Movie nights with your neighbors aren’t just about watching movies. The point is to set up discussions and encourage fellowship – the movies are simply shared experiences and discussion prompts.
Here are a few ideas to ensure that the movies and the environment you select are appropriate:
- Meet in your home. When people come into each other’s homes, they form a natural bond.
- Serve movie food. Popcorn, chips, pizza, candy, and soda will do it. Ask each group member to bring something to pass around. This ensures that you won’t go broke, and it builds ownership of the event. (You could also tie your food to the theme of your movie if cost isn’t as big of a factor.)
- Choose your movies wisely. As the host, you can decide what to rent. But the video or DVD should be less than 2 ½ hours long, thought-provoking, and include substantial spiritual and/or emotional content.
- Stick with PG or PG-13. While there will almost always be something in a movie that could offend someone, a PG rating usually ensures that the offense will be minor. Lisa’s note: Consider a Christian film from our Church Library for a safe yet powerful pick!
- Don’t announce the movie’s title beforehand. Some people might decide not to attend because they’ve already seen the film. But remember, the movie itself isn’t the point. Discussion and relationships matter more, so don’t reveal the title until plates are full and people are already parked in front of the screen.
- The host controls the movie. This is a matter of respect and resolves a battle before it ever starts.
- No pausing. Once the movie starts, it keeps rolling. That means people need to plan accordingly for bathroom breaks and soda refills.
- The host starts the discussion. After the movie ends, it’s the host’s job to get the conversation rolling. The discussion may suddenly take a dramatic turn once it starts, but the first nudge is up to the host. Helpful hint: A question that always works when the discussion is floundering is “Which character in this movie do you most closely identify with and why?” Pull this question out only if the discussion screeches to a halt.
- Don’t meet too often. Keep your movie nights to every month or two. This will keep the event fresh and still allow you to maintain the relationships you’re trying to build – especially if you do other activities together.
Movies get a bad rap in some circles. But the fact is, they’re often both moving and effective in portraying basic truths about us, both humanly and spiritually, in ways that some sermons cannot. So leverage that fact by choosing movies that draw out truths common to everyone.
Have fun, and watch as the discussions – and friendships – go places you never expected!
- From the book, Field Guide to Neighborhood Outreach by Group Publishing, 2007.
A couple of weeks ago, we featured the outreach idea of having a Movie Night with your neighbors. Over the next few weeks, we’ll provide several more tips and movie choice ideas you might like to choose from for your party. Or, you might wish to host several Movie Nights for your neighbors over the course of our long Wisconsin winter in order to incorporate all of these films. Whatever you choose, have fun! – Lisa Jaeger