Sunday in Australia – Hillsong , Christian City, and New Media Down Under
Long but amazing day last Sunday in Australia. We started out at Hillsong Church and heard Brian Houston on Mother’s Day, and then went to Christian City Church with pastor Phil Pringle. Both pastors are real innovators, and both are great examples of presenting the Christian faith in a contemporary, compelling way – but keeping their unique personalities. They both understand the power of music and media, and both have made a significant impact around the world. I had an interesting talk with Phil Pringle after his service on Sunday night about media, and the direction he’s going.
He really understands the power of alternative media like Youtube, and regularly shoots and edits his own clips for that site. Although he does a traditional, weekly TV program in Australia, he knows the next generation of media users won’t be like the last, so he’s experimenting to explore the possibilities. Is there a funding model for this approach? Not yet. We’re all still seeking a funding model that will help us generate the finances to make it a viable medium for the future. I’ve often said that the person who changes religious media won’t be the “creative” person, it will be the “financial” person – the man or woman who develops a more effective funding model than the current “paid time” model you see with 99% of religious media.
Later Sunday night I also was interviewed on 103.2 FM in Sydney. It was the “Open House” program with Sheridan Voysey, and we discussed faith-based media, being a believer in Hollywood, and the impact media is having in Australia.
Possibly the single most important fact I walked away with from the day was that in Australia, there’s a remarkable amount of teamwork between churches and ministry organizations. Sadly, we don’t see that much cooperation in the United States. Perhaps it the famous Western “rugged individualism” that America is so famous for, but being a lone wolf certainly has it’s limitations – especially in the digital age. I was really impressed at the level of cooperation for major events and movements in Australia, and the almost non-existent level of competition.
The complexity and technological depth of the 21st century is going to require that type of teamwork, and the Christian community in Australia is certainly ready to face that challenge.
In another post you mentioned that there were several other media savvy ministries in Australia. I'd love to see what they are doing. Any chance you can share their URL's with us to help me learn how to better harness the Internet for my church and ministry?
Thanks so much for sharing how others have been inspired to reveal christ to their community and culture.
I have spent the last few weeks watching God Tv http://us.god.tv and I am totally impressed with their graphics and tv quality – they have the edge I think we are lacking on Christian TV here in America and they are out of the box thinkers – keep your eyes on this one Phil….I think they may just have something we are longing to see – the programming isn't anything like I have seen here in the states – its all over the place and they are really harnessing the youth with that real feel tv programs – and I love seeing so many nations in one evening – great new website,Phil- I like it!
So who says effective funding methods can't be developed creatively? I think this is a challenge to every 'creative' type out there who has to live in the real world… You have to come up with a way to make money at what you're doing. Wouldn't it be great if there was one broad solution that somebody brilliant could come up with and save us all the trouble – but it seems to me that this is something every ministry needs to think through for themselves.
And part of that individualized solution may mean joining forces with other churches and ministries! Hey, there's an idea…
Actually, God TV are clients of ours, and our greatest challenge is broadening their audience in the United States. Currently, they're on Direct TV and a sprinkling of other places. Help us get the word out!
Phil I am not surprised you are working with them. I have recently come to a conclusion that God TV, INSP, Word Network, TBN, and NRB network, are selling their air time on perception, they have no nielsen numbers to back up any kind of viewership, I have heard you say many times, we should be reaching other Christians, we need to go out into the world. I personally think we are fishing in our own fishbowl when we put christian programs on Direct TV. How can a medium to large size church with minium air time dollars justify spending $2,000 -$5,000 a week on INSP or The Word Network based upon a perception. Are they not better off buying a local network like FOX, NBC or Ion media network. I would really be interested to hear your thoughts?
Good thinking, but it's much more complex than that. I'd have to go into the history of paid time broadcasting, and the splintering of cable networks to do it justice. For now, suffice it to say that yes, in most of these cases, the networks are singing to the choir. While we need to do more than that, I have no problem with having explictly Christian channels. After all, there are gay channels, outdoor channels, home decorating channels, food channels, sports channels, and more. Why shouldn't we have Christian channels? I'm happy to help them do what they do more effectively, but as a company we also spend as much time – if not more, working to develop programming ideas to reach out of the bubble and into the mainstream culture. I say, follow your calling. If you feel called to create programming for Christians, rock on. On the other hand, if you feel called to reach the mainstream culture – do it in the best way you know how. For me, it's not an either/or situation.
Hey Phil, thanks for your insights at the seminar at Hillsong last week, it was great to finally meet you in person. I have just watched the broadcast of Andrew Denton's "God on my Side" documentary on Australia's ABC network. You did really well with your interview, and I think Denton was impressed (He gave you the last word in his program – about dragging him kicking and screaming into Heaven). Thanks for A. not wearing a wig, and B. Not being weird. I think many Australian would have warmed to your approach.Go for it! Anthony Peterson
Phil forgot his wig?
There are many areas that Christian broadcast ministries lag behind secular…and cultivation of relationships is one of them.
TV casts a wide net by speaking in one way to all who tune in. The smart ministries have triggers within the program to cause response AND treat people differently based on what they responded to.
For example, those product people Phil mentioned…you can renew them if (1) the product built your brand (2) you delivered quickly (3) the product was great quality re audio, etc (4) it was as promised (5) you have a back end product that naturally builds on the first product ready to pitch (6) its pitched well.
Do all those…and 50% will buy again. Fail in any one area–and you will be lucky to see 10% buy again.
People who give because they buy in are golden–partnership, telethons, even projects. Those people give more on average and they have a higher long term value. Invest in them. Challenge them to give again for what they love. Do that and 60 to 70% will give again.
It all comes back to the database …if you can't tell why someone gave in the first place, renewing the donor will be tough.
Invest in database…(this from a creative person!!)
I’m so happy to find this forum… Just wanted to drop by and say Hi and I’m looking forward to all the great discussion I will have with you guys!