If you belong to a Christian church or have ever ventured inside of one, chances are you’ve heard the term “small group.” Small groups are essentially Bible studies, and they’re extremely popular among Christians.
Filmmaker Matt Chastain saw the influence and importance of these fellowship groups when he and his wife joined one after belonging to a Christian church for years.
“In a small group, you can crack jokes. You’re more open. You laugh and cry together. You’re there for each other, not just on Sunday morning,” Chastain told the Atlantic Journal-Constitution. “And when you’re studying the Bible, the accountability opens your heart to the truth of the Gospel in a way that doesn’t happen in a large worship service. It’s pure and real and is focused on living a biblically centered life, a real life focused on pursuing God.”
Chastain first got the idea to write a film based off of small group culture in October 2014, when he was with film producer Christos Hines. According to the Atlantic Journal-Constitution, Hines himself was a small group member and saw potential in a film about the topic.
“Documentary filmmaker R. Scott Cooper (Sterling Hurst) is hired to make a film about the dwindling influence of Christianity. But to his surprise, the producer asks Scott to secretly infiltrate a small group and make a cheap hit piece,” the film’s description reads. “Already having moved his family to Athens, Georgia, he’s forced to move forward but discovers much more than he set out to do.”
In an interview with The Christian Post, Chastain explained the personal importance small groups have had in his life.
“We can’t truly and fully present ourselves to God until we can come humbled, focused on Him and His desire for us rather than toxified by our own self-centered crap,” he said. “When we’re committed to experiencing real life with a group of believers, it keeps us focused, accountable and humble.”
Chastain added that he based some of the interaction between the characters on his personal experience with small groups and how they have enhanced his faith.
“In ‘Small Group,’ the character Cori (Rebeca Robles) is explaining the concept of grace to Coop (Copelyn Chastain) and she says that ‘pure and true grace, it flows from God, through me, to others.’ I’ve experienced that flow of grace through some of the most wonderful folks I know and I hope they’ve felt it flowing through me as well.”
Chastain hopes that “Small Group” appeals to a variety of audiences, and makes those who haven’t experience small group life, want to.
“We’ve screened ‘Small Group’ for many audiences and their takeaways tend to be pretty dang consistent,” he said. “They walk out of the theater saying that they laughed and they cried and their group was energized. It makes people who aren’t involved in group ministry want to be. And hopefully, it shows that people from different perspectives can learn a lot and live far more peaceful lives by offering each other grace rather than feeding on anger. The world desperately needs more of that, in my opinion.”
And for those worried if “Small Group” is “just another cheesy Christian movie,” the film’s website offers a helpful disclaimer:
Cheese is best on nachos. Great on a burger. Perfectly acceptable on a chicken sandwich.Your food should be cheesy. Your Christian film should NOT be. We’re pleased to announce that Small Group is NOT a cheesy Christian movie.
“Small Group” hits limited theaters Oct. 19. For more information, click here.
(H/T: The Christian Post)