What Ministry Resources Are Available For “I Can Only Imagine”, “Paul”, and “God’s Not Dead 3”?


Last weekend, the movie industry was collectively stunned when the Erwin Brother’s I Can Only Imagine sold $17 million dollars worth of seats (which roughly equals $1.5 billion in concessions) on a $7 million dollar budget, the 4th best opening for a faith-based film ever.

This weekend, Affirm Films’ new Christian-themed film, Paul, Apostle of Christ, will open, followed Easter weekend by Pure Flix’s third film in the God’s Not Dead franchise, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness. That’s three major Christian-made films opening across the nation in a two week period, films that have been made both as cinematic experiences as well as ministry opportunities.

This is one of the things that sets the so-called “faith-based film” genre apart from most other genres – the idea that the films are meant to be more than just entertainment, but entertainment with spiritual ramifications: an opportunity to learn about the Christian faith in a non-threatening, neutral environment for those outside the faith, or a chance for spiritual growth for people who are already followers of Jesus Christ.

To illustrate what I mean by this, on the website for I Can Only Imagine, we’re told, “A gripping reminder of the power of forgiveness, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE beautifully illustrates that no one is ever too far from God’s love—or from an eternal home in Heaven.” Paul, Apostle of Christ has a page on it’s website where James Faulkner, who plays Paul in the film, reads portions of Scripture as a tool for Christians observing the season of Lent. The makers of God’s Not Dead 3: Light in the Darkness sayGOD’S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS is a powerful reminder that in all circumstances, we are called to be a light for Jesus to a world in desperate need of hope.”

And so Christian-made filmmakers will often develop ministry tools to encourage churches and individuals to take the film as more than just entertainment. This can be interpreted in at least three ways: one, that the filmmakers are genuinely wanting their films to make a spiritual impression on audiences; two, that the filmmakers recognize that ministry resources are another revenue stream and an encouragement to sell bulk tickets to entire churches; and three, a combination of the two.

The second option might seem cynical, but it can’t be disputed that filmmaking – even Christian-made filmmaking – is big business. It’s especially indisputable now that we are living in a time where three modestly budgeted Christian-made films featuring well known actors are being released in thousands of cinemas across the country in two weeks. These films represent hundreds of filmmaking professionals, thousands of hours of work, millions of dollars of investment, and so it makes sense that many decisions connected to these films are directly related to the potential big payoffs that will hopefully accompany them. But at the same time, they are also legitimate means for opening discussions about spiritual and theological issues, and this is where the ministry tools come into play.

What about the three movies being released now? What sorts of ministry resources are they offering? Are they giving away ministry resources, charging for them, or both?

cityonahillOn the I Can Only Imagine website, we are directed to a page that links to a few different things. The first is a link to City on a Hill’s website where the majority of ministry resources are offered, including: a small group study ($39.99); a journal ($14.99); a leader’s guide ($14.99); a church campaign kit ($79.99); and others. Back on the movie’s website, you can also purchase Bart Millard’s autobiography, A MercyMe album, an I Can Only Imagine children’s book, and a host of other things including a bunch of framed art.

The website doesn’t list any free ministry resources other than some free downloadables such as video clips and web banners.

paulA trip to the Paul, Apostle of Christ website finds a much smaller resource operation going on, with more resources being given away. Like I Can Only Imagine, Paul‘s website offers a few free downloadable social media items, but they also offer a couple of ministry resources including a reasonably comprehensive discussion guide and a more concise church leader packet, all available as free downloads.

Interestingly, you’ll find no church campaign kits advertised on the Paul website, but I did some digging around and found out that Outreach is selling one for $49.95.

Our final stop on the Christian-made movie tour takes us to Pure Flix’s God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness webpage and the first thing that struck me when visiting this website was that you can tell that Pure Flix has done this before.


