Small Group Questions

At The Movies: I Can Only Imagine 

Introduction:

Average movies entertain us. The best ones inspire us. There’s nothing like watching a good movie. You’re caught up in the story, on the edge of your seat, feet glued to the floor, a bucket of popcorn in your lap. If you want to laugh—there’s comedy. If you want to cry—there’s a romantic movie. If you want to jump—there are scary movies. Thrills, action, drama—everything we long for, because we love stories. We long for adventure. We long for good triumphing over evil. During the At The Movie series, we will explore the Biblical themes of popular movies by extracting biblical principles and examining spiritual truths in plot lines, stories, and characters. The point is to point you towards Jesus.  

Something To Talk About:

Before he became the lead singer of MercyMe, Bart Millard suffered a painful childhood. Abused by his father, Bart built walls around his heart. He couldn’t see hope. Using Bart Millard’s story of pain redeemed, brokenness restored, and God glorified, you can guide your community to recall their past wounds, reorient their present identity, and reimagine their future. Reveal the heart of the God who loves us…more than we can imagine.

  1. We all get hurt: In this portrait of faith, love, and family, Bart Millard puts pen to paper for the first time to share the story of his abusive father and how faith saved his family. Bart recalls the challenges he faced throughout his childhood as he lived through unimaginable horrors. While we may not be able to identify with the specifics of Bart’s life, we have all been hurt at one time or another. We all have had pain in our life. But pain is not necessarily the enemy. Pain can help us grow closer to God. Let your pain become your inspiration! This was the advice given to the singer/ songwriter of Mercy Me, Bart Millard. But amidst the pain, we serve a God who can transform lives, bringing forgiveness, restoration, and healing where it is needed. We serve a God who can redeem pain, restore broken lives and broken relationships, heal past wounds, reorient our present identity, and reimagine our future.
  2. We all have people we need to forgive: I Can Only Imagine shows the reality of forgiveness in a way that so many will relate to. This movie is not only an example of God’s never-ending, all-consuming, redeeming love, but also an example of a man who chose to look to Him as an example of forgiveness. It was through the act of forgiveness that Bart and his father were able to mend and develop a relationship that changed both of their lives. Had he chosen not to forgive, the pain of their broken relationship would have followed him for the rest of his life. The redemptive story of his father’s journey to Christ also inspired Millard to write a song that changed more lives than just his own. “I Can Only Imagine” brought a message of Christ’s love to more people than he could have ever imagined. This movie illustrates how forgiveness can open doors to a beautiful future. No matter how difficult it may be at times, we are to forgive people and what they do to us. No matter how deeply we have been wronged, those offenses pale into the background compared to Christ forgiving us. 
  3. Faced with disappointment, we have a choice to make: We have choices in what we do every day. Some of our everyday choices are random, others weighty, but many of our decisions are choice points. I choose whether to react in anger, or respond with understanding to my husband. I choose whether or not to create drama with a friend who hurt my feelings. I choose time with my Heavenly Father or push that time to another day … again. We have all made poor choices at times and have suffered the consequences of those bad choices. The good news is that no matter what poor choices we may have made in the past, there is always hope for a better future. God knew that we would make some bad choices, but He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins and to provide a way for our relationship with Him to be restored. Some people go through life carrying the load of some wrong choices they have made in the past. They believe they have messed up so badly that nothing good can ever come of their lives. Do you ever feel this way? No matter what chapter of life you’re in, know that each day is an opportunity to make wise choices based on God’s truths. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. God uses all things for good: Do you think that is true of the circumstances in Bart Millard’s life? When “bad” things happen in your life, how do you respond? In anger, in faith that God will work good out of it, or something else?
  2. How did Bart’s relationship with his Dad impact you? Can you relate to any aspect of the relationship? 
  3. One thing Bart said in the movie was: “We spend too much time trying to please God instead of trusting Him.” Agree or disagree and why?
  4. Sometimes we want people to sympathize with us in our hurts. The truth is, sympathy can provide temporary relief, but nothing short of forgiveness can procure lasting release. Why do you think people are content to indulge in self-pity when the release of forgiveness is available?
  5. What is your initial reaction to the concept of forgiveness? Do you react in denial, anger, self-righteousness, or judgment? Do you perhaps feel hostile toward the whole idea of forgiveness as a necessity?
  6. What characteristics in your life might indicate that you haven’t fully forgiven past hurts, even if you know in your head what you need to do?
  7. How are we making our choices? What is the “why” behind our choices? How easy is it to cruise through a day and not even think about the choices we make? Why is it so easy?
  8. How do things like music, media, celebrities sports, etc., influence the choices we make?
  9. How/why do we allow our friends to influence the choices we make?
  10. What would you change this week as a result of this movie? 

Take one thing home with you:

There is no such thing as a perfect choice. 

If you are a typical person, you have made some good and some bad choices. The goal is to eliminate the bad choices by making only good ones. But the harsh reality is no one makes all good choices. There is no choice that will turn out perfectly in every way. As long as you desire to please God with your choices, no choice will be entirely bad, nor will every choice be entirely brilliant. In other words, since there is no perfect choice, I don’t have to be paralyzed by the fear that I’m not making the exact right decision. The goal should be to please and glorify God with each choice we make. Proverbs 3:6 says, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” We need to trust God and accept the fact that our imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on our ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use us well.