The other day, I watched a discussion built on the premise that “Christian Media and Church Media are usually synonymous with Horrible Media.”
I’d like to offer my two cents worth on the topic. First, let’s define media for this context.
Media refers collectively to 1) all content technologies intended to reach a large audience via Radio, Television and the Internet, and, 2) the individuals and organizations that create and control these technologies and communication channels.
Christian Media refers to the content and channels whose purpose is to reach the lost and strengthen believers with the gospel.
Now, I want to respond specifically to two points made during the interview.
It’s not all about the packaging
First, bad packaging (branding, marketing, naming) was identified as one of the mains culprits giving Christian Media a bad reputation.
I agree that there is some really bad packaging out there. But that doesn’t make all or even most Christian Media bad. That is an overgeneralization. There is bad branding in mainstream media, and notwithstanding the sheer volume disparity between mainstream and Christian content, we wouldn’t say mainstream media is horrible.
The branding blunders of some do not negate the great work for the gospel being done by hundreds and hundreds of Christian Media workers.
Second, and more important of the two, the packaging of the sermon was put on an equal footing with the sermon itself.
It was suggested that people wouldn’t stay with any message for more than a couple of seconds if the packaging was bad, no matter how inspired the message.
It’s understood that the look and feel of a program can be so lousy that a person yawns or quickly tunes out. Even so, that doesn’t make packaging and preaching of equal value.
It doesn’t matter if the program has a catchy name and award winning graphics, if there isn’t a trustworthy message and gospel worthy goals underneath it all, the audience would be better off (spiritually speaking) by not tuning in.
We can all probably think of some famous examples where ministries have slick marketing but sick messaging. I don’t think a Christ-centered church would want to be in that group.
I’m not meaning to say that we shouldn’t take quality in packaging seriously, or that we shouldn’t seek out great marketing people and then trust them to develop appropriate branding.
I just think we have to be careful about having a fixation on image that seduces us into trying to change the world by conforming to the world’s techniques. In the end God will be asking us about about changed lives, not changed perceptions.
It is a matter of priority.
Priority of the message
One of the largest churches in the country just launched a new television ministry. Those involved with production and marketing of the program stated their priorities like this…
“(The television ministry) is all about the message. We work hard so nothing interferes with the message. It is about glorifying God and reaching people who haven’t heard (the gospel) presented in a personal way.”
They have it exactly right, and they maintain a national reputation for excellence.
Any discussion, including this one, of what makes good media and bad media can be quite subjective, but in my opinion, the distinction between good Christian Media and bad Christian Media is quite simple.
Good Christian media leaves me with a greater understanding of the truth that everything I need is found in Jesus. (Colossians 2:1-7)
Three things were spot on in the interview, I thought.
The Lord has made everything for His own purposes. Proverbs 16:4
- Digital media is opening up new ways to tell The Story.
- The effectiveness of Christian Media will be enhanced through a conversation loop with the audience.
- A new generation of pastors is creating innovative video outreach on the Web. It is clear that the potential of the New Christian Media has just barely been tapped.
As you may have surmised, I do not believe that Christian Media is horrible media. Christian Media has been made by God for His purposes, and whatever those are, they’re good.