The treatment of bible references in christian communication: A content analysis of Family television, Kenya
The research was a content analysis of sermons in Family TV. The specific objectives of the research were to establish the percentage of direct biblical references in the Family TV sermons and consistency of the preaching to the references given. The research looked at the first quarter of year 2009. The sample of sermons to be studied was obtained through stratified random sampling (Claire S. et al. 1976). The programmes to be studied were recorded directly from the TV as they were received. Quantitative time measurement was done with an inbuilt computer TV tuner, digital timer and other scores were made by observation and inference .. Weekly Programme line ups of the station in the newspapers served as guides of the programmes coming on air. Only 9% of the sermons were local. Equally, only one out of ten preachers was local. Thirty three percent the local sermons were preached by foreign preachers. The local TV preachers were predominantly family members, just as in the American Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) which seems to be a trend setter for the Kenyan TV church. All the sermons had a length of between twenty and thirty minutes. This is the standard sermon length for churches who consider the congregation attention span to be in the range of 20 to 30 minutes (Rev George Wanjau, 2008). Other churches consider other things when setting the length of the sermon, like the leading of the Holy Spirit (Pastor Keith Underhill, 2009; John Jim, 2008; Robin, 2008). The preachers were predominantly male and John Hagee preached more often than any other preacher. Joyce Mayer was the most frequent female preacher. All the preachers were charismatic, with no preacher from the mainline churches like Anglican, Presbyterian or Catholic. So, the agenda setters and behaviour cultivators in the TV church in Kenya today are the charismatic churches. Time spent on direct Bible reading ranged from zero percent to 17% of the whole sermon duration. Twenty percent of the sermons had no bible reading. However; all I the sermons were consistent with the Bible readings or quotations given. In 20% of the sermons, the preachers tried to fit the bible quotation into the sermon rather than have the bible passage lead the sermon. It is generally felt that such discrepancies may lead to regarding the Bible with less seriousness as a sacred text in Christian television communication. There was no systematic way of presenting the bible references and bible passages. Some references were given orally only while others were given both orally and visually by projection. Equally, some of the bible passages were just read, quoted or paraphrased, while others were given both orally and visually by projection. The station has no established systematic way of presenting the references and Bible passages through multimedia to get the various media to supplement each other. Some preachers had ingenious ways of getting the congregation to read the bible along with them like, waiting for the congregation to get to the references - this was done in 20% of the sermons, asking the congregation to read aloud along with them - this was done in 20% of the sermons. This ingenuity should be encouraged so as to cultivate a bible reading culture in the audience. As opposed to the popularist belief that most of the themes in the charismatic church today are on prosperity (Saturday Nation, 11th Oct., 2008) only 40% of the sermons had prosperity themes. The remaining 60% had themes on other different and diverse issues which were all spiritual such as, 'Christian battles' and 'the sword of the spirit'.