The Spiritual Discipline of Watching Film Together: A Conversation with Pop Theology’s Ryan Parker

By Andy Hale

RatchedChef’s Table BBQThe Boys Season 2WokeMulanBill and Ted Face the Music, and Raised by Wolves are just a warm-up list to all the original content available for streaming in September. Between Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, AppleTV+ and Disney+, one can say that there is something to watch on TV. 

Are you not sure what to watch? Did you know that Netflix has a new feature that releases that “I don’t know what to watch” mind-fog into the hands of the app to pick for you based on the other things you’ve watched on the platform? 

The Church has always had a unique relationship with the medium of film and television. I’m having flashbacks to the movies I was warned by my youth minister not to watch, or the time my childhood pastor preached that The Simpsons was born of the devil. 

But what if the vast content available at our fingertips is an opportunity for spiritual formation?

“One of the coolest ways that I have seen a church engage the medium of film is through a Lenten series on a Netflix show. Every week, there was a specifically assigned episode with a downloadable discussion guide for their small group,” said Ryan Parker of Pop Theology on the CBF Podcast. 

Ryan earned a Ph.D. in film and religion from the Graduate Theological Union. He created Pop Theology as an outlet to dissect the intersection of faith and film.   

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Andy Hale created and hosts the podcast of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

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