Last week was an interesting one for us as Church of the Rock was the subject of a CBC radio series specifically on our congregation.  We were approached by CBC producer Donna Carriero who told us they were doing stories about communities that they don’t know anything about.  They had already done one on the Muslim community in our city and wanted to do one on an Evangelical church because they admitted they really didn’t know anything about us.   It is absolutely true that we are a misunderstood and a poorly represented community in the media.  Evangelicals generally get presented as square headed Christians that are against a bunch of things; like same sex marriage and abortion and the like.  They never seem to see that that is a tiny slice of who we are and that evangelicalism is really about loving, helping, serving and blessing our communities and our world.  My title, Dancing withe Devil, is perhaps a little misleading, but letting the media into our fold for a closer look was a bit of a roll of the dice.  Typically when dealing with the media, what you think the story is going to be about and what it ends up being, are usually two totally different things.  When I was younger I was given some good advice about dealing with the media; “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel… you are going to lose”.

Irrespective of that advice, I was intrigued by the offer to let the CBC do the story because I have long felt that the Church needs a better relationship with the media.   On the other hand Jesus said, Woe to you when all men speak well of you.  Well, you could argue that we are doing just fine then because there is no danger of that happening.  Maybe I have been thrashed so many times I have just become numb to it all, but we decided to give it a go. We invited Donna into our ranks to see what we were doing.  It seemed to me that she was genuinely impressed with the manifold activities of a church like ours.  She was completely blown away by a group of our young people, who instead of heading to Banff to ski on their spring break, were heading to Mexico on a 42 hour van ride to work in an orphanage and a home for women that are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.

She also did a piece on our ESL (English as a second language) class, where free of charge and without strings attached, new Canadians come to our building to learn English. Donna also visited ‘Overcomers in Christ’ which ministers to those who are overcoming drug, alcohol, pornography, gambling and other addictions.  She interviewed ‘Isaac’ who was hopelessly addicted to porn and through God’s grace and ‘Overcomers’ he is walking totally free today.  She asked me why we even let people like this in the church.  After I finished chuckling I told her the day we didn’t let sinners into the church, was the day we would need to close our doors because I would be the only one there (yes, she knew I was joking about the very last part).

The first 4 programs were generally accurate and very positive in nature.  And sure, they pulled the most controversial audio clips from our program.  They particularly zeroed in on my Michael Jackson jokes.   If a late night talk show host told them they would be hilarious, but because a pastor told them many said they were mean-spirited and had some sort of hidden social commentary.  The CBC had lots responses on both sides of the ledger.

Some of the CBC faithful called foul and were appalled that they would run such a positive story about such a terrible, bigoted, sexist, racist and hate mongering church.  These of course, are the very listeners that needed to hear this series.  They are the people that don’t know anything about us.  They don’t know that we have more women on staff and leadership than we do men.  They also don’t know that approximately 10% of our congregation come from a Native background.  They have no idea that we are probably the most multi-racial church in Winnipeg… not to mention that 1/3 of our budget goes out of our building to reach people in other nations and of other cultures, and that we are a church that is founded on the very principle of loving our neighbours and as well as our enemies.  But never mind that, because you will always have free wheeling, uninformed people that will just throw labels at you.  Which in my mind is the very lowest form of debate. Rather than addressing the ideals, you merely brand your opponents with some disparaging label and in doing so you dismiss them and any reasonable position they might hold.  As I mentioned elsewhere it is also known as argumentum ad hominem, where you impugn the character of your opponent to try to dismiss their position as invalid.

