Resurrection of Gavin Stone's Dallas Jenkins Dreams of Telling Stories About Church

Dallas Jenkins comes from solid storytelling stock, the son of Jerry B. Jenkins, having worked on various films since 2002’s Hometown Legend. Now, as the senior director of Media at James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, he’s shepherding projects like The Resurrection of Gavin Stone for Vertical Church Films.

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone did not reach the heights that Jenkins or MacDonald hoped but the changes in the movie business caused for sufficient amounts of their frustration. The film, about a movie star who rehabs his celebrity, his sobriety, and his faith through a passion play production at his hometown church, had strong word of mouth but did not draw crowds to the theater. “We didn’t have a pre-existing brand, but hopefully, people will hear about it and want to see it on DVD or via streaming,” Jenkins proposed.

At screenings, Jenkins found that the film was well-received by churchgoing and non-churchgoing people, who cited that it was “better than they expected” or “better than average.” They came back with their friends to see it again, recognizing that there was something different in the film’s DNA. “They told us that they were surprised by how much they enjoyed it, how they laughed and cried along with the self-deprecating humor. It was about a life perspective of seeing the church portrayed as overwhelming grace.”

Jenkins is proud of the film, citing the way that the production achieved the blend of humor and emotion in telling the story of a church through the eyes of an outsider. “It has a strong message, about Christians discovering grace in a new way and an outsider feeling welcome,” he said. “Churches don’t need to water down their message; they just need to be unconditional love.”

Starring Brett Dalton, Anjelah Johnson, Neil Flynn, Shawn Michaels, and D.B. Sweeney, the film’s actors had reasons for being in the film that Jenkins said the marketing did not share - but that the DVD release will uncover through an interview with Reverend MacDonald. “We wanted to show a story where the Christians weren’t perfect, and the outsider could teach something,” Jenkins explained. “I love that the pastor’s daughter has as much to learn about grace as Gavin does.”

Moving forward, Jenkins said that the church and its dreams for faith-based films must be re-evaluated. “We have to rethink the business, as smaller movies are getting squeezed,” he shared. “It may mean lower budgets. How can it be sustainable in this moment? We have to find a way.”

“I dream of telling stories in a church or about church that haven’t been done. There are so many stories to tell.”

Jenkins’ dream is just one more reason audiences should buy The Resurrection of Gavin Stone so that they don’t miss it. It shows where the film’s humor and heart lie, and hints at what comes next.