TV and Radio
CSMI Radio and TV Ministries
Can Christian radio and TV programming provide believers with the same spiritual nourishment found in the local church? Is it possible or even right for Christian television and radio programs to replace the ministry of the local church? If believers are fed through these programs, is it wrong to share a portion of one’s tithes with them?
CSMI has effectively used radio and television for ministry and for evangelism. This media ministry experience has taught the church valuable lessons on the strengths and weaknesses of the mass media for Christian witness. As with any human activity, there are biblical principles that must be observed as the Church uses the latest technology and media to minister to human needs.
Modern technology is neither all good nor all bad. It can be both a blessing and a curse. It has opened up unbelievable means for communicating the gospel. But at the same time it has threatened the Church with temptations and distractions it has never had to face before.
The Bible instructs Christians, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ’s return] approaching " (Hebrews 10:25). Christianity is lived out in our relationships with other believers, as members of the body of Christ. An individual sitting in front of a television set watching a preacher, a musician, or even a worship leader may experience some emotional feelings, but God has ordained the community experience of the local church as the setting for spiritual health and growth.
Just as Jesus came to earth not to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45), so we should evaluate our excessive involvement with Christian media when it becomes a replacement for the local church. The command not to give up meeting together with other Christians is not only for our personal edification and blessing, but that we can edify and bless others in the body of Christ. And sending an offering to a national media ministry, though helping the ministry, is not the same as coming together with prayer and words of encouragement for fellow believers who need the personal caring concern of another believer. Only if physical handicap or forced isolation prohibits church attendance should Christian television take the place of worship with a local congregation of believers.
That is not to say, however, that watching Christian television is wrong or improper. With so much broadcast time given to senseless, sensuous programs of little or no redeeming value, good Christian radio and television programming provides a much better alternative. But for the healthy, well-rounded Christian, television should only be an auxiliary to, never a substitute for, local church participation. Also, one must even listen to Christian media with discernment. If the Bereans judged Paul’s preaching (Acts 17:10,11), we should evaluate the words and actions of those who profess to speak to us for God. Christian media networks must pay their operational expenses, and occasionally a colorful program may be allowed because it provides revenue. But God promises discernment to the Spirit-filled Christian, not just to recognize demonic spirits, but also to recognize when the human spirit is spotlighted more than Jesus is lifted up.
There is no denying that Christian programming can provide inspiration and encouragement. But it is no substitute for the God-ordained interaction and unity of a body of believers. Though the viewer may warm to the personality of the television preacher, the two-way interaction of believers ministering to each other is missing. Sinners have been brought to a salvation experience through Christian television, but to grow in sanctification and Christlikeness, each believer needs the accountability and watchful care that comes only through face-to-face relationship with another believer who can personally love and share joys and sorrows.