It never ceases to amaze me how opinionated people can get over movies.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of articles about the newest Kendrick movie, War Room. I’ve read some of the articles, and even the comments posted on the websites hosting these articles. Some of the articles had a balanced approach to the movie, while others were very slanted one way or another. Some were very snarky and sarcastic, stating that the Kendrick brothers don’t know anything about making films and they should stop preaching to the masses. And then, even if the article was balanced, the comments often were not. Opinions were stated, people got offended, and then battle lines were drawn, all because someone said what they thought of the movie and someone else didn’t like it. Then the mudslinging started.
And I left the article thinking, “Ah, yes. The Christian community at its best behavior.” (Even I can get snarky and sarcastic sometimes.)
I’ve seen the movie. Here’s my take.
According to the Kendrick brothers’ website, “By prayerfully blending engaging stories with doctrinal integrity, the Kendricks seek to encourage and inspire viewers and readers with resources that impact their spiritual lives and strengthen their families and personal relationships.” (taken directly from https://kendrickbrothers.com/about) So they create movies for one purpose only: the speak to the body of Christ. Examining Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, and now War Room, one can see the messages in the movies are aimed at people who already claim to be Christian, but who may not be living their lives totally committed to the Lord Jesus. They so much as admit to that on their website with the statement quoted above. At least, that’s my impression of the phrase “impact spiritual lives.”
So are these movies going to appeal to the masses? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
I walked into the theater a little skeptical since I had seen so many articles critical of the film. The critics may be correct in some of their comments. Perhaps the acting isn’t stellar. Perhaps the “nuts and bolts” of the story could have been thought through a little more (could the husband really make things work financially for the family with his new job, when the new salary isn’t going to be but maybe a fourth of what he was making previously?). Perhaps some things appeared to have worked out too easily. I’m not sure about those things. I’m not a professional film critic. On the other hand, looking at all of these nitty-gritty details is, to me, missing the point of the movie.
The point of the movie? Prayer Works.
Take one elderly woman who knows the Lord, who knows her Bible, and whose faith is the stuff which speaks to mountains and sees them move, and involve her in the lives of a family that is slowly dying from the inside, and you have War Room. The essence of the story is, learn how to fight your real enemy. Who’s the real enemy? Satan, of course. Is a non-Christian going to understand that concept? I’m not sure. Is an atheist going to want to hear that being explained? I think you can answer that question yourself.
So who will find this movie appealing? Those people in church who know prayer works, who’ve seen the evidence of answered prayer, and they are encouraged by stories of answered prayer. Who else is the movie going to appeal to? Those in the body of Christ that are dealing with issues, who have struggling lives, struggling marriages, struggling careers, struggling health, and they are weighed down with the burden of their struggles. So the two groups that make up the body of Christ – those succeeding in their walk of faith, and those struggling in their walk of faith – are the reason this movie is doing so well at the box office.
Yes, it’s preachy. But it’s meant to be preachy in a “tell a good sermon story” sort of way, because it’s meant to speak to the body of Christ. It would be wonderful if it would reach those outside the body of Christ and draw them in, and perhaps it will. But it may not. However, if it reaches the church and lights the fire of encouragement in the hearts of God’s people, then it’s done a good work because the hearts of God’s people need to be renewed to the power of prayer, now more than ever before.
I would ask all these movie critics who think the film isn’t good at all, what did you honestly expect from a Kendrick film? Did you expect it to not be a message directed to the body of Christ? Really? Seriously?
And for those who would say, “but the movie isn’t what Christians need to produce! Christians films need to reach the unsaved! They need to reach the masses! They need to be better than this!” Okay. Your opinion. And you’re entitled to that opinion. So, if that’s your opinion, then go make that movie that reaches the masses. Go create that stellar film that reaches the unsaved, that doesn’t preach but gets the message across that Jesus came to die for our sins and reunite us with the Father God Almighty who created us all. Have at it! We will all cheer you on. And I mean this with all sincerity. If you think that all Christian films stink, and they’re an embarrassment to you, then write the script that trumps them all.
But, you can’t call it a Christian film with a life-saving message, if the message is hidden underneath other messages, and has to be riddled out of the setting and the characters and their back story and the rising action or falling action or crisis or resolution. No, make the message plain, so all can see it. Isn’t that what Habakkuk said? “Write the vision. And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.”
I am reminded of Peter and Paul in the New Testament, and their missionary journeys. Peter and Paul didn’t go to all the same cities to preach the gospel, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t have the same approach to the people they talked to, nor did they use the same speaking style. So was one of them wrong, and the other right? Or did they just do things differently? Did they have a different focus, even though they had the same purpose, i.e., to spread the gospel?
Perhaps we have different styles of “Christian” movies being produced, or that should be produced, and they have (or should have) different focuses, even though their purpose is the same. (Some might argue that they would have different purposes, but that’s another level of this discussion that I don’t want to venture into at this point.)
What do you all think? I would love to hear your comments. So post your thoughts in the comment section. But please be kind. Let’s not have another battle over War Room!