At the Corner of Fatherhood and Leadership – the 2012 Fatherhood Summit

Fatherhood CoMission Leadership summitLater today more than 50 influencers in the church and men’s ministries will convene for one reason…to come together in unity around making Godly fatherhood a reality in every home across the nation.  The statistics tell the story of how fatherlessness has ravaged our families over the past 50 years.  This isn’t to place all the blame on men and fathers.  There are a number of reasons that this is a present day reality.  But, men do have to take responsibility for abdicating many of their responsibilities as dads and husbands and the resulting impact it has had in our culture.  The past is the past.  It’s what we do now that matters.

In 2010, Sherwood Pictures (an outreach of Sherwood Church in Albany, GA) released the fourth film in their remarkable string of increasingly popular faith based films.  What began as a small local project (Flywheel) became an eye-popping unsuspected success (Facing the Giants), then grew to a movie that caught the attention of Hollywood because of it’s theatrical numbers and its key theme of having a Godly marriage (Fireproof), and recently created national attention again as it turned out millions to the theaters while dealing with one of our nations more difficult issues to address—fatherlessness (Courageous).   Sherwood is ultimately much more interested in God being glorified through their work than the worldly success of their movies.  But, the more success a movie has in numbers, the more people who are exposed to the power of the movie’s message.  As much as Sherwood Pictures wants to influence culture for good beyond the movie’s theatrical and DVD releases, at the end of the day, Sherwood Pictures makes movies.  Once the movies message is out, who is there to champion it?

That’s where the Fatherhood CoMission comes in.  This team was formed to help champion Godly fatherhood as was exemplified in the movie, Courageous.  Influential ministries came together to determine how they could help churches and ministries continue to keep fatherhood at the forefront of the cultural discussion while providing guidance, information and encouragement inside and outside of the Church.  The idea for the CoMission was started before Courageous was in theaters but finally formed earlier this year.  And, starting tonight, the Fatherhood CoMission team and 50 other influential leaders in the Church and men’s ministries are convening for a two day summit to pray, collaborate, ideate and strategize on how to best champion Godly fatherhood in our nation.

Here are just a few of the questions they will discuss with the goal of generating some discussion and ultimately practical takeaway plans to pursue at the end of the Summit:

  • What could we (the leadership summit) do in the next 5 yrs to make the biggest impact on fatherhood in our nation?
  • How can we set up the next generation of fathers for success?
  • How can we influence media to show what strong fatherhood looks like and the impact it really has when it’s lived out in the home?
  • What are the biggest threats and enemies to fatherhood that must be confronted?
  • What resources need to be developed that don’t exist?

There will be many others but that gives you an indication about what will happen beginning tonight and going through breakfast on Friday.  Please pray for this summit, these leaders and their organizations and the subsequent plan that can be developed and carried out to help dads around the nation and globe be better dads.  Here are a few prayer requests that we ask you to spend a few minutes praying, if you would:

  • Pray for unity among the different organizations and the prayer of Jesus to God for unity in believers would be a reality.
  • That all agendas would be put aside except those God wants to move forward.
  • Movement in the hearts of men and churches across the nation to move this issue further up on their radar and the impact it would then have on changing homes in communities all over the U. S.
  • Next step clarity
  • Safe travel to and from this event.
  • The right people would be at the event and the ideas that need to be generated are allowed to germinate and grow.
  • A time of refreshment for these leaders who are engaged in so many activities that make leaving their work difficult.  No anxiety for what is left behind and focus on what is at hand for the two plus days.
  • Families of those involved.  Spiritual warfare is real and if there’s a barrier to positively impacting Godly families it’s when good families fall apart and the enemy raises that up as why efforts like these are futile.  God will not be mocked and what God raises up, let not man tear apart.

Thank you for your prayers and support of this event and of the Fatherhood CoMission as it moves forward over the next few years and champions Godly fathering in our nation.  One day it’s charter will be completed and it will disband, hoping and praying that “feet on the street” ministries and churches keep the momentum going.  Pray for this organization that God is raising up for such a time as this!

