1. Make it simple for families at home by offering resources for them to buy
Compile a list of recommended parenting books, kids devotionals, and workbooks for kids to equip them at home where most faith learning takes place. Even have some on hand that you can sell to them right at church.
2. Busyness does not equal effective ministry. Make events meaningful and less often.
Do not create too many programs that only further pull families away from their already busy schedules. You are not a social club, but a support for faith learning. Make any programs you do offer meaningful; don’t give in to the pressure to fill a calendar with busyness. Don’t feel the pressure to do what another church is doing; consider the unique make up of your church and prayerfully plan what suits the needs of your specific congregation. What is suitable for one congregation might miss the mark for another.
3. Spend money and resources on making your rooms kid-friendly
Your kids classrooms and nursery should be the cleanest, most organized, and the best decorated parts of your church. It’s an outward display of an inward commitment to excellence for the most vulnerable of our church. Cut down the clutter, and go through areas regularly to see them with eyes of a newcomer.
4. Please do not make a desperate request for teachers
Do not allow just anybody to serve. Keep high standards for who works with the most vulnerable of our congregation. Ask people you want directly. Go for the best. Parents will notice. It shows priority to those who we should be taking the best care of. I love having youth helpers and think it is vital for them to learn to serve. However, they are not to be relied upon. Adults are. Adults who typically are parents, involved in teaching, and who have a solid faith.
5. Set high standards, not low, for volunteers if you want to keep them.
Set a standard of commitment for those who volunteer. The least I allow for volunteer teachers is 4 weeks on 4 weeks off. Less than that and the person does not take ownership for their ministry. More than half of my teachers have asked if they can teach every Sunday because then it gives them full control over the run of the class. They take personal ownership and invest themselves in those kids’ lives. If volunteers only teach occasionally, there is no ownership taken and the kids suffer. The volunteers burn out because they have no attachment to the kids or ministry.
6. You are not the source of the children’s spiritual formation
Do not give parents the idea that the church does everything for their child’s spiritual development. Stress that you are only a support for what they are doing at home. A good portion of your time should be giving them resources and equipping them to lead their own children at home. Bring the ministry to homes, not just within your church.
7. Stop creating an environment where parents feel like the church needs them to be perfect
Provide a way that they can submit prayer requests to the church staff so they can be prayed for and problems can be dealt with together. They need to know they are not judged, but welcomed and loved in the mess of life.
8. Kids need God’s Word taught simply, and to be loved by an adult who listens
Stop thinking that the next best thing is always happening. It’ll be exhausting if you’re always looking to order the new curriculum based on that season’s new hit TV show. God’s word is life changing and captivating as it is. What kids need to know about God and the Bible has not changed. Don’t sacrifice this for trying to stay current. If it works, great, but stop searching and searching for what just came out. Kids need what they have always needed: to know his Word, taught straight up. This is what changes their hearts. They also need to know that they have a space to be listened to and loved by a real person who takes the time to be in their classroom every week.
9. Give kids a family atmosphere at church; your goal isn’t entertainment atmosphere.
We are a body of believers. Brothers and sisters in Christ. Our ties together have to do with him alone. With encouraging one another and building one another up in our faith. Kids need this too. God’s Word changes lives. The love of his people showing his love to others is what lonely hearts need. It’s what your heart needs. It’s what our kids’ hearts need.
Valerie Ackermann is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Parkway Community Church where she is involved with overseeing volunteers, planning and developing programs, and facilitating the classes for Sunday school. She also teaches her own class every Sunday and loves staying in the classroom and on the front line with the kids.www.leadmetoGod.com
If you’re already sick of the fight over Obamacare, be prepared: The Obama administration is turning its focus on prime time television series, using the influential platform and the power of celebrity to spread the word about its healthcare initiative.
The goal is to keep producers, writers and directors up to date in the event they seek to integrate the federal health initiative into their storylines. The money will also go to producing pro-ACA public service announcements that track with storylines on the TV series.
“Our experience has shown that the public gets just as much, if not more, information about current events and important issues from their favorite television shows and characters as they do from the news media and online resources,” said Martin Kaplan, who heads the USC program, in a statement. “This grant will allow us to ensure that industry practitioners have up-to-date, relevant facts on health care reform to integrate into their storylines and projects.”
Half of the funding will be devoted to Spanish-language programming.
