One of the joys of pastoring at Sherwood is that God is allowing us to minister outside a normal church paradigm. We’re way outside of the box and we enjoy asking God to show us how we can “boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Sherwood Sports Park
In recent years, we’ve purchased nearly 100 acres for a sports complex for our church and the community. On that land, we are currently developing soccer, t-ball, football and baseball fields. We will eventually have an outdoor tabernacle, tennis courts and a whole lot more. We are using the Upward strategy to reach families for Christ. Our slogan is, “Whoever wants the next generation the most will get them.” We want to reach people for Christ, and we know that in today’s society it takes more than Sunday School and church.
We have a long-term relationship with the local cable company and provide the entire programming for a 24/7 cable channel where we provide original programming such as Conversations with the Giants. God has used this program of interviews with some of the great men who have preached at Sherwood including: Warren Wiersbe, Don Miller, Ron Dunn, Lehman Strauss and others.
We also have a weekly TV program called, Great Preachers. We have in our archives at least 200 videos and DVDs of the great preachers who have been in our pulpit over the past sixteen years. Many of these are Bible conference videos including: Lehman Strauss, Warren Wiersbe, Ron Dunn, Junior Hill, Bill Stafford and others.
Currently, we air our morning services on a cable channel that we program 24/7 in a partnership with Faith TV. Our services are in nearly 90 markets around the country. We’ve also broadcast our services in England, Western Europe and The Philippines.
Around the first of this new millennium, we began to study the effects and impact of the media on our culture. We took very seriously how movies are creating a value system for our families and children that is often anti-Christian or void of any morality. We began to pray about how we could make a difference through movies.
Three years ago, we released our first full length motion picture, Flywheel. Shot entirely in Albany, Georgia, with an all volunteer crew and cast, we had a vision with a compelling story, and we put it on film. Little did we know the impact that movie would make.
When it was released in April of 2002 in our local theater, 6,000+ people came to see it during a six week run. Since that time, it has been shown on most of the major religious channels. It has been used by hundreds of churches around the country for movie nights. We have hundreds of testimonies of changed lives as a result of Flywheel. Today, it is available in every Blockbuster in the country, as well as through the internet. God continues to bless this simple movie with a powerful message.
For several years, I’ve been sharing with our people that we can change the world from Albany, Georgia. Too often, pastors and churches believe that only big churches in big cities can change the world. We refuse to buy that lie. We have asked God to help us change the world from a church located in a city of less than 100,000. We are a church off the beaten path, yet people from all over the world are finding Christ because we ventured out in faith.
Facing the Giants is our newest movie and will be released theatrically in early fall of 2006. It’s a great story, and you can read about it and see the trailer at www.facingthegiants.com. This movie, like the first, was done with volunteer actors. We did hire a professional movie crew to shoot the film. The crew was made up of believers who caught the vision of what we were trying to do, and they partnered with us to make the story come alive on the camera.
Our second movie was shot with a high definition camera, and we have entered into a partnership with Provident Films for distribution. A soundtrack will also be released sometime this year featuring artists like Third Day, Casting Crowns, and others.
Both scripts were written in-house, and the score for both movies was composed by our minister of music. The preview screenings for this newest project are strong, and we believe we’ve made a movie that every family will want to see. You can get an idea of the storyline by visiting the website.
At a recent viewing of the movie, someone said to me, “Every mega-church in the country will say, ‘We can do that too.’” When I was interviewed on a national religious channel in July of 2005, the interviewer said basically the same thing. He wanted me to tell every pastor to go out and make a movie.
Here’s my response. Not every church needs to make a movie. It’s not about equipment; it’s about the call of God. Just because a church has someone with a camera and some money, doesn’t mean that church should be on television. Just because a church has a lot of media equipment doesn’t mean they should make a movie.
The last thing we need to do is have a bunch of poorly produced “christian” movies without a compelling story. The key is the story, not the equipment. We have endeavored to shoot this movie with excellence, but more than sound and video quality, the key has been a compelling story.
One last thought here. One of the keys to ministry outside the box is: What has God called YOU to do? Not every church should make movies. Not every pastor should write books. The path to the blessings of God is obeying His call for you. God doesn’t need imitators. He needs people who are available. He doesn’t want cookie cutter churches or ministries. He wants people who will get before Him and find out what they can do to reach their Jerusalem and impact their Judea and Samaria. Get with God, and He will get with you.
We’ve determined to let the Lord be our controlling partner in our projects. We’ve asked Him to give us discernment between a good idea and a God sized-idea. We believe He has called us to make movies, build a sports park and develop materials to help pastors who long for revival (see the information about our ReFRESH and Bridge Builder Conferences). What has he called you and your church to do that is so outside the box, only He can get the glory for it?
© 2006, Michael Catt
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.