Engaging Culture

Should Churches Hold “Oscar Parties?”

Last night Kathleen and I attended the Oscar party at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. Beacon is Bel Air’s ministry to the entertainment and media industries, and they partnered with the Hollywood Prayer Network, The Greenhouse, The 168 Film Project, and Christian Women in Media to host the event. More than 1,000 people showed up to see the Oscars, discuss the films, and have a really fun night. We even had a huge contest to see who could predict the winners. The question is – Why should churches host Oscar parties?

1) Hollywood is ground zero when it comes to creating a global culture. As such, whether you like everything that comes out of Hollywood or not, Christians should be part of that conversation.

2) What better opportunity to start discussions about faith, than with great movies?  I can’t think of a better starting point for discussing your faith with co-workers, family, or friends. What role does faith play in movies like Les Miserables? How about Lincoln for a conversation about virtue, commitment, and ideals? Life of Pi for discussing God and how other cultures view religion? You don’t have to agree with a movie’s viewpoint to use it as an example to start talking with people.

3) We should stop criticizing Hollywood and start viewing the entertainment industry as a mission field.  Karen Covell at The Hollywood Prayer Network has been preaching this for years, and it’s time to start listening. When was the last time you actually prayed for the people who have such incredible impact creating the direction of our culture?

4) God is working in Hollywood, whether you approve or not.  Thousands of committed Christians are working inside Hollywood to impact the industry in a positive way. One director of a dramatic, episodic series told me: “I don’t make a big deal about being a Christian, but it’s interesting that when anyone on my crew is struggling with a divorce, alcoholism, wrestling with their purpose in life, or simply having a bad day, it’s amazing how they seem to find their way to me.”

For hundreds of years, Christians not only valued the arts, but were patrons of the arts. They funded the great painters, musicians, sculptures, writers, and other artists of their day. But today – where are those committed Christian patrons? Who are the people that not only recognize the power of media, entertainment, and the arts, but are willing to fund talented Christians in those areas?  It will only happen if we join together as one.

Last night, Beacon Entertainment Ministry’s Oscar party reminded me of the critical importance of engaging today’s culture right in the heart of where that culture it’s created.

What’s your opinion?  Is this a legitimate ministry outreach for churches today?

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31 Comments

  1. Planted a seed in the hearts of my team that I wanted us to do a series next year around this awards time with red carpets strobe lights and the works and I want to talk about our eternal rewards.

  2. I had never heard heard about such an outreach but I think it’s a wonderful idea. I think movies are a great way to get faith into a conversation. So many people like movies and talk about them at work or in a social environment, so why not steer the conversation to faith and more deeper matters?

  3. Yes, it is a legitimate ministry outreach for some churches!

    And why shouldn’t it be?

    With few exceptions we (the Church) watch the same movies as everyone else.

    It is now commonplace for pastors to use movies as illustrations. Some even use movie clips.

    I use movies as the study and then work my way to the Bible. This is a great way to talk about God’s truth with kids, youth, or people tired of typical “bible studies.”

    All truth is God’s truth, regardless of who says it.

    Most of our bible is narrative/stories.

    Jesus used stories often when He taught.

    If a movie like Wreck it Ralph can teach us God’s truth (and it can!) then why not use it to teach others about God’s story?

      1. However, the flip side could be said if you go to R-rated movies like Hangover II and try to find Jesus in that film, then you’re stretching the boundaries of what is sane and not reality. God may be in everything, but heathens aren’t Godly no matter how far you want to stretch it and often don’t have any redeeming qualities to their work. Horror being a prime example. I think we have to guard our minds because junk in equals junk out. We shouldn’t encourage people to watch every Oscar film because there’s a lot of crap that gets nominated. This year was an exception.

  4. Phil, Thank you SO MUCH much for expressing my heart so well in all of your points above. We need to stand on the mountain tops and cry out to the Church that part of our job in culture is to engage, talk, and pray. Keep up your good work to get the word out!

  5. Hi Phil- Thanks for the shout out. just FYI for accurate information. In addition, the ministries that you left off that were actually present and put in a good deal of the work were PRISM, Act One, and 168 hour film festival. I share your passion (obviously -since this is the third year we have done this, but the first year on the campus at Bel Air with this many partner ministries involved). So glad you guys were there and a part of this.

