That’s Impact

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In the last year one of our ministry objectives has been to discover how Eagle TV is impacting the community spiritually. One of our tools is a series of surveys asking the audience specific questions about perceptions of Christianity, Bible knowledge, etc.
Our most recent survey was done in June, and we just got the data in this week. What did we learn?

First off, we discovered that Eagle TV is having a huge impact when it comes to what people think Christianity is. 30 percent of respondents said that they get their information about Christianity from Eagle Television. Only 10 percent said they received their information from churches and 12 percent from the Bible. That’s not really unexpected since only 6.6 percent of respondents identified themselves as Christian, with the remaining 93.4 percent identifying themselves as Buddhist, shamanist, or something else other than Christian. I have to say, a 30 percent impact from Eagle TV is huge. To be honest, I don’t know of any other TV ministry that can claim such a large percentage of impact. In fact, I don’t even know of any radio ministry that rates that way. I don’t say this to boast, rather, it seems truly remarkable to me that Eagle is having that level of impact with its audience.

One of the issues we face in Mongolia is about people’s perceptions of what Christianity is all about. In my nearly 8 years in Mongolia I’ve noticed a strong thread of prosperity Gospel influence among Mongolian believers. For those unaware, prosperity Gospel is a Christian heresy that, essentially, makes the accumulation of wealth and material possessions the primary goal of Christian expression.

I was, however, surprised when I learned that the Mongolian view is a bit more varied than I thought. When asked if Christianity is about becoming prosperous only 10 percent answered positively. But a whopping 39 percent answered that they did not know what Christianity is all about at all! On top of that, 41 percent of those surveyed said that they did not know if Buddhism and Christianity are compatible (they are not).

These responses were shocking. Ulaanbaatar has had a full blown television ministry for 15 years. That’s not to say that everything about the Gospel is dependent upon Eagle TV—it’s not—but it does tell us that there is a lot of work to be done to help educate the audience about what Christianity is. It has been said more than once that Eagle TV made Jesus a household word in Mongolia. Yet, that’s just the beginning. The need for a deeper understanding of the faith is huge. That means we have to take a careful look at our programming to see where we can make things even clearer.

One of the questions we asked was focused on terminology. We wanted to know, in general, what terminology people most associate with Christianity, Buddhism, shamanism, etc. We asked this because it is natural for certain words to carry specific historical and conceptual associations. In Mongolia there has been a long controversy about what name to use for “God.” In this survey 70 percent of respondents associated the word “Burhan” with Buddhism. 57 percent associated the title “Yurtuntsiin Ezen” with Christianity. “Burhan” is the term primarily used to identify Buddha, though most of the Mongolian church also uses it to identify God in a generic sense. In this part of the survey there was a natural overlap of 23 percent of those who use multiple terms.

What makes this part of the survey so interesting is that the overwhelming number of respondents did not identify themselves as Christian. Therefore, the non-believing audience is drawing a distinction among terms, to some degree delineating in their minds what they perceive as Buddhist and what they perceive as Christian. To be sure about this we are having a new set of calculations on responses being draw up to clearly identify what the non-believing audience associates between specific terms and ideas, minus the responses from believers.

All in all, the survey has really opened our eyes to some of the perceptions that Mongolians have about Christianity. Yet we also know that we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. Further surveys will try and dig deeper about these perceptions and hopefully help us refine our ministry presentations even more. The fact is, with 30 percent saying their primary source of information about Christianity comes from Eagle TV, we have a sacred responsibility to make sure we are getting our presentations right.

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