The Early Days
Unthinkable began in 2007 when Jonathan Goode had the opportunity to serve homeless men and women in Los Angeles, CA. When asked about what happened, Jonathan said that “it was through conversations with the people we were serving that I realized homeless people make a lot more sense when I understand where they come from. It’s a little easier, for instance, to understand why a homeless man is addicted to crack when you find out that he was brutally beaten for most of his childhood. I’m not justifying it but I am saying it is easier to understand, and with greater understanding seems to come greater grace.”
With this revelation, and the desire to lead Christians to love people better, Jonathan began Unthinkable. He quickly contacted Mark Mitchell, his mentor Jack Walker, and his childhood friend Jesse Lavender and set out to create the first project: a full-length documentary highlighting the plight of homelessness. Since it was listening to real stories that changed his thoughts on homeless people, he chose to put a camera in front of four men and women in December 2007 and let them simply tell their stories. With this, My Concrete Mattress was born.
Complete with live action painting, spoken word poetry, and music by their friend Rolin Williamson, My Concrete Mattress premiered in July 2008 in Jonathan, Jesse, and Jack’s hometown of Dublin, Georgia. It was through this premiere, which was attended by over 700 people, that Unthinkable boldly declared its launch. Following the premiere, the film was toured all over the Peach State. It was during the initial touring where Jonathan realized he had to go deeper than just telling people to love people. “Love is only as powerful as its motivating force,” Jonathan said. “The motivating force for Christian love should be Christ. It’s simple. The Bible says that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love people. Jesus puts it in that order.” What Jonathan believed, and what Unthinkable stands for today, is that love for God will lead to love for people.
Love God. Love People.
As Unthinkable moved toward becoming a more faith-based initiative, Jonathan and his team weren’t quite sure how to express their new focus to those around them. They returned home to Dublin in the summer of 2009 and held a series of small Bible study events called One21. The summer concluded with a larger scale worship event, also in Dublin, called “Go”. Then Jonathan and his team turned their focus on Atlanta. Hoping to continue the growth from the summer, Jonathan, Jesse, and Mark relaunched One21 in Atlanta in the fall of 2009. That didn’t turn out so well. ”Living in Atlanta, the home of North Point Ministries, Passion Conferences, and other massive Christian movements, I was under the impression that to be a good Christian ministry, you had to hold a regularly scheduled worship gathering. I was wrong.” Jonathan said. “We hosted these One21 gatherings for the better part of a year and they never took off. It just felt forced. It was in this season that I realized God wasn’t calling us to be reprints of other artists, he has equipped everyone with unique gifts and talents. I realized then that I will never be Andy Stanley, Billy Graham, or Louie Giglio, and thats okay.” We cancelled One21 in the spring of 2010.
Hoping to learn from his mistakes, Jonathan was a little slower to take his next step. Jesse was getting married. Mark was moving to the Bahamas to do mission work. The guys’ lives were changing, but they all continued to have a desire to help advance the cause of loving God and loving people… and modern technology was going to make that possible.
Toward the end of 2010 the team knew that it was time to kick it back up again. They knew that God had equipped them well, and they were ready to use it. The guys began to see that God was leading them to consider reaching the United States. They had never taken My Concrete Mattress beyond Georgia. That was about to change. In 2011 Jonathan and longtime friend Wesley Peters began a cross country tour that touched over 25 states, with over 8,000 people attending screenings of My Concrete Mattress. With Jesse leading a team of people in Atlanta providing resources for the guys on the road, Unthinkable was able to have a BIG impact. In addition to the tour, Unthinkable engaged in our first disaster relief support by helping to fund efforts following the 2011 tornadoes in western Alabama. We gave thousands of dollars to churches in the damaged areas through our “Love God. Love Alabama.” campaign. As new disasters strike, we believe this will continue to be a part of Unthinkable future service. It was also in 2011 that Unthinkable became a ministry officially endorsed by the widely respected Atlanta Community Ministries. Their influence and impact on our brand has proven to be immeasurably beneficial.
Over four years after Unthinkable began, the model of our brand was finally becoming clear. We were going be the people who inspire and equip the Church to love God and love people more completely.
As we move toward creating a larger movement of loving God and loving people, we look forward to the release of BibleGuides. These completely free Bible study guides use the Word of God to inspire a deeper love of God and people. Jesse, Mark and Jonathan have reunited to film their second documentary. Faultless: The American Orphan premiered in May at the Christian Alliance for Orphans annual Summit event at Saddleback Church in California. This documentary follows the model developed with My Concrete Mattress, by simply allowing children in the foster care system, and their care takers, to share their stories. We are now working on plans to launch Unthinkable Communities, a network of community groups uniting men and women across the country by geographic location in their efforts to love God and love people more completely.
God has brought us to a great place. Thanks for reading our story. We are excited to be on this journey, and hope you will consider how you can love God and love people more from right where you are.