Category Archives: Movie Resources

Make the most of Christmas movies

The holidays are the perfect time for a low-key movie night with your students. But don’t miss the opportunity in the middle of the popcorn and beanbags to shine a light on the true meaning of the season.

We’ve had the chance over the last several years to put together Youth Ministry Resource Guides for three great seasonal movies – The Nativity Story, A Christmas Carol and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I’ve shared some excerpts below that might help you make the most of movie night.

Youth Leaders Only members have access to the complete youth leader guides for each of these movies (and many more!) 24/7 at If you’re not a member yet, check out the benefits of membership here!

The Nativity Story

You know the Christmas story inside and out. You know the flow of events, the cast of characters, the intimate details, and even the ancient prophecies that foretold it all. You know many of the misconceptions, misunderstandings, and mistakes that many people have about the story. You started learning the story before you could even walk or talk. And every year, you hear the story again.

Your challenge as a youth leader tasked to teach that familiar story to teenagers once every year is to find a way to make the familiar into something exciting, insightful, or even interesting.You need to find something, ANYthing, to bring to the surface the phenomenal wonder and mystery of the Christmas story. (from the introduction to The Nativity Story Youthworker Kit by Ken McCoy)

A Christmas Carol

From Ken McCoy’s introduction: Dickens’ novella highlights a uniquely Christian virtue: self-sacrificial love. An old-English word for it is “charity.” Dickens’ A Christmas Carol not only emphasizes togetherness, reconciliation, and concern for the poor; it is also a critique of the anti-population social planners who speak of “surplus population” and those who believe that “workhouses” will solve the problems of poverty while “prisons” will solve the issues of ignorance.

  • Watch the trailer.
  • Download the Bible study “A Reason For The Season” from our youthworker guide for Disney’s A Christmas Carol

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

I didn’t become a fan of Narnia until I was a father, and I needed something to help the time go by for my three kids as we drove across the country on vacation. That’s when I got an audio version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and was immersed in a world of mythical creatures, talking beavers, and an evil White Witch that kept her world in a perpetual winter. Only after listening to the story (several times!) on that long vacation did I finally get the books and read them for myself.

The Chronicles are classics for good reason: they are wonderful stories that are also morality tales. They entertain as they teach. The language used, and the scenes depicted, are so wonderfully deep and engrossing that the pages just fly by. No wonder so many people around the world know and love those stories. (Excerpt from the Youthworker Kit introduction by Ken McCoy)


Movie Review: Straight Outta Compton

Rated R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use. Starring Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aldis Hodge, Corey Hawkins, R. Marcucs Taylor and Paul Giamatti. Directed by F. Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen and The Italian Job).

Straight Outta ComptonIn the mid-1980s, the streets of Compton, California, were some of the most dangerous in the country. When five young men translated their experiences growing up into brutally honest music that rebelled against abusive authority, they gave an explosive voice to a silenced generation. Following the meteoric rise and fall of N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton tells the astonishing story of how these youngsters revolutionized music and pop culture forever the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood and ignited a cultural war.

Over the years I’ve discovered that some reviews are easier to write than others. For example excellent films and terrible movies are the easiest reviews to write. Movies that are just ok can be tough but the most difficult reviews are for films that are of the highest quality but the lowest virtue.

Needless to say Straight Outta Compton is one of those films. It is filled with disturbing images and inappropriate language … a lot of inappropriate language. The messages of disrespecting authorities, sexual immorality and solving conflict with violence are not things we would or should celebrate. On the other hand, there are some very positive things about this film. There are strong messages about passionately following your dreams, working hard, perseverance, friendship and loyalty.

So how does one reconcile those two extremes?

Well let’s look at a few of the technical elements of them film. The true story about the rise of N.W.A. is insightful and entertaining. Gray keeps things moving at a steady pace and uses a clever trick to introduce the characters as well as inform us of the timeline.

The cast is superb. Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Corey Hawkins look so much like Easy E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre respectfully, that at times I forgot I was watching a movie and not a documentary … although to be fair O’Shea Jackson Jr. is Ice Cube’s son. And Marcc Rose looks exactly like Tupac Shakur. Paul Giamatti, as always, delivers a very strong performance.

I have no musical talent, but I love music. I love the power of music and how it can amplify or even change your mood. For the men in NWA, it was a vehicle to express their frustration at a broken system and it affected millions of people. That is amazingly powerful.

