Magazine article The Christian Century

Evangelists Offer Series through Netflix Service

Magazine article The Christian Century

Evangelists Offer Series through Netflix Service

Article excerpt

Alongside its popular television shows, Netflix recently began offering series by four pastors.

"I believe if Jesus were on planet Earth today in the flesh, he'd be on Netflix," said Ed Young, one of the pastors, who spearheaded the effort to get Christian talks into the online video streaming service. "We're always working to try to market to the people who normally would not go to church."

Stewart M. Hoover, director of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture at the University of Colorado, Boulder, predicts that the new sermon series are more likely to attract Christian customers to Netflix than to convert Netflix users to Christianity.

"Evangelicals tend to think that because they are in the public media they're going to cross over to more mainstream audiences, but evidence shows that they're mostly just preaching to the choir," Hoover said.

Young, of the Dallas area-based Fellowship Church, has had television programs on cable channels; he hosts iTunes podcasts and offers video content on YouTube and Roku.

His Fifty Shades of They Netflix series features a pastor pacing a colorfully lit stage, offering jocular interpretations of Christian teachings. The other three series have similar formats.

In #DeathToSelfie, young, T-shirt-clad pastor Steven Furtick talks identity. Georgia pastor Andy Stanley addresses working through challenges in Starting Over. And in Winning Life's Battles, evangelical icon Joyce Meyer preaches to a massive auditorium.

David Clark, executive media director for Fellowship Church, said it has a two-year contract in which Netflix pays the churches for the shows. …

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