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Guidelines for Using Movie Clips in a Sermon

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”Superman_returns

Film and television clips can be a rich resource to draw from when teaching. They can be used at the beginning, end, or middle of a presentation to capture attention, stimulate interest, create a desire to know more, illustrate principles, summarize, or provide a powerful, memorable wrap-up to a message. Here are some preparation and presentation guidelines to help you make efficient use of this effective resource.


  1. Select examples that capture the mood as well as the message of your point
  2. Select examples that don’t require a ton of explanation to set up
  3. Select examples that won’t require an apology afterwards (You can find more info at or about movie moral content though I am partial to the reviews of movies at since I know three of the reviewers personally).
  4. Select only that segment that serves your specific purposes—edit, edit, edit!
  5. Don’t be afraid to select examples that may be unfamiliar


A good clip doesn’t stand on its own; it requires a good set up and wrap up

  SET UP—Think Past, Present, and Future

  1. Past: Describe the background, setting, time, place, etc
  2. Present: Identify the characters and action of the scene
  3. Future: Describe any future aspects of the story that would clarify your clip
  4. Focus attention by telling them what to watch for, e.g. Pay attention to…,” Be sure to watch for…,”  “Take note of….”
  5. Don’t forget to warn the audience of anything they might find offensive or disturbing


  1. Let the clip speak for itself OR summarize the point you’re making quickly
  2. Answer any lingering questions the clip may have raised
  3. Don’t get caught up in a personal running commentary on the film as a whole


Your church will also need to have a video license to show clips of movies.  Yes, even clips of movies as I understand it though this guy disagrees.  Here are a couple of providers in the USA: MPLC and CVLI  The Willow Creek Association report about the issue is here.  In Canada we used ACF

This handout was originally created by Faye Chechowich, a professor of Christian Educational Ministries at Taylor University, and added to by Ted Ewing, pastor of First Church of God of East Central Indiana.  It was further revised by me for my course Teaching and Learning Strategies (Fall 2005) at Taylor University. 

See the next post which will talk about how to find movie clips. 


I have watched three movies in the theater this summer and would probably recommend all of them.  See the reviews of them at Christianity Today: Superman Returns (2 1/2 stars), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (3 1/2 stars), and X-Men: The Last Stand (3 stars). 

You should know that Pirates of the Caribbean is part of a series so the plot does not resolve whatsoever.  The next movie comes out in May 2007.  It is fun.  It is also a bit difficult to follow if you don't remember the previous film.  I read Wikipedia's plot summary of the previous film at Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl which helped a lot. 

Superman Returns is also well done I think.  Some of my family thought it was predictable.  I liked it.  There are a few thoughtful moments.  (As far as superhero movies go, see the 4 star reviews from Christianity Today of Batman Begins and Spider-Man 2 now both on DVD.  They are great.)

X-Men 3 was the most intellectually stimulating for me because I could think of some parallels to some issues in our modern world.  Again, it might be helpful to read the plot summary of the previous films at Wikipedia at X2 and X-Men to appreciate all of it.