Media ProductionChristian Media

My 10 Random Thoughts About Religious TV

Here’s my “10 Random Thoughts About Religious Television.”  Let me know if you feel the blessing…

1.  If a pastor or evangelist wears fake hair, he’ll probably lie about other things.

2.  The more outrageous the product offer, the more spiritually bankrupt the ministry leader.

3.  What makes the phones ring is often theologically suspect.

4.  Most “World Outreach Centers” rarely reach outside their neighborhood.

5.  No matter what they say, telethons aren’t about ministry.  They’re about money.

6.  If you think your idea is a “new revelation,” chances are, it’s not.

7.  Media buying is where all the money is in TV ministry.

8.  The bigger the ministry, the more terrified they are of making a mistake.

9.  Too many people say, “God told me to do this.”   With most of those ideas, God would rather not get the credit.

10.  80% of ministries with jets don’t need them.

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  1. Marvelous Musings of the Mentor to Mega Ministries — good job Phil! Having been in this industry for more than a few years, let me comment on Phil’s list:

    1) true, same goes for the women leaders who have fake whatevers,

    2) to witness the spiritual bankruptcy just hang out in the monthly meetings where those outrageous offers are being conceived

    3) ten years ago phones rang for prayer for unsaved loved ones — today it is for my perpetual financial blessing

    4) and most of those who actually do reach the world only do enough world reaching to satisfy the goal they set to make the phones ring

    5) money and comedy — gotta tell you these things get funny after a while — you know, I do need to get out more

    6) new revelation is often a new hairbrained scheme to get the phones to ring, or simply an old heresy in new language

    7) amen. this is the primary reason Christian TV sucks so badly… media buyers would have to go into selling used cars and get crappy suits if the economic paradigm of Christian TV changed… media buyers cannot let that happen

    8) simply because the mistake is bigger. It is the law of big numbers, and small ideas.

    9) to roughly quote Woody Allen: if God only knew what was being done in his name, he would vomit for all eternity

    10) hey, once you travel whenever you want, wherever you want, with whomever you want in your own jet… why fly commercial when other people’s wives have been kicked off for throwing a tantrum. It all of a sudden justifies tens of millions of dollars of ministry money if your life is easier for a few days each month. (Dang, we gotta make those phones ring more)

    It simply amazes me that your clients don’t read this stuff, Phil! Keep it coming.

    Joe – Director of Media & Marketing – Grand Rapids First


    I am only half as smart as Phil…here are my five thoughts…

    1) Most charismatic ministries manage through fear. The staff is terrified of the leader, of a mistake, of being fired.

    2) Most evangelical ministries are more causal and less effective.

    3) You have a greater chance of being royally sc$%#@* by a ministry client than any one "in the world."

    4) Ministries have no problem investing in technical stuff, and no willingness to invest in people.

    5) Any preacher who requires a golf cart to travel from one side of the church to the other needs a reality check or a wheelchair.

    6) The fanicer the title, the emptier the suit.


  3. two things rang my bell…

    #4….you might rephrase this one to…
    Most World Outreach Centers rarely reach THEIR OWN neighborhood.  So many good stories right in our own backyard…if we chose not to ignore them.
    Also very intrigued by the several "fear" oriented comments here.  Seems to me that my guidebook (the bible) doesn't offer that as a either a management technique OR a fundraising idea.
  4. What does God have to say about handling people we disagree with or have a complaint against?

    Here's an item of interest that I discovered.

    Colossians 3:12-17

    Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.

    If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

    Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

    Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

    Let the word of Jesus dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and warning eachother against error in judgement in a gentle way(admonishishing), in psalms, hymns and spritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


    When people read what I write or hear what I say it is thru this Scriptural filter I attempt to go, before "letting it all out there". Why? Recently, I learned how much power is in our words. I met someone that had been told soo many negative words and had soo many negative responses thruout her life that she eventually attempted suicide, in an attempt to end the pain that was eating at her mind like the worst type of painful cancer known to man.

    God put her in my path for me to learn the power of words, yes, but more importantly the power of love! We became friends and over the course of two years she came back to God on her own while watching the 700 CLUB(a tv ministry founded by Pat Robertson). She went from a "negative nancy" to a "positive polly". God literally changed her from the inside out(clothes…she doesn't like to wear GOTH anymore, got rid of the crucifix around her neck, doesn't smoke marijuana, in fact, eventhough she does make mistakes like we all do, her want to has changed AND that is truly a miracle that I have been priveleged to witness take place before my own eyes. Now, it is three years after we met, one year after her re-commitment to God and she is working FULLTIME(with some overtime), going to College(at the same time), reconnecting with family, friends, etc. that she had "written off" before, due to the countless hurt they caused her. Why did that happen? God is changing her one thing at a time. In the process, He has used her to "enlighten" me on the very subject we are discussing in this forum, from a "worldly perspective". One thing I learned from her was to be open and impartial when researching answers to questions I might have or that have been brought up(and I am unaware of the correct answer). Although Gods view and the worlds views differ most of the time, we can learn important lessons of (how we are doing) when we listen to what the world has to say regarding our behavior, influence, etc. Obviously, they are going to be against us, that is not what I am referring to. What is their perception of how we are doing? Do they have good experiences with Christians? Do they have bad ones? Do Christians live out what they profess to believe? These are all important questions that I believe all Christians should ask those they know who are not Christians and take notes when the answers flow…and they will come quickly mark my word.