The main clue is the way they handle the campaign kit. It’s not just a simple Bible study or sermon guide selling from $49.45 to $79.99. Rather, it’s a kit to help your church buy out a theater and hold a premiere event experience complete with optional red carpet (extra $199) and backdrop for photos (extra $370 for a 9’8″x 7’2″ Jumbo Sleeve Banner). How much for this experience? Roughly $2,500. This is being billed as an experience where your church or organization would need to purchase at least 250 seats – essentially buying out the theater – and the cost would include many of the same things you get in a typical campaign kit.

Interestingly – and this is what sets Pure Flix apart from the other companies – you cannot purchase a church campaign kit without the theater buyout.

Here is a video they include explaining their strategy:

So your church’s options are two (A) buy out the theater and give away the tickets or (B) buy out the theater and charge your church members and guests to attend. Either way, Pure Flix is passing the costs down the line and insuring that they will sell out theaters. Is it a good ministry model? A good movie business model? Both?

Interestingly, on Pure Flix’s “premiere partner” FAQ page, they have this question and answer:



I Can Only Imagine Spurs Copycat Productions

imagesA Thimblerig’s Ark Exclusive

This weekend, The Erwin Brothers shocked all of Hollywood when their $7 million budgeted biopic about a Christian musician bowed to the tune of a $17 million take at the box office. The movie’s numbers stunned all the analysts who had predicted it would make a much more modest $1.5 million to $8 million, and unconfirmed reports say that at least two studio executives who passed on the project have resigned and started frozen yogurt shops in their respective hometowns.

Thimblerig’s Ark is fortunate enough to have eyes and ears all over Hollywood, and so we were not so shocked or stunned to find out that wheels were immediately set in motion all over Tinseltown this weekend in an attempt to capture faith-based lightning in a bottle, as they always seem to do when a movie shocks and stuns them. Who can forget what happened after the phenomenal success of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” back in 2002? Six months later we had to endure a spate of copycat movies trying to jump on the wedding bandwagon, with “My Somewhat Large Kazakh Wedding”, “My Huge and Dominating Somali Wedding”, and the surprisingly entertaining counter-programming attempt starring Mr. Bean,  “My Tiny Little Iberian Divorce.”

Our sources tell us that soon after the numbers started rolling in, representatives from all the major production companies started rolling out to Nashville to strike deals of their own with Christian songwriters in an attempt to have the next “I Can Only Imagine”. Yes, as we were tucked all snug in our beds with visions of Bart Millard dancing in our head, deals were being struck and IPs were being purchased all across Music City.

Here are just some of the movies that are reportedly now “in the works”:

1. “God of Wonders”  written by Marc Byrd and Steve Hindalong was reportedly purchased by representatives of Lucasfilm, who – our sources tell us – were impressed by the intergalactic themes of the song. Inspired by the partnership model set by the Erwin Brothers, George Lucas will reportedly co-direct with Steven Spielberg, and there’s talk that they will take a common last name “Lucberg” to complete the brother effect. Sources say that The Lucberg Brothers have north of $200M set aside for this big budget sci-fi worship project.

2. “God of this City” written by Chris Tomlin has been picked up by Christopher Nolan’s Syncopy Inc, with Nolan attached to direct. Our sources tell us that Nolan was attracted to the urban feel of the song, and imagines a biopic of Tomlin – shot entirely with practical effects – where we learn about the singer’s rise in the Christian music industry – having a string of number one hits, selling out coliseums and amphitheaters – while also learning Tomlin’s lesser known story of dressing as a dark avenging angel and fighting crime on the side. Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are rumored to be considering the part of Chris Tomlin.

3. “The Warrior Is A Child” by Twila Paris. There is little information about this collaboration, but sources tell us that helmer Patty Jenkins met with Paris for several hours at a back table in Nashville’s Frothy Monkey, pounding out details. One source suggested that certain words were overheard (“armor”, “sword”, “mystical beam of light”) that suggest that Jenkins is planning on taking Paris’s life story mythological, possibly piggybacking on the success of Wonder Woman to make the classic CCM artist’s story into a rousing action adventure film.

