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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Somerville’

By Nancy Mairs

“Lights, camera, action!” wasn’t exactly the phrase David Powers expected to come to mind as he sat in a restaurant having breakfast during his sabbatical in January 2010. In fact, he was more focused on wondering calloutwhat was next, and planned to use his sabbatical to seek God’s direction. For some time David had been reflecting on how the media ministry at First Baptist had grown, and David found himself praying, “Is this all, God? Are we doing everything you want us to with all the media resources you’ve provided for us?”

During the sabbatical, and continuing over the next few months, David’s thoughts began to formulate into an idea for a movie that would communicate the gospel in a fresh way. A film that would speak of Jesus’ love, especially to 20-30-year-olds who were not involved in church. David was drawn to Luke 15 where Jesus told three parables: the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. It was the story of the prodigal son that drew his attention.

The Return of the Prodigal Son

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt

“If you think about it, the parable of the prodigal son speaks to all of us. You have the younger son who completely turns his back on his father and his father’s way of life, just like so many of us have done with our heavenly Father.

Then you have the other son, who lives his life by the rules, being careful to do everything exactly as required, which is much like the religious folks of Jesus’ day who were only concerned with the external rule-keeping. Not so much different from the way many folks outside of the church perceive those who are church-goers.

And, throughout the parable, Jesus teaches that God loves both – they are His children.” He decided to take the parable, with the theme of unconditional love and God’s grace, and put it into a modern setting.

In early 2012, Deb Hocutt and Matthew Brown, both members of First Baptist, joined David to begin writing a script. By mid-summer, the script had developed to the point that they began sending it to folks to read and review. The comments that they received weren’t exactly what they expected. “The consensus was that we had written a typical Christian movie. Not necessarily that it was bad, but it was completely predictable. Lots of drama, characters listen to a moving sermon, someone walks down the aisle, and everything works out fine.

But we knew that a movie like this would never appeal to a person who wasn’t already involved in a church,” David explained. “And, we were looking for something that was full of spiritual truth and depth, and would appeal to those folks who would have the tendency to not give a ‘typical’ Christian movie a second thought.”

It wasn’t long before they began to realize that the movie needed to be a different genre. It was during a conversation with Jim Somerville that the idea of a comedy started taking shape, and they began rewriting in earnest. By late 2012, the script had developed to the point they needed to get an objective, professional “script doctor” to review it. Through a series of contacts David describes as “a God-thing,” they found such a person in Greg Womble of Birmingham, Alabama. Greg joined the writing team and led the drafting of the final script.

The script is now finished and the team has moved into the next phase: raising production money. “We need $750,000, but the value of the production is much larger since so many of the people are working without compensation and many of the goods and services are being donated or deeply discounted,” David explained. “If we had to pay for everything, the value of this film would most likely far exceed $2 million.”

The church’s Communication Team initiated the establishment of an independent production company, Belltower Pictures, to produce and distribute the film, Shooting the Prodigal. This company is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, enabling the acceptance of tax-deductible gifts. Already, they have gathered 72% of their needed production budget which includes gifts from the FBC Endowment Fund and several individuals, both within and beyond the FBC family.

David Powers

David Powers

Along the way, David has gained an amazing knowledge of all the hard work it takes to write a script, get funding, and start work on the actual process of filming. “And,” David said, “I know the story of the Prodigal Son in a more intimate way than I ever imagined. It’s an amazing story of God’s love and a story the whole world needs to hear.”

Editor’s Note: There are many ways to be involved in the production, including prayer support, participating as a member of the cast or crew, helping with the production office, providing goods and services, and making a financial contribution. Visit www.Belltowerpictures.com for details. You may also follow David’s blog for updates on the film.

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By Jeannie Dortch. Photo by Janet Chase.

Most people think of the kingdom of heaven as something above us, but many are beginning to believe that the kingdom of heaven can be all around us as well. Jim Somerville is one of those who has been putting this theory to the test since he launched KOH2RVA (Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia), a year-long, every member mission trip to Richmond in September 2012. Since then, Jim has been driving a metaphorical bus full of passengers encouraging them not to get too comfortable in their seats.

“Look out the window for something that doesn’t look like heaven,” he says as he steers us in one direction or the other. “If everyone looks through his or her own eyes to see what is least like heaven, we will all see something different. The next step is to get off the bus, roll up your sleeves, and begin to work.” With that encouragement, the FBC family has been traveling to every corner of Richmond learning, volunteering, and making a difference.

As the head cheerleader for the mission, Jim has expanded his blog (http://jimsomerville.wordpress.com/) to include a KOH2RVA story nearly every day. He links the stories on Facebook and Twitter. He tells of people’s experiences, reports results, and presents new ideas. “It’s just a matter of sharing your gifts, no matter how small,” he says.

Jim Somerville

Senior Pastor, Dr. James G. Somerville

The success of KOH2RVA has been overwhelming, and being the bus driver is a demanding job. This is why Jim is inviting other bloggers to weigh in on his day off.

In a bus with seemingly unlimited seating, others have caught the spirit of KOH2RVA and want to travel along too. Jim will be asking non-profit organizations and interested church leaders all over the city to contribute to a new KOH2RVA blog next year.

As more congregations become engaged with this mission, Jim hopes to build a strong coalition of people working together for a common cause that is bigger than any one church. The message is as old as Jesus, who prayed that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, but as a license plate, it seems to be going viral! At a meeting of large Baptist churches around the country recently, Jim was asked if the concept of KOH2RVA was copyrighted or could any of those present borrow it to use with their congregations? Of course they could.

“Are you bringing the kingdom a little closer to Richmond, Virginia?” Jim asks again and again. With such a clear sense of purpose, it won’t be long before all citizens of Richmond, Virginia and beyond will be speaking with one voice – that of bringing the kingdom of heaven to every corner where there are God’s people. And that’s everywhere!

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