Christian Media

NRB / Reach Wrap Up

This year’s National Religious Broadcasters Conference was an interesting transition.  Last year, we created the “Reach” Conference inside the NRB event, and people signed up specifically for Reach.  This year, the NRB absorbed Reach into one of their educational tracks, and we didn’t register specifically for it.  I have a feeling that many NRB people actually thought they weren’t supposed to attend Reach, since they hadn’t signed up.

I have mixed feelings overall.  The Reach speakers were amazing, as I’ve reported in my earlier posts.  But are we impacting the NRB quickly enough or deeply enough?
Even though we had good crowds for the Reach events – compared to the main NRB, they were smaller than I had hoped.  People still flock to see main NRB evening speakers that have little or no connection to media at all, while much smaller audiences come to see the likes of Ralph Winter (X-Men), futurist Leonard Sweet, and Erwin McManus, pastor of Moasic – one of the most innovative congregations in America.

What’s to be done?  Are contemporary, innovative Christian communicators at home at the NRB?  I’m wondering if we can turn a ship that’s been moving in one direction for so long.  If you attended the conference, what are your suggestions?  Should Reach stay as it is with the NRB?  Should it just be absorbed into the NRB?  Should it break away?  Can the NRB change?

What do you think?

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  1. Hey Phil,

    I was able to go to last year's NRB and it felt like 2 different conferences. Honestly, I think Reach could do more good by itself. That way you don't have to be limited by a red tape organization that's older than dirt. On the other hand, I think NRB needs Reach to stay relevant. To me it felt like Reach was trying to change (almost challenge) NRB. Whereas I would think Reach can change (and challenge) the world of Christian Media as we know it.

    If I had a vote I'd say Reach Conference 2008 (minus NRB).

    Let me know if you need any help putting it together. 😉

  2. I think creatives need to be patient w/NRB.  Contemporary, innovative Christian communicators are certainly needed, but the inverse is true:  if it were not for the work of the NRB fathers, CICs would have little if anything to build upon.

    As I need to be patient with my elderly father, who doesn't quite understand the cultural sea change he is observing at 83, CICs need to exercise patience with the old guard and respectfully impress them towards change.

  3. Amen to that (even though it's difficult to exercise that patience).

    I think that as long as the new generation can show the effects of a new approach to the old "media fathers", they'll be convinced.

    What began their desire to be in media? It was their passion to reach as many as possible with the Gospel. So, if the new crowd can show the veterans the scope of how many can be reached through the new way of doing media, they'll appreciate it and support it on that level (even if they don't like the style).

  4. Hi Phil,

    If the NRB absorbs it, REACH may lose its distinctive flavor and edge. If REACH breaks away, getting the word out to the right people might be tricky.

    As far as the NRB changing fast enough or changing at all, do the powers that be within the NRB want the NRB to change? I don’t know.

    It seems to me the NRB is divided into 4 distinct groups (correct me if I'm wrong or have missed some) who each come to the NRB for different reasons and react to REACH and CICs differently.

    1) Very kind older gentlemen and ladies who run smaller, local radio or television stations and are simply looking for some simple programming. They don't seem to be too interested in CIC speakers, and my guess is because:

    a.   Our older friends are reaching an older audience with a proven system that they aren't too interested in radically changing (and thus alienating) what is reaching that older audience

    b. They're probably a tired and have neither the energy to expend in learning a whole new way nor to find someone they can trust to bring that transition

    b.   CIC speakers can be so normal, casual, 'anti-religious', and focused on relevance that they can seem foreign or even irrelevant to our older friends.

    2) Bigger Christian networks trying to lure higher quality, paying programs to buy airtime on their networks

        a. The good people working for the big Christian networks aren't too interested in CIC because they're so controlled by the network's patriarch/matriarch that being inspired to creative innovation only serves to frustrate what life is left in them.

        b. The big Christian networks are already bringing in ample money and have their fiercly faithful viewers – and their faithful viewers’ fierce responses to any change in direction or programming. 

        c. In other words, they feel what they have is working. They're at the top of the game, so why change? Who needs help from REACH or elsewhere when you think you’re the best?

    3) Independent television and radio programs trying to be bought or sold to the Christian stations.

        a. I think these are the people most interested, and to reach them and inspire them

    4) Mostly disinterested parties selling technology.

    When it comes right down to it, I don’t have a lot of hope for the NRB in reforming Christian media. If something significant is going to be done, it will most likely be from outsiders and independents. Misunderstood pioneers who are labeled crazy (but secretly admired) by the NRB crowd. And then eventually funded by investors, probably a secular company with a  Christian branch, who see the need and have the vision (and common sense) to give the world what it needs.

    How do we get those people together in a forum they can collaborate and get something done? I don’t know… maybe that's where REACH comes in?

  5. We attended Reach last year exclusively and loved the relevance and the impact We would have never have gone to NRB – not a “brand” or movement we could identify with (there’s potential for a name change…)

    So, I was reluctant about the merging –but thought I would wade into the water. Session choices were broad – so hard to decide and I found myself in one or two non Reach sessions that were below expectations. Really wish I had more time for some technical tracks. I was beginning to feel fuzzy and wondering if worth it until I got my Phil hit in one of the sessions – then back to alignment. I was personally very encouraged and inspired this year by women, specifically Lauran Holton, Kathleen Sindorf and Nancy Hanna.

    So yeah Phil, I attended your session on branding…
    Reach is its own brand, should seek and grow a diverse audience, needs to equip the new vanguard and be radical and edgy as heck. The movement fueled by change is out there – lead in the movement. Find the innovators. Stay in the rocket ship. Am fueled up and ready to go. The fun part is the uncharted territory.

    Also didn’t appreciate the steep $ for getting online at the convention center. If you are at a “media” conference – should be free.

    Check out "Q" (not the Star Trek character) – more good beginnings –

  6. Conference programs are (slowly) becoming more diversified to reach larger and broader audiences (or just to maintain the same size of an audience), similar to how churches that go multiple services have different styles of worship music at each one. One example to consider is the Emergent Convention + National Pastors Convention that ran concurrently at the same site, same venue, and people could go back and forth. It brought life to both if done right, and I think many would say it was a good run for the handful of conferences they did together.

  7. I think Reach should remain involved and connected to NRB. Both seemed to benefit from one another. Without NRB you wouldn't have many of the benefits that you enjoy now like the exhibition. Perhaps Reach will become so popular that it will get more and more seats at the Board level and eventually become the dominant of the two entities. I attended both Reach and NRB sessions this year and greatly appreciated the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of sessions. Having yet another conference to attend would be difficult for me to pull off and I would likely have to pick one over the other.

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