Facing the Giants

I found it hard to rest and relax yesterday (my day off), and decided last night to go catch a movie for a change of pace. I'm glad I did. I went to see a new film called Facing the Giants. In the spirit of Remember the Titans, this is a football film about a mediocre coach and a losing team that beat incredible odds both on and off the field. The unusual thing about this movie is its explicit Christian content combined with reasonably good movie-making and an engaging story line.

The film is refreshing in many ways. There is no sensuality or sexually explicit material at all. There are no curse words. There are some predictable, yet enjoyable turns, along with some heart-touching moments (enough to bring tears to my eyes) and good, clean humor (I and others in the theater were laughing out loud).

The film is not perfect. Some of the acting was a little bit "cheesy" and unbelievable. Some Scriptural passages were taken out of context and misapplied. But the underlying theme of the movie was very good, with a very strong focus on walking by faith, seeking to honor the Lord in all that we do ("If we win, we praise Him; if we lose, we praise Him" becomes the new motto of the football team), and trusting in God's sovereignty through life's difficulties and with deferred hopes and dreams.

Most intriguing to me is how this film was made. Here's an excerpt from Plugged In's review that tells the story:

"God is a better director than Steven Spielberg, a better producer than Jerry Bruckheimer, a better writer than George Lucas." It's an unusual quote from one of the men behind this unusual film, Stephen Kendrick. (Stephen and his brother, Alex, wrote and produced Facing the Giants. Alex also directed it and stars in it.)

Kendrick isn't trying to say that God made this movie. He's saying that the messages and stories that God holds dear and wants people to hear make the rest pale in comparison. And Facing the Giants benefits mightily from this little spiritual gem.

Lousy-team-finally-gets-its-act-together-to-win-the-big-game movies are as ubiquitous as passing plays on third and long. And if this film were just another one of them, there would be little else to say. But by embracing the spiritual concept of faith and then exploring the tension that exists between human experiences and spiritual realities, this little film that could—does.

Facing the Giants took a remarkable path on its way to the big screen. Alex and Stephen are associate pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. Their senior pastor and executive pastor—Michael Catt and Jim McBride, respectively—believed that making the film would be an "out of the box" approach to ministry. So the brothers' project became a church-wide project.

With no traditional fund-raising, the $100,000 undertaking was supported by private donations from Sherwood members. All the actors and most of the crew volunteered their services. Church members pitched in to help, doing everything from lighting to catering. One of the few paid members of the crew was cinematographer Bob Scott, who brought his experience from NFL Films and the camera crew for Any Given Sunday and Friday Night Lights to bring an authenticity to the football scenes.

Even granting the presence of Mr. Scott, though, amateur usually spells death for a movie with aspirations of greatness. Startlingly, in this case, it doesn't. These amateurs make it look easy. And they make it look good. Maybe that's because they took the film's earnest message to heart: Win or lose, they trusted God and gave Him their very best.

If you want to see a very family-friendly football movie that is both entertaining and God-honoring, try Facing the Giants.

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