During the past few years, Christian movies have been exploding onto the big screen. Many people cite Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ as a catalyst, but whatever the reason, plenty of faith-themed films have hit theaters recently.
These days, fans of Christian movies have more to watch, more to think about, and more opportunities to deepen our relationship with God. In other words, we have more ways for God to speak about his heart and our identity in him.
Here’s information about 7 recent Christian movies you can watch with youth:
1. New Life
Benjamin Morton’s life changed forever the day he met the little girl next door. To him, Ava was and always would be the girl of his dreams. From the innocence of a childhood friendship through adolescent attraction, their love strengthens and grows. But an unexpected turn calls into question the couple’s entire future. New Life explores the ups and downs of life and love, showing that in good times and bad, we can approach life with hope.
- 61% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
- 8/10 IMDb
- “…an excellent, moving portrayal of love’s kindling, flaming, and flickering…”
- “True love. Romance. Exciting, intimate, emotional connection. Fulfilling, committed partnership. Joys and sorrows. Drama…tragedy…recovery…triumph. This one’s got real love and real life, folks.”
- “…poignant, funny, romantic, and heartrending moments.”
- “…the direction is very good and brings out the best in the actors.”
Find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Roza_FjwEWE
2. The Heart of Man
This cinematic retelling of the parable of the prodigal son is interwoven with true testimonials of personal and sexual brokenness. Narrative storytelling and documentary filmmaking combine to reveal God’s compassionate heart. The movie reminds viewers that shame isn’t a barrier to God’s love but rather a bridge to absolute transformation, victory, freedom and hope.
- 97% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
- 4/10 IMDb
- “Words cannot convey the way The Heart of Man encapsulates the unconditional love of God for all mankind in Christ Jesus.”
- “The stories of abuse and abandonment in this 74-minute-long movie will bring a tear to any eye… As the story unfolds, each person describes how God’s unconditional love and Christ’s death upon the cross brought them spiritual freedom.”
- “…features top-quality performance, music, and cinematography. Similarly, the use of light during the testimonials, especially that of William Paul Young, is masterful.
Find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qJHd17RQeg
3. I Can Only Imagine
Growing up in Greenville, Texas, Bart Millard suffers physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father, Arthur. When Arthur becomes terminally ill, he finds redemption by embracing his faith and rediscovering his love for his son. Years later, Bart’s troubled childhood and mended relationship with his dad inspire him to write the hit song “I Can Only Imagine” for his band, MercyMe. Because of its box-office success, this film revealed that people will buy tickets to high-quality Christian movies.
- 91% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
- 4/10 IMDb
- “…a powerful, tear-jerker story of redemption and reconciliation.”
- “A tremendous cast drives the emotion, from Dennis Quaid and Trace Adkins to terrific newcomer J. Michael Finley, who plays Bart Millard.”
- “The movie is beautifully shot and well structured.”
Find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsMyv9Q4_OU
4. Paul, Apostle of Christ
Risking his life, Luke ventures to Rome to visit Paul, the apostle who’s bound in chains and held captive in Nero’s bleakest prison cell. Haunted by shadows of his past misdeeds, Paul wonders if he’s been forgotten as he awaits his grisly execution. Before Paul’s death, Luke resolves to write another book; this one will detail the birth of what comes to be known as the Early Church.
- 81% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
- 6/10 IMDb
- “…a must-see, soul-stirring movie”
- “a great professional cast”
- “one of the best-acted movies about Jesus Christ, his disciples or the Early Christians.”
- “…the dialogue is brilliantly written and beautifully uses a few passages from the Book of Acts and other books of the Bible…”
- “…an inspiring, riveting and profound climax and ending that will motivate viewers to learn more about the New Testament, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the meaning of Christian faith…”
Find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyOqQZUDdO4
5. An Interview With God
Paul Asher, an up-and-coming journalist, returns home from covering the war in Afghanistan to a life in shambles. His marriage is failing, and he’s in the grips of a personal crisis he doesn’t yet understand. Even more pressing, a soldier Paul befriended in Afghanistan is struggling at home and Paul desperately tries to help. But Paul’s life takes a strange twist when he’s offered an irresistible interview: It’s with someone who claims to be God.
- 74% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
- 5/10 IMDb
- “…a very special piece of Christian cinema with believable characters and a challenge to think about life’s big questions.”
- “[It] was energizing. We left the theater discussing and thinking through the deeper themes of faith, forgiveness, hope, prayer and salvation.”
- “…gripping and entertaining.”
Find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCE39OeR4Js
Fresh out of the seminary and basic training, Army chaplain Darren Turner receives orders to deploy to Iraq. He leaves his wife behind to care for their three young children. War’s harsh realities soon take a toll on Turner and his battalion, making it hard to stay connected to his beloved family. When Darren finally comes home, the Turners must decide if they’re willing to face one more battle: the fight to save their marriage.
- 93% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
- 5/10 IMDb
- “a high-quality, God-honoring, emotional ride, which promotes a deep dedication to Christian faith and realistic Christian support for military families.”
- “As a Christian faith-based movie, [it] takes unconventional risks, depicting a nuanced main character who buckles under the enormous pressures of war…gritty spiritual questions. The movie doesn’t back down, however. Instead, it answers questions honestly and shows how God faithfully guides Darren and others to higher ground.”
- “…raises the aesthetic bar for Christian movies and delivers an authentic emotional roller-coaster.”
Find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUDz81_yVGY
Haunted by nightmares of horrific experiences, World War II hero Louis Zamperini meets and marries Cynthia Applewhite. However, Zamperini’s personal demons soon threaten to destroy his marriage. Then in 1949, he hears the stirring words of the Rev. Billy Graham. After embracing his newfound Christian faith, Louis starts turning his life around. As part of that, he learns to forgive his former oppressors and spreads Jesus’ message of peace and love. Though this film wasn’t necessarily marketed in the “Christian movies” category, it contains many faith-based themes.
- 84% Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
- 6/10 IMDb
- “…an emotionally stirring tear jerker, with great production values and a powerful ending”
- “…has a visceral, emotionally stirring ending that will strike the audience’s heartstrings. The production quality is very good, with good costumes and sets. While the writing is very focused, with a clear direction of where the story is going”
- “…portrays Zamperini’s salvation in a powerful fashion that gives all glory to God, yet never comes off as cheesy or overly preachy (even in scenes with preaching). The late Billy Graham, to whom the movie is dedicated, is portrayed by his grandson Will Graham in the climax.”
Find out more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBj6-XXbf0E
Be sure to preview Christian movies before showing them to your youth group. Also prepare some discussion questions to make the most of each viewing.
This article originally appeared here.