Media diversity challenges Christian ministry
Tony Pullen, Ministry Leader of RW, reflects on the challenges facing Christian media as media use changes and develops.
The World is changing and changing fast. This was one of the key takeaways delivered at two seminars at a Mission Weekend held at WEC Deutschland's HQ in Eppstein, Germany in June. In addition to seeing just how many partnerships are being explored and developed in media training, attendees were encouraged to seriously consider what future ministries might have to look like if they are to continue to remain relevant in such changing climates.
With less than four new missionaries being added to the 'field' globally each day while over 850,000 people around the world are getting their first social media account every day1 - more than three times the global birth rate - what place is there for traditional media? How long will the old formats continue to be effective? How many people will fail to hear about God's love if we continue as we have always done? These are key issues facing us today - key issues which should bear upon the training we provide and the format it is provided in.
According to OFCOM in the UK2 more people are listening to streamed services such as Spotify than before and fewer are listening to on-line radio, more people are watching short entertainment videos rather than news and factual, more people are using smartphones to go online rather than computers, and men are now less inclined to be offended by online content (but women are now more inclined to be offended). These are just some of the many ways media consumption and use have changed in the past 5 years, in the UK alone.
Koeppeldirect3 states that millennials spend 18 hours a day consuming media - more than two thirds of them on YouTube; they check their smart phones over 40 times a day, spend over 5 hours on social media, and more than 70% consume hyper-targeted radio such as Pandora and Spotify.
When also considering the global trend away from poverty and the global take-up of smartphones and social media, we have a new, rapidly developing, and exciting field in which to work.
Where are the people from Issachar, who understood the times and knew what to do?4
Our vision as RW (formerly Radio Worldwide) is to be on the cutting edge of media when it comes to sharing the Good News. We are specifically focusing on partnership with other organisations who have sensed this wind of change and are adjusting their sails to catch what God is doing. We sense that more and more of the world's least reached are within the grasp of 'new' media - in fact they are moving from the traditional to the new with increasing speed. If we continue to offer out-dated modes of outreach we will continue to fail in the commission.
We must train the workers to leave the hoes behind and climb on to the tractors. The harvest is ripening as we watch. Will we respond now while the fruit is ripe, or later, when it has withered on the branch?
1 Mobile Advance, 2018
2 Adults' media use and attitudes, Report 2017
3 koeppeldirect - advertising campaign and direct response analytics
4 After 1 Chronicles 12:32, NIV