Updated: Oct 18
I recently offered some thoughts on how (and why) in your small group or outreach ministry should study and discuss The Chosen. But if your community has been watching and studying The Chosen from the beginning, there's a good chance that you'll finish all the current episodes before the next season comes out. Wondering what else your group can watch and discuss as you seek to engage imaginatively with the stories of Scripture? Here are five more Bible films/videos that your small group may benefit from, along with some topics that you might want to discuss in conjunction with them.
The Gospel of John [The Life of Jesus] (2003)
The Gospel of John is a strict adaptation of the fourth gospel, using the Good News Bible translation as the script and narration. It follows the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of his beloved disciple John. The film features a diverse cast and a rich cinematography that brings the ancient world to life.
How to discuss The Gospel of John film
The runtime for The Gospel of John is about 3 hours, so you'll probably want to divide your discussion of the film into at least three gatherings, if not more. Because The Gospel of John follows its biblical source so strictly, you could potentially just treat it as a supplement for a traditional study of the Gospel of John.
As you discuss The Gospel of John, you might want to address topics like:
How are the style, tone, and content of the Gospel of John distinct when compared to the other gospels?
What are some of the themes and symbols that John uses to present Jesus?
How does John portray the relationship between Jesus and his Father, his disciples, and his opponents?
How does John’s gospel challenge us to believe in Jesus and follow him as his witnesses?
Looking for more content to help you watch and discuss The Gospel of John film? My friends at The Jesus Study have produced a guide that's designed to turn your viewing experience into an opportunity for in-depth disciple-making. You can find their guide here.
Where to watch The Gospel of John film
Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018)
Paul, Apostle of Christ depicts the final days of Paul, the apostle who once persecuted Christians but became one of the most influential leaders in the early church. Imprisoned by Nero in Rome, Paul is visited by his friend Luke, who writes down his story and his letters to the churches. Meanwhile, as the Christian community in Rome faces persecution, division arises over whether they should seek retribution against their Roman oppressors.
How to discuss Paul, Apostle of Christ
At a little under two hours, you'll probably want to schedule at least a couple of meetings to discuss Paul - or perhaps tackle it during an extended event like a retreat. If you want to stretch it out, you could try reading through the entirety of Paul's prison epistles as well as the relevant sections of the Book of Acts.
As you discuss Paul with your small group, you can address topics like:
Paul’s conversion inspires us to trust in the power of grace to transform those who seem least likely to change. Is there a person/area of your life that you have a hard time believing that God could change?
What are some of the challenges and struggles that Paul and the early Christians faced in spreading the gospel?
During the film, the Christian community is divided over whether they should seek retribution and safety through power or whether they should continue to follow the self-sacrificial model of Christ. How do we see similar divisions and debates today?
How can we learn from Paul’s example of faithfulness, courage, and endurance in suffering for Christ?
The Jesus Study is putting together a guide for Paul and plans to release it soon. You can find more information here.
Where to watch Paul, Apostle of Christ
Paul, Apostle of Christ is available on demand on Amazon Prime Video and similar platforms.
Risen approaches the resurrection of Jesus from a unique perspective, following a Roman soldier who is assigned to investigate the disappearance of Jesus' body. Clavius, a tribune who witnessed the crucifixion, follows the clues and interrogates the disciples, while trying to prevent a potential uprising. Along the way, he encounters the risen Christ and faces a crisis of faith.
How to discuss Risen
Like Paul, Risen runs just under two hours, and so you'll probably want to schedule at least a couple of meetings to discuss it or perhaps host an extended event. Compared to some of the other films that I'm recommending, Risen doesn't cover a whole lot of biblical text. Although it's inspired by some key biblical scenes, most of the story is invented. It's probably ideal for groups focused on outreach to non-Christians and the unchurched, since it deals with many of the doubts and concerns that skeptics have. Instead of doing a Bible study, you could use the film to spark conversations about the evidence for Jesus' resurrection and other apologetic concerns.
As you discuss Risen with your group, you can address topics like:
How does Clavius represent the skepticism and curiosity that many people have about the resurrection of Jesus?
In the film, what are some of the evidences and testimonies that support the truth of the resurrection? Outside of the film, do you know of other reasons to believe that the resurrection was a historical event?
What does it look like for us as Christians to always be "prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15)?
How does meeting Jesus change Clavius’ attitude and approach towards others?
In addition to demonstrating the truth of the Gospel, why is the resurrection significant? How can it give us hope and a new perspective on life?
Again, my friends with The Jesus Study are working on a guide for Risen and plan to release it soon.
Where to watch Risen
Risen is available on demand through Amazon Prime Video and similar platforms.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
The Ten Commandments is considered by many to be a cinema classic. It follows the Exodus story, from the birth of Moses to the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and on to Mount Sinai and the Promised Land. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the film features a star-studded cast, spectacular sets, and a powerful score. It also explores the personal and spiritual journey of Moses, as he encounters God, responds to his call, and ultimately receives the Law.