The USC program’s advisory board contains several influential television executives, Deadline Hollywood found. Among them Jennifer Cecil, co-executive producer of “Hostages,” Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and Chris Nee, the executive producer of Disney Jr.‘s “Doc McStuffins.”
They join several high profile actors and actresses who have stepped up to lend their names and time to promoting the Obamacare message to a mass audience. Most recently, Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson completed a viral parody video of the popular “Scandal” series, which is set in a fictional White House, for Will Ferrell’s “Funny or Die” online spots.
In July, a group of celebrities, including Hudson, visited Washington to meet with the president and his staff and to learn what they could do to assist in advance of the program’s rollout, the Hollywood Reporter said at the time.
“The president stopped by the meeting to engage artists who expressed an interest in helping to educate the public about the benefits of the health law,” a White House official told the Hollywood Reporter. “The reach of these national stars spreads beyond the Beltway to fans of their television shows, movies and music—and the power of these artists to speak through social media is especially critical.”
They included comic actress Amy Poehler, Michael Cera, Aisha Tyler, as well as representatives who attended on behalf of such megastars as Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys and Jon Bon Jovi.
Others in Hollywood have taken to social media sites such as Twitter where they participate by posting photos of themselves holding signs that read “Get Covered.”
They included Connie Britton, Olivia Wilde, Taye Diggs, Kate Bosworth, Lady Gaga, Sarah Silverman, Katy Perry, Magic Johnson and Kerry Washington, The Hill reported.
“These are just the opening moves in a multi-pronged campaign using Hollywood as a platform for the ACA,” a source told Deadline Hollywood.
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened?
Until this month, a vast ocean of U.S. programming produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks could only be viewed or listened to at broadcast quality in foreign countries. The programming varies in tone and quality, but its breadth is vast: It’s viewed in more than 100 countries in 61 languages. The topics covered include human rights abuses in Iran; self-immolation in Tibet; human trafficking across Asia; and on-the-ground reporting in Egypt and Iraq.
The restriction of these broadcasts was due to the Smith-Mundt Act, a long standing piece of legislation that has been amended numerous times over the years, perhaps most consequentially by Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. In the 70s, Fulbright was no friend of VOA and Radio Free Europe, and moved to restrict them from domestic distribution, saying they “should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics.” Fulbright’s amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky who argued that such “propaganda” should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. “from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity.”
Zorinsky and Fulbright sold their amendments on sensible rhetoric: American taxpayers shouldn’t be funding propaganda for American audiences. So did Congress just tear down the American public’s last defense against domestic propaganda?
BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil insists BBG is not a propaganda outlet, and its flagship services such as VOA “present fair and accurate news.”
“They don’t shy away from stories that don’t shed the best light on the United States,” she told The Cable. She pointed to the charters of VOA and RFE: “Our journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible, discussion, and open debate.”
A former U.S. government source with knowledge of the BBG says the organization is no Pravda, but it does advance U.S. interests in more subtle ways. In Somalia, for instance, VOA serves as counterprogramming to outlets peddling anti-American or jihadist sentiment. “Somalis have three options for news,” the source said, “word of mouth, Al-Shabaab or VOA Somalia.”
This partially explains the push to allow BBG broadcasts on local radio stations in the United States. The agency wants to reach diaspora communities, such as St. Paul Minnesota’s significant Somaliexpat community. “Those people can get Al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn’t get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia,” the source said. “It was silly.”
Lynne added that the reform has a transparency benefit as well. “Now Americans will be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars – greater transparency is a win-win for all involved,” she said. And so with that we have the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, and went into effect this month.
But if anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons. Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firm confessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously. Additionally, just this month, The Washington Post exposed a counter propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing Al-Shabaab. “Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership,” reported The Post.
But for BBG officials, the references to Pentagon propaganda efforts are nauseating, particularly because the Smith-Mundt Act never had anything to do with regulating the Pentagon, a fact that was misunderstood in media reports in the run-up to the passage of new Smith-Mundt reforms in January.
One example included a report by the late Buzzfeed reporter Michael Hastings, who suggested that the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act would open the door to Pentagon propaganda of U.S. audiences. In fact, as amended in 1987, the act only covers portions of the State Department engaged in public diplomacy abroad (i.e. the public diplomacy section of the “R” bureau, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.)
