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The Love Dare Reaches 100th Week on Times' Bestsellers List

Lovell-Fairchild Communications

CBN.comNASHVILLE, Tenn.The Love Dare, the book that opened in a movie called Fireproof and helped foster a marriage-saving movement, marks the 100-week milestone this week as a New York Times bestseller.

"We knew we would write the book about unconditional love because we knew the need—but, boy, did we underestimate the response," said Stephen Kendrick who co-wrote The Love Dare with his brother Alex. "Both the movie and the book—their messages—are much bigger than we are."

Now No. 5 on the Times' Paperback Advice bestseller list, The Love Dare has sold an estimated 5 million copies (some foreign market reports are not final) since its 2008 launch by B&H Publishing. In B&H's 112-year history, The Love Dare has been its fastest and largest-selling title ever.

"Consider that a reasonable 'hit' in the Christian book market is 5,000 copies, and The Love Dare phenomenon comes into perspective," John Thompson, B&H vice president of marketing said. "Translate that to lives affected, relationships deepened and saved, families intact—and its real success leaps off any ledger and into human stories."

The Story Behind the Book

How The Love Dare got into print is another good story.

"Fireproof is about a firefighter, Caleb Holt, whose marriage has grown cold," Stephen Kendrick said. "Caleb's father, a strong Christian, challenges his son to delay the divorce to read The Love Dare, which calls for 40 consecutive days of learning to show selfless love."

Day One is the disarmingly simple idea that "love is patient." Initially Caleb's wife, Catherine, resents his efforts, which she sees as too little too late. Midway through the 40 days, Caleb despairs about her response and his own capacity to love. At that point, he accepts God's sacrificial love for his sake. With his father's encouragement, he sticks with it, learns to accept and give love, and ultimately restores his marriage.

Overwhelming Response

As Fireproof became the top-grossing independent film of 2008, thank goodness Stephen and Alex had pushed themselves to complete the book to coincide with the movie's release and spread.

"Jesus' love for us is the couple's model to love each other, and it works," Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, said. Catt helped found Sherwood Pictures; he is an executive producer of Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Sherwood Pictures/Provident Films' much-anticipated 2011 film on fatherhood, Courageous. "People want their marriages to last," Catt said. "But real love doesn't just happen."

Meeting an Undeniable Need

Marriage is suffering in the U.S., according to the US Census Bureau. Only 55 percent of men and 50 percent of women over age 18 are married—numbers at a 50-year low. Meanwhile, experts say 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. Also factor in today's financial challenges, a top cause for divorce.

The Love Dare mission is no less than to help stem that tide of divorce. Churches and marriage and family counselors use The Love Dare in marriage and relationship classes. Engaged couples read The Love Dare to help form right love habits early. Responding to demand, the Kendricks' companion devotional, Love Dare Day by Day, opens daily opportunities to focus on and practice real love.

The Love Dare phenomenon traces directly to the "Sherwood model," a paradigm in faith-based filmmaking that has inspired a new generation of Christian filmmakers. With Sherwood Church pastors Michael Catt and Jim McBride, and Stephen and Alex Kendrick as principals of Sherwood Pictures, a church indeed is "touching the world from Albany, Georgia." Through Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and now Courageous, Sherwood Pictures prayerfully presents "entertainment with purpose."

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