THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN THE MODERN DAY CHURCH — The Imperatives, Opportunities & Challenges

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Let me commence by stating how highly delighted I am to be here today to contribute to this soul-searching move to evolve more practical and rewarding steps directed at ensuring that this television station achieves even more than the aspirations of its proprietors. I should like to commend the board and management of ACNN for not resting on their oars. I was born into the Anglican Church by somewhat hyper-active Anglican parents. But I have always believed that whatever faith you profess, getting into heaven is the most important issue that should bother our minds.

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT & GATEKEEPING ROLES OF THE MEDIA: Information management and processing entail a great deal of activity than people generally imagine. Every so often, it is an activity that is taken for granted; a reaction that should not be so. This compilation treats information management and the generic concepts of management, including planning, organizing, structuring, processing, controlling, evaluation, and reporting of information activities. Reflecting on what the world would look like without information-sharing activities could only point in one direction – unimaginable total and uncontrollable chaos. This is one of the reasons for the maxim: ‘’Information is power.’’

Purveyors of information are no less affected by the need to provide information and feedback that are required for achieving goals and objectives. Information management is one of the hardest tasks. In all societies and corporate organizations, information is required at all levels to be able to promote understanding, foster, and attain targets and objectives. Information management is an activity that has proven to be very delicate. Delicate because a single dose of misinformation could be disastrous.

 THE INFLUENCE OF THE MEDIA & TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS We are in an ever changing world of technological advancements. From the time the first printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450, rapid and stunning technological advancements have been recorded in telecommunications. By 1962, the invention of Telstar Satellite made it possible to make international live broadcasts that are today capable of reaching billions of people simultaneously all over the world. Developments have birthed the concept of ‘’the global village’’ that has become a house-hold coinage, mouthed all over the world.  It simply means that the whole world, big and vast as it is, has been compressed into a ‘’village’’ by technological advancements, that have made it possible for occurrences in a part of the world, to be heard or viewed in the farthest point almost instantaneously.

THE INFLUENCE OF THE MEDIA: As we are all aware, the influence of the media is enormous; and professionals recognize the potential of mass dissemination of information. The influence of the media keeps on increasing by the day. Developments in mass communication have occurred phenomenally such that Daniel Webster, famed for his ceremonial ovations to thousands of people had an audience of perhaps less than 20,000 at the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument June 17, 1825. Billy Graham, a leading evangelist, addressed over 60,000 in the Los Angeles Coliseum in the 20th century. (Casatta, B. Mary, and Asante, Molefi K. and Collier: Mass  Communications: Principles and Practice, Macmillan Publishers 1979) As of 2008, Graham’s estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion. Your cable network beams messages to your audience around the world simultaneously and you must have a target. Accordingly, you must set measurable objectives.

IMPORTANCE OF GATEKEEPING: The foregoing, mass information dissemination now occurs in all parts of the world. Very common are communication channels like radio, newspapers, film, and online sources such as YouTube. All these channels influence people’s behaviour, attitudes, opinions, and emotions. The board of management exists to formulate policies for smooth operations. For a small group of less than twenty employees of ACNN TV, it is your daily job to think consciously about how to influence opinions of millions of people reached on your cable network. Implementing the mandates of your proprietors becomes hugely tasking because of stiff competition and the need to not only retain, but also get your audience interested in your programmes. From this point of view, it becomes more compelling for you to design and implement programmes and activities that could arrest your audience in the light of activities of competing channels of communication, particularly at this period when foreign media in particular, have altered very drastically, cultures and traditions with their incursive programmes.

There is also the soft news angle. People love to read about divorce and related news nowadays. You hardly find people who challenge their brains through constant reading of literature that could move the society forward. The effects are noticeable in every strata of the society and have made your duties more complex. Standards have fallen drastically.  If you must attain your objectives, it becomes imperative to strategize to neutralize corrosive developments so that when you cast your nets through your programmes, you would successfully draw into your nets astounding numbers of fishes. Like the boy scouts would say: Be prepared at all times by dveloping yourselves. The authors cited earlir assert that: ”The ancient Greek, in fact, expressed the view that ‘’the communicator should have a thorough knowledge of the subject and the mind of the audience.”

THE CAMPAIGN & IMBALANCE IN INFORMATION FLOW: Before going further, let me tough very briefly on the pattern of information flow which is one of the issues you must consider in your campaign plan or strategy. A campaign is a sort of crusade; an activity or struggle. It is directed at modifying conducts, attitudes and behaviour. It is given that for communication to occur, the receiver of messages must understand or be able to decode what the sender of information means. There are four critical factors in the communication process: The Source/Sender, the Message, the Channel and the Receiver, that communicators refer to as the Berlo’s Model that is a 1960 conceptual formulation of David Berlo, an American communications theorist.   From this point of view, there must always be feedback in every communication process to enable the sender know the effect of the message; whether understood or not.  Communication could be made in vain if you are not understood by the audience for which the message is meant. Professionals know very well that the communication process is not complete until the message is decoded. Mere taking or using signs might not really mean communication unless those being engaged in the process show that messages have been successfully decoded.