But the news circulated regardless, much to the displeasure of Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), a sponsor of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. “To me, it’s a fascinating case study in how one blogger was pretty sloppy, not understanding the issue and then it got picked up by Politico‘s Playbook, and you had one level of sloppiness on top of another,” Thornberry toldThe Cable last May. “And once something sensational gets out there, it just spreads like wildfire.”
That of course doesn’t leave the BBG off the hook if its content smacks of agitprop. But now that its materials are allowed to be broadcast by local radio stations and TV networks, they won’t be a complete mystery to Americans. “Previously, the legislation had the effect of clouding and hiding this stuff,” the former U.S. official told The Cable. “Now we’ll have a better sense: Gee some of this stuff is really good. Or gee some of this stuff is really bad. At least we’ll know now.” source – Foreign Policy.
MARRIAGE CHAMPION: Each year, Karen Evans speaks to thousands through conferences and the TV show MarriageToday With Jimmy and Karen Evans
Being the wife of a pastor for 40 years has had its share of challenges that thankfully we learned to navigate, especially early in our marriage.
We were 28 years young with two small children when Jimmy accepted the call to lead Trinity, which made for several very difficult years for our marriage and family. I know our struggles are not unique to ministry couples—far from it. So when Jimmy asked me to write for the July-August issue of Ministry Today, I knew I wanted to share some of my own experiences and story in an honest letter to pastors’ wives. (If you’re a pastor reading this, you’ll likely gain some real insight into your wife’s journey.)
What follows are some specific lessons—sometimes learned in hard ways—to encourage you that you are not, and never have been, alone.
Marriage and family are prime targets for Satan, especially pastors’ marriages. When we began MarriageToday, we were actually going though the toughest times of our lives and marriage. We began to recognize that marriage and family are the areas Satan attacks the most. If you’re a pastor’s wife, you need to grasp that Satan wants to destroy your family even more than the church.
Understanding how God sees me gives me the freedom to be myself. I knew I was not the typical “pastor’s wife.” I didn’t teach or have any musical abilities. Our church never put pressure on me to be anything more than Jimmy’s wife.
However, the first couple of years were very trying. Jimmy and I had no mentors or experience. We loved our church and the people, but the stress began bearing down on us personally. I was fighting feelings of not being the wife Jimmy needed to lead the church as well as my own insecurities. The greatest struggle for me was to not feel guilty about who I was as a person before we came to the church. I would beg God to change me and tell Him I would accept the gift to speak if He wanted to give it to me.
The year before Jimmy became senior pastor, I had begun reading the Word every day. I had made a commitment to God to know Him and Jesus for myself. I was growing in my relationship with God and His Word and realized I was gifted in serving. I loved discipling women to grow in Christ. I also had a love for prayer. I found that serving in different areas of ministry helped me feel accepted and take my mind off myself.
The real changes came when I began to see myself through the Word and not my fears and insecurities. The Lord was healing me by His Word, and it caused me to start to see value in myself. I began to deal with the guilt and see my worth as a child of God and to not feel unworthy if I loved being a wife and mother. I began to accept myself and not be afraid to just be me.
When the ministry comes before the marriage, something has to give. Being married to a pastor is even more of a reason to keep your marriage first. Because of his own fears, Jimmy began to disconnect from us emotionally and mentally, which caused me to withdraw, too. Ministry began to take its toll on our marriage. The constant stress of trying to raise young children was difficult. I knew in my heart that being honest about the stress was important. I supported Jimmy with all the church issues but couldn’t accept his behavior of checking out on us at home and leaving me feeling like a single parent. The resentment toward each other grew. I would seek counsel from elder friends, but even they didn’t seem to have answers.
After months of fighting, we began to realize that the ministry had come before our marriage. It’s funny, but during that time I never questioned if Jimmy was supposed to leave the church. He actually was the one who offered to quit to save our marriage. I knew quitting was not the answer, but protecting our marriage before the church was.
We began to talk about how to cut back on the demands. Jimmy encouraged me to see that just being his wife was a full-time job along with parenting and volunteering at church and other places. My own journey of healing and maturing came as we both learned how to lead the church and have a great marriage. After years of Jimmy driving himself to exhaustion and sickness, we now go over what is important and the timing of his schedule together. Above all else, keep your marriage first.