4. “Awesome God”, “Step by Step”, and “Screendoor on a Submarine” by Rich Mullins. A reboot trilogy planned around the life of the late singer/songwriter Rich Mullins is apparently in the works with helmer Michael Bay. Bay was said to have met with representatives of the Mullins estate in a double wide trailer outside of Wichita, Kansas where he laid out his plan to tell Mullin’s life story as an “explosive trilogy triptych” using each song as a framing device for each movie, the final movie being filmed entirely underwater in a screened-in submarine. Reportedly, the earlier low-budget indy film “Ragamuffin” will be decanonized and now officially referred to as a “Mullins Legend”.

5. “Friends” by Michael W. Smith. One of the most surprising acquisitions has to be Martin Scorcese’s purchase of Michael W. Smith’s evergreen song, celebrating the joy of Christian friendship. Does this signal a change of direction in the venerable director’s career? Is he moving away from serious dramatic films into the realm of lighthearted buddy movies? Or, will Scorsese take this staple of Christian high school graduations in a surprisingly dark direction? Only time will tell.

Christian Film Distributors, What Are You Doing To Your Audience?

This month, three big Christian-made films are being released within a two week period.

I Can Only Imagine, the new film by the Erwin Brothers (Woodlawn, Mom’s Night Out) about the life of singer Bart Millard (of Mercy Me fame) is being released on March 15.

Paul, Apostle of Christ, the spring’s annual sword and sandal Bible movie starring Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) as Luke the apostle, is being released eight days later on March 23. [editor’s note: it was originally the 28th, but the date was moved up in February]

And God’s Not Dead 3: A Light in Darkness, the third film in the Pure Flix God’s Not Dead franchise, is being released a week later on March 30.

March 15, March 23, and March 30.

Guys, what are you doing to your audience?

First, it’s important to point out the key audience for these kinds of movies. While the people behind the movies probably hope that the films will be seen outside the Christian subculture, the truth is that all three were custom made for the Big Christian Audience. And if believers don’t turn up for any one of these films, then they will have miserable opening weekends, shortened in-cinema lives, and unfortunate box office returns.

So then why release them so closely together? If all three films are depending on the same audience, why put yourself into a position where you’re forcing that audience to choose between them?

Consider the average costs associated with going to see a film in 2018.


According to Deadline, the average price of a movie ticket last year was about $9.00. Time tells us that the average price of babysitting is about $14.00/hour. And then if you want snacks at the movies, you’ll pay around $5.00 for the restrained purchase of a small drink and $7.00 for an equally restrained small popcorn.

Forget about a box of Junior Mints (another $4.00 if you don’t sneak it in after buying the same box at the Dollar Store for, yes, a dollar).

And then we have the miscellaneous costs. Transportation, parking, and dinner before the movie.

Now, let’s imagine a couple with children decides to support these films, but leave the kids at home. They will potentially spend about $80 each time they go, and that’s not including the miscellaneous expenses. So, if they support all three of these films, they will be spending close to $250 in the month of March in movies alone.

I don’t know any couples with children who budget that kind of money on movies.

Heck, you could pay $12.00 a month for unlimited movies on Netflix, including faith-based movies, all while staying in the comfort of your home eating snacks bought in bulk at Costco.

Samson-Malaysia-PosterAnd guys… all of this congestion… it’s so unnecessary! Looking over the calendar of faith-based films being released this year, there really aren’t that many on the docket. Samson, the last big faith-based release, came out in February, but there aren’t that many big budget releases happening this year aimed at Christian audiences.

And yet, we have these three, all jockeying for position, all wanting the same butts in the seats, and all bottle-necked around Easter.

The Christian faith’s most sacred time of year.

I can only imagine that this blog post will somehow find it’s way to the folks who make these sorts of decisions, and so I’m going to close by addressing them directly. And I’m going to call them Monica and Chandler to make it seem more personal, and because I’m currently binging old episodes of Friends.

