Christian Media

Paul Crouch Jr. Continues on TBN

Based on the very healthy and motivating discussion on this blog on the need (or not) to “fix Christian TV,” Paul Crouch Jr. from Trinity Broadcasting has been very open to keeping the discussion alive and responding to various points and issues. I received this e-mail from Paul this morning, and it’s worth reading:

From Paul Crouch Jr.:

So I’ve read with interest some of the responses to my diatribe from
a couple of days ago. Again, it’s interesting to me that I’m having
to defend one form of Christian media, on a Christian website, but
whatever. While I found all of the comments interesting, informative
and for the most part respectful, the one that stood out to me was
from Rand Chessir when he asked “What kind of fruit does Christian TV
bear?” (Or at least Christian TV as we know it today.) Well, I can
tell you first hand that TBN has received over 30,000,000 (thirty
million) first time salvation or rededication calls over the last 30
plus years. And that’s just the ones who call or write in. This
doesn’t even factor in the praise reports, healings, or the hundreds
of suicides that have been averted. I get to see first hand the
effect that this imperfect medium has on peoples lives, and trust
me , it is valuable and worth saving. (Even though Cookefan wants to
flush the whole thing and start over. Hmmmmmmmmmm) Now factor in
all of the other networks like Daystar, Cornerstone, Sky Angel, INSP,
LeSea and others…well you get my point.

It seems to me that many of you are watching a different TBN channel
than I am. We have diversified our programming dramatically over the
last few years. We’ve produced or licensed more movies, documentaries, reality shows, stand up comedy programs, drama series, and concert videos in the five years, than the first 30 years of our existence. The other issue is the fact
that TBN sells 50% of our airtime to “national” ministries and we
control the other 50% for the “Praise” program, our movies, teaching
programs, travel shows, etc. It seems to me that most of the
complaints are about the “personality” driven “national” programs,
and we have nothing to do with those…other than air them! So in
some respects many Cooke fans are shooting the messenger and not
focusing on the source…and trust me, we only take the “best of the
best” when it comes these national ministries. If we accepted and
aired every show that was sent in, we’d all want to change
religions! I get to see the good, the bad and the ugly.

So my challenge still stands to one and all…if you don’t like
Christian TV as it exists, then help make it better! Work with your
church on a local level, or bring your talents to one of the national
ministries then create and innovate! Discussion and debate are
great, but I get more excited about those who roll up their sleeves
and work to make a difference. All forms of “Christian Media” need
to get better, more diversified and culturally relevant. Let’s stop
“blogging” and start shooting….there are hurting people who need to
hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Let’s get to the task at
hand…God commanded it, and as Rand most eloquently stated, “By your
fruits…..”

Paul Jr.

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10 Comments

  1. I agree, Paul, we SHOULD start shooting.  Many of us are.  And most of those that are doing so are not doing it for "Christian" Television (myself included).  We have chosen to make an impact in the secular realm for the gospel as we believe, regardless of your numbers (which are, indeed impressive) that you are spending a majority of your time preaching to the choir.I'm a little disspointed that you would shift the blame to the paid programmers and let "Praise" slide.  You choose what programs to air on your network, paid or not.  I'd bet most of these posts were referring to "Praise" just as much as anything else.  NBC certainly wouldn't pawn responsibility for a programming lineup…and I don't see them on many of the production credits.True, there is no discounting the impact that Christian Television has had and will surely continue to have.  You are right about that.  My time in Christian television saw many of those testimonies.  But is anyone willing to admit that the business model just might be on its last leg.  I care about this year…and next.  Not so much the last 30.Enough back-patting for what has been done.  It's like the local restaurant down the street that has been in business for 30 years with the same decor, same food, same everything and they wonder why the clientel has just gotten older and smaller.Saying you can reach millions of homes doesn't mean they're watching…or taking you seriously.IMAGINE if QUALITY programming had been produced over those thirty years without the constant pitching for money and irrelevant speakers and sets.  IMAGINE what the numbers would be then?!?!

