Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Preaching to the Choir

When a book or movie is labeled as "Preaching to the choir" we all know that's not a compliment. My question is, Why Not?

I've been a member of "the choir" since grade school and, frankly, I need to hear the preacher's message too. Sometimes I need that message drummed home. I don't want it hidden among metaphor. I don't want the preacher to hold back out of fear of turning someone off. He needs to proclaim his message truthfully and loudly. Unashamed.

Just like sometimes, I need to read that preachy book. I need to have the message broadcasted billboard-like across its pages.

The success of the recent movie release, Courageous, is proof that I'm not the only one who doesn't mind preachy. That movie defines message media. The sermon is blatant and unapologetic.

And viewers love it.

A recent look at Rotten Tomatoes shows a 37% reviewer approval on its Tomatometer, yet 94% of viewers liked it. After six weeks in theaters, Courageous ranked #12 in its weekly gross (per Box Office Mojo), amazing for a movie that shows in 2/3 fewer theaters than wide releases.

I've seen it twice. Once as a pre-screening with my teenage son and two friends who DO NOT go to "religious" movies. They liked it. I saw it with my husband, son, and daughter later. My husband will deny it, but he shed a few tears as he held our teen daughter close. Yeah, the acting isn't the greatest, and some of the dialogue is stilted, but that didn't take away from the story or the message--a message that is drastically needed today.

I know this is just one example, but in my opinion, sometimes a sermon mixed in our stories is exactly what we want.

What do you think about preachy books? Movies? Can you think of any overtly sermonizing novels/movies you would recommend? Or that you can't stand? Why?


  1. It's not the matter of being "preachy" for me: it's how it's written. Lisa Samson comes to mind. Chris Fabry. Even Tosca Lee preached via the demon - like in reverse - to get the point across. All pure quality and they delivered the gospel message.

    When the preachy comes in constant bible verses and cliched characters, churchy language and instances with unbridled predictability, I could gag, but some people are inspired by those stories so they serve a purpose too.

    I can think of plenty of novels that were overtly preachy that I couldn't stand but not by the authors listed above, and I won't defame the authors of the books I didn't like. In a different sense I can think of plenty of novels I didn't like that hinted at faith but weren't willing to get specific under the umbrella of Christian Fiction.

    With movies I need at least a hint of good acting. And definitely a quality story. Haven't seen Courageous. Have heard basically the same comments that you've given here, Bren. Don't know if that's quite enough for me. Will wait for video.

  2. Good points, Nicole. Your second paragraph says it perfectly. The cliched characters, the perfect Christians, & predictable journeys--that's what turns me off. I can handle preaching. Frankly, oftentimes I need that hard core preaching to break through my thick skull. ;)

  3. Is Courageous anything like Fireproof, Brenda? I've seen Fireproof and I think it would fit into your 'preachy' category but I thought it really conveyed an important message in a very real way.

  4. Kav - Courageous is put out by Sherwood Pictures (the Kendrick Brothers) just as Fireproof was, so yes, the movies are very similar in style. I think the quality is slightly improved on Courageous. Regardless, the story resonates with people while telling a very important message. Preaching it was the best way to go.

  5. I was thinking about this today and you know, sometimes we have a tendency to water down important truths to try and make it more palatable...or not to offend...or because we're insecure. Anyway, whatever the reason there are just some messages that need to addressed boldly and without apology. Sounds like Courageous is one of them.