A Beginner’s Guide to Hosting a Movie Event at Your Church
Hosting a movie event provides your congregation with the opportunity to invite friends, family, and people who would not typically come to church. As an outreach event, a movie event allows those in your community to get to know you and enables you to expel any potential preconceived ideas about Christians and the church.
In a previous post, we wrote about how God uses movie events to unite communities. Before you begin planning your movie event, take a moment and read how a movie event can powerfully impact your community.
Begin With a Vision and a Plan
I Can Only Imagine tells the true story of MercyMe’s Bart Millard as he journeyed towards forgiveness and experienced God’s love and grace. It is the perfect film for sharing messages of hope and redemption.
You’ll need to purchase a movie license before beginning your movie event planning. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to start planning your event!
Movie events can undoubtedly feel intimidating at first. But have no fear because we’re here to assist with helpful tips and suggestions!
Remember, the most important thing you can do, as a leader and a church, is to be hospitable and love the people who walk through your doors. Setting your sights on God’s plan for his people will guide your efforts to reach the lost and broken in your community.
Step One: Build a Team of Leaders and Volunteers
Before you can do any planning or promotion, you need to develop a core group of volunteers to help bring your vision to life. In the Bible, we are called to work together and utilize individual strengths to build a strong body.
Ephesians 4:15-16 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
- Establish a purpose for the event, set goals, and recruit volunteers early in the planning process.
- Create a core group made up of trusted leaders, key staff members, and engaged volunteers.
- Integrate volunteers from your community.
- Equip them with the correct information to speak accurately about the event.
- Organize a kick-off meeting to cast vision and pray for the event.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your leaders and volunteers.
- Make a point to connect with volunteers to create opportunities for them to share their thoughts.
Step Two: Six Essential Details
By determining the details essential to your event, you will create a solid foundation for hosting a movie event. This will guide you throughout the entire planning process. Some of the key details to decide early in the planning process include the following:
- Budget: Include the costs of your movie license and any refreshments, promotional materials, or decorations. Your license does not allow you to charge admission, but you may recover costs by charging for items such as snacks or childcare.
- Target Audience: Who in your church or community is most likely to attend? Consider your various ministries and groups, such as couples (all ages), young adults, families, and men’s and women’s groups.
- Date: Choose a date with your target audience in mind. Is a regular meeting time easiest? Or would consecutive nights draw more visitors?
- Location: Hosting an event at your church offers visitors a non-threatening and entertaining opportunity to walk through your doors. Ideally, they will want to return to a worship service or bible study. But, if your facilities won’t work, consider showing the movie in a school auditorium or community center. Confirm your location a month or more in advance so you can adequately promote it.
- Follow-up Ministry: Start an early discussion on the best way to follow up the movie event with a sermon series or a small group study.
- Delegate Tasks: Here is when it’s time to delegate to your core group. These leaders should be able to make varying levels of decisions based on regular touchpoint meetings with you. It is helpful to divide the planning into focus areas, such as hospitality, promotion, technology, setup/teardown, etc.
Remember, though these details are important, the goal of your movie event is to share God’s love with your community. In the end, the size of your budget or a less than ideal location shouldn’t hinder you from reaching your community.
Step Three: Maximize Your Movie Event
Hosting a movie event doesn’t mean you must have a special theme, elaborate food, or additional entertainment, but these are options that help to maximize the reach and appeal of your movie event. Consider the following:
- Maximize your reach by teaming up with other churches, ministries, or local organizations.
- Partnering can help share costs and spread the word to new or different groups of people.
- Briefly introduce a leader from each partnership before or after the screening so attendees have a connection to follow up with.
- I Can Only Imagine is rated PG and is appropriate for adults and most children in middle school or older.
- Encourage higher attendance from couples with young children by organizing childcare or consider hosting a “Kids Movie Night” in another room.
- Provide the I Can Only Imagine Children’s Book, written by Bart Millard, as a resource for story hour. Kids and parents will have something to talk about on the way home.
- Have devotional time with older kids. Devotions from the I Can Only Imagine 40-Day Devotional, also written by Bart Millard, would be a good resource to read from.
- Foster fun before the movie begins by creating time for families to engage in activities together.
- Consider having a time of worship with music by your worship band or youth group band.
- Include movie trivia hosted by your emcee or on looping PowerPoint slides shown on screen.
- Serve snacks such as popcorn or candy to create a movie theater atmosphere.
Step Four: Promote Your Movie Event
- Have your pastor announce your movie event and emphasize the powerful evangelism and ministry potential.
- Show the movie trailer during your regular worship service.
- Start spreading the word at least 3-4 weeks before the event. Give people enough time to mark their calendars and invite friends and family.
- Implement the beautiful graphics and an easy-to-follow 6-week social media plan included with our I Can Only Imagine Church Campaign Kit.
- Harness the power of social media. Encourage your community to share, like, and post messages about the event through their social media networks.
Step Five: Hosting a Movie Event
The big day is here – you’ve spent countless hours planning and promoting, and now it’s showtime! Create a fun and welcoming atmosphere to help visitors feel comfortable and eager to come back!
Before guests arrive:
- Gather your team of leaders and volunteers to answer any last-minute questions they may have.
- Take time to pray together as a team for the people who are about to attend this event.
- Give your volunteers a timeline, either a printed copy or you can email it to them beforehand.
- Post signs inside and outside to guide people who may not be familiar with the layout of your site.
- Make sure the restrooms are open, clean, and clearly marked.
- Test all technology before your guests arrive to avoid fixing missing audio as an expectant crowd waits for the show to start.
Welcome your guests:
- Welcome the arrival of your guests by placing greeters outside.
- Place additional greeters inside the doors to direct guests and answer any questions.
- Have your emcee/host up front to greet the guests, cast vision for the night, and pray before starting the movie.
- Announce any upcoming gatherings or events related to the event, such as a church study, small groups, or a sermon series. Remember, guests will want to leave to head home after watching a full-length movie.
Connect with your guests:
- Provide flashlights for volunteers who may need to assist people during the movie.
- Let your guests know that help is available. I Can Only Imagine deals with issues of abuse that could profoundly affect viewers.
- Have prayer partners available to pray with guests following the conclusion of the film.
- Consider offering a brief invitation to return for a Sunday service or to join a Bible study.
Movie events are great occasions to promote small group sign-ups and kick-off a church campaign. Your hope for those attending would be that they make their way back into your church to become more involved in other programs you have.
Remember Your Purpose
No matter what, remember your purpose for hosting a Movie Event.
Reaching out, developing relationships, creating dialogue, and setting the stage for individuals and families to encounter Christ is what a movie event is all about.
We hope this guide helps you to plan, promote, and host a movie event soon. I Can Only Imagine tells an impactful story of God’s grace and the power of forgiveness. You can use this movie to share the gospel with your community and open up the doors of your church.
If you haven’t already purchased your I Can Only Imagine movie license, you can purchase it here.
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