 

SETTING UP YOUR KIDS FOR TRUE SUCCESS

setting up kids to win

From the Resolution for Men…

Every little boy in a baseball uniform who steps up to the plate to face a pitcher will lift his bat with hope. But the intensity of that hope depends on the level of his self-confidence.

Many go to bat just hoping they don’t strike out or get hit in the head. Some hope the pitcher will walk them to first. Others are only hoping they somehow hit the ball—somewhere, anywhere.

But imagine a boy whose father currently plays in the major leagues. He’s watched his dad round the bases in massive stadiums before thousands of cheering fans. He knows the players on his father’s team by name. He was swinging plastic bats in the backyard when he was in diapers. Baseball is in his blood.

As he steps up to the plate and looks over to see his dad cheering him on from the stands, he lifts his bat with a greater vision of success in his eyes. He knows he’s knocking this next pitch over the centerfielder’s head.

He truly believes he can do it.

He not only sees himself rounding the bases, but winning the game for the team, playing in high school, college, and even the big leagues. His dad has told him he can. He’s heard his father’s vivid stories of sacrifice, hard work, and adventure on the way to playing professionally. His dad has put up posters of the all-time greats on his son’s bedroom wall and spent hours with him in the batting cage. He’s committed to walking his namesake through every step of the journey, and do whatever he can to make success happen for his son. This is what it looks like to have a higher definition of success than most people in the world. And this is what it looks like to have the blessing of your father.

Too many parents have very low standards when it comes to defining success for their children. Some just want them not to mess up their lives. Others hope they will graduate from college and find a decent job. Although this sounds noble, it is not impressive in God’s eyes. That’s like hoping your son just gets to first base.

But what should success look like for your children? Do they know? Have you told them and talked about it? Have they seen you modeling it yourself?

This fourth point of Resolution for men is about getting God’s vision inside their heads . . . by resolving to get inside their hearts.

Real-Life Success

When Moses stood before the nation of Israel to give his final speech before he died, he boldly redefined success for them. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Jesus later referred to this as the greatest commandment of all time. Through this, God is calling us to do the greatest thing (to love) toward the greatest One (God Himself) in the greatest way (with all that we are). If anyone finds worldly fame and prosperity but misses out on this, he actually misses everything. It is God’s will that we love Him, obey Him, and live for Him. He should always be our greatest priority and our first love.

But not only is this how we define success for ourselves; this is how we are called as fathers to define success for our children and grandchildren. To see them living for Christ and making Him known through their lives is infinitely more important than their success on the ball field or in the classroom, more important than any award they may receive, more important than landing an impressive job or making a lot of money.

To love God and do His will is to succeed in life.  Period.

But this message is more than just information for our kids to download or a sentence to say one or two times and hope they get it. Moses told us precisely how to instill this truth into our children’s lives.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

Two takeaways from this. First, God’s Word must “be on your heart.” Children who forsake the faith are usually those who did not see God actively working in their parents’ lives. But they develop an appetite for God when they see their dad and mom truly loving Him and walking with Him, when they see the blessings and rewards of your obedience firsthand. Whether it’s delighting in His creation, enthusiastically telling them stories from His Word, or celebrating His goodness in ordinary conversation, you should delight in the Lord around your kids. You can’t inspire them with truths you’re not living yourself.

So when God answers your prayers, tell your kids about it. When He changes your heart or helps you overcome temptation, celebrate it with them. When you face a season of suffering or persecution, let them see the strength of your faith. Just point out how He works. In your own life. In your own words.

One clearly answered prayer can powerfully instill faith toward God in the heart of your child. One humbly confessed mistake can help them see the everyday reality of God’s redemption. Every day gives you fresh, new material for making your life with Christ a front-row experience for the whole family. Let them see that loving Him is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Training your children to love God must occur within the context of close relationships. It must be part of your daily interactions with them—when greeting your kids at the breakfast table, sitting around the house, having spiritually rich conversations in the car or at dinner, praying together before going to sleep each night.

Help them fall in love with God!

You don’t have to be eloquent or seminary trained to do this. It’s those “Did you know . . .” or “Hey, by the way . . .” moments that mean the most to your kids—things you talk about while you’re out in the yard, heading to the store, or working on a project together.

