the boys and i recently watched two cgi animated movies. since their animation method was the same i thought i would use the differences between the two to discuss a belief i see in american evangelicalism’s that our methods will make us meaningful to the culture around us. you see i believe that way too often in modern evangelical churches we think that when we are not reaching our culture all we need to do is change our methods. we often think that the answer is to simply change our music style from traditional to contemporary (which isn’t contemporary because it sounds like bad late 70s or early 80s music) and then to modern. or maybe the answer is to change our worship gatherings from preaching only to preaching & skits and then to preaching with custom made videos. we rarely consider whether we are actually doing a good job of communicating our message and living out our faith. we just believe that changing the method will take care of any problems we have.
now let’s consider the two movies.
first the boys and i saw “up.” it is absolutely amazing. it is a great movie. not merely a great animated movie but A GREAT MOVIE! yes, the animation is terrific but the most impressive thing is how incredible the story of the movie is. the plot takes on adult themes and does an amazing job of dealing with them. i would recommend that anyone goes and sees “up.” if you don’t have a kid and feel like you have to have one with you to watch an animated movie then borrow a neighbor’s child and go watch it. i will be dumbfounded if it is not at least nominated for the best picture oscar.
next we saw “monsters vs aliens.” it was okay … not terrible but not good. the only redeeming part of the movie was that it cost a mere $9 for all three of us to go (including popcorn). the animation was basically as good as pixar’s “up” but the story and the way it dealt with the story was no where as good as what “up” did. the best part of the story was reese witherspoon’s character. her character was at least a good example of a feminine hero. i would imagine that if i had a daughter i would like this movie a little more because of this fact.
so here’s my point. both movies used the same medium. they had glitzy animation and it is cool to see really good animation … once. however it is the story that determines whether most people really want to re-watch the movie again and again. “up” obviously concentrated on what was behind its animation more than “monsters vs aliens” did. i think the reason “up” did this is because the producers, actors, animators, and others realized that what is behind the animation is actually what is most important.
so my point is simply this. we don’t have to neglect our methods and mediums. in fact, we should make them the best we can. our churches should have good methods for conveying the message and life of CHRIST. YET OUR METHODS AREN’T NEAR AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT/WHO IS BEHIND OUR METHODS AND MEDIUMS. we need to focus more on making sure that we are focused on the extremely quality story and actions of CHRIST than we do on simply making sure that our methods are glitzy. when we stay centered on the amazing story of the gospel we will deal with the real issues of life and people will be more interested in hearing it again and again. that’s the stuff that matters. our fancy methods will draw people once or twice but truly effective communication of WHO is behind those methods will connect with people again and again.