Christian Communicators Conference Focuses on Digital Media in Ministry
GRAPEVINE, Texas – Christian media is more than the veteran and beloved Trinity Broadcasting Network and K-Love Radio.
Today, podcasts, video streaming and digital marketing have joined this space to shout the Gospel and Christian values.
This week, hundreds of these Christian communicators gathered under one roof for the National Religious Broadcasters Christian Media Convention at the Gaylord Texas Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. NRB is the largest gathering of Christian communicators and ministry professionals and has been meeting for over 75 years.
Church leaders were also among those gathered, eager to learn more about their presence in digital media. At the church media lunch on Tuesday, a question arose about many traditional ministries: Why do we do church as we always have?
We don’t have to, said Phil Cooke, CEO of Cooke Media Group and author of Maximize Your Influence: How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry, and You.
Cooke shared examples of churches that have tried live streams and then broadcast those streams on TV to attract more people to the church. He also explained how “stunned” he was at the influence you can have by just using an iPhone to capture a video.
âFor us not using digital media to share the gospel is justâ¦â he shook his head, stopping and telling the crowd about the lost opportunities for churches not using. fully digital space.
Cooke proposed a few common mistakes made by churches trying to get into digital media, especially live broadcasting:
- Understand how people are watching and on which platform.
- Coach the pastor, who may not be used to this new medium.
- And make live streaming easy to find on your website.
âPeople won’t take more than four seconds (to find a service’s live feed). If you can’t deliver within that time frame, you’ve failed, âhe said.
Trigger your podcast
In the middle of the NRB convention is the smaller Spark Media Conference, a gathering especially for Christian podcasters. Hosted by Misty Phillip, the founder of Spark Media, podcasters across the country returned to the second conference in person.
Nick Ruffin, who traveled from Broken Arrow, OK, said he was happy to be at the conference to network with other podcasters. Ruffin hosts the Vantage Point podcast. “My podcast seeks to bring insight and introspection into everyday life through the lens of God.”
Michelle and Shea Watson, a married couple who co-host the Pantry podcast, drove from Maryland to the conference.
âWe are serving spiritual nutrition for your eternal storehouse,â said Michelle, who gave a presentation on SEO and social media.
Elizabeth Meyers hosts the Texas-based Resilient Life Hacks podcast. Meyers described his podcast as a discussion of how to overcome adversity, “so that you can do the thing God created you for.”
Meyers is a new podcaster and said she came to learn. âI really like what I do, but I want to learn how to do it better and to really produce something that is of value to listeners. ”
All in the family
In addition to workshops on media networks and digital marketing, Christian worship was in the spotlight at the conference. Artists such as the award-winning Erwins Dove family and singer-songwriter Elias Dummer have performed.
The Erwins, a vocal group made up of the eldest Keith, Kody, Kris and Katie (the youngest and the only woman) recently won the Dove Award for their song “The Power of an Empty Tomb”. They are Grammy nominated for a Christmas album. At the NRB, they talked about their journey of faith and how they sing as a family.
âOur father has been in evangelism – this is his 48th year – and we grew up traveling together as four siblings on the road, we were homeschooled and Keith was in the studio when he was 18 months old. â¦ Singing ‘Yes, Jesus loves me.’ “Kris said. “Years ago we could never have imagined that God would open the doors that he has.”
âIt’s easy to walk firmly with the Lord when you’ve never done anything else,â Kody said. God has blessed us that we can travel together as a family all of our lives.
As an elder, Keith had led his siblings in music and faith. âIt’s a firstborn thing,â Katie said of her brother. He reluctantly agreed. âThey say I’m the spokesperson,â Keith said, referring to his siblings. “And if I’m the spokesperson, I have to be kind of a leader.”
At 20, Katie says she still has a lot to learn. “I’m still learning to trust myself to do this as a young girl, and I pray every day that God will develop that trust.”
She manages social media for the Erwins and believes 2020 was a turning point in spreading the message of faith. âThere were some unfortunate things that happened in 2020, we all know that, but I sawâ¦ on social media there was an incredible explosion in the spread of this gospel. More people heard the gospel in 2020 than ever before. “
Kris agreed. “It just shows that the Gospel cannot be stopped.”
Elias Dummer describes himself as a âgeek and Anglicostal Canadian worship leaderâ who has a strong desire to build community.
âI grew up in an impoverished city – Hamilton, Ontario – which was the steel capital of Canada in the 1970s and 1980s and, like many cities, has hit rock bottom. But decades later, he and his family began to see churches of all faiths assisting in planting gardens and investing in the city.
âI was raised three blocks from the ‘red zone’, Canada’s poorest neighborhood. Today they are dealing with the complete opposite of gentrification … there is just this amazing movement to see what the spirit can do when churches come together, and the practical results that often follow when that happens. .
His band, City Harmonic, wrote about what the members were seeing – songs like “Manifesto” and “Holy Wedding Day,” all celebrating common ground that people can have in the faith. After the band ended in 2017, Dummer helped plant a church in the Nashville area but eventually returned to music. He won the Revolutionary Artist of the Year award at the 41st edition of the Covenant Award in 2020 and released a new single in July, titled âExpectationâ.
As a worship leader, Dummer strives to be a follower. âFor me, at the heart of worship, at the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, is the idea of ââbeing a disciple, of becoming like Christ in everything we do. If I’m going to talk about the spirit, I hope I see the fruit of the spirit, and joy is one of them.
But the joy was not always there: in adolescence, at home and in church. He turned to prayer.
âThere was a time in my life, aged 16 to 19, when times of prayer were really crucial to my faith. Dummer said he felt God was âdoing a big job in my heartâ during those teenage years.
Dummer said, he understands that people struggle with their faith, struggle with things that they think are ugly about the church. “Very often they are right,” he said, adding that he too had had hurtful experiences in the church,
“Yet through all of these experiences, just knowing that God put me in love to see that we are broken, the church is broken, our communities are broken.” Dummer says he’s driven to take a step towards each day to help make these broken things whole.
Yvette Walker, of Norman, is the host of the Positively Joy podcast on Finding True Joy in God in all seasons of life. Find it on positivelyjoy.com and all podcast platforms.