We need better Christian channels

Tendai Manzvanzvike Divine Appointments
DAVID says in Psalm 122, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord…’”

This is how it should be with all believers, showing gladness to be in the presence of the Lord, and “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another”, as Paul cautions in Hebrews 10:25.

Many people, through no fault of their own are sometimes unable to fulfil this Davidic desire. It could be due to illness, work commitment or other genuine reasons that one fails to attend some church services – be it midweek, Saturday and/or Sunday service.

I remember what it felt like during my late mother’s illness, when for more than two years I could not attend a live service, unless other believers came to the house and gave us a word of encouragement and prayed with us, in the process.

It was then that I realised that we sometimes take things for granted. That interface with other believers buoyed our spirits and gave us hope that she would convalesce and be well again.

It was also a period that I realised how the proliferation of information, communication technologies was easily bringing the word of God within easy reach.

Despite the reservations that some people have with televangelism, during that period, the Christian channels on Dstv fed our spirits just like the prayers we had with the saints that visited.

That time it was One Gospel, the Paul Crouch-owned Trinity Broadcasting Corporation and Rhema, whose broadcasting was intermittent. On all channels, the word of God we got renewed our strength, and we mounted up like Eagles, and walked without fainting, to norrow from Isaiah 40:31.

It is more than three years now since the passing on of my mother, and also more than three years since Dr Crouch passed on in 2013. Since then, a lot has happened to the Christian channels on DStv.

There have been additions and/or rebranding: TBN in Africa is still under the Crouch family, while South Africa-based Dr Andre and Jenny Roebert control the Faith Broadcasting Network.

Prophet TB Joshua’s Emmanuel TV has since become part of the pack, together with One Gospel.

Technology is where the world is going and it is giving ministers of the gospel and their followers across the globe a sense of presence, belonging and connectivity.

Well packaged programmes attract huge followers.

These are welcome developments, but the speed at which technology is being transformed to bring the word of God even closer, might render some of these TV stations irrelevant, despite the good message, even if they migrate to internet platforms.

With the exception of One Gospel and Emmanuel TV, the other two still have to demonstrate that they are indeed African TV stations whose target audiences are the people of Africa first.

Over and above that, subscribers not just in Zimbabwe need a sense of ownership of the content, since part of their subscription goes towards those TV stations.

So far, the only Zimbabwean preacher on one of the stations, FBN is Celebration Church’s Pastor Tom Deuschle. Where are all the other preachers and their churches?

It might seem inconsequential, but one region with pastors based in South Africa cannot represent the whole continent.

One pastor said that since they are also content generators and disseminators, if it is a question of money, as the body of Christ, they can come up with strategies, pool their resources, and reach out through this platform, since they are men and women called to fulfil the Great Commission.

While they see nothing wrong with their brothers and sisters from the United States of America sharing the channels with them, the feeling is that the representation favours the latter, and not them.

They also feel that these preachers’ financial muscle has elbowed them out. As a result, they have become the small group of international preachers who are prominent in Africa.

At the last count, both TBN in Africa and FBN had the following men and women of God they compete to broadcast, in some cases airing similar programmes at the same time: Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Creflo and Taffi Dollar, Joseph Prince, Joel and Victoria Osteen, TD Jakes, The 700 Club, Stephen Furtick, and others.

The other big dollar question is whether these channels are giving viewers their money’s worth through their repeated programming.

While we celebrate Easter in a few days’ time, it is surprising that in some cases, they are airing programmes that are a few years old, and the same sermons or teachings have been aired a number of times in previous years.

Some are right now unveiling their 2017 themes, and you will only ascertain, when you visit their websites or Facebook pages.

In some cases, a preacher will start on a theme, and he or she would actually say how long it will take.

However, the flow of the teaching is often interrupted after a few days, when repeats are aired again, and when they resume, it is not a continuation, but starting all over again.

Due to the fact that one has to pay for accessing social media, live streaming, YouTube, etcetera you have to make do with the repeats. As a viewer remarked, it is highly unlikely for someone to miss a sermon or teaching when it is repeated over and over again.

If some of these issues are addressed, viewers would enjoy watching televangelism.

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