Engaging millennials can be a daunting task, but pop-culture can be a surprising way to connect with them. And what better example of a pop-cultural achievement than Star Wars?
I’m not someone who generally goes overboard with spiritual connotations regarding Star Wars. It’s a slippery slope at times. Not every tidbit of the franchise needs (or supports) spiritual parallels from the Bible. Yet when I watch movies, I tend to make connections to biblical principles. And when I watched Rogue One this weekend with my sons, several of the lines really stuck with me—particularly in their ability to illustrate biblical themes (no spoilers).
Movies can be great tools to help you connect with people who don’t normally show up to church on Sunday—particularly millennials. Maybe these quotes can help spark your thinking on a future sermon or sermon series for engaging millennials early next year.
1. “Rebellions are built on hope.”
Key Scripture: Revelation 21-22
You could argue that this quote is the cornerstone of the entire movie. Some of Rogue One’s most memorable lines centered around the concept of hope. The odds were stacked heavily against the Rebellion. They had no reason to expect success. Hope was everything.
The Bible speaks of our world as one under enemy rule (John 12:31). In a sense, the Church is a rebellion against that dominant order of the world. Like the rebels in Rogue One, our odds—at times—seem stacked against us. The world has more money, more power, and more influence. That can easily discourage us.
That’s why hope matters. While the Bible makes it crystal clear this planet is currently under enemy rule, it won’t always be that way. Revelation 21-22 paints a powerful picture of the future God has prepared for His people—one without tears and without the damaging consequences of sin.
Helping your congregation understand this hope will equip them for inevitable tough times. Hope doesn’t just fuel rebellions in the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Hope fuels the everyday rebellions that point our neighbors toward the future God has prepared for those who believe.
2. “There’s more than one prison. I think you carry yours wherever you go.”
Key Scripture: Galatians 3:22
This fascinatingly insightful quote came from the monkish character Chirrut Imwe to Cassian Andor. It sets the stage for a spiritual journey of sorts that Cassian goes on throughout the rest of the movie.
The quote could almost come straight from the Bible. It’s easy to look around and see all sorts of prisons without bars holding people back. Of course, you have addictions that keep people in bondage for generations. But that’s not all. Debt, regret, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness can all be prisons that hold people back from becoming who God has called them to be.
The Bible puts all of this together by saying sin keeps us locked up in a “prison” without Christ. Galatians 3:22 says, “But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.” Understanding the consequences of sin and the free gift provided by Jesus is important for all believers.
3. “It’s not a problem if you don’t look up.”
Key Scripture: 1 John 3:17
When confronted by her mentor Saw Gerrera about her relative apathy concerning the Empire’s growing tentacles of evil, Rogue One heroine Jyn Erso shrugs it off with the above statement.
Her apathy shouldn’t be new for most moviegoers. It’s the prevailing attitude of most in response to the great tragedies of our day. You can see this in recent days with the awful events taking place in Aleppo. Most of us prefer to turn our eyes from the TV or scan past the social media post when confronted by the painful results of atrocities that take place throughout the planet.
The Bible calls us to a higher standard when we come face-to-face with suffering. 1 John 3:17 says, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” Followers of Jesus don’t have the luxury of sticking their heads in the sand. Instead, we’re called to love in an unflinching manner even—or especially—when it’s difficult.
4. “I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad.”
Key Scripture: Romans 12:10
Jyn had been (basically) an orphan since her childhood. She wasn’t accustomed to people showing care and support when times got tough. She made this statement after a crucial event in the movie when her newfound teammates pledged their loyalty to her cause.
Jyn isn’t alone in doubting the support of others in the midst of crisis. As networks of care within families and extended communities deteriorate for many, people are left to wonder who will care for them in times of distress. Despite the despair those breakdowns have caused, they give us a unique opportunity for the Church to preach—and demonstrate—the care of Jesus.
Many of the great “one anothers” of the New Testament show this. Take Romans 12:10 for example: “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Our world longs to see that kind of love demonstrated among God’s people.
5. “Are you kidding me? I’m blind!”
Key Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:4
Here’s a scene that will make you laugh. The blind monkish Chirrut says this to people from a rival group within The Rebellion that put a bag over his head as they kidnap him (apparently so he can’t see where he is being taken).
Though humorous, it packs a powerful reminder for Christians who tend to forget the nature of how people interact with spiritual matters before placing their faith in Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that those who don’t know Jesus are “spiritually blind.”
Our neighbors will never tell us “Are you kidding me? I’m blind,” but maybe it’s something we should tell ourselves the next time we get frustrated over their lack of response to gospel-related issues.
Engaging Millennials Through Pop-Culture
Rogue One opened to rave reviews (and high box-office sales) last weekend. Whatever you think about the Star Wars franchise, it has connected with (and is continuing to connect with) a large segment of your community.
This makes it a great bridge to the gospel. Don’t miss it!
Pop-culture is one way for engaging millennials in your community. The Pushpay app is another. Click here to learn more!