THE idea of a totally different television approach by the church in Australia was born from urgent necessity about five years ago. It was--and still is--almost impossible to buy prime or semiprime time on any of Australia's major stations. We had seen excellent results from Faith for Today and It Is Written in those areas where the telecasts had been given reasonably good time slots, but increased competition made it extremely difficult to obtain the necessary time slots in all areas.
We shared our dilemma with our advertising agents, and after some months of study and discussion had the growing conviction that a new emerging concept just might be the answer. There were two major reasons for the nature of the new ideas: first, without budgetry provision for television production, expenditure would have to be minimal. That suggested a short, high-impact approach, something shorter than anything we had formerly envisaged. Second, a very short capsule-type episode just might be accepted by stations for prime or semiprime time airing. We settled tentatively on a five-minute program.
An Idea Comes Alive
Everyone we spoke to assured us that no television station would accept a five-minute episode. But on contacting stations across the nation 60 percent said they would consider such an approach if the program was good enough. We were aided in the development of such a program by different technical standards that run imported films a little faster and so make five-minute episodes acceptable. We wanted to start production immediately, but knew of no one who could help us. However, God had the answer in a brilliant young Englishman who, through his hard-hitting documentaries had already made for himself a high reputation. We talked to him, indicating that we wished to portray life as it is, giving the Bible's answer to life's problems. The title of the series was to be Focus on Living, and the cost per five-minute episode, $400. That we hoped for production at such a low cost caused him considerable amusement! But he was challenged by the idea and finally agreed to cooperate, at least for a while.
The initial films, though hurriedly put together and lacking in many respects when first released, turned an Australian city upside-down. The response was unprecedented. We achieved maximum impact through two exposures daily, seven days a week, for six weeks. And the majority responding to the offers were under thirty years of age. (One particularly interesting sidelight was that although a highly successful evangelistic campaign had been conducted in that city that year, not one of those who responded to Focus on Living had been contacted through the evangelistic campaign. We were contacting an entirely different audience.) We knew God was leading and blessing, and we pressed on into the production of a complete series.
The Bible's Answer
But to produce an approach that would bring a response from thousands of young people and young marrieds, was one thing. To follow up that response with something as modern in format, illustration, and language as the telecast, was another. We spent the next two years working on the materials and new telecasts, and believe we now have that follow-up in a series of brochures called The Bible's Answer. In a Focus on Living series these brochures are delivered to the home by both ministers and laymen, and the completion rate is a phenomenal 90 percent!
The following brief reports from men deeply involved in a current program--- the first full-scale exposure since the initial pilot approaches we believe will be inspirational reading. Thousands of people, 70 percent of them under thirty, have said, "Come into my home and give me the Bible's answer to my questions." Focus on Living is another tool entrusted to us by God to communicate His good news in time's last hour.