I often make fun of what I call the “Christian media bubble.” For those non-believers reading this post, that simply means people who live inside Christian radio, publishing, TV, or music. For an earlier generation, people of faith actually interacted with the surrounding culture. But 30-40 years ago, when we noticed the Christian audience was a buying audience, we stopped preaching to the world, and started preaching to each other. As a result,
now we have entire industries built around “Christian” radio, television, publishing, or recording.
Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. People of faith have every right to read books about Christianity, hear Christian teaching on the radio or TV, or hear someone sing specifically Christian songs. After all, we have the food network, sports networks, movie networks – even gay networks. So I have no problem with having a specifically religious network.
The problem happens when that becomes our only world. I have friends who only buy Christian music, watch Christian TV, or listen to Christian radio. They’d rather watch a poorly produced Christian movie than a really well made secular film.
So what’s the problem? People are free to enjoy whatever they want, right? The problem with living “in the bubble” is that we stop doing what Jesus called us to do. The Great Commission is about going into all the world, not just the “Christian media” world.
At the risk of generating some hate mail, I’m particularly uncomfortable with what’s called “safe” media. “Family safe” is something you hear a lot on Christian radio and TV. But try as I might, I just can’t find anything in the Bible that calls us to live “safe” lives. It wasn’t very safe for Jesus to say the things he did. People who have boldly preached the gospel throughout history have been beaten, tortured, and burned at the stake, so why would I expect the media expressing that story to be “family safe?”
So what are we supposed to do? Especially when we like some of the stuff in Christian media?
First, it’s about balance. I work in Christian media, and I’m not talking about dumping it all. But I am talking about getting out for an occasional breath of fresh air.
Second, protect the kids. But don’t do it by saying “no” or shutting off the outside world. Take the time to teach your kids about life. Watch TV with them, see movies together, and help them discover how to navigate the culture.
Third, understand that culture happens. We’re never going to be “family safe” – especially if you’re committed to sharing God’s message of hope with the world. Just ask the house church pastors in China, or Christian leaders in Darfur. Following Jesus is costly and involves a risk.
Fourth, we’re not “taking America back.” We’re not going back to the picket fence era of the 1950’s and I’m sure quite a few African-Americans believers are fine with that. The culture is moving forward, and we need to do the same.
Finally, popping the bubble will deepen your own faith. Listen to a little rock and roll, opera, or jazz, go to an art museum, read a good classic novel, go see an action movie or love story. Start looking for God in the most unlikely places, and you’ll be shocked to find that Jesus shows up outside the places we normally think are “Christian.”
Jesus spent his time where the people were – in the marketplace, social gatherings, on the road, and in the homes of friends.
So what are we doing in a bubble?