    If the world sees little different from the Christians as compared to the non-Christians, do you think they will want to know Jesus at all? Did God say that every word or thing done will one day be judged BY HIM? Does it bring honor to God when we judge others? Does God say it is good for us to judge other people for their wrong doing? If yes, is there a proper protocol?(proper steps to be taken according to God's Word)

    I have learned to ask myself these questions daily and I want to encourage each one of you that reads this to do the same…search your own heart for the truth as you filter it thru the Holy Bible.

    I am sure you have been caught unaware of this mistake(as I was once and sometimes I still make that mistake without intent.) I understand where you are coming from completely, I did not know I was even doing it most of the time, it was just something I learned to do early on in life and I brought it into Gods Holy Temple(my forgiven self). It took someone who was not a Christian to point it out to me initially. Trust me, it was not friendly like I am trying to be with all of you. You may have had similar experiences already, but ignored them, like I did for soo long, until someone brought it to the surface for you to see for yourself. When I eventually went to God with it and He pointed out where I went wrong thru the Bible passages above and many more, that is the moment I finally got "peace" regarding these matters.

    I beg you my brothers and sisters in Jesus name, STOP right now and do the same. Search your hearts AND search diligently thru intense study as I have what Gods views are "exclusively" and not what I think or you think or anyone else thinks.

    I thank God He redirected me in love and I hope that is how you take this letter.


    p.s. Feel free to contact me personally at anytime, whether you agree, disagree, have questions, clarification or otherwise. It's good for us to fellowship and discuss the things of God and how we can apply it to our own lives and the lives of the people God gives us to minister to.

  5. Thanks for the (really long) comment, but the truth is, I couldn't disagree with you more. The mistaken attitude that we have no business judging other believers is so pervasive – especially in the Charismatic and Pentecostal wing of the church – that I think it’s time to re-consider what it really means. The scripture from Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge” has been so misunderstood – particularly as it relates to Christians in the media, I think we need to re-examine it. Did Jesus really mean that we should never judge others?

    It’s interesting that when you examine the scriptures related to judgment, it’s not just the act of judging that Jesus is talking about as much as our attitude while doing it. After all, common sense tells us that making judgments is an important part of life and we’re required to do it on a daily basis. Who we let our children play with, what church to attend, where we work, who we associate with, how we spend our time, are all judgments, and if we didn’t make them, the quality of our lives would be poor indeed.

    In a fallen and sinful world, people must be held accountable. Today the culture tries to convince us that tolerance is the highest virtue. Who are you to judge? is the rallying cry of deviant behavior, heretical teaching, and immoral living. There’s nothing the enemy would love more than if we as believers gave up calling sinners to repentance, and what would our society become if we stopped evaluating student performance, calling failed leaders into account, or arresting criminals? Without proper criticism and judgment, living in real community would become impossible.

    I'll be blogging about this in the future, and my column in the January issue of Charisma Magazine will be on the subject. So keep reading, and I'll deal with it more in the future.

  6. …but you'd have to top a former client of mine who planned his preaching schedule around churches in cities with great golf courses…  That way he could take the jet, play golf, stop by the church for an evening service, and let the ministry pick up the tab…

  7. Former client had a home for battered women that was secret…the location could not be disclosed for fear of the lives of the women.  The stories that were detailed were heartbreaking.  Years later it was discovered that the home was such a secret that it didn't exist.  Never did, except in her mind.  It was a great scandel in the local area when it broke, but no jail time.

  8. It's interesting that most of these statements, all of which I believe have truth in them, deal with people's pride and self focus. They deal with the effort people put into making themselves be seen a certain way by others. Whether that is through fake hair, a brilliant "new" idea, or owning a jet, they believe they make God look good by how they look. Funny that this is what pissed Jesus off…those who cared so much about impression and the outside appearance and the inside was dishonest and rotting away – not in intimate relationship with God's spirit at all. The comment, "The more outrageous the product offer, the more spiritually bankrupt the ministry leader" addresses this issue, as well. The deeper the insecurity, and the more we fight our own brokenness, the more we feel a need to prove to the world that we are great. Humility is embracing our brokenness and messed up life with joy knowing that we have a God who died to know us and love us and be known by us. A God who heals and loves to use real, broken people, because it is only then that he is glorified because he is the only one that can take credit. People see that Jesus works when we take true joy in our weakness and let him shine through. Not when we create big shiny products and put Jesus' name on it.

  9. See, hundreds of years ago, I think people saw religion the same way we see television today. Must see Sunday. Look at the similarities. They cater to the lowest common denominator. They sell their product like it’s the greatest thing in the world. And they don’t require their audience to think. Religion had the Protestant Reform. TV had cable. We went from a handful of options to hundreds.

    When television and religion coalesced somehow, against the laws of mathematics, the sum became less than its parts. Unfortunately you tune in to your religious leaders on TV in times of crisis and they will blame the problem on gays, feminists, the ACLU and the Teletubbies (Tinky Winky to be exact).

    I know some Christians (many of whom live here in Hollywood) who are tired of a handful of self appointed Christian representatives perpetuating a negative stereotype. Maybe it’s time that you do like we did in California and have them recalled.

  10. Former client …true story…this TV preacher had to have a jet.  Meanwhile, bills went unpaid, stringing vendors out for 120 days or more, staff salaries were frozen, some cut, all the while demanding 24/7 loyalty and work.

    The pain of others around them was unseen, unimportant.  But that jet…

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