“When God Left the Building” Director Hopes Film Challenges Churches to Re-Examine Purpose In Life

Director Thom Schultz directs a shoot at Kodak headquarters in New York. (Photo/courtesy of Thom Schultz).
Director Thom Schultz directs a shoot at Kodak headquarters in New York. (Photo/courtesy of Thom Schultz).

Church consultants have been saying it so long they almost sound like a broken record: congregations are closing at appalling rates and most are too afraid to face it.

That’s certainly nothing new to congregational coaches like Eddie Hammett, president of North Carolina-based Transforming Solutions.

“I’ve been saying that for 20 years,” he said.

But Hammett and many others are hailing the film When God Left the Building: The Exodus of America’s Faithful and What’s Next.

Hammett said the documentary may help American churches emerge from denial and ignorance by translating decades of verbal and written warnings into images Christians can understand.

“We are in a visual-driven age,” he said.

The film is an often brutal look into the social and religious forces driving the steady decline of the American church.

Thom Schultz, the director, shared about the film and positive and negative trends that inspired it during The Columbia Partnership’s FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community telephone session on March 31.

A Kodak moment

Schultz was invited to speak because the film – and his book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore – already have churches and church leaders talking around the country, said Ken Kessler, the call moderator.

The film and book provide “churches the opportunity to think carefully about the choices they face in this American culture,” said Kessler, who is the coaching network director for the Baptist General Association of Virginia.

Kessler pointed to a section in the film focusing on Kodak, and how it famously ignored the onset of digital photography and remained a film company.

“And while digital photography flourished, Kodak went bankrupt,” Kessler said in an email to Baptist News Global.

The Kodak example is included as a warning to churches who may be tempted to ignore innovations in the way they can present the gospel to their communities and to the world, Kessler said.

The film presents two churches who are confronted with those choices, and the different approaches they take. It also offers church leaders an opportunity to “participate in the emotional struggle of ignoring cultural shifts and trends,” Kessler said.

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Jeff Brumley

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