Reflecting on Articles Discussing the Slowing of the Christian Media Industry

You probably heard by now – we are in tough economic times. This is affecting virtually everyone, including those that represent the prosperity gospel. Last week I read two articles about the terrible condition of Christian publishing and Christian music sales. There was this Newsweek article called Preacher Don’t Publish by Lisa Miller (love the title) and Music In Recession by Mark Geil on the Christian Music Today site. Who would have thought that those who peddle the idea of profitable materialistic gains for “spiritual investments” would also be affected? Jesus can give joy to the suffering, heal the sick, shine light into darkness but apparently He’s not recession-proof. If ever there was a time to use the supposed “prosperity gospel” as a form of evangelism, it would be now.

Am I glad that some Christian bookstores are closing and that several Christian magazines are out of print? Let me consult my Prayer of Jabez bobblehead.  Hmmm, I know I am supposed to say, “No it’s a terrible shame and it’s giving the devil more ground” but this is my blog and this month, I’d like to refrain from lying about trivial matters (yes, I know how that reads).  Yes, I am glad that the recession is affecting Christian media.  While I do not want all the Christian publishing houses and various businesses to close, I hope this causes a re-shaping of the industry.  To me, the idea of the Christian bookstore is a dinosaur.

Do I hope that these once sanctified from the ways of the world real-estate gets converted into, say, an Adult bookstore? Aside from the countless laughs I would enjoy from seeing the expressions of faces on Ladies Bible-study thumpers hopping out of church vans, my real answer is no, I’d rather see regular bookstores. I can hear one of those ladies saying, “There is no such thing as a regular bookstore. The merchandise will be set by the store owner and you won’t have as many Christian books as say, New Age books.” Well that will be true if  New Age readers frequent more than Christian readers.

Don’t get me wrong, I buy Christian stuff all the time. Like many, I listen to David Crowder Band and read Brian McLaren books. Like many, I do not listen to Casting Crowns (not that there’s anything weird about them) nor read Joel Osteen books (because there is something weird about him). I own all the Nooma videos and every time some sincere soul urges me to see Fireproof, it reminds that I have yet to see academy award nominated, Rachel Getting Married.

I like that I was able to buy Tony Jones’ New Christians from Barnes & Noble two days before Christmas (I’m sitting in a B&N right now and there’s one copy of New Christians currently on the shelf). It’s great that people buy Third Day albums at Target and I await the day when you can rent the in-production, Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz movie from Blockbuster. Christians should shop where everyone else shops – this is normal. One of the few bullets we’ve dodged as a Church is that we did not see the advent of the Christian grocery store. Though I have an imagination cultivated by years of watching the Simpsons, I’ll spare you what the inside of such a place might look like.

Sensitivity is not one of my gifts so take that as a warning but I was a little encouraged after I reading those articles.  The decline of the Christian publishing and music industries implies that the Christian bubble is leaking. My prayer is that Jesus would drive a spear through it so more in the Church will find themselves engaging throughout society.


  1. To some extent, the bubble does play a role, whether is be preaching to the choir, or a place to initially get ones feet wet.

    Many artists got their start in church choir. Its a much safer place to start than the local watering hole with chicken wire to protect the band etc. The problem is that for many, the Christian bubble is where it stops, and a whole Christian Industrial Complex (CIC) has been built on said bubble.

    By the same token, the church does need those called to minister to its own… and if someone is called, thats a pretty cool thing. Some are gifted in that arena, and there are times and places for such, but I doubt its anywhere near what the CIC indicates it should be, or whether the CIC should even exist in such matters.

  2. Hey Ron, thanks for the comment. I agree that the church does need those callled to minister to itself (it would be somewhat contradictory of me to say otherwise). And you make a solid point in saying that CIC has overbuilt on the bubble. But doesn’t it make you mad? Is it not a form of gluttony on our part as a Church that we have all of this Christian entertainment?

    I remember a while back Switchfoot was getting criticized for “crossing over” and Jon Foreman explained that the band would have received more money had they stayed in the bubble but they were trying to bring their message to a new audience. I wish more bands did that and of course this idea crosses over into all our vocations.

    Anyway, I’ve strayed from my original point but I hope more kingdom minded things happen during this restructuring of the industry. And may the CIC collapse like the two towers of Mordor! (meant to be read with an appreciation of hyberbole).

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