What one of us goes through affects both of us. Being the wife of the senior pastor had even more challenges. I love our church, and the people are amazing. But every church deals with struggles and pain and hurts from other people. Often, we would hear about people we loved leaving or talking bad about Jimmy and the elders. It hurt deeply to lose relationships; it seemed as if people cared more about the issues than the friendships.
Many times, Jimmy and I would talk about quitting the ministry altogether and moving where no one knew us and just be normal church people. But our hearts wouldn’t let us. We would pray and talk and pray some more and forgive again and again. We dealt with the hurts by talking about everything and not allowing each other to withhold forgiveness or harbor secrets.
Jimmy and I are accountable to each other, and he’s accountable to our elders. I have even personally called some of his close elder friends to tell them about situations that were affecting him personally. He and I are one, so what we go through individually affects us both. If you know situations at church are affecting your spouse, don’t be afraid to get help!
Kids, even pastor’s kids, must find their own faith. We also knew our children were in a fish bowl. So we talked to them about how even if we were working outside the church, we would still require them to live in a way that honored God. We never allowed the church to put pressure on them. But at the same time, we knew it was hard for them. As much as we wanted to protect them, they had to find their own faith and go through the many character-building situations of life.
Despite the potential hurt and betrayals of friends, relationships are still worth it. Being a pastor’s wife can be very lonely. I have always had close friends, but I can remember times of feeling very alone in the midst of it all. We give so much of ourselves to the church, and sometimes it’s easy to lose our identity. Most of us go through these common feelings, but as a pastor’s wife we’re afraid to let ourselves be honest with these issues.
I prayed early on that the Lord would bring me friends I could trust. Mature friends who stay with you through the hard times are invaluable. I don’t fear being vulnerable as much as I fear the rejection from those I love. I want to affirm all of you who have had betrayal and loss. It hurts more than most people in your church could ever understand. You know both or most sides of every story, and keeping your mouth shut is hard and lonely. But the Lord sees and knows, and it’s still worth developing relationships that go through the fire with you and are standing with you after the smoke clears.
Being honest about what you need is the first step to getting what you need. It’s important to let your husband know when you have a need to just vent and when you want him to give his counsel. Many times I’m dealing with issues of my own and just want to talk. I’m not necessarily asking Jimmy to fix it. Sometimes I just need him to be my friend. Let your husband know up front what you’re thinking. Be honest about your fears. It’s also just as important to let him talk and not give advice unless he asks for it. Jimmy and I share the same values, but there are times he doesn’t need my answers as much as my understanding.
The role I play is vital to our family—and ministry. Through the years, I’ve learned that serving Jimmy in our home is just as important as me serving in the church. I have tried to keep our home a place of peace and rest and order. Even though Jimmy will help me around the house, I always consider him and his schedule and how I can better serve him so he can come home and get away from the demands. We are empty nesters now, so it has been a give and take through all the different seasons of our marriage and children growing up. My friends at church know that Jimmy has been able to do what he does because of my support. I don’t struggle anymore with my destiny being like others, whether it’s at home or in ministry. I have no regrets about making our marriage first and our home a safe haven. The Lord has honored our hearts and given us so much to steward, but the most important thing has been to keep our relationship with Jesus first and then with each other.
I love being a pastor’s wife, and I love our church. Through all the years of trials and joys, I am so grateful for what the Lord has done in our lives and the church. Being part of the bigger body of Christ is an amazing thought, so to all of you who serve alongside your husbands, I say thank you. I appreciate and love the differences we all bring as women, wives and pastors. You are a beautiful part of not only leading but also being an example of helping and serving others. Well done, my friends!
Written by Karen Evans
Karen Evans is co-founder of the international ministry MarriageToday with her husband Jimmy Evans. She and Jimmy have been married for 40 years and have two adult children.
Do you have tough questions about the Bible and how it impacts today’s society? For years, listeners have been asking Dr. Michael Brown and guests those questions on his radio broadcast, In the Line of Fire.
Now, Brown is launching a television show to take his prophetic perspectives on culture to even more people. Answering Your Toughest Questions With Dr. Michael Brown debuts on July 10. (Click here for more info.)
“The Lord has opened an amazing door for our ministry to launch a brand new TV show—and it will start with a 32-week series on ‘Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus,’” Brown says. “Nothing like this has ever been done before on national television, and through our partnership with NRB TV, we will be able to reach tens of millions of Americans every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.”
