Why We Love “At the Movies”

Special thanks to Erin Crain, Campus Pastor of Life.Church Edmond, for writing this post.


Salty popcorn, dimmed lights, and a blockbuster hit on the screen. No, you’re not at the local movie theater – you’re at church! Here at Life.Church we call it At the Movies.

What’s At the Movies?

At the Movies is a 4-week series where our Senior Pastor, Craig Groeschel, actually uses movies (yes–real, relevant, fun movies that you pay money to see at the theater) to illustrate biblical truths. In short: You get to watch a movie at church!

It’s one of the most iconic recurring series we run each year, and there are countless reasons to love it. But, the best reason is it creates a dynamic, interesting reason to invite people to church.

Instead of the typical, “Hey, do you want to check out my church?” attenders get to say things like, “Oh, man! Don’t you love movies? My pastor is actually showing them at church! Come with me!”

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Why At the Movies?

Several years ago we noticed attendance at our church typically takes a big downward dip in the summer. Church can take a backseat to activities and sunshine in the summer months. So, we strategically set At the Movies right in the middle of summer as an exciting way to engage people in church during the month of July. As a result, July at Life.Church has higher average attendence than Christmas or Easter. 

But we don’t want people to simply walk in and watch a movie—we want them to walk in experience being part of a movie set. Each of our campuses begins planning their individual lobby decorating themes a few months before July. What follows can only be described as a week-long construction party – we call it Build Week.

What’s Build Week?

Hundreds of volunteers come together to construct elaborate scenes from our favorite films. It’s an entire week of painting, building, strategizing, but most of all, fun!

Click here to see photos of the work that goes into making an unforgettable At the Movies experience.

Build Week also serves as a great opportunity to share the gospel with new people. Several years ago, a Life.Church attender named Bill was disengaged from church and felt like it was a place only for “perfect people.”  Then Bill’s friend invited him to be part of Build Week and put his incredible construction talents to use assembling a 20-foot pirate ship in the center of the church lobby. That invitation alone was intriguing enough for Bill that he showed up the first night of Build Week! Night after night Bill contributed until the project was complete.

However, the real transformation happened inside Bill’s heart. He realized church wasn’t a place for perfect people, it was a place for real people. It was a place for him. It was actually through Build Week that Bill began pursuing God. And now, each summer, you can find Bill at one of our Life.Church campuses helping bring movies to life through his construction skills.eople like Bill are why the long days and nights of building are worth it.

People like Bill are why the long days and nights of building are worth it.

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Every minute of planning and every gallon of paint is worth it to create an engaging environment so people like Bill who wouldn’t normally attend church will visit At the Movies.

To get all the materials you need to create an At the Movies series in your church, visit our resource page on Open Network. And if you want to dive deeper into how we do At the Moviescheck out our video all about planning this unique series.

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