When a Movie Becomes a Movement
by Taylor Berglund
Harold Cronk never expected God’s Not Dead would grow beyond a simple independent film into a full-fledged movement. The director of one of the most successful faith-based films of all time says he gets emails and calls from people testifying the film changed their lives. The movie has provoked people to renew their faith and to become passionate about sharing it—so passionate, in fact, that Cronk says he may need to get a new phone number.
In the original movie’s climax, hundreds pull out their phones to text friends about their faith. On one phone, one of the cell numbers still visible belonged to Cronk—who had been texting an actor earlier that day. Cronk says he’s received a flood of calls and texts from eager fans who punched the number into their phones, unaware that the film’s director was on the other end.
Cronk doesn’t really mind, though. That vigor—that desire to share the message of Jesus, no matter who is on the other end of the phone—is exactly the response Cronk hoped this film would inspire. The first film, which told the story of a college student defending his Christian faith in an atheist classroom, resonated with many Christians and sent shockwaves through Hollywood. In 2014, God’s Not Dead became the little independent film that could, surpassing every outsider expectation by making over $60 million at the box office during its five-month theatrical run. Now, with all eyes on the highly anticipated sequel, God’s Not Dead 2 will prove whether the first film was a flash in the pan—or the opening battle cry of a larger movement.
Launching the Film
Before the movement, before the movie, God’s Not Dead began as a book by evangelist Rice Broocks. As co-founder of the Every Nation family of churches and senior minister of Bethel World Outreach Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Broocks worked with college students on a regular basis. He grew concerned about a worrisome trend among students.
“You hear these alarming statistics,” Broocks says. “Some people say as much as 80 percent of young people are leaving the faith when they leave high school and get to college. Now that’s totally not true. … No one quite knows how many it is, but it’s an alarming figure. I think it would be conservative to say at least 50 percent that leave high school, when they get to college, will either lose or abandon their faith, and many times it’s because they don’t have clear enough understanding. They get presented with evidence or arguments they can’t answer, and they just shelve their faith like an out-of-date cellphone. So I started writing this book to lay out the evidence for God.”
Broocks was telling a friend, businessman Troy Duhon, about the book he was writing—God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty—when Duhon stopped him in his tracks. “That needs to be a movie,” Duhon said…
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