A Lecture delivered at the 1oth Anniversary of Advent Cable Network Nigeria (ACNN) held in Abuja on 2nd October 2023.
By: The Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo F. Asaju
Bishop Theologian of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.
We are gathered here to celebrate a decade of Media and Tele-Evangelism by the Anglican Church’s Advent Cable Network Nigeria (ACNN). I am grateful to the Primate of All Nigeria and the leadership of ACNN for inviting me to deliver this lecture titled ‘The Role of Media in the propagation of the Gospel: ACNN Television as a Tool in the 21st Century’. I was born into the family of a Journalist and I started my working life as a Radio Journalist with Radio Kwara, in 1979 (44 years ago). It is therefore a subject that arouse my interest. The ACNN has taken its pride of place amongst the outstanding Christian Cable networks in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large; such as Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) , Christian Broadcasting Network, Dove TV and scores of numerous other denomination-based cable networks which fill the Internet and Satellite broadcasting. Rightly did the Holy Bible predict that “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the earth” (Habakkuk 2:14). Modern science and information technology are the most potent tool of mass communication for spreading the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world today. The Anglican Church was a late-starter in employing this medium, partly because of our conservative posture to missions and evangelism; yet, within a decade, we have been able to bring to bear, the stamp of traditional Anglicanism with modern methods of gospel transmission; combining both the ‘Ancient and Modern’; the Orthodox and Pentecostal flavours to gospel delivery. ACNN began as Anglican Cable Network Nigeria but had to effect a change of name for reason of posturing as a Medium beyond denominational characterization.
I must from the outset, declare that ACNN has been a hugely successful Mass Media of evangelization from the Anglican Church and general Christian perspectives, both locally and globally. More so, that the Anglican Church of Nigeria has providentially become God’s foremost tool of apologetics and orthodox evangelization, in the wake of a terrible wave of biblical revisionism in western Anglican provinces. ACNN has become the most prominent media of global orthodox Anglicanism today. What would Anglican Church image and identity have become if faithful Anglicans do not have a Media that serves as voice of truth to a word that is fast rebelling against God, the Truth, salvation and Biblical authority? Hence, ACNN has become the umbrella for Church of Nigeria, and GAFCON. The impact of a Mass media is not appreciated or judged by the size of its office, equipment or staffing but by the magnitude of its influence, impact and reach. Pat Robertson for instance, was a religious broadcaster who turned a tiny Virginia in USA station into the global ‘Christian Broadcasting Network’.
I commend and congratulate the past Primates of the Church of Nigeria for their great evangelistic visions in expanding the physical and Non-physical dimensions of evangelism.
First, Archbishop Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye envisioned an expanded frontier of church planting when he started Missionary Dioceses to the remote Northern and Eastern parts of Nigeria;
Secondly, Primate Peter Akinola who expanded this vision with creation of many more dioceses and established the first Anglican Radio Mass Media with Crowther Radio transmitting in Abuja;
Thirdly, the Father of ACNN, Primate Nicholas Okoh who envisioned and started the Anglican Cable Network Nigeria (a name later changed to Advent Cable Network Nigeria), based on the revised Vision of the Church of Nigeria. The initiative derived from inputs and recommendations by select leaders and representatives of segments of the Church who met at Ibru Centre, Agbaraotor to envision the new era of the primacy of Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, in 2010. This meeting actually suggested the establishment of both an Anglican Cable Network and an Anglican Devotional, which is The Daily Fountain. From evangelistic perspectives, these two organs have become Instruments of Unity and soul winning to the Church of Nigeria.
Fourthly, we give great commendation to our incumbent Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, His Grace. Most Rev. Dr. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba for re-engineering ACNN, giving it renewed evangelistic flavor and directions in line with his inspired mantra of Advancing ‘The Reign of God’. His administration has contributed substantially to upgrading the equipment and programming of the ACNN. We note the recent appointments and changes made in the top management of the ACNN and do wish the new Board leaders and members, God’s continued guidance and blessings as they build upon the solid foundation laid by the leadership of Pioneer Chairman of the Board, Most Rev. Prof Adebayo Dada Akinde as well as Sir Folu Olamiti who ran with the vision and since the period of mobilization for starting ACNN, has played significant roles bringing to bear his legendary expertise as a veteral Journalist and former Editor of Tribune Newspapers. In the same vein, we hereby commend the Members of the successive Boards, Donors (such as Mrs Folorunsho Alakija) and the General Managers (Mr Sony, Engr Korede Akintunde). We note with commendation, the innovative roles of the incumbent General Manager, Engr. Korede Akintunde under whose watch ACNN has experienced exponential redesigning, reprogramming and massive impact in development and viewership. I salute the team of young staff (Journalists, News casters, Computer programmers, producers, Cameramen and field journalists most of whom work assiduously behind the scenes. We commend them for their passion and innovation in spite of limited resources.
