In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of embracing community when we choose to indulge in popular culture. I want to take that a step further and say that it is possible to use popular culture in order to embrace community. In other words, we ought to think of community as primary in our lives, rather than popular culture. When we neglect community for pop culture, that should be a red flag. When we are in the midst of community, pop culture ought to aid that sense of community rather than inhibit it.

With this in mind, I wanted to come up with some ways we can improve our community life through the medium of film. I know this isn’t a popular concept. And for the most part, people are right to be skeptical. In fact, I can remember just a few years ago insisting that if I wanted to spend quality time with someone the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a darkened room with them for two hours staring at a screen. There is definately some truth to that and I want to affirm that sentiment.

Also, though, I want to encourage you to be open to the idea that community can thrive in the midst of the arts. So, here I offer 5 ways to watch film and build community.

  1. Compare Notes. When you see a film, approach others who have seen the film and ask what they thought. Did they hate it, while you loved it? Why? How would they make it better? This is especially effective when we find ourselves swept up in sentamentalism, inappropriate humor, or glorified violence that often discourages the viewer from thinking about the concepts involved.
  2. Go beyond the surface. When discussing a film, don’t just talk about the film. Use the concepts dealt with as jumping off points to discuss more personal issues. If you’ve just seen the Dark Knight, discuss whether the claims of the Joker disturb you or make you run closer to Christ. If you watch Wall-E, discuss how susceptible to commercialism you are. 
  3. Start a “film club.” This is a bit of a formal concept, but if you can find enough people who are willing to do it, and you pull it off well, it could be quite beneficial. Find a group of people with open minds and plan on going to a movie a month.
    Start an email group where you discuss (and ultimately vote on) what movie you will see next. Make it easy for those uncomfortable with certain films to speak up, and if necessary to back out. Plan a time to both watch the film and (this is crucial!) to discuss the film afterwards. Ask one another questions about the quality of the film, the moral choices of the characters, and even whether or not it was a good idea to see the film at all. Treat this as an informal discipleship time.
What are some ways you have used film to build relationships and encourage others?


  1. Since commenting appears pretty moribund in these here parts, I’ll add another (since you taunted us by saying you’d have five ways but only gave three).

    5. Watching a comedy that everyone’s already seen and loved (or even a horror or romance—a la Evil Dead II or Roman holiday) can be a great way to spend time. The banter alone can make the evening worth one’s while. MST3King a film can also build on community.

    The Danes last blog post..20080924.OscarWilde

  2. On a similar note, have you ever wanted to go deeper into a film, so you watch the “extras” on the DVD, only to be disappointed by how shallow they are? A movie club is a great way to take movie watching to a deeper level. Great tips!

  3. Yeah, you’ll never get depth from commentary by actor, director, or other sundry components to the film-making process. If you want depth, look for critical commentary, like Roger Ebert’s well-conceived commentary for Dark City or the commentaries that Criterion packages with their films (films that are almost meant to be discussed).

    The Danes last blog post..20080930.Berlin.Review

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