I have for many years used movie illustrations as a part of my pool of illustrations from which I can draw. I have usually (not always) had good luck with them.
I recognize that there are two extremes: I have been in services where a movie clip is required somewhere in the service every Sunday.
The other extreme is John Piper who forbids them:
"I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it’s going to backfire…. It’s going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn’t save, preaching doesn’t hold, but entertainment does." (here).
Somewhere in the middle, I believe is Peter Mead, over at his blog, Biblical Preaching. Peter uses them and recommends using them, but only judiciously. You can find his post here. You really should check it out, but in short, he gives four caveats to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to use a specific movie clip:
- Not everyone will have seen it.
- Not everything in it [the rest of the movie] may be appropriate.
- Will it take too much explaining
- Will it overwhelm the text and the message?
It has been interesting for me to sit under the preaching of Pastor Guy Gray for the past nine months. One the one hand, Guy is about as anti-tech as it gets. He almost using nothing visual in his sermons. He has the scriptures put upon on the screen (white text on black background) as he reads them. That is all. But either because of that, or in spite of that or irrelevant to that, his preaching is very deep and powerful. It has made me think through a number of things about visual supplements.
Again, Peter’s explanations of each of these points is really worth checking out.