Backgrounds to Mass Evangelism
The Christian gospel story traces back to the fall of man and forfeiture of global rule over this world, to Satan. Recall that Satan boasted while tempting Jesus, that ‘the kingdoms of this word were handed to him (apparently by Adam) and that he will give it to whomsoever he wills. He lured Jesus to bow to him, but Jesus, using the power of God’s Word (in the Holy Bible), defeated Satan. “Man shall live, not by bread but by the Word of God”! Satan has since the fall of Adam claimed to be the ‘legitimate’ god of this world, who since his fall from heaven after a ferocious war between his rebel angels and God’s hosts led by Archangel Gabriel, there has been a sustained battle between agents of the Kingdom of God and that of Satan. In this age-long wars, the soul, eternal destiny, will, mind, morality and spirituality of man have been the battle-field. The devil fights dirty because he is a hopeless foe who has been eternally defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross of Calvary. In this fight, all means are being employed by Satan to send most of humanity to hell, with people of various nations, races and gender travelling along the wide road to damnation after death. Only few find and walk unto heaven along the ‘Narrow way’. Christian evangelism thus becomes a ‘life and death issue’, for, in the words of Jesus Christ, “what does it profit man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?”. This truism underscores the urgency of deploying all means, including Mass media and technology to advance the cause of the gospel (good news) of God’s salvation within a limited time –frame. We are indeed in ‘The End-Times’ according to Jesus Christ’s eschatological prophecies. The gospel message and plan were cooked prophetically from after the fall of Adam. ‘The seed of the Woman’ will ultimately ‘bruise the head of the serpent’.
The call of Abraham in Genesis 12 had with it promises from Yahweh to give him and his descendants, a land full of milk and honey; Uncountable seed of descendants; greatness and mediation of blessings. This fourth promise states that: ” through you, all nations of the earth shall be blessed”. Jesus Christ the Messiah of the world, paid the price to save entire marking. He also gave to His disciples, the ‘worldwide commission’ : “go to all nations and preach the gospel” (Mathew 28:19).It is assumed that this global evangelization of the world would have envisioned using mass media other than the rudimentary methods such as inter-personal or Group-based worship services (whether in the temple, synagogue or churches).
The patriarchs sustained their covenant and grew numerically as nomads. The spread of their religion was generational, within their ethnic group. During the era of the monarchy International trade, commerce .and scholarship thrived. These facilitated scholarship and commerce. The growth of cosmopolitan cities like Rome and Corinth enabled the spread of the Word of God; just as it did on the Day of Pentecost, when people from various nations of the world, including Africa were present and took the gospel back to various nations they represented. Thus, the ministry and missionary journeys of Apostle Paul took advantage of this exposure. His personal multi-lingual gift assisted him to preach to Jews and gentiles alike. His letters to various far-flung churches were possible because of the availability of writing, communication and transportation in the Roman Empire. Indeed, ‘Christianity came into being, in the fullness of time’. This was the situation of Pax Romana, when Jesus was born and when he ministered along with his disciples. The Lutheran Protestant Reformation, which occurred sequel to various aberrations committed by the parent Roman Catholic Church led to the discovery and employment of the Print press. This revolutionized the gospel as the Holy Bible transitted from centuries of oral tradition to the Written word, which were canonized variously in 91Ad (Old Testament) and 397 AD (The New Testament). It took the Reformation to restore mass-evangelism through print mass media .
The translation of the Holy Bible through the Authorization and commissioning of King James the 8th opened up evangelism and knowledge of the word of God to many parts of the world. No wonder that the Devil manipulated the Roman Catholic Church of the medieval period to prevent circulation of the Holy Bible. William Tyndale was executed publicly by the Church for translating the Jerome Latin Vulgate Bible into English. The Bible was treated with undue veneration as Biblia sacrae such that lay persons who were not ordained could not touch nor read it. It was indeed a fertile ground for the church then to fester ignorance of the word of God and darkness on the truth of salvation. Martin Luther’s Reformation opened up writings, translations of the Bible into German and other European languages; the translators, using directly the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscripts. We must commend the antecedent works done by Monks in monasteries that were scholastic for translating and preserving thousands of copies of Bible manuscripts by hand. The Qumram community of the Essenes Jewish sect did a lot to preserve the ancient Manuscripts especially of what became the canons of the Bible. The canons were separated from the Apocryphal and Pseudopigrapha books. John Calvin’s practical application of Christian knowledge to society helped a lot to promote Christian form of schooling, hospital and governments. These also boosted the spread of Christian evangelism. In Africa, education and church plants were effective means of global evangelization. Christian Education trained young Christians who became Africa’s political leaders and professionals. A few of them can be mentioned: Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Milton Obote of Uganda, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, William Tubman of Liberia, Haile Sellasie of Ethiopia, Marcus Garvey of Jamaica, Martin Luther King of USA, Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi of Nigeria. Notably, both Azikiwe and Awolowo were journalists whose published Newspapers; namely West Africa Pilot and Nigerian Tribune were Nigeria’s most popular tabloids, which in addition to secular Press, also gave room for Christian articles and reporting; thus, contributing at Nigeria’s early post-colonial period, to evangelization through the Mass media.
