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Movies have been a big part of our family’s life for years. I remember growing up watching the movie of the week with my family on Saturday and Sunday nights before we got cable TV. We thought we had arrived when the cable man showed up to install that black box that sat on top the TV that was sitting on top of the larger TV that didn’t work! And when we bought our first VCR, we recorded movies around the clock so our viewing library was always full.
Movies are fun because we get a chance to live in an alternate reality for a couple of hours.
Whether we are growing up during the Great Depression on Walton’s Mountain, driving down the dirt roads with Bo and Luke Duke, or flying through the air with the man who has an “S” on his chest, the time we spent in front of the TV kept our family together during times when the rest of the week had us moving in different directions. There were some weeks when sitting down for a movie was all the time we spent together because we always had something going on.
Now that our Wee Ones are old enough to watch some of the movies with us, we are introducing the next generation to the classics.
Wil and Michaela have enjoyed our trips down memory lane because they got a chance to see what it was like when we were their age. We watched many classic movies and TV shows from the 1980s-1990s. As we watched them, we also noticed similarities to the backgrounds for some of the scenes. And many of those backgrounds were filmed in a central location, the Warner Brothers’ Ranch.
We discovered the Warner Brothers’ Ranch last July when we were in California, but it was not available for the general public to see.
We drove around the outside of the ranch and saw the entrances that were nothing more than gates cut out of the massive wall that keeps everybody out. 4 roads surrounded the ranch but none of them gave us any access to what was inside.
I’m not going into the history of the Warner Brothers’ Ranch here, but it is interesting to know that most TV scenes were filmed there so they could cut through some of the red tape that would slow down the production of their projects. Inside the Ranch, there is the Lethal Weapon house, the “Friends” fountain, the Christmas home for the Griswolds, and on the back lot, the Walton house. Instead of paying a homeowner every time a movie was needing a house, the ranch was the next best thing because it was always available.
Using the Warner Brothers’ Ranch is a great cost effective way to make movies but a terrible way to grow a church. In many ways, we have created a sub-culture that has prevented others from joining us. Like our trip around the ranch looking for a way in, there are many people in the community circling our churches trying to find a way in so they can meet Jesus. The challenge for us is simple.
As God’s church, we need to find a way to be accessible enough for the community to join us while keeping our distance from the sin that so easily entangles us.
This challenge is simple to understand but hard to put into action. It is hard to reach the community because we are scared of falling back into our old lives of sin. It is hard to reach the community because we have been raised to think that the community is evil while the church is good. It is hard to reach the community because we have been taught to be in the world but not of the world. While it is true that we need to maintain a higher standard of living as Christians, we should not build an ivory tower to shelter us from life.
The Christian sub-culture is both good and bad because it can give us a safe place to grow while at the same time cutting us off from the people we need to reach. If we spend too much time in our sub-culture, we will lose touch with the reality of our neighborhoods, and that is counter-productive. I believe that this was part of the motivation behind the Great Commission. We are told to make an effort to go to the people instead of just sitting around waiting for them to show up.
Of course, we do need to have a healthy church for them to attend after we reach them for Christ, so we should never neglect the Discipleship part of our responsibilities. However, we cannot make disciples without first making converts. And we cannot convert those who are not convicted. And we cannot convict those who are not listening. And how can they listen when we are not speaking their language?
If we want people to listen to what we have to say, we need to learn their language so they can understand us. Think about the events that took place over the past year. How many of those events were designed with the community in mind? Which ones actually had members of the community showing up?
Are we trying to make a movie for people to escape reality for a couple of hours every week, or are we trying to reach our communities for Christ?