Movie's message inspires local men
It began with a movie produced by a church ministry that has inspired people across the country. And now several churches in Charleston have decided to put the movie's message of responsible Christian fatherhood into action.
The film "Courageous" appeared in theaters and on DVD last September. Produced by Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., it tells the story of four police officers who face personal challenges and discover answers through faith.
The Rev. Ed Grant and Elder Jim Roberts of Calvary Lutheran
Church in West Ashley went to see the movie last year, along with perhaps 20 others from church, and were inspired to bring its message to all the men at Calvary, they said.
Grant had a vision that this reached well beyond his church, he said. This was an opportunity to teach Christian values to and encourage self-reflection in many.
"What does it mean to be a Christian man?" he asked.
Soon after seeing the movie, Roberts attended a Gideon event and told the pastor of another church, Al Smith of Pinecrest Baptist, about Calvary's plan to start a weeks-long study culminating in the adoption of a "Courageous"-inspired men's resolution on Father's Day. Smith liked the idea.
"All of a sudden, another pastor said, 'You know what? We'd like to get in on that,' " Roberts said.
So he spent the better part of a day driving from church to church along Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and talking with a few people at churches on other streets, sharing the plan. Soon, three other pastors committed to the initiative: the Rev. Kevin Baird of Legacy Church in West Ashley, the Rev. Edward Johnson of Friendship Inspirational Church in Lincolnville and the Rev. Shay Gaillard of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in West Ashley. Others expressed interest.
"We see it as a way to elevate the call of the Christian man," Grant said.
Each participating church, working semi-independently, will screen the movie, then arrange for study sessions. They will coordinate their efforts and schedule a final event on Father's Day, June 17, when all participants will gather to recite "The Resolution for Men," a prepared text by Stephen and Alex Kendrick consisting of 11 promises to God.
It's important for men of faith to consider their roles and responsibilities, Roberts said.
"Men hold the key to the life of the church," he said. "It's time to man up and make a difference."
Gaillard said social forces today challenge the faithful and make it difficult to understand what a man's role is.
"We don't have a real path to manhood anymore in our culture," he said. "In a way, the church, too, has failed to challenge men to embrace responsibility."
By inspiring men to assert themselves in faith and family, he hopes women likewise will be inspired, Gaillard said.
"I have four daughters; I want my girls to know what to look for (in a man)," he said.
The themes in the movie "Courageous" deal with integrity, responsibility, grace and courage, Gaillard and Grant said.
And the film teaches its viewers that "you don't have to be burdened by your past," Gaillard said.
The organizers are inviting men and their families throughout the area to attend free movie screenings and join in the conversation, they said.
The Easter message on April 8 will include reference to the initiative, at least at some of the churches involved. Grant said he plans to preach on the passage from John 20:19-31 that describes Jesus' post-crucifixion appearance before the (all-male) disciples behind closed doors, which reinforced the faith of all (even if Thomas needed extra proof).
Grant, Gaillard and Roberts said it is easy to attend church but difficult to be a Christian man of integrity -- and impossible to shed all human failings. The goal of the initiative is to encourage men to strive toward a fulfillment of their covenant.
"It's not perfection," Grant said, "it's a new direction."
I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.