So how should we as Christ followers respond to a film like Straight Outta Compton? Well hopefully we can recognize the talent, passion and work ethic of the members of N.W.A. Hopefully we can acknowledge the power and influence of music and make wise decisions about what we are listening to. And hopefully we can engage in intelligent conversation about the subject matter.

Things you need to know about the movie

There are several scenes where women are seen fully nude and engaging is sexual activity. The language is extremely graphic and strong. There are over 330 F-words, almost 100 N-words, 180 S-words and a lot more.

There are also a couple of scenes of violence – mostly fighting and recreational drug use is seen throughout, mostly marijuana. Characters smoke marijuana throughout the film. Cocaine is also seen in the opening scene of the movie.

How to talk to students about the movie

Most people view the members of N.W.A. as either heroes or villains. Either way, there is no denying their influence. In one scene, Ice Cube says, “Speak a little truth and people lose their minds”.

  1. What do you think of that quote?
  2. How did they speak the truth?

Read Ephesians 4:15. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

  1. How does Paul tell us to speak the truth?
  2. What does that mean?
  3. How can you speak the truth in a love this week?

Youth Ministry Goes To The Movies

STORY 27 from 30 Years, 30 Stories in YLO100

061115_ylo100_30stories_blogsEditor’s Note: This is one of a series of 30 Stories that appeared in the 100th edition of Youth Leaders Only. Make sure you check out the other great stories  from this special edition celebrating 30 years of YLO. 

We have worked on over forty movies over the past thirty years, starting with ECHOES – a film that we produced, directed, and distributed in 1985. One that has reached as many teenagers as any faith-based film was Soul Surfer – The Bethany Hamilton Story. Rick Bundschuh, longtime Team interlínc Member, told interlinc’s Allen Weed, “There’s a 13-year-old surfer girl in our church who got her arm bit off by a shark. I believe that the Lord is going to do some amazing things through her life.” Allen totally missed how important what Rick was saying would be.

Several months later, Allen was eating lunch at Puckett’s Grocery — the local hamburger joint — and noticed on the television on top of the soft drink machine that the young teenager Rick mentioned was making a guest appearance on the Oprah show!

She was amazing as she shared her remarkable confidence in the Lord about the events surrounding the shark attack, how she had been dealing with it, and how she viewed her future. She quoted Jeremiah 29:11 as her rock-solid stance.

Allen immediately called Rick and asked him to get interlínc connected with Bethany’s family. From that association, The Heart of a Soul Surfer documentary was shot and sent out to all YLO members. Interlínc then worked with her family and her manager producer to coordinate the youth ministry outreach for the Soul Surfer theatrical release.

Soul Surfer Movie Guide
Soul Surfer Movie Guide

When most youth leaders think of interlínc, they rightfully think of music. We are, after all, heavily involved in the Christian music world, and most of our resources are created to use music as a hook to teach biblical truth. While teenagers are exposed to more music than any other media, we know that movies are very important and have a huge impact.

Your students are into movies—big time. Most of our young friends watch several movies a week. They watch them alone and with friends, on their phones, computers, televisions, and local theater screens. They quote lines and sing songs from favorite films, and adopt the fashions they see in the movies they like. Yep, movies are big time important to teenagers.

That means that YOU want to be able to take advantage of films that will help you reach young people for Jesus Christ, and help them to grow in their relationship with Him!

When we find movies that you would find useful, we create resources that help you use those films in your ministry to students. We review scripts and view screeners to find movies that can help you use the movie experience to impart Biblical truth to your students.

Some of the movies we've created youth ministry resources for
Some of the movies we have created youth ministry resources for

We have developed youth ministry resources for large blockbuster movies (like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and The Passion of The Christ), medium sized movies (such as Soul Surfer, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol) and smaller movies (like Alone Yet Not Alone and The Identical).

Movies can have a big impact on students. We want to help you to use that potential for Christ!

Movie Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

050515_avengers_blog_500If you enjoyed Avengers, you’ll love this one too.

When Tony Stark jumpstarts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as they battle to save the planet from destruction at the hands of the villainous Ultron.

Joss Whedon returns as writer/director, leading this perfect cast to another box office smash. It’s rare to have “all the right ingredients”, but trust me; Avengers 2 has all the right ingredients. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, are all back and just like in the first film there is plenty of action and humor.

