NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“Powerful.” “Compelling.” “Life-changing.” Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of The Christ,” is receiving high praise weeks before its release Feb. 25. Christian leaders who have previewed the film call it “one of the greatest evangelistic tools of the century” as local churches look for ways to use the film for outreach.
LifeWay Christian Resources has launched a new website at lifeway.com to help people and churches communicate the salvation message of the movie. The site is available at lifeway.com by clicking on the Passion banner at the top of the screen.
Free content from LifeWay resources such as T.W. Hunt’s “The Mind of Christ,” Beth Moore’s “Jesus the One and Only” and Daniel Akin’s “Discovering the Biblical Jesus” emphasize the power of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, and the offer of everlasting life through a personal relationship with Christ. A powerful medical description of the crucifixion presented by Hunt soon will be added through free video download.
Visitors to lifeway.com also can order movie ticket vouchers, as well as free fan kits that include posters and other promotional materials churches may distribute in their communities. The movie trailer also can be viewed. Sound clips and other music resources that coordinate with sermon outlines will be available in coming weeks.
Much of the site’s content comes from one of LifeWay’s newest resources, “A 40-Day Experience: Extreme Love.” The seven-week study focuses on the love Jesus showed through His life, death and resurrection.
More than 2,500 members of North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona recently started the study.
“We were intrigued by ‘Extreme Love’ because we saw it as the ideal study to prepare hearts and lives for the Easter message,” said Tim Cleary, minister to adults.
Cleary sees Gibson’s Passion film as a bonus to the study. The church has reserved a theatre for 150 people to bring 150 friends to see the film and spend an hour afterward in discussion.
The “A 40-Day Experience: Extreme Love” study guide can be ordered at lifeway.com.
The LifeWay website’s “Behind the Scenes” section is specifically designed for non-Christians who seek more information about Christ. It provides answers to questions about the movie, as well as articles and devotionals that explain the crucifixion and resurrection. A link titled “Know Him” walks readers through the steps to becoming a Christian, and a video clip of Beth Moore’s “How to Become a Christian” is available for download.
Church leader resources offer sermon ideas, drama readings and a list of endorsements for The Passion from Christian leaders such as Billy Graham, James Dobson and Chuck Colson.
LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. said the film is a must-see for anyone seeking to understand how an event 2,000 years ago continues to impact lives today. “Mel Gibson has brought the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to the big screen in a biblically accurate and powerfully graphic way,” Draper said. “The faithful depiction of the violence done to our Lord has resulted in an R rating, so while I highly recommend the film, I encourage parents to see it with their teenagers, and then decide whether to take their younger children.”
“The Passion is going to have an impact on Christians and churches, and all kinds of things may happen as an outpouring of that,” said Sissy Toney, channel manager of LifeWay’s church resources division. “We’ve taken content out of LifeWay resources and put it on the site at no charge. It will be very easy for pastors to use the website’s content to tie directly to things they saw in the movie.”
For information on using The Passion in outreach, resources are available on the Web from LifeWay Christian Resources at www.lifeway.com/passion.