Monday, July 16, 2012

The Star Wars Effect

What is your favorite movie or television show? Who are your favorite bands? Chances are you probably will not have trouble naming them. But can you discover a pattern to what you like? Some movies and music will stay with us forever. More than likely, your favorites will be from your youth. If you are in your teens or 20s, the music you like now will, undoubtedly, be your favorite music 20 or 30 years from now.

Contemporary music, television, or movies will never have the same impact. For example, I’m in my 50s, and my generation grew up and came of age in the 1970s. So most of my contemporaries like the same music I do, such as the Eagles, Pink Floyd, The Who, and Led Zeppelin to name a few. In other words, I like just about everything that fits into classic rock.

My favorite move is Star Wars. I can’t imagine a movie that will ever have a greater impact on my life. It captivated my imagination and helped me to differentiate between good and evil. It wasn’t just the special effects that caught my attention. It was the ideas being expressed in the film—that one person can make a difference and that we had to combat and face evil no matter what the cost.

Star Wars helped shape my worldview. We are the most accepting of media influence at a younger age. That’s why Star Wars had the opportunity to speak to me on such a profound level. I call it “the Star Wars Effect”. As we get older, this effect starts to diminish. Our worldview becomes more rigid and resistant to new ideas. What we see and hear before we’re 20 will have a major impact on the person we will become as an adult.

Never underestimate the Star Wars effect. You might be surprised that what you believe and why you believe it may have originated from movies, TV shows and other media sources you viewed while growing up. Recently, I watched a couple of films I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. I had forgotten much of the plot; however, I picked up on a few things that seemed strikingly familiar: certain words, speech patterns, and thoughts that are part of my daily life, may very well have originated from these films.

Here’s my main point. If all of this media influence is capable of shaping our worldview, what impact does it have on our decision to accept Christ as our personal Savior? The Barna Group says that 85% of Christians made their decision to accept Christ before age 20. Furthermore, there is only a 6% chance of becoming a Christian after your teen years. What you see and hear before the age of 20 is absolutely critical to your development as a person.

As followers of Christ, we need to embrace and encourage the production of media that supports Christian principles, especially when it is geared to younger audiences. Perhaps, our best opportunity to reach youth as well as older adults is through entertainment and media. Most people have heard the message over and over and, frankly, they are sick of being preached at. But, when you are watching a movie, you are relaxed and more open to the message.

Films can portray and express the total human condition. We can see ourselves in the characters, both good and bad. Movies can help change our perspective and can lead us to ask questions about our own lives. Films express our wants, fears, desires, hurts and conflicts. Media has a unique ability to educate and enlighten us. Movies challenge us to consider our lifestyle choices as well as the pathway we are currently pursuing.

Considering there is only a 6% chance that you will become a Christian after 20, it’s pretty obvious that our current forms of outreach are not effective. Maybe, we should take a closer look at how we can use media and entertainment to reach the world for Christ.

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