Review: When God Left the Building

April 12th, 2014

When God Left the Building Review

Today I had the opportunity to attend the last day of the Lifetree Film Fest in Loveland, CO. While I was there I was able to see a new Christian film by Group Productions, When God Left the Building. The synopsis of this film reads:

Though the vast majority (77%) of Americans identify themselves as Christians, they have largely stopped attending church. LESS THAN 20% of the population now makes it to church in a typical week. Some 4000 churches are closing every year. It’s a major and unprecedented social upheaval.

The film follows a church that has seen its attendance plunge from 900 to 40. In addition to external cultural factors that affect all churches, this church is disintegrating from the inside from a variety of human storms. A pastor who doesn’t know who or what God is. Fights over petty things. A faction of angry ex-members that devises a plan to take over the church.

Throughout the story, cameras also visit other dying churches—as well as innovative new forms of church that are thriving. These range from a ministry in a Pennsylvania pub to an outreach in Los Angeles that brings joy to skid-row moms.

By the end of the film, viewers will experience hope and a refreshing glimpse into how faith may be pursued in the future.

As the film rolls, we learn the story of a church in Newark, New York who watches their church attendance decrease and their church fall on the verge of death. The movie follows Tom Schultz, founder of Group
Publishing, as he tries to figure out why churches across America are dying. The film gives an insightful look into modern churches and does a magnificent job at showing all angles of the story.

From small, dying churches, to large and thriving mega churches they show a variety of different ways people are worshipping in our modern day. It also takes a hard look at what is going on churches today and why we are struggling to reach this new generation. We hear the testimonies of people who have left the church and why they refuse to come back. The film is not afraid to be brutal and honest with what isn’t working and I was so glad to see it wasn’t afraid to speak the truth.

One of the fascinating analogies drawn in this film is the similarity between the church and the Kodak film company. Kodak did not try to evolve into what it needed to be and remained set in its ways until it ultimately declared bankruptcy in 2012. In the same way, the church became an outdated relic and newer generations had moved on from attending. The film does an amazing job of showing how we can still be the body of Christ in the modern day without trying to adapt to fit in with the “world”. It takes a look at churches who have tried to evolve with the culture by adding flashy songs or high-tech special effects and ultimately decides that this isn’t the answer either. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it does an amazing job of showing truly effective ministries in the modern day that are real examples of the church actually succeeding.

The cinematography and video quality remain professional throughout the film and nothing ever stuck out to me as being odd or out of place. The movie flowed magnificently from one scene to the next and it had very smooth transitioning throughout. It was very professionally done documentary that maintained a high level of quality throughout.

I can say without hesitation that I enjoyed this film immensely. It had great interviews and interesting points and really encouraged and motivated me to take a hard look at how I view the church today. The film was very professional quality and did an excellent job of conveying a point to the viewer. All in all, I really had no problems with the film so I’m giving it a perfect 5/5 stars. Hopefully this film will be making its way to DVD soon and I would highly encourage you to pick it up and watch it with your family or quite possibly your entire church congregation. It would be an excellent film for whole church bodies to watch as it invites churches to examine themselves and figure out how they can be an effective body for Christ.


One of the worst ways I know to kill a church is to allow Freemasons in as members of the congregations, not to mention letting them "serve" as pastors, deacons, teachers, etc.

Where I understand the purpose, heart an d intentions of those who compiled this documentary I felt that it left no real response as to what the church could or even should look like.
It is mostly problematic in nature, communicating the issues pastors and congregations face but not much in the way of solution.
It was also difficult to follow in terms of what exactly was communicated. Whether the problem, the complaints, from an outsiders perspective or from the the perspective of the christian and the pastor.

Interesting look forward to seeing the film.

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