Therefore, some strong points that must occupy the front burner are issues like definition of your audience, which language or languages have to be adopted that would sink and be easily understood, and the mode of regulated campaign. All campaigns have measurable goals and targets. Yours, I believe, is to effect attitudinal changes in the area of bringing more people into Christianity, ensuring that those already in Christ also join and remain in the end-time army of Christ to prosecute the most important agenda in Christiandom – The Great Commission, the charge that Jesus Christ gave while ascending to heaven to go meet His Father. That is not all. You must necessarily play your part in building the society and ensuring that people behave in line with acceptable norms. What role are we playing in promoting morals in the society including bringing up the younger generation? We must address this very salient issue at this critical point in history.

UNGODLY CONDUCTS: Repeatedly, the Bible tells us that God’s plan for this world is not finished, and some day, Christ will come again to complete that plan. And unlike His first coming, His return will be glorious and recognized by the whole world. To quote Billy Graham, “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7) More than ever before, the whole world is getting increasingly disturbed by too many ungodly conducts. Where do we go from here? The rot in the society is a challenge to all of us, not only those on the pulpits and parents alone, but also all segments of the society. Satan is on rampage. This is the reason why Christians are enjoined, in the Book of Ephesians Chapter 6 to put on the whole armour of God as the devil continues to be on the prowl.

THE DARING MOVE IN NIGERIA: Brethren, your station is not alone in the prosecution of this assignment. People who underrate the power of the social media do so at their own peril. The truth is that social media is currently the most potent means of mass mobilization. It is this technology that brought down governments in North Africa.Perhaps one of the most daring moves ever made after the death of Jesus Christ was the launching of an Initiative by Christian leaders in Nigeria to win one billion souls for Christ over a period of 15 years starting from year 2008. We have three more years to evaluate how well this agenda has been prosecuted. Again, the conventional media face threats of competition in reaching the unreached.  The aforementioned programme is utilizing the Internet and mobile phones, among others.  Additionally, Christian leaders in Nigeria planned to double the number of churches in the country within 12 years, ending in Year 2020, all with intent to save perishing souls.

The foregoing is being implemented by Church leaders by connecting churches for Internet training, collecting the best resources and making them available worldwide; enlisting religious leaders in other parts of the world as co-chairs and collaborating through best methods. Without doubt, this is an ambitious programme in which the Church of All Nigeria is also involved.  It is, therefore, an incontrovertible fact that Nigeria is affecting the whole world spiritually as a nation being used to draw people to Christ, and save precious souls from going to hell.

WHY DOES THIS STATION EXIST?: The story of the establishment of the Anglican Television Cable Network will not be complete without an allusion to Jesus Christ, Who came into the world to pay the supreme sacrifice for the sins of humanity. In the course of His entire ministry spanning 33 eventful years, within which He accomplished the goals set by His Father in heaven, our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ was simply a charismatic healer, teacher, preacher, prophet and evangelist; operating with an enormous and indescribable multi-fold spirit of God. Evidently, Christ came to fulfill this mission of saving mankind from destruction. And as the Scripture teaches, throughout Christianity, the experience of Crucifixion has served to mark the extremity of Christ’s identification with humanity and human suffering.

ACNN & THE GREAT COMMISSION: Jesus Christ opened His ministry in the synagogue of his home-town of Nazareth by preaching from the text of Isaiah Chapter 61:1-2 which states that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach the good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn”. And on resurrecting from the dead, Jesus Christ caused His disciples to receive the power of the Holy Spirit so they could speak boldly about Jesus and their words started to be confirmed with signs and wonders following. Two thousand years later, the story has not changed, as God’s priests across denominations continue after the fashion of the occurrence in the “Upper Room”, witnessing with signs, wonders and miracles following. Evidently, this is the most important reason why ACCN Television was established to propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ and turn people back from their wicked ways.

There certainly are no two ways to approaching the issue of salvation. You either follow Him totally and get saved, or refuse to tow the line of God and enter into the lake of everlasting fire on the day of judgment.  That has been the message since He called the apostles who went afishing to abandon their fishing profession and become ‘fishers of men’. Repentance or restitution is backed up with the offer of forgiveness and salvation.  Let me say, at this point that converting people to Christ might not be an easy task. You require persistence and the help of the Holy Spirit. There would be relatively easy cases; and there must conversely be difficult encounters. Be persistent and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in all situations. Those who are led by the Spirit cannot miss their ways.