Speaking of which, I loved the humor in the film. You have to laugh at the running gag about Captain America’s old-fashioned ways. In one scene Iron Man curses and Cap responds with a simple rebuke of, “Language.” Well that’s all the team needs to relentlessly poke fun at the Super Solider. In another scene all of the other male members of the team attempt to lift Thor’s Hammer…but none are “worthy”. It’s good-natured fun that causes the audience to laugh as well as see the team in a more authentic and believable way.

Check out our complete youth ministry movie guides for over 20 films

Another way they do this is by revealing more of our heroes back story and personality. We see Black Widow and the Hulk exploring a romantic relationship. We learn some very interesting things about Hawkeye and were introduced to several new characters. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen appear as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Because Disney doesn’t own the film rights to the X-Men, the twins’ origin story has been changed. But they handled it nicely and they were a welcomed addition. And of course Vision is in this one…no spoilers here, just know that he is awesome. There is also more conflict amongst the team…which is of course the groundwork for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War film.

As great as the heroes are, we all know that every good hero movie needs a good (or really bad) villain. Well James Spader voicing the villain Ultron is incredible creepy throughout this film. He really is the perfect villain.

There are several times when scripture or biblical concepts are mentioned. (“Ask Noah”, “I AM”, “The church is in the exact center of the city. The elders [of the city] determined everybody should be equally close to God.” He labels that logic “the geometry of belief.” Later he misappropriates’ Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18, saying, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” I would keep an eye out for movie clip discussions.

Then there are the special effects. I went to see the film with some friends in IMAX 3D and I loved it. Sure there are unrelenting scenes of explosions and destruction, but that’s what I paid to see. I also loved the attention to detail. Stark’s toys just keep getting better and better.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is exactly what you expect it to be; another wildly entertaining episode in the ongoing adventures of Earth’s mightiest heroes. I loved every minute of the 2 hour and 21 minute film…it is Worth Buying.

NOTE: Make sure you stay for the post credit scene and keep an eye out for another Stan Lee cameo.

What youthworkers should know

There is no sex or nudity in the film and even the language is mild for a PG-13 film. The S-word is used once and a few other mild profanities.

The action sequences are really intense and Ultron is a little too scary for younger viewers. But this is a great movie for teenagers and adults.

Things to talk about

  • What was Ultron’s plan to destroy the Avengers?
  • How did he try to divide them?
  • Why is divide and conquer such an effective strategy?
  • Read Philippians 2:2 Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
  • Colossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • Romans 12:4-5 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
  • Why was unity so important for Earth’s mightiest heroes?
  • Why is it important for us as Christians?
  • What can you do to maintain unity?

About the movie: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.

 Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and the voice of James Spader; Directed by Joss Whedon (Avengers)

Willie Robertson talks new film ‘Left Behind’

Buzz building for “The Identical”

Did you catch Seth Green on the Today Show Tuesday morning talking about “The Identical”?

Check out this fun music/promo video for “The Identical” from Zaxby’s

Talking about: “The Fault In Our Stars”

Editor’s Note: interlinc staffer Brandon Palma braved opening weekend crowds to check out the new movie “The Fault In Our Stars”. He shared some of his thoughts in our staff meeting on Monday morning, and we asked him to share them here as well. This isn’t a review so much as a quick summary of how this story can help you connect the dots for your students between something they’re passionate about and God’s desire for their lives. 

So I saw “The Fault in Our Stars” over the weekend and it was packed with teen girls. If someone is a youth leader, there is a GOOD chance that their girls have seen it/will see it/have friends who have seen it. Here is my brief take on the film for youth leaders.

As with anything, there are positives and negatives to the film morally and spiritually. The point is, your girls have probably seen it so how should you talk with them about it? The main point driven home by the book and film is that we are all given a set amount of time on this earth that we have little control over. What we do have control over is how we spend the time we’ve been given. The main characters, Hazel and Gus, discuss the life lived in their “little eternity”, saying that though some eternities are bigger than others, they choose to live theirs to the fullest. They choose to love instead of hate; to be positive instead of negative.

We, as believers, don’t know the time or hour when we might slip from this life, so until that happens, we should treat each day as a new opportunity; to love, to minister, to serve. All we have control over is our reactions to life’s circumstances. Let’s pray for God to open our eyes to each morning’s new mercies and live life abundantly, as we are called to do. And let’s make sure and fill our own little eternity with the good and perfect will of God for our individual lives.

