Is Christian Television Programming Boring?

How often do you watch Christian television? What is your overall impression of it? To be honest with you, Christian television leaves me scratching my head.

I appreciate the work that stations like TBN, The Church Channel, and The Word Network do. However, I need more. I need more creativity. I need more variety. I need more options. I know I may be coming off as being selfish right now, but I’m writing this with sincerity and respect. The current state of Christian television programming needs some adjustments.

The Same Programs
We serve a very creative God. The many different plant and animal species, are a testament to that. For some reason, it seems that we as Christians often fail to tap into God’s creative side.

When you look at most Christian networks, all of their programming is very similar. I would venture to say that about 90-95% of Christian programming falls into one of these three categories:

1. Church services: This is pretty simple. A network airs a church service. Most times we just get to see the preacher. Many times only a portion of the message is aired. I believe there are SOME ministries that use their broadcasts just to sell books, CDs and DVDs.

2. Talk shows: This is when you have one or two host and they have some guests. These shows cover a variety of Christian related topics. A good example of this is TBN’s show Praise The Lord.

3. Music videos: Sometimes this also includes showing an artist in concert.

There you have it. The majority of Christian programming. Not very creative is it?

A Few Suggestions
Maybe you are happy with the current Christian programming available, but I would like to see the networks do something different. Here are a couple of suggestions I came up with for TV programming.

Sitcoms
I don’t know about you, but my life as a Christian does not revolve around a church. I’d like to see a Christian sitcom where the church, the pastor, or the deacon weren’t the main focuses of the show. In my opinion, our Christianity effects all aspects of our life.

Dramas
This is similar to my comments about sitcoms. I’d be interested in seeing a one hour drama about how Christian characters deal with real life situations.

Conferences
There are hundreds of Christian conferences every year. In those conferences there are thousands of panel discussions and breakout sessions. Why not record these sessions and air them on a network a couple of weeks after the conference is over. Wait, let me guess…if you air the sessions, then people won’t pay to attend the conference. You don’t have to air every session. Plus, you could do a 1hr show that recaps the entire conference.

Ministries
There are thousands of ministries that work outside of the walls of the church. Why not have a show that profiles some of these ministries each week.

Money Money Money
I’m not naive. I understand that money plays a huge factor in the programming that airs on any TV network. If money is keeping some Christian networks from expanding their programming, should these networks re-think their revenue model? Maybe some networks should stop being viewer supported. Would it be terrible if they began to sell advertising?

I really do appreciate the work and ministry of Christian TV networks. However, I’m just looking for more. Are broadcasts of church services all we really have to offer the world? You may say that if the Christian networks don’t air these services, then no other networks will. While that may be true, I believe there is room for expansion. I think there are many Christians who would embrace other types of Christian programming.

More Information
For more information about Christian television programming, I suggest you take a look at these books by Phil Cooke:

The Last TV Evangelist: Why the Next Generation Couldn’t Care Less About Religious Media
Creative Christian Media
Successful Christian Television

What are your opinions about the current state of Christian TV programming? Would you be open to other options?

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  • http://justdoyin.wordpress.com Anoda Phase

    hmmmm…you have touched on a very vital point here…as someone who is into Christian Drama, I have to agree with you that Drama/Sitcoms are definitely a must-add to the programming of Christian TV…there must be Christian dramas out there that can be aired…or at least ideas for such (maybe I should write something…no?)…I do like to watch TBN n co. but like you rightly mention, I get bored watching the same things over n over n over again…variety is definitely needed…I hope the executives (or whoever is concerned) of these stations get to read this…

    Weldone…

  • Josh

    Its pointless – The younger generation doesn’t say hey lets watch an old guy sing a song ! Or a 13 year old saying when is bible man coming on … Nope 13 to 40 can’t stand TBN – TBN makes millions but millions go into the pockets of paul crouch , beny hinn and so on ! If they used that money for ( Good ) programming maybe Tbn would get some respect from generation X or generation Next ! But right now its programming for 60 & over or 12 and under …

  • http://www.lightquestmedia.com Chris

    For the most part, Christian TV provides programming driven by the donors that support. There are some people creating fresh approaches that have not received wide airing as of yet. One organization tackling the problem is Back to the Bible, a ministry that has been active in Christian radio for 70 years. Now they are tackling TV, and you might enjoy taking a peek at their pilot for [footnote]* at http://www.fntv.com. Phil Cooke, whose books you mention, has been a consulting producer on this show.

  • http://www.holyevents.com Holy Events

    Josh hit it on the head! Most of the programming I've seen is aimed at older people, I guess because they are the ones who fund it. You're right, my life doesn't revolve around the church either, and there are so many different aspects to life that can be showcased on Christian TV without being too Christiany (I made up that word).

    What about a Christian game show? Something like Jeopardy where you have to say the answer to questions about the Bible, Christian pop culture, famous pastors, etc.

    Make no mistake, Christianity is big business these days, so there can be a way to make it work. Truet Cathy of Chick-fil-A still profits and his stores are closed on Sunday. The business models are out there, someone just has to take that first step…

  • http://www.holyevents.com Holy Events

    Josh hit it on the head! Most of the programming I've seen is aimed at older people, I guess because they are the ones who fund it. You're right, my life doesn't revolve around the church either, and there are so many different aspects to life that can be showcased on Christian TV without being too Christiany (I made up that word).

    What about a Christian game show? Something like Jeopardy where you have to say the answer to questions about the Bible, Christian pop culture, famous pastors, etc.

    Make no mistake, Christianity is big business these days, so there can be a way to make it work. Truet Cathy of Chick-fil-A still profits and his stores are closed on Sunday. The business models are out there, someone just has to take that first step…

  • Laurel

    I totally agree! I have not been working for sometime and while doing things around the house I will put the TV on a Christian channel and it is so repetitive so I change it. “Showing” the word through a variety of programs would be the proof of how rewarding it is live the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am so sad that the majority of the choices on television feature people that will go to any extreme to become famous. This is what the secular base success off of. We, as Christian are missing an opportunity to capture an audience and give an example that Bible would give them an easy and fullfilled life. Different programming on Christian networks would inspire me daily an keep me on the straight and narrow. Preaching the word is not the only way to make someone a believer.

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