Actor Thor Ramsey wrote the script for the new comedy film “Church People.” He plays Guy Sides who works to dissuade his humorous church leadership from a potentially blasphemous Easter publicity stunt, all while grappling with life’s biggest question: “Is the Gospel enough?”
How did it all start?
A friend of Ramsey shared one Easter season:
“‘You’re not gonna believe what this church is doing on Good Friday. We’re having an actual crucifixion.'”
Ramsey nodded in disbelief.
“No way. And so we looked it up. And it was false. He misinterpreted the advertisement, they were only having a Passion Play. But what struck me is that the craziness so to speak of, and it was really the gimmicks, the gimmicks that churches would go have gotten so extreme,” said Ramsey.
Christian author David F. Wells wrote The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World —published in 2008. Wells talked about evangelicalism in our contemporary Western context through the lens of five central themes—truth, God, self, Christ, and the church. If you attract people with big eyes, with these big gimmicks, then you just to keep them by doing bigger gimmicks.
“Is the Gospel Enough?” | When Marketing Is the Focus
Guy Sides (Ramsey’s) character in the film has written books, they’ve become bestsellers, and so it all conferences around the country. He becomes disillusioned with what we call “the marketing machine” — the many whistles and bells and how it all obscures the Gospel.
Sides basically planted the church with Pastor Skip, played by Michael Monks, (known for “End of Watch” in 2012). The church has grown to become a megachurch. “And they’re both nationally known pastors, bestselling authors, that type of thing. But they’ve just taken different views,” Ramsey pointed out.
Eventually, people get tired of it because you can’t outdo yourself.
“You know, it’s like, if you have a bicycle giveaway one Easter than the next year, you have to give away a car the next what are you going to, like, it has to get bigger every year,” explained Ramsey
Ramsey talked about Michael Horton, a seminary professor at Westminster Seminary. He wrote a book called Priceless Christianity that was also influential (for the film). It’s the idea that we think we need to spruce up the Gospel with whistles and bells.
“We don’t have to try to make the truth relevant, because it’s the truth. It’s relevant. And it’s always relevant — the theme of the movie.”
Pastor Skip does repent in “Church People.” So that’s good news.
Directed by Christopher Shawn Shaw, the film also stars Stephen Baldwin with special appearances by Donald Faison, Joey Fatone, Billy Baldwin, and Chynna Phillips. “Church People” was executive produced by Mike Lindell.
The characters in a way shared their humanity.
“I think that’s the thing that unites everyone in any story,” said Ramsey.
“Church People” is set for a special Fathom Event release on March 13, 14 and 15. Visit: https://churchpeoplefilm.com.
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By Corine Gatti-Santillo