Mary Hutchinson wrote me about a letter to the editor that appeared in this month’s “Charisma” magazine, based on an article I wrote in the last edition called “The Changing Face of Christian Television.” Mary said:
In the letters to the editor re: “The Changing Face of Christian TV” …there was a statement made by a reader that said: “Even though I would like to see changes, I acknowledge that you get what you pay for. If older people are the ones paying for TBN, then their church culture will be reflected on that network.”
Mary continued: I personally have struggled to help ministries do a new, creative thing, but the support base is hard to build. Notice that there is no Christian programming that is :
· daily, and
· not supported by a megachurch.
Could a young Pat Robertson or Jim Bakker* raise the support needed to do something creative in 2007? I doubt it, short of a real miracle.
What I am seeing are fickle donors of the younger set who want expensive products for their “donation”. They want the creative flare in the presentation, but don’t grasp the concept that they need to support it in order to make it better and reach the world.
I don’t think there is any shortage of talent and creativity in the Christian TV industry. There is simply a shortage of funding to creative it and sustain it.
What does that say about all of us in the church?
(*Remember, when they started CBN and PTL, it WAS new a new and creative way to preach the gospel and reach the lost.)
I responded to Mary with:
I don’t think it’s a negative thing – I think it reflects a culture that’s used to getting their content free online. Napster did something really huge, and that’s tell my daughters that what they can get online should be free. Couple that with free broadcast TV and people today think it should all be free, and that’s why Google and others are trying to keep the advertising model alive.
Which means that we as faith-based programmers need to perhaps adapt to that model. Let’s ask: What would Christian media look like if we didn’t pay for it? Could we re-think advertising or other models to make it work?
I think that’s where we need to be thinking…
One other thing – in spite of all the Ed Young’s and Joel Osteen’s out there, they still make their money based on old media – direct mail and TV – or pay for it through their mega-churches. NO ONE YET is generating a significant income online or through other means to make it work.
What do you think?