Shark Tank is one of TV’s most watched programs
The show’s popularity taps into our surging attraction for people with fresh products and plans for a morphing world. These entrepreneurs fuel the future for successful businesses, great societies, and Kingdom advancement.
Producer Mark Burnett launched a reality television series in August 2009 in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential “shark” investors. Part of the show’s appeal is the panel of tycoons including Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, and Daymond John who drill contestants to find their weaknesses and strengths before offering a deal. The program now anchors ABC’s Friday-night lineup with an average 7.9 millions viewers, the most watched program among 18-49 year olds. Since CNBC won the rights to repeats of Shark Tank last year, its ratings have soared to the highest since the peak of the financial crisis in 2008. Explaining its success, CNBC’s Senior VP Jim Ackerman said, “It’s business, it’s deal-making, it’s opportunity, it’s the entrepreneurial spirit, so it really speaks to all things that we’re interested in.”
Shark Tank dramatizes the hope experienced by players in a broken-down culture. These entrepreneurs resist the pundit who clings to a definite view of the future that is a little more than a worn-out version of the past and present. They also challenge the fatalist who views tomorrow as inscrutable, so why bother to prepare for it. But innovators like Pierre Omidyar, Sergey Brin, and Eduardo Saverin (look them up!) have a different view; they intend to shape the future they seek.
The church has also been shaped by entrepreneurs.
For example, Paul Freed grew up as the son of missionary parents in the Middle East. He watched his parents invest their whole lives to reach a few and wondered if there was a different way. In February 1952, Freed founded International Evangelism in the city of Tangiers, Morocco. He acquired a small piece of land directly across the narrow Strait of Gibraltar from Spain, and transmitted the first Christian message on a 2,500-watt radio transmitter from Tangiers. He was able to reach more people in a day than his parents had reached in a lifetime by harnessing the power of available technology. By 1956 Freed (along with this father) built the Voice of Tangiers into an organization that broadcast the gospel message to 40 countries in 20 languages. Today that ministry is Trans World Radio, the largest mass media organization in the world.
We desperately need more Kingdom entrepreneurs, those who cooperate with God as they shape the future they seek. Time waits for no one, but innovators like Freed help the church to be in the future when others get there.