The Future of Discipleship & The Death of Christian Radio/Television

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At a lunch meeting yesterday, I explained that part of the vision of Testimony House was to, “be able to disciple a large number of people at the same time through our live streaming network.” And that our hope was to, “be able to reach people who are hungry for Christ when a move of God hits and local churches can’t contain or handle the burden of large numbers.” 

A question was then asked by the pastor that has rarely been asked by others I have shared this vision with. He asked, “How are you going to disciple a large number of people through a live streaming network?”

The answer came quickly. Mostly because I knew from years of talking and thinking about this subject. However, unlike others times I have answered this rare question, I felt a quickening in my spirit that this wasn’t just the answer for Testimony House, but the answer for every ministry that desires to make disciples.

My first answer was simply stated. I said, “We will answer their questions.”

This five-word sentence is now my motivational tool to describe the future of discipleship to others.

Let’s Change St. Louis is one of the interactive shows on the Testimony House Network.

Since the invention of radio and television ministries, ministries have produced two primary types of programs to disciple other. Sermons and Songs. Messages and Music. Local churches of all denominations have implemented this same strategy of making disciples and teaching the body of Christ — which is through worship and the word.

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The last century of discipleship is no longer a model that will sustain, nonetheless grow, in the generations ahead. Social media, live streaming, and apps are going to change the landscape of how churches and ministries share their messages. Today’s youth culture is not going to be discipled largely by fifty something year old white men preaching or talking for 30 minutes or longer like they were on the Christian radio and television programs of the past.

In 2017 Charley Mefferd, who is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ambassador (one of the leading ministries in providing Christian media content to the masses) said this about Christian radio, “our industry has to face the fact that the Christian radio teaching and talk platform isn’t fully replacing the older generation of radio voices with a whole new generation of sound Bible teachers.”

Radio and television aren’t as useful a tool as they once were to make disciples and share the gospel message. Outside of occasional phone calls or opportunities to give, programs on those platforms were also deprived of interaction between the viewer and the host – which is commonplace in the social media live streaming world today. Billy Graham’s radio and television ministries (and others like it) aren’t taking the time to answer individual questions of the saved and searching. Instead, they attempt to answer general questions to disciple on a large scale.

Storylines is another interactive show on the Testimony House Network.

Mefferd also addressed interactivity as being key to the future of Christian media when he said, “I’m more convinced than ever that if Christian radio is to survive the next 20 years, programmers need to start adding more issues-driven, interactive talk programs to both grow and engage the audience.”

Even leaders in the industry believe interactive programs are the key to the future of discipleship.

This makes sense. Discipleship is most effective when done through a relationship. Those that poured into me as a new believer were able to do so because I knew them, trusted them and was able to ask them questions. Our relationship was interactive. Asking questions is the answer to how do we disciple others on a large scale. The irony is that it has always been the most effective method.

The Bible records the first disciples asked Jesus a lot of questions. Here are a few examples:

…When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" Matthew 24:3

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" Luke 17:5

So, when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, "Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?" Acts 1:6

The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" Matthew 13:10

His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9:2

If the first disciples were taught through answered questions, why would today’s disciples be any different?

As a new believer, I grew in my knowledge of God through asking my friend Kevin hundreds of questions about everything related to God’s word and Christianity. I had questions because I wanted to develop a relationship with Christ. The early disciples were doing the same thing. A person who is not searching to deepen their relationship with the Lord won’t have any questions, but those that do will now have an opportunity and place they can go via our network to interact with other believers who will answer their questions through our various programs.

Testimony House wants to lead the lost to Christ and help disciple the wave of people who come from an outpour of the Holy Spirit in the last days. We invite you to find us on Facebook, watch a program and connect with our community. Would you allow us to develop a relationship with you that allows you to get to know us, trust us and ask questions? 

If you would like to support Testimony House’s current efforts to raise $185,000 to build our new studio and improve our ability to disciple larger numbers of people please give here. For more information about our vision or future building click here.


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