“The Passion of the Christ” has spurred many evangelism efforts since it was first release at the beginning mark of Lent. While campus ministries have used to the movie as a jumping board for panelist discussions and spring break evangelism efforts, churches are using the theme of the movie to direct interest and inspiration to their annual Easter plays.
"The movie will stir increased interest, especially from people who are curious how the movie will be incorporated," says Maurice Chavez, associate pastor at Phoenix Inner City Church.
Senior Pastor Tommy Barnett at Presurhoenix First Assembly of God, one of the dozens of churches in Phoenix that will also produce plays about the death and resurrection of Jesus, can concur with Chavez.
"We're going to spin off the movie this year," says Barnett.
After watching Mel Gibson’s movie, some play writers even added new content to their scripts.
Joel Marple, the creative arts pastor at Sunset Christian Center in Rocklin, Ca.,has been in charge of the church’s annual Easter production for 14 years, but says, "The movie energized me and made me see the story in a new way." He has even seen the movie twice.
Some churches will say although the movie has sparked interest in the upcoming church-sponsored Easter plays, the original plot line will be intact.
“We're using the same story line that has worked for more than 2,000 years,” says Mark Carlson, music director at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, Ca.
“The one right out of the Bible," he says.