By Gabe LaMonica, CNN
(CNN)– A Baptist church in Albany, Georgia, is getting Hollywood's attention - the church, Sherwood Baptist, has developed a movie-production operation, and its latest offering opened last weekend as the Number Four top money-grossing film in the country.
The Christian-themed film, "Courageous," was developed in connection with TriStar, Sony, and Provident Films. It is meant to inspire fathers to not leave their families, to love their children, to not fail.
"Courageous," which opened in just 1,161 theaters this past weekend, depicts four police officers who share a commonality both as fathers and in their effort to become better ones. The movie and its characters, played by amateur actors and members of Sherwood Baptist are enveloped in various ways in a devastating tragedy.
According to boxoffice.com, which tracks movie response nationwide, put "Courageous" at the fourth position for the weekend with gross revenues of just over $9 million. The fifth- and sixth-place movies ("50/50" and "Dreamhouse") both opened at far more theaters but did not come close to the weekend box-office income of "Courageous."
"Courageous" takes on a timely topic - fatherhood.
The National Fatherhood Initiative, an organization dedicated to "educating and engaging fathers across the country," lists wide-ranging adverse affects that correlate to children growing up in fatherless households. Fatherless households are common in the United States, and there is no causal evidence linking fatherless households to increased suicide rates, incarcerations, aggression, behavioral disorders, delinquency, criminal activity, confused identities, low achievement, and criminal activity.
But the correlating evidence is so strong that in a country where the most recent census lists 24 million children - one in three - living apart from their biological fathers, it is remiss to discount it.
"No matter what your scenario is - you're single or married or whatnot - we want to really inspire and encourage men to see the value of their role as a dad," says Alex Kendrick, the co-writer, director, and actor who plays the character Adam Mitchell in "Courageous."
Kendrick, who co-writes with his brother Steven, says, "The reason we put it in a law enforcement setting was that, as you know, a motto from law enforcement is to serve and protect, and then we drew a correlation to what a father is supposed to do."
"We drew that correlation and said, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if we put this in the context of police officers who are also dads, and they may be heroic on the streets but it also takes courage to be a great dad - not just a good enough dad.'"
Ken Bevel, who plays Nathan Hayes, a sheriffs' deputy in the film, says that everyone has a dad and can relate to a fatherhood story. "We just pray that this movie resonates in the hearts of men and women and families across the globe," he says.
"If you go to Sherwood (Baptist Church) on any given day you will see a bunch of people that are in the movie," says Bevel, who played Kirk Cameron's fellow firefighter in "Fireproof," the last film from Sherwood Pictures.
"Our desire is not to become the next movie-making sensation or to make millions and millions of dollars at the box office," he says, "our desire is to see hearts changed and families touched."
Kendrick's character, Adam Mitchell, makes a general statement over grilled steaks to his fellow officers in the movie: "Half of the fathers in this country are already failing," he says, "and I don't want to be one of them."
The Christians at Sherwood Baptist Church, says Kendrick, "want especially men to walk out of the movie theater saying, "This movie makes me want to be a better dad and really a better man as a model and mentor to my children.'"
"You will see a difference and it will make a difference in our culture," he says.
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My kids live 3 hours from me... My 17 year old son is a tough cookie... My 14 year old daughter is a joy. I've tried everything to help my son... It's a battle that I seem to be losing.. Help?
I am still feeling the effects of this film. Using it as a teaching tool and it has inspired a "Courageous Faith" men's retreat I a organising in October. My blog pieces say why it has been powerful. I think the film is calling for a restoration of Christian manhood and is the antidote to forty years of confusion about what it means to be a man in today's world. http://alegacyofgrace.blogspot.com/2012/05/where-are-you-men-of-courage.html
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The movie is just SO AMAZING!!!! God is shining through those movies!!!!! Thank you brothers and sisters!!!!!!!!!
Just have to say that you hit the ball out of the park this time!!! I was moved to tears, to laughter, to suspense, to joy as I watched this movie. We weren't able to have kids, but it impacted me as I thought about our lack of fathers and how fathers are so much under attack in the US. I have prayed for fatherless boys, especially in the black community. It made me think about what my husband and I could do for the young men in the prison system. This is a timely, relevant film that everyone needs to see. I sincerely hope it 'goes viral'. Thanks!!!
This movie was great, it inspired me to be a stupendous father when I grow up. I love the book better then the movie. I like how the movie was filmed. Four great men trying to make a difference. To sum this up it did change my whole perspective of things. Thanks to all the people who made this movie and helped to make this movie. Keep up the stupendous work. I like this movie better then Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel although they were all inspirational movies. I hope all people on this earth watch this movie and make a difference in their life.
What an uplifting movie. Especially these days when there are so many movies and shows with bad themes. Congratulations to the makers, actors, volunteers, and all involved. Praise God!