Hi Monica and Chandler,

I really appreciate what you guys are trying to do by making and releasing films for Christian audiences. I’m grateful that you are exploring how to use the medium of film to promote the Gospel, and how you are improving the product you release with each passing year. Things really are getting better!

But you really need to do a better job thinking through this distribution thing next time. After all, it’s in your best interest to maximize the return on the investments made by the film’s backers, as well as to give your audience the chance to support the work that you do. It’s like if three studios released three superhero movies at the same time. None of them will do as well as they would have if there’d been some breathing room built into the releases. I don’t even work for Hollywood and I recognize this.

I have to confess – most of us don’t know or understand the mechanics of doing what you do, we just know the finished product. We don’t understand the politics behind the relationships of your companies, we just know that we want to watch what your company produces.

But if you claim to share our faith and share each other’s faith, then you need to work together in this sort of thing. Spread things out. Give us some breathing room. Allow us the chance to get our affairs in order between films. Even though we may not turn up to see your films every time like you’d like, you should really remove all the obstacles that would prevent us from doing so, should we want to.

It just makes sense.

Thank you!

(on behalf of the Big Christian Audience)

Thimblerig’s Picks, Oscars 2018

Oscars 90th Academy Awards

Last year, my predictions were absymal, with only 25% of my picks being correct. Let’s see if 2018 is a better year for Thimblerig’s Ark!

UPDATE: It was much better this year, with over half of my picks being correct, including all of the “big” pics. Not bad for a writing teacher living in China!

My original pics are in red, and the winner get their own little statuette. oscars2018

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
oscars2018The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
oscars2018Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
oscars2018Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post

Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
oscars2018The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
oscars2018Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
oscars2018Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Call Me By Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
oscars2018Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour
oscars2018The Shape of Water

oscars2018Blade Runner 2049

Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
oscars2018Phantom Thread

The Shape of Water
Victoria & Abdul

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049

The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

oscars2018Dear Basketball

Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
oscars2018The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us


Phantom Thread
oscars2018The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

oscars2018Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Darkest Hour
Victoria & Abdul


oscars2018A Fantastic Woman, Chile
The Insult, Lebanon
Loveless, Russia
On Body and Soul, Hungary
The Square, Sweden

Edith and Eddie
oscars2018Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Man in Aleppo
Strong Island

“Mighty River,” Mudbound
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name
oscars2018“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand Up For Something,” Marshall
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner (Cartoon Saloon will finally win if there is any justice in the world…)
Loving Vincent

The 90th Academy Awards will air live on ABC on Sunday, March 4.

Thimblerig’s Ark blog celebrates 300,000 Hits!


It’s hard to believe, but today the blog had it’s 300,000th hit! I wish I could figure out who the person was who took us over the 300K mark so that I could give them a prize, but since I can’t, I’ve decided to give everyone a prize! Also, I’m going to be counting down the top five posts of all time on the Thimblerig’s Ark blog.

But before we get to the top five, to celebrate this milestone, I’m giving away copies of my novel, Thimblerig’s Ark, for anyone who would like to read it!

To get your free copy for Kindle, just click on the picture below and don’t forget to tell your friends! Share it on social media! Paint it on your roof for passing planes to see!

And let them all know that Thimblerig’s Ark will be free until Sunday, February 25.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 4.53.54 PM

And it would be really, really super cool if you actually gave the novel a try, and then took a couple of minutes to write a review on Amazon. I appreciate my 29 reviews, but want to get many, many more!

Top 5 posts

And just for fun, I thought I would show the five most popular articles to come from this blog since we began in 2014.

Drumroll, please!

5. Nine Things I Learned from 40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media. Yes, it’s over. (5,295 hits, published April 27, 2015)

In 2015, I decided to spend 40 days (and nights) consuming nothing but Christian media. It was a long 40 days, but in the end I think I learned some valuable lessons.

This article got a good bump when it was featured and discussed by Phil Vischer (the creator of Veggietales) on The Phil Vischer Podcast, episode 151.

