When Paul and Jan Crouch launched the Trinity Broadcasting Network in 1973, the landscape for Christian television was wide open and largely unexplored. TBN pioneered a new inspirational electronic medium, creating bold and innovative programming that attracted viewers from a broad range of demographics with a message that brought hope, healing, and spiritual wholeness.
More than forty years later, as many inspirational and religious networks struggle to maintain relevance and find voice in the clutter of content across myriad broadcast platforms, TBN is casting a vision for a new generation of Christian television through innovative programming and global networks.
“The look and feel of Christian television — and TBN — are far different than they were even a few short years ago,” said TBN Chairman Matthew Crouch. “With a wide variety of programming and content beckoning viewers to cable, satellite, and online platforms, we’ve had to create new and fresh content, just like every other network. While the Christian message hasn’t changed, we’ve had to rethink how we’re delivering that message.”
Mr. Crouch recalled that when TBN went on the air on May 28, 1973, “there was really no model for what Christian television should look like. But as it became evident that our inspirational message was resonating with all sorts of viewers, we found ourselves creating content and partnering with a wide range of individuals and ministries to fill the increasing demand for programming.”
That same spirit is guiding a new vision for Christian television, as TBN reaches out in production and partnership to sculpt a broadcast model that is relevant to viewers while maintaining an uncompromising biblical message. During its first thirty years TBN gained deep traction among viewers worldwide for its unique and exciting Charismatic flavor, helping to bring an international scope to the ministries of a number of now-well-known Christian leaders. Mr. Crouch noted that over the last decade TBN’s theological footprint has become far more diverse, encompassing the expressions and themes of pastors, teachers, leaders, and ministries from across Evangelical and non-denominational Christianity.
“One of the most resounding messages in the Church today is the message of grace,” said Mr. Crouch. “It is inspiring a whole generation to turn to God, and we’re excited to feature a group of fresh voices boldly declaring that theme in their ministries.” He noted that respected Evangelical leaders like Dr. David Jeremiah, the Rev. James MacDonald, author Max Lucado, and Pastor Joseph Prince have helped to broaden TBN’s ministry outreach, drawing new viewer demographics.
Beyond ministry and church-centered programming, there has been an increasing emphasis in Christian television on reality-based and dramatic content that not only entertains, but inspires and challenges viewers in their faith. Mr. Crouch noted that among the most popular and requested programs on TBN are reality shows like Travel the Road, which follows a pair of bold young missionaries as they travel to remote and dangerous parts of the earth to share the gospel message; Treasures, a weekly series that tells the stories of men and women whose lives have been dramatically changed through the gospel; and Drive Thru History, which takes viewers on an exciting journey to explore significant historical and spiritual landmarks around the world.
“There is a deep interest among our viewers in programming that is interactive — that makes them a part of the on-screen experience,” said Mr. Crouch. “Especially when it comes to something as personal as their faith, viewers want to be involved. They want to feel the emotions, the passion, and the purpose of a vital faith in God. And we are making that interactive thread a priority in new programming we produce and air.”
TBN has partnered with a number of producers to create impacting, interactive programing including:
Drive Thru History – The Gospels
Based on the original, award-winning TBN show, this new series from ColdWater Media takes viewers to the land of the Bible to find the real Jesus of the New Testament, and to get an intimate view of His life, His mission, and why He continues to be the most influential individual in all of history.
Acts of God.
An intense and captivating series from City on a Hill Productions, Acts of God demonstrates with personal stories how a God who is full of compassion and mercy can still allow His children to face hardship and suffering.
Just about everyone has had an “Aha!” moment, a profound insight that brings purpose and clarity to life. In this powerful new TBN program, best-selling author Kyle Idleman uses stories and Scripture to demonstrate how three elements — awakening, honesty, and action (AHA) — can spark key moments that will bring growth and maturity in our spiritual journeys.
Best-selling author Max Lucado shows how each of us can let go of the unique burdens we find ourselves bearing in life, and allow God to give us His mercy, strength, and freedom for our journeys.
While TBN has taken the lead in architecting a fresh, new broadcast model for faith-and-family television, the network’s greatest impact may be its ongoing global outreach in launching impacting 24-hour networks across the earth. Beginning in the 1980s with network and channel launches in the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe, today TBN has nearly thirty networks and affiliates reaching out with round-the-clock Christian programming to every inhabited continent.
The network’s most recent addition — TBN UK — has also been its most far-reaching to date, taking 24-hour Christian programming to 95 percent of households throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
“We believe that we are on the leading edge of a major spiritual revival across the United Kingdom,” said TBN UK’s Leon Schoeman. “Through our partnership with ministries and churches throughout the UK, we are seeing millions of individuals and families being impacted by our programming. People are coming to Christ, lives are being changed, and, ultimately, nations will be impacted by the gospel.”
Matthew Crouch said that the ground-level mission of TBN is to see the message of Jesus Christ cover the earth. “Innovative programming, powerful preaching, and new networks coming online — they’re all for one purpose,” he said. “And that is to make the Name of Jesus famous around the world. At the end of the day, when we stand before God, all we’ll have to show are the souls we brought into God’s kingdom. That remains our all-encompassing priority.”