Christian Living


New Movie Event Takes Direct Aim at the Art of Parenting

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”  – Psalm 127:4

Executive Producers Alex and Stephen Kendrick (War Room, Courageous) and FamilyLife’s Dennis & Barbara Rainey, and Bob Lepine have teamed up to produce a full length feature film, Like Arrows, that will debut in theaters nationwide for two nights only in early May.

Based on the critical role that effective faith-based parenting plays in all phases of life, Like Arrows stars Alan Powell (The Song), Alex Kendrick (War Room, Courageous) and newcomer Micah Lynn Hanson.  In the film, a married couple is challenged by the relationships with their children as the reality of conflict, rebellion, and resentment often seems to get in the way.  Unfortunately, heartache has consumed their joy.  But as the journey of their 50-year marriage unfolds, both discover the power of family in very different ways.

This unique cinematic event will be shown on Tuesday, May 1, and Thursday, May 3, at 7pm local time in theaters across the country.  As part of the experience, audiences will be able to view an exclusive pre and post show panel discussion featuring the Kendrick brothers, the Raineys, and Lepine.

Find a theater near you to view the Live Arrows live cinema event.

I recently spoke with Alex Kendrick and Lepine to discuss what it was like to team up on this project, why parenting is such a complex equation to solve, and the most valuable message Like Arrows conveys.

Like Arrows is truly a collaborative effort between FamilyLife Today and Kendrick Brothers Films.  Both organizations have truly made a mark over the years for creating quality faith-based, family friendly content.  What was the experience of working together like?

Bob Lepine: This is the first time we have ever made a movie.  When we had the idea in trying to tell a story as part of The Art of Parenting video series that we were creating we knew that our capacity to mess that up was really significant (chuckles).  So we called up the Kendricks and said, “First of all, is it a good idea to have this continuing type of story as a part of what we are doing?”  They said, “Yeah, we think it is.”  We then asked, “Can you help us to make sure that we don’t mess it up?”

Alex Kendrick: We love their ministry. We’ve known Bob and Dennis Rainey for a long time. They were supportive in helping promote our films even back when we were doing our first ones 12 to 15 years ago. Bob had this concept of doing six mini movies that would kind of illustrate in dramatic form the principles in each section. So if you were watching the curriculum, you would see an expert or two talk about it and see the information for your workbook, and then you would see it kind of played out in this small mini-movie. So we began talking about that, and then as that conversation kind of morphed, it turned into could we do one long story and show it in sections but make it where all of these sections could be put together and watch it in a one long-form story.

That’s what I love about Like Arrows.  It takes a seamless look at parenting from all phases of the process – from birth to early childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to having adult children with kids of their own.  Why did you choose to approach the film in this manner?

Bob: I don’t know if you are familiar with the movie that Richard Linklater made called Boyhood?  I watched Boyhood and thought that we didn’t have ten years to film with the same cast but the idea of dropping in on the journey at different stages of development was the idea that intrigued me.  I thought that if we were going to apply that to parenting, what would that look like? So, the idea of telling the story over a 50-year period of time was there from the very beginning.  What we didn’t know was whether telling a story over a 50-year period of time in one hour and 39 minutes would work for the viewer or whether they just needed to see it more as chapters.  But when we got done and put it together we felt that it worked better as entire movie rather than watching it in chapters.

When you first become a parent there is an element of innocence and the belief that raising a child will just sort of all work out for the best.  The reality is, and I have found this to be true, is that parenting often turns into a completely different set of challenges than you could ever anticipate.  Needless to say, parenting can be quite a complex equation.  From your perspective, is this the heart of Like Arrows?

Alex: In many ways it is. You know, it’s interesting, I have six kids of my own, and they grow up in the same home, same family, same experiences; and they’re all completely different. So you’re exactly right, it’s not a formula that you add as if you’re going to get the same result every time. Now, there are principles that raise the odds of having good results, and those are Biblical principles, but with my kids, I love them, but they respond to love in different ways.

Bob: We wanted Like Arrows to pull people in emotionally to the journey.  To have them to be able to say, “We recognize ourselves in this story.”  We’ve been here; we’ve experienced the joys and the heartache of all of this.  And we wanted to communicate parenting needs to be purposeful and intentional.  No matter how you get to that place whenever you get there, it’s never too late.  You can always make a course correction.  But we also wanted this to help set people up so they would watch the movie and say, ‘Ok, we are ready to get the help we need.’ We want to say we think we can help you with that.  We wanted it to be a strong emotional connection that folks would make with the story and hopefully open them up to be ready to learn what the Bible has to say about parenting. 

I had the privilege to see a pre-screening of Like Arrows.  For me, I had three big takeaways after seeing the film.  They were: 1) The importance of cultivating your child’s identity, 2) speaking affirming words to your children, and 3) the importance of discipline in parenting your children.  From your perspective, what is the most highly critical message that you should convey to your children?

Alex: All of the areas you mentioned are important, but ultimately I pray that God captures their heart, that they are in a scenario that the Lord would keep their heart tender to Him or they would respond to when the Lord prompts them to do something.  If they have an active and growing walk with God, that is where my greatest sense of security lies, that they’re walking with the Lord.  Who is a better parent than the Lord? But I would say if I could tell a parent to focus exclusively on this area, it would be living your faith and praying for God to capture the heart of your child that they would have a growing walk with God.  Then almost everything else falls in its appropriate order after that.

Bob: I agree.  At the heart of this movie for us is that a nominal approach to faith is going to be insufficient in raising your children.  To say Jesus is important and to go to bed and do bedtime prayers but not to live that out like He really is the most important thing in your family … that’s actually going to be damaging to your kids.  We wanted to make sure that parents walked away from this going there is a difference between bedtime prayers and making Christ the center of your marriage and family.

What is your greatest hope for Like Arrows?

Bob: That parents will step out of the film feeling like they can do this but also knowing that they need to be purposeful.  They need to be intentional.  We cannot be casual about our parenting.  While your kids are at home, this is the most important thing in front of us.  3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in the truth.”  I think that for every parent that is true.  And if we want that joy throughout our lives then we have to be intentional about doing all we can do to point our kids in the right direction while they are under our roofs and under our influence.

Alex: I think people are going to leave really wanting to look at how can they make the most of the years that they’re in those parenting roles, even if your kids are grown.  You will still get a lot out of it.  I hope that people will be motivated to develop prayer strategies for their children, for their children’s future spouses, and for their own heart.  That they will emulate being examples of faith and consistency in their homes and that they will be highly motivated to honor the Lord in those super crucial roles as parents.  If people can do that then that’s success for us.  Ultimately, as parents we need to model what it means to walk with the Lord because we’re talking about the heart of the next generation, and that’s a pretty big deal.

Find a theater near you to view the Live Arrows live cinema event.

Watch a trailer for Like Arrows:

* Portions of article courtesy of Icon Media Group

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