For Love or Money?

We saw the Courageous movie last night, my family and I. Normally, I would lobby for waiting until it plays at a theatre where the popcorn is close to reasonably priced–or, better yet, until the DVD is released.

What do you do, though, with children who are pleading to go see a movie about the importance of fathers, and a wife who wants to help “boost the box office receipts” on the opening night of a Christian movie?

I went. Burnt up the better part of a $100 bill, but I went.

Was it worth it? Hey… to quote a credit card commercial… it was “Priceless.” I definitely recommend seeing Courageous. It is something I will do again (Lord willing). I’ll even buy it for our home library.

But this post isn’t a movie review; it’s a reflection on life. Here’s the thought I’m pondering today, and I’m wondering whether you feel the same:

A central part of Courageous is “The Resolution.” It is a Bible-based declaration of intent–aimed at calling men to take the lead and stand up as responsible-before-God parents and husbands. Nothing wrong with that. Fatherless households are a primary factor in crime, heartache, and all manner of social and private troubles.

My consternation is this: Given the altruistic, religious, seeking-the-good-of-all apparent intent of the film… behind it is a marketing machine that makes Proctor & Gamble look like altar boys. The tentacles of “ministry partners” (i.e. affiliate marketers) are poised to capture much more than my box office bucks, like a Disney production the spin-offs are immense.

From Bible studies (complete with DVD clips) to a daily devotional guide (one for men and one for women) to tee shirts, hats, and hoodies… the Courageous march is on.

By the way, men–want to get a copy of The Resolution? Want to stand up and be counted along with the guys in the movie? Get yours for only $9.99 (plus shipping and handling). How’s that for a lay-your-life-down ministry tool? It seems to me that the Courageous ambition is more about getting you to lay your bucks down than your life down. Just saying.

So, what’s the point? Am I saying Christians should not be engaged in commerce? Am I suggesting that folks should give away their hard work and shun the evil influence of money? Is there a lesson in Courageous beyond the obvious?

I’m not coming at this from a holier-than-thou spot high on the hill. I’ve been struggling with this same issue over my Dream Into It program. I’ve tried giving it away and I’ve tried selling it–and neither one feels good (catch this, here’s my sermon)

depending upon my attitude.

When I worry about “making money”, about turning my ministry into a business, the joy is gone. But when I do what I do because that’s where my Father has me and that’s what I should be doing, I am at peace with myself and with you.

The church (man-made) is in danger (well, way past that point) of being seen as just another marketing agency. Yet, the Church (God-made) will never succumb to trading souls for dollars.

As for me and my house, we’ll serve the Lord. And I don’t need to wear a Courageous tee shirt to do that…

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