Through the broadcast, Brown will tackle the toughest questions asked by believers and non-believers. The show will also feature some of the best debates he’s participated in over the years. Brown has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors and gay activists on radio, TV and college campuses. He is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist.
Since coming to faith in 1971 as a 16 year-old, heroin-shooting Jewish rock drummer, Brown has devoted his life to fostering awakening in the church, sparking moral and cultural revolution in the society, raising up gospel laborers for the nations and reaching out to his own Jewish people.
Beyond hosting a nationally syndicated radio broadcast, he is also the president of FIRE School of Ministry and a professor of Bible and Hebrew studies at several leading seminaries. He has preached in more than 25 nations and is the author of 22 books and numerous scholarly and popular articles.
The most anti-Semitic act I know is to so love and honor your Jewish friends that you do not share the gospel with them. I am a Jew and Israeli citizen and, like Paul, would give up my very life for my brethren after the flesh.
In recent years I am grateful for the Christians Bless Israel nights. God knows Israel needs friends and support. But to bless the Jew and Israel and intentionally withhold the gospel on these nights isnot Christian.
I am in favor of infomercials that raise money to help persecuted Jews return to Israel. But to take Christian money and not help Jews who believe in Jesus is wrong!
I am concerned about Christians who are more concerned about Jewish roots than Jewish souls.
I am concerned about traditional Jewish rabbis who are exalted on Christian television yet hate Jews who believe in Jesus.
This is the set time to favor Zion. The spiritual scales are being removed from the eyes of Jewish people. But Paul says in Romans 10:
“My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. … How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (vv. 1, 14).
And we read in Ezekiel 3:
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. … When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning … to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand” (vv. 17, 18).
It’s time for the emperor to put on his clothes. Someone has to tell him he is naked.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the new children’s cartoon show called Shezow, featuring a 12-year-old boy named Guy “who uses a magic ring to transform himself into a crime-fighting girl” wearing “a purple skirt and cape, as well as pink gloves and white boots.” And to change from boy to girl, he just says the magic words, “You go, girl!”
Another harmless TV program for the little ones? Not on your life. This is yet another attempt to blur gender distinctions and to celebrate transgender identity. And in this case, the target audience is very young: ages 2 to 11.
Lest you think I’m simply a fundamentalist, right-wing, frothing-at-the-mouth, gay-conspiracy-theorist (I’ve been called worse than that!), let me remind you that the largest toy catalog in Sweden went gender neutral last year. Yes, Top Toy Group released a 2012 Christmas catalog featuring girls playing with Nerf guns and boys playing with princess dolls and using hairdryers to dry girls’ hair. (This link has pictures.)
Matthew Day reports, “In the past the company, which holds the franchise for the Toys ‘R’ Us and BR-Toys chains, has fallen foul of regulations in Sweden prohibiting sexist advertising.
“The advertising standard ombudsman had previously criticised the company for producing a television commercial which spoke of ‘cars for boys, princesses for girls.’”
The company has now made its amends, says Jan Nyberg, sales director at Top Toy, explaining, “With the new way of thinking about gender, there is nothing that is right or wrong. A toy is not a boy or girl thing; it’s a toy for children.”
Indeed, “The Scandinavian country has strived to foster a culture of gender neutrality, and any advertisement deemed sexist faces legal sanctions or, if not, the wrath of angered Swedes.”
In keeping with this, schools have been charged with breaking down gender stereotypes, a gender neutral pronoun has been introduced (pronounced “hen”), and parents are being encouraged to give boy names to their girls and girl names to their boys. I kid you not.
Here in the States, already in 2006, the New York Timesreported, “At the Park Day School in Oakland [California], teachers are taught a gender-neutral vocabulary and are urged to line up students by sneaker color rather than by gender. ‘We are careful not to create a situation where students are being boxed in,’ said Tom Little, the school’s director. ‘We allow them to move back and forth until something feels right.’”
Last year in Germany, Nils Pickert, hailed as “father of the year,” was praised for wearing “women’s clothes (including nail polish) to help his 5-year-old son feel good about going out in dresses and skirts.”
And the German magazine Emma reported that the story had a “happy ending,” as Pickert explained, “And what’s the little guy doing by now? He’s painting his fingernails. He thinks it looks pretty on my nails, too. He’s simply smiling, when other boys (and it’s nearly always boys) want to make fun of him and says: ‘You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either.’ That’s how broad his own shoulders have become by now. And all thanks to daddy in a skirt.”