How to discuss The Ten Commandments
At a whopping three hours and forty minutes, you'll definitely want to divide up your discussion of The Ten Commandments into at least four or five meetings. Like The Chosen, The Ten Commandments exercises creative license in adding and combining characters, storylines, and events, so I would suggest slowing down to compare scenes from the film to the biblical sources. I haven't come across a good guide for studying the film, but here are few questions you could discuss with your small group:
At the strat of the film, the director, Cecil B. DeMille states: "The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God's law, or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator, like Rameses. Are men the property of the state or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today." What do you think he means? And in what sense do we still see this same conflict playing out in our world?
How does God reveal himself to Moses throughout the film?
What are some of the obstacles and temptations that Moses and the Israelites face in obeying God’s will?
Dathan, the Hebrew overseer and opponent of Moses, plays a key role in the film. What does he represent? Do you see similar forces at work today?
Why do you think this film is called The Ten Commandments? What do the Ten Commandments represent? In what sense are they still important for Christians today?
Where to Watch The Ten Commandments
You can watch The Ten Commandments on demand through Prime Video or similar platforms.
The Bible Project
The Bible Project's videos are not films per se, but their short animated explainers are still able to capture the imagination and engage with various biblical themes and concepts in an engaging way. If you're hoping to transition your group toward deeper ideas and study, the Bible Project is an invaluable resource. They also have a massive catalogue of resources, with videos on each book in the Bible, biblical word studies, biblical themes, and how to read Scripture as well as accompanying podcasts that dive even deeper and a free app that brings all these resources together.
How to discuss The Bible Project Videos
One of the nice things about Bible Project videos is that they are all relatively short (~5-10 minutes) but also incredibly dense. Watching a video during a meeting is easy - and provides more than enough content for discussion. If your church is going through a sermon series on a particular topic or theme, it's also really easy to find videos that are connected and to piece together a curriculum.
As you watch videos from the Bible Project with you group, consider asking questions like:
Have you ever come the biblical theme in this video before? How did the video confirm, expand, or challenge your understanding?
The video highlights several places in which this theme or ideas comes up in the Bible. Can you think of other biblical passages that it didn't mention that also speak to the same idea?
According to the video, how does this biblical theme or idea point us to Jesus?
How does the biblical theme/idea in the video connect to how we are called to live as Christians?
According to the video, how will this biblical theme find its ultimate culmination in the New Heavens and Earth?
Why is it important to think of the Bible as one big interconnected story instead of reading it as a bunch of small disconnected stories?
Where to watch The Bible Project
Have any other suggestions for films or videos that small groups can view together? Or have you tried discussing one of these films with a group before? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or shoot me an email!
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If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
Artist Interviews (The Bible Artist Podcast)
The Chosen Season 4
The Chosen Season 3
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
Thomas & Ramah in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Yussif, Jairus, & Shmuel in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Quintus, Gaius, Atticus, and the Romans in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Little James in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Pontius Pilate & his Wife in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Matthew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
Episode 2 Guide: Two by Two
Episode 3 Guide: Physician, Heal Thyself
Episode 4 Guide: Clean Part 1
Episode 5 Guide: Clean Part 2
Episode 6 Guide: Intensity in Tent City
Episode 7 Guide: Ears to Hear
Episode 8 Guide: The Feeding of the 5,000
Season 2 Reflection P1: What is The Chosen Season 2 about?
Season 2 Reflection P2: What was The Chosen Season 2 about? (Plots & Theme)
Episode 1 Guide: The Beloved Disciple
Episode 2 Guide: Philip, Nathanael, & Matthew
Episode 3 Guide: Life Among the Disciples of Jesus
Episode 4 Guide: Simon the Zealot & the Man at the Bethesda Pool
Episode 5 Guide: Mary's Demons & the Destiny of John the Baptist
Episode 6 Guide: Mercy and Not Sacrifice
Episode 7 Guide: Quintus Returns
Episode 8 Guide: Judas, Matthew, & the Sermon on the Mount
Episode 1 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Lilith, and the Redeemer
Episode 2 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Shabbat
Episode 3 Guide: Depicting Jesus in Art, Film, and TV
Episode 4 Guide: When Jesus Met Simon (Peter)
Episode 5 Guide: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Episode 6 Guide: Jesus, Shmuel, & the Pharisees
Episode 7 Guide: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?
Episode 8 Guide: The Woman at the Well, Eden, & Zohara
The Chosen Controversies Series
How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why
Themes & Theology of The Chosen [Exclusive for BMC Members]
Episode 1: What do we do when we are scared?
Episode 2: What is Shabbat for?
Episode 3: Who is Jesus?
Episode 4: What kind of man are you?
Beyond The Chosen
The Chosen: 9 Good Friday & Easter Episodes ***Season 3 Update***
Other Bible Adaptations
Recap & Review: His Only Son