Making disciples of all nations begins with your own children. By talking with your kids about Him through the day, and then (most important) modeling a love for Him in your own life, you set up your sons and daughters for long-term, multigenerational success.

To be continued…

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough.  Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011  Now Available Where Books are Sold

Courageous in Malawi – The Resolution

This is the 3rd of 3 blog posts (taken from a newsletter she sent to her supporters) about the impact a young missionary, Anna, had on a tribe in Malawi (the Tumbuka tribe) when she decided she was going to show the movie, Courageous to the tribe.  They had never seen a white person or a movie…ever.  In the first post, Anna shared why she even thought this was something she should do.  Then, yesterday we followed the story to the tribe actually sitting down to watch the film, even though they didn’t understand the language.  There is really no other explanation than…God.  In today’s final chapter, hear what the men did AFTER they saw Courageous and how it changed their lives, their marriages and their families.  It may have changed the entire tribe for eternity!  Amazing.

They Watch Courageous in Malawi – Final Post

At the end, Auter, like in the film, encouraged the men to sign the Resolution promising they will care for their family. To protect and serve them. To be faithful to their wife. To love and honor her .

He asked them, “Are you willing to sign this? This is a very serious decision. A decision you make before God. This is not something you sign to please me or to please the man next to you. You are signing because you want to change. You want to be the man God created you to be. It’s going to mean that you have to stop drinking, to stop beating your wives, and instead start helping your wives. Help them carry water. Help them carry firewood. It means a whole different way of life. Are you ready? Are you willing?”

Tumbuka Tribe signing The Resolution from the movie, CourageousAnd you know what? 30-90% of the men who came to watch the film, first of all accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour. They realized they had done wrong and needed God’s forgiveness. Then, most of them signed the Resolution (that was now translated into their Tumbuka language).

Auter continues, “There will be times you fail. But you get up and start again… and again. With God’s help you can do this.”

A few men commented that they were about to be married and that that was how they wanted their family to be. They wanted to give a copy to their future wife so she could hold him accountable to do what he promised!  Change is coming …. for the men and … for the women and …for their children. Not sure how quick. I know it won’t happen overnight but there is a beginning!  And I am excited!

Watch Courageous; Become Courageous

They are eager to start their new role in life. Here is an email I received from Auter this week about a man in a village we had visited back on July 26.

 “Hello Anna, When we were at Mchinkhula for follow up I met with a man who had attended the Courageous movie. He told me he is very, very happy because he now goes everywhere he can with his wife. He stopped drinking beer  & he talks with his family & helps his wife. He promised me that if you will come again, to come to his house so you can see for yourself.  God can change my country because of these teachings.   Auter.”

On Aug. 24th, the last day of our trip of visiting different villages, we had prearranged to meet with as many chiefs  and village headmen as possible to show them the film. Fifty-six came to watch Courageous. The response was the same. Amazing, amazing!  Many chiefs invited the team to come to their villages and do all the programs with their people there.

I just praise God. I had a vague plan to help a few abused women. God had another  plan. A much, much greater plan. His plan was, “I’m going to change the men from the inside out!”

All the men received a Tumbuka New Testament. They are encouraged to study God’s word together and grow in their new faith and in their new roles.

What a privilege to be a part of this mission. Whether you donate towards the Bibles or whether you pray for them, or whether you go to the mission field, everyone of us plays a part. All glory be to God.

__________________________________________________

What an amazing story of how a film that was bathed in prayer for years before it hit the big screen and the TV screen, is being used by God as a tool to change lives in remote tribes across the world.  Because Anna stood firm and decided to do that which seemed impossible or unlikely (or even scary), these men and families lives are changed for today and eternity.

What are you and I doing each day that requires more than we can do on our own?  Let’s follow Anna’s lead.  For some of us, it might be doing the hard thing in our family.  It might be making the first step toward reconciliation with our wife, our children or another relationship.  Anna’s story should inspire us that nothing is too hard for God to overcome if we will just take the step of faith.

