Sad Stories of “Rebel” Pastors

We generally watch movies for the sake of entertainment. At the end of a busy day or stressful week we want to turn off our brains, relax, and simply enjoy a good story! The problem with this tendency is that film writers (like all communicators) have agendas. While every agenda is not necessarily bad or wrong, if we walk into movie theatres or turn on Netflix without engaging our minds, we are susceptible to being emotionally and intellectually persuaded to subconsciously absorb and adopt the filmmaker’s view point.

With this reality in mind, we encourage people to watch every movie with discernment and to think through whether you agree or disagree with its message. In order to equip you to engage with recent films which highlight the life stories of two contemporary church leaders, we’d encourage you to read this article before pressing “play”, and then talk through the themes with others afterwards.

~ Kristal Toews

The “megachurch pastor falls from grace” headline is tragically common these days, especially in the sort of celebrity-driven, post-institutional Christianity that Andy Crouch has written about recently.

The media narratives of these stories often depict the megachurch pastor as the villain and their church as the victim. Two newly released films flip this script, however, pitching the “I was once a megachurch pastor” narrative as a renegade hero’s journey. Netflix’s Come Sunday, about Pentecostal bishop Carlton Pearson, and documentary The Heretic, about Rob Bell, tell similar tales of prominent pastors who lost their congregations after they started “rethinking” hell and promoting messages of universalism.

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