Come Sunday, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Condola Rashad, Jason Segel, and Martin Sheen
Rated TV-14; available on Netflix
Review by Ashley Davis
Come Sunday recounts the true story of evangelist Carlton Pearson, an Oral-Roberts-trained preacher turned Unitarian minister, condemned by many as a heretic. This movie is well worth watching for any and every church leader.
Pearson is well known for the collapse of his Tulsa, OK megachurch in the late 1990s as he rethought his beliefs about hell and began to preach universal reconciliation.
Pearson’s relationships take the center stage throughout the story: his relationship with his wife, his children and other family, his followers, his mentors, and eventually Jesus. I found myself relating to him in unexpected ways. I’ve never had half of the congregation walk out on my sermon before, but I can relate to that level of rejection in ministry, and I suspect many of you can as well.
I’ve read mixed reviews on the movie; some said the characters were wooden and others said the script was poorly written. I would disagree with these assessments. There is a nuance to the film that probably will be lost on those who have not ministered or attended church in environments like the one portrayed. I found the characters very relatable, and felt the filmmakers did a great job of showcasing how vital relationships are to life and faith, without being cheesy or forced.
A theme that stood out starkly to me was that of success, and how desperately Pearson (and perhaps many preachers today) needed to redefine what success is for a pastor. It isn’t the numbers of people you preach to or “save;” it isn’t how much is in your bank account; it isn’t who approves of you. It all comes down to you and Jesus, and whether you yourself are in relationship with Him. It was also clear that Pearson (and again, perhaps many preachers today) needed a safe place to work through his own doubts and shifting faith.
We all have opportunities to place relationship above dogma; we can remain orthodox while also opening our hearts to people with whom we disagree. Regardless of where you stand on the doctrinal issues, this film is a must see.