Christian communicators from across the nation and around the world gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, February 25-28 for the NRB 2020 Christian Media Convention.
Every year, the Convention draws a wide range of ministry and media professionals, including those in the radio, TV, digital, church media, film, publishing, marketing, music, and retail industries.
In addition to the strategic networking opportunities, Convention participants were in attendance to hear from among the more than 80 speakers, including ministry leaders such as Anne Graham Lotz and Andrew Brunson; government officials such as U.S. Attorney General William Barr, U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn; policy experts such as Gary Bauer, Jordan Sekulow, and Gov. Mike Huckabee; Hollywood professionals such as Kevin Sorbo and Ashley Bratcher; radio/podcast hosts such as Allie Stuckey and Carol Miller Swain; and many more.
“Thousands come to our Convention each year to find strategic connections; opportunities to draw attention to their work; and insights that will help them advance their mission, their organizations, and their careers,” commented Troy Miller, NRB’s Interim CEO.
Tuesday Speaker Highlights
NRB 2020 started off with the Great Commission Forum, featuring keynote speaker Andrew Brunson, who spent nearly two years in Turkish prisons before being released in October 2018 following a worldwide prayer movement and significant political pressure from the U.S. government.
Brunson reminded Convention attendees there is a price to following Jesus.
“There’s a price in other countries; we hear about that,” he said. “But, increasingly, I think there will be a price to be paid here [in America].
NRB Chairman of the Board Janet Parshall, in her address at the Convention’s Opening Session later that evening, similarly talked about the cost of being identified with Christ, and encouraged attendees to stand up amid a hostile culture.
“Share the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ with all of the creative powers that God has given you,” she said.
Wednesday Speaker Highlights
Wednesday morning, NRB hosted a breakfast to honor Israel, and featured Gary Bauer, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, as the keynote speaker.
In his address, Bauer said anti-Semitism, an “ancient evil” that “never seems to fully go away,” is on the rise again.
Anti-Semitism, he said, shows up in more obvious forms such as skinheads and Nazi-enthusiasts with swastika tattoos. But he said his worry is over the anti-Semitism “that comes all dressed up.”
“You have people in powerful positions, people who went to all the right schools, who run the universities, who deliver us the news. The anti-Semitism is alive and well among those people,” he said.
Later in the morning, Convention attendees heard from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who pointed to several religious liberty gains nationwide.
The Secretary commended President Trump for signing an executive order recently “basically clarifying and restating what we all know to be the case under the First Amendment, that we should be able to freely express our faith” in public schools.
And Sekulow talked about how liberals can no longer count on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to hand down the decisions they want as the President has named 10 judges to the Ninth Circuit.
“It’s a court that used to be the go-to for liberals. It was a go-to for the abortion industry. It was a go-to for the Left to get something overturned that they didn’t like. They started out at the trial court level there,” Sekulow said. “It is no more.”
Later in the day, U.S. Attorney General William Barr re-directed the focus back to the grassroots, commending members of the Christian media for their role in countering the effort to drive religion – “long an essential pillar of our society” – from the public square.
“Thank God we have the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) to counter that effort,” he said during the Afternoon Forum. “Since its creation in 1944, it has reached, and continues to reach, people from all backgrounds on a variety of platforms.”
Barr recognized how NRB’s members “courageously affirm that entertainment and moral education are not mutually exclusive.”
NRB has shown that media can safeguard faith as well as help “maintain our republican experiment in self-governance,” Barr said. “As such, NRB’s members offer an alternative and essential platform for believers and non-believers alike.”
Thursday & Friday Speaker Highlights
On Thursday, Convention attendees heard from speakers including podcaster Allie Stuckey, “The Conservative Millennial,” who has talked with young people across the country through Instagram messages or emails or face to face on college campuses and found “that a lot of young people are very hungry … for the truth.”
“They see the superficial stuff on social media that says it’s all about them, and they want something else,” she said.
And the next morning, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R.-Tenn.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke of the vital role NRB plays in the communication of consequential issues of life and faith, and in the fight for religious freedom in America.
Blackburn told NRB Convention attendees, “I am ever so grateful that you all encourage your audience every single day to know the truth, not to live in a world of situational ethics and not to say truth is whatever is convenient for me today.”
Huckabee, host of Huckabee on TBN, said he believes there has never been a more important time for there to be an NRB.
“We’re living in a day where the polarity of cultures and the clash is so intense that if we do not stand and fight hard for the basic constitutional liberties of religious freedom, we not only will lose them, but the future generations will lose any understanding or knowledge of what this country was about,” Huckabee said during his session immediately following Blackburn’s.
“The NRB serves a vital, incredibly important role not only in communicating who we as believers are but who we as Americans are because you are not going to get it from the legacy networks …. They’re not going to get that. It’s propaganda.”
Part of NRB’s mission, he said, is “to tell the uniquely American story of individual freedom, individual responsibility, and the fact that we are not a collectivist society.”
In addition to the networking and the speakers, another highlight of the Convention was the bustling Exposition, the world’s largest marketplace dedicated to Christian media and ministry professionals seeking to harness the power of electronic media to spread the Gospel. Showcasing their products and services were dozens of companies, ministries, and organizations, including broadcasters, nonprofits, educational institutions, publishers, media agencies, and broadcast equipment and software companies.
Other highlights included a film pitch-a-thon; a TV showcase; the screenings of The Scribe, Alaska Long Hunters, and Against the Tide; musical performances by artists including Keith & Kristyn Getty, Aaron Shust, Seth & Nirva; and presentation of NRB’s 2020 special service and media awards.
Special Service and Media Awards
On Tuesday, recipients of the NRB Media Awards were recognized in the categories of Church Media, Digital Media, International, Radio, and Television.
Then, on Friday, at the Closing Gala, recipients of NRB’s Special Service Awards were recognized. Among the award recipients were Dr. David Jeremiah (Turning Point), who received the NRB Hall of Fame Award; Dr. Michael Youssef (Leading the Way), who received the William Ward Ayer Award for Distinguished Service; Compassion International, which received the Billy Graham Award for Excellence in Christian Communications; Jon and Andy Erwin, who received the Board of Directors Award; Don Hughes (NewLife Radio), Jack Pelon (Pillar of Fire Radio Network), Mart DeHaan (Our Daily Bread Ministries), and Kay Arthur (Precept Ministries International), who each received a Milestone Award; Dr. Charles Stanley (In Touch Ministries), who received the Chairman’s Award; and Dr. John MacArthur (Grace To You) and Dr. David Jeremiah (Turning Point), who each received the President’s Award.
Also honored during the Closing Gala was the late Dr. Lois Evans, who NRB Chairman Janet Parshall said “left an indelible mark on the life of this association” and “taught us what it was like to live gracefully” as she “touched the hearts of so many people.”
“When we’ve had our board meetings and our executive committee meetings and she wasn’t there, we sensed an absence because she was a giant,” Parshall said. “She filled a room. And when a giant steps out of a room, you note the absence.”
At the Closing Gala, Anne Graham Lotz concluded the Convention by reminding attendees of the seven aspects of the Holy Spirit found in John 16:5-15: the personhood, presence, power, precepts, purity, prayer, and priority of the Holy Spirit.
“Today in our politically correct culture, as we’re in this moral and spiritual free fall in our nation, it’s going to take Holy Spirit courage, boldness, and strength to stand against that tide and hold the line for the Gospel and the Word of God,” she said in talking about the Holy Spirit’s power.
NRB’s next Convention will take place March 15-18, 2021, at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. Details will be available later this summer at nrbconvention.org.
This report was compiled by NRB Staff, with contributions by writers Erin Roach and Michael Smith.