- By John David Ware, Founder and Director, 168 Film
On February 11th, 2014, I was inspired when I heard "Son of God" movie producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, along with Pastor Rick Warren talking about the film being for everyone. But, not everyone can afford the expense of popped corn and movie passes. Yet, the power of story is the greatest motivator on the planet. As proof, look at the many stories Jesus told to amuse, challenge and lead the masses.
I have always been fascinated by Jesus' Matthew 22 parable in the Bible. The poor were invited to a wedding banquet in place of the wealthy, who were too busy to come. Something just clicked as I took it all in at Saddleback Church. Yes, I thought, actor Diogo Morgado's portrayal of Jesus definitely is for everyone regardless of their financial means. He makes Jesus very real.
I knew that we would need help. With our partners we created a bridge to this community based on love, hope and imagination.
We have code-named this outreach "The Popcorn Bridge." Simply put, it is dinner and a movie for those who are unable to afford it, and an invitation to follow Jesus.
As you consider this idea, I expect it will take root in your heart as it did in mine. The Popcorn Bridge is a simple way to kindle hope in communities lacking hope. I invite you to become a part of this outreach in one of two ways.
1. To Donate to the "Son of God - Americana" (held 3/16/14) and to future outreaches, Click Here to help us expand this ministry.
2. Build the "Popcorn Bridge" in your town. Below are steps to get started.
Either way, you will share in the reward of seeing the wide smiles and dancing eyes of our guests as they enjoy the gift. This gift of hope is like a fire that can spread and grow. For proof, please watch the video.
The First Popcorn Bridge:
On March 16th, six buses picked up over 250 people from families in low income areas of Pasadena. We took them to a private screening of “Son of God." On this day, they were treated like royalty. Providing popcorn, food and drinks told them that we cared and made it very memorable for these families. At the state of the art Pacific Theater in the Americana Mall, they were the stars.
After the film, the invitation was given to follow Jesus. One fifth of the audience decided to do so, and counting.
We could not have done this without Stephen and Linda Tavani and Ceasar Cano of WOW International, which ministers to the inner city; giving gifts of food and groceries, bicycle repair, entertainment and the Gospel. Also instrumental was Harlan Redmond, Director of Harambee Ministries. We thank the Community Clergy Coalition (CCC), Pasadena Church and Lake Avenue Church for helping to get the word out.
Along with Harambee Ministries, these partners provided leaders to help with the event and to minister on the ride home. All will provide follow up to this population, many of whom met Jesus for the first time. One hundred Bibles were given away.
I am excited by our uncommon goal: to build bridges that everyone can walk upon.
Steps to Building a Popcorn Bridge in Your Community:
- Identify a budget and specific population for outreach
- Identify a theater or other place to show the film
- Find partners that can help reach into the community
- Meet community and church leaders and present the program
- Contract with transportation companies for pickup and return
- Contract with the theater for your best group rate or license the film to screen elsewhere
- Arrange for food and drink
- Get all your friends to volunteer as greeters (they'll thank you)
- Take lots of photos
- Do video interviews after the Invitiation to follow Jesus
- Use local leaders to mentor and disciple the new believers
- Follow up regularly to monitor the changed lives
The Popcorn Bridge is an extension of 168 Film. 168 Film is a worldwide incubator for faith-filled media that includes writing and filmmaking competitions. The 168 Film Project challenges filmmakers to communicate the message of a randomly-selected scripture. The competition is open to artists anywhere in the world.