As internet video viewing soars, TWR is launching the groundbreaking ministry TWR MOTION to use visual media for sharing the gospel with unreached people.
Backed by TWR’s six decades of cross-cultural ministry and network of international partnerships, MOTION is uniquely equipped to assist the Church in using video not only to lead people to Christ but also to make disciples. With daily video views topping 16 billion per day on YouTube and Facebook combined, visual media have become an essential channel for connecting with audiences – especially the younger people who compose large percentages of many hard-to-reach countries.
“You go into urban areas and see hundreds of young people crowded around with their devices watching videos and video chatting,” said Tyler Gates, the ministry director of TWR MOTION. “Video is the preferred medium for whatever bandwidth they can get. The truth is it’s cutting across every society.”
Gates has traveled extensively since joining TWR (also known as Trans World Radio) nearly five years ago as the global video coordinator. Since then he has built a small but growing team of visual-media producers who have created multiple promotional videos for TWR and laid the international foundation for the fully fledged new ministry.
TWR CEO Lauren Libby gave the launch a historical context.
“TWR is a mass-media ministry, and though radio has been our primary platform, our founder, Dr. Paul Freed, recognized the importance of film from day one,” Libby said. “In fact, he produced several short, gospel-centered films that were shown in churches. We’ve seen that radio and video are complementary mediums, so it’s great to have TWR MOTION to bring a fresh, visual context that can build on the foundation TWR has created.”
Already slated for release in the summer is MOTION’s first major production, an animated-plus-live-action video series presenting the Bible story in the cultural context of a North African people group. But production is only one prong of MOTION’s strategy. A conference in Germany later in 2017 will bring together more than 20 of TWR’s national partners to provide training and develop cooperative relationships to encourage the ministries’ surging interest in using visual media to reach more people.
The third prong centers on research, as MOTION develops effective and responsible techniques for translating and contextualizing video productions to be used in other cultures. TWR has long offered such services to cooperating media partners producing audio content, but MOTION is embarking on relatively uncharted territory when it comes to visual media. Gates and his team look ahead to a time when they, too, will be able to make this information and related services available to cooperating partners wishing to extend their visual-media ministries.
Production will continue to be a key part of what MOTION does – the team already has more project requests than it has capacity to fulfill, Gates admitted. But he said the new ministry will be most effective by helping national partners achieve success through their own efforts, because those productions will inherently be geared to the culture of the intended audience.
“Almost 100 percent of people under age 25 are going on social-media platforms and looking outside their own worldviews for the first time,” he said. “And right now, the gospel is usually not there to meet them in their heart languages.”
To watch a brief video about TWR MOTION, learn more about the ministry or even get involved, check out twrmotion.org.
Photo: TWR MOTION team members Andrew Haas and Elizabeth Harrison record TWR missionary Garth Kennedy while making a video in West Africa.