The Christ in Media Institute, empowered by the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, promotes research and education focused on employing God’s gift of mass media to bring the pure Gospel message to vast audiences both in the US and abroad. It does not engage in media production, but rather aims to develop and gather the expertise required for the effective production and distribution of Christian media in a variety of cultures.
The uniqueness of this mission is clarified by the following explanation of terms, which embody the institute’s core values.
The Gospel is the message of how Jesus Christ saved us. According to the Lutheran Confessions, the Gospel teaches that human creatures “cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God accounts as righteousness in His sight” (Augsburg Confession IV and V). To draw a contrast, our message will not center on those spiritual emphases often portrayed in mainstream media, such as moralism (“we earn God’s favor by doing good”), a shallow spirituality proclaiming an indulgent “loving” god apart from Jesus Christ, or messages aimed primarily at promoting or influencing political issues. Some of these approaches may have value in their place, others actually militate against the Gospel, but none are the central Christian message of the Great Commission – that Jesus Christ is our Savior. This is the Gospel we are committed to convey through media.
The institute’s primary interest is in visual media, especially cinema, television, and the internet. As technology changes rapidly, the institute will give attention to any medium useful in achieving the goal of bringing the Gospel to vast audiences.
While productions intended for “in house” audiences (such as congregations and parochial schools) may be a useful byproduct of the institute’s work, it rather aspires to explore how to reach the audiences of network and movie-channel TV, of public cinema theatres, and of comparable venues both in the U.S. and abroad.
The institute gives special attention to challenges of communicating the Gospel both within and across cultures, in a variety of political and social climates, for outreach via mass media into many parts of the world. We have much to learn from and about people in many places, in order to devise appropriate and effective means for bringing them the Gospel through mass media.
Theologians, communication and performance specialists, artists, cultural anthropologists, missionaries, musicians, historians, pastors, sociologists, and business specialists all have unique insights into ways the Gospel may be spread through mass media. The institute is charged to promote active discussions among practitioners of many disciplines, drawing on multiple understandings, insights, and contributions from virtually all academic disciplines.
The institute provides opportunities for interaction and cooperation between students and teachers, on the one hand, and mass media practitioners – writers, producers, directors, composers, actors, and others in the mass media industries.
The institute is charged to encourage media production that is both spiritually vital and well grounded in Confessional Lutheran theology, and that has both integrity and relevance. While dealing with every aspect of human experience, its main concern is the presentation of the Gospel, and not taking or promoting positions on political or social issues.
The project embraces the theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
CMI is an educational arm of Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minnesota.
The Board of Directors
- Jessica Gehrke
Department of Communication
Wisconsin Lutheran College,
- Jeffrey Hendrix
Pastor, Faith Lutheran Church
- Brian Klebig
Professor of Communication
Bethany Lutheran College and Theological Seminary, Mankato MN
- Judith Kuster
Prof. of Communication Disorders (em.)
MN State University-Mankato
- Jennifer Mehlberg
Professor of Education
Martin Luther College, New Ulm MN
- Greg Schibbelhut
Luther High School, Onalaska WI
- Tom Kuster
Professor of Communication (em.)
Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato MN