I need to give Donna Carierro full credit.  She did four days of fair minded, lively and informative coverage on the church.  I know she would have taken abuse for doing this kind of story but she honoured her word to me that she was not out to get us.  On day five however the story turned negative and Donna was nowhere to be heard.  So called experts that do not know me or anything about us offered their completely uninformed commentary. BTW, one comment during Part 5 makes it seem like I was invited to participate in that mornings discussion, but they were referring to different forum entirely.  At any rate I wasn’t upset about it.  Honest reporting should always include the counterpoint.  I get that.  In fact, to be completely honest, it was actually laughable.  They were so inarticulate that they barely made sense.   At any rate the audio clips are below and you can draw your own conclusion as to whether we built significant bridges to our community, or were just dancing with the devil.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five


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  1. Jennifer says:

    Church of the Rock is the one show I never miss and I generally catch the same one a few times during the week. It’s also the only “religious” show my teenager will watch. We look forward to Pastor Mark’s message and know we’ll always be able to share a laugh as well.

  2. jusuf says:

    Interesting. Is church of the rock really the biggest congregations in winnipeg ???

    Part-5 was just a conclusion to be more objective from the whole 4 parts series, it’s normal.

    Couple years ago as new immigrant I was surprised about church in the city with a sunday school that having summer holiday, a lot of seniors congregations with few of young adults, teenagers & children, and also news about the closing of churches not being attacked or intimidated by radical but other reasons. My co-worker from south asia after searching for a suitable church prefer to go to a lutheran, but his son prefer to go to evangelical, meaning everyone will fit into all available church congregation in the city.

    I saw 2 churches after about 5 years got some help from new immigrant from Korean community (more than 5000 korean in winnipeg) to keep the churches going.

    I’ve never seen a strong in financial & big churches helping the weak ones in the same city. I did see between provinces in Indonesia, GKI strong in Java province work together with GKE who is strong in Kalimantan. It’s a challenge.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      C Rock is maybe the second biggest in Winnipeg but I don’t actually know for certain. There is another of similar size.

      For the record C Rock has given 100’s of $1000’s to other churches in Winnipeg, Canada and around the world. We have built churches on several continents. We gave an inner city church in Winnipeg enough money to put a down payment on the building they bought. 25 years ago when we had 50 people and no building at all we gave all the money we had in the bank to another church in our city to help them build a building. Because we have been doing this since we began, God continues to bless and bless. You cannot out give God.

  3. Mark says:

    Dear Pastor Mark,

    I listened to the interview on Friday and knew something was up when [paraphrasing] “you were invited to attend Friday’s discussion but declined because the Church had already received enough publicity”.

    Whether that was true or not, it was a good thing you did not attend as the other guests were, I would suggest, on the other end of the other end of Christian spectrum. Honestly, I can understand one guest being invited, I believe the Dean of Theology who was a professed member of the United Church, but the other guest who was also a member of the United Church I thought was unnecessary.

    Really, do you need two people who’s approach to Christianity is quite different than an Evangelical ?

    Frankly that’s a great way to set someone up. Two on one. Very fair.

    The United Church, in particular as an organization appears to have some issues on maintaining its numbers
    (see: http://canadianchristianity.com/faith/study-predicts-united-church-decline-continue/ for what it’s worth), whereas many Evangelical Churches are growing, perhaps enviably ?

    People are emotional and care has to be taken to recognize this in any arena, especially the media. One way to protect ourselves is to film the media so that cannot take comments out of context and are thus more accountable too.


    Although I do not attend your Church, my sons enjoy your youth group. My one son was healed of a congenital problem that up until now prevented him from pursuing his passion.

  4. Bebe says:

    Dear Pastor Mark,

    This is a praise report!I wrote you sometimes last month I believe…lamenting about our jobless situation.Well,it turns out that Our God is a God of miracles.I got a job in my field after two interviews!He is Jehovah Jireh!Reaching out to people in a manner that they can relate to as we do may be criticised,but you know what?shame on you devil….coz we are depopulating hell!
    Church of the Rock is the congregation of the blessed…selah!

