The Story of TBN: 50 Years in the Making
To Give the Winds a Mighty Voice
They had only a single borrowed camera and a shower curtain as backdrop. It was 50 years ago, on May 28, 1973, that Paul and Jan Crouch broadcast their first television program from a modest studio in Southern California. But the story of TBN began long before then.
In the early 1900s, an Iowa farmer’s wife loaded up a revival tent in the rumble seat of her Model T and preached the Gospel from Texas to the Canadian border. She used the latest of inventions, the first affordable automobile, as the vehicle to bring the good news of Jesus to everyone in her path.
Years later, Paul Crouch Sr. would not only inherit his grandmother’s passion for evangelism but her ingenuity as well. Together with his wife Jan, and in response to the voice of God, he went about building the largest Christian network in the world. Paul and Jan would answer the plea from an old hymn—“to give the winds a mighty voice”—in the most innovative way possible. Utilizing the inventions of their generation—broadcast television and satellites—they proclaimed the message of Jesus through the airwaves.
“Always remember,” said Paul Sr., “for us these mind-boggling inventions are for one thing: to win lost souls and bring them into the great Kingdom of God!”
Paul and Jan Crouch continued to respond to the voice of God, along with TBN’s faithful partners, as they faced challenge after challenge to bring solely faith-based content to the surrounding cities and eventually the entire nation. Four TV stations acquired during the first decade of ministry multiplied to more than 4,000 TV stations in the second. Today, 50 years later, TBN is broadcasting 24/7 in over 175 nations on over 30 networks and in 17 languages, with the potential to reach 2 billion viewers every single day.
The obstacles Paul and Jan faced as the first generation of TBN became lessons of perseverance and faith for the second generation: in addition to responding to the voice of God and overcoming challenges, the second generation learned how to recognize God-given opportunities and carry on a legacy.
To Make Jesus and His Goodness Real
With the same passion and the same desire to utilize the latest technology for the sake of Christ, Matt and Laurie Crouch have brought TBN into the digital age, with programming content available and accessible on any electronic device around the world.
The mission is the same, as the new generation increases its understanding of the Great Commission and endeavors to fulfill it completely. Paul and Jan’s passion for evangelism equipped them to carry out the Great Commission with a singular focus: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). For Matt and Laurie, the vision is one step farther: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
“It feels like it's a different task, creating content that could disciple a nation,” says Matt. “We need to message the life-giving understanding that Jesus is more applicable in your daily life.” And how do you disciple a nation? “[We] make Jesus and his goodness real to people.”
Jesus is not just life-giver of the hereafter; he is life-giver of the here and now.
For the next 50 years and beyond, with each subsequent generation, TBN will continue to carry out the final words of Jesus—by both preaching the Gospel and creating content that makes the goodness of Jesus real to every person in every nation of the world.
“God's voice started this ministry,” says Matt Crouch, reflecting on the beginnings of TBN, “and that is a foundational truth here. Paul and Jan didn't have a good idea. They had a response to the voice of the Lord. It makes you want to make sure you're listening.”