4. A Memorial to the Family of Tambii Jee, lost on MH17 (11,673 hits, July 14, 2014)

How often do we hear about tragic events of the world, shake our head at the tragedy, and then go on with our lives?

family2On July 17, 2014, a tragic event far away struck very close to home for me. On that day, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, and one of the heartbreaking stories was a family of six, three of whom were my former students from Atyrau, Kazakhstan. The family of Tambii Jee was returning home to Malaysia after many years in Kazakhstan, and this blog post was my response to this tragic situation, sharing some memories of this sweet family, especially the youngest son Afruz, who was in my homeroom.

3. My Review of Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter Theme Park (12,403 hits, published July 19, 2016)

When Ken Ham’s Ark Park opened on July 7, 2016, my family was there. The ark was an impressive feat of building, but entertainment-wise, it was a letdown. “But it’s a ministry!” some would say. “Why should it be entertaining?” Considering that Ken Ham compared the place with the Disney and Universal parks, I would have expected the entertainment factor to be higher.

When The Friendly Atheist, an atheist blogger, linked to my review, the article blew up and was seen by thousands.

You can read his thoughts here. 

2. Unpacking that God’s Not Dead 3 Teaser (21,916 hits, published April 12, 2016)

If you would have asked me when I was writing this blog post if I thought it would be the second most popular post I would write, I would have laughed. But, the God’s Not Dead franchise is unarguably popular for a Christian film franchise, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my dissection of the claims made at the end of God’s Not Dead 2 would get so many visitors.

1. What’s Wrong With Christian Filmmaking? (107,234 hits, published March 25, 2014)

The post that started it all. God’s Not Dead had just been released, and reading a critical review sparked me to scribble down on my blog what I had been learning and thinking about since taking the Act One screenwriting course a few years earlier: the importance of Christians artists doing everything with excellence, including filmmaking.

And the bigger importance of the Big Christian Audience allowing Christian artists to do it.

And so, that’s it! Thank you, loyal readers, for being a part of this journey!

Enjoy reading Thimblerig’s Ark…

…and here’s to the next 300,000!

The Winners of the 26th Annual MovieGuide® Awards

Each year for the past 26 years, MovieGuide® has held an awards show where they award films and television shows using a completely different set of criteria than most awards shows. While shows like the Oscars and the Golden Globes highlight films and television programs based on their artistic merit, MovieGuide® looks at the “moral and spiritual principles as well as… production values… movies that tell a story that is both redemptive and inspiring to their audiences.

I’m pleased to announce the winners of the 25th Annual MovieGuide® Faith & Falues Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry (gasp) which was held this past weekend at the Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City. You can see the entire list of nominees here.

And the winners are:

The Jeannette Clift George Award for Furthering Entertainment with Faith & Values

Given to Rich Peluso of Affirm Films

The-Star-Australian-PosterEpiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Movie of 2017

The Star

Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Television Program of 2017

The Long Road Home: Black Sunday, Part 2

The Faith & Freedom Award for Movies

The Faith & Freedom Awards for Promoting Positive American Values are awarded for entertainment value, for craftsmanship, and for creating programming that is uplifting, moral, insightful, compassionate, and that shows America and its people in a positive light.

The Promise

Best Movie for Families

The Boss Baby

Best 2017 Movies for Mature Audiences

Darkest Hour

Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance for Movies

John Corbett for “All Saints”

Christie Peters Grace Award Nominees for TV

Paul Sparks for “The Crown: Veregangenheit”

Interestingly, in the past, MovieGuide® has given awards to actors in both the male and female categories. This year, they only gave to performers, regardless of gender. This is an interesting and progressive step for MovieGuide®, although the result was that the women were shut out from receiving awards.

Secondly, this is only the second time an animated movie has won MovieGuide®’s big award, the Epiphany Prize. The last time was 1999’s Prince of Egypt.

And finally, I’ll end this post by asking the three big questions I ask each year:

Dear MovieGuide®:

Who decides the nominees?

Who decides who wins?

