ALBANY, Ga. (BP) — “Courageous,” the next film from the makers of “Fireproof,” is more than an excuse to eat movie theater popcorn — it is a challenge for both fathers and churches.
“It’s not just a two-hour diversion,” said Elizabeth Fields of Provident Films, the movie’s distributor. “It’s entertainment with a purpose.”
“Courageous” opens Sept. 30 in 900 theaters across America and is the fourth movie produced by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. Previous movies included “Facing the Giants” and “Flywheel,” which was not played nationally in theaters.
The new movie underscores the importance of fathers, and shows how five different men, four of whom work together on the police force, struggle to become better fathers.
“Courageous” highlights fathers, but Stephen Kendrick, the movie’s producer, helped make sure it also shows the dynamics and importance of the whole family unit.
“In this movie, we do not downplay or undermine the importance of moms,” Kendrick said.
In this generation, he added, “the dads have fallen asleep at the wheel, and the mom is reaching over and grabbing the wheel and trying to keep the family alive and going.”
A father is essential for children, and those who grow up either without a dad — one in three according to a U.S. government statistic — are more likely to face trouble in many areas of their life.
For example, almost 40 percent of inmates grow up without a father, and children without a father are twice as likely to drop out of school, according to Department of Justice and government statistics.
While “Courageous” calls fathers to invest in their children, the movie’s producers also challenge churches to show their support for faith films.
People should watch the movie on opening weekend because those first few days are the “bellwether” for success and play a role in the fate of future Sherwood films, said Fields, who coordinates groups, or “action squads,” that want to bring the movie to their town.
“We wholeheartedly recommend that people go on opening weekend because the story we want to tell is that there is a need and a desire for faith films,” Fields said.
However, seeing the movie is just the beginning of how churches can use the movie as a ministry tool. Churches can buy tickets for opening weekend at the Courageous movie website (www.courageousthemovie.com) and can find resources at another website, CourageousResources.com.
Following are ways churches can support and use the movie for ministry:
— Buying all the tickets for a showing. Churches can rent out a theater so their congregation can see the movie together. Towns where “Courageous” is not playing can also get in the action and bring the movie in by pledging to purchase 1,000 tickets. (For more information go to CourageousMovie.com and click “Take Action.”)
— Having church at the movies. Instead of a traditional Sunday morning service, churches can call their theater to set up a morning showing and provide childcare back at the church nursery for families who attend.
— Giving tickets to chaplains, law enforcement officers and first responders.
— Inviting unchurched friends, coworkers or family to see the movie.
— Putting up posters and flyers to promote the movie on church campuses or in the community.
— Embedding the movie trailer on church websites. (To find the trailer, go to the movie’s website and click on “Click Here to Watch the Trailer.” Then copy the code beneath the video.) Scroll down to view the trailer at the bottom of this article.
— Planning a sermon or series on fatherhood either leading to or following the movie’s release.
— Using Courageous material to start a men’s ministry or to study in an existing one. (Resources, including small group guides, can be found at www.CourageousResources.com)
— Reaching out to men with an event like a breakfast or special service honoring fathers.
— Purchasing “The Resolution for Men” or “The Resolution for Women,” and sharing it with church members. All materials will be released in September and published by B&H Publishing Group.
“[The film] is needed because of the state of fatherlessness in America,” said Jim McBride, the movie’s executive producer. “In 36 percent of all homes, the children are fatherless. But all of us know that even beyond that there are a lot of homes where the dad is present physically but not mentally. I think this movie is much-needed because it’s going to challenge dads to step up into their role as husband and leader and father in the home.”
Whitney Jones is a student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and was an intern with Baptist Press. To read Baptist Press’ review of Courageous, visit http://www.bpnews.net/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=35579.
Watch the Couragious trailer here: