6 ways the Christian viewing audience benefits

As a Christian and a producer and consultant in the media industry, I often criticize our industry as a voice calling people to a higher standard. It’s easy as a critic, however, to overlook the great things Christian media is accomplishing. That’s why I want to balance the scales a bit and look at some high points—particularly in Christian TV. Here are six ways Christian television is getting it right.

1. Distribution. The truth is, it’s tough to find a city or town in the U.S. that doesn’t have a religious radio station, TV station or cable channel. The pioneers of Christian media were strong in the business side, and today the giants such as Salem Communications, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar Television Network and others have covered the country with Christian broadcasting. Even overseas, SAT-7, HCJB-Radio, Far East Broadcasting and others have taken a message of faith literally to the ends of the earth.

2. Quality. While there are certainly far too many churches, ministries and stations using out-of-date equipment—with facilities that are in bad shape—the major media organizations and ministries have made a real commitment to quality. Today even small churches and ministries have caught the vision for how quality can help reach a larger audience.

3. Visual liturgy. Churches are realizing the power of using video as a companion to worship. Pastors understand how to incorporate powerful images into the worship experience. Websites such as sermonspice.com, worshiphousemedia.com and others help guide churches into using visual media more expressively.

4. Education. The first Christian media workshop I attended more than 15 years ago featured a TV-station owner who taught how to get your brother-in-law to help you build studio sets for free! I walked out. But today the training being offered by National Religious Broadcasters, Biola Media Conference, Technologies for Worship, Echo Conference and others is educating a new generation of Christian communicators.

5. Pastors who “get it.” While an earlier generation of pastors and ministry leaders may have pioneered radio and TV, most of them didn’t really understand how to use it effectively. They were often great preachers, but they were limited by their lack of knowledge of the media. Today, a new generation of leaders has embraced the media and is pushing the boundaries of what it can accomplish.

6. Independent producers. Most of the sea change in the industry has been at the hands of independent Christian producers. Even with limited funding, a new generation of storytellers is moving in new directions with short films, feature documentaries, interactive media, branded content and more. They recognize tomorrow’s TV will be on a mobile phone and that to reach the next generation we have to get into the flow of media change. The next Christian media pioneer is probably working away right now on a computer in his bedroom. Who knows—perhaps tomorrow’s teaching pastors will be filmmakers.

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