How about watching a little TV in Sunday school? That’s what some folks are doing at New Hope Christian Reformed Church in Bangor, Maine. The class, led by interim pastor Jonathan Fischer, is studying movie and television clips and commercials alongside Scripture in order to grow in discernment and become aware of the messages that surround us daily.
Fischer, who writes and teaches the curriculum, came up with the idea for the course “Deep Roots: Culture and God’s Word.” “I enjoy picking apart commercials and movies and comparing the underlying ideas to Scripture,” he said.
For example, Fischer took a tagline from a Sprint commercial, ‘I have the right to be unlimited,” and set that alongside verses like Philippians 3:11-13 and Romans 8:28-32. He then led a discussion around the idea of learning to be content no matter what the circumstances, rather than buying into the idea that one has the right to happiness. “Happiness is not bad, and unhappiness may be a sign of a problem,” Fischer explains, “but happiness must never be the ultimate goal.”
Fischer thinks it is important to look at media through the lens of Scripture in order to have the tools to discern countering worldviews as opposed to just absorbing what we view. “It helps to know the culture in order to know how to introduce people to the culture of Jesus,” he says.
The class has generated positive feedback from participants ranging from teens to adults. One person, who felt bombarded by constant advertisements, appreciated being able to discuss and analyze them alongside Christians.
“The class has taught me to take the message a commercial is sending in perspective,” said one 13-year-old. If it weren’t for the class, she said, she “wouldn’t think much about it.”