The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
“We can really be a force for good”, says Leif Nummela, Editor-in-Chief for the Finnish Christian magazine Uusi Tie, in an interview about the importance of investigative journalism.
There are many Christian TV and radio programmes, newspapers, magazines, websites and social media wordwide. But, do they bring up well researched subjects, that are both communicative and deeply rooted in the Christian faith?
Investigative journalism is key to reach that goal, now that sometimes media with a Biblical point of view tend to have a reputation for being shallow, overly sentimental, and dull.
He is an ordained pastor in the Ingrian Lutheran Church and has previously worked as both a missionary to Italy, and a leader of the Theological Institute in Finland.
In an interview with the European Leadership Forum, Nummela talked about the importance of investigative journalism, its impact on society and church, the main challenges journalists face, and how to find new initiatives to improve investigative journalism.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
Accoding to Leif Nummela, “today in Christian media, we are doing a lot of superficial things. They might be good in a sense, people learn to know Christian personalities and so forth, but we are in a great danger of creating 'Christian superstars'; non-Christian media creates superstars, and we have Christian media personalities.”
Nummela is “not against it, but we need to go deeper, we need to really dig into things, so that we can also convince people about what we are talking, and we can give them reasons to believe, to consider Christian faith.”
In order to achieve that, “we have to look into things in a more profound way, that is why we need investigative journalism.”
“WE CAN REALLY BE A FORCE FOR GOOD”
Nummela believes that “the greatest impact of Christian investigative journalism on the culture, is to make people think”, because “as you think, so you act, and as you think and act, so you are in the long run.”
“If we do our job as media people, and we challenge people, and we bring up new questions, and open new windows we can have a huge influence on society, on Human Rights, religious liberty, familiy, identity questions. We can really be a force for good”, he adds.
CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE IN HISTORY
“Even if you go back to Jesus, you see that the situation of the children changed totally, and the situation of women was changed because of Christ, the situation of the family, the liberty.”
The Finnish journalist states that “if we just go back to our roots, and we do this investigative journalism, to show people what the Christian faith has meant in history, now that, sadly, many people do not have a clue about it, we can show them, and ask them: 'is there any other force in human history that has created so much good?', we need to show it to people.”
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM´S IMPACT ON CHURCH
Regarding the church, “investigative journalism's job is to make people more convinced about what they believe.”
“If I can show that, for thousands of years, there is not an alternative that has brought so much good, that it is just a matter to be honest to the facts, to what we know, not just to what we believe... That is conviction”, Nummela explains.
“CHRISTIAN FAITH CAN STAND ANY KIND OF HONEST RESEARCH”
“One thing I think we need in the church today, it is to go from what I call 'faith to conviction'. I am one hundred per cent for faith, of course, we are saved by faith."
“But, when we read the New Testament, we stumble on apostle Paul saying: 'I know in whom I have believed', he speaks a lot about knowledge, being convinced, he speaks even about proofs, because the Chrtisian faith can stand any kind of honest research.”
Because of this, “church people will become more comfortable with their faith, and they will also be able to speak with their neighbours and friends, in a more relaxed way.”
MONEY AND TIME
According to Nummela, Christian media proffesionals face two big challenges when it comes to investigative journalism:
“Number one is money, it costs. You have to be able to say to a journalist: 'you look into this, and I will give you 2 months, or even half a year, to interview enough people, research, and then you will come up with something no one has investigated before'.”
But “that takes money, and the second challenge: time. Sadly, many Christians journalists are working under pressure, they have very little time and very little money, so its a huge challenge, but we need to go in that direction”, he points out.
“If we do that, I think people will be ready to pay for the results, to read about it, to look at Christian tv and radio, and they will be really interested when they get a taste of it; but we have a long way to get there yet”, Nummela concludes.
When it comes to the area of research, “we should pull our resources. We should have places for people to go in internet, or another kind of centers, where you can put resources together, and people can go there and find out what they need to know about something”, the Finnish journalist says.
Topics like “family, or religious liberty are some things we need to look into, because they are challenged. More and more people feel coerced to take another view than their own religious view” , he argues.
“It's amazing, it's unbelievable, but religious liberty is in danger today, and we need to show that, in history, there is not a fluent society, there is not real happiness, whitout religious liberty.”
To do that, networking is key. “We need to use the historians, the legal experts and we need to pull the resources to come up with something that is really convincing.”