Posts Tagged ‘TBN’

As those of us who grew up in the black church know full well, things are done a little differently at times.

The Spirit needs to flow more heavily through a family member of the pastor. The big girl is kept in the choir to make it look bigger in some places. And every Sunday is a fashion show that would put ‘Operation Runway’ to shame.

New Birth pastor gets just that on the cover of Gospel Today magazineBut never have I seen something the likes of what Bishop Eddie Long has allegedly been doing in order to save face amidst some much needed PR.

Any Gospel Today subscribers in the house or on the Wall? Before you answer that proudly, check the latest cover story:

Bishop Eddie Long at the center of the scandal that rocked the church world.

According to the story I read in CNN’s Belief Blog, many subscribers were feeling like throwing this publication into the fiery furnace upon seeing – and reading – this article.

Some Gospel Today readers thought the magazine was downplaying  Long’s allegations, and others thought they shouldn’t have featured him at all. The biggest problem readers had was Long’s relationship with “Gospel Today” – he’s the chair of the magazine’s board.

Listen, I realize this phrase may not be in the Bible, but I believe the publication’s CEO “Dr.” Teresa Hairston needs to hear it anyway: “Conflict of interest.”

I’m sure that may have come up in journalism class. If not, then perhaps, “PAYOLA!”

How about that one?

Evidently, it didn’t and Ms. Hairston is popping her neck about this ballyhoo:

Hairston told readers that her magazine did not explore the legalities of the Long scandal, and chose instead to present a “biblical perspective.” Yeah, that’s quaint, namely when you pen this blast from your ivory towers:

Whether Bishop Long is guilty or not; whether the young men are guilty or not, the BODY OF CHRIST must handle this situation according to the Word of God! The mainstream press has painted a hideous picture; some have even called for Bishop Long’s resignation! They’re not even members!!

Sorry. I’ll save that memo for the police and the lawyers of the alleged victims who are seeking justice on their behalf. Because if Long did half of what they accuse him of doing, a resignation is going to be the last thing they ask handed to them on a silver platter.

Write that. Pen that. Quote that.

Mess like this in the hallowed pulpits across America needs to cease immediately. We should demand more of our leaders and not become inundated with a feeling of “Yes man” and “People pleaser.” Our job is to worship the Lord and respect the elders of the Church… not the other way around.

Of course, the light’s on but no one is home unless this is “handled according to the Word of God.” I’m no Bishop, but here we go:

It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit. (Hebrews 2:1-4 MSG)

Yes, indeed. A MEMO to Eddie Long and Teresa Hairston: “Get a grip!” Don’t look at me. It’s in the Word of God.

Last month, we spray painted the story on Elder Schuller “officially” filing bankruptcy.

It was like the quartet on the Titanic finally admitting to each other, “You know, with all these people frantically screaming and cursing the iceberg, I think we have a problem.” Nevertheless, he filed and no one was stunned.

Courtesy: Ana Venegas, Associated Press

Well, except him.

It seems this 84-year-old captain refuses to go down with the ship, according to the USA Today. That, or just wants one last cash grab for retirement.

“I need more help from you,” Schuller said, according to the Orange County Register. “If you are a tither, become a double-tither. If you are not a tither, become a tither. This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help.”

Yeah, in this tough economy, we call that begging.

Let me get this straight: the Crystal Cathedral is $43 million in debt, is full of namby-pamby folk who “appreciate” positive thinking… and God, and has become the laughing stock of ecumenism.

Yet, the place where believers go to retire is going to become “double-tithers.” Keep it classy, Pops.

Despite the fact the media can’t get a single quote from Junior Schuller who was unceremoniously shown the door for first, a revolving door of positive thinkers and then finally, Sister Schuller. Let’s see how she did:

She assured church members Sunday that using “Biblical” money management the church would get out of bankruptcy. The congregation gave a standing ovation near the end of his daughter’s remarks.

That’s nice, but is it practical? This church is hemorrhaging and is home to thousands of believers.

And now they are being held hostage to an infomercial of inspiration in an effort to corral millions of dollars. Oh sure, blame the recession (he did), don’t pay your bills (he didn’t) and then hoard the cash.

Why do pastors with any notoriety fall in love with the fruit from the believers more than the believers themselves? We hope that guy will be the exception, but then stories like this keep coming up.

Does anyone have any sense?

“Sheila is really trying hard and she is a good person,” said Jean Hess, a member for 30 years and a greeter at the church’s doors. “But, I think, to get back to where it was, the church needs to look outside of the family to find a true leader.”

Yeah, that’s very logical but like anyone is going to pay to hear preach. Ah well, our heart will go on. God willing.