Tertiary education was also a tool to raise educated leaders of thought who became Church ministers, Teachers and elite professionals of society who eventually occupied leadership positions thus creating what made Europe to become Christian society and to imbibe Christian civilization for many centuries until recent times, when Europe and America are fast becoming tragically, post-Christian secular societies. The Church produced the first set of Universities in the world Medieval Universities began as Cathedral or Monastic schools for the training in Theology, Law and Medicine. These include: University of Bologna (1088), University of Paris (1150), University of Oxford ( 1167), University of Cambridge (1209), University of St. Andrews (1413), In United States of America, Harvard University was founded in 1636, named after Rev. John Harvard, Yale was founded in 1701and Princeton in 1896. Before then, Christian reformers such as martin Luther and John Calvin formulated policies that delivered the world from Roman Catholic doctrinal restrictions by opening up people’s access to scripture, interpretations, translations and search for knowledge. This produced the Enlightenment which spurred European education, civilization, industrial revolution, technological achievements and developments. The Missionaries to Africa brought along education through establishment of schools which trained the elites that developed this country. Mission schools in those days were characterized by acquisition of knowledge and character. The maxim stands that to train knowledgeable persons without character tantamount to raising bunch of clever devils. This is the bane of education in Nigeria is that a generation has been produced without character and fear of God; this generation did not enjoy the characteristic godly training and discipline of the mission education, more so with government take-over of mission schools and the systematic removal of Christian education from the curricular of public schools throughout Nigeria. Products of this incomplete and malfunctioned education have emerged as leaders of politics in contemporary Nigeria; hence the current malady of inexperienced, selfish unpatriotic and careless thieves and incompetent managers of human and material resources of the country.
The post-colonial era witnessed the discovery of Radio and television, which undoubtedly contributed to the spread of the Christian gospel. During the First and Second World Wars, Radio was widely used as a tool of signal sending and, propaganda and information dissemination. As soon as the ears ended, Radio facilities were employed to fight another warfare, this time, spiritual warfare through mass evangelism. Foreign evangelists like Billy Graham, T.L. Osborne, Pa S.G Elton and later on, Kenneth Hagins, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland made inroads into Nigerian Christian communities, using mass media of Tracts, Literature, tapes and sponsored Radio broadcasts to reach the populace with the ‘Born Again’ brand of Neo-Christianity. The University and other tertiary education campuses were used often to recruit young Christians who soon formed Scripture Union, Fellowship of Christian Students, and campus Fellowships peculiar to each campus. These were the breeding grounds of mass-evangelism in Nigeria.
Special mention must be made of the unique outreach and impacts made by the Sudan Interior Mission’s Radio Station called Radio ELWA, Igbaja (Kwara State) transmitting from Monrovia Liberia. Thousands of young Christians whose faiths were strongly built, were influenced by the regular Radio sermons, prayers, testimonies and sigings on Radio ELWA. Later on, with Christian maturity, Nigeria evangelists began to independently foray into television and Radio evangelism in on a large scale. Mention must be made here, of Bishop Benson Idahosa’s Miracle Hour Timothy Obadare’s ‘Hour of Salvation ‘telecasts on National Television Authority (NTA) stations. These were dominant and influential in the i970s and 1980s.
With the establishments of Neo-Pentecostal churches in Nigeria, such as Deeper Life Bible Church (under Pastor William F. Kumuyi, and Redeemed Christian Church of God (under Pastor Enoch Adeboye) a new era began in Nigerian Pentecostalism. These pastors, whose congregations and clientele number millions of people globally today, achieved this feat using mass-media such as literature, cassette or Tape teachings, and Radio and Television telecasts. It is ironical for instance that Pastor Kumuyi who initially doctrinally rejected and opposed television as means of evangelism, describing it as the Devil’s Box, has capitulated on this position. He is today one of the leading users of Television and satellite evangelism. He is also present loudly on the Social Media, using the most sophisticated technologies in transmitting his services and crusades. WE are indisputably today in the age of technology and the church that will survive and make progress, must utilize this God-given opportunity for global mass evangelism, in spite of the active prominence of Un-Christian contents in the internet. We are in a battle for space.
Today, Television ministry is giving way to Social Media such as Google search engine, Youtube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitters, TikTok and Instagram, etc. These have brought tele-evangelism to the palm and hand sets of millions of people. They are faster, cheaper means of information transmission and dissemination. Virtually every tool needed for Bible study, sermons, salvation, prayer can be found in the Bible. Online Bible version are now readily employed. During Covid 19 epidemic outbreak, when the churches and other organs of society, the Online mode of Church worship was adopted by most churches all over the world. This has opened up o the general public, the immense possibilities which our Christian resources can produce in aid of Christianity and Christian evangelism.
Evolution of Media Technology:
Christian Radio Media history wasn’t born of religious programming. It was part of God’s creative plan. He put into place the necessary elements and forces that we use to transmit messages over great distances, eventually fulfilling the prophecy that knowledge would move to and fro about the earth. His timing is in direct correlation with the development of technology, and only He determines when those new facets of technology are discovered and put into place.
A Radio Commentator, Mr Smith, in 1922 was quoted to have said that “Radio has caught and brought to the ears of us earth dwellers the noises that roar in the space between the world “.This in other words describes the employment of media technology to transmit messages or information (sound and visions) across space.
When I was appointed Professor of Theology twenty years ago at the Lagos State University (where I lectured for 40 years), I delivered my Inaugural Lecture titled “Re-Enthroning Theology as the Queen of Sciences”. My main argument was that God created all types of what we now know as science and technology and that all men have done so far since the world began has been to discover what God had already created and exploit forces which God had put in place, which now has resulted in scientific discoveries. A discovery is to dis- cover what was for ages buried away from human knowledge. Therefore, all foundations of science and arts were predicted and explained in the Holy Bible. ACNN therefore is not a stranger to mass media, this is simply the Anglican Church now doing the bidding of Almighty God the Creator, who desires that our church join others in using God’s providential knowledge and media to advance the Kingdom of God and oppose the wrong use of the Mass Media to promote evil and the kingdom of Satan. ACNN an agent of is light while many secular media today stand for darkness.