  2. Immediately, I think about Paul’s missionary strategy:

    “I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Jews, I become one of them so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with those who follow the Jewish laws, I do the same, even though I am not subject to the law, so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law, I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way, I gain their confidence and bring them to Christ. But I do not discard the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

    I don’t think traditional Christian television appeals to our culture as much as it could. The creativity it needs is the kind that our culture will be drawn to. If we did that, then 30 million could be 100 million. That’s the fixing I believe Christian television needs.

    “Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away” (1 Corinthians 7:31).

    We should leverage as much of the creativity and flow of this culture as possible without becoming attached to it. We should be watching these highly rated shows and find out what draws people to view them. Is it the drama, the production value, the stars, the stories? What is the appeal?

    For example, why does Christian television primarily focus on non-fiction content (talk shows)? Sure, there are some Christian movies that are shown on Christian television, but they are repeats and rare, and very “Christian”. The bulk of the secular programming (especially prime time) is non-fiction.

    Fictional parables can be a powerful tool for reaching the lost. Jesus “only taught with parables” when speaking to the public: “In his public teaching [Jesus] taught only with parables, but afterward when he was alone with his disciples, he explained the meaning to them” (Mark 4:34).

    With Christian talk shows, there is no fiction, no parables. Why? Because you don’t need to use them when speaking to believers. That’s why it’s often considered “preaching to the choir”. We as believers don’t need fiction to learn the truth. But, to reach a lost world, God has chosen to use parables and fiction to penetrate their heart.

    I also believe it’s detrimental how Christian producers and writers mix fiction with non-fiction. It completely disrupts the “suspension of disbelief”, and the lost viewer is left questioning what’s real and what’s not.

    For example, Johnny is lost and his life spirals out of control. When he hits rock bottom, he gives his heart to Christ and his life is changed.

    That’s not an effective way to tell a Christian story. What’s real? What fiction? Is it all fiction (including the Christianity), or just some of it? I believe that’s why Jesus’ parables were about kings and landowners, sons and daughters, mustard seeds and vineyards. Even Jesus didn’t mix truth and fiction in his storytelling. Why should we?

    Christian television has incredible resources, and that’s a God thing. I think utilizing those resources to start reaching our culture with more creative, fictional stories would be a huge step in “fixing Christian television” to reach our culture.

    Russ Pond
    Producer, Fissure
    Top Pup Media

  3. What is the Gospel?  According to 1st Cor. 15:1-4 —it is the death, burial and resurection of Jesus Christ.  Also in 1st Cor. the 2nd chp. verses 2 and 4 it reads: "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  (V.4)–And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (also v.5) that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.   WHAT ???  Think about it—

  4. Anyone seen the movie UHF? It's about these guys who get this UHF tv station and of course they have no money, so they start getting creative with their shows. The premise is interesting, they found a way to get people to watch with lack of funds. I think maybe people just want to see that kind of creativity from ANY Christian tv station. Something that doesn't classify as a "ministry" type programming and would appeal to an general audience. Something that is less "safe" and not so concerned with offending people.

  5. Okay…

    Bottom line.

    TBN and others have mainly been a choice for Christians to watch and be encouraged (preaching to the choir). Quite a few salvations have occured over the years, great. Some unsaved are finding it, watching it and embracing it, great.

    The title "fixing Christian TV" has many meanings that have been passionately discussed.

    Bottom line.

    We are really talking about ANY Christian media and its effectiveness in the market. We have not kept pace with content, funding models, creativity etc.

    We need to draw the appropriate lines across the "fix Christian TV" issue and:

    1. Fix preaching/teaching shows to make then relevant, current and "cool" (Joyce, Joel, good examples)

    2. Stop making borderline "Christian" movies until we can get them right. (The Visitaion – nice try but no cigar, End of the Spear – better.)

    3. Why couldn't the current series "Supernatural" have our friend Tom Hillmann as the star to battle demonic spirits as a local pastor trying to balance normal life with the demon fighting side.

