I originally wrote this as a response to Phil Cooke’s article on the bad press received by Freedom House Church last week. Basically an internal email was taken out of context and in turn they received international negative media coverage because of it. You can read more about the incident on Phil Cooke’s blog.
Ultimately what this incident highlighted was that in today’s media driven age, this is something that could happen to any local church at any time. – And most are not prepared.
The issue, as I see it, is about churches being media aware. – Not media afraid.
The Freedom House example should serve as a timely warning for all churches great and small. – It’s one of churches not understanding media, which cripples the church.
It’s a big & relevant problem, but I see the main issues for the local church as:
1. We run a 20th Century church in the 21st Century. – ie: We expect people to come to us still, where the people expect information to go to them.
2. We don’t understand that media is not in the entertainment business, but in the business of influence. – Movies, TV & Music are the philosophers of our day.
3. We are afraid of the ‘secular’ media because of experiences like this one, and so we stay right away from it. – This ostracizes ourselves from the world at large and is the reverse of fulfilling the great commission.
4. We don’t understand how to engage the media. eg: we don’t know how to write a simple media release which will get picked up.
5a. We don’t understand that we may as well be living in the ‘Truman Show’ – we should live, act and respond to criticism as though everyone has already seen everything that we’ve ever done. – scary huh?
5b. We act one way in ‘real life’ but post opposing views on new media. Once we do this people see what we are really like.
6. When Christians do use media they often use it …badly. Bad religious art is still bad art, and that reflects badly on your church.
7. Our church staff don’t understand the concept of confidentiality. – Just because you know something, doesn’t give you permission to tell anyone else.
Today ‘Prophets’ are different to the Old Testament Prophets. Back then they didn’t tell us nice things about us – they gave us warnings – stern warnings about the things we are doing wrong and need to change if we don’t want to die. ….So, I say this a little tongue-in-cheek but… when it comes to media, I think the local church needs to heed the warnings of Prophet Phil Cooke.