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Exploding car adds impact to Christmas presentation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–At first, the annual Christmas production seemed to be a combination of the usual elements — a robed choir, drama and creative movement.

Except for a car exploding on stage.

For Central Baptist Church, Hixson, Tenn., it was just another routine Christmas production created by pastor of music Fred Guilbert.

Titled “Under the Influence,” the production included a 450-member cast, a $40,000 budget for professional television filming, pyrotechnics, the exploding car and funeral caskets.

“We wanted to make an impact in people’s lives,” Guilbert said. “What better time of year to invite someone to hear the gospel than at Christmas?”

Under the Influence tells the story of two teenage boys — one Christian and the other a non-believer. The climatic moment arrives when the boys crash into a utility pole on the way home from a church service. The huge explosion jolted the audience from their pews.

Guilbert, who wrote Under the Influence, said the Lord gave him the idea for the crash while he was waiting at a stoplight. “I went to our technical guys and told them the idea and they told me it could be done. We even went out and bought the car for $300.”

The technical crew used a slight-of-hand trick to pull off Central’s first car crash in a sanctuary. While the audience was watching a video of events leading to the crash on large video screens, the crews rolled out the actual car and utility pole onto the stage. At the moment of impact, the sanctuary filled with smoke, bright lights and pyrotechnics.

But the spiritual impact was even greater, said Ron Phillips, pastor of the 5,000-member church. More than 650 people made professions of faith during the production and more than 100 rededicated their lives to Christ.

“God is in this thing,” Phillips said. “When you really examine it, you’ll find a traditional Christmas presentation with a shocking ending.”

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes