Ed Young Jr. spearheads effort to get Christian messages on Netflix

by Tobin Perry, |
Ed Young Jr. | Screenshot/50 Shades of They

LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner)—Netflix viewers can now get more than entertainment from their monthly subscriptions. They can find Christian teaching from the on-demand video service.

Ed Young Jr., Steven Furtick, Joyce Meyer and Andy Stanley now all have teaching series available on the entertainment venue. According to a Religious News Service article, Young spearheaded the effort.

"I believe if Jesus were on planet Earth today in the flesh he'd be on Netflix."

"I believe if Jesus were on planet Earth today in the flesh he'd be on Netflix," Young, pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, told RNS.

Young says he believes Christians must find ways to "appeal to the masses." The partnership with Netflix was one way to do that, he said.

Young's "Fifty Shades of They" five-part series, modeled his book by the same name, focuses on relationships. Young released a book of the same name last year. Furtick's four-part "#DeathToSelfie" focuses on Christian identity issues. Stanley's four-part series "Starting Over" centers on helping people recover after common mistakes in marriages, careers and personal lives. Meyers' series on "Winning Life's Battles" helps viewers deal with adversity.

Paul Huse, executive director of marketing for Joyce Meyer Ministries, says that Netflix didn't provide many guidelines for the content of the programs but did ask that they not include product promotion or invitations for viewers to make donations.

He told RNS it was an initiative that Meyer's ministry was pleased to participate in.

"More and more people are cutting the cord," Huse said. "Even though we're on six or seven cable networks, more people are moving away from that and we want to be where they can still access us."

David Clark, executive media director for Ed Young's Fellowship Church, noted that it had a two-year contract in which Netflix pays the church for the shows. Though he wouldn't say how much the church was receiving, he did say it was "nothing astronomical." He said it was a better arrangement than paying a typical cable TV station to broadcast the messages.

Young hopes that the partnership with Netflix will lead to more people hearing the gospel.

Stewart M. Hoover, director of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told RNS that likely it'll be mostly Christian viewers who watch the shows on Netflix. He pointed out that evangelicals were among the first to adapt to radio, television and other technologies.

"Evangelicals tend to think that because they are in the public media they're going to cross over to more mainstream audiences, but evidence shows that they're mostly just preaching to the choir, and I think that will be the case here," Hoover said.

Netflix has a number of other Christian-themed shows in their system, including Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," "Ragamuffin" (based on the life of Rich Mullins), and Kirk Cameron's "Unstoppable."