Christian Media: Talking Mostly To Ourselves
If you are a Christian and you like reading Christian books and websites, listening to Christian radio and watching Christian TV and movies, welcome to the club. Lots of Christians are absorbing Christian media, but not much of it is reaching the non-Christian world. That fact comes to us from a recent National Religious Broadcasters (NRB)/Lifeway Research scientific poll.
In a report issued by Lifeway, they noted that Christian broadcasters have a devoted following, with about two-thirds of weekly churchgoers and evangelicals saying they tune in to Christian radio and television on a regular basis.
Christian books have a similar use by churchgoers and evangelicals and Christian movies remain popular, according to the report, with about 4 in 10 Americans having seen one in the last year.
Sadly, the research reveals that Christian media we know and love is not fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). They note that many Americans ignore Christian media.
Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research said, “Christian media delivers teaching, music, and entertainment to a predominantly Christian constituency. Not surprisingly, those who embrace Christian teaching will value and consume these the most.” Stetzer released the study’s findings during the NRB national convention in Nashville, February 25.
Non-Christian Antipathy Towards Christian Media
The report said:
- Two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) rarely or never watch Christian television.
- Those who skip church all together (94 percent) or have no religious affiliation (89 percent) rarely or never watch.
- Seven in 10 Americans (72 percent) rarely or never listen to Christian radio. They include those with no religious affiliation (94 percent) or who rarely (84 percent) or never (97 percent) attend church.
- Two-thirds (65 percent) rarely or never read Christian books.
Christian films have wider reception in the non-Christian community:
- Four in 10 (40 percent) Americans say they’ve watched a Christian movie in the last year.
- About half (51 percent) have not. One in 10 (9 percent) are not sure.
- Americans over 65 (31 percent) are less likely to have seen a Christian movie than those 18-29 (40 percent).
- Those with no religious affiliation (11 percent) and those from non-Christian faiths (37 percent) are least likely to have seen a Christian film.
Believers Love Christian Media
The NRB/Lifeway Research poll demonstrated that Christians consume a lot of media aimed at them:
- Self-identified evangelicals (69 percent), weekly church attenders (62 percent), and African-Americans (54 percent) are more likely to watch Christian television.
- About two-thirds of evangelicals (67 percent) and more than half of weekly church attenders (57 percent) are fans of Christian radio. Just under half (46 percent) of African Americans also tune in. Overall, about 1 in 4 (27 percent) Americans frequently or sometimes listen to Christian radio.
- African-Americans (59 percent), evangelicals (74 percent) and weekly churchgoers (64 percent) are more likely to have seen a Christian movie.
- About a third of Americans (33 percent) say they frequently or sometimes read Christian books.
“It’s stunning to see how many American believers are listening to or watching Christian media,” said Jerry Johnson, president of National Religious Broadcasters, an international association of Christian broadcasters and communicators. “It’s also encouraging to learn how new forms are emerging.”
The research demonstrated that Christian media has found a significant audience online. One in 4 Americans (25 percent) say they watch or listen to Christian programming every week on their computer, phone or tablet, according to the phone survey. An additional 5 percent tune in online monthly. One in 10 (9 percent) watch or listen online less than once a month.
“That would amount to over 60 million adult Americans each week,” explained Stetzer.
Podcasting did not fare well. Only 4 percent of Americans listen to Christian podcasts frequently. About 1 in 10 listen sometimes. Most Americans (84 percent) rarely or never listen to Christian podcasts.