CAMPAIGN CHANNELS: The easiest means is by interpersonal communication. This form of communication affords you the opportunity of an immediate assessment of how your audience reacts.  The old style of preaching the Gospel is no longer fashionable. You cannot reach as many people as are necessary by preaching within the four walls of the church. The world has also gone beyond the itinerary style. This station is established as part of moves to ensure that the message of the Great Commission is rapidly preached and transmitted to the uttermost; indeed every nook and cranny of the world that you could reach. No doubt, this assignment will task your ingenuity. I urge you not to see obstacles and challenges. Focus on Jesus Christ and ask for His help prayerfully in the performance of your assignments. Again, you must prepare to be able to introduce programmes that would serve to bring people closer to Christ.

THE MESSAGE: The message to be broadcast must conform to the teachings of the Holy Bible.  A school of thought has submitted that “The Bible is God’s Book to man, revealing the truth about God and His will, to His creatures. It is a library of 66 Books written by 36 to 40 authors over a period of about 1,000 years, and by different types of people in different parts of the world. The first writer died 1450 years before the last writer was born. It is this kind of spirit that has led to the expansion of churches all over the country and beyond.  It is not wrong to read the Holy Bible cover to cover a number of times while handling your assignments. You evidently have to be more knowledgeable than your audience that you are trying to inform and invite to follow Jesus Christ. If you don’t sound convincing by adopting the right campaign strategies and research occasionally, people who view your station will quickly look for alternatives.

To where should your antennae be turned? Your responsibility is to all segments of the society. You must have plans for the young and old, male and female, children, believers and unbelievers alike. The requirement is to tailor your campaign to suit the requirements of the audience. Don’t give up.  There is no one useless in the sight of God. There is no life that God cannot transform. There is no one that God cannot use significantly. There is no one that is hopeless in the sight of God. This is the message of God’s grace. And there is nothing impossible with God. Our God is a God of all grace; a good God, ready to forgive and plenteous in mercy unto all of them that call upon thee” (Ps. 86:5).  There is no one clean enough, or holy in the sight of God (Rom 3:23, Isa. 4:6). All of us are sinners before a Holy God.

THE GLOBAL DIMENSION: Ladies and gentlemen, I once met Primate Peter Jasper Akinola, followed by Archbishop Joseph Akinfenwa, in the Peoples Republic of China while on an evangelical mission, probably for GAFCON.  I was amazed and exclaimed Nigerian priests in China again ! I must state that the expansionist programme of the Church of All Nigeria has greatly prospered in the last 30 years under the leadership of Papa Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye and Primates Akinola and Nicholas Okoh. I should not be surprised because  Christ said we should take the Good News to ‘’the uttermost’’ which includes far-flung parts of the world. May God continue to strengthen our church leaders while we support them like Aarons and Hurs did to Biblical Moses.

Ladies and gentlemen, It is worrisome that the population of church goers is dwindling in Europe, while it remains fairly better in the United States. Membership of churches in Africa, Latin America and Asia is increasing. Nigerian priests, aided by God, are now at the vanguard of a revolution in worldwide Christianity. We now have reverse evangelism. The Western world brought Christianity to us. But now, God has made it possible for us to export Christianity to the West. I am an incurable optimist that Nigeria is still going to be great as promised by the Lord. Let us all continue to be fervent in prayers.

RUNNING WITH THE VISION: I always feel proud to note that Nigeria’s indelible impact on global Christianity and the nation’s unique African imprint on Christian spirituality and evangelistic outreach dot the landscapes across the world. Nigerians appear to me like a special breed from the way our people contribute to the development of the Western world. The vision of the founders of the Anglican Cable Network Nigeria is about transformation. You must aim at all human vessels. The conversion of Saul who later became Paul is a clear example of what the power of God could do in any situation and in the life of any creature. Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of early Christians later emerged one of the greatest apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul, eventually wrote almost half of the New Testament. Kenneth E. Hagin, a late prominent apostle of faith noted in one of his works that “Paul did more, single-handedly in his 38 years of ministry than any denomination has done in 500 years.

