“Courage,” says filmmaker Stephen Kendrick, “is doing what is right when your feelings and circumstances are contrary to it. Everything about you is saying, ‘Don’t move forward,’ and you choose to do what pleases the Lord and what you know to be right.”
Like many in the church today, when Stephen and his brother, Alex, look at our country they see a “vacuum of leadership” in families. Many men are unsure of their roles in the home, and they are becoming passive. “Men are not leading their wives; they’re not leading their kids,” Stephen says.
The Kendrick brothers’ last movie, Fireproof, called men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. With their new movie, Courageous, they challenge men to, in Alex’s words, “walk in courageous faith and do what God has called us to do, specifically as fathers and men.”
I believe Courageous will have a powerful impact on men. It’s a compelling film that speaks directly to the longing in our hearts to be strong and courageous and to make the kind of commitment to our families that we know God desires.
It’s the story of a group of police officers in Georgia who are faced with a variety of challenges in their work and in their families. The primary character, Adam Mitchell, is a man who seems more committed to fulfilling his responsibilities at work than at home with his wife and two children. When a tragedy jolts Adam out of his complacency, he leads the men on a journey to learn what God expects of them as men. “There is so much in Scripture about being a father,” Adam says. “I never took the time to look it up.”
Courageous is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany; the first three were Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. Stephen and Alex co-write each film, and Alex directs. In Courageous he also plays the lead character, Adam Mitchell.
With each film there’s a discernable improvement in filmmaking, particularly in the overall quality of acting. And one thing I particularly enjoy about this movie is that its emphasis on faith doesn’t feel forced. The spiritual awakening of the key characters feels real, at least to me.
In an interview for FamilyLife Today (the programs air on September 28-30), the Kendricks said they are praying that Courageous will turn the hearts of men towards home. Alex described a week when they filmed the movie’s climactic scene outside on days when the temperature topped 110 degrees. “I remember being totally exhausted and going home and feeling like all I had was leftovers for my family,” he recalled. “And most men operate that way. They give their best to their job or to their friendships or to their hobbies and they give their families the leftovers. And we cannot exist that way.
“I was reminded, Lord, I have to have Your energy, Your strength, and Your wisdom to know how to do what You’ve called me to do and still give my family my best and my children my best, because whatever I give them, they’ll emulate that as they grow older.”
Stephen said that he and Alex were inspired by the example of their father, Larry, who grew up in a family with a history of alcoholism and immorality. “Our dad surrendered his life to Christ, and he said, ‘The buck stops here,’ and he was the one who said, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ And we grew up experiencing the blessings of Psalm 112, of a godly man of integrity, his children experiencing the blessings of God’s blessings on his life. And so we wanted that to happen in men’s lives.”
Courageous is the type of film that can inspire that type of change in men.