Let us briefly examine this development of media technology as well.
- Andre-Marie Ampere (1775 – 1836), discovered the fundamental laws of electricity. Legend has it that when scientist and Christian apologist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) witnessed an apple fall from a nearby tree, he had been searching for further evidence of God. God rewarded his pursuit fruitfully, you might say, by displaying His awesome power of gravity. It eventually proved that there were indeed “invisible forces” in the air.
- Christian physicist, James Clerk Maxwell began studying God and light, which led him to formulate the Electromagnetic Theory of Light. That, in turn, helped him to prove that radio waves can exist.
- Around 1885, the Lutheran-born German scientist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857-1894) actually detected and produced those radio waves. Hertz didn’t believe that his work would ever have any “practical application”. Of course, he was wrong, and we use his name today to describe frequencies of electromagnetic waves – including sound waves.
- British physicist and mathematician Oliver Lodge was also curious about harnessing invisible forces. In 1888, he conducted experiments that revealed electromagnetic waves could indeed travel along wires, which confirmed Maxwell’s findings. He went on to extensively to the development of the radiograph receiver.
- By 1890, Édouard Branley, a devout Catholic, had always felt that he was in a profound union with God, especially while at work in his laboratory at the Catholic Institute. It was there, in his communion with God, that he discovered how to convert incoming signals to direct electromagnetic current … a crucial ingredient for true radio reception.
- When Kentucky Christian-raised farmer, fruit grower, electrician and inventor Nathan Stubblefield (1860 –1928) conducted his “battery operated wireless telephone” transmissions, people took notice. His invention became the first to be used on a “mobile” platform. You might say, he invented the wireless phone.
- Around the same time, a member of the Anglican Church named Guglielmo Marconi stared into the horizon and pondered about how the human mind could bridge any distance, even reaching God in prayer. He was constantly writing about his amazement of God’s creation, and how it was intertwined with science. You might say, Marconi was the first to envision religious broadcasting. With that goal in mind, he began to experiment. Incorporating ideas from Hertz and Branley, he was able to transmit a radio signal across the Atlantic in the form of Morse code.
- Encouraged by his success with Morse code, Marconi went back to the drawing board. After much hard work, he was awarded a patent for radio for his improvements in transmitting electrical impulses, signals, and the device by which they were sent. Then, acting quickly, he established the first patented radio “factory” on the Isle of Wight, England.
- In Australia, an Anglican believer named William Bragg was conducting transmissions as early as 1897. And in Colorado Springs, an exceedingly brilliant scientist and inventor named Nicola Tesla had discovered a way to transmit electrical power wirelessly.
The more I work with the powers of Nature, the more I feel God’s benevolence to man; the closer I am to the great truth that everything is dependent on the Eternal Creator and Sustainer; the more I feel that the so-called science, I am occupied with, is nothing but an expression of the Supreme Will, which aims at bringing people closer to each other in order to help them better understand and improve themselves.” (Marconi, as cited by Maria Cristina Marconi).
The gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. My Mother had taught me to seek all truth in the Bible.” – Nicola Tesla
Robert Millikan (1868 – 1953), great American physicist, Nobel Prize 1923 said as follows:
“I can assert most definitely that the denial of faith lacks any scientific basis. In my view, there will never be a true contradiction between faith and science.”
- On December 23rd, 1900, Canadian born inventor Reginald Aubrey Fessenden sent his voice over a 3+ mile distance. School textbooks are clear that he was the first to send audio through the air via electromagnetic waves. This was not, however, a public broadcast.
His transmission proved that it was possible to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) … to share the gospel to the ends of the earth.
- Around the same time in Australia, Ernest Fisk of Amalgamated Wireless conducted an isolated experiment in which, some claim, the first music was transmitted.
“Religious broadcasting, sometimes referred to as faith-based broadcasts, is the dissemination of television and/or radio content that intentionally has religious ideas, religious experience, or religious practice as its core focus. Broadcasting in both radio and TV has taken on a new look with the development of the internet and mobile devices. Internet radio stations and internet TV stations have been on the rise over the last few years. The main reason for the increase is that the cost to setup and operate is significantly less than traditional radio and TV stations. This is huge for religious organizations as it allows them to put their religious content to a worldwide audience at a fraction of the cost.” (Wikipedia)
History of the Evolution of Media-Evangelism
The origins of religious broadcasting reach back into the early days of radio in the United States. The first station to receive a radio license from the U.S. Department of Commerce, KDKA Pittsburgh, broadcast the Sunday evening vespers service of the Calvary Episcopal Church choir on January 2, 1921. Although the audience for the program was only in the thousands, the broadcast became a fixture of the station’s Sunday evening programming schedule. Soon, the entrepreneurial spirit of America combined with the growing appeal of radio and the missionary zeal of evangelical Christianity to launch dozens of radio ministries”. Rader’s pioneering efforts in creating a diverse programming format and in partnering radio ministries with local churches would have an immense influence on subsequent generations of broadcast evangelists. Rader was aware of the medium’s limitations, however, and he warned that radio did not substitute for a community that gathered to worship, sing, pray, and bear mutual joys and sorrows. Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944) was another popular Christian evangelist of the 1920s who saw the potential of radio to spread her message. In 1922 she became the first woman to broadcast a sermon over the radio waves. A year later her Santa Monica–based church, the Angelus Temple, inaugurated the five-hundred-watt station KFSG (Kalling Foursquare Gospel). The station was the first in the nation to be owned and operated by a church. During the 1920s, KFSG broadcast the Angelus Temple’s worship services to listeners who crowded into tents set up in nearby suburbs of Los Angeles, such as Venice and Pasadena.
