Thinking Out Loud

December 15, 2017

Making Christian Television Great Again

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If your background is Anglican or Roman Catholic, you might think that the world of Christian television is dominated by Evangelical voices, but you’d only be partly right. In fact, Christian TV is dominated by a certain type of Evangelical, most of whom, if not Pentecostal or Charismatic, are definitely is leaning in that direction.

And that’s unfortunate because there is a wide swath of Evangelicals that simply aren’t represented in the broadcast medium:

Cerebral Christians – I’ve always wondered what a Christian television program would look like if it was created by InterVarsity. I know I’d watch. N. T. Wright is often a guest on various shows; if he were a host, I wonder who would he invite? This would be to present Christian television what PBS is to ABC.

America’s Best Sermons – There’s a ton of sermon media out there. Why should just internet-connected people get to enjoy it all? A show of best sermons would scan the internet for great material from churches that would never dream of purchasing broadcast airtime.

Christian Talk/Variety in a Live Context – In 2008, I wrote about His Place on Cornerstone Television which was set in a coffee shop but contained characters discussing pertinent issues and challenges, along with guest interviews and musicians. Truly a superior concept. You can read what I wrote at this link.

Socratic Dialog – Think about what people liked about The Shack, or Ian Morgan Cron’s Chasing Francis or the David Gregory Dinner With a Perfect Stranger series or a large number of Andy Andrews titles, and you get where I’m going with this. It would make for great television.

Bible Project – In May of last year we introduced you to two guys from the west coast with a very unique gift for explaining the Bible. Frankly, I think their work is too good to just be on YouTube. It deserves the cachet that goes with broadcast TV. You may read my description at this link.

Progressives – For all the Millennials out there, TV must seem a very old-school medium. Still, what would it take to capture the energy of those edgy podcasts and turn it loose in a more populist medium? 

Apologetics – The “extreme sport” of Christian theology and witness rarely makes it onto TV in its pure form.

Calvinists – I know this one flies in the face of some of my other writing about the dominance of Reformed theology on the internet and in Christian publishing, but the five-point crowd isn’t known for using the visual media. Anyone know a reason for that? 

Drama – Again, another question: Why should all the best examples modelling Christians in their neighborhoods, workplaces and extended families only be seen in movie theaters? Can’t Sherwood Pictures or PureFlix throw some shorter scripts together for broadcast?

Polar Opposites – Television is a great showcase for the dramatic. What if the TULIPs and the DAISYs had it out on a weekly basis? Or pit the egalitarians debating the complementarians. Or the Young Earth Creationists arguing with the Old Earth Creationists. Or the KJV-Only crowd throwing things at the NIV and NLT advocates. Or the watchdog bloggers against just about anyone. I know I’d tune in.

What Christian television that doesn’t exist would you like to see?

1 Comment »

  1. I think you’ve brought up a genuinely fascinating subject here. Indeed, why does Christian television seem to be dominated by a specific type of Evangelicalism?

    Without getting into each of the particular groups you mention that would seem to make for potentially interesting viewing, I think the answer mostly lies in the audience that watches Christian TV. Those who are into accurate Bible doctrine, advanced theology, and the other more cerebral pursuits, probably have better outlets and mediums that are a more suitable fit. They seek something interactive, so an internet forum seems more appropriate. With TV, you don’t feel directly part of the conversation. It shows you what it wants you to see, when it wants you to see it. It’s a very passive activity.

    There are local Bible study groups that make one feel much more engaged, and part of a relevant discussion. Television seems remote and coldly disinterested in my personal life. The old emotional-appeal TV preachers used to look directly into the camera and make you feel like they were talking to you. But one after another, many were outed as empire-building, money-grubbing, corrupt, sexually perverse, faithless, no-good scoundrels; and only seemed to appeal to a specific demographic of gullible, lonely shut-ins and less-discerning new converts. I feel like that’s just the way people view these things now — with healthy skepticism, and a sense that it’s sort of a scam, built on emotional demagoguery but no substance.

    I feel like there’s been a cultural shift away from the old way of doing things. News and media information is the same way — it used to come from a few centralized sources, during certain times of the day, in certain cycles. But now there is direct access to anything/everything 24/7, at the convenience of the viewer. The financial support necessary to support Christian TV comes from a generation that is literally dying off now.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t seen any “Christian television” in over thirty years. I don’t know which networks, preachers, teachers, or shows are even still on the air any more. Besides megachurch services or small local public access things, are there any still in existence? I think people are more likely to stream a sermon online than to watch TV.

    Comment by George — December 15, 2017 @ 7:53 pm

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