SO, I can already feel some of the Star Wars purists rising up in defense.  Bowing their backs, as they so often do, like a bantha defending itself in the harsh conditions of the Tatooine landscape.  (If you have no idea what I said, that’s okay).
But hear me out.  Star Wars, the original (Episode IV to the purists), was a film that was shot for next to nothing in terms of Hollywood movies.  The budget for the film was originally somewhere around $8,000,000.  Again, for a motion picture that’s not a lot.  Even in the 70’s. Executives threw just enough money at it to make it happen.  Besides, who wants to see a Space Opera? RIght?
Well, we all know how that turned out.
It made gobs of money! Which, of course, demanded a sequel.
Empire Strikes back was good.  Probably my favorite film of the whole series., but Return of the Jedi was…slightly off. Then, the prequels happened, and as a Star Wars fan…I was really, really disappointed.
So, what happened? Well, I think it had to do with the “gobs of money” I referenced earlier.
Money, in itself, isn’t a bad thing, but, in the case of Star Wars, money took control instead of the Star Wars story.
Nicer production values and special effects could be afforded and more could be done with technology than ever before.  But, somewhere along the line, the movies became about the special effects and production value.  They were no longer about the characters and their struggles to fight the ultimate evil.
And the movies were…not as good.
So, why bring up Star Wars? Well, for a couple of reasons.
1) if you do not have the budget at your disposal that you wish you had in order to make your Large Group and FX’s come to life, it doesn’t mean you can’t make something amazing happen.  Actually, you will look at this time as “the golden years” when you figured out what really mattered and the reasons behind why you are doing what you are doing.  Plus, higher production value and special effects and all the things you can do with money “that we weren’t able to do before” can sometimes derail you from telling a good, simple, clear story. Sometimes you start thinking about “what is cool” versus “what is vital to connect with the people I am ministering to”.
2) Sometimes, the slicker things get…the less personal they feel.  The lights might be amazing, the set might be incredibly cool., the lasers and videos might be off-the-charts professional, but those kinds of things can crowd out the most important element.  Connecting relationally with an audience.  Remember, you’re not making a show.  You creating an experience.  You’re not letting people look at a painting.  You want them to feel like they are painting it with you.
3) If you already have a big budget or just received one, don’t let it cloud your intent. Don’t let it get in the way of the original reasons why you created your environments in the first place.  Let the Star Wars Prequels, Cars 2, The Matrix 2 & 3, and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull be a warning to you.  Bigger, is not always better.
Don’t let money keep you from starting something amazing, and don’t let money ruin the amazing thing you started.
And, I am still angry about JarJar.