If there is one group of people that can transform Christian media into a more effective platform of spreading the Gospel, it will be Christian geeks. Why? Because television, radio, podcasts, web series, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, books, comics, etc. are all amazing ways to reach millions (maybe billions) of people for Christ, but it will require new styles and types of programming. Talk shows, preaching shows and pre-K children’s programming are nice, but there is a huge demographic of people (grades 4-12 and college age as well as people that don’t care for talk shows or preaching) that are vastly underserved and are tuning out. And unfortunately, this is also the demographic that is leaving church in droves. And when I say droves, the numbers are staggering, 60-70% of Christians upon graduating college never step foot in a church again, with the exception of weddings and/or funerals.
Christians are quick to point out programming they don’t like and call for boycotts. But, they aren’t so quick to create programming to compete against the programming they don’t like. Christianity has an amazing story to tell, one that has inspired and saved billions of people over the centuries. And that story used to be told in many ways and formats. Why did we stop telling it? Maybe we just took for granted that everyone was Christian and that all of our programming would always reflect those values and beliefs. Therefore, we didn’t need to develop any new platforms for sharing our faith. Unfortunately, the religious landscape has drastically shifted and our influence has grown smaller and smaller because we cling to that belief. We haven’t presented our case for Christianity and its values in compelling and creative ways. We watched secular media relegate us to the backroom of the debate or to people portrayed as holding angry signs and shouting on the street. It’s wonderful to watch priests, nuns, ministers, bishops, pastors, preachers and even popes challenge the conventional wisdom of the day, but couldn’t our creative content, when delivered right, have just as much if not greater impact?
Fortunately, there are Christians in secular media. That’s a good thing. How many people heard the song “Jesus Take The Wheel” by Carrie Underwood? How many athletes or actors publicly praise God for the blessing of a good performance? Do you enjoy the show, “God Friended Me”? We need more of this type of media, not less. Jesus Himself created compelling characters, situations and resolutions in parables that people could readily understand. Often the stories weren’t comfortable or cozy to His audience nor were they all that preachy. But they made His point, about God’s love, about how we should treat one another, about the evils of His day. Jesus got people to listen. He got people talking. He inspired people to action.
Oddly enough, most people do not have a problem with Christian theology. Even most atheists (maybe because they are former Christians) will tell you that Jesus said and did a lot of good things. Most people still believe in God or have some concept of a Higher Power. Most people love the idea of helping the poor, the elderly, the sick and the disadvantaged. Most people believe in an afterlife. They are teetering on the edge of salvation and only need that one person to pull them across the finish line. But the problem is, too often that doesn’t happen. Why? Because the problem they have is not with Christianity, it’s with Christians. They just don’t view Christians as people like them and they sure don’t want to sit next to them at church. Or they think we are hypocrites, saying God loves us while reminding everyone of all the people God hates. And Christian guilt, that’s a show stopper.
But, back to the original point. Christian geeks understand all of this because they understand the impact that various fandoms have had on their own lives. They understand how powerful a statement creativity makes in bringing people together. It may be a stunning cosplay, a compelling film or TV show, a relatable character, a beautifully illustrated comic or anime, an emotional song. They understand that if people are not drawn to click on that link, watch that video, listen to that music, read that blog, stop to watch that television program, our impact in spreading the Gospel is greatly diminished. And it is this kind of energy and outlook that we need in the studios. So to paraphrase Optimus Prime: I send this message to all those Christian geeks taking refuge in our churches. We are here. We are waiting.