Jesus protect the Church from poor excuses for Christians

Movies like this wouldn't exist if there wasn't the need

Quick quiz: Think of a Christian who has a recent positive contribution to mankind. [Cue Jeopardy music]

No, not that guy. He died for your sins and does heavenly stuff like that everyday. Come on, someone else. Someone more… human. Yeah, that’s seems to be an issue going around.

According to the Denver Post, there’s a new Barna poll out there and the saints aren’t looking too well.

One in four Americans said they couldn’t think of a single positive societal contribution made by Christians in recent years, according to a nationwide survey released Monday. Also, one in 10 adults said they couldn’t think of a recent positive contribution because Christians hadn’t made one, the Barna Group reported.

Think about that: 25 percent of all Americans – many of which are saved – can’t think of one thing a Christian has contributed to society.

Why? That’s because most of the Christians they encounter are just “Christians.”

You know the type: Go to some milquetoast collection of sanctimonious, pretentious tools on Christmas, Mother’s Day and on Sundays after a weekend bender, get a feel good catch phrase the pastor found in a Bartleby’s collection book and go back to work acting like a total heathen all week long.
And those are most of the “Christians” considered in this highly biased poll. Regretfully. How do I know?

Barna researchers asked two open-ended questions: What were Christians’ recent positive contributions and what were the negative ones? “Overall,” researchers noted, “there was a more extensive and diverse list of complaints about Christians and their churches than there was of examples of the benefits they have provided to society.

This is what blows. Forget the amazing Christ followers who are being persecuted overseas. Ignore the missionaries in foreign lands translating the Bible and fulfilling the Great Commission. Avoid thinking about the millions of church volunteers who serve the Lord because there’s a need.

Yeah, give them all the Heisman! Let’s focus our energy on all the D-bags that selfishly fill up the pews of churches across the country and who make us all look bad.

Those folk aren’t doing us any favor, saints. Yet, what are we doing about it?

Maybe I am just speaking to thin air, but this concerns me a lot. What can I do to impact the world around me… and take away attention from the rest of these dolts. They’re not making a Christian life any easier.

The fraudulent televangelists. The pathetic pastors. The deplorable witnesses.

What’s even more upsetting is for every one of the aforementioned, there are a half dozen awe-striking stalwarts for the Gospel. You can find them in the mission field, on the job, at the church and yes, even on TV.

These questions were basic. The answers were terrible. The response? Well, that’s up to the rest of us (because it’s not like we can reach those big-time pastors on Twitter or anything. Just sayin’.)

In Hollywood, where doth my help come from?

“Christian Movie.” It’s a phrase that has plagued both Hollywood and the Church for decades because the two sides don’t really talk, even if there was the awkward Thanksgiving dinner.

Separate: The two don’t have an inkling enough knowledge of the other to understand what the market demands. Together: Former “celebs” who get real with Christ are considered sellouts because the first that happens is TBN fawns all over them and gets them preaching.

So, what does it mean to be a “Christian Movie”? Is it focus on the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” because honestly, if you have seen the movie (aside from the meaning, people), it really is not the greatest. Not even Top 10.

The one that changed Christian film making was not “The Omega Code,” which looked like the IRS came and repossessed the movie set halfway into the film. No, it was “The Passion of the Christ.

Real. Violent. Authentic. Visceral.

And an A-list celeb created it, without the aforementioned megalomaniac drool from Paul and Jan. Then, of course, that A-list celeb went off the deep end and offending every Jew, black person and woman on the face of God’s planet. So much for his clout. Next?

Sure, Kirk Cameron made a nice swim through a resurrection (of his career) but that was short-lived, and short-marketed. “Fireproof” was nice, really nice, but it lacked the big Hollywood backing.

No one was really 'running' from the Church to catch this one

Recently, Disney saw a glimmer of hope in this once forgotten Christian market, and put out a movie that had all the makings of the next great “Christian Movie.” To use the introduction from a riveting BrandWeek article:

On the face of it, Disney’s feel-good drama Secretariat seemed to have all the makings of a hit with the God-fearing crowd: Its writer and director are devout Christians, it opens with a lengthy Bible quote, it uses an earnest spiritual tune at a key emotional moment and it’s uplifting. Then there was a specific marketing campaign to the faith-based audience, spearheaded by filmmaker Randall Wallace, who has legitimate street cred in those circles.

Quick show of hands for all the Christ followers who saw this flick? Yeah, me neither.

This is a movie that supposed to be the feel-good hit of the summer and Hollywood was counting on the Church. Only, it wasn’t marketed to the Church, so who knew?

Therein lies the rub.

The Church either goes one way or the other when it comes to movie selections:

  1. We are either incognito at Rated-R flicks – Groucho Marx glasses and all – and only be seen watching Pixar movies with the kids.
  2. Or, we go see any horror or drama made with a staunch “So what” to anyone in the Church that has an issue with your film-viewing pleasures.

