The Writer of TO SAVE A LIFE responds…

Posted on: 01/19/10 3:52 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s funny how diverse believers can be in their reactions to different types of media. One person will love a movie and see it as a great tool for outreach; another will be totally offended.

Last year I screened the movie To Save a Life, opening in theatres this Friday. I really enjoyed the film- It’s going to be a great tool that youth leaders use for discussion. (We’ve already wrote up a peice of curriculum using a cliip from the film- check it out here, and gave away some of their youth curriculum kits here)

I blogged about it last September, giving a pretty detailed synopsis, and I received some fun comments in reply. But I also received this comment:

Where was Jesus mentioned once in this movie? And 3 curse words, one used twice. It is watered down, diluted faith and I can’t believe youth pastors are all thinking this is great. I took my 17 year old daughter to the movie and she thinks they went to far with the language and sensuality as well. Implied would have worked. Would you eat a 9×13 inch pan of delicious looking and smelling brownies if I told you it had 95% pure ingredients (finest chocolate, flour, an sugar you could buy) but had 5% dog poop in it? I would not eat it and I will not take my teens to see this movie!

Hmmmmm. (The brownie illustration again? Really?)

I commented back… then he replied, I commented again… the bantar was rather humorous (for me, anyway). I won’t paste our bantar- but you might want to check it out in the comment section of that blog.

Then I couldn’t help myself. I emailed Jim Britts, the screenwriter of the film and asked him to address the comment. Here’s Jim’s reply:

From the beginning we never set out to make a “Christian” movie that would cater to just a “church kid” audience. This film was made for the millions of teens that are not going to set foot in a church and for the courageous Christian teens who have a passion for reaching their friends with the love of Christ. The top two things unchurched young people think when they hear the word “Christian” are hypocrites and they just want to convert me. We intentionally made this film real (which meant including a couple cuss words-which I prayed over repeatedly) in order to earn the attention of teenagers and lower their guard against just being converted. The whole reason we did this is so they will be open to a conversation with a  Christian friend about the issues they related with from the film and how God could help them like He did in Jake’s life.
The film does not present the gospel because that’s our job. My prayer that it’s much less the youth pastor’s job and much more our students. Our ministry is preparing every student in how to lead their friends to Christ using the film and our prayer is they’ll be equipped and empowered to have more spiritual conversations this next spring because of this film than they’ve ever had before. What if we didn’t see this film as a threat to our Christian kids holiness (I bet they’ve already seen 10 times worse already) but instead an opportunity to challenge them to be more bold in their faith.
Jim Britts
Youth pastor, and screenwriter of To Save a Life

There you have it. No need to add to that.

I encourage you to go see the film this weekend and take a look for yourself. I think you’ll find it a very effective tool for Outreach.

5 Replies to “The Writer of TO SAVE A LIFE responds…”

  1. loved the film, taking 50+ students to see it this Sunday because I feel this can change the lives of the students that watch it, the film is real! and that 5% of “poop” that is in it is well worth it, I’ll eat the brownie as long as it changes lives. Is my comfort more important the the lives/spiritual growth of the students God has called me to minister to, I think not!

  2. Ha… Ryan, you don’t need to eat poop, unless you call “hanging out with kids as they experience their real life problems” poop.

    I worked with unchurched kids for a decade. They cursed, they slept around… many were blatent sinners. And they were real about it. But God changed all that for those that let Him into their lives.

    In this film you see just a glimpse- nothing gratuitous at all- of real life teenagers and the pain and emptiness they go through. Then you see the lifechanging work of God’s love penetrating lives.

    Good stuff. No poop.

  3. I took my student leadership team to a screening of the movie. They completely loved it. When I asked them to describe it, one of them said: “That’s my life…that’s what it’s like for me at school.” They shared about the film on their campuses, and I have 65 students going tomorrow night… which includes 30 unchurched friends of our students.

    Amen to Jim for saying that the sharing of the Gospel is our job, not a film’s. To Save a Life opens up dialogue on a BUNCH of issues, without ever being cliched, wishy-washy, or judgmental in its portrayal of those issues… it just shows them, lets the audience grapple with them, and saves the discussion ABOUT the issues and where God is in the midst of them for a personal forum. My prayer is that the unchurched friends will come to our Bible studies for the next several weeks as we unpack the film together, and that my students will have opportunities to share their faith in Christ as a result of their invitation to the film. I know it won’t be worthless.

    And to make comparatives, my student leaders really liked Facing the Giants and Fireproof, but one said it best when he said, “I knew how those were going to end when they started.” No offense…there is a place for those. To Save a Life drew my students in to the story, so they could empathize with Jake, and go on the journey of searching with him.

    Thanks, Jim, for writing this film, and thanks Jonathan, for speaking up about it.

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