Using film to move parishioners to action

The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX, has created a ministry called The Story Team. We are using essays, photos and films to tell stories about the ways God is at work in the church, the city and around the world. The effect has been powerful. When people see a story unfolding in front of their eyes, there is a tangible impact that lasts much longer and runs much deeper than if they simply listen to a pastor explain a sermon.

Stories have always been a part of the church. In the time of Jesus, stories were primarily used orally to teach and encourage. Today we use cameras to continue this tradition. We hear about many of our stories through word of mouth, and we’ve also created online systems to gather stories from our Austin Stone family. Nearly all of what The Story Team creates are documentaries.

They are films about normal people facing various challenges in their walk with Christ, and our job is to tell the story that the Lord is weaving in their lives. The church has on staff a film editor, a director of The Story Team, and a supervisor who manages the projects and leads the communications team.

Filmmaking is a powerful tool that can breathe life into the local and global body – not to become more insulated or flashy, but as a way to motivate, mobilize, reconcile, redeem and renew the dark places in our hearts and in our world. It is a unique art form that encompasses multiple facets of creativity (written, visual and musical) to create an experience that can be poetic, challenging and inspiring.

Film makes far-off or difficult issues more reachable. It encourages people who are going through trials when they see a film about others suffering. It challenges the church to live in radical obedience.

It presses peoples’ hearts to adopt or support an adopting family and help the marginalized when they see a film about a family that has gone through the hardships and trials of adopting. These are just a few of the ways we’ve seen film encourage, edify and strengthen the local body in Austin, and it’s been amazing to hear of people being moved to action.

Currently, the world is telling better stories than the church because their shots look better, their stories are better crafted, and the time and energy they spend on telling stories is generally blowing the church out of the water.

If the Christian church would invest time, resources, encouragement and energy towards artists, we could begin to see the tide change. We could see the world looking to the church for creativity for the first time in centuries. We could see the art of filmmaking become a powerful tool to glorify God and share the good news of Christ.

— Jeremy Rodgers is film production manager at The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX.


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