    4. Why isn't the tear-jerking series "Extreme Home Makover" done by Christians? That series moves people and it makes you feel good about helping others. Maybe a show called "Taking it to the Streets" with real people on the rough inner-city streets just helping, not preaching, like the LA Dream Center. A lot of raw hand-held camera, gritty, real. It is just controversial enough to perhaps intrigue the secular networks.

    Bottom Line…

    There are enough of us to affect our respective areas of the Christian TV pie. Lets do this thing!

    Russ Egbert

  6. Prosperity Pirates – Faith pioneer preachers long ago discovered television ministry.  With sermons majoring in faith and “minoring” in works, they cleverly built up psychic-spiritual pressure in passive TV viewers to somehow do works.  And surprise, surprise, the work at hand was… to donate.  And donate the faith-strong but verity-weak did.  The faith teachers justified their exotic prosperity as deserved let-them-watch-us-eat-cake and not, God forbid, as reverse Robin Hood extortion.  In essence, paupers gave to pirates who said their plunder was puddings’ proof to the pudding-less poor.  Such mind rape does not come easy, but the bountiful plunder afforded large and generally successful engines of reality distortion and deceit:  Self-exalting glossy ministry mailings, video shows orchestrated to idolize unquestionable prow figurehead leaders no matter how lifeless, immersion in false doctrine brain-washing Red Communists never in their wildest dreams would have thought possible and pure brazen lies that good was evil and vice versa.  But avast there, mateys!  Pirate lore says a certain Captain Kidd had – shall we say – bothersome bipolar episodes.  Though he lent his ship’s block and tackle to build Manhattan Island’s beloved Trinity Church – near the site of the fallen World Trade Center Towers, no less – in the end jolly old England hung him and left his body to publicly rot in a cage above Thames for two years.  Then there’s the sad tale of Black Beard, who lost his head by the sword of an English officer.  That same head was displayed first on the bow of a ship, then used to collect bounty and finally rested on a pike in Bath, England.  Lastly, there be Black Bart who died in battle despite the gold cross ‘e wore ‘round ‘is neck!  Though these pirate scoundrels no doubt performed bounteous good works, some e’en for the Lord Himself, few tears were shed at their demise.  Pirates can blow before the winds of their fancy for time and times and a half, but landlubbers, they not be able to prosper themselves w’out bloody end!  If you can believe the ship’s scuttlebutt, a pirate’s end is unforgiven brutal, mates.  Them unrepentant ones, I speak o’, for we all confess terrible deeds, ‘ceptin’ o’course them ’eartless pirates!  (All this to be taken spiritually, not literally.)   http://www.inthatdayteachings.com

  7. Paul, thank God for TBN.  I am with you…too much blogging and not enough works.  Too many complainers, whiners, naysayers, busybodies, etc. and no works to prove it.  It is time to put the money where the mouth is….talk is cheap.  I guess the jaw flappers and fringe chatterers need a platform from which to exude their cause.  However, I am here to say that heaven has taken an account of who has done what and when.

    My father-in-law left the church and God for over 40 years.  One day he tuned in to TBN and the rest is history.  He is "back" and serving God every day of his life.  Thankyou TBN for "preaching to the choir."  You get the credit and God gets the glory!

    My dear mother died four years ago at the age of 85.  At the age of 82 I took her to a Benny Hinn crusade….that was a miracle…she was a Methodist.  During the altar call, which was in the first half of the service, I think my mother was the first to stand.  I offered to help her down the stairs and walk forward with her.  She insisted, "I can do it myself!"  Thanks to TBN, she watched Benny Hinn whenever she could before going to her heavenly home three years later.

    "Prosperity pirates"….a God-send.  My family and I were once poor and in debt.  Through the teaching of the prosperity preachers, we are now living in the "more abundant" of John's gospel.  We are able to give more than ever into the kingdom of God to help reach a lost and dying world.  Thankyou TBN for being there on the air every day.

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