This might be a long one, but stick to the end. The ending is most important. :) Where to start?
How about a few months ago when I went to church and was told extras were needed for movie filming. I called up my friends and we spent a few hours as excited fans at a basketball game. I stopped by after a late night of work to make my appearance in a party scene a short time after that. And another day I sat on the grass at Guajome Park Academy as a high school student chilling in between classes. It was an exciting experience, even though it was a bit tiring to sit around through so many takes. It was neat to see how behind-the-scenes works. It was even more exciting to witness the way the church members gathered together and volunteered their time to the production. There were prayer teams writing notes of encouragement and praying over the members of the cast and crew. The extras would pray together before they shot a scene. God was included in every detail. Even the theatres showing the movie were prayed over.
Let me preface this next part by saying I'm not a fan of church movies. I don't know why but they always seem to be cheesy and have bad acting. As a movie-watcher, I don't believe what I'm seeing on the screen, which is not the way I like to watch movies. I like to watch what is unfolding as if I'm in the scene with them. I can't do it if the characters don't give the vibe of having a real conversation instead of a recitation.
Well, I went to see To Save a Life tonight. I was very pleased to see how many people had filled the theatre. I saw lots of familiar faces, which was kind of fun. It was also exciting to be watching and then see my face whiz by. I got to excitedly whisper to my friends "Oh, that was me! Did you see me?!"
At one point in the movie it occurred to me that I was watching a movie produced by a small company. It wasn't made by the big guys like Paramount or Castle Rock or Touchstone. It was made by a church. Even with the B movies that come out today I can tell it's a small company producing it. It's just all very rough and choppy. That was definitely not the case with this movie. They did a fabulous job with the smooth flow. For the most part the acting wasn't cheesy. There was one character that I didn't believe but she wasn't a main character so I was able to live with it.
The plot wasn't fake either. It was raw and sad and PG-13. In my opinion, you can't sugarcoat the world. By ignoring the real issues even though they might not be "church friendly" persay, I think just as much damage is being done to the Christian bubble that's sometimes hard to avoid. I grew up in a Christian bubble: church, school, friends. I was surrounded, and going to college awakened me to other ways of going about life. I've changed as a result of what I see and hear and am surrounded by now. I think it made the film more relateable to the average person.
Going into this film, I thought it was for teenagers who are struggling with feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide. I came away seeing how it was not just for them but for Christians too. When I watched the way Jake reached out to Johnny I was touched at how he made a small effort to reach out to someone who needed it. Jake was still just trying out the Christian thing. I asked why it wasn't a committed follower of Jesus who did it. Think about it: Jesus spent his life noticing and reaching out to those who went unnoticed by others--both religious and otherwise. We call ourselves followers of Christ but we don't follow his example. I felt very convicted afterwards. How many people have I seen sitting alone, but didn't think to invite them over to my group. How many new faces have I seen at church whom I haven't said more than "Hi, how're ya doin'?" during the say-hi-to-the person-next-to-you part of the service? I knew exactly why I didn't. I'm shy. I'm not good at small talk. I don't know what to say to people I don't know. I also thought about how I feel when I'm in an unfamiliar environment--a party or a swing club. Deep inside I long for someone, anyone to reach out to me and start a conversation. Well, I asked myself why I can't be the one to say the first thing. It can be very intimidating to go to an environment alone where others have come with their friends. Why can't I start chatting with a classmate in one of my new courses this semester? Why can't I go up to one of many people sitting on their own at a picnic table at school and ask if I can join them and introduce myself? That's what Jesus would have done in my shoes. I know that God created me the way he did for a reason--soft-spoken and a good listener. So, I'm praying about what it looks like in my life to reach out to the people around me. I'm praying for courage to speak up to those I'm feeling shy around. I'm praying for the words to speak when I feel tongue-tied. And I'm praying that God won't give up on me, but would bring people to my attention whom I can extend a hand of friendship.
I encourage you to go see the movie. It might teach you a thing or two you hadn't expected to learn like it did me. Think about what you see, and talk to someone about it. You won't be sorry you did.