Parental solidarity is one thing. Contributing to a little boy’s confusion is another thing.
And then there are the “gender-bender” days at school here in America, beginning with elementary schools, where the kids are encouraged to come to school dressed as the opposite sex.
Is it so far-fetched to suggest that these kinds of attitudes and activities have contributed to the ever-increasing gender confusion found among today’s kids? And is it any coincidence that after years of pressure from transgender activists, the American Psychiatric Society is now removing the term “gender identity disorder” from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5)?
And so, rather than having compassion on children and adults who struggle with their gender identity and investing the necessary resources to try to understand the cause of their struggles, and rather than recognizing that many kids go through all kinds of phases that parents should not encourage, we are being told to embrace transgenderism—no, to celebrate it.
Listed under the Homophobic category are: 1) repulsion, 2) pity, 3) tolerance and 4) acceptance. (That’s correct: “Tolerance” and “acceptance” are now considered homophobic.) Listed under the Positive category are: 5) support, 6) admiration, 7) appreciation and 8) nurturance. In other words, your kids in school should have an attitude of support, admiration, appreciation and nurturance toward homosexuality; otherwise they are homophobic.
LGBT activists have simply added “transgender” to the mix, the latest cause to be supported, admired, appreciated, nurtured and celebrated. Can you say, “Shezow”?
Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
Michael Brown is author of The Real Kosher Jesus and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrownon Twitter.
OFFENDER #1: If you talk in a different voice when the camera is turned on: Everywhere else on television we see reality. Love it or hate it, reality programming has left an indelible mark on the industry. So when you appear on your program with your “classic TV voice” it sticks out like a sore thumb. You know who I’m talking about. Numerous ministry leaders are gracious, authentic and engaging when talking with friends over lunch. But turn on the camera, and they become someone else. The television commercial business is a great example of the change.
National spots used to be narrated by men with powerful voices. Deep voices that resonated with power and authority. But listen to a commercial today. More often than not, it sounds like a regular guy—or woman. The advertiser knows the connection doesn’t come from a perfect voice, but from the sound of someone like you and me. Watch regular television and listen to the difference. Stop trying to be bigger than life. Be real. Speak normally. It doesn’t make you more anointed or powerful when you try to sound like God. Talk like everyone else, and you’ll be amazed at the connection. The “over the top” era is done.
OFFENDER #2: If on TV you wear different clothes or hairstyles than everyone else: Back in the glory days of “variety” programming, stars wore some pretty weird outfits, and the audience loved it. When I took the tour through Graceland—the estate of the late Elvis Presley—I marveled at the collection of his outrageous concert outfits. Unbelievable stuff. A walk through the historical section of a prop and costume department in Hollywood is a similar experience. But that was a different time. While I’m always open to change, as of this writing:
Nehru jackets are done.
Big gold chains are for hip-hop artists and gangsters.
Trust me. Everyone knows that’s a toupee on your head.
T.D. Jakes is cool. White preachers that try to dress like T.D. are not.
T-shirts under sportcoats went out with Miami Vice.
Spandex is not for TV—ever.
And when it comes to TV evangelists, what’s the thing about hair? Do I really have to elaborate? Years ago, I filmed one offender deep in the desert of the Middle East for a TV segment. The wind was raging, and his comb-over was so huge, he went through nearly a case of hairspray to keep it under control. When he was finished, his hair looked more like a NASCAR helmet. The desert sands were blowing all around him, and my crew was fighting to hold down the equipment, but that comb-over stayed firm without a hair out of place. If a nuclear attack had happened at that moment, I wanted under that helmet of hair. Study the wardrobe and hairstyles of secular TV hosts today. It’s remarkably normal stuff. Tasteful and subtle. Now—quick—switch back to a Christian TV program.
To be fair, let me turn the tables and say something to today’s “hip” young pastors: It’s time to stop wearing those striped shirts with the shirttails out when you preach. Wearing jeans and open collar shirts is fine. But styles change and it’s time to change with it. Hundreds of young contemporary pastors all look alike today—jeans, striped shirts, tails out. And while you’re tossing out those shirts, dump anything with big designs on it. You know what I’m talking about—the t-shirts with the big printed crosses, or the torn up sport coats with stuff written on them.
