Sunday, January 30, 2011

Broadcasting Faith


Recently, I was granted the opportunity to recline on the couch and watch a good, uninterrupted half hour of television.  Now, I’m not much of a TV fanatic, but occasionally a good half hour to park my brain in front of a screen is necessary. I can honestly say, however, that since that evening, my brain has yet to “park” anywhere.  In fact, that one evening of social media actually stirred some extra thoughts.
While aimlessly skimming through channels, I was not expecting anything surprising or unusual to appear on screen. I barely paid full attention as the various reality shows passed before me, until I froze suddenly, remote control in hand. On the television screen in front of me, in bright yellow lettering read “Trinity Broadcasting Network,” the umbrella company that sponsors the infamous “Holy Land Experience” in Orlando. My face literally brightened at that moment. There was no turning back then.
As an Evangelical TV station catering to all sects of Christianity, Catholicism, and Messianic Judaism, the Trinity Broadcasting Network certainly works assiduously to please everyone. With various interviews, praise and worship services, and online streaming webcasts, the mysterious religious station somehow manages to satisfy the average Jesus believer. Apparently, this one television station has creatively “saved” hundreds of unaffiliated Americans into the Christian faith in less than an hour, and while I may not be one of those people, I certainly appreciate the overall effort. The talk show host actually once pointed to the camera and prayed for all the viewers in the middle of her interview, creating a warmer atmosphere on screen. TBN has definitely mastered the personal outreach; I felt pretty special that night.
While the Trinity Broadcasting Network does not target toward my religious beliefs, nor do I feel any impact from the biblical and spiritual messages themselves, I applaud the intentions of this religious station. Evangelical Christianity is perhaps the largest growing movement in America due to the many interpersonal outreaches that occur daily. There are over thousands of missionaries that travel to the world to preach their faith; who knew that some of the most acclaimed preachers just proselytize from a television screen? Is there perhaps a more genuine, personal outlet to outreach your faith than on global television? Has social media become the most effective gateway to sharing your religion to the world?
 While many religions fervently believe in pure biblical orthodoxy, admirable intentions, and kindness, there are also the inexorable issues brought to every faith: financial stability, membership, clergy relationships, and effective outreach.  At the end of the day, every practicing religion needs to be active in this society to stay alive. We, as faithful people, need to accept and focus on the modern factors that stabilize our faiths today in order to see our values spread all over the world tomorrow.
I personally consider a friendly conversation or a warm gesture as a sign of outreaching our faith. We informally outreach our faith to others just by the simple acts of kindness we do every day. Holding a door for someone behind me or giving to charity, however, won’t necessarily promote my faith to keep it alive. I understand that there are simple ways to broadcast my faith, even by adapting to the modern, secular world. To be honest, I have proudly “liked” all the Jewish facebook groups online, I make phone calls to my Broward community annually, and I have even downloaded the latest application on the iPhone, the “iSiddur.” Social media is the future, and I must keep awareness of that if I want my religion to be a part of that future.
While it may not seem like it today, Christians have once needed gateways to promote their faith in public. Today, there would be no one take part in the international missions trips, the church services, and the ministries if there weren’t any websites to learn about the faith. Besides the fact that every religious center needs to stay strong financially, these places need to put their names on the map in order to spread their faiths and values to large congregations.
Religion is no longer limited to paper; just about every biblical text can be accessed online. Worship services can be viewed on live webcasts, pastors and rabbis can text blessings to congregants, and faith is debated over the internet. The world today has embraced social media, and we must follow the world in order to spread our values. If economic times were easier, I would recommend that every dominant religion runs its own television network. How cool would it be to simply click a TV channel and see your faith in action? As long as the adaptation to social media doesn’t devaluate the genuine values in every religion, I think a little more universal outreach is what every faith needs to succeed.
 The world is changing and progressing every day; the values beneath biblical orthodoxy and the Scriptures can easily be promoted to society in whatever forms of communication needed. So while I may not particularly agree with everything preached on every religious channel, I truly applaud the concept of faith being outreached into my own living room through television and other sorts of social media. I have no doubt Evangelical Christianity will continue to grow, thanks to outreach channels like the Trinity Broadcasting Network. I can only hope that every faithful group will find a network of some sort to spread their ideas and beliefs to the world. Religious awareness and coexistence are not out of reach; we just need to figure out the most effective ways to create and outreach both. Perhaps becoming aware of the modern world around us, first, will help us all accomplish this awaited goal.                                                        

No comments:

Post a Comment