[update] Jeff Sharlet of Harpers and Rob Brendle of New LIfe Church discuss the article here.
This is interesting. Apparently a bunch of important media sources are going to be filming news stories at New Life, recently cited by Harpers as America's Most Powerful Megachurch, during the next week and Pastor Ted Haggard is asking everyone to tone things down a few notches so that they don't come off as crazy people in front of the nation. This is a church that claims to never hide anything from the general public, so this attempt at faking what actually goes on is particularly relevant. He mentions that Barbara Walters is working on a piece, and that Tom Brokaw will be visiting and offers these coaching tips for those who will be present.
Source: List e-mail to the congregation from Ted Haggard:
Now we're heading back to the United States and will be in church on Sunday, but I wanted you to see this e-mail about some upcoming media attention that was just forwarded to me so you can help me. Why? Because it indicates the importance of all of our doing a good job. The Lord has sovereignly placed all of us, as a congregation, in a position where we are representing born-again, Bible-believing Christians to groups outside our normal spheres of influence.
Here are a few tips:
1. If a camera is on you during a worship service, worship; don't dance, jump, etc. Secular people watching TV are touched with authentic worship, but jumping and dancing in church looks too bizarre for most to relate to. Remember, people watching TV news are not experiencing what you are experiencing. They are watching and thinking. Worship indicates sincerity, dancing and jumping looks like excessive emotionalism.
2. If reporters want to interview you, talk with them, but use words that make sense to them. Speak their language. Don't talk about the devil, demons, voices speaking to you, God giving you supernatural revelations, etc. Instead, tell your personal story in common sense language (I was a drunk but God changed me and now I'm sober, I'm grateful, etc.).
3. Don't be nervous. Be friendly and open. Reporters typically don't have an agenda, they authentically want to know what we do and why we do it. For example, Barbara Walters is working on a story about heaven and will interview me and get some supporting shots from the church. She might not use any of it, but she wants to put together an interesting story. Since we believe in heaven, we are, in fact, a good source. So, if she talks with you, don't be spooky or weird. Don't switch into a glassy-eyed heavenly mode, just answer, "Heaven is real. It's the place where God will be fully present with his people. He will reward people in heaven. Heaven is better than Colorado Springs." Say it straight and clear. Don't worry (Yeah, sure!).
The e-mail lists the upcoming media events which include Barbara Walters and Tom Brokaw personally visiting New Life over the upcoming week. Haggard will be on O'Reilly on Friday the 13th. Billdo wants him to talk about the environment for Christ's sake. Sheesh.
[another update] I have two more original stories on New Life Church here and here. Please check them out. The full Harpers essay is now online here. Discussion is encouraged, even begged for on this blog, so please have at it.
The full text of the e-mail is available at the link below.
I have seen a few people question the authenticity of the email. If you have any questions about it call up New Life Church and ask them yourself. Associate Pastor Rob Brendle was already nice enough to comment here.