The movie Courageous had a huge impact on my life after I saw it months ago. I made a decision to be the Godly leader for my family that God wants me to be. I had to take immediate action to change the course of my life. I have been seeking God daily and trying to do his will and not my own. I have been learning a lot about Discipleship and what it means to live a life like Jesus by loving and serving others instead of letting selfishness control my life.
I have learned that the more I seek God the more he reveals to me daily. The old me is dying daily and the new me is being created by Christ. I am trying to stay connected to the vine and Christ is removing the old dead branches from me and new life is sprouting. I have discovered a peace and joy that I never knew existed. I still have a lot of work to do and I struggle with impatience.
I have made the bold declaration of commitment. I purchased a copy of the Resolution from the Courageous movie. I signed the Resolution and had my wife and son sign it as my witnesses. I am committed to God and my family to be the spiritual leader God wants me to be.
I have connected with some Godly men through Heritage QC West church and through our Bible study. The men and I are friends that will hold each other accountable as we walk the path for God.
The story of my life. I have had a lot of ups and downs. I was going through life feeling like something was missing. I tried filling my life with worldly things and I still had this empty feeling. I was lost and didn't know my purpose.
I became a Christian without the complete understanding of what it meant to be like Christ. I was a backslider and a hypocrite. I believed in God and I knew I was saved, but I didn't live the life God wanted me to live as a Christian.
I have realized that I have wasted a lot of valuable time doing the wrong things. I don't know why it's taken me this long to get it!
I was broken and God is putting me back together. I am changing and becoming a new me , and some people said I would never change. I am thankful for the trials I have been through. I now understand why we go through some tough trials. I had a wakeup call 8 months ago. The trial I have faced made me change my priorities. I am trying to put God first daily. I have a personal goal to read the whole Bible this year. I am committed to doing this. I also have read a lot of books on marriage and how to be a Godly man. The more I read the Bible and other books , the more God reveals to me. I have a hunger to seek God. I want to live a life pleasing to God and others. I ask myself these questions. Am I living or waiting to live? Am I loving or waiting to love? Am I serving or waiting to serve?
Life is a gift. We don't earn it , can't control it , can't take a moment of it for granted. Every tick of the clock is a gift from God.
The joy of the Lord is my strength. Joy is strength and it's absence will create weakness. The key task for spiritual vitality: We must arrange life so sin no longer looks good to us.
I need to practice the discipline for celebration. The word holiday comes from the practice of holy days. I have learned the importance of discipline for personal transformation. I also learned that when we celebrate we exercise our ability to see and feel the goodness in the simplest gifts from God. I am starting to take delight in things today that I didn't notice when I was living in my lost , empty feeling life. True joy as it turns out , comes only to those who have devoted their lives to something greater then personal happiness.
We need to spend regular and significant amounts of time around life-enhancing , joy producing people , like Christian friends.
I now see the importance of regular church attendance ,serving , Bible study , home groups , youth groups , Christian friends at work and family. Time is the key to building great relationships with God , our spouse , family and friends. We make time for the most important people in our lives.
The whole point of my story is that I just wanted to share my transformation with others. I want people to know there is hope for the hopeless , rest for the weary , and love for a broken heart. The lost need to be led to the cross. My purpose isn't to be self-centered . My purpose is to be a leader , a disciple , a man of integrity , to serve and to love others. I want to show people there is hope through Christ.
I am on the winning team and I will have victory in this race of life.
Glory to God!!
God thank you for being so wonderful
What an outstanding movie!!!!!!!!!! Thank you and WoW... II was a single mom of two boys and I saw and lived with how they needed there father.
I have seen many christian films, but the two that your church has produced Facing the giants and courageous were so moving that I wept seeing each one. Please keep making these kind of films. I do not go to the movies often for it is so expensive but do not mind spending money on these films. They have a now message with healing present for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. I recommend these film to everyone I come in contact with. They are very powerful and I could tell that they have been bathe in prayer. These films challenge our christian walk and our faith. God bless all who have prayed and who have acted in these films and who have made these available. Mostly thanks to our Father and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Love in Christ ,Karen
This film is doing wonders. I loved it as a father and a husband – renewed my strength to be the person I should be. Wrote about it too – http://alegacyofgrace.blogspot.com/2011/11/courageous-more-than-film.html
I'm always amazed at how angry people are who are against Christians. Imean really, you can tell by the comments they're just furious at anyone who believes in the love and goodness of God. And my Christian brothers and sisters, when these people persecute you for your beliefs, remember God said... share the news, but if it's rejected brush the dust off your feet and move on. Don't cast your pearls before swine... So no point arguing, they've hardened their hearts (remember the parable of the seeds). Just pray for them.
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