ALBANY, Ga. – For almost a decade Alex and Stephen Kendrick have wooed theatergoers with faith-based films that garnered the attention of Hollywood and were viewed by audiences around the world.
The string of hits kept their fans thirsting for more, beginning with Flywheel: The Movie in 2003, and progressing to Facing the Giants in 2006, Fireproof in 2008, and Courageous in 2011. Rarely resting between the release of one hit and the writing and filming of the next, the brothers have decided to break with tradition and step away from filmmaking for a season.
Their next venture? A book.
“Love Dare for Parents,” a spinoff from the popular “Love Dare” from the Fireproof movie, will be “a 40-day journey of dares to help parents communicate Christ’s love to their children,” Stephen Kendrick explained.
Christian Index photo by Joe Westbury
Stephen, left, and Alex Kendrick relax for a few moments in the casting studio at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. The brothers, who serve as the brain trust behind the stream of faith-based movies flowing out of the church, are writing a book and taking a break from movie making.
“We want to help parents win the hearts of their children so they can win their ears,” he said.
Ever since the original book which focused on strengthening marriages was featured in the 2008 movie, parents have requested a similar book to help them influence their children for Christ. B&H Publishing, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, expects to release it this summer.
“It’s not easy to make a movie, but for us it’s much easier to work with film than with print,” Stephen Kendrick said. “Writing a book is like writing 15 term papers, one after the other. It’s tedious, grueling work.”
Each of their movies was accompanied by a novel, but those were co-written with professional authors. All of those eventually made it onto a New York Times bestseller list.
The brothers also wrote three books from scratch – “The Love Dare,” “The Love Dare Day by Day” devotional for couples, and “The Resolution for Men.”
What comes next for the duo remains unknown. What is known is that they want to take time to follow God’s direction before assuming there will be another movie.
“We have not taken it for granted that we’ll always be making movies. We always go back to square one and seek the Lord’s direction before proceeding,” Alex Kendrick said. “Making a movie takes a year or two out of your life, time away from your family and friends; why would we want to do that if the Lord isn’t in it?”
His younger brother readily agrees.
“Movies don’t want to be made,” Stephen Kendrick said. “They take years of planning, writing, shooting. … There are so many potential problems to stop the production timeline. It’s like walking through a minefield with cast problems, budgeting problems, script problems, marketing and distribution problems.”
But the rewards are immense.
Fireproof was released on DVD in 75 countries and Courageous in 76 countries. In March 2012 nearly 1,000 police officers accepted Christ in a South American nation after watching the movie.
“You get these reports from all around the world and say to yourself, ‘Is this for real?’ That’s when you know it’s worth all the blood, sweat and tears,” Stephen Kendrick said.
In addition to their filmmaking responsibilities the brothers are staff members at Sherwood Baptist Church where Stephen, 39, serves as senior associate pastor/preaching and Alex, 42, is associate pastor. They speak highly of the support they have received from pastor Michael Catt and his vision to reach the world from Albany, Ga.
“Michael has been a selfless pastor, demonstrating Christ-like leadership and equipping his staff for success. This is the most loving and praying church I have ever been in,” Stephen Kendrick said.
Reaching the world is exactly what has occurred through the movies and books that have rolled out of Sherwood Pictures based at the church. A good bit of the proceeds from the movies have been spent around the world to impact nations for Christ.
Funds were used to purchase motorbikes for pastors in the Sudan so the men, informally known now as “mobile missionaries,” don’t have to walk and can cover greater distances.
The church has partnered with the International Mission Board (IMB) on numerous projects; in 2011 it gave a $100,000 donation to the mission agency.
The church’s newest international vision is partnering with the IMB to adopt an unreached people group – Dutch speakers in Germany.
Locally, it gave generously toward the purchase of an 82-acre evangelistic sports park in Albany in which the church was already involved but which helped speed along the process.
It has started churches in San Francisco and Baltimore.
Alex and Stephen have their eyes on the future, though, in ways other than making movies; they want to help the next generation learn from their mistakes and benefit from their insight.
“We are very burdened with a desire to pour ourselves into the next generation of Christian filmmakers,” Stephen Kendrick said. “They may know how to use the Red Camera and Final Cut Pro editing software but they may not know how to fear the Lord and seek Him in their production decisions.
“Even though Alex and I never went to film school we long to help those individuals seek first the Kingdom of God and not be preoccupied with just making a cool movie.
“Every generation needs to think about those who will follow it and set them up for success. Michael [Catt] reminds us that whoever wants the next generation the most will get them … and we want them.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Westbury is managing editor of the Christian Index, where this story first appeared.)