This week, in more than 800 theaters around the country, FamilyLife will bring its redemptive story of parenting to the big screen. Whether you’re expecting your first child or you’ve emptied your nest—or are somewhere in between—every parent will be able to identify with Charlie and Alice in FamilyLife’s first feature film, Like Arrows.

The film does not follow the normal path of a movie release. It will be shown only on May 1 and 3, as a special event.

Each night’s showing is at 7 p.m., but before the film will be a roundtable discussion with the Kendricks and FamilyLife executive producers Dennis and Barbara Rainey and Bob Lepine. They talk about how the film came about, the parenting resource that it will launch, and how the themes of the film are capturing the hearts of moms and dads who see it.

Joys and challenges

Like Arrows follows the couple from the time they learn they are pregnant through the day they celebrate their 50th anniversary, surrounded by their children and grandchildren. The film’s different sequences reflect many of the joys and challenges nearly every parent faces in raising their children from birth through adulthood.

Parents who have viewed early screenings of Like Arrows have resonated with the authentic depiction of family life. They’ve noted that many of the film’s scenes reflect what plays out in their own living rooms.

But it’s not just the identification factor that has audiences speaking highly of the film. The central themes of hope, grace, and redemption are encouraging young parents to persevere through the hard days and older parents to celebrate the fruits of their labor, knowing that God is always at work in the lives of our children.

And audiences have been impressed by the production quality of the film. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since the movie was co-produced by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, creators of Fireproof, Facing the Giants and War Room.

Comments from early viewers

In the meantime, let’s hear from some of the people who saw the premiere showings in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Nashville, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and on the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It® cruise.

Brooke Sparks liked the movie for its honest portrayal of parenting:

Like Arrows is just real. I’m a stay-at-home mom with four children, and I felt like it really displayed the raw emotions within a family, different dynamics between each of your children, because they’re all different and they come with different needs. The movie itself was so encouraging. It really spoke to me. The thread of redemption was all the way through—from the beginning through the end. Which is just as it is in the Bible. Genesis to Revelation [is the] story of redemption through Jesus Christ, and how, because of Him, we can leave a legacy to the next generation.

Shawanda Dunagin was also impacted by the movie’s theme of redemption:

It hit home for me as a single mother. It gave me a lot of things that I can do to now to begin having more of a biblical home. What I got from the movie—and what I would hope to initiate in my own home with my child—is redemption, being able to say “I’m sorry for the mistakes that were made,” and then to start over, and to know that there’s still time. That’s the part that I left with—knowing that no matter how old they get, you still have time to make those things right. Like Arrows will help you learn how to relate better to your children, how to be a better leader in your home, and how to bring your family together with God being the center of your family. And the most important thing is forgiveness and redemption.

For Kate Redding and her husband, Josh, the movie has given them something that’s been missing:

One of the biggest things that I love about Like Arrows is the reminder that there’s hope. We have been married almost 18 years, and we’re firmly committed to family. But I feel like the older we get and our children get, the more we realize that we don’t have control. Sometimes it seems like it doesn’t matter how good of a parent you are. The answer is that we have to be strategic in our parenting. Then, we know that at least we’ve done what the Lord has told us to do. He’s the one in control.

Being strategic is a message from the film that struck a chord with Kellie Nelson as well:

What I got from the movie is that it’s never too late to be intentional about your parenting. My husband and I are a blended family, and we have five kids ranging from 12-9. So we have some older children who can be more difficult, and it’s sometimes easy to think, “Well, they’re almost out [of the home]—we’re good.” But to be intentional with them and to make sure that we’re still pointing them in the direction they need to be [headed] in and being that example for them through the Lord.

Laurence Lowe and his wife are just starting out their parenting journey with infant daughter, Addi. But the film has already helped him think of parenting in terms of leaving a legacy:

I thought it was an awesome movie. It really did inspire me to want to double down and recommit to leaving a legacy as a parent and be really intentional. It was really convicting. I saw myself, unfortunately, in some of those scenes where the parents were struggling and needing help. But [the film] definitely gives you hope in knowing that when you plant yourself and your hope in God’s Word, it really never is too late. He can continue to work through you and redeem you and allow you to leave a legacy.

Liz Shaffer and her husband, Jim, are at the other end of the parenting spectrum as the Lowes. Having just sent their sixth child from the nest and now expecting their first grandchild, they aren’t so much thinking of their own parenting but how to inspire and equip their children on their journey. “I just texted our daughter and son-in-law, who are just expecting, and told them that we’d like to take them to dinner and then to see Like Arrows. Sometimes when you see a movie or hear a sermon, something rises up in you that says ‘I can do this. I’m up to the challenge.’ That’s what strikes me about this movie. I think she’ll be very receptive.”

For a generation that is unsure about marriage and parenting, Like Arrows doesn’t shy away from how difficult it is, but also casts the vision for how important, Liz said.

“Like Arrows portrays that day-to-day grind of life and puts with it the purpose and the godliness and the direction that we need—like aiming arrows—to create a change for our family and for our society. If more families get to see this, it’s exciting to think how our society could change.”

It’s not just moviegoers who are enthusiastic about Like Arrows. Movie reviewer Bob Waliszewski of Focus on the Family’s Plugged In movie review website recognizes the balance of redemptive story and quality production.

“It was a film that didn’t present the family in a real neat tie-up-all-the-bows type situation. We have both the joys and the challenges. There’s not a person who would watch that can’t relate to both. That’s exactly why I like it so much. Here was a relationship that actually started in some dysfunction, and we have the firstborn who goes off the deep end. I won’t say whether he comes around, but I’ll just say that there are some great messages there.”

According to Like Arrows executive producer Bob Lepine, that’s the balance FamilyLife was seeking in the movie.

“Parenting is a moving theme. Any of us who have done it know that our emotions are all wrapped up in raising our kids. And so to try to bring some of those moments to a movie, we knew that we were on holy ground, and we had to do this in a way that people could look and say, ‘I’ve been there. I could relate to the joys and some of the challenges.’”

So come see yourself on the big screen, and catch a glimpse of how you can shape your family legacy for generations to come.

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