Engaging CultureChristian Media

Busted: Why Perception Matters

Why I sometimes publish critical stories from secular media...

From time to time I get calls from upset followers of different ministries that I’ve highlighted through posted secular media articles. I rarely comment either way, but just share the media stories. When I respond to those concerned readers, here’s my thinking:

1) We need to be aware of what the culture is saying. A long time ago, I worked with a ministry leader who bragged that he never read the newspaper, because he didn’t want to be bothered by criticism of him and his ministry. It made me wonder why there would be that much criticism (where there’s smoke there’s fire?). Plus, the result was that he lived in a bubble – completely unaware of how the secular world viewed what he was doing. Are journalists sometimes wrong and do they have an agenda? Of course. If you think any type of reporting or writing is objective, then come back to earth. But just because newspapers or news programs report biases or inaccurate stories, the power of the media mandates that we stay aware of what they’re saying, and in the right cases, respond appropriately, or cultivate media relationships that would help correct those perceptions.

2) Living in a Transparent Culture. I’ve written on this before, and yet pastors and ministry leaders continue to think they can do things without anyone finding out. In a digital age, someone’s going to know you’re downloading sermons from the Internet. Someone’s going to learn about your Rolls, and the oceanfront home. All it takes is a few clicks on Google to find out about that old DUI conviction you thought everyone had forgotten about. Why do pastors keep saying they have college and even graduate degrees, when all it takes is a phone call to find out otherwise? Why do they use titles like “Bishop” inappropriately? Why do they think church or ministry employees will always cover for them?  But as various newspapers and other investigative programs show, even governments are posting their records on the web. You can just about find anything, anytime, so start living your life like an open book.

Are the people in these newspaper stories like Elmer Gantry? I don’t think so. I certainly hope not. But in the 21st century, media ignorance isn’t an excuse. If we can’t live a life of integrity on our own, the technology of “search” will force it upon us.

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  1. From a Christian body stand point: Don't we need to know what is going on in the Body of Christ?  If our brother and sister are under attack, isn't it important that we know and pray?

    From a business stand point: What is in the paper regarding one ministry affects us all.

    People in the world paint us all with the same brush.  When Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker fell, it caused a ripple effect in Christian TV.  Giving dropped, people made a joke of it.

    In reality, we have not as an industry gotten over those scandels.  We in leadership need to be aware if/when another fall is coming.

  2. As a believer who rarely watches Christian tv (let alone tv) I don't get upset by what other ministries are doing or not doing.  Ministries like Paula White, Joel Olsteen, etc. are standing because of the "LOVE GIFTS" thrown their way.  If we got back to basics and simple truths of God's word, then we would see a stronger, more vibrant and credible Christainity.  Unfortunately, we tolerate this putride message of giving to get. 

    When will we say enough of all this and truly seek God and pray for souls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I think the bigger issue here is that these Pastors are branded and actually encouraged (internally and externally) to put all of their marketing efforts into their name and call their name the ministry i.e. Paul White Ministries etc. The reasoning is the audience has a 'relationship' with the Pastor, not the ministry… But, the reality is these pastors get derailed by this too easily, the evidence is clear, seeing their name in "light's" everywhere they speak, preach, read, and watch TV, is simply too much for them and they assume the role that GOD is supposed to.

    Take a lesson from big business, it's about the STAFF not the Prophet. Read about Moses, or Elisha, they utilized their 'staff' to accomplish many great works of GOD, turning the water into blood, parting the read sea, laying upon a dead boy..

    Why isn't Apple called Steve Jobs Technologies, or Microsoft – Bill Gates Incorporated, or HP Carlie Feorina (oops name change needed)…it's because companies understand that what they offer is much BIGGER than one single CEO. If the biggest media companies in the world ABC, CBS, NBC, Apple, Google etc…are not called by their CEOs names then Christian TV should take note and step up to the times…this might have worked in the past but not anymore.

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