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, is it just a coincidence that your award statue is a crystal teddy bear and the founder of MovieGuide®’s name is Ted Baehr?



Today’s Ironic News: The MovieGuide Awards Get Attacked For Being Too Liberal

In what might just qualify as the most delicious irony of the year so far, the MovieGuide Awards Facebook page is being trolled by supposed far-right conservatives for being another liberal awards show.

To give a bit of background, MovieGuide is an organization that reviews Hollywood content from a conservative Christian, pro-family, pro-American, pro-Capitalist point of view. Every year for the past 25 years, they’ve hosted an awards show that gave out prizes to films like God’s Not Dead, War Room, Duck Dynasty, and The Passion of the Christ.

I mean, these guys are basically the Fox News of awards shows, and now they are being hammered by people making the following comments:

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 8.46.55 AM.png

I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but someone at Far Right HQ apparently didn’t get the memo, and now we’ve got a bad case of internet friendly fire. And considering how many of these comments are being made by people with few or no friends, it might just be some of that famous Russian trolling we’ve been hearing about.

Ah, don’t you just love 2018?

The Sermon on the Mount Proposal

mountsermonI think that we can all agree that the Church in America is a bit of a mess right now, and so I – a simple blogger though I be – want to propose a simple solution. If all followers of Jesus, regardless of denominational background, would agree to what I am about to propose, we might just be able to start turning things around.

The first part of my proposal is this: set aside the month of April. No matter what you and your church have planned, just set it aside. Does your church follow some sort of liturgical calendar that helps you plan the focus of your worship? Set it aside for April. Do you have a big sermon series planned for that time? Hold off until May.

“Wait!” I can hear some of you saying. “The first Sunday of April is Easter! Does this simple blogger realize this?”

Of course I do! That’s why I chose April! And yes, I know that you probably have something big planned for that day. Special music, a drama maybe – and maybe you’ve already put down the deposit on a rented donkey. Well, keep your normal big plans in place, but pastors should plan to preach something else than what they’ve already planned, and I’ll get to that something else in a moment.

But before I do, keep in mind that for this to work, everyone has to be in on it. Catholics, Baptists (all stripes), Episcopalians, Presbyterians, churches of Christ, Non-denominationals, Pentecostals… everyone.

And it needs to be across the racial, cultural, political, and language lines, too. The saying goes that the most segregated hours in America are on Sunday morning, and so this is something that needs to happen no matter what your congregation looks like. Are you a Trump supporter? A Never-Trumper? A Republian? A Democrat? A Libertarian? It doesn’t matter. For this proposal to work, it needs to involve anyone and everyone who claims to follow Christ. EVERYONE.

Speaking of which, maybe you are a person who considers yourself a Christian, but you don’t feel the need to go to an organized church. For the month of April you should. Maybe you’re an Easter/Christmas Christian, and you’re just not interested in the other fifty Sundays of the year. Well, you need to include church on your schedule for the month of April. You’ll be there for April 1 anyway, so just keep coming for four more Sundays.

It’s just a month, and it’s really important.

But what happens in April? What is this big proposal that I’m making, and insisting on as being so very important and potentially groundbreaking? This is the best part, because it’s really easy.

I mean, really, really easy:


Sermon On The Mount, 2010 By: Laura James

I propose that every Christian in America spend the month knee-deep in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.

That’s it. That’s all I’m proposing.

I’m simply suggesting that we Christians in America, all of us, commit to spending one month collectively wrestling with Jesus’s words about what it really means to follow Him. That we work through the Beatitudes, and find out who is truly blessed in God’s eyes. That we learn about true murder and turning the other cheek. That we – all of us – sit and listen to Jesus’s tough teaching on how we respond to enemies and figure out just who is supposed to take care of the needy, and how to pray. Forgiveness, mercy, worry and fear – the sermon has it all. And we all need a refresher course.

Because folks, the Church is in trouble, and not because of some outside threat. We’re in trouble because of the way we’re treating each other and the way we’re treating those outside the church.

