullard said. "I felt like I was there."

Churches searching for United Methodist resources related to the movie should visit http://www.umc.org for commentaries, an extensive study guide and a review from denominational leaders.


This article relates to Discipleship and Outreach.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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