Friday, January 22, 2010
Media and the future of Christianity part 1
In light of the seeming retreat of Christianity in our culture today, we who care about our Christian faith need to consider what Christianity in America will look like over the next 40 years and how we can change the face of how our faith is perceived by the culture. But first, we must understand what has shaped Christianity in the post-modern era that we find ourselves in today.
George Barna, a well-known researcher, has been studying cultural trends as it relates to Christianity since 1984. His recent study conducted among 16 to 29 year olds shows that a new generation is emerging that is more skeptical of and resistant to Christianity than of people of the same age just a decade ago.
Statistics show that morals and values have been on the decline for years. What has fueled the moral decline?
Our culture is facing mass problems—abortion, disunity in the body of Christ, consumerism, the decline of the family, and the teaching of evolution in American schools. One thing is for certain, whatever issue is causing the moral decline in America, it is fueled by the mass media—which includes television, movies, the internet, and news.
By the age of six, the average American child will have spent more time watching television than he or she will spend speaking to his or her parents in an entire lifetime. More than 6 hours a day are spent watching movies, television or videos. Dick Rofle, Head of the Dove Foundation (which identifies movies and videos meeting family standards) states, “When you spend that much time watching something, you have just developed new role models and a new window on life. And I think that’s the destructive value of some TV and movies…. Viewers get the wrong impression and a distorted view of what life is really like.”
Recently, the cable television industry sponsored a study that was conducted by Media Scope. In their findings, Media Scope stated that society reflects the values of film and TV.
George Barna has been quoted, “Young people’s belief system is the product of the mass media.” Barna also conducted a landmark 2004 study which offered surprising results about the connection of faith and lifestyle choices. His findings have led him to conclude that faith seems to have little or no impact on one’s lifestyle choices, including so-called born-again Christians. Could this be a direct impact of media and its influence, not only on the culture, but on Christians as well?
Most experts agree that we have entered into a post-modern and post-Christian society. What started this transition, and how can the Church have a better understanding of cultural relevancy?
Next, we need to understand the concept of cultural relevance and how we become culturally relevant to the people we are trying to reach? We need to recognize who they are, what their needs are, and how to identify with their lifestyle. We have moved from a “one dominant” culture to a “multicultural” society—from Western influence to Eastern influence, from a low-tech society to a high-tech society, from communicating primarily with words/books to communicating through images/film and from a Christian world view to a society with many world views, including Eastern religion, New Age, and secular. The Church is trying to communicate with the world in a language few understand today because the vast majority of the current generation has no point-of-reference in relating to Christian faith. LOOK FOR PART 2 ON MONDAY.