Newsboys Happy to Play Part in God's Not Dead Success
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With a surprising groundswell of support, the movie God’s Not Dead earned $8.5 million dollars last weekend while showing on just 780 screens. Currently the number one Christian movie in America, the film starring Kevin Sorbo and Shane Harper outperformed all others but one on an average per screen basis. Due to the highly positive outcome, more than 200 screens will be added this week.
God’s Not Dead tells the story of a bright young college student who risks flunking a course and jeopardizing his academic career because his religious beliefs oppose those of his atheist professor.
The movie features a special appearance from well-known Christian rockers Newsboys. Their longtime drummer, Duncan Phillips, believes God’s Not Dead will inspire movie goers to explore what they really believe about God and just as importantly, will serve as a conversation starter about a personal faith in Christ.
I recently sat down with Duncan to discuss why the God vs. Atheism discussion is of critical importance to this present culture, how peer-pressure is having a negative effect amongst Christian youth, and how God’s Not Dead can serve as an equipping tool in proving God’s existence.
The movie uses the title of one of your most popular songs, what is the Newsboys role in the film?
They (Pure Flix) first came to us two and a half years ago and said, “Look, we love the song “God’s Not Dead”. We love the theme of the song, the spirit of the song. We want to make a movie around it.” We get presented stuff all the time. So, we said, ok, go make your movie. So, they did, and man, the support for this movie is unparalleled. This is because it is such a great story. It’s well acted, well scripted, it’s shot well, it is based on a theme that a lot kids need to hear these days. Kids today need to be able to make an account of their faith in a culture that for the most part is incredibly hostile to what we believe in as Christians. A lot of kids in college and high school are presented with this very issue these days. It’s definitely a movie that will connect with a lot of people and not just Christians. God’s Not Dead will definitely galvanize a person’s faith but a lot of Christian kids have friends who are right on the edge, some who may even call themselves an atheist but don’t really know why. It’s a great opportunity for Christian kids to invite these other kids to see the movie and just see where it takes them. God’s Not Dead is a really nice counter culture moment, especially in the Newsboys’ career. We are terribly excited to be part of it.
God’s Not Dead is centered on the Christianity vs. Atheism debate and a young college student’s attempt to sway his hardened and jaded college professor. As you mentioned, this is a very prevalent issue on college campuses today. Why is this such an important theme for the Newsboys?
I think when God is taken out of the culture, than the culture goes downhill quickly. When you have a feeling that there is no sense of ultimate authority, you are going to live a crazy life … because you think we are just a bunch of animals anyway so you can do whatever you want. And ultimately, because there is no ultimate authority it really doesn’t matter. When you do have a sense of ultimate authority and ultimate destination in the sense of eternity it makes you live your life differently. I think when you take God out of the culture it’s going to spiral downhill really quick. What a lot of these people don’t understand is when you take away that moral compass and responsibility, which is a God-centered life, you are going to have all sorts of problems and issues that you would never expect. When you have God and a sense of moral and ultimate authority in your life you are going to live your life very differently. You’re going to treat people better because you know that the way you treat that person is going to have an ultimate effect in how you live.
You look at culture as it is right now, it is so humanistic. It’s horrible. Everyone is living for themselves. You have kids in this generation who have no idea where they are going. They have no sense of hope. They just want to party it up today because they might die tomorrow. But when you take on a Christ-centered lifestyle and outlook that changes everything about who you are and what you are about. You start to realize that there is hope. There is an ultimate authority. The actions that I take here on earth do have eternal consequences. When you do have a sense about that in your life you live your life differently.
What I found interesting about this movie is the main character is on the receiving end of peer pressure from fellow Christians in his own youth group. This is troubling to me that we are raising up a generation of youth to just “go with it” rather than to stand up for what they believe. What is your take on this?
This is certainly a big challenge for kids today because it’s dirty and messy; it takes effort, and is inconvenient to stand up for your faith. It’s a lot more comfortable not to. It’s easy to say they (non-believers) are over there and we (Christians) are over here. But the thing is the people that think opposite of what we believe are incredibly militant in their stance and what they believe in. And if we just sit back and say if we leave them alone they will leave us alone, it will not get any easier. They have a goal, a mission to affect this culture for what they believe. What I would like to see Christian youth do is to intelligently and logically explain to people or be able to explain why we believe what we believe in Christ. We just don’t believe because we are told to do so for no reason. My greatest hope for this movie is that this generation will be able to stand up and say this is why I believe in Christ. We must be able to give a logical explanation for our faith.
That’s been the problem. The intelligentsia of our culture has stated that we can’t give an intelligent response to their question and the end result has been to belittle that believer in front of a crowd. A lot of kids have become cowards because of the pressure that comes what they have seen in the past.
Do you see God’s Not Dead as a movie that is primarily designed for Christian audiences as an equipping tool or can it be used for evangelizing to general audiences?
I see both. I think a lot of good Christian kids don’t know how to give an account of their faith. But also, there are a lot of people who are on the fence or who don’t even believe in God. Take anyone you know who fits into these categories. Buy them a soda and some popcorn and take them to see the movie because everyone loves to go see a movie. If you’ve got a friend who isn’t quite sure where they stand theologically, take them along. You won’t need to say anything. The movie will speak for itself. It is an incredible tool. If we can make an impression on this very important age group (teens and twenty-somethings) to be able to present a great argument for their faith. It’s nothing but a good thing.
I believe your group has a very important role to play in the success of this film because you are certainly tuned in to this age group through your music. Why was it important for the Newsboys to be involved in a movie like this?
We just want to rattle the culture as much as we can by any means possible. We don’t want this for ourselves. We want this culture to be better. I would love to see the big television networks see that something special is happening with this movie and join in the conversation. If this happens than we are game to join in the discussion. The culture needs to hear the other side of the coin and right now the other side is getting free reign. Let God have His will. Let’s see what God can do through this movie.
*CBN News Anchor Efrem Graham contributed to this report.
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