I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I saw the original Episode 4 back in 1977. I was in junior high when I first saw Star Wars, and like many of you, I was hooked. I’ve enjoyed all seven of the Star Wars movies (yes, including the terrible prequels – it’s still Star Wars!).
Now, Rogue One has just opened this past week. It’s been a critical and financial success for Disney. My wife and I saw it this past weekend, as have many of our friends, co-workers, and family. Star Wars is again a cultural phenomenon, and I’m learning some things about people all over again. I’m wondering how we can take advantage of these things as we lead our Bible study groups. Are there some lessons to be learned?
Here are 3 things Rogue One is teaching me:
- People can’t get enough of a good story – The tag line to Rogue One is, “A Star Wars story.” Emphasis on “story.” People don’t go to see these movies because of the special effects. They go because there is a story that continues to unfold. It’s a story that has characters people care about. It’s a story that has “spider webbed” out as all eight Star Wars movies have been released. If you have seen the movie, you’ve noted how carefully some elements (and characters) from previous Star Wars movies were featured, serving as threads to connect and bind the movies together into one coherent story line. Think about how much more connected is the story you and I tell each week in our Bible study groups! We share stories about Bible characters that are interrelated and connected to what I will call “the grand narrative of Scripture” – the big story of what God has done (and is doing) in the world. As Christians, we have the absolute best story of the ages to tell – it’s not a good story, it’s a great story. Let’s not forget that as compelling as the Star Wars saga is, the story of redemption is far, far greater. We can help connect the stories of Scripture to the larger meta-narrative of Scripture each time we teach. As the old hymn says, “I love to tell the story…”
- People will discuss what they’re passionate about – This one actually give me hope! I’ve listened to several co-workers over the past few days detail their experiences at the movies. They’ve been anxious to discuss the crowds, the mood of people in line, the electric atmosphere inside the movie theater, and most importantly, they have been anxious to discuss the story of Rogue One. They’ve openly discussed plot holes, plot twists, and the many connections this movie has to other movies in the Star Wars family. There’s been no absence of opinion as to what Disney might have done to make this an even better movie. People are already talking about Episode 8 due out one year from now! There’s just no holding back – people are talking about Rogue One and Star Wars again. The reason this gives me hope is because if people are this passionate about a fictional story of characters in a galaxy far, far away, how much more so can the people we lead in Bible study become passionate about the real story of the gospel and how it is true and relevant today? I can see a day when people I teach through my LIFE Group openly talk about Jesus and what they are learning in my group, instead of how excited they are about the latest movie, news story, or Facebook post they’ve read. There’s hope (and there’s the theme of Rogue One!) that the gospel story will be told and re-told by people full of passion to see the gospel be accepted by men, women, boys, and girls everywhere. Sometimes that passion starts with us, those who lead our church’s Bible study groups. Passion is often more caught than taught. How passionate are we about the gospel story?
- People will do all kinds of things if something is important enough to them – Families have sacrificed to see Rogue One together; one family I know spent over $100 to make a day of it, seeing the movie and spending too much money on popcorn and Coke. At the end of the day, this family decided it was a good investment of time and money to build a memory and see Rogue One together. Other people have stood in line for hours, or bought tickets to IMax showings (much higher priced than regular theater seats). Some friends have even been split up (I recently heard from a co-worker how he and three friends decided it was best to see the movie, but to do so from separate seats scattered around the theater, rather than miss seeing the movie!). People have allowed themselves to be inconvenienced because of this new movie, and they have invested lots of time and even more of their hard-earned dollars for the privilege of seeing it. In the church we often ask people to sacrifice and to do things we deem important. We need for people to value the things of God at least as much as the other things in their life – probably more. The good news is that at the core of people is a willingness to do all kinds of things and to be inconvenienced, if what they are asked to do is important enough to them. The takeaway for me as a Bible study leader is to ask big things of my people – really challenge them to step up – because somewhere inside them is the person who will respond IF they catch the vision and importance of what I’m asking them to do. Again, it starts with me, the leader. If something is important to me, it almost always becomes important to those I lead. Time for a self-evaluation. Can the people I lead and teach see my passion and sacrifice for the things I know are important? Or do they see a person just going through the motions of teaching?
There are more lessons to be learned from movies like Rogue One and people’s response to them. I bet you’ve got some thoughts of your own about things that movies and other cultural events teach us about people. Stay alert. Pay attention. Events like Rogue One can teach us a lot about the people we lead in our churches!
I’ll be taking the next week off from blogging. Have a merry Christmas, and I’ll be back in the saddle the first week of the new year. I’ll continue creating new blog posts, connecting you to books on group life, and sharing teaching tips and hot links to others around the web who are trying to help us all reach people and teach the Bible more effectively as we head into 2017!
Shoulder to shoulder,
To follow this blog, simply go to kenbraddy.com and take a moment to sign up. Your email address is never sold or given to anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time.