With the coming of television in the 1940s, the competition between fundamentalists and modernists became even more intense. Each faction recognized the tremendous cultural influence the medium would have and the promise it held for religious outreach.
The three most significant independent television ministries of the 1950s were those of Rex Humbard (b. 1919), Oral Roberts (b. 1918), and Billy Graham (b. 1918). Humbard was an itinerant Pentecostal minister who settled in Akron, Ohio, after a successful revival there in 1952. He began to televise the Sunday worship service of his Calvary Temple on a local Akron station in 1953 with the intention of providing outreach to the sick and elderly. This concern for those unable to attend regular church services would become a common justification for subsequent television ministries nationwide. Humbard also pioneered the religious spectacle genre of programming. He built a five-thousand-seat church in 1958 that featured state-of-the-art camera, lighting, and sound equipment as well as a huge stage that accommodated an orchestra, a choir, and broadcasting personnel. Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow Sunday broadcasts featured his musical family and his own folksy sermons. The broadcast was essentially a praise and preaching program that highlighted God’s love and forgiveness and avoided controversial political or doctrinal debates. By 1971 Humbard’s ministry aired on 650 television and 700 radio stations in North America. The ministry would expand to Japan, Australia, Africa, and South America over the next decade.
Oral Roberts began his career as a Holiness-Pentecostal minister whose healing revivals took him throughout the South and Southwest. With encouragement from Rex Humbard, Roberts gained the financial backing to televise one of his healing crusades in 1955. Within three years, the crusades were being aired on network affiliates to a steadily growing national audience. Roberts was the creator of the live healing-revival format that later became the vehicle by which faith healers Kathryn Kuhlman (1907–1976) and Benny Hinn (b. 1953) rose to prominence. Using high-speed film to compensate for the low lighting inside his tent, Roberts’s programs captured the drama and excitement of seemingly miraculous healings by the laying on of hands. Here was religious television that was inspiring, entertaining, and emotionally gripping. Roberts went on to become a successful author, university president, and founder of a broadcast dynasty that is now largely in the hands of his son, Richard Roberts (b. 1948). Oral Roberts also pioneered religious broadcasting’s foray into the variety show format. His program, Oral Roberts and You, featured upbeat contemporary music, bright-faced young people, the highest technical standards, and a Bible-based sermon. Roberts also broadcast hour-long television specials that featured popular singers such as Minnie Pearl and Mahalia Jackson and was one of the first televangelists to preach the “prosperity gospel,” which claimed that God’s plan for humanity included both spiritual and material riches.
The popular evangelist Billy Graham came from a more conservative theological background (Presbyterian and Southern Baptist) than either Humbard or Roberts, and his use of television would also be more measured. He gained national fame in 1949 when a planned two-week revival in Los Angeles went on for two months and attracted the attention of the Hearst publishing empire. Beginning in 1950, Graham had his own nationally broadcast radio program, Hour of Decision, with an estimated listening audience of twenty million. Following an influential telecast of his crusade in England in 1955, Graham had the clout to arrange the broadcast of his Madison Square Garden Crusade on ABC in 1957. The spectacle of thousands responding to Graham’s call for repentance and conversion made these broadcasts riveting television. For the rest of the twentieth century, Graham’s crusades became a staple of religious television. They incorporated footage of crowds pouring into athletic stadiums, music and testimonials by popular artists, Graham’s powerful sermons, and finally his call for members of the audience to “come forward to Christ.
CBN has been a pioneer in the “media blitz,” which saturates a given region over a concentrated time period with television programming, radio shows, videotapes, and literature. CBN’s World-reach partners with Christian ministries around the world to spread the gospel using media, discipleship, small-scale church planting, and humanitarian relief efforts. By the late 1990s, CBN International was broadcasting programming in ninety countries and in more than fifty languages. Robertson pioneered religious broadcasting in the Middle East with the launch, in 1982, of CBN’s Channel 12/Middle East Television Network. In 1997 the network began broadcasting throughout the Middle East via satellite. Increasingly, other American broadcast ministries, many with millennial hopes, have targeted this biblical region. These include SAT-7, which transmits programming produced in Middle Eastern studios by Middle Eastern Christians in the Arabic language. This network is careful not to attack Islam directly and features culturally sensitive dramas, talk shows, children’s programs, and musical programs.