Then there are those in-between who really want to see God show up in films outside of anything dealing with the crucifixion, resurrection or anything starring Charlton Heston.

Why? According to this story, Christians aren’t as naive and sheepish as Hollywood thinks:

Any movie that has a happy ending or a hopeful message gets peddled to Christian leaders and faith-based media. That crowd may be conservative, but they’re not dumb, said entertainment industry veteran and marketing consultant Mark Joseph.

“The traditionalist audience is far more savvy, post-‘Passion,’ and is tired of being told that ‘Polar Express’ or ‘Rocky VI’ are actually allegories about Christ,” said Joseph, also a film producer who’s worked on The Passion of the Christ and other marketing campaigns. “This group is suspicious of Hollywood.”

Not only is this group “suspicious” of Hollywood; they are also lazy to demand otherwise from it.

Yes, I paid good money to see “Inception”, “Iron Man 2″ and “Robin Hood” this summer. And why? Because I am a child of God that can see a movie that doesn’t exalt Christ and still find pleasure in it. Sure, I wish it mentioned, alluded to or flat-out praised him, but if it doesn’t, I’ll go for a gripping storyline and stimulating writing any day.

And no, I didn’t pay a dime to see anything else from TBN studios, the “Veggie Tales” movie or “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.” Why? Just because the American Family Association gives it two crosses up doesn’t mean it’s good; it just means it’s sanctified.

Jesus made the ministrel of music. We should own it.

Amen!

It’s the same old problem that has plagued Christian music and fashion. We demand quality too.

When the world had old-school hip hop, the Church had D.C. Talk. (Sure, later came DII, SFC, PID and Freedom of Soul… but toby Mac and the guys pretty screwed that up for the rest of them). When the world had friendship pins, Swatch watches and Coca-Cola shirts, we had cheaply made Garanimals with an icthtus emblazoned on the crest.

Sigh.

In short, just because you have a fish on your business card, doesn’t guarantee me doing business with you. It only means I am leery of you because you expect a hand-out or a hand-up. We need to earn our keep in Hollywood, and not be afraid of the backlash just because we admit we love Jesus in public circles.

It’s happened with music (e.g. Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder, anything alternative that has made the crossover, and on and on and on). Now, it’s time to stop trying to remake the Passion and just get passionate about evangelism with a great movie.

We need to vote with our dollars, in addition to our prayers. (And please, we do NOT do that).

So my definition of “Christian Movie”? It’s a great movie that happens to talk about Christ and sticks to the meaning of his message.

You know, rather than a lukewarm message of love and hate, right and wrong with a crappy script, a couple of has-been actors and something that goes straight to DVD cloaked as a movie.

Think about it people. When we demand more, we will get more. Peace.

A look inside of the Crystal Cathedral

File Chapter 11 and this is what a church probably looks like, from the inside out

News hailing from the Orange County Weekly and Reuters reports what we only knew was just a fleeting moment away: the nation’s first megachurch, the Crystal Cathedral, has filed Chapter 11.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries, founded by Dr. Robert Schuller, best known for its weekly “Hour of Power” television program that it claims has 20 million viewers, listed assets and debts of between $50 million and $100 million each, according to documents filed on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, California. Its largest creditors include several U.S. television stations.

What began as a sticky family divorce is now a nasty separation of church and state. Pity.

This is a guy who created more than a trend; he established the genesis of the modern church – run like a business, looks like a corporation and “feels” like a church. Oh yeah, that one.

There is a microcosm forming here, only I wish more megachurch pastors would pay attention the tsunami it is creating. I’ve thought about it, and typed as much for years, but I will cite a source from the OC Weekly instead:

Maybe if Schuller had ditched the endless tours and paid more attention to his church, the Crystal Cathedral wouldn’t be in this situation today. Or maybe he understood that it’s Christ’s message that’s more important, not so much paying bills on time.

MEMO to the Elder Schuller: You know, if  you weren’t kicking your son out of the pulpit, making your church into an Amway convention, skipping town on your bills and deciding the only way to save the place is give those same tired motivational messages (instead of sticking to the power of the Gospel that got you there in the first place), perhaps you would still have a church.

However, there you are blaming the recession or whatever else sounds biblical in the face of a tragic decline in giving and church participation. Take it from all the talking heads on the national networks. These are the days of a persnickety shopper. If you don’t give them a reason to invest their money, they won’t.

Moral of the story? The secondary opportunities that come up as a result of your ministry are just that – secondary.

Tend to the greater vision at hand and all those other things will happen. Don’t worry about sheering out a TBN contract when you should have been tending to your flock. Oh, and your family.