Not too long ago, I sent out a survey to my email list and asked pastors if they believe ministers should address pop culture related topics like movies, music, & TV in their messages.
Over 1500 pastors responded to the survey. A whopping 74% of them said, “Yes”—ministers can and should talk about culture from the stage.
Recently, I interviewed Ministry Pass’ Content Manager, Wade Bearden, about pop culture and the Bible. Along with leading our sermon series planning department, Wade is also a film critic in his spare time. His work has been featured on Christianity Today, RogerEbert.com, and ChristandPopCulture.com.
During our discussion, he brought up three great points I wanted to share about pastors, preaching, and pop culture:
1. Jesus used the common imagery of his day to illustrate deep, spiritual truths, and we should do the same.
Seeds, sheep, and vineyards; Jesus utilized all of these pictures to help an ancient middle eastern culture understand the Kingdom of God.
We too should leverage our contemporary culture’s interested in film, television, and art to communicate the message of the Bible. Films are modern day parables. Facebook is a contemporary form of communication.
Use these to teach people about God, the Bible, and Jesus’ plan for humanity.
2. Addressing and/or discussing popular culture will generate interest from those both inside and outside of your church.
Some individuals won’t think twice about darkening the doors of a church, but they love a good discussion about their favorite television show.
Talking about popular culture can actually be a way to love your neighbor. It meets them where they are, helping them to see God’s beauty in the media they consume.
3. Culture should not inform the Bible, but we can use the Bible to inform culture.
Pastor and writer Mark Batterson once said, “So often in the church, we’re talking about things that no one else is talking about.” People want to know how the Christian faith relates to their world. When we address culture in the church, we communicate the importance of viewing everything through the story of Jesus. The gospel informs every facet of our world.
People are already seeing movies, talking about them, and sharing them. As pastors, we have a great opportunity to take what people are already talking about and point them back to the Bible. Often times, the same moral dilemmas and conflicts your congregation sees in movies have already been addressed by the Word of God.
A question I get a lot from pastors is,
“Justin, if I am going to do a more outreach driven series dealing with pop culture, when should I do it?”
One of the things we know is that churches decline in attendance during the summer. There aren’t as many volunteers and giving goes down as well. People are busy because kids are out of school, they are moving to a new neighborhood, or even a new city.
Last summer, we saw hundreds of churches use a series we created called, God on Film. It’s a series grounded in scripture and it uses themes from summer blockbusters to illustrate what’s already in the Bible.
Many church leaders emailed me saying their church and ministry experienced growth last summer because this series attracted so many new people. I was so excited to hear this that I told our team at Ministry Pass to update the series each summer.
We want to see you reach more people this summer with Gospel.