Perhaps the most successful of the new broadcasting empires is the Trinity Broadcasting Network. From its humble beginnings in 1973, TBN has grown into a half-billion-dollar television empire that owns and operates over 22 full-power TV stations and over 500 low-power stations nationwide. By the beginning of the new millennium, the network’s 3,500 cable affiliates allowed it to reach an audience estimated at thirty million daily. The ministry used twenty-six satellites to broadcast in twenty-four languages on every major continent. Trinity’s programming is broadcast twenty-four hours a day and includes the biggest names in televangelism in its lineup. Founders Paul (b. 1934) and Jan Crouch come from Pentecostal backgrounds, and the Pentecostal worship style and theology pervades the network’s programming. The network’s signature program is the Praise the Lord show, which features both variety show and talk show formats (https://finneymedia.com/history-radio-1/}
CBN programs have aired in approximately 71 languages from Mandarin to Spanish and from Turkish to Welsh. In 1990 CBN International launched special projects in the Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly the Soviet Union) that included primetime specials and later The 700 Club and Superbook, an animated series of Bible stories. The broadcasts were followed by 190 rallies throughout the region that resulted in the establishment of 190 churches. Similar special projects were implemented in the Philippines and Romania in 1994. CBN International also distributes videos and literature and provides follow-up through international ministries around the world. In 1995, CBN launched CBN World Reach with a mission of converting 500 million people to Christianity using Gospel programming to targeted international audiences. ( https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Christian_Broadcasting_Network ).
The Encyclopedia of the Environment carried out a survey and reported the future impact of Christian religious broadcasting:
The sophistication, diversification, and influence of religious broadcasting are greatly underappreciated dimensions of the global religious scene at the beginning of the twenty-first century. From India to Europe and from Latin America to the United States, religious broadcasting has become a dominant purveyor of religious teaching and entertainment for vast numbers of the world’s population. According to a 2002 report by the respected Barna Research Group, more adults—141 million—experience the Christian faith in a given month in the United States through Christian radio, television, or books than attend Christian churches (132 million). Breaking this finding down, the report discovered that 52 percent of American adults had tuned into a Christian radio program in the previous month, that 38 percent of these listeners tuned in to a teaching, preaching, or talk show program; and that 43 percent of this population had listened to a Christian music station. The survey observed that women and African Americans were overrepresented among these listeners to Christian radio. Forty-three percent of all adults—some 90 million people—were watching Christian television or programming in a given month, about the same number of people who attend Christian churches in any given week. Somewhat surprisingly, more than fifteen million atheists, agnostics, and adult members of non-Christian faiths had some degree of exposure to the Christian faith through various forms of religious broadcasting.
Though precise figures are not available for other regions of the world, the ubiquity of religious programming on satellite broadcasts reaching every continent in the world attests to the fact that religious broadcasting is a phenomenon to be reckoned with by any student of contemporary religion. This influence has been greatly augmented since the 1990s by the growth of religious internet sites and programming. The dominance of religious broadcasting is a tale of entrepreneurism, audacity, competition, zeal, scandal, and triumph. Although this medium has its critics and detractors, both religious and secular, its explosive growth and influence show no signs of diminishing for the foreseeable future.
The Impact of ACNN
The Anglican Church Christian Network is a robust Cable Television watched by viewers in different parts of the world. The programmes offered periodically include the followings: Daily Devotional from Daily Fountain Anglican Devotional, Weekly online services (twice per every Sunday, Synod coverage, sports, News, Documentaries, Medical Talk, Bible Study, Debates, Children’s Hours, Youth Forum, Sponsored telecasts of churches and Dioceses from different denominations and parts of Nigeria.;. Others are, Exclusive interviews, Prayer meeting, Drama, News and Musicals, etc. Indeed, the impact and influences of ACNN are multi-faceted. Some of them are as follows:
- ACNN has become an Instrument of Unity in the Church f Nigeria, Anglican Communion. Our church is a national as well as global family. IT is bound together by shared historical heritage, the Book of Common Prayer, Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, Common Liturgy, uniform ppolity, General Synod/ Standing Committee, Hymnody, Common Tradition, popularly described as Anglican Tradition or Anglicanism, etc. In spite of these commonalities, the Anglican Communion is characterized by autonomy of each Province and Diocese; nevertheless, each diocese if subject to the Constitution of the Province or the Church of Nigeria. ACNN binds us together, just like the Daily Fountain Devotional, DIVCCON and Joshua Generation have become rallying point of Anglicans in Nigeria.
- ACNN has become a potent vehicle for exhibiting and advertising Anglicanism and the Anglican Church. The richness of the Anglican Church, which produced the generation of older Christians in parts of the world, are getting lost partly resulting in Youth Flight from many established evangelical or Mission oriented orthodox churches. This is due partly to deliberate sheep-stealing by the new generation or so-called Pentecostal churches. These churches, rather than engage in genuine evangelism among Non-Christian populations, would rather wrongly condemn or criticize Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Baptist churches etc with erroneous terminologies such as ‘dead’ ‘life-less’, and ‘sleeping’ churches. These accusations are not true. Pentecostalism is not a denominational nomenclature. Rather, it describes any Christian from any denomination who believes in and practices the gifts of the Holy Spirit as it was endowed the church on the day of Pentecost. IN fact, historically, the Azusa revival at Los Angeles during the ministry of William Seymour, a Black American pastor, who is regarded as the father of classical Pentecostalism, first began when some Roman Catholic Nuns were praying and they suddenly started to speak in Tongues. Anglican Church has three types, namely, the Anglo-Catholic (High Church), the Evangelical (Low Church as brought by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) to Nigeria and thirdly, the Anglican Charismatics/Pentecostals. Therefore, Anglican Church is as Pentecostal as any church denomination. Anglican Church is strongly built upon all teachings of the Holy Bible. Today, I can assure this audience that majority of Bishops and Clergy and substantial numbers of laity, old and young, speak in tongues, cast out demons, do miracles in Jesus; name, preach the gospel and are spiritual warriors for the Kingdom of God. All these new faces of contemporary Anglican Church are projected in the programmes and telecasts of ACNN. For instance, during the ACNN Prayer time, the ministers, lay and clergy are seen and heard speaking in Tongues and praying deliverance prayers for the people who phone in their prayer requests. ACNN is revolutionizing the public portrait of our dear Church. They believe that they are the exclusive custodian of genuine salvation or ‘Born Again’ gospel and Pentecostal powers. They relish in attacking Infant Baptism, Confirmation, Anglican vestments and Traditional Hymns. History has shown, that all these unfortunate vilification of Anglicanism has no scriptural basis but they still do this for selfish reasons of misleading innocent Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists etc in order to grow and maintain their hold upon their own denominational churches which are more or less personal family ministries run like business ventures for the personal empire building of the founders or leaders. Materialism drives many of them, and their popular prosperity theology is already creating problems of proliferation and adulteration of Christianity of the Cross, which Anglican and evangelical churches uphold.