We really need Jesus to help us to see this, and the Mount Sermon could do it.

That’s it. That’s my simple proposal. And while I know that it’s probably impossible that we could pull it off…

can you imagine what might change in our country if we did?

If your pastors aren’t into changing their preaching plans, then go ahead and commit to a personal in-depth study yourself, or get a group together to do it!



The 2017 MOVIEGUIDE® Awards Nominations


Yes, it’s that magical time of the year, where the six or seven loyal readers of this blog interested in all things MovieGuide® get to find out what films from the past year Dr. Baehr and company have decided deserve their coveted accolades.

While I don’t know exactly how these movies are chosen, I do know that – as opposed to most film awards – the MovieGuide® Awards don’t necessarily have to do with quality filmmaking or acting (although some of the nominees are quality nominees). Rather, the award nominations are based on the films that Dr. B and company decide are best for the family👪 and for America🇺🇸, so for that – those of us who are a part of American🇺🇸 families👪 extend our most grateful gratitude towards the MovieGuide® offices, because – as the great Barry Manilow once crooned – we can’t smile without you, MG®.

So, without further ado, here are the movies that MovieGuide® considers the best of the best:

The 2017 MOVIEGUIDE® Awards Nominations 

Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Movie of 2017

All Saints

Bitter Harvest

The Boss Baby

The Case for Christ

Let There Be Light

The Promise

The Star

Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Television Program of 2017

Blue Bloods: Cutting Losses

The Crown: Veregangenheit

Last Man Standing: Take Me to Church

Little Big Shots: Tiny Dancer

The Long Road Home: Black Sunday, Part 2

Victoria: An Ordinary Woman and The Queen’s Husband

The Faith & Freedom Award for Movies

The Faith & Freedom Awards for Promoting Positive American Values are awarded for entertainment value, for craftsmanship, and for creating programming that is uplifting, moral, insightful, compassionate, and that shows America and its people in a positive light.

Bitter Harvest

The Boss Baby

Darkest Hour


The LEGO Batman Movie

The Promise


Best Movie for Families

“The Boss Baby

Cars 3

The Case for Christ

Despicable Me 3

The Emoji Movie


The LEGO Batman Movie

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Smurfs: The Lost Village

The Star

Best 2017 Movies for Mature Audiences

All Saints

Bitter Harvest

Darkest Hour


Justice League

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The Promise

Thor: Ragnarok


Wonder Woman

Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance for Movies

Erika Christensen for “The Case for Christ”

John Corbett for “All Saints”

Oscar Isaac for “The Promise”

Kevin Sorbo for “Let There Be Light”

Sam Sorbo for “Let There Be Light”

Terrence Stamp for “Bitter Harvest”

Dan Stevens for “The Man Who Invented Christmas”

Mike Vogel for “The Case for Christ”

Christie Peters Grace Award Nominees for TV

Tim Allen for “Last Man Standing: Take Me to Church”

Len Cariou for “Blue Bloods: Cutting Losses”

Jenna Coleman for “Victoria: An Ordinary Woman and The Queen’s Husband”

Bill Engvall for “Last Man Standing: Take Me to Church”

Claire Foy for “The Crown: Veregangenheit”

Steve Harvey for “Little Big Shots: Tiny Dancer”

Tom Hughes for “Victoria: An Ordinary Woman and The Queen’s Husband”

Michael Kelly for “The Long Road Home: Black Sunday, Part 2”

Tom Selleck for “Blue Bloods: Cutting Losses”

Paul Sparks for “The Crown: Veregangenheit”

The MovieGuide® Awards are scheduled for February 2, 2018 at the Universal Hilton Hotel. It’s usually televised a couple of weeks later, but right now that information is not available.

And if anyone from MovieGuide® happens to read this (and I write this every year, yet to hear back from the MovieGuide® folks) I’d love to find out a couple of things from you: first, what is the process for selecting the nominees and deciding the winners? Second, why don’t you air the show live?