Christian Media: Talking Mostly To Ourselves

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3 Responses

  1. J.Z. Howard says:

    Unfortunately, these stats reflect a long-standing malady: the Christian media’s failure to reach the world’s eclectic mix of differing faiths (and non-faiths). I’m shocked so few comments have appeared for something so vitally important. In my experience, a major reason is because so few American Christians rarely think of inviting secular friends and relatives to Christian movies, music concerts and radio programs – yet we have the greatest good news ever. Is their reluctance due to embarrassment knowing the content in these media contain Gospel-based messages that may confront their invitee, or lead to accusations of proselytizing?

    Another reason may also be: So few American Christians really believe it is their duty to witness to secular neighbors and coworkers (“Sorry, evangelism is just not my calling”). Complacency and unwillingness rule. Numerous Christians avoid venturing outside the comfortable confines of their cozy bubbles of fellow believers. When was the last time you heard about church members heading out to witness to the masses?

    And then there’s the limitations of the media itself. Most non-Christian adults would readily say Christian media is too tame. Having sampled a few movies or books perhaps and judged them against secular entertainment, they’ve concluded Christian media as a whole doesn’t reflect real life, that it’s too safe, too G or PG rated. (Let’s understand that entertainment and diversion are likely their main interests, not message-dense content.) Non-Christians know it’s been sanitized and invariably contains no sex, no drugs, no violence, no profanity — certainly very little that’s R rated and never X rated.

    Jesus’ final statement to his followers — “Go and make disciples to the ends of the earth” — is a command many American Christians find annoying and ready to dodge. The word “go” implies movement away from one’s current location, and “ends of the earth” inevitably involves crossing boundaries into unfamiliar places and where unfamiliar dwell, both geographically and culturally. Admittedly, different customs, languages, clothing, food, and opposing beliefs await the traveler outside his or her comfort zone.

    For some Christians, excuses that they don’t have the verbal skills, or because they dislike mingling with strangers, is justification. As I see it, Jesus’ claim that He was (and still is) the sole bridge to God — “Nobody comes to the Father except through me”— can be a tough sell. Making that a convincing argument can put a person who is witnessing on the defensive, or face a backlash, or it could magnify the latent insecurity and uncertainty of the individual’s own beliefs about Jesus.

    In my experience, resistance may also have to do with a lack of empathy for our struggling unsaved brothers and sisters — strugglers like I was once myself. For 33 years I battled depression, insomnia, a stomach ulcer, headaches, and a host of emotional grievances and addictions before accepting Christ as my Savior and Lord at the point of suicide.

    The world is filled with such strugglers burdened by painful histories similar to mine, who never benefitted from attending church as youngsters or observed prayers answered. Think of the hundreds of millions who struggle solely in their own power trying to manage the best way they know how to produce solutions to the humanly insoluble dilemmas of living on a fallen planet. Think of all those who’ve never heard an encouraging word from Christians to relieve their disheartening struggles.

    Centuries ago the Apostle Paul traversed numerous borders and traveled to the edges of secular societies to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, all in the face of great risks and obstacles. Paul was edgy, and fearless. He was an out-spoken advocate for the lost citizens of the then-known world and a role model we can all look up to today. Nothing stopped him. Nor did he condemn or look down upon the sinners who heard his declarations of the Good News, despite scoffers and enemies who sought to stone him. His attitude was “all people are worthy regardless of their sinful condition.” Are we today treating those in our daily path with the same compassion?

    We are to be like Christ more and more each day. And that includes the marketplaces and schools and stores where we work and play and shop, as well as our jobs and careers in the media. Jesus was famous for hanging out with all the “wrong” people: tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, outcasts, and the “little” people. His ministry reached everybody wherever he went, regardless whether they accepted his message and miracles or did not.

    Like Paul, Jesus was “edgy” — THE role model for us all to follow of the bold messenger impacting the edges of sinful society. He didn’t stay confined to a cozy set of traditions. As Christians in the media, we can preach to the choir or reach out to folks who are not part of it; we can come alongside those who are hurting in our increasingly secularized world and be avenues of the Power and Presence of Jesus in their lives.

    Can we refuse to engage the world when we have the greatest good news ever? Can we remain content talking mostly to ourselves?

  1. March 11, 2015

    […] Christian Media: Talking Mostly To Ourselves […]

  2. April 20, 2015

    […] *For more statistics, see Christian Media: Talking Mostly To Ourselves, by Donald L. Hughes, […]

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