Hosting Church Movie Nights the Right Way

July 08, 2013by Susan Fontaine Godwin

Time for Movie Night! Summer opens up all kinds of possibilities for special church events,  and hosting a Movie Night is a great way to reach out to your community.

LifeWay  and Outreach both feature excellent articles on how to get the most out of hosting a Movie Night. It’s important to consider the intent of your event. Here’s one very practical tip outlined by LifeWay:

Do you want to host an outreach event in your community? Bring families together? Reach out to dads? Plan a student lock-in? Host a mom’s night out? The intent of your event will dictate what environment you want to create and what movie you’ll want to show.

Having proper licensing in place is one of the first things you’ll also need to consider before planning on showing movies. The U.S. Copyright Act. Title 17 of the United States Code says that it is illegal to show a movie in any public venue, including churches, clubs, camps and schools without a movie license. This involves the performance right for audiovisual works.


There are several blanket licenses that allow your church to legally show movies.  

  1. CVLI provides a movie license for specific producers (about 500) with a large list of p0pular movies. It’s important to note that CVLI movie license does not allow you to charge admission for the shows nor promote your movie event using the movie title, characters or the producers in any external/public advertisement/publicity.
  2. LifeWay Films offers more than a dozen movies, like “Courageous” and "Fireproof,” that address a variety of topics and interests, and a Site License gives your church permission to show the corresponding movie an unlimited number of times for up to one year. Most LifeWay Films Site Licenses include a DVD of the movie, as well.
  3. Outreach Films provides movie licenses that allow you to legally show a movie in your church and to promote your showing to the public using the title, actors and art from the movie.

The Outreach article focuses on the value and power of stories

More than a collection of words or a parade of sentences, a story communicates beyond the head and finds home in the heart. A story connects us to a truth that is inescapable, an emotion that is undeniable and an experience that is unforgettable. And the best way to tell a story, the easiest way to tap into the truth that rests within the framework of a good story is with a movie.

Many churches also like to play and perform music during their Movie Nights. CCS’s PERFORMmusic License makes it easy to make sure your church has proper music licensing in place, covering more than 16 million songs.   

Now that you have all the licensing in place, identified the intent of your event and selected the movie that tells a powerful story, you just need a big screen, projector and place for people to sit. You could always add to the fun by renting a popcorn machine or buy candy and sodas at a local wholesaler, or create a concession stand. The possibilities are limitless.

About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS's quest is to help churches and Christian ministries "do music right."  CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest




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The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.