Michael Catt encourages Christian men to 'stand up in the culture'

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ALBANY, Ga. — As an executive movie producer and the senior pastor of a megachurch, Michael Catt straddles two realities—media and Christianity. And although they can intersect, many times they are fraught with conflicting purposes, with secular culture often countering family values.

Catt, executive director of the new movie "Courageous: Honor Begins at Home" and pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, believes the only way to change the culture is through revival.

"Unless God sweeps across this land, we're not getting it," he said. "I'm preparing a series right now called 'God's in Control; You're Not.' Tornadoes, floods, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes—you can't do one thing to stop that; and so, God's trying to say, 'I'm rolling across this land in judgment,' and everyone's saying, 'What's going on? What's going on?'

"And God says, 'I'm going on! I'm trying to get your attention.' He could cripple us without ever having another terrorist attack."

Catt and his congregation, committed to changing culture through media, have developed Sherwood Pictures. In addition to "Courageous" they also produced the popular "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof" movies.

Part of being courageous is "standing up in this culture and saying, 'You don't get it.'" Catt said. "Until we give our lives wholeheartedly to God, we're not really going to get it, because mediocrity and average Christianity and a lukewarm church are not going to address this culture."

Catt admits to being a maverick, not a typical preacher. Pastor and author Warren Wiersbe once told Catt to study church history, and he would see that monuments are not built to conformists, but to mavericks.

"They're built to people who say, 'Not on my watch,'" Catt said.

He says there is sometimes a price to pay for courage.

"I had to be courageous at Sherwood Baptist," he said. "We had two backdoor revivals where we lost hundreds of people. We had a lot of carnality. We never split, we never had a church fight, but I just drew some lines and said, 'We're not going to be a legalistic church, a church that's wearing a façade of religion. We're going to start stripping away legalism.'

"And some people don't want to deal with it, and they start to leave. When we started talking about what it takes to reach out across racial lines and to build bridges, we lost people who didn't want to cross those lines—it was blessed subtraction."

The cost, though, can hurt.

"I've got a lot of people in town that just won't even talk to me," Catt said. "Those first few years were tough, but I decided that I could either run and uproot my family, or I could stay and fight the battle for what I believe."


Altar presence
It appears to have been worth the battle.

"In the last seven or eight years, we've seen a wind of revival in our church," Catt said. "We've had more people at the altar than we've ever had before, people who have come who are like-hearted. We've had people who drive from 30 communities around us—some who drive 45 minutes on country roads. They come because they sense that God is doing something."

People aren't coming because of the movies produced at Sherwood Films, he said, but because "God drew them. They're very sensitive, and you can hear it in their voices and see it in their servant spirit."

What excites Catt most is to see the new generation of 30-year-olds and early 40s who are coming and saying, "We're going to make a difference; we're not going to drop the ball."

Catt calls for men to stand up and make a difference in their churches. In June, he sent out a Tweet on Twitter: "What if a thousand pastors would start calling churches to cleansing, repentance and revival?"

Within 20 minutes 25 pastors responded, "I'm in." Soon, he noticed that at least a dozen of the men were sending out Tweets related to revival, and they told Catt they'd started prayer times in their churches for revival.

Mentoring and accountability, the pastor said, are practical ways to encourage growth in men.

"Paul said to Timothy, 'Stir up the gift of God within you.' Paul didn't tell Timothy, 'Let God stir up the gift.' He said, 'You stir up the gift. You're responsible, son, for what you do with your life.'"


Pushing commitment
In his own church, some men in their early 30s joined Catt in a commitment toward courage and growth. He follows it up with accountability.

"I give them books," he said. "I just gave them a biography on Leonard Ravenhill, and told them, 'When you get through, I want a report. I want to know you read it.'

"And so now, I'm watching them, and they're sending Leonard Ravenhill quotes out on Twitter, so I got the point across. They're learning to have some backbone and to take a stand."

His message of courage is for men today, in this culture.

"I often use this phrase, 'We've got to be on mission,'" he said. "And that's going to take courage, and it's going to take average people doing it. I don't think we'll ever see another Billy Graham—somebody of that stature that when he speaks, he speaks for the whole Christian community. I think that those days are probably over for a variety of reasons.

"But where are the individual pastors? Where are the churches? Where are the dads? Where are the coaches?"

"We need men to say, 'I'm in,'" Catt said, "because I think we all know we're in trouble."


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