Impact Of The "Passion"
DITC Note: This is exactly what I have been predicting.
Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion," about the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus, was an incredible box-office success. It is the eighth highest-grossing domestic film of all-time, viewed by over 60 million Americans. This success was due largely to the efforts of many prominent evangelicals who touted "The Passion" as possibly the best evangelistic tool since Pentecost. Some were proclaiming that the movie would win millions to Christ and usher in a new Reformation. Those who doubted these exaggerated claims were considered wet-blankets. Those who doubted its message, with its many Roman Catholic overtones, where labeled anti-evangelistic. But words are easy and cheap - what is the verdict? What impact has "The Passion" had?
The anticipated Barna survey is out, and he and his researchers are "startled." The impact is virtually nonexistent. Only 16% who view the film said that it had any affect at all on their religious beliefs. Of those 8% said they are going to church more, while only 3% said they were more involved in church-related activities. But it gets worse. The startling part, according to Barna was, "Despite marketing campaigns labeling the movie the 'greatest evangelistic tool' of our era, less than one-tenth of one percent (.1 %) of those who saw the film stated they had made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film's content." And of course, of that 1 % who claimed professions, many of those undoubtedly were professing the Roman Catholic formula for salvation, not the true gospel. Equally startling for the researchers "was the lack of impact on people's determination to engage in evangelism. Less than one-half of one percent (.5%) of the audience said they were motivated to be more active in sharing their faith in Christ with others as a result of having seen the movie." These are incredible numbers. Not only did Gibson's movie have virtually no measurable influence on bringing people to Christ, neither did it have any measurable effect on encouraging Christians to share their faith.
Barna's explanation: "One of the lessons from this situation is that major transformation is not a likely result from onetime exposure to a specific media product." Exactly! The gospel is not a media event - it is not declared well in the form of entertainment. It was meant to be proclaimed, preached, lived out before unbelievers, and carefully explained with an opened Bible. Unfortunately, experiences such as these have a negative affect on God's people. These failed adventures, hyped out of all proportion (remember "I Found It") leave a sour taste in the mouths of Christians. It is easy for some to become discouraged with all efforts at evangelism. Hopefully most will not take their disappointment that far. Instead, may they go back to the Scriptures to examine the God-honored methods of sharing the power of the gospel.