Have you see the movie? Have you found a way to use the movie or book to connect with your students? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Still buzzing about Alone Yet Not Alone

The buzz continues for the movie “Alone Yet Not Alone” and specifically about the OSCAR nominated-and-then-not-nominated theme song for the movie, performed by Joni Eareckson Tada.

We posted previously about the song’s OSCAR nomination (and then its un-nomination), if you need to catch up on things. And here are some other news stories you’ll want to read:

“Alone Yet Not Alone” Might Have The Last Laugh

‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ Supporters Taking Fight to the Academy

‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ Finds New Life at Movieguide Awards

Make sure you sign up to get our free exclusive “Alone Yet Not Alone” Youthworker Insider Resources and 5 free tickets to the movie.

“Alone Yet Not Alone” song up for an Oscar

UPDATE (01.31.14): The Oscar nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone” was rescinded this week. While we don’t understand all of the politics or policies involved, we do believe that the brief spotlight on the movie and the song opened a lot of doors for conversations about the story of “Alone Yet Not Alone” and the Gospel.

Some of you had the chance to see the upcoming movie “Alone Yet Not Alone” in limited theatrical release last fall. If you haven’t heard yet, there’s some exciting news about the movie … the theme song, sung by Joni Eareckson Tada, has been nominated for an Oscar!

Read more about Joni and the song, plus watch the video below.

Sign up to get our FREE exclusive 8 page behind-the-scenes youthworker guide for the movie “Alone Yet Not Alone”.

Movie review: Thor: The Dark World

Guest post by Todd Pearage from The Gathering in Dayton, Ohio

Thor is called the “Mighty God of Thunder” … and apparently he’s the mighty god of the box-office too.

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos … but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Whether you are a casual fan or a geeked-out fanboy, you have to appreciate what Marvel Studios is doing for the superhero genre. From constantly delivering the highest quality films (IronMan, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and The Avengers) to crossing over characters and storylines, Marvel Studios continues to impress.

Thor: The Dark World has everything a huge blockbuster superhero movie needs … likable characters, intense action, top-shelf special effects and an intelligent storyline that has both heart and humor.

All of our favorite characters are back from the original Thor film (several were also in The Avengers). Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are absolutely perfect as Thor and his mischievous brother Loki. The rest of the cast is also great and newcomer Christopher Eccleston is scary good as the villain. Because he is the only new main character to develop, we get to jump right into the action. And the action is intense and nonstop (and of course I watched the movie in 3D which amplifies the action even more.)

Besides brilliant 3D filming, the movie also features amazing special effects. From the hallowed halls of Asgard to the streets of London and back to the other nine realms, the special effects enhance the film instead of being a distraction.

Finally there is the story. I’m convinced the thing that separates the good from the great action movies is the story. And Thor has a great story jam packed with drama, love, betrayal, heart and humor. Honestly, I could not have asked for more.

I also love how this movie stands alone and yet ties in perfectly with the Marvel franchise. From the mentions of “the battle of New York” (in Avengers) to the Captain America cameo, the story is crafted with care and precision.

Besides being a very entertaining movie, I loved that I could take my 12-year-old son with me to see it. Thor is his favorite superhero and we had a blast watching it and talking about it on the way home. Thor: The Dark World may be a little darker than the other Marvel films, but it is still fun, clean and wildly entertaining.

PS Make sure you stay for TWO post credit scenes.

What should parents/youth leaders know
This film is on par with the other Marvel superhero films. There is a fair amount of violence that while it is intense at times, it is not bloody or gory. There is no sex or nudity and I believe there was one S-word in the entire film.

What youth leaders can talk about
Here are a few discussion-starting questions you can ask your students (or your own kids) as you talk about the movie:

  1. How would you describe the trust level between Thor and Loki?
  2. Why was there broken trust between the two brothers?
  3. How would you explain or define trust?
  4. Do you find it easy or difficult to trust other people? Why or why not?

Read Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
 do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do,
 and he will show you which path to take.

  1. How is “Trusting in the Lord with all your heart” different from trusting a friend?
  2. Why can we “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” without any fear?
  3. What can you do this week to deepen your trust in God?

Thor: The Dark World
Release Date: 11/8
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson and Stellan Skarsgard
Directed by: Alan Taylor