The Medium and the Message

Can the message be impacted by the medium used to deliver it? Does a particular medium lend more or less credibility to the message, or does it matter at all?

In the current issue of Community Spirit magazine, in an article titled “Church Technology That Works!” is touted as the “best ministry tool for our generation.” Brant Fricker of Rollins Communications is quoted as saying that YouTube is the “potentially greatest way to reach the masses with the message of Christ.” The article goes on to point out that many churches are now using video clips and movie clips in their assemblies to introduce a theme or to illustrate a sermon.

And then this:

“A church in Eugene, Oregon has gotten so excited about the technology, they have changed the name of their church in honor of it. Formerly known as Bethel Church of the Nazarene, the church name is now YouTube Community Church. They have dropped preaching altogether in favor of video clips.”

The writer acknowledges that this is an extreme example and maybe even considered “highly objectionable” by some (thank you). But since all churches are struggling to reach the 18-35 year olds, and since that’s YouTube’s target audience, why not?

Does the medium matter?

Are you impacted differently by a news headline you see on the front of the National Enquirer and by that same headline on page one of the New York Times? Does it matter if it’s Tom Brokaw bringing you the news or Jack Black?

Does the saving news of the Gospel of Jesus gain credibility or lose it when it’s packaged in a video next to clips of dancing bears, cooking shows, and sports bloopers? Or, better worded maybe, on YouTube, is it presented as counter to the culture and out to change the culture or as conforming to the culture and trying to be like the culture?


HalfPintToday is Colonial Fair day at Green Valley Elementary. And our own little Vallie is making some kind of presentation to all the visiting parents and classes. Carrie-Anne made the dress and bonnet. And they worked hard together last night making a huge batch of homemade pumpkin bread.




  1. Rob's Dad

    Riddle me this – would you be a blogger if it didn’t matter? It still comes down to what the actual message is. An attractive spokesman or reporter will get attention faster (as will a new building or a flashing sign on Mid-Cities Blvd) but there has to be substance. There will always be people who follow the flash and they will get a taste, but won’t ever truly get fed.

    Remember that bears are God-less killing machines (except for Yogi and BooBoo)and the only good dancing bears were last seen in the Super Bowl Shuffle video.

  2. Allan

    Ah, the guts to call me out! Where have you been, Rob’s Dad?

    Of course, I thought about my own blog as I was in the middle of writing today’s post. I think your point would be sharper if I had pictures of Cowboys cheerleaders or off-color jokes on this site that directed people to the message instead of Scriptures and pictures of my kids. Or if my blog were part of a larger mix of movie reviews and trashy novels on a bigger website.

    Thank you for taking me back to those disturbing, yet somehow comforting, images of McMahon, Sweetness, Dent, and the Fridge.

  3. Antique Mommy

    I wonder if we should focus less on “trying to reach the masses” and focus more on “trying to reach individuals” by building genuine and sincere relationships with individuals based on love and service — relationships that occur in the context of homes and not big buildings.

  4. Mel

    I think the Gospel is the Gospel regardless of how it’s delivered. I’m not sure the credibility lies in the medium.

    I do think we ought to take advantage of the opportunities afforded us and resist discounting a simple fact… more people are looking into a monitor than reading a book.

    I’m not talking about a computerized version of televagalism. I’m talking about a sincere effort that quite frankly is going to require a way of thinking that we have little or no experience with.

    Satan is using it…proficiently.

  5. Bevo

    Yeah, Stang, you’re right. Using pop culture as a ministry tool is a bad idea. And we should probably go back to hymnals instead of overhead displays, pews instead of chairs, and rivers instead of baptistries.

    And as for blogs? Well, that’s nothing a Big Chief Tablet and #2 pencil can’t replace.


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