Does Christian TV Need A Rethink in the UK?

Flicking through the Christian TV channels on Sky, you are bound to come across a fundraising telethon or three. It seems channels 580 to 597 would be better described as fundraising channels rather than falling  in the ‘Religion’ category. This is not the best testimony for viewers stumbling upon Christian TV programming.

Where is the outreach to those who are seeking God? It seems hidden on some of the channels amongst an overload of appeals for financial support, from understated to downright manipulative. It seems a common fundraising thread for these channels is that they maintain they are on the forefront of the mission field, and that may well be true, but not when they run wall to wall fundraising appeals.

With 17 Christian TV channels competing for viewers it’s obvious each has something unique to draw their own following otherwise they wouldn’t be there.  From the extraordinary line-up of international events on GOD TV to the excellent British programmes on Revelation, to the well known American channels there is something for everyone. 

You may like the honky tonk sounds of Son Life or prefer the energetic messages of some of our Nigerian brothers and sisters who are known for their passionate preaching.  You may prefer the feel good messages of Joel Osteen on Hillsong or the can do attitude of the South African ministries on Faith UK. It seems everyone has something to offer.

A remake for British Christian TV?

The old linear formula of half hour programme after programme, each with their own appeal for financial support, is a tired model that needs re-inventing. Especially when these are coupled with longer telethon type LIVE broadcasts,  donor fatigue is bound to set in.

In the light of Benny Hinn’s turnaround when it comes to fundraising, and his promise to no longer ask for £1000 donations, it seems out of place that some channels continue to do this unashamedly. It’s almost a relief to flick over to the EWTN Catholic channel and listen to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  There’s something soothing about a beautiful song crying out for mercy for the whole world, instead of shameless appeals for money to reach it.

Of course Christian TV channels need financial support and they are those who are genuinely reaching people with the Gospel. It’s also true that we as believers are called to support good works that the Lord has raised up, so we are not against on air fundraising. It just needs a radical, fresh overhaul. It needs to be free from manipulation, and gimmicks.

Don’t tell me I need to give in the next five minutes, in order to qualify for the breakthrough prayer from the anointed speaker. I know all you are trying to do is work up an immediate response. Don’t ask me for huge amounts of money. Do show me the fruit of your ministry and ask me to become a regular supporter.

Christian TV in the UK needs to move beyond the appeals of the proverbial second hand car salesman type preacher, the false promises of 24-hour miracles or buzz words like “commanded blessing”. Don’t play emotive music to give me time to ‘go to the phone’.

Be honest. Don’t manipulate us. Please no more cringeworthy ‘holy water’ premiums which smack of Medieval indulgences.  Please curb the endless load of products on offer. Tell me like it is. Show me what my investment in the Gospel can accomplish and I will be more inclined to support you.

This post is published here as a guest contribution from Christian Media Watch. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of UK Christian.

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