You have probably read this article in a recent issue of This Week magazine.
Have you noticed how they are trying to draw crowds into the churches? They claimed that this was one of the most effective methods of increasing church attendance. There has to be something which can serve to keep the young folks together. Hence, they bring movies into church and the Bible into the movies.
Rev. Mr. Friedrich began this movement. He said that if men did not want Bible films in the theatres, he would make them for the churches. As result of this experiment, Rev. Friedrich continues to tell us church attendance has gained so much that almost half the nation has become regular in church service. This does not include the Sunday School, he says, and in the Sunday School we find the most avid movie fans.
The most popular of his pictures has been: “Who is my Neighbor?” as well as, “The Prodigal Son” and not to forget such successful ones as “A Voice in the Wilderness” and A Woman to Remember.”
He tells us of a certain church which complained because of its poor attendance at the Sunday night service, because the movies were drawing the crowds. The solution was: to put movies in church. And it has worked wonders. He goes on to say he would not want to mention the name of the actors or actresses, since people’s feelings might be shocked somewhat to see an actor play the part of a gangster on Saturday night and the part of an Apostle on Sunday.
These movies are made right where the worldly movies are made.
As an illustration of what this new method will do for church attendance, it was shown that there was an increase of from three hundred to one thousand percent. Surely, that is a noticeable increase.
Now for our criticism on this matter.
If the quality of the church service has to be improved by the showing of pictures and the attendance has to be stepped up by means of these attractions and if Bible pictures have to take the place of the preaching of the Gospel, things have come to a sad end.
And then, shall worldly people take the place of saints? Shall worldly people take the place of Jesus or Mary and try to act out their part? Perhaps Hedy Lamar attempting to take the place of the Virgin Mary. Can’t you see how wrong that is? After they make their picture, they go out and mock the Bible, which makes it all the more sinful.
Furthermore, it makes the church look like a theater. The attendance of the church is determined by the number of people who come out to see movies. In other words, they come to church, not for the preaching of the Gospel, but to see the pictures.
Therefore, they should keep the movies where they belong and keep the Church what it is, without attempting to mix them. Even if there should be only a few people in church and thousands in the theatre, the two must not be mixed as if they were two of a kind.
It also says in Scripture, where two or three are gathered together in my name, I shall be in the midst of them. Then we do not need pictures to provide a big crowd or to teach people more about the Bible. Not these pictures, but the preaching of the Word and Catechism shall teach us the things of God.