From The Airwaves To The Receivers
I remember clearly listening as a kid to WGCB-Red Lion who featured a new radio preacher every every fifteen minutes. Often the doctrines between the back to back programs were the opposite, one right wing conservative preacher speaking against tongues, followed by Jimmy Swiegart preaching the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of tongues. It was quite confusing to me as a church kid. I can imagine what a nonbeliever thought if he accidently had it cross his dial.
With the dawn of television came an onslought of televangelists who now had the capability to preach to millions of people. Pat Robertson founded CBN, Jim and Tammy Baker started PTL, Paul Crouch of TBN, and now Roy and Wendy Alec of GodTV. These networks can feature 24-7 televangelists and telepreachers. Many of the names of preachers on these networks have become house hold names to both the christian and nonchristian. The fall of Jim Baker, the crying of Jimmy Sweigart pleading, "I have sinned", the recent fall of Todd Bently with the Lakeland, Florida revival are landmarks in chrisitian television history. Just as in the days of the huge mega-Crusades, the world of television preachers and evangelists is seeking accountability to give its medium credibility.
What can we learn from the televangelist's journey? Television costs millions of dollars, and the lavish lifestyles of the televangelist has always been what is questioned, not his evangelistic message. His prosperity message is hammered by the press, but the truth of the simple salvation message, the basis of evangelism, has never been questioned. As Billy Graham has brought accountability to the Crusade movement, Pat Robinson has brought through his Christian Broadcast Network.
I was once at an evangelistic meeting where the speaker asked for a raise of hands of those who had been lead to the Lord through television. Only a hand full of hands were raised. When asked how may through a Crusade, a few more hands were raised. When asked how many were lead by one on one discussion with a person, almost 85% of the hands were raised. What does that tell us?