Courageous in Malawi–Part 1 of 3

The follow blog series is from a young missionary woman who shared this experience of how the movie, Courageous, helped to change the culture of a tribe she has been ministering to for a number of years.  The Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi is the tribe that she has been sharing her life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s such a great story that she decided to send it to Sherwood Pictures to let them know the impact that the movie, Courageous, was having half a globe away.  It’s a powerful story of how a person who was courageous in Malawi, helped changed many lives and how the power of film impacts culture and, in this case, for GOOD!  We will share her story  just as she wrote it and split it into three blog posts.  Her name is Anna Ebert and she has given us the permission to share her story.  We know you’ll be encouraged.

Courageous in Malawi–Part 1

courageous in malawiWhen I returned from my fourth mission to Malawi in 2011, I was determined to help the many abused women there. The culture of the Tumbuka tribe in northern Malawi says that their purpose in life is to get together with other men and shoot the breeze while drinking beer (made of corn husks) and other alcohol. This is what about 80% of the men do from around noon until midnight every day of their lives. They drink all the resources the family has for food and necessities. All gone! How sad. Such a waste of their lives.  They believe their wives (or women in general) were created to serve them ……..after all, they are the head of the family.

When the women complain or cannot do all that is expected of them, the men either beat them, divorce them, or marry a second wife to “help” his first wife. Women are not allowed to fight back, they are only allowed to cry. Because so many women were abused or left with nothing after a divorce or now have a second or third wife to live with, I really had a huge burden to help the women. I didn’t know how exactly but I had some ideas. The only problem I had was that the problem was bigger than I knew what to do with. How can anyone help hundreds of thousands of abused women? I had heard about the story of the 1,000’s of star fish that had washed ashore and a man throwing one back into the water and thus saving its life and was asked does it do any good? Well, yes, to the one starfish it did. I thought I will save that one woman.

It was only a couple of weeks before I was to leave for northern Malawi that I felt a strong urge to bring the “Courageous” film along.  For some who may not have seen this movie, it’s a film that teaches the Biblical role of a man and of a father. I knew this film to be totally opposite the Tumbuka culture. What I didn’t know was how it would be received. How will they react? Would the men rip up the screen? Would they destroy the projector? (as my native Tumbuka team was afraid of) Would they just shake their heads and walk away? Or, perhaps, maybe, would they take it in and apply  it to their lives? I didn’t know what to expect. But I took it anyways. I always love a challenge.

And so, I brought the film with me along with many posters and a copy of the resolution that went with it.  However,  there was another issue. The film is in English!  Why even bring it, What was I thinking?

But there are a few,  maybe only 5%, who could understand it to some degree, so I decided I’ll work with them.  (to be continued…)

Tomorrow’s post…we’ll find out what happened when Anna showed the film to the tribe and they became Courageous in Malawi!

Family Activities That Build Your Home | Stephen Kendrick – Part 2

This is the 2nd of 2 posts by guest blogger, Stephen Kendrick.  Stephen and his brother Alex have created 4 theatrically released movies including Fireproof and Courageous and have co-authored a New York Times Best Seller, The Love Dare (as seen in Fireproof).

Yesterday, Stephen shared the “Why” of the importance of fathers making time for our children.  Today, he shares the “How”.

A New Day and a New Opportunity

I want to challenge you today to throw on the brakes and start spending more “heart to heart” time with your kids. My wife and I are personally going on a journey to win, keep and mentor the hearts of our children Grant, Cohen, Karis, and John. We want to obey our Lord and desperately long for our children to hear and embrace God’s truth. But they won’t, unless we plant it in the soil of hearts that are bound to ours in a loving relationship. Will you join the adventure? You might be saying, “That sounds great. Maybe I’ll start that tomorrow.” Well as Grant, who is ten now can say, “It already is tomorrow”.  Here are some ideas for family activities that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine, indoor and outdoor activities with your children.

How to Capture Time with your Kids:

ROUTINE FAMILY ACTIVITIES:

Establish Daily Interactive Habits.

Read Deuteronomy 6:7 and observe the four family activities that are in everyone’s routine. Capture those four conversation opportunities each day with your kids.

