Grace Productions Set to Release “The Essential Church” Docufilm

NRB | July 27, 2023 | Member News

A new film from Grace Productions takes viewers to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as leaders of local churches were forced to navigate a serious dilemma: whether to obey the directives of government or submit to a higher authority. The film “The Essential Church” by NRB member John MacArthur and Grace Productions will explore the unwavering determination of the Church to carry out its vocation in times of crisis, tension, and adversity.

This feature-length film, opening in theaters on July 28, 2023, brings viewers inside the story of three pastors who moved to reopen their churches in defiance of government restrictions, despite the threat of fines and possible imprisonment. In a show of gross hypocrisy, state and local officials had ordered houses of worship to shut their doors while permitting deadly, destructive riots to sweep through major cities unchecked. As government mandates increasingly burdened and limited the work of local churches, it became clear that defending the faith in such an environment would require courage over compliance. “The Essential Church” tells the story of Christian leaders who rose to this challenge.

The docufilm invites viewers to learn from history, taking an unflinching look at instances where the Church has been at odds with government authority. Framing contemporary challenges through the lens of the past, the film showcases those who endured persecution for their faith, showing how the unwavering faithfulness and dedication of the early church is the foundation upon which the modern Church must stand. As the culture grapples with the relationship between church, state, and human freedom, “The Essential Church” serves as a poignant reminder of the universal Church’s divine mandate to proclaim the Gospel at all times.

Through the feature-length documentary’s compelling narratives and personal testimonies, John MacArthur invites believers and non-believers alike to reflect on the essential role of the Church in culture and the urgency of safeguarding religious freedom in the modern era. “The Essential Church” is a Grace Productions film, a ministry of Grace Community Church, and will be distributed by AMC Theaters nationwide on July 28. To learn more and purchase tickets, please visit

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