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Sherwood Baptist Church, in Albany, Ga., has taken a bold step. They’ve decided to make movies as part of their ministry. Their first film, Fireproof, was a success in the evangelical community. It was their call to a vision of Christian marriage.

Now they’ve come out with Courageous, a visual treatise on Christian fatherhood. Four men, fellow police officers, face fatherhood challenges of different sorts, and they form a community for each other as they move forward.

Certainly there are consequences to the lack of involved, Christian fathers in our society—it’s a problem that deserves our attention. However, I find it unlikely that this preachy film, which appears to operate on the “tell, don’t show” philosophy, will effectively reach beyond the particular segment who backs it. If unchurched people don’t want to hear preaching at church, why would they want to hear it at the movies?

I found portions of the film convincing, and the production values of these movies are long way from Christian films of years past. Still, one part of the storyline has some apparently Christian businessmen “testing” a new employee in a way that can only be described as cruel. It is meant to be part of the theme of being tested, but it should never have made its way into the story.

The movie is well-intended, and it will likely be popular with Fireproof fans. And the marketing engine is chugging along with a plethora of Courageous-inspired books, greeting cards, t-shirts, and hats available at Christian retail stores. But the film could have more effectively told its story in less time and far fewer words, not to mention a couple of tangents in the storyline that I would prefer were cut altogether.

If it seems I’m being particularly harsh on a movie put out by fellow Christians, you’re right. I see churches being pushed to be part of the marketing process for faith-based movies, and if we are going to be identified with them, then I want to see movies that are excellent. I want to see stories and characters that challenge viewers to examine themselves without writing out their responses for them. I want to see Christians make movies that use the art of filmmaking to give light in the darkness and clues for exploring the mystery, rather than a live-action tract. Now that would be truly courageous. (Sherwood Pictures)

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