A large part of our goal here at Reel Thinking is to help Christians think critically about the movies they watch, and part of reaching this goal means that we like to draw your attention to helpful books and resources. To that end , I present the following interview with Joel Mayward about his new book, Jesus Goes to the Movies: The Youth Ministry Film Guide.
• Your new book is called Jesus Goes to the Movies: The Youth Ministry Film Guide. Tell us a little more about the book and what you set out to accomplish in it.
Joel Mayward: Jesus Goes to the Movies is the result of my intersecting passions for ministry, theology, and film. I wanted to create a resource to pastors, parents, youth workers, and young people that would be both accessible and theological, helping them think deeper about both movies and Jesus. Part One of the book is a theological guide for movie-watching, with chapters on how to thinking theologically about movies, understanding worldviews, and a brief history of the relationship between the church and Hollywood. Part Two offers 50 film discussion guides for using in a small group setting.
• Why is it important for youth to engage with films on a deeper level?
Joel Mayward: I think films and filmmakers are the primary stories and story-tellers of our era, and this generation of young people are inundated with a plethora of on-screen ideas. Learning how to have discernment, to think critically, and to engage with art and entertainment in ways that are healthy and wise are necessary disciplines for everyone, but particularly for teens and young adults. I’m convinced how we approach art and film is a significant part of our discipleship process, and our habits in both movie-watching and Jesus-following often mirror each other. In this book, I’m more interested in teaching young people how to think about movies and their faith, not just what movies Christians should watch or avoid.
• The subtitle of your book is, The Youth Ministry Film Guide. How do you envision your book being used outside of youth ministry circles?
Joel Mayward: Even though youth workers are the book’s primary audience, I think anyone who is interested in movies and Christian spirituality will find it to be a helpful and engaging resource. It’s accessible, funny, and thought-provoking. If you’re a parent, a teen, a college student, a pastor, or if you just like movies, this book is for you!
• How did you decide which movies to analyze in your book?
Joel Mayward: Great question! I wanted to address the films young people were already watching, as well as point them to films they should be watching, offering spiritual ideas and theological questions to both popular and less-seen films. I believe there are over 250 movies listed in the book’s index, ranging from 1920s silent films to the latest Mad Max movie, and all sorts of genres—action, comedy, horror, drama, romance, sci-fi, and (of course) teen movies. The discussion guides range from Pixar films to The Hunger Games to Babette’s Feast to The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
• How can someone get a copy of your book and find your other work?
Joel Mayward: You can find Jesus Goes to the Movies on Amazon.com or through the publisher, The Youth Cartel. I just started a new website for my film reviews and writings, Cinemayward.com, and you can follow me on Twitter: @JoelMayward or @Cinemayward.