|JACKSONVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., spoke to the Florida Baptist Witness about his church's new movie "Courageous" during a visit to the Pastors' Conference at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
Sherwood has produced four films: "Flywheel," "Facing the Giants," "Fireproof," and then Courageous. Each has grossed more than its predecessor.
On its opening weekend in September, Courageous finished No. 4 in total gross, No. 1 in per-theater average, and it was the No. 1 new movie.
Courageous was released on DVD Jan. 17.
FLORIDA BAPTIST WITNESS: Is this enough? What are your plans for the future?
MICHAEL CATT: We approach every film as -- that's it until God tells us to do another one. We don't want to presume on the Lord. We don't want to fall into the trap of, "Well that was successful, let's do that again." We've always kind of approached it as -- we don't want to be the 87th annual singing Christmas tree when nobody really wants to do it anymore, but you've just always done it. So the first thing we do is to get a word from God -- Does He want us to do another one?
Second, what will the subject be? Then, what needs to be involved in all that and where are we gonna go with it? We have been blessed. God has been good. We can honestly say that if we never made another one, we did what God told us to do. If we make four more, than we'll do what God tells us to do. One of the keys for us is, success is not what it is at the box office. Success for us is the emails we get; the letters we from people's whose lives have changed; from men who stand up; from couples who get back together -- that's really success for us. The other stuff is just secondary. That's really hard for people to imagine.
WITNESS: According to reports you have been successful at the box office, however.
CATT: By some measures it is successful. I was interviewed by a national magazine last year and the guy doing the interview said, "You are the standard bearer for Christian movies." I said, "You'll never hear me say that because I think that could become pride for us." I think it could be a crack in the door where the devil could get to us and twist our hearts and forget it is God's grace that allowed us to do this. It's a church that prays. It's a church in unity. You couldn't do this without prayer and unity and cooperative spirit within the church. And of all places -- Albany, Ga. I mean, who would of thought that? So I always try to walk very softly through all of this and remind the church, God can always find somebody else.
WITNESS: What is a recent example of what you consider success?
CATT: I got an email from a friend. They had a men's movie night, which is kind of weird -- to do a men's movie night. They had 500 men at it and they had five men come to Christ that night. They had many, many men that stayed around and talked and got counseling and prayed. Those are the kinds of things that are starting to roll in now -- people showing the movie in their churches.
We stopped in Tifton, Ga. on the way down and four people there recognized Ken and one said, "I was just a blubbering mess, I was just crying all over the place" . It's rewarding to know that you do something that God can use. But it still goes back to: It's our five loaves and two fish. It still goes back to that. We've got five loaves and two fish and that's it and if we give them to God, He does what we can't do.
WITNESS: When I watched the preview of "Courageous" last year during the Jacksonville Pastors' Conference I thought this would make an awesome Father's Day movie. But the movie came out in September.
CATT: We just knew we wanted to deal with dads and with fatherhood. We are doing a simulcast with LifeWay, on Father's day weekend. ... Alex and Stephen , and myself. ... LifeWay wants to do a whole emphasis on Father's Day from the simulcast to that Sunday being a resolution Sunday and men stepping up to the plate.
You know we always preach sermons on Mother's Day. , "Here's what a mom ought to be," and then on Father's Day we kind of trash the guys and say, "You're all a bunch of jerks and you need to straighten up," which may be true, but the purpose of that would be, "Guys, let's step up to what God's called us to be."
WITNESS: What's been your greatest challenge with Courageous?
CATT: I think the greatest challenge was probably making a movie that men would watch. In some ways "Fireproof" was like a chick flick with a little action in it and "Courageous" was a lot more narrow in its focus. The more you narrow the focus you have to think, "Who's the audience." It was men. We knew that was a narrow focus, we knew that could affect box office; it could affect a lot of things. So it's kind of gone from "Facing the Giants," "Invite your family, bring your kids, bring the football team," "Fireproof," "Hey I know a couple who needs to see that," to "Courageous," "I know a guy who needs to see that." But for us it's never been about, "Well, if this one was this big, then this one ought to be bigger." It's just that's where God's taken us on the journey of who we needed to address and what we needed to address Continued...