What movies best reflect your life and ministry?

We recently remodeled our offices at church. A complete teardown and rebuild. This means that all of us go brand new desks, furniture, and most importantly clean walls. The biggest question for me as I have been trying to make my new office feel more like me is what to put on the walls. And then a friend inspired me; Why not put up movies I love or that have shaped me in my life and in my ministry.

So that is what I am going to do. I have spent the last few days thinking about what movies I would highlight on my office walls, which ones have defined me, shaped me, and inspire me to run after all that God has called me to do and be, and I have come up with 5. (The problem is I only have space for 3)

Here are the five movie posters that I would post in my office and why. (I would love to know what movie posters would populate your walls.)

1) Point Break: This first movie isn't an obvious choice. In fact, there isn't much redeemable about the story. Plenty of cussing, some slight nudity, and you spend the entire movie rooting for the "bad guys." But this movie represents two major things in my life. Friendship and surfing. Every Thursday (in theory) for the past 5 years, there has been a group of us who have headed out to the beach for dawn patrol. And over the years this grouping of guys have become incredible friends. This is one of the movies we quote and laugh about. And in a strange way communicates the power and mystery of surfing. I love my friends, I love surfing, and who can't love Keanu's awful acting. #100percentpureadrenaline #vayacondios.


2) Selma: This movie has impacted me in really deep and significant ways. I am completely mesmerized by the civil rights era and humbled by what incredible leaders, Christian leaders did and were able to accomplish. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of my all-time heroes, and am blown away at how he was willing to sacrifice so much, and ultimately everything for civil rights. I love this movie because it is about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and paints an incredible picture of how a single-minded leader can work to get things changed. He doesn't sell his soul to a politician or political party. He doesn't compromise, and he showed the world the ugliness and dehumanization of racism at its ugliest in a way that the world could not turn away from. And because of his leadership and the slow to get on board white mainline church, our culture and history changed. Please, Lord, don't let me be late to the current issues that need the church's intervention and attention.


3) Empire Strikes Back: It is stereotypical, but as a true Gen X'er, the Star Wars movies have shaped so much about me. They marked my childhood, and to this day bring so much joy and nostalgia every time I watch them. What made these movies incredible were not the acting or even the special effects. George Lucas was able to tap deep into the human psyche and tell one of the most universal human mythologies. And because it is not a simple story, but archetypal mythology, it can preach for days!! I love how all great movies do this, and Empire is the one that has impacted me the most. Specifically, I love the middle passage of the hero's journey and coming to face to face with your family of origin. This is my story through and through. I am all about facing my demons, running after my unique calling, learning from mentors, leaving before I am ready, failing, licking my wounds, and getting backing in the fight.

Those are the three that are making the wall. But if I had larger space, or if I need a change in scenery, here are the other two I would add:

4) Dunkirk: This movie was an interesting movie. It was artistic, and to tell you the truth, I was lost for most of it. I went into it thinking it was going to be something like "Saving Private Ryan" and because of that, it took almost halfway through the movie to figure out what was going on. But the real reason I would put this movie poster on my wall is that I think this battle, and really retreat is an incredible picture of the Kingdom of God. We all want the big strong man to come in and save the day. We want the superhero, like Wonder Woman to lead the charge, and we will follow her into battle anywhere and win the day. But in Dunkirk, it was not the brilliance of one general or leader, but it was the faithfulness of ordinary people leveraging their ordinary spere's of influence to save 3-10 people at a time on their little boats. Individually, these ordinary people would not accomplish anything. But together, hundreds of boats, all doing their part, participated in the greatest rescue effort of all time. It's like that silly story about saving the one starfish. It is only silly because the story is about one person saving one starfish. But if all followers of Christ were faithful in the one thing they were called to do, the Kingdom of God would expand and prevail.


5) Wicked: Ok, this isn't a movie. But it is one of my favorite plays. It is beautiful in every way. I love the soundtrack and have listened to it countless times. While the production, music, lead actresses are incredibly compelling, that is not what makes the play incredible. The brilliance is that they took a story that most of the culture knows in the deepest parts of our psyche, "The Wizard of Oz" and then told a story in and around it. If you didn't know the story of "The Wizard of Oz" then this would be a just fine play. But if you knew and understood deeply the story of Wendy and Toto and everyone else, then would we be tickled by the cleverness and added insights into the characters you have grown to love. This play was so helpful for me in framing ministry in a post-Christian context. The church is always trying to be more and more clever, like the play Wicked. But the culture doesn't even know the original story. And it is incumbent upon us to go back and retell the original story before we get too clever and even beautiful for our own good. (I wrote more about this here)

Some honorable mentions: Chasing Mavericks, Hidden Figures, Spinal Tap, Appolo 13, Green Book, Schindler’s List, Lord of the Flies, Christmas Vacation, and The Mighty Ducks would have made the wall if I had unlimited space. What would make your wall?