Old wine in new wineskins

I can’t let this one go without comment. An article in today’s Online Media Daily looks at how the Christian TV ministry The Inspiration Networks is creating a new business model online with a broadband channel. Read this paragraph and pay attention to how the guy sees the twin marketing gods of reach and frequency as the goal of this web project.

“This is the dawn of a new era serving of the most important market segments of the country,” Bill Airy, Inspiration’s COO stated earlier this month, noting that the potential audience for such programming represents about 40 percent of the U.S. population. “We will leverage all our programming and promotional assets through more than 30 million households that receive them and the more than 8 million people weekly” that watch Inspiration’s TV channels, he added.
The earliest adopters of mass marketing concepts have always been evangelical Christian ministries. The first book printed was the Bible. Evangelists of centuries gone by pitched a tent to gather a crowd. Early radio and early television had their evangelists, and two of the ten transponders of the first RCA Satcom satellite were owned by evangelicals. It makes sense, because one-to-many is their mission. It was also very neat.

The early Christian church, however, was messy. It was up close and personal. People often sold their worldly goods to take care of each other. It was very much a one-to-one thing.

This, I think, is why the big ministries haven’t really explored the community or social aspects of the web. If they thought the web was the next great evangelical tool, they’d have been all over it from the get-go. It’s not, so they haven’t.

I wish Mr. Airy well, but I’d also challenge those in positions to do something about it to take the red words of the New Testament and apply them to web in a way that isn’t so “arm’s length” and sterile. The web may not be the best pulpit ever created (that’s TV), but it certainly is the most efficient means of connecting with others. I don’t want to argue with anybody’s theology, but isn’t that what pure religion is all about?


  1. I think the web has tremendous potential for ministries. You are right, “It was up close and personal” not only in the early days of the church but right up to 50 or 60 years ago. My local church has a ministry that we call “SOS”. When there is a need (financial, moving, yard work, plumbing etc.) we email approx. 500 people who have commited to help. Usually there is a response with in hours.
    I think a creative, informing, entertaining web site could minister to the church and the community, locally and beyond.

  2. One of the things I hope to do with my new consulting firm, (www.meshmediastrategies.com) is help churches do a better job using the one-to-one web.

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