Having just turned 18, Grace Trey aspires to more than just singing at her church, where the worship leader is her father—a former pop star. So, with the help of Mossy, her dad’s former manager, Grace records a cover version of her dad’s old Top-10 hit, runs off to Los Angeles, and begins to taste the kind of stardom she’s always dreamed about.

Yet with each rung of the ladder she climbs, Grace feels more and more pressure to compromise her values, further straining her relationship with her parents. Will everything she experiences lead her to reject her faith … or rediscover it? GRACE UNPLUGGED opens in theaters October 4.

Grace Unplugged is an inspirational, family-friendly film that I will highly recommend to our students when it releases in theaters next month. This film has the legitimacy of a full Hollywood release, the production values are high and the story is fantastic. For a long time Christian films were burdened with painfully limited budgets, cheeseball acting and looking like they were made in 1992 and destined to be straight to video. With Grace Unplugged, those days are furiously buried and gone. Can I get an amen?

After screening the film a few weeks ago, I think there are a few reasons why youth workers will love this movie for their students:

It will help students … begin to understand grace for the prodigal
At its heart, the story of Gracie Trey is a modern take on one of Jesus’ most famous parables. Is there grace for when we mess up? Will I be loved if and when I return? How have I even become this person? Every so often the film deftly reminds the audience that when we run away we still have the Father running out to meet us. It would be easy to circle up as a group after leaving the theater together and talk about God’s grace that is readily available to each one of us.

It will help students … be encouraged to stand up for what they believe in
The second reason I’m encouraging teenagers to see Grace Unplugged is to be inspired to live out their faith in the real world. The story clearly encourages students to be in the world but not of it. For too long Christians have avoided show business or performance careers because it is extremely secular – which also means it makes it a great place for our light to shine bright. If your students are thinking about heading to a secular college or career, I think this will film will accurately portray some of the challenges and temptations ahead, as well as demonstrate how God will use you in incredible ways in those situations.

It will help students … be warned about being blinded by the spotlight
I love Grace’s spirit throughout the film – she has a dream and is going to stop at nothing to get it. Unfortunately the ‘stop at nothing’ mindset begins to clearly contradict her faith and morals. The film encourages students to follow their dreams and at the same time to also follow the narrow way. Not an easy balance, and one she navigates poorly in the beginning and very well in the end.

All in all, I’m thrilled this is a film we don’t have to overtly label a “Christian film” and it stands on it’s own merit with great storytelling, high quality production values and a strong cast with a positive and clear message. Grace Unplugged is Rated PG for thematic elements and brief teen drinking. Watch the trailer here, and make sure your students see this film when it releases October 4th!