REGULATING YOUR CAMPAIGN:   It is your duty to devise the best way of widening your audience base, for more people to experience intimate personal relationships with Jesus Christ.  At all times, the communicative feedback mechanism must be oiled to ensure complete information flow and how people react to your messages. The influence of the media is enormous. And the task before Christian media is gargantuan; but not insurmountable.  Remember that just as you strategize, the devil is also strategizing. Ten years ago, statistics revealed that 61 per cent of websites on the internet are pornographic sites, which make them easily available to anyone. We must embrace the preventive option. Regrettably, these unusual occurrences have led to increased sexual sins such as rape, homosexuality, lesbianism, masturbation, incest, fornication, adultery, prostitution and lust of the eyes. Sexual sins ruin destinies, result in broken homes; curable and incurable diseases ruin emotions and cause ultimately, eternal death and damnation. It is this seemingly hopeless picture of the world that you have been called upon by the Church of All Nigeria to reshape the minds and thoughts of people through campaigns that you have to mount to suit the needs of your audience.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE:Governing this station must have its problems because there would never be a time that human needs would be fully met Governance is a process that involves controlling and steering of affairs of a defined society, an organization, or an entity. It is, unarguably one of the hardest of tasks, demanding absolute commitment, dedication, and ability to harness human and material resources. I know that you have a very solid Board of Management or Board of Directors, led by a very competent veteran, Sir Lawrence Foluwasho Olamiti. These very eminent people have been called for formulation of policies for this cable network. I ask that you evolve programmes on role modeling and ensure that you give training and retraining the desired attention. Training and training is very important. Media practitioners must be better equipped than the public they are trying to inform. Otherwise, your viewers would not have any regard for you. I feel sure that your Chairman, Folu Olamiti an asset and multi-talented personality with contacts in high places is equal to the task.

AVOIDING MONOTONY THROUGH PROGRAMMING – SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Your station is not about preaching alone. If you narrow your operations down to preaching, you will lose your audience. You are in operation to educate, entertain and inform. And you will meet with very stiff competition. You could play Christian music that could liberate souls, and also report news that are important and could promote peace and development. It is very tragic that no nation of the world is immune to conflicts and disorderly conducts. Various forms of manifestations of violence and conflicts, including political clashes, ethno-communal and religious disturbances, genocide and other forms of  manifestations of crises and conflicts have not only arisen, but have become pronounced all over the world.  Sadly, hunger, insecurity and unemployment are major sources of threats to peace and development. An estimated 1.2 billion people in the world live in abject poverty. The gap between the rich and the poor countries continues to widen.  How could the church help and how do we influence philanthropists to spend their wealth in a manner that would assist the needy? How do we tell our people that ostentatious display of wealth is a major factor causing criminal and social vices today?

FUNDING & OPPORTUNITIES: Before leaving you with these posers, let me state with every emphasis that running a television station is an expensive venture. Apart from the initial capital that went into this project, the station has to keep abreast of modernization. Technology keeps on changing. You must maintain and replace equipment.  You must run the station in a way that would make your audience receptive to your programmes. This station is in competition with several thousands of stations all over the world. Do not close your doors to opportunities. See beyond your noses. The Chairman of your board has travelled extensively in the course of his active journalism career. He knows where to travel to in the world for collaboration, expansion of this cable television and even financial assistance from donor agencies and public-spirited individuals around the world. As the saying goes, money drives preaching the gospel.

AN APPEAL: There are over 20 million adherents of the Christian faith in Nigeria today. The Church of All Nigeria is the backbone of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) of conservative Anglican bishops and leaders, who believe in strict adherence to the doctrines of Christianity. I am aware that the pillars put in place for the Church of All Nigeria by God, I am talking about successive primates have done a lot. But they can still do more by supporting this television project. This is a dream that must not die. This television station must grow from strength to strength by the grace of God. You cannot outgive God. I am experienced in television production. You may work on a 5 minute production for two days. It is very complex. It is ideal for this television station to cater for GAFCON that is looking up to the Church of All Nigeria to provide leadership. I know that Baba Nicholas Okoh is passionate about this television project. And I feel sure that the Lord will assist the Board of Management to lead this station to greatest heights possible.

PRAY FOR PEOPLE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY & NIGERIA: I must not close this speech without imploring all of us not to pray for Nigeria and people in positions of authority. It is a Biblical command. The Holy Bible states expressly that we should do that. 1st Timothy 2:1-2 states expressly that: ”I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”

In conclusion, let me express gratitude to the authorities of this station for accepting to be PARTNERS in implementing our social development programme on FAMILY VALUES, being implemented by TERRIFIC HEADLINES. It is tragic that the values of the society over the past few decades have not helped the situation substantially. Demonstration of affluence, has led to feverish struggles for the acquisition of wealth at all costs by the old and the young, male and female. Here lies the very salient factor that produced armed robbers in a nation that placed great premium on family values, morality and good name. Therefore, our fundamental commitment is to the sustenance of our moral and social values. I thank all here for your attention, Thank you and God bless. We must collaborate to make Nigeria great again.

Being the text of a lecture delivered by Femi Adelegan at a retreat organized by the Anglican Cable Network Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday August 6, 2019.             

ACNN TELEVISION IS A PARTNER TO TERRIFIC HEADLINES for the programme of PROMOTING FAMILY VALUES. Other partners are: BEN TELEVISION, LONDON, HEROSPOT NEWSPAPER & RAVE FM STATION, OSOGBO.                                                                                                                                         






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