I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the I Love Lucy show, which originally aired on CBS starting in the fall of 1951. As many people know, I Love Lucy was a ground breaking production in many respects; however, there are lesser known aspects to the show which I think bear looking at. I Love Lucy still airs in reruns on my cable system on the Hallmark Channel. If you’re not familiar with the show, check it out!
When the production was in development with CBS, it was at a time in the broadcast industry which did not allow for live transmission across a national network of stations. Point-to-point fiber optics, satellite technology and the internet, those tools which television networks now rely on to distribute programming did not yet exist. In the 50’s, some cities were interconnected via copper video cabling. However, there was none yet that linked the east and west coasts of the United States.
The I Love Lucy show producers, Desilu Productions, had a set of requirements they thought would be essential in making a new show a hit.
In the past two months I have written two blog posts regarding the considerable opportunity currently available for the church to utilize new media including the webcasting of video content as a vehicle to communicate the gospel to the unchurched and disciple believers.
In both of the posts, “Digital Church,” and “Unrealized Opportunity,” I attempt to communicate that the internet as we know it today, inclusive of the opportunity it affords may not be available at some point in the near or distant future and it is for this reason that the church should not procrastinate.
By way of follow up, just one week ago the United Stated government announced that it would give up its last remnants of international control over the internet.
Recently Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee); wrote an article published on ChristianPost.com entitled, “Six Major Issues Regarding the Digital Church.”
In summary, some of Mr. Rainer’s observations are that we need to look at the ecclesiological implications of web based congregations. He asks, are “digital congregants” really a part of a church? Is a physical presence necessary to fulfill the various church missions? Can digital congregants be as connected with a church as pew-based-participants? Should digital (only) congregants be granted membership in a church? Should digital congregants participate in communion/Lord’s supper and how? On these questions Mr. Rainer doesn’t state his opinion, but simply creates a thoughtful list of important questions the church is wrestling with.
Not that long ago, during the industrial revolution in America, unless someone possessed the entrepreneurial spirit required of self-employment, those who sought to support themselves and their family would labor as a hireling of an employer.
These new workplaces and the interpersonal interactions almost exclusively occurred in central locations, defined brick and mortar physical spaces, creating assemblies where colleagues, associates and clientele interacted in person.
When the worker then sought to purchase goods with his earnings, he would again travel to near-by stores, typically also located in a defined central area and would not only participate in commerce but would also engage in interaction with the store employees and other customers. When the worker sought entertainment, he would travel to a playhouse, a concert hall or maybe a pub, all in defined central locations of their own and would not only be entertained but would engage in interaction with the performer and other audience members. And when the worker sought to worship, he would again travel near-by to his church or synagogue, again in a defined central physical location and would not only worship God there but would also engage in social activity and community.
Is your church using media? Mine is.
The choices now seem limitless. Many churches utilize radio, podcasts, broadcast television, cable TV, DVD distribution, internet live-streaming or internet video on demand. And of those that are not, a high percentage are considering it for the near future.
For those churches currently involved in media ministry, it is imperative that our mission, goals, methods and techniques are reevaluated frequently. For those not yet involved in media ministry, the best time to ask the following questions is now, before you invest your team’s time and your church’s financial resources.
So, what determines (or will determine) success for your media ministry?