DAVIDSON – When Bethel Presbyterian Church rented out two theaters at Our Town Cinemas to watch “Son of God,” it joined the likes of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, which rented out eight multiplexes in Orange County, Calif. for the same purpose. 

Since “Son of God” opened Feb. 28, churches across the country have rented out theaters to encourage their congregants to watch the film and invite friends.

Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey promoted the movie directly to churches, including Bethel, encouraging them to buy tickets in bulk and offering companion materials, such as posters and evangelistic booklets. They also got mega-pastors like Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen to offer their endorsements. Rick Warren has produced a DVD for small groups based on the movie.

Bethel’s youth and family pastor, Heath Burchett, organized a March 16 viewing both as a community builder and as a way to support Christian film. The 160 tickets sold out quickly, and Burchett said they could have rented out the entire 240 seats.

Many in the Bethel Church audience called the film moving and powerful. Many cried.

Teenager Sloane Addler, who is in the Bethel youth group, said, "I felt God.”

“Son of God” is basically the Jesus part of Burnett and Downey’s TV mini-series “The Bible, which was nominated for two Emmy’s in 2013. Pastor Burchett said that probably 70 percent of the Bethel viewers had heard of or had seen the miniseries. So why see it again?

Jill Cain, wife of Bethel’s senior pastor Bill Cain, said, “It was especially powerful watching the movie together as a group.”