How should megachurches deal with the media? Texas Pastor Ed Young addressed that question on Monday after receiving some negative press attention over his out-of-the-box weekend services.
He spoke with Laura Lang, an attorney with Brewer Jackson Professional Corporation in Irving, Texas, who works with many nonprofits, in offering advice to pastors as it relates to the media.
To believe that you will have control of the situation when interviewed or covered by the press is "to lie to yourself," Lang stated plainly. "At the end of the day, they edit the story ... they decide what story they want to tell."
Young, who leads Fellowship Church in Grapevine, has been speaking out after the Dallas-based WFAA television news station produced what he claims is a "totally false" report on its Easter service.
Instead of covering the "life change" many experienced at Fellowship that April 8 weekend, Young noted in an earlier statement, the news station ran a story about the church being denied a permit to display the live animals he brought in - a lion and a lamb.
Rejecting the report, Young, who was unapologetic for his creative style, said it was time for them to call out those who "are not telling the truth."
He also noted that he is a big animal lover. This past weekend, he even held what he called the "largest dog service in the history of Christianity." The service was held outside and attendees included congregants plus their dogs.
For the past 21 years, Young says Fellowship Church has had "very, very positive media attention." But stories painting them negatively have popped up recently.
With that, he sought to advise others who are dealing with or will eventually deal with the media.
"You don't have to always talk to the media," he said, explaining that they are aware of certain media outlets that have a certain bent and will likely report things out of context.
"I will talk to anybody about any issue, any question if they're open and will let us tell the story."
When they air a report about the church even without having granted the interview, Young said, "You just have to let it go."
Lang added that churches should practice discretion and noted that people whom the church has developed a relationship with are likely to treat you "even-handedly."
Offering encouragement to pastors, she said, "If you're doing things right and you're growing, you're going to be a little controversial."
Previously, Young received wide media attention for a book he co-authored with his wife, titled Sexperiment. The Youngs promoted the book with a 24-hour "bed-in" on the roof of their church as they challenged married couples to have sex for seven days straight.