Simple Formula for Movie Appropriateness

For student ministry or youth ministry

Still one of my most embarrassing moments in ministry was when I was an intern at a UM church. For youth, I volunteered to choose a movie for movie night. I remembered a movie I watched a year previously that I thought was a great example of dealing with racism. It was called Pleasantville.

I still remember sitting in the youth room with 5 teenage girls and one female adult watching the bathroom scene where the mom is in the bathtub and…well, she ends up setting the tree on fire. Watch the movie and it makes more sense. The look on the youth sponsor’s face as she delighted in my 19yo embarrassment is burned into my head. Sigh.

However, today I can tell you that it will never happen again. I am thankful for the Internets that give people like me, who pastor youth, a simple(?) way to measure if a movie is appropriate.

Via Richard Hall, here’s the Youth Pastor’s Coefficient (originally from

The formulas are hence (most text taken from though edited for my blog readership):

  • S = Swear-words
  • ! = Super swear-words (you know the ones…)
  • b = Breasts or other PG-13 nudity
  • V = Tame violence (Like a cartoon slapfest or someone getting in a playground fist-fight)
  • G = Serious nudity (The kind you don’t want to watch with your mom in the room)
  • m = Serious violence (The kind that is in Call of Duty that they will play when they leave)
  • i = Innuendo (That most slippery of youth group movie downfalls)
  • A = Alternative music laden soundtracks (Kids dig those block-rockin’ beats)
  • H = Happy endings (All youth group movies ought to have it!)
  • PRm = Positive Role-model (If the star of the movie prays, talks kindly to people with mental disability or t least shaves regularly then you have some prime youth group movie potential.)
  • SI = Sermon Illustrations (Every scene that can be the basis of a preachy-session at the end of the night has to be very valuable)
  • ir = Improper Relationships (Varies to your youth group’s level of prudishness: could be a divorced and remarried woman [shock!], to a sassy gay couple [shockiest!], up to domestic violence or teenage abuse)

The goal is to for the final total to be close to 0.5 (though depending on your students you could go up to around .75…but anything beyond 1.0 is right out, apparently!).

There you go. Now you know how to rate Saved as compared to Book of Eli on the level of youth group appropriateness. Good luck.

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  1. says

    I remember a parent sending me a letter and quoting that passage from Matthew where Jesus says “if anyone should lead one of these little ones astray, it would be better for them that a millstone be tied around their neck and them cast into the sea.” I had shown the youth group “The Green Mile.” I had shown them Pleasantville too, among others. For me, the value of interpreting the movie together as a group outweighs the “inappropriateness” you may find. and you can always skip through gratuitous violence or sex or language if you know the movie well enough.

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