LCN Article
Television and Digital Media: An Interview with Mr. Mike DeSimone

January / February 2021

Television and digital media are among the most powerful tools God’s Church uses to preach the Gospel of His Kingdom to the world. As LCG Headquarters’ Manager of Broadcast Media and Social Media, Mr. Mike DeSimone leads a dedicated team that is using these tools to great effect. We at the Living Church News recently interviewed him—through a video chat, appropriately enough—to find out more about his personal background and the crucial Television and Digital Media Department.

How did God start calling you into His Church?

“I started attending when I was about five years old. Honestly, I didn’t like it at that time, so at about 13, I stopped attending. I responded to God’s calling at around 17 and ended up coming back. I wanted ‘real quick’ to learn how to be a better person.

“I didn’t believe in God at the time, but I thought, I can’t look at my friends and figure out how to be a better person, because I was hanging out with bad folks. I could not figure out how to be a better person from them, TV, movies, music that I was listening to, any of that. I figured, Well, the Bible is—theoretically—from some God who knows how to do right. Let me just start reading the Bible and see how that goes. I told one of my friends that I’d started reading the Bible. He said, ‘Man, be careful. Sometimes people read that book and they change.

“I said, ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m not gonna change! I just want to learn how to, you know, be a little bit better.’

“After a period of time, my mother said, ‘You’re coming to services with me.’ As I was sitting in services one day, Mr. Raymond McNair read in a video sermon that ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the laws of God, nor indeed can be’ (Romans 8:7).

“I thought, Man, that is exactly what I’ve been struggling with. My mind can’t think of how to do right. So then I started changing, repenting. It has to come from God; there has to be a spiritual component.”

How did you start working in television and digital media?

“I was working for an unrelated company, and it just dug into me that I wanted to fulfill this calling more. I didn’t know what that meant, I just wanted to make sure I was doing my part. So my wife and I started praying, fasting, and looking for other jobs. I thought, Maybe I’ll find a job that I can use to better serve the Work and the Church in the future.

“This had nothing to do with a desire to be a minister or to work at Headquarters. In fact, during the next six months, the opportunity to get a job in Charlotte came three times. The first two times, the offers came from other companies, and my wife and I said, No way. Of all the places on the planet, we do not want to live in Charlotte. I just wanted to support from a distance, because like with any family, it’s possible to notice some less-than-ideal personalities when you’re up close.Mr. Mike DeSimone

“At this point, I realized, I don’t want another job if God doesn’t want me to have it. I stopped looking—and then the third opportunity came. The owner of the company I worked for called: ‘Mike, what do you think about moving and starting an office for the company in Charlotte?’ So I thought about it, prayed about it, talked to my wife, talked to the minister, and we decided to do it.

“The way everything played out in Charlotte, I believe God heard our prayers—I never imagined that I would be able to serve in this way. I served as the assistant pastor for Charlotte for three-and-a-half years, and then Mr. Weston came to my office one day and said, ‘What do you think about taking care of digital media and television?’”

What are the Television and Digital Media Department’s main goals?

“We did a situation analysis of television and the digital realm. We asked, Where do we stand in regard to social media, search engine optimization, paid digital advertising, and the way our websites function? What’s a realistic, though stretching, goal we can aim to hit in ten years? Should the goals be set so that in another 100 years we’ll reach the whole world? Should it be 50 years? Is it possible to do it in ten? Ten years isn’t far away—on a human level it would be a big stretch, but it might be possible. Based on that, where do we need to be in five years, in one year? God is the one who will have to ultimately make it happen.

“Primary objectives came out of this analysis. Among other things, we want to increase the number of television viewers to about 350,000 per week, increase the number of social media followers and subscribers, and increase the visitors to our website.

“Social media broadens our reach to get literature to people, which puts ten issues of the magazine into their hands each year and gets them the semi-annual letter. That creates engagement. Even if they put it on their desk and never look at it, even if they take it to the burn pile every month, they still have to see the name Tomorrow’s World. Maybe they read it, maybe they don’t, but there’s an engagement created at a level that email doesn’t reach.

“There’s been this argument: People don’t like getting stuff in the mail anymore. They don’t like sharing their address. But have you heard of Amazon? More people right now than ever in history are sharing their address every single day. Not that there isn’t a place for email! Increasing our email subscribers is important, one of our goals. But we identified literature orders as where we can make easy, massive changes that should impact the total numbers of donors, co-workers, and ‘go-tos.’ The historic data says that as literature orders go up, so do those numbers. As literature orders go down, so do those numbers at the same rate. Every single quarter, the numbers of co-workers, donors, and ‘go-tos’ go up and down with literature orders. Altering and advertising digital orders of literature has really been key.”

What’s one thing you’re currently trying to improve?

“A major thing we’re trying to improve right now is the flow of the ‘go-to’ process. When I was serving as the assistant pastor, a man called me, wanting to come to services. I asked, ‘How’d you learn about us?’ He said, ‘I watch you on TV.’ ‘Great! How long have you been watching us?’ ‘Three years. I want to come to church.’ ‘That’s great! So what have you learned?’ ‘I like it. I want to come to church.’

“I continued with this way that we’ve handled ‘go-tos.’ And he said, ‘Boy, is there something that you’re afraid of? You can’t just give me the address?’ He never showed up—just like about 70 percent of the people who were welcome to come to services.

“So I talked with Dr. Meredith and Mr. McNair about it, and changed my procedure: ‘You want to come to services? Great! We’d love to have you; here’s the address.’ And then, ‘By the way, how’d you hear about us?’ Then it’s just a normal conversation. And ultimately, it went from 30 percent showing up to about 95 percent showing up. Of course, those who don’t live by godly standards won’t continue to attend services, or may need to be uninvited. My point is that, God willing, once you focus on something and search for a way to make it better, you can, generally speaking, find a way to greatly impact it.

“God will call whom He calls—but what about the 70 percent of people who didn’t show up? God wasn’t their trip hazard—I was! God will call whom He calls and we can only do so much, but does that mean we can leave obstacles in front of people? No, we need to take away the obstacles. We need to clear the path, doing our part to make it as easy as possible. Otherwise, we’re unintentionally putting trip hazards in front of them. So what we’re trying to do with the ‘go-tos’ is remove the trip hazards, help them understand.”

What do you find most rewarding about working for God’s Church in this department?

“To me, it would have made sense if the degree to which you study your Bible, pray, and fast was the degree to which you grow spiritually—but that’s not true. Mr. Armstrong used to say that the degree to which your heart is involved in God’s Work is the degree to which you grow spiritually.

“Jesus Christ commissioned His Church to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. That is one of the primary reasons we’ve been called. That is our job, and having the opportunity to do that in a direct way is very fulfilling. And it’s not at all that a person’s not helping by not directly working for the Church—there’s building the body, encouraging and edifying the brethren, giving tithes, a lot of things like that. I thank God that I have this particular opportunity to be part of impacting how many people hear the Gospel, how many people have that truth in their hands.”