The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The Christian way to watch TV


Perhaps you were among the 10 million viewers gripped by the David and Goliath drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office. Or the 7 million that enjoyed the nail-biting finale of The Traitors. Or the 6 million tuning in to Gladiators.

These programmes were shown by the BBC and ITV. Could this be a sign that, wearied by expensive fees and yet more irritating ad breaks, we’re turning away from subscription services and back to ‘traditional television for our entertainment? As a nation, are we sitting down to watch the same thing at the same time again?

Of course, most live TV can still be watched on catch-up, and overall viewing figures are still dominated by streaming services. Nonetheless, 2024 has already provided some exciting opportunities to discuss ‘the show everyone’s talking about’.

There’s a challenge here. How might you resist switching off your mind as you switch on your TV? Here are four simple things I do to bring my media consumption, along with the rest of my life, under Christ’s authority.

Firstly, just because everyone is watching something, doesn’t mean you have to. Exercise discernment about what represents a good opportunity for joining the cultural conversation, and where your own discipleship won’t be served by exposing yourself to a piece of content.

Secondly, use the opening credits to pray. Ask Jesus to direct your attention and speak to you through what you are about to watch. Especially if you’re tired, ask for his help in recognising and demolishing unhelpful messages and ‘taking every thought captive’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Thirdly, allow some time to think about what you’ve watched. What view does it give us of the world, and how does this fit with what the Bible tells us? There are some fantastic resources to help you do this more deeply if you’re especially keen.

Finally, challenge yourself to take one action as a result. To be a faithful friend and stay true to your word, even when it doesn’t benefit you. To speak up for justice on behalf of a colleague. To sign a petition. To make a donation. To extend an invite. To pray.

This need not turn a relaxing activity into a brain workout, but I pray it will make your sofa-and-screen slots more Spirit-filled, and spur you on to greater action in your everyday lives.

Rachel Smith
Rachel Smith is a part-time writer and a full-time mum. She attends King’s Church Durham.


  1. Brilliant. Really useful guidance – practical tips I can put into practice immediately. Thank you.

    By Kate  -  9 Feb 2024
  2. I would suggest Philippians 4:8 as a more positive approach; ie to look for, in whatever we are reading or watching, whatever is true, just, pure, lovely, true etc. If we can’t find anything in the passage or drama or whatever – that is not any of the above, then it may not be worth a second glance or continuing with. But remember the word ‘true’ – so just because it makes us feel uncomfortable or even shocks us, that doesn’t necessarily mean we should cast it aside; it may be right/good to think about upsetting, uncomfortable truths in order for us to widen our outlook, think and pray about them, or even take action about them if possible. If we only want to read books, dramas etc about people who think, act, speak like us (ie. don’t ever swear, maybe!) how will we be able to befriend them, show them love, listen to them, speak to them… in a way they will understand and feel understood and cared for?

    By Jean Watson  -  9 Feb 2024
  3. Not about this article, –
    To the techy people at LICC:
    I view the regular articles on my smartphone, and as the font is very small I look for a link to “view in browser”; but where it says so on the page the ‘link’ doesn’t work. (Indeed, the “view in browser” phrase is in black letters, not the blue typical of links.)
    Please can this be fixed?
    Many thanks.

    By Mr Daniel Sutherland  -  10 Feb 2024

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