Religious Broadcasters Embrace Tech at NRB 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— The message is unique, but the technology required to communicate that message is not: it’s just as rigorous, modern and innovative as its mass media brethren. From March 2 through 5, the streets of Nashville will be crowded with thousands of Christian media and ministry professionals, who will converge at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center for the 70th annual National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention & Exposition.

As the largest annual gathering of Christian communicators, the goal of NRB 2013 is to expose Christian media professionals to new tools, services, inspiration and relationships that can advance their organizations, organizers said. Attendees will be offered a range of educational sessions, given access to internationally known speakers and artists, and offered activities from the exhibit floor and training pavilion.


The convention is unique in that it offers Christian media professionals a singular take on how technology can be used to further the reach of their message. The show also takes a unique look at politics and freedom- of-speech issues, which are sometimes less of a focus at some of the mainstream technical conventions.

“We want each of our attendees to return home having gained valuable insights into how they can be better at what they do and having connected with others in such a way that they leave encouraged and inspired through the stories and examples shared by their peers in media and ministry,” said Dave Keith, vice president of conventions for the NRB in Manassas, Va.

NRB’s 70th annual convention will include an exposition with nearly 200 companies and organizations in 135,000 square feet of exhibit space. The annual convention will include an exposition with nearly 200 companies and organizations in 135,000 square feet of exhibit space. Approximately 50 educational sessions will look at issues such as social media, video production and technology, with a targeted focus on topics like IPTV and social media applications.

“[The NRB convention is designed for] men and women committed to using every electronic media platform available to us to reach the world for Jesus Christ,” explains NRB president and CEO Frank Wright.

And while that message may be unique— issues of religious freedom and social justice don’t often arise as a headline event during video industry conventions—the Christian media market has made judicious use of traditional technology to broaden their reach. A decade ago, some of the nation’s largest churches began to outfit their sanctuaries with technology that would have been at home in the studio of a large-market broadcast station: High-definition cameras recorded video on instant replay servers, with the resultant media tweaked and edited with graphics and editing gear befitting a high-end post facility. This year, the latest trends in technology will play a prominent role at NRB, as speakers from outlets like Twitter and Facebook share ways to effectively use social media platforms to help Christian media groups further their reach.

“Come mid-convention, we will deliver what is sure to be one of the most anticipated sessions as representatives from the three social media giants take the stage ... [giving] advice on how some non-profit organizations, similar to most of our members, are finding very successful ways to engage and serve their audiences through the growing social media platforms,” Keith said.

Among the speakers at the 2013 convention will be broadcasting representatives such Terry Ascott, founder and CEO of SAT-7, the Arabic Christian satellite television channel with an audience of 15 million. Ascott, who will deliver a keynote address at the convention, has served as a leader of indigenous media ministries for 35 years in the Middle East.


Technology will also be addressed through a keynote address given by speaker Bobby Gruenewald, whose single-church ministry has been instrumental in using technology and media to help support the growth of a local church into a multicampus outreach that includes more than 30,000 members.

Likewise, Nick Hall will offer a keynote address that discusses how his ministry is using technology to lead one of the nation’s largest student-led prayer and outreach efforts.

Politics and issues of religious freedoms will dot the docket as well. “There are a number of key religious liberty issues that will continue to play out in the coming year,” Keith said, such as the implementation of health care reform and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. The show will touch on financial issues, like performance tax increases and changes in charitable tax deductions, as well as the industry’s growing concern within the international landscape for religious expression and free speech.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.