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22 October 2007

My Soapbox Issue

I was flipping through channels the other night and stopped briefly on TBN -- the Trinity Broadcasting Network. I'm not afraid to name the network, even if you care. I saw a guy with a church hairdo (let's face it -- no one has a hairdo like this in the "outside world") standing on a stage telling about how great the network was. He was surrounded by a number of men in flamboyant suits and women with far, far too much makeup who'd clap and wave their hands after every sentence.

I promise, I'm not just cracking on TBN, I'm trying to get to a point.

I've found this kind of programming to be typical of the channel, although they occasionally feature speakers who have a clue and offer solid Biblical teaching (and do massive damage to their message, in my opinion, by appearing on this network).

My son was watching with me, and within about five seconds of the station being on, he asked, "Could you change the channel?" A minute later (after I kept watching) he commented, "If that were church, I'd never want to go." I replied, "Me, neither!" I found it relieving that he didn't think that this was really "church."

Just on the surface (not even delving into rotten theology), how much good does this network do for the word "Christian"? How much damage?

Did you know that this network represents Christ to a world of people who don't have a relationship with Christ? I think the network, in general, provides a horribly wrong example of what it means to be a Christ-follower. So what is it, other than the gag reflex that I experience most of the times I watch the channel, that makes me feel that this network is not a good thing?

Here are the main things that I notice unless Charles Stanley or Kirk Cameron is on the air:

1) Most preachers on the channel come off as pompous
2) Most of the men wear suits that mere mortal men cannot afford
3) Most of the women wear makeup that mere mortal women stopped buying after they turned five
4) The singers on the channel, more often than not, ham it up worse than any Broadway musical performer
5) They often talk about themselves and the good work that they do
6) They always ask for money

Are there any ways in which our local churches are sometimes guilty of presenting themselves that have things in common with this network's presentation? I can name a few. Six, at least. Oh, wait... I already did! Well, except for number three on the list. That one's totally unique to TBN.

Before we go saying that TBN is at fault for perverting things (and they are, in my opinion), should we consider that they're just taking traditional church culture and pushing it beyond the pale? Did we make this parody of Christianity? Even if you feel we didn't, what should we do to counter it, if anything?


Baba Ganoush said...

After watching TBN for about five minutes, it's quite easy to understand why outsiders think we are all whack. At the same time though, I think (hope) that the TBN personalities are far enough over the edge that most 'normal' people recognize it as show.

Dean Lusk said...

I'd hope that they do, but I'm willing to bet that many people think that TBN represents church.

For instance, if a kid grew up in church and remembers his mom dragging him there every Sunday morning, and he was finally able to get away from it (after high school or whatever), all he's likely to remember about church are negative images and associations; ones that are most likely going to be represented by what he sees on that network when he flips through or, heaven forbid, stays on the channel for more than 0.5 seconds.

That was a long sentence.

Baba Ganoush said...

Yeah, you're starting to write like Paul.

Dean Lusk said...

In fairness, the negativity someone may associate with "church" may not be the fault of visual imagery (like suits or silly hair).

Baba Ganoush said...

Much of the negativity the church and Christianity receives is directly related to visual imagery. What in the world do you mean (ha, pun the world...oh nevermind)?? Ask yourself this - "do I claim to be a Christian? If so, does the visual imagery I present to others represent Christ"?

Connie said...

I WAS one of those kids who was dragged to church sometimes three times a day on Sunday and on Wednesdays...and if there was a special revival that lasted for days (no, not a preacher's kid)...I was always at church...I needed a serious breather from the church and religion when I finally went out on my own. (Yet I am back). This is one point I want to get through to the kids I am helping in small-groups. Questions like WHY do we read the Bible? Is it because we are supposed to? WHY do we pray to God. I tell them "Look, I was born into the church and have heard all of the rules and church-isms..what does it all mean...what does a relationship with God really mean to you? I'm hoping and praying that God will be real to these girls. That they will have positive church experiences they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

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