Can We Learn from the CBC?

futbol-amateur-814382-mAfter 25 years of marriage Kelly and I did something we’ve never done before. Well, that’s a lie. It was more me than she who did it and I’d done it once before – exactly four years ago. I brought TV into our home!

In June 2010 I climbed on the roof of our Nairobi house with an antenna, ran a cable through a window and got one channel – Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). But it was all we needed.

In June 2014 we also only needed (okay, “wanted”) one channel, but instead of a simple antenna I had to get a Fibre Op box thing that came with a technician and 500 channels.

We wanted the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which for 4 weeks cancelled most of its regular programming and dedicated about 10 hours of nationwide airtime a day for the world’s most followed and watched sporting event – the football World Cup (please picture athletes wearing soccer cleats not crash helmets. Okay, okay, you better also picture them simulating injuries instead of sucking them up in a more manly fashion).

The CBC has no cultural agenda. They’re profit driven (not that crown corps ever make one) so they study demographics. They know that over 20% of Canadians are foreign born and that they, their children, other globally connected Canadians and a growing number of young sport enthusiasts love international football. (More kids play soccer in Canada than any other sport). American/Canadian football, baseball, hockey and, to a lesser degree, basketball are sporting anomalies confined to a few select countries. Soccer is global and global is the name of the game these days.

But this blog is not about sports (though we’re loving TV and having our living room filled with cheering Colombians every weekend). It’s about mission and church. Like the CBC we need to know our demographics and work ahead of them. TV programming is not just about who is watching but who will be.

In 15 short years over two thirds of Canadians will either be foreign born or children and grandchildren from a cultural group presently considered a visible minority – and they will be younger than other Canadians. But your particular community might grow by becoming whiter and older. We need to track the trends.

Right now most of my neighbours are into NASCAR (another sporting anomaly). My church needs to know that (and we do) but we also need to know that it probably soon won’t be like that. We need to be tapping into the growing internationally-connected community (and we are).

For example, every refugee who comes to Saint John receives from one of our small groups a welcome basket full of useful and not so useful things that say “some people in this new, strange land know about you, care about you and are glad you’re here”. It’s a great door-opener and those doors usually stay open because newcomers to Canada are very open to receiving and giving hospitality. They’re open spiritually, too.

Look! The fields are ready for harvest. Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send labourers into those harvest fields.

(And pray for me. The World Cup is over. What am I going to do without my FIFA fix? And what am I going to do with 500 channels? A NASCAR party?)