Welcome to our Faith in the Media interview series on Christian Media Leadership. Here, we have the privilege of delving into the minds and experiences of influential leaders in the field of Christian media. Throughout this series, our aim is to explore the unique challenges and opportunities faced by these leaders as they navigate the ever-evolving landscape of media and technology, all while remaining steadfast in their Christian values. Join us as we gain insights, wisdom, and inspiration from these remarkable individuals who are making a profound impact in spreading the message of faith through various forms of media. In today’s installment, we have the pleasure of checking in with Paul Martin, National Religious Broadcasters board member and Chief of Development for Hope Media Group.
Paul Martin, with a career spanning decades, has made significant contributions to donor engagement and business development in the radio and digital media sectors, primarily focused on nonprofit organizations. As the Chief of Development at Hope Media Group and a Senior Partner at DickersonBakker, he played a pivotal role in expanding the reach and impact of Christian media. His expertise also extended to his role as President and Co-Founder of Advocace Media, LLC. Martin has been an influential member of the National Religious Broadcasters Board of Directors since 2017 and has held leadership positions at organizations like Salem Radio Network and Popmail.com. Alongside his professional endeavors, he, with his wife Paula and their three daughters, is deeply involved in supporting the disadvantaged and disabled, reflecting a strong commitment to community service and philanthropy.
Elaine Welcome recently sat down with Paul Martin.
Q: As a leader in Christian Media, why do you do what you do?
When listeners beam the light of Christ, others want to know their story. Christian media encourages these listeners to be authentic and to be ready to tell their story. Can you imagine the impact of 40 million people who beamed Jesus?
Q: What are your thoughts on AI and how it might impact Christian Media?
Artificial Intelligence is today’s hot product, but tomorrow it will be a feature to a larger application. AI is currently a buzzy tool that is a super-search engine or an assembler of already existing information. Today’s glimpse of AI’s real power is when it runs underneath word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools—that’s where Microsoft is currently displaying early AI integration. AI is a good knowledge retrieval tool, but humans will add a creative spark for quite some time.
AI only knows what it learns—and it can learn our words and numbers fast. My pause with AI‑integrated technology revolves around confidentiality when using word processors or spreadsheets. If AI is two-way, it is gathering and organizing information for us, but it may also be learning from what we write. I would protect creative plans and relationships (such as donor contact information or giving history) from any tool that is AI-enabled if you’re unsure of the way it works.
Nonetheless, I’m excited about how AI can speed the creative process and help us reach new audiences.
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenges for Christian Media in the next 5 years?
Talent. Gifted communicators and relators are a rare and precious find and identifying them will get more difficult. Our past recruiting efforts won’t bring the kind of talent we will need to compete in broadcast and digital media—or donor relationships. We have to find new ways to uncover people with giftedness in the areas we desire to grow.
Q: What advice do you have for mid-level leaders who desire to grow to Senior Leadership roles in a Media Company?
The guard is finally changing. Baby Boomers are finally getting out of the way for another generation of leaders. We Boomers stayed in our roles so long that Gen X didn’t get much of a shot at leadership. (Perhaps that explains why our formats don’t seem to relate to younger generations.)
Millennials and Gen Z leaders are coming on stage and we need to update our feel, our sound, our look, our strategy and our tactics. Give them some room to experiment and innovate and the future could be extraordinarily exciting.
Q: As a leader of a Christian Media organization, how would you define success: 1. as a leader 2. for your organization
- Success is pursuing the mission and seeing milestones achieved. Most organizations don’t align to be successful and follow-through with the simple day-to-day things that influence outcomes. As a consultant, I discovered many leaders feared dreaming about the future. At many ministries, the preservation of the past was more important than succeeding in the future. We’re not museums of radio equipment! We’re encouragers of people who can radiate Christ. Today’s leaders need to dream and look for every opportunity that God provides to see that dream into reality.
- Hope Media Group has a really good mission: “Engaging people to love Jesus, serve others, and spread Hope”. Joe Paulo and the team keep it as the clear focus of the organization. They set goals in every department to advance the mission with simple time-based measurables. The mission is broad enough that it allows a lot of creativity. The key is that the mission is not self-serving to any team member, but to the cause and the team as a whole.
Q: What should the #1 priority be for Christian leaders in media?
Priority 1 is being sure of the mission God called you and your team to implement.
Priority 2 is keeping it as the number 1 priority.
When the leader is sure of the organization’s God-inspired mission, she can lead with clarity and courage. We’re fallen creatures and prone to wandering, so when distractions arise find ways to lovingly and quickly steer the team back to the mission.
Distractions cost time. And time is the most limited commodity God gives us, so resolve quickly and use the team’s time well for the mission.
We have the opportunity that other people only dream of! We get a chance to use our skills, talents, and experience to encourage people to follow and share Jesus.
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