Seven Deadly Words is a movie unlike any other in the market. It’s based on a true story and it’s written as a wake up call for churches to see how unhealthy attitudes can destroy a church. It’s done well both in the film festival circuit as well as in dvd sales. Now writer/producer/director Doc Benson is taking it a step further by offering it free to churches via Giving Churches Hope.
What was the inspiration that led to you writing the story?
Seven Deadly Words was inspired by actual events. The Docudrama follows the community and the congregation of Egypt Valley Church as they try to overcome the Seven Deadly Words: ‘We’ve never done it that way before.’ The church is out of funds and out of touch with the community. New pastor Evan Bennett sets out to change things for the better with the help of some folks in and out of the church. But there’s a problem… The Haman Family has been running things a long time, and they don’t like change. When their control and ministry comes under scrutiny, the Hamans decide to fight back. Evan and his family soon learn how far one family is willing to go to preserve the Status quo.
For almost two decades I served as a pastor, church planter, and restart consultant. I have seen both the good and bad about churches going through change. I’ve even lived through some “horror stories” of my own. I thought I would combine some of those ideas, stories, and debates, and put them together into a film that could tell the story of one church, going through needed change. Folks may be shocked at some of the things that happen, but I am sorry to say that much of the film is inspired by actual events. In the end, however, it is a story about overcoming the conflict surrounding change, and growing in a direction that is Christ centered and ministry focused.
What has been the response to the movie so far?
The premiere was held near the end of 2013. During that time and since, we have appeared in and won awards at numerous film festivals in the United States and around the world, including being screened during the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. SDW is now distributed by Bridgestone and is available as far away as South Africa.
Critics and viewers seem to be saying the same things: This is a film that churches need to see. We took that call very seriously.
Tell us a little about Giving Churches Hope.
This is a campaign to give away a copy of Seven Deadly Words to every church in America.
We will use the time between now and the 18th of February to get the word out via social media, solicit partnerships, and secure early supporters. On February 18th (Ash Wednesday) we want to launch a crowdfunding campaign where people around the world will be able to contribute towards the mission.
Contributions can also be received via mail or paypal on our special website GivingChurchesHope.org. The funding campaign will build until April 5th (Easter/Resurrection Sunday). DVDs will be mailed out after that date.
Volunteers and interns will work diligently to assemble each mailing envelope and address it using a current listing of churches, or by distribution at state level denominational conferences.
It has been determined that it will cost approximately $ 3.50 per DVD to process, package and ship to each church. All donations will be tax deductible, and all proceeds go directly to the cause!
What led to you taking such a dramatic step as giving away dvds to churches?
According to a study by FaithCommunities, 75% of churches report that they experienced some kind of conflict in the past five years, and 25% report their current conflict as ‘serious’.
80% of pastors surveyed believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month. Worst of all, almost 7,000 churches close every year.
We’ve been told time and time again that Seven Deadly Words has helped churches by opening lines of communication on these issues in a safe and healthy way. It became a mission to us to see to it that every church in America had this resource tool available to them.
Frankly, we don’t think churches should have to pay for it. We hope there are enough Christians out there who will help us with this effort to bring churches a message of hope in the midst of conflict and change.
Christian film has become extremely commercialized. Sure, we understand that to make more movies you need to make something back on them. But faith-based film can’t just be about profits, cheesy marketing and product merchandising. We have an obligation to give back when and where we can.
How will you determine which churches to start with?
Some of that is based upon targeted giving. If a donor wants their gift to go towards giving the movie to Wesleyan churches in Oregon or every church in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, we would provide them with the number of churches in that target, allowing you to shape their total donation to meet that specific need at $ 3.50 each dvd.
If no target is specified, we will start with geographic regions based upon donor support and work out from there.
What would you love to see happen as a result of this project?
Obviously, we would love to see every congregation in America have this movie to use as a tool for healthy communication, growth, and unity. Hey, at $3.50 each church, it’s not much. Less than a latte or a burger meal.
I guess Christians are going to have to decide: Do they want to give churches hope, or just tell them to “go… be warm and well fed”.
If people want to learn more, they can visit the web site givingchurcheshope.org or email me email@example.com They can also learn about the movie itself and a special conference I do based on the movie at sevendeadlywords.com