Meeting the demands and deadlines of your media schedule is often frustrating. Our weekly routine becomes so intense that it’s sometimes hard for us to “serve the Lord with all your heart” when Sunday morning (or that special event) is breathing down your neck. The lack of funding, resources, time and untrained volunteers become great excuses. We’ve been given creative talents, but we can’t seem to find the time or passion to use them. After all, we all can’t be Mel Gibson… or could we?
There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing someone’s life change for the glory of God. However, as our culture continues to change, I’m learning that our methods need to expand to reach the lost as well. That leads me to a project my church did last year to do just that.
In the spring of 2002, our staff read a national survey that claimed that television and movies were more influential in American culture than religion. As the Associate Pastor of Media for Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, I asked the question, “Could we make a movie to reach our community?” Although we shared a number of concerns over the idea, we eventually decided to give it a shot. Believing that God has better ideas than Hollywood, I asked Him for a story and a way to shoot it. I was driving down the road one day when the idea for Flywheel hit me. I shared it with our Executive Pastor, and he said to go for it.
After doing research on the web, I decided to shoot on digital video with the Canon XL1s. Our method for editing would come from Apple’s Final Cut Pro software and a Mac G4 computer. For these items and the accessories to go with them, I needed $20,000. I asked God to provide them when He was ready for us to move.
This was where I learned a huge lesson. There is a difference between a “good” idea and a “God” idea. Good ideas come and go all the time, but God ideas come with a vision and road blocks that only He can get you through. I believed this was a God idea. Therefore, I reasoned that if I stepped out in faith, He would provide our needs. I presented the vision whenever the Lord gave me the opportunity, and before long, members of our church had given over $15,000 to the project. During this time, I worked on the script for the movie with my brother, Stephen.
After casting the project with members of the church, we asked God for locations at which to shoot. Once again, members opened their businesses and homes to meet the needs of the story. With a crew of inexperienced helpers, we shot the movie from November 2002 to March of 2003. The church budget helped with the last few dollars needed to finish the project.
Editing the movie was tedious and difficult, but when we prayed for help to get past the hurdles, we ended up with a two hour movie, complete with an original score. The next step was to show it to as many people in the community as possible.
You can’t just walk in to your local theater and say, “Please show my movie”. But with God, all things are possible. We asked God for a favor, and when we approached our local Carmike movie theater with the idea, they had to call their home office for direction. The home office said to show it for a week as an investment in the community, and after setting up a powerful video projector and DVD player in their projection room, we were on our way.
What happened next shocked us! We received promotion from the local newspaper and television news, who did stories on our efforts. When the theater sold out, both we and the theater were stunned. Of their 16 screens, we were their second highest grossing movie. The home office kept telling the theater to extend our time, and what started out as a quick run ended up as a six week stay! The home office then opened the door to two more cities to continue our showings, and after six more weeks of presenting Flywheel, 6,200 tickets had been sold for the movie. Carmike graciously split the proceeds with us, and our investment had been returned. Then the response began to roll in.
Hundreds of letters, emails, and phone calls came from men who had rededicated their marriages and their businesses to the Lord. Numerous calls came from viewers who had accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. Still others came from moviegoers who were grateful just to see a clean, powerful motion picture. We were overwhelmed!
We decided to release the movie on home video in the summer. Video distributors began asking for it, and before long, we were selling it in North America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. As of this writing, over 10,000 copies have been sold. Following the video release, several Christian television networks requested permission to air it. The Inspirational Network, Family Net, Faith TV, and Cornerstone TV have now aired it numerous times.
The ministerial and financial response from Flywheel has given us reason to continue this ministry, and today we are in production on our second movie, Facing the Giants, due this fall. With the success of Flywheel, we have been able to increase the scope and budget of this new project, and we believe a wider theatrical release will be possible.
My faith has increased from working on these projects. They are very difficult, but extremely fulfilling. To know that people will be impacted by these stories for years to come gives us joy and motivation to continue the work. To do something big is never easy, but when it is a God idea, He already has the methods, resources, and people to make it a reality. Nothing is impossible with Him, and when we operate with that mindset, the results will be overwhelming! Let me encourage you to pray for a God given vision of how you can use the resources He’s given you to impact eternity! To God be the glory!