Megachurch Touts New, Biblically Faithful Televangelism Effort

An Orlando megachurch pastor launched a new television ministry to present hope and biblical truths to a world where he believes narcissism, secular ideas and bad theology are prevalent.

(Photo: The Well)Dr. David Swanson, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, tapes an episode of "The Well," a newly launched television ministry.

"It stirs me to think about bringing living water to thirsty souls on a regular basis," said Dr. David Swanson of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. "And I think the time for this is right. If you look at what's on television and if you look at what's on the Web, I don't see a lot that's hopeful."

"The Well" with Swanson officially launched Sunday on television airwaves in Orlando, Dallas, Fort Myers and Chattanooga.

Months in the making, the new television ministry is an effort to take God's Word beyond the walls of the Orlando megachurch and to people throughout Florida and also around the world through the Web.

The ministry states, "We believe that there is a need in the landscape of television ministry to present the living word in an applicable, personal way from a sound theological foundation."

Though televangelists are not new, the ministry touts "The Well" as Gospel-centered and Swanson as a fresh face with sound theology.

"Maybe you've noticed that Christian voices on television and radio are either well outside the bounds of biblical and reformed theology or they're getting seriously gray," Robert Wolgemuth, chairman of the board of The Well, said Sunday as he introduced the ministry to the Presbyterian congregation.

Wolgemuth believes Swanson was "raised up for such a time as this."

Swanson was chosen to lead the more than 130-year-old megachurch in 2004. The successful "marriage," as Wolgemuth put it, between the church and its senior pastor prompted a group of leaders at First Presbyterian to consider expanding Swanson's reach.

"[We] asked ourselves the question 'Is it time to give more people a chance to experience the remarkable gifts of our pastor? Is it time to explore the potential of a media ministry for him?'" Wolgemuth recalled from a meeting earlier this year.

And with much of the world hurting with the breakdown of families, economic challenges and violence, First Presbyterian leaders felt a call to provide hope and truth.

"The thought that we could be a part of something that would take truth and the hope of the Gospel to people who are so desperate to hear it, that is exciting to me," Swanson commented in a pilot episode of "The Well."

The Presbyterian pastor stressed that the media ministry is not about him in any way. He agreed to it only because he believes "it does have the potential to extend the Gospel and the name of Christ beyond where we are today," he said.

"I ask you [to] pray with me ... that God will take it and use this to honor Himself," he said.

Episodes of "The Well" are not rebroadcasts of First Presbyterian's worship services. Rather, they are taped separately and feature Swanson speaking in a personal, one-on-one conversational style. He also ditches the traditional robe and stole he typically wears at the pulpit of First Presbyterian for a casual suit. Following each message is a personal testimony by someone who shares about their faith journey.

In addition to television outreach, "The Well" is also utilizing social media, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

On the Web: http://www.drinkfromthewell.com/