'Courageous' is helping to change lives
Posted on Oct 28, 2011 | by John Evans
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (BP) -- Nine hundred tickets to the new film "Courageous" made a difference in Douglasville, Ga.
As representatives from eight local churches, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Douglasville Police Department met together, pastor Steve McFall told them his plan.
`"Brother Steve just laid out the idea to them that we would like to have a coalition that would join together," said Mary Bunch, minister of education at Central Baptist Church, where McFall is pastor. "We would coordinate it, if they would be willing to invest in purchasing a ticket for every law enforcement person within our county plus one [additional ticket for each officer], so that they could either take their spouse or a friend."
The churches, police department and sheriff's office contributed to the effort, and 900 tickets were purchased for officers to see the movie, which follows five men -- four of whom are policemen -- as they try to become better husbands and fathers.
The Douglasville churches developed response cards for their showings, and 17 people indicated they prayed to receive Christ.
"[T]he first night [that officers] went, they just passed the word about Courageous, how it had touched them, and the word just spread like wildfire," Bunch said. "It was just incredible."
First Baptist Church in Salisbury, N.C., also reached out to law enforcement with 125 tickets for the movie. Given the higher-than-average divorce rate among officers' families, the church thought Courageous would prove helpful, said Rod Kerr, First Baptist's minister of education and a licensed professional counselor.
"[Afterward], [t]hey said the pressures [of being in law enforcement] are certainly portrayed in the movie," Kerr said. "And also the personal family issues, how you can get so wrapped up in serving other people but don't serve the people that are most important to you, your own family."
The impact of Courageous is being felt beyond its sold-out theaters, into churches where men and women in all walks of life are struggling with many of the issues the movie's characters tackle.
"My counseling load has never been as high as it is right now with couples wanting their marriages helped," said Michael C. Smith, senior pastor of Norview Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va. "And this idea [in the movie] of men being godly men, ... protecting their wives by being good dads to their children and pointing them to God through their own lives and through the biblical standards of family, just reinforces what we try to teach from the pulpit."
Norview Baptist is working through the Courageous Living Bible Study based on the movie, and Smith is preaching four sermons -- in sync with resources related to the movie -- on courageous Old Testament figures such as Abraham and Elijah.
Other churches also are digging deeper into the message of the film. Bunch said Central Baptist Church is going through two books also related to the movie, "The Resolution for Men" and "The Resolution for Women," which challenge men and women to embrace the responsibilities related to their marriages, children and homes.
"I have seen men coming to Bible study that have never come to Bible study before," Bunch said. "And we have men within our church that have actually asked our pastor if he would do a 'Resolution Service.'"
A Resolution Service (or Resolution Sunday) involves church members publicly committing to follow the resolution developed by the officers in the movie to be a better father, husband and follower of Christ.
"Having a Resolution Sunday would be kind of like having baptism service," Smith said. "Why do you do public baptism? You do it because it's a public statement of your commitment to Christ. A Resolution Sunday would be a public commitment to being a godly father and husband."
Smith, at Norview Baptist, said that with increased pressure on American families, he's thankful God has raised up Sherwood Baptist Church -- which produced the movie, along with the earlier "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof" -- to use Courageous to confront and encourage men to live up to their God-ordained roles.
"I think God has really blessed [Sherwood Baptist] and given them leadership that has really done something meaningful and significant for the body of Christ," Smith said. "Not just the Baptist world, but for the body of Christ at large and in general."
John Evans is a writer based in Houston.