The point is, people change, trends change and fashion changes. When every pastor in America looks alike, nothing is distinctive anymore.
OFFENDER #3: If you use the phrases, “Shake the nations,” “Transform your life,” or “Touch the world” more than once in a 30 minute TV or radio program. Yes—I admit being guilty of these offenses in my day, but I went into treatment and I’m better now.
The point is about hype. There’s just too much of it in religious media. When every CD set, book, or sermon from every preacher will change your life, then nothing will. The audience gets numb when the superlatives come in a continual flood. I always coach actors that during a dramatic scene, speaking in a loud voice all the time actually lessens the impact of the scene. When someone talks loud continually, after a while the audience simply filters it out.
Talking loud has impact, only after you’ve been speaking in a softer voice.Contrast matters. Stop the hype.Yes, God can do amazing things. He can transform people’s lives. He can shake nations. But be realistic about your products and your ministry. Let other people say nice things about you. Modesty is a virtue. You’ll be amazed at the credibility you’ll gain with the audience.
OFFENDER #4: If the audience notices the furniture more than you. I was once asked for my thoughts on a particular Sunday morning program, and when I viewed the DVD, the first thing I noticed was the set design must have cost an absolute fortune. Not because it was creatively designed, but because it looked so expensive. It was almost all white, very elaborate, had a few gold touches, and generally, looked like the inside of a palace. For some reason I can’t figure out, we’ve come to think that we’ll gain more respect as Christian broadcasters if we create the illusion of a really expensive set. I made two comments to the pastor. First—why should I financially support your media ministry? Your set makes it appear you have all the money you’ll ever need. Second—this environment is so far removed from my daily life, I can’t really relate to you or your message. He didn’t take my advice, and his audience continues to drop. (Well, what did you expect?)
I love a great setting for a program and our company has designed and built some amazing sets for our media clients. When it’s appropriate, it can make a huge impact because it places your message in a complementary setting. Sets are important. But the program is about your message – not about you or your set. Keep that in perspective.
OFFENDER #5: If you’re still doing a talk show format with a monologue, a live band, and interviews. The comedy greats like Carson, Leno, Letterman and others have taken control of that territory, and plenty of others—especially in late night programming—are following in their footsteps. So let’s look at another approach. For some mysterious reason, certain Christian broadcasters think this format is sacred, and have tried it over and over and still haven’t succeeded. But by contrast, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Glenn Beck and plenty of others have all done successful interview programs without the need of a live band, monologue or the other trappings of late night TV.
Be bold. Be innovative. Stop copying other people and explore the right format that will showcase your gifts and talents—not look like someone else.
OFFENDER #6: If you’re still building altars of prayer requests people have sent in. It’s done for one reason—to impress the audience with numbers. If the audience can see that thousands of people responded, and the evangelist has built an altar from the requests, then maybe I should send in mine as well (and include a check.) As most of these points I’m listing indicate, this was started by well-meaning people with the best of intentions. Truth be told, it was probably a good idea ONCE. But when it’s done over and over, it simply loses it’s meaning.
An older generation was touched by big, expansive gestures, but a younger generation sees it for what it is—excessive manipulation.
Anytime you use an idea like this, make sure you’re sensitive to the issues of manipulation and exploitation. As I’ll say over and over throughout the book, we’re creating media for a generation that’s been sold to, marketed, and branded all their lives, and they’re the most media savvy generation in history. Be very careful that even with a well-intentioned idea, that it’s not perceived as a gimmick or publicity stunt.
OFFENDER #7: Finally, if the singing group on your program is called “The (insert name here) Singers.” I think this idea went out about the time of Lawrence Welk or The New Christy Minstrels. In junior high, I was in “The New Creation Singers.” In seventh grade it was cool. It’s not now. The (insert TV evangelist name) Singers. You get it. Enough said.
The list of religious media indiscretions could continue, but you get my point. The production styles, creative ideas, fashions or techniques that worked yesterday don’t always work today.
Please remember that in listing these particular offenses, I’m not commenting on the intentions or integrity of particular ministries who are still trying these worn-out methods. I have the greatest respect for anyone trying to share their faith with the culture. But I’m commenting on the need to stop kicking a dead horse and start looking at a new method of transportation. Our job as communicators is to see the changes coming in the culture and adapt, so our message is as relevant now as it was yesterday—and will still be tomorrow.
Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
Phil Cooke is a media consultant focused mainly on the Christian market, as well as a vocal critic of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian culture.Click here to visit his website.
Despite the raging success of The Bible miniseries on the History Channel, Christian critics still sound off about recent efforts by Hollywood to produce Christian-themed movies and TV programming. I was in a meeting recently where we discussed the record-breaking audience for The Bible series, and one well-meaning Christian in the group said, “But it’s soinaccurate!”
Every time a project like The Blind Side, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bible, The Book of Eli and others come out, a group of Christians take issue with the theology, doctrine or portrayals in them. In most cases, the complainers are well-meaning, but despite the inaccuracies or doctrinal issues in these projects, here’s why I think we need to support them.
Hollywood is finally getting the message that 91+ million evangelical Christians in the United States take their faith seriously, and it’s interested in reaching that audience. This is a major breakthrough. For the last 30 years, in movies or prime-time TV, most Christians were portrayed as pedophiles, serial killers or child abusers. Now the entertainment industry has realized this is a vast audience that should be treated seriously, and we’re seeing a sea change in the way Christians are portrayed.
Hollywood now spends hundreds of millions of dollars marketing these projects to the world. When the History Channel is spending tens of millions of dollars advertising The Bible to the world, we need to get behind it. Add all the other major studio projects, and the exposure to biblically themed projects is amazing. As a result of the Bible series alone, millions of people are now watching Bible stories, buying the DVD and reading the book. How can this be a bad thing?
The Bible is now water-cooler conversation. Christians who were once afraid to discuss their faith at the office are now finding that talking about the Bible is actually cool! Because these movies and TV programs bring up the issue, Christians not only are more comfortable talking about it, but also are there to answer questions their co-workers and friends have about the Bible.
The impact is nothing short of extraordinary. As Hollywood talent agent Kim Dorr said about the Bible series recently, “Granted they are telescoping the entire Bible into 10 hours of television. Granted there are places where they’ve had to jump through hundreds of years of world history. But the fact that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey pitched a miniseries about the Bible, sold it, shot it and have it on a cable network where millions of people are watching it and discussing it—is extraordinary. In watching the episodes, there have been moments of such theological insight that my husband and I have stopped many times to discuss how the scene broadened or deepened something in our faith. To get that from something airing on TV is extraordinary.”
If the Christian community could act as one, we could make a powerful difference in the culture. We wonder why we’re not impacting the world, and yet these films and TV programs are a great example of how we criticize each other rather than support each other. Check out the website for As One to find out just how important it is for us to work together.
Unity matters. If we’re going to impact the world, we need to stand together. We can nitpick each other’s projects until Jesus comes, but when He arrives, He won’t be happy with the result. The portrayal of King David might not have been what you expected. The dialogue on the road to Damascus might not have been rendered exactly as it’s given in the biblical text. Did Jesus carry the whole cross or just a beam? Does everything about this have to be perfect?
The point is, these big-budget projects are telling the story of the Bible to the world, and it’s our job to follow up with our friends, family and co-workers and fill in the details. We have a role to play in this, and it’s not just to be critics.
A suicide bombing at a Syrian mosque has killed a senior cleric and supporter of President Bashar al Assad, state television has said.
Mohammed al Buti – imam of the historic Ummayyad Mosque – was killed when a bomber blew himself up during packed evening prayers at the Iman Mosque in Damascus.
At least 15 people died and dozens more were injured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It is unclear if the explosion was caused by a car bomb or a mortar shell.
TV footage showed wounded people and bodies with severed limbs on the blood-stained floor of the mosque, which has since been sealed off by the military.
The Sunni preacher’s death is a big blow to Syria’s embattled minority Alawite leader, who is fighting mainly Sunni rebels seeking his ouster.
The 84-year-old imam has been a vocal supporter the Assad regime since the early days of his father and predecessor, the late President Hafez Assad.
In recent months, Syrian TV has carried his sermons from mosques in Damascus live every week. He also has a regular religious TV program.
In one of his televised speeches, Dr Buti had described the opposition to Mr Assad as “scum”. He also used his position to call on Syrians to join the armed forces and help Mr Assad defeat his rivals in the country’s two-year-long rebellion.
He was remembered for a sermon he gave early in the conflict, in which he told the president he had had a vision that Syria would “receive God’s wrath”, but would survive.