Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Scene still from movie ‘Courageous’
Fresh off the unprecedented success of feature films “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof,” the moviemaking team of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., has announced that it’s next creation, “Courageous,” will be released in theaters on Sept. 30, 2011.
The church’s executive pastor and executive producer of the popular Christian-themed films, Jim McBride, told WND “Courageous” follows the lives of 5 men of diverse races, ages and family situations to deliver a powerful message on fatherhood.
“Every man has a great deal of influence on the people in his home and his workplace,” McBride said. “We wanted to bring a movie that would call out the man in men across the country, would challenge them to step up in their role as a father and their role as a husband, to take responsibility for their families and their wives.”
Sherwood Pictures’ “Facing the Giants” became a moviemaking phenomenon in 2006 when the church’s small-budget film, using mostly church volunteers and costing only about $100,000 to make, caught on with churches and theatergoers around the country, grossing over $10 million domestically.
But for the creative talents behind “Courageous,” the motivation for making another film has nothing to do with financial success.
“We live in a time when 40 percent of children are born in a home with no father around,” said the film’s director and co-writer Alex Kendrick in a statement. “Our guide for moviemaking is simple: ‘What does the Lord want us to do?’ Every member of our team felt strongly that now is the time for the message that ‘Courageous’ brings to life.”
“Just because God does something one way, doesn’t mean he automatically wants you to do it again,” McBride told WND. “With every one of the films, we’ve gone to a season of prayer – me and Alex and Stephen [Kendrick] and [Senior Pastor] Michael Catt. We went into a season of prayer after ‘Fireproof,’ just to see if Lord wanted us to make another film. At the end, we felt the answer was yes.
“We felt God impressing some things on us,” he continued, “so many children in America already live without their father, and when you look at what fatherless homes produce … those families tend to have more health and psychological struggles: 63 percent of suicides, 90 percent of runaways and 71 percent of high school dropouts come from homes where the father not present.
“We’re hoping that men are going to see through ‘Courageous’ that they don’t need to be in an island, that they need other men to hold them accountable and challenge them on a regular basis, to see the tremendous impact of when they abandon their families and abdicate that role in the home and workplace,” he said.
McBride told WND that despite the success of “Fireproof,” audiences can expect “Courageous” to include several additional efforts to increase quality, including more original music, more camera angles, more action, more stunts and an ensemble cast that portrays five men, four of whom are policemen, some single and straight out of college, others older with children.
“On multiple levels, this is an advance for Sherwood Pictures,” he said.
And though the production company is again primarily using church members in front of and behind the camera, “Courageous” does include a few actors from outside the church, even including cameo appearances by members of the Duggar family, stars of the TLC reality program “19 Kids and Counting.”
On the set of “Courageous,” Jim Bob Duggar, father of one of the most famous families in America, who also appears in the film with some his children in a 5K race scene, told Alex Kendrick how much he appreciates the ministry of Sherwood Pictures.
“I think your movies have actually impacted lives,” Duggar said. “You’ve saved marriages, you’ve rebuilt relationships in families, and I just want to thank you from the Duggar family for how you’ve impacted our lives.”
“From a mother’s perspective,” added Jim Bob’s daughter-in-law, Anna, “seeing how the wives honor the fathers and the dads of the home because dads, they want to be courageous, they want to be the hero, but they need the support of a loving wife saying, ‘You are courageous, you are the man of the house, you are a wonderful father to the children,’ and it’s neat how ['Courageous' shows] that principle.”
A video on “the heart of ‘Courageous’” can be seen below:
“We’re looking back and seeing thousands of e-mails that come in, where people communicate how the movies have called them to action and life change,” McBride told WND. “That’s what makes Sherwood pictures so unique: You don’t just watch them and say, ‘Good movie,’ and walk out; there seems to be a desire that God places on people’s heart to do something with their lives based on what they saw.”
McBride is quick to point out, however, that the movie crew and people of Sherwood Baptist Church don’t take credit for the films’ achievements.
“First, we would attribute every bit of success of these films to God’s hand and leading,” McBride said. “After those seasons of prayer, when the people of God at Sherwood, working together in unity, in one accord, all of us signing on to do what we do to the glory of God and not personal gain, when we do that in unity, God shows up in power. And He is the source of all success at Sherwood Pictures.
“We look at it like the little boy who gave Jesus five loaves and fishes,” he said, “and the Lord turned around and fed thousands, and the boy sees all that and says, ‘Was that my lunch?”