Christianity, Culture Converge at Lakeview Presbyterian

Worship, Bible study and filmmaking the norm at Vernon Hills church.

Editor's note: This story is part of a new series I'm working on that highlights our local places of worship. If you'd like to see your church featured in this series, contact me, editor Korrina Grom, at korrina.grom@patch.com.


In so many ways, Lakeview Presbyterian Church is like any other house of worship.

There are Bible studies, a solid women's group, an active youth program, Vacation Bible School. Like other churches, Lakeview Presbyterian is trying to scrape together funds to perform minor renovations, like replacing carpet.

"Worship is very important to us. The word of God is very important to us," said Senior Pastor Chris Gearhart. The church is part of the Presbyterian Church in America, a conservative branch of of the Presbyterian denomination. "Our hallmark is Christ. That, in a way, sets us apart. Our focus really is on Christ and the word of God.

"We feel that the Bible teaches that without God's grace, religion is just whistling in the dark. Without Christ, there is no grace," added Gearhart.

Lakeview Presbyterian is all about exploring a relationship with Christ — and taking the fruits of that relationship out into the community, whether it's through teaching people about filmmaking or reaching out to others.

For example, during the annual Vernon Hills Summer Celebration, the church sets up a tent to greet people and also opens its doors so people can use the restrooms.

"It's just because, hey, we're here," said Gearhart.

The church is also exploring how a person can perform his or her vocation in a Christian way, whether a person is an engineer, a teacher or anything in-between.

"We're exploring how to be a Christian in that vocation with integrity," said Gearhart. "What does that look like?"

Gearhart, whose other vocation is cinematography, brings that world and its culture into Lakeview Presbyterian Church in the hope of bringing the arts back to Christianity — and vice-versa.

"Story Matters"

"Our goal is to do excellent storytelling, not just Christian movies," said Gearhart.

"That's what the Bible is. It's a big screenplay, and God's telling the story," said Gearhart. "Sometimes it's ugly. Sometimes it's R-rated."

He has used his skills for commercials and movies, including films starring famous actors. "The church is very supportive of that. They think it makes me a better preacher. It keeps me grounded in the culture."

Gearhart wants Christians to be better at storytelling.

"Christianity used to own the arts. If you wanted to find the best artist or the best sculptor, you went to the church," said Gearhart.

Lakeview Presbyterian Church is holding a film conference, "Story Matters," at the church in September. The three-day conference will feature a variety of sessions that explore topics like "Cinematography as Story," "Making or Breaking Story: The Art of Editing" and "Story and Scripture."

Participants will also work with a professional film crew, using cameras like those used on movies like "Prometheus" and "The Amazing Spiderman," to work on a short film, Gearhart said. A script has already been written by a contracted script writer, he said.

Gearhart also hopes to host a film camp next summer for youths.

"Church can have that film-world feel."

Lakeview Presbyterian Church is located at 1100 Lakeview Parkway.

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