  5. Audrey says:

    I listened to all of the broadcasts and I think a very good job was done portraying Christianity – and COTR. Except the last day. Among other things, I thought it was slightly humorous that the Pastor interviewed likened homosexuality with shellfish – and she only stayed in the book of Leviticus. Homosexuality being sinful is also mentioned in the New Testament – I haven’t read much about shellfish in the NT however. It’s obvious what they were trying to do – hopefully, people who have listened to the entire broadcasts were able to figure that out. My compliments to all who were involved putting the piece together (with the exception of day 5 of course 🙂

  6. Jennifer Mcdougall says:

    I’ve watched several sermons on television throughout the past year, as I out in the country, no job, no assistance, a borrowed truck, and other challenges. My issues is it cost me $20.00 to get to and from church, I would love to be involved in a congregation, love to be remarried to a wonderful Christian man, my prayer is that God would bless me in meeting my needs. 14 months ago my house burned down (another story), I am very thank ful that God has blessed me with t. evangelism, Church of the Rock being one of them. I need strength right now to keep my distance from my hb whom i am separated from (alcoholic, etc, etc)The plan is as soon as the house is rebuilt, and I am moved back in, I will file for divorce; the mortgage payments will be mine as were before. So i really need a miracle here, a way to pay the utilities, mortgage payments, animal feed, a Christian man who will love and adore me as i would him, I truly believe C of R is evangelico, I understand the love, acceptance, missions work in the community and extended community. I have attended the coffee houses, and 18 yrs ago was involved in Fresh Start Minisitries, rock on c of r.

  7. Ed says:

    Good series, except for part 5. Overall I’m impressed with how Donna handled it. I’m glad she let the church, especially people like Isaac and the Chinese newcomers, speak for themselves. All too often the media like to portray evengelical churches as places filled with right-wing nutjobs who are full of hatred. It’s rare to find a reporter who just “reports” instead of doing a personal opinion piece that passes for reporting these days.

    As for part 5 of the series where two other Christian ministers, one a United Church minister I believe, took turns throwing jabs at CotR, this was disappointing. The United Church is losing people in droves; perhaps a better interview topic would have been for that clergy person to answer why he/she is spending time criticizing another Christian church instead of finding out why people don’t find their message relevant anymore?

  8. James Slyk says:

    Part 5 was quite interesting, and played out exactly as in my manuscript I gave you. Where I referenced to my playing sport and noticing the opposing players taking notice and making adjustments to try to neutralize me, which gave me a smirk because I knew I was getting under their skin. When you face adversity such as this carrying out God’s work, it’s because you are getting under Satan’s skin. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said what you quoted above “woe to you when men speak good of you”. The amount of adversity (if any) you are facing doing God’s work is directly proportionate to how much you are rattling Satan’s cage, making him nervous.
    Smile and rejoice: you’ve got Satan rattled.

  9. Todd says:

    On balance the series was terrific exposure for CofR. With CBC it’s expected that they would close with a contrarian posture. That’s just the CBC. God Bless them for their donation of signifcant exposure.

  10. Pingback: Apologist’s hat for Church of the Rock – Part 1 « Winnipeg kaleidoscope

  11. Alex says:

    As a regular Churh of the Rock congregant, I was elated to hear the first part of the CBC radio programme. I understand from the comments above that some of the critics who appeared later in the programme have difficulties with dwindling church attendance. I am glad C of the R is doing the right things in connecting with people. Kudos to Pastor Mark and team.

  12. Pingback: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth | Think

  13. lesley says:

    The new federal leader of the NDP party has stated that the Conservatives have to get with the times and allow same-sex marriage, that it is unrealistic in ‘this day and age’ to now allow it. Who does this guy think he is? Does he think it’s okay for the NDPs to change the Bible!?

  14. Tim B says:

    Like many people I am fascinated with the 5th CBC radio segment on Church of the Rock Winnipeg. One can hardly believe the CBC was trying to do a balanced wrap up on this series when both of their guests identified with the United Church. What I found stunning with the guests,Rev Fox in particular, is her low regard for the scriptures. It would be bad form to include all my comments here as it would be too lengthy. If you are interested you can check them out at


    • Christopher says:

      She has to throw out the scriptures as it is one of the requirements to become a Reverend in the united “church” cult. If she didn’t have a low regard for the scriptures she wouldn’t be a member of this cult in the first place.

