|Dr. Steve Gaines
On January 5, 1958, Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, made television history by becoming the first church in the world to own and operate its television equipment. Spurred by Pastor R.G. Lee’s vision to reach those who could not, or would not, attend church, Bellevue volunteers and staff worked around the clock to have all the equipment up and running to broadcast the first service of the year. All the possible obstacles—equipment problems, station scheduling, staffing, and financing—were removed by God. As one Bellevue staff member said, there was a simple explanation for that: “God favors it.”
After 12 years of success, the congregation provided color cameras through the annual Love Offering, and the old black and white cameras were donated to missions work in Taiwan. Bellevue’s broadcast ministry hit another high in 1977 when it expanded to the international level with the establishment of Word for the World, featuring the messages of Pastor Adrian Rogers. In 1986 Dr. Rogers renamed the ministry Love Worth Finding, and it continues to send the Gospel to the rest of the world. Yet another blessing came in 2002 with the conversion to digital operation. Completed in 2003, it was Bellevue’s most significant technological upgrade since 1958.
Dr. Steve Gaines, current Pastor of Bellevue, continues the soul-winning legacy of Bellevue’s television broadcast, which has expanded with an additional hour and station. Through television, Bellevue’s new theme, “Bellevue Loves Memphis,” is underscored by the fact that the church has never asked for money on its broadcast. That love is further displayed by the counselors who are available during each broadcast to answer calls from viewers needing spiritual help, and the church receives hundreds of calls each year. Recently, Bellevue has moved into contemporary media by offering live webstreaming and podcasts of its weekly services.
Pastor R. G. Lee was concerned that television would prevent people from attending church, but over the years, Bellevue has found the opposite to be true. According to new member surveys, television is the number one way people find out about Bellevue, other than through family and friends.
Bellevue’s television ministry continues to be one of its biggest outreaches to the community and the world, and the church prays God’s blessings as it continues the legacy of reaching out to Memphis with the message and love of Christ.