In Shaking The World For Jesus Heather Hendershot examines the media that conservative Evangelical culture has produced in the 20th century. Evangelicals are roughly defined as Christians who profess a personal, salvific relationship with Jesus Christ and desire to spread the message of their faith to “save the world”. If fundamentalists wish to separate from the world, and liberal Christians are indistinguishable from the world, evangelicals straddle the dividing line and try to exist “in the world but not of it”.
            Hendershot attempts to “bring together industrial and textual analysis in order to understand how Christian media are produced and what they try to communicate to consumers” (3). Her examination of Christian media reveals complex ways that modern evangelicals are in AND of the world. The complexities arise from the border that traditionally circumscribed evangelical culture and secular culture—it has, for the most part, become blurry, porous, or disappeared completely. While some may feel that evangelicals have capitulated or “sold out” to secular culture, evangelicals have merely adjusted their tolerance for secular ideas (50).
Children’s videos, “Christian” bands, purity propaganda, and prosthelytizing through logical (scientific) or apocalyptical (emotional) films all generally suffer from the same malady: either the media is preaching to the choir, or else it falls on deaf ears. Christians for the most part fail to understand the attitudes/perceptions/etc. of non-Christians, and therefore cannot effectively cater an effective text to appeal to anyone outside of the homogeneous bubble.
            There are naturally a few exceptions. Irwin Moon made many “scientific” films in the 40’s and 50’s that reached people through soft-sell evangelism. Some “Christian” bands like Creed have (unfortunately) found mainstream success by downplaying their evangelical roots. Some churches (like Cathedral of Hope) have done a good job welcoming the GLBT community that most evangelical culture has repelled.

            Not all evangelical media is designed for the un-churched. Plenty of materials (devotionals, specialty bibles, small-group discussion videos, etc.) are created to help encourage individuals in their relationship with God. Sometimes the message is questionable; evangelical attempts at convincing teenagers to abstain from sexual activity offer questionable “substitutes” (weightlifting and dieting). For the most part, though, evangelical media seem to struggle most in that they attempt to reach outsiders while using insider language. This trend is likely to continue as post-modernity and media ubiquity increases the difficulty in isolating and/or reflecting upon any single, mediated meaning or message.

Hendershot, H. (2004). Shaking the world for Jesus: Media and conservative evangelical culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.