  15. Jeff says:

    You are either a Bible-believing church/person or you aren’t…there’s no luke-warm. The Bible is the inspired, unerring, holy word of God. It is to be taken/accepted/believed in its entirety, even though, as humans, it cannot be entirely understood. It is not up to us to “pick & choose” what we would like to believe to align with our lives…rather, the opposite is true that we need to make choices in our lives that coincide with God’s Word.

    It would be like taking a dictionary and deciding that I don’t like/believe in any of the words that begin with “B” or “L” or “Q” or “X” and just ripping them out and treating them like they don’t exist or that the author of the book got it wrong!

    It would be like taking an encylopedia and ripping out the section on “Jet Planes” because I don’t understand how they work! Just because I don’t understand doesn’t make them real…look up in the sky…there goes another one! And so it is with God…His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts…just because I don’t understand everything in the Bible doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

    God blesses/annoints churches…but only those built on the rock of Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ!” Need proof? Look at vibrant, bible-believing, growing churches (like COTR) and then look at stagnant, worldly, dying churches like the United Church of Canada. Nuff said?

  16. Steve says:

    Lord bless Church of the Rock.

  17. Timothy says:

    I listend to the 5th episode.
    Heard a lot of nonsense
    Then there was that thing about shell fish
    Cool, I hate shell fish.

  18. Christopher says:

    I was extremely disappointed that this program would have two guests from the united “church” on simply to slander and demonize Church of the Rock and other real Christian churches. I had the misfortune of being brought up in the united church and there is absolutely nothing Christian about this “church”. A liberal theology is one thing but what the united “church” does is just throw the teachings of Christ out the window and replace it with worldly teachings. The tragedy is that there are parents that are raising their children in this cult and indoctrinating them with a set of beliefs that will eliminate any chance of them ever having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    It is because of people like the two guests that while I watch Church of The Rock and In Touch with Dr. Stanley I have given up going to church. I wish that I lived in Winnipeg so that I could attend Church of the Rock because there certainly aren’t any true Bible believing churches here in Edmonton to attend. Unfortunately the closest I can come to attending Church of the Rock is to attend when Pastor Mark does his tours every year and comes through Edmonton.

    Keep up the good work Pastor Mark if the CBC and the united “church” hates you then you are definitely doing something right.

  19. Russelll McManus says:

    I just love your Sunday TV Sermons. They show such great insight into scripture. You bring understanding and meaning into Bible stories that I have completely missed before. Sometimes I find 1 hour in Church to just drag by (bad me) but your half-hour sermons seem to fly by in secounds. You are indeed inspired.

  20. edson says:

    Christian Greetings!
    My name is Edson and study Literature in the Master program in a large university in Brazil (UFSCar) and plan to spend some time doing a research internship at the University of Manitoba (with Professor Renate Eigendhorf), however, need to acquire fluency in English. I plan to spend three months studying English in Winnipeg (University of Manitoba), but I have no funds to pay for my hosting.
    Working as an elder in a Christian church in my town (Ministry Cristo Vive). And I wonder if the brothers can help me in this.
    Thank you so much if they can see me as a brother.
    I read your statement of faith and I fully agree, this is part of my confession of faith as well. I will happy if with you and, if the Lord wills, build a ministerial relationship blessed.
    I name of Jesus, Lord and god.

  21. Deference to post author, some fantastic selective information.

  22. Keith says:

    It is interesting that the CBC went to the United Church for their ” other side” comment. Very discerning!

  23. candace says:

    All I want to say is that Church of the Rock is the only church I have been to equipted to help those of us who wanted help. They have unbelievable staff and prayer teams. I know God’s hand is at work there.

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