  • Morning hugs & Breakfast laughs.
  • Car catch me ups.
  • TV-less dinners.
  • Bedtime Tales. Tuck me in prayers.

They all really add up to years full of unregrettable moments.

Invite Tonto to Tag Along.

 Try to include your kids in what you are already doing.

  • My 8 year old Cohen helps me take out the trash every week.
  • Grant joins me for home improvement projects. My Home Depot runs include helpers that get M&M’s at the register.
  • Don’t leave them behind. Develop in them an appetite that longs to tag along with you.

Make Tickling Mandatory.

If laughter is the best medicine, then tickling is the wise doctor’s prescription. Take time to enjoy laughing with your children. My wife and I take turns holding down our kids while the other gets them with tummy tickles. This is an added free perk of parenting that comes with the membership card.

Declare War on the TV.

Would you like lots of extra free time every day? Duck tape down the Off button on your remote. It’s revolutionary. The average American watches 5 hours of television or internet media a day. That’s the equivalent to non-stop viewing 24 hours a day for two months straight – every year. That time is usually non-interactive for families too. So that’s where that wasted time was hiding! I dare you to turn it off and enjoy your family.  FamilyLife has challenged families to observe TV fasts for a number of years, often mentioning it on their FamilyLife Today radio program.  Maybe, you can declare the next 30 days as a TV/Media fast?

SPECIAL FAMILY ACTIVITIES:

Kidnap your Kids.

Each kid needs private one on ones with each parent. Spontaneously showing up where your son or daughter is and stealing them away for lunch is a great bonding activity. Kids never forget such surprises! Talk to their teacher about schedule breaks and kidnap them from school twice a year. A day fishing with dad or shopping with mom while everyone is still in school is unbelievably cool to kids. Don’t you wish your parents had done that for you?

Go Camping.

Research shows that families that camp together closely bond together. It is one of those unpredictable family activities that breeds good healthy catastrophe and misadventures into life. Camping ironically forces families to work together and ultimately develop their own hilarious stories that they share later on. Buy a tent and find a state park. Learning how to camp is half the fun.

Give Grace Gifts.

It’s healthy to teach your kids to be good and work hard in order to earn some type of reward. But they should also learn that grace gives things that are unearned and undeserved. Buying your kids surprises occasionally for NO REASON can be a fun way to teach them about grace. “Just because I love you!” is a powerful declaration that hits them right in the heart.

So, Dad, which one of these can you do TODAY?  As James says, our life is but a mist and we don’t know if we’ll have tomorrow.  If these last two posts have made you lament the time you haven’t spent with your kids today is the day to put the stake in the ground.  Make the next right step and do something, anything that will move you closer to your children.  And, for you that have already watched your kids come and go, modify this to make a covenant today to get back in touch, stay in contact more regularly or continuing to invest your time as a dad into their lives.  You’ll never outgrow being a dad.

Savoring Your Kids While You Can – Stephen Kendrick

Following is a guest post by Stephen Kendrick.  Stephen and his brother Alex are the creators of the movies out of Sherwood Pictures (a ministry of Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia), most recently Fireproof and last years great film about the impact of fatherhood on families and our culture, Courageous.  Stephen is also co-author of the New York Times Best Selling book, The Love Dare.  This is part 1 of 2.

Today, Stephen shares some personal stories about engaging with his children and shares a biblical foundation for dads making time for their children.  Tomorrow, we’ll share some of Stephen’s recommendations about HOW to better engage with your children and will stir your thoughts

Guest Author: Stephen Kendrick

When my son Grant was born, an older friend came by and visited us in the delivery room.  While holding our newborn, he looked at me and said, “Enjoy him while you can. If I could somehow explain to you how fast he will grow up, you would just cry.” I’m discovering he was right. A few days later, Grant turned three.

Early one morning he scampered into my room and began his daily ritual of trying to convince me to play with him instead of going to work. As usual, I was rushing while he was negotiating. “Daddy, I’ve turned over my cowendar and you can stay home from wuck today,” he declared trying to sound like an adult.

“Grant, I have to go to work today, but I can stay home tomorrow.”

“But Daddy…” he countered, “it is tomorrow!” I had to smile at his desperate attempts.

