ORLANDO, Fla. Innovative Christian leaders presented highly successful church media projects at the worlds largest Christian communications convention to demonstrate how risk taking with media by a church can lead to the Gospel reaching more people.
We are not taking risks for risks sake, said Greg Atkinson, director of Church Video Ideas, during an education session at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention & Exposition, but with the Kingdom in mind to reach people that are not being reached.
The session, entitled Mushroom Eaters: Churches Taking Risks with Media (And Living to Tell About it), takes its name from the label Erwin McManus gave himself. McManus, lead pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, Calif., describes himself as a mushroom eater one willing to take a risk so that those who follow may benefit from or avoid his experience.
Mosaic Church was recently named the fifth most innovative church in the nation by Outreach magazine.
Atkinson presented examples of church media projects nationwide that were successful in drawing attention and providing opportunities to share the Bible.
Examples included the surprise hit film Facing the Giants, which grossed over $10 million. Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., took the risk of raising $100,000 to produce the film directed by a man who had no background in movie making and whose cast is composed of church members.
Texas-based Fellowship with senior pastor Ed Young also made it on the list of risky media adventures when they displayed a large banner on their church reading Sexual Revolution.
Other examples given were of churches sponsoring large billboards reading mylamesexlife.com to attract people to a website about how to have a sexually pure life.
Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and innovation leader at Life Church, was also on the panel of experts.
Last month, Outreach magazine named LifeChurch.tv as the most innovative church in the country.
Gruenewald said that despite the churchs innovative modern approach to the church experience, Life Church does not believe media can replace preaching.
We look at media as a tool to reach people for Christ, said Gruenewald. That is all it is to us a tool.
He added, We feel it better enhances the message and captures the attention of the people with the purpose of making people followers of Christ.
Life Church has nine campuses in four states with the main campus located in Edmond, Okla. According to the innovation leader, attendance from the different campuses meeting over the internet is more than 18,000 people each week.
However, despite the high-tech videos and websites, Gruenewald said Life Church is not a seeker church but the messages by senior pastor Craig Groeschel are raw and confrontational as well as comforting.
I once said that creativity is not one of our core values, said Gruenewald. We are not creative for the sake of creativity but were creative because we feel it is effective.
The NRB Convention, which this year offered over 120 educational sessions led by professionals at the top of their field, ends Tuesday.