Finding God at work in the media can seem hopeless…until you start scratching in the right places.
It’s long been the joy of the youth worker to find great clips within movies and TV shows that open questions of faith or conversation starters about how to live a life authentically after Christ in a world that has turned its collective back on him.
Popular culture is worth the effort to mine.
There’s the old faves like The Shawshank Redemption, or Joan of Arcadia, or The Power of One, or (if you want to be bold and can stand navigate the swears) stuff like Fight Club. Obviously know your audience and be cautious with what you show to whom.
Almost every Disney/Pixar opens up opportunities, including Inside Out, Soul, and The Incredibles. For teens and young adults the Marvel Cinematic Universe is ripe for the picking as you wade through the films. Even more recently WandaVision and Loki deliver brilliant questions around grief, life choice/destiny, and mental health.
(All of these are spread across Netflix, Stan, and Disney+ – a wise set of investments and annual tax deduction).
Any TV show or film that opens up questions around “Who am I?” (identity), “Where do I fit?” (belonging), or “What am I supposed to do?” (purpose) are ideal, because they present us with the privilege of talking about how finding our place deep in the grace, love, and mission of God will be life changing.
There’s a new addition to the list: Apple TV+’s newest smiling hero Ted Lasso.
The setup isn’t original. Mid-western College (Gridiron) football coach Lasso and his assistant Coach Beard get the call up to come and lead UK Premier League team AFC Richmond with the intention they will kill the team’s chances as a revenge plot by the former owner’s ex-wife. A fish out of water indeed.
What makes it different is Ted and Coach Beard’s approach to everything: everyone has potential, and everyone should be celebrated.
This capacity to love people transforms those around them, and ultimately the club. Everyone changes, because the new coaches make the choice to elevate the positive they see in everyone and build people up.
They make the choice to love, and because they do even the hardest heart is transformed. It’s not easy, and there’s more than their share of conflict along the way. Choosing love will always present challenges. When you choose love, you choose the difficult way for God’s glory. What a lesson for us all.
Now go watch season one of Ted Lasso. It’s bottled joy released into your television.
Molk is the Senior Field Officer (North), and Young Adult ministry leader as a part of the PULSE team.