      1. Just curious where the outreach to non-Christians occurred? Also, was AEM invited? I felt bad attending their gathering since it was so small compared to years past and they use it as a fund-raiser. There has to be a way to support each other, but not lose sight of the bigger picture. Just playing devil’s advocate.

  6. It is mandatory to be an active participant in the culture. If we don’t express our views through art, then culturally today’s church will not be worthy of a footnote in the 22nd century’s history books (correction the i-historypod).

    1. Exactly, but hiding with other Christians to do this while living in Hollywood on the night when everyone is out and you have the opportunity to be light in the darkness doesn’t make sense to me.

  7. Great stuff Phil! thanks for writing! Your readers might be interested in a guide to praying for Hollywood. If so, consider using the Hollywood Prayer Network’s monthly prayer calendars. There are usually two calendars each month. One focusing on kid’s programming or kids working in the industry and one tailored to teen/adult entertainment. They are a convenient way to remember to pray for the industry and its impact on culture. Go to the Hollywood Prayer Network’s website to download. The Teen/adult version for the March calendar will be up soon and will feature award recipients from the major award presentations.

  8. Hi Phil, I do agree that God is definitely “doing a new thing” in Hollywood and our role as Christians is to pray and engage. As director for the Atlanta chapter of the Hollywood Prayer Network we have run with Karen’s vision of praying like its a mission field!
    I think everything done in love, like Jesus did, is effective. =)

  9. As director for the Omaha Nebraska chapter of the Hollywood Prayer Network and a film actor of 2 movies so far (I have bit roles in the Christian films Apparition and Plans of Trust being made in Omaha)

    I have no problem with their being a Oscar party at churches and churches praying for celebs.

    In fact, I wish more churches were involved with the HPN and praying for the influential (whether they be celebrities or politicians)

    And also: The way I see it, If it is okay to have a super bowl party at church, why cant we have a Oscar party also at church.

    The Oscars is in a way the Super Bowl of film award shows.

  10. I am so E x c i t e d to see so many people involved with lifting Hollywood up in prayer! I am a co-director for the Hollywood Prayer Network, Salem Oregon Chapter, and we have just begun to start monthly prayer time. We started with 3 people… but, anticipate The Holy Spirit to do Great Things! These ministries involved are such a Blessing to Hollywood, and to those of us who have a desire to see people reached… Hollywood & the people who love Hollywood

  11. I am so E x c i t e d to see so many people involved with lifting Hollywood up in prayer! I am a co-director for the Hollywood Prayer Network, Salem Oregon Chapter, and we have just begun to start monthly
    prayer time. We started with 3 people… but, anticipate The Holy Spirit to do Great Things! These ministries involved are such a Blessing to Hollywood, and to those of us who have a desire to see people reached… Hollywood & the people who love Hollywood

  12. I’m curious why Christians working in Hollywood isolate themselves on one of the best nights to be out mixing with non-Christians and sharing their Godly insights with non-believers? Sometimes I feel like Christians in Hollywood live in a pink ghetto where they only know each other, only do things with each other, and thus never move beyond that circle. Doing short films with 168 year after year only goes so far professionally and if you’re serious about “making it” why wouldn’t you assimilate? It’s nice to have fellowship, but at a certain point… it becomes a vacuum…Just very curious. I can see these types of parties outside of Hollywood, but in? Not so much.

  13. I LOVE it Phil!! You so clearly put in words what I’ve been praying for San Diego (my hometown) to understand… I’m ashamed to say I avoided Hollywood at all cost since my conversion 30 yrs ago. In ’05, the LORD convicted me and showed me HIS heart for this influential mission field- then introduced me to Karen Covell! SO EXCITING to see what He’s doing through you all and how He honors our prayer!! We now have an awesome, growing Hollywood Prayer Network in San Diego!

  14. it’s all about living an exemplary life in Christ so people know we are christians, not supporting worldly art so we can interact and relate to non christians. And trying to change Hollywood is not going to happen, it is based on all things worldly that takes us farther from God. There may be a few people who decide to change and accept Christ, but the town and entertainment industry will only get worse as time goes on. It is a waste of time to think the industry and Hollywood will change for Christ, just work on individual people by living an exemplary life for Christ and stay away from supporting worldly entertainment. It isn’t easy, but I am trying to get better at staying away from worldly influence type shows and movies.

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