Really, it is noteworthy that most Pentecostal churches have returned to basic Anglican doctrines which they had over the years condemned. Fro example, they have adopted the following : (a) Anglican vestments; their Bishops now wear cassock, Purple clerical shirt, Pectoral Cross, Episcopal Rings, Crozier, Cope and Mitre and Stole, Skull cap etc., (b) terminologies and paraphernalia ( such as Bishop, Reverend, Province, Diocese, Synod; (c) Marriage rites and Funeral Rites have been copied, although in their ignorance they tamper with the very soul and essentials of the Marriage vows to suit their jaundiced prosperity theologies; (d) They now sing Hymns and play Pipe organs- which they criticized earlier in preference for Choruses which have comparatively cheaper spiritual messages than hymns. In all these, ACNN has become advertising agent of Anglicanism. I recall an interview I had with ACNN’s Manager, Versatile Engr. Korede Akintunde, in 2019, while I was Vice-Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University Oyo, but as Bishop Theologian, where he asked me to explain the scriptural basis of Infant Baptism, Confirmation, Procession of Choir and Ministers, etc. and why Anglican Worshippers bow before the Church Altar. Such efforts, like many other programmes have served as educational means of explaining key Anglican doctrines. This will make Anglicans more confident of their doctrine and very proud of their Anglican identity.
- ACNN has become a vehicle for properly showcasing the truth and genuine spiritual nature of the Anglican Church. For the avoidance of doubt, Anglican Church in Nigeria, through the missionary efforts of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) was responsible for the following:
- Evangelization of most parts of Nigeria today. Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s ministry for instance, took Christianity to large parts of Yorubaland, Sierra Leone, Igboland, Niger Delta, Nupeland and parts of Hausa land.
- Anglican Church, being the official church of Federal Republic of Nigeria by British Colonial Legacy, formed the early Nigerian secular polity. Our Members fought for decolonization of Christianity, through efforts of church leaders like Bishop James Johnson, our leaders fought for Nigerian independence, such as Herbert Macaulay, Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe and Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (Both men were Anglicans), Moreover, The Queen of England (while she lived, was both Head of State and of the Commonwealth as well as the titular Head of the Anglican Church.
- Anglican Christianity formulated Nigeria’s Judicial system, through the adoption or imposition of all aspects of British English Law or jurisprudence;
- Anglican Church produced majority of the most prominent leaders of Neo-Pentecostal Churches in Niger, through whom major expansionist missionary impact have been registered for Christianity globally today. These include (Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola, an Anglican member from Iloffa , Kwara State, the founding Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church, Moses Orimolade of Ikare Akoko who founded Cherubim and Seraphim Church from where Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) emerged. Anglican church is grand-parent to most Pentecostal and Aladura churches in Nigeria and their basic doctrines are still heavily dependent upon the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in many respects. from where Mountain of Fire and Miracles emerged; Apostle Babatope, ( A Catechist of the St John’s Iloro Ilesa who left the church to so-found the Apostolic Church in Nigeria; William Folorunsho Kumuyi, a member of Christ Church Erin Oke ( born, baptized and confirmed Anglican and who schooled at the United Anglican Primary School Erin Ijesa. Providentially, I as Bishop of Ilesa facilitated the construction of Marble grave yard for the abandoned grave of the father of W.F. Kumuyi, recognizing him as a committed Anglican member through whose loins, like Mary the Mother of our Lord Jesus, a notable Chrisian Evangelist has been gifted the world, in Pastor W.F. Kumuyi. We also have Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye (Born and raised an Anglican, and member of Choir of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church Ifewara. Both Kumuyi and Adeboye are my parishioners in the Diocese of Ilesa. We also have Bishop Frances Wale Oke and his wife, who were youth members of the Anglican Church at Ibadan. He is today the President of the Pentecostal Church of Nigeria. He not long ago, built a church in honour of his late father, who served as Lay Reader for over firty years. Thje list is endless.
- The News sessions of ACNN keeps Anglican and other viewers abreast of happenings and events in different parts of the Anglican church as well as secular information. It is gratifying that ACNN sometimes transmit news of Channels Television through collaborations between the two Electronic Media
- The very major impact of ACNN is facilitating corporate worship across the boundaries of physical churches or geographical location. In a globalized world, every person can reach the other person across the globe, in a matter of seconds and meetings. Transmitting two morning services every Sunday avails many, especially the aged, the sick and the poor living in different places, opportunity to worship together in different parts of the world. This keeps membership growing, and sometime can be financially rewarding when viewers send their monetary contributions electronically to the accounts of the church.
