Movie Clip Discussions

Empire Strikes Back – faith

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(20th Century Fox, PG, 1980)

Main Point of Discussion: True belief is backed by appropriate action.

The Movie Clip: “I don't believe it!”

This is part five in the wildly popular Star Wars saga (though it was originally the second in a trilogy). The battle continues to rage between the Rebel Alliance and the evil Empire in this installment, and the central character, Luke Skywalker, is now engaged in advanced Jedi training while his friends Han Solo, R2D2, C-3PO, and Princess Leia are pursued by Darth Vader in his attempt to destroy them all.

The Empire Strikes Back is just what it sounds like: the counteroffensive of the bad guys after losing their infamous Death Star in the previous movie. Skywalker, who is beginning to recognize his destiny, is sent to a strange planet to train with a Jedi Master named Yoda. Unfortunately for Luke, he crash lands his starfighter. But that’s just part of the Rebels’ problems in this movie.

Introducing the Clip:
Everybody has seen – or at least knows about – Star Wars. It’s the epic battle of good versus evil using lightsabers and laserblasters. Knowing that he needs further training in the way of the Jedi, our hero Luke Skywalker goes in search of the best of the best, Master Yoda. However, just prior to this scene I want to show you, Luke crash lands his starfighter on a strange planet (which happens to be Yoda’s). His ship is a wreck, but even worse, it’s submerged in a marshy bog. For one of Luke’s training exercises, Yoda tells Luke to raise the starfighter using the Force. Let’s see what happens.

Scene Script:

BEGIN CLIP AT 1 hour and 9 minutes and 41 seconds (in chapter 31)

    Luke: (Using the Force, he tries to raise his starfighter; he does well at first, but then fails.) I can’t. It’s too big.

    Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by your size do you? Hmm. Hmph! And well you should not for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you – here, between you and me, the tree, the rock, everywhere! Yes! Even between land and the ship. (Luke walks away in frustration.)

    Luke: You want the impossible.

    Yoda: (After Luke is gone, Yoda attempts to raise the starfighter and is successful. Luke stands amazed at the feat.)

    Luke: I don’t…I don’t believe it.

    Yoda: That is why you fail.

END CLIP AT 1 hour and 13 minutes and 21 seconds (before the scene change).

Transition Statement:
Did you see how important belief is for action? When Luke didn’t believe he could raise his ship, he couldn’t! When Yoda did believe, he could! Luke doubted, and as a result, failed. We’re gonna spend the next few moments talking about faith vs. doubt and how it affects our ability to do incredible things for God. Let’s face it–lots of people talk a good talk about their beliefs, but do their actions back them up?

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we start, let’s all take a turn to share our names using our best Yoda impressions.
  2. ASK A FEW: What are some silly things that children believe in, that affect the way they behave?
  3. ASK A FEW: What does it mean to “believe in” or “have faith in” something? (Leaders: You're looking for something along the lines of putting your trust in something, understanding something to be real, dependable, etc.)
  4. ASK A FEW: What are some examples of how our actions reflect our belief(s)?
  5. ASK A FEW: If people’s actions do not support their beliefs, what does that say about what they truly believe?
  6. Tell This Story (The Great Blondin):
    There was a great tightrope walker known as The Great Blondin. In the late 1890s he strung a tightrope across Niagara Falls, and then before ten thousand screaming people, inched his way from the Canadian side of the falls to the U.S. side. When he got there, the crowd began shouting his name, “Blondin! Blondin! Blondin!” Finally he raised his arms, quieted the crowd and shouted this to them, “I am Blondin! Do you believe in me?” The crowd shouted back, “We believe! We believe! We believe!” Again he quieted the crowd and once more he shouted to them, “I'm going back across the tightrope but this time I'm going to carry someone on my back. Do you believe I can do that?” The crowd yelled, “We believe! We believe!” He quieted them one more time and then he said, “Who will be that person?” The crowd went dead. Nothing. Finally, out of the crowd stepped one man. He climbed on Blondin's shoulders and for the next three and a half hours, Blondin inched his way back across the tightrope to the Canadian side of the falls. The whole crowd said that they believed, yet only one man truly believed.

  7. ASK A FEW: In the story I just read, how was the one man's belief different from everyone else's beliefs?
  8. ASK A FEW: What does the rest of the crowd’s lack of action make you think of them?
  9. Read the following passage:

      Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)
      22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

      25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It's a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

      27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.”

      28″Lord, if it's you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

      29″Come,” he said.

      Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

      31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

      32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

  10. ASK SOMEONE: What happened when Peter stepped out of the boat?
  11. ASK SOMEONE: Why did Peter fail? (Hint: look at Jesus’ words in verse 31.)
  12. ASK A FEW: Who would you have rather been that night, Peter (who failed) or the other guys (who never even tried)? Why?
  13. ASK A FEW: It appears as though “not believing” not only discourages you to act in the first place (like the crowd in the Great Blondin story) but also seems to cause failure in our attempts (like Luke Skywalker and Peter). Do you agree or disagree, and why?
  14. ASK A FEW: Taking into account what we've talked about so far, what are some areas in your lives that might reflect a “lack of belief,” where you're not exactly backing up what you truly believe with action?
  15. ASK A FEW: What do you think would happen if you were to ACT on your beliefs in these areas?
  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: In what way will you take ACTION this week concerning something you claim to believe?

Tonight, we watched a movie clip with one of the greatest heroes in the galaxy struggling with what he believes. Luke Skywalker doesn’t truly believe he could act in such a great way, and consequently, he doesn’t. But we also heard the story of the Great Blondin who shows over and over again how good he is at tightrope walking, causing the people to “believe” he's great. But when he asks them to put their actions where their beliefs are, only one person did.

Unfortunately, these things happen to Christians, too. Take Peter for example. He started off believing strongly, and even acting strongly. That’s good, because he got a lot further than any of the other disciples in the boat! But the second his fears and doubts took over, he failed at what he was doing.

If we’re not careful, we might end up like Luke Skywalker, saying we don’t believe. And if we don’t believe, we will never have the relationship with God that He wants with us. But we could also be like the crowd at Niagara Falls the day the Great Blodin walked across them on a tightrope. We “say” we believe, but when it comes down to acting on our beliefs, we cower away.

True belief absolutely requires action. We gotta learn a lesson from Peter’s failure. Sure, we need to let our beliefs “get us out of the boat,” but we can’t EVER let fear or doubt take over, because when it does, we fail. The world doesn’t need another Christian who says, “I believe! I believe! I believe!” but doesn't act on it.

Let's prove to the world that our belief in Christ and God's amazing plan for our lives are more than just a bunch of words. Let's show them how we live in action.

Close in Prayer


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. Michelle
    October 19, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Excellent topic, movie, illustration, and discussion questions!

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