You have no idea of the people who come to us for advice on starting a religious program, but have a strange request: “We want to do a Christian version of Oprah.” Or, “How about a Christian version of MTV?” On one religious program currently out there, the wife of a disgraced TV evangelist considers it her “gift” to put Christian lyrics to secular popular songs. Religious organizatons often feel compelled to hire what turn out to be less talented people from the mainstream entertainment industy (usually on the back side of their careers) over far more talented believers who have proven their worth.
What is going on?
I call it the “echo effect.” The relentless pursuit of religious people to copy what they see in the secular world, rather than creating something original. We’re supposed to be worshipping God the creator, and yet we prefer to take the easy road and simply copy something else. Certainly mainstream media should be studied. Some channels connect with millions of young people and whether you like it or not, we need to learn how they work.
But when it’s time to make our own programs, we’ve got to be more innovative.
Take the high road. Forget the “echo effect.” Be an original. Jesus shook up the religious establishment of His day, and we need to shake up the media establishment of our day. And there couldn’t be a better time to do it. With inexpensive audio and video equipment, editing systems high school kids can operate, and the options for web distribution, the lid is gone, and anyone, anytime, can create something to express their faith, their feelings, and their vision.
We don’t need a “Christianized” version of something already out there. We need to radically re-think television and other media, and push some boundaries, be provocative, and make people think. Maybe we should stop “imitating” and do a little more “irritating”…