The Resurrection of Gavin Stone: Helping Evangelicals look less strange to the public

Antique spiral clock face

Used with permission.

When people scorn or scoff at our faith, we should cut them some slack. Their concerns about us are likely sincere, given what they know of us. Our response should… [be]…to engage with them and help them better understand who we are.
John Pellowe in Strangers in a Strange Land

It’s time for the public to hear words from us that are positive and inviting; words that intrigue them and inspire them to explore faith and find out more about Jesus Christ.
John Pellowe in Watch Your Language,

A significant part of the general public has formed its opinion of Evangelicals based on popular stereotypes encouraged by media and elites, and unfortunately by some of our own behaviours, which are seen as strange. A movie is coming out May 2nd on DVD which can help us appear less strange to the public and at the same time help the public understand what we stand for.

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is a Christian comedy which has generated some reasonably good reviews in the Chicago Tribune and in Variety magazine. They definitely see it as a genre movie and not for everyone, with a very predictable plot. But otherwise, they deem it decently good for what it is.

For me, it is a good movie because it doesn’t have any what I call cringe moments in it. Watch the trailer, and then I’ll discuss how it can be helpful for the Evangelical church.

The Redemption of Gavin Stone Trailer

Pre-Evangelism

The movie clearly has two audiences. One audience is the general, non-Evangelical public. Its goal with this audience is to present a more positive image of what Evangelicals are about. I see it as a pre-evangelism movie whose story about grace and redemption may soften how people view Evangelicals and our faith. Its very strong message is that everyone can have a second chance. It might work well as a safe, humorous way to address second chances in a support or other small group. Several non-Christian reviewers say if the faith component is left aside, it is still a message that any person can relate to  – recovery from failure and acceptance by others.

A Self-Critique

The second audience is Evangelical Christians, and this is the reason why I am writing about the movie. It is written and produced by Evangelicals to help us find a way to better relate to the outside world. This is a central component of what I’ve been writing about in the Community Leadership category of my blog. (Harvest Bible Chapel in Elgin, IL is not only the filming location, it also was heavily involved in financing the movie, and the director is on staff at the church.)

The film uses comedy to gently poke us Evangelicals in the side and prod us to think about how we come across to others, what works and what doesn’t, and how much ‘in-knowledge’ we assume people visiting our churches have.

How can we best welcome non-Christians into our midst? The plot device which helps us answer this question is based on the protagonist, Gavin Stone, lying about being a Christian. He wants to play Jesus in an Easter production, but only Christians can have parts in the play. So he lies, and to keep up the facade, he studies up on how Evangelicals behave and the buzzwords we use. Other characters in the movie represent various types of believers which I’m sure we’ll all recognize, or even identify with.

Rather than a mean-spirited exposé of our foibles, this movie is a light-hearted and funny self-critique. It’s worth watching.

The Resurrection

And I hope you had a meaningful time this weekend celebrating the real resurrection which makes all of our own resurrections possible – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

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