“No, Grant, today is Friday. I can’t stay home until Saturday.”

Didn’t he know I had more important things to do than play blocks on the floor with a toddler? As he dropped his head and slowly waddled out, he muttered, “Well… maybe then you can come visit us.”

Ouch. I could hear the cry of a son’s heart needing his daddy, and I was the daddy he was needing. A few days later, Grant turned five.

I regret to say that too many moments at home have found me busy working on the latest, greatest project or running errands while my four kids have waited hopefully in the shadows. Too often the good things somehow work their way into our schedules and steal us away from the best things – like those priceless non-recoverable moments with our kids when they are still at home. Can you relate? Isn’t it time to redeem the time?

I’m learning more every day that spending time with my children is one of the most important responsibilities I have. A few things have really helped me lately to better grasp this.

A Father’ Dying Plea

This year, I performed the funeral for a man in our church who lost a battle to cancer. A few days before his passing, I had visited his home to pray with him. With a trembling voice between gasping breaths, he looked up at me and said, “Please tell my son not to turn on the TV when he is eating dinner with his kids. I now regret doing that. I wish we had spent that time together.” His words now echo in my ears as I look at my children. Oh, how I don’t want to share the same regret one day.

A Parent’s Biblical Mandate

Some of the most pivotal points in scripture challenge parents to prioritize making time for our children.

Look at the greatest commandment. Premiered in Deuteronomy 6, “loving God with everything you are” is the pinnacle imperative of God’s law. But the next verses explain how parents must daily hang out with their children so they can diligently teach them how to do that. Did you know you are commanded by God to continually teach your child how to love God wholeheartedly? The passage further explains that this happens through your daily interaction with them in the morning, while sitting in your house, when you’re traveling, and at bedtime each night.  Making time for our children is critical for teaching them.

A Child’s Desperate Need  

Our kids deeply depend upon time with us. Children find their security, develop their worldview, and discover who they are from their parents. Even as the animals after creation were named by Adam in the garden, children form their understanding of their identities directly from their mom and dad in the home.

Even if it’s never verbalized, little children look to their parents to find the answers to their hearts’ greatest questions. The words, “Daddy, who am I?”, “Am I accepted?”, “Do you love me unconditionally?” and “Do I have what it takes?” should be printed on a T-shirt and worn by our kids while they are around us. That’s what they’re asking all the time. And parents too often give wrong answers to those questions without realizing it. When we aren’t making time for our children, we are sending them a message,  “Nobody has time for you, little one. We’re busy with things that are important. You are not. Go bother somebody else.”

How many times do our lives unintentionally shout these messages to them?

This response not only negatively impacts their understanding of their value, but tragically their view of God. “If Daddy doesn’t think I’m important,” they conclude, “my Heavenly Father must not either.” Whether we like it or not, we are daily representing an image of God to our kids. They need us to carve out extra time for them so we can represent Him well.

A Nation’s Loss of a Legacy

Research is showing that Christians are theologically losing the next generation. Over 90% of born again kids today are rejecting the absolute truth that their parents embrace. Apologist Josh McDowell explains why. In a chapel service at the Focus on the Family headquarters, he stated, “You can be the greatest explainer of truth. But, if the very heart of your son or daughter does not believe -‘my daddy loves me,’ they will walk away from your truth.”

Using Psalm 85, McDowell shares how King David followed God’s truth because he knew of God’s unfailing love for him. Likewise, children will embrace the truth taught by their parents only if it is given to them from within a loving heart-to-heart relationship.

The opposite is also true. The parents who lose the hearts of their children have children who forsake their parent’s theology. To summarize: Whoever has your child’s heart, has their ears. It’s no wonder that Solomon cried out, “My son, give me your heart!” as he sought to instruct him. (Proverbs 23:26) This principle sheds light on why God ended the Old Testament with the need for the hearts of fathers to be turned back to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. The future of Christianity depends upon it.

Do you have your children’s hearts? Do they have yours?

What are ways that you’ve made some extra time for your kids when it didn’t look like you had any extra time to give?

Come back tomorrow to see what Stephen suggests to help you make time for your kids.