- ACNN is a strong tool for Apologetics. Jude the writer admonishes Christians to contend earnestly for the Faith which was once for all delivered unto the Saints (Jude 3). The passage identified that purveyors of evil erroneous doctrines will attempt to infiltrate the church and do havoc against its faith, the Holy Bible and fundamental doctrines of the church. In the wake of communism, secularism, paganism. Occult, Epicureanism, liberal theology and revisionist theology, the Anglican Mass Media such as ACNN is providential positioned to broadcast the truth of the Gospel in order to correct and challenge the basic Christian truths and doctrines.
- ACNN spiritual telecast include Bible Study, Prayer, Drama, Musical singing, Counseling, live coverage of crusades and preaching programmes of numerous churches actually enhance spiritual edification of the members of the church in general.
Challenges and Potentials of ACNN
Ten years is still a young age for a Mass Media of the type that ACNN has become. For its age, it has achieved huge successes, penetrating lives, homes and communities with such impact. ACNN is received freely through the ‘Open Decoder’. Unlike DSTV which is subscribed to, ACNN is transmitting virtually free of charge bit for occasional Advertorials. Therefore, we identify the followings as challenges, which if addressed and overcome, the ACNN will achieve greater heights and make better impact than hitherto.
- The national Church will need to devise a good mechanism to provide steady and robust finances to enable the Cable Network achieve their ultimate set goals.
- Remuneration of ACNN staff should be competitive in the market of Journalism. Good emoluments and which staff welfare facilities include free-medical care and assured pension scheme, with good monthly pay . These will encourage many of the good hands to remain and further develop the ACNN, giving their very best and seeing their services, not just as an employment but as a ministry to reach the world with evangelism. This, like teachers and pastors, should expect their rewards to come from God whom they serve. It will also discourage our young good professionals from emigrating overseas like many youths do today. emigrating outside Nigeria.
- New programmes which are peculiarly Anglican should be promoted. These include, Real Documentaries about many fathers of Faith and Mothers of Faith to share their reminiscences
- ACNN should be a goof vehicle for theological education., Like the National Open University, the Church can establish a website and online forum where lay ministry training can be carried out. Lecturers from th various recognized theological colleges can be involved to teach select courses in all our seminaries to empower people for ministry. Youth ministry, women ministry etc can leverage on these.
- A special programme should be established to teach the Rubrics and elements of Anglican worship. This will educate our young members for instance about why Anglicans do what they do in worship.
- Efforts should be made to relocate ACNN from the relatively less popular media outlets, to major or popular ones in order to guaranty mass outreach. ACNN should be on DSTV, GO TV etc. This kill improves upon the reach.
- Sponsorship of ACNN should in programming, advertorials and funding and subscription should, be zoned to different able dioceses of the National Church.
- ACNN can become medium of outreach for the existing Anglican Universities. They can use the medium to reach out to foreign or distant learning specialized programmes like sandwitch programmes.
- The ACNN should have dedicated and qualified researchers into Church History who can be commissioned to present historical documentaries on key historical legacies and heritages of the Anglican church globally and locally. Stories of Heroes of Faith in the Bible, Church History, Early Church Fathers and Apologists, Missionary Era et should be played repeatedly and daily to further educate members and possible converts to Anglican church understanding of Christianity. An Anglican judicial programme can be established to operate like the ‘People’s Courtroom’ where cases between persons can be brought and tried openly in accordance with Canon Law. This will enable the audience and indeed Anglican members to be familiar with the tradition of ‘Bishop’s Court’ where Bishop or his delegated legal officers to settle cases that bother on Biblical law, ethics and standards. After all, Traditional Rulers also adjudicate over cases using Customary Law, Muslim Sharia Courts adjudicate using Islamic Law. ACNN will help our Lawyers to handle cases according to Canon or Biblical Law and Anglican Traditions.
- Anglican Cable network staff should be sponsored to go on Media tourism to learn from more experienced media outlets and mentorship by veteran Tele Evangelists from different parts of the world. This way they learn from other cable networks; the staff can engage in staff exchange with media stations in other countries.
- A special programme can be developed to discuss wrong doctrines making rounds in the churches generally in order to expose them to our honest seekers for Truth of Christianity. Many churches are practicing heresies, occult and strange fires and unethical behaviours. Our young ones will need to be guided for them to avoid the spiritual and moral pitfalls through mass education be knowledgeable experts These same experts can also help to answer crucial matters that can prevent or solve youth desertion, JAPA syndrome, drug addiction, prostitution, Homosexuality, Transgender, etc,
- A phone-in discussion programme can be established to be entirely a question and answer programme for viewers in the public to ask vial questions to be answered by experts and experienced Anglican clergy.
It is my considered opinion that the above discourse, taken along with many other possible suggestions from this able and wise audience, will contribute to the encouragement, repackaging and re-launch of ACNN from its present level of achievements but strive to renew its content and style and methods such that it will eventually with time become the CNN of Christian Broadcasting and Media evangelism today. Once again, Big Congratulations to our dear ACNN Team and the Church of Nigeria, Better days ahead and God’s blessings evermore in Jesus’ name.
Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo F. Asaju
The Link to the Full Lecture