By DR. MICHAEL CATT
It’s easy to play it safe. Most people do. The risk of ridicule, laughter, mocking, failure, and being misunderstood are real. But if you never think outside the box, you fail to accomplish all that God has for you. In fact, my assumption is that there is no box. Why let others box you in when God has created man in His image? He is the Creator God, so I believe He designed us to be creative.
Remember coloring with crayons in a coloring book? As a kid, you just started coloring. You didn’t pay attention to the lines until an adult told you to color within the lines. At that moment, creativity began to be quenched in some small way.
Ten years ago, several members of the Sherwood Church staff were having conversations about where we saw our lives in the next five to 10 years. Our Media Minister at the time, Alex Kendrick, said, “I’d like to make movies, but I don’t think I can stay on a church staff and do that.” I simply replied, “Why not? Bring me a script and a budget and let’s look at it.”
Four movies later, Sherwood Pictures has impacted churches, families, marriages, and the culture. We see movies in general and Sherwood Pictures in particular as the stained glass windows of the 21st century. In the old days, you could walk through the streets of any city in Europe or England and see elaborate stained glass windows “telling the stories” of the Bible. Today, movies are an incredible avenue by which to tell stories.
What started out as a one camera, $20,000 project called Flywheel has become a viable, effective tool for churches and individuals to tell the stories of how God can give you a vision of something bigger than yourself (Facing the Giants), how He can redeem and restore a marriage (Fireproof), and how men can become better fathers (Courageous).
Sherwood Pictures’ films have been translated into dozens of languages and are distributed in over 125 nations. They’ve been shown on every continent, as well as on major airlines, Pay Per View and On Demand TV, subscription channels, and cruise lines.
There is rarely a week that goes by when someone doesn’t email our church or visit us to tell about the impact of the movies. This is amazing since we have shot our films on location in Albany, Georgia—not the movie capital of America. In addition, the bulk of our cast members are local talent. Only once have we used a named actor. Others are either church members, citizens of our region, or part-time actors. Hundreds of our members work behind the scenes in everything from catering to babysitting to security.
We made a radical decision at the time. We wanted to use entertainment to change lives. It was time to stop cursing the darkness and start turning on some lights. It’s easy to criticize Hollywood, but we decided to make an effort to have a voice in that culture. Cursing the culture doesn’t change it; showing the difference Christ can make in a person’s life will change it.
Since the day we made the decision to make movies, we’ve been featured in USA TODAY with a full-page article. We’ve been on the Dr. Phil Show, Hannity, Fox and Friends, Huckabee, Glen Beck, Good Morning America, Today, and many other media outlets. In addition, we’ve done hundreds of radio and print interviews. We’ve simply tried to be faithful to the doors God has opened for us.
One of the keys to Sherwood Pictures is our prayer ministry. We pray over every aspect of the process, from scriptwriting to casting, from shooting, editing, and final edit. We believe that in prayer we can go from good ideas to God ideas. There’s nothing mystical about it—it’s not a formula. It’s simply an understanding that we are making movies as a ministry, not a platform for building our egos.
Our goal is to invest in others. Movies have allowed us to do that. One day we will do something else. Movies are just one aspect of the ministry of this local church located in rural Southwest Georgia. We have been blessed to see how God has honored our obedience. If one life has been impacted or changed, it’s been worth it all. We simply want to do His will, His way. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
Dr. Michael Catt is Senior Pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church and Executive Producer of Sherwood Pictures in Albany, Georgia. Email him at Michael@sherwoodbaptist.net.