I've recently found myself pondering what makes Way of the Master such a force to be reckoned with in the evangelical Christian world. Whether non-theists want to admit it or not, WOTM is quite a dynamic and successful ministry; I have the financial reports to prove it (another entry for another day). However, just because they are good at what they do, it doesn't mean that what they do is good. Ray Comfort's Living Waters Publications (the umbrella organization of WOTM), has quite a heavy revenue (and expenditure) report and it is interesting to speculate why it has risen to such status in such a short matter or time. I think I may have the answer.
From my perspective there are three major roles at WOTM and one sidekick position:
Kirk Cameron -- The Notoriety
Everyone, but everyone knows who Kirk is and knows his claim to fame (and can probably even sing the show's theme song); Growing Pains was one of the highest-rated sitcoms in recent decades so where goes his name, so goes at least marginal success.
With his name recognition, Kirk could sell a ketchup popsicle to a man in a white suit in July. Having said that, the popularity and growth of the ministry is mostly due to that factor alone considering the fact that his participation in WOTM enterprises are negligible to the tune of one brief, weekly radio appearance, short promotional loops played during station breaks and the WOTM television production.
Ray Comfort -- The Message
This author and itinerant preacher from New Zealand is the puppet master of the entire operation. Cameron even admits that the foundation for the ministry is based on Comfort's theology in one of his recorded endorsements for Ray's breakout book and ministry namesake The Way of the Master in saying, "I had already been a Christian for 14 years but when I read (the book) it absolutely revolutionized the way I looked at evangelizing... ." Obviously it didn't take much for Ray to coerce Kirk to come on board; he has quite a way with words.
Todd Friel -- The Voice/Comedy
Our illustrious show host is the very notable and recognizable voice of WOTM Radio. Aside from his "Todd-isms" (another post for another day) and his usually self-deprecating humor, he is the main source of the hate-speech that is propagated from this organization. His false sense of humility and sincerity are all but transparent.
The message Todd spreads is strangely exactly in line with that of Ray Comfort (and the shows golden boy, Kirk) which leads me to believe that Todd is simply Ray's mouthpiece. After all, how are we to take Todd at his word or even to take him seriously when we understand that he was at one time a professional comedian? I hope for his sake that his affiliation with the business is nothing more than an elaborate hoax. My better judgments tells me it's not.
Our sidekick role, as mentioned earlier in this post, is filled by none other than show Program Director, Tony Verkinnes. His often dull and monotonous reactions to Todd's amped up charges allow me to fittingly designate him the title of Todd's comedic straight man. After all, Todd's very hyper and aggressive form of evangelism and apologetics must be counteracted with soothing commentary; rich chocolate chip cookies always go down better with a glass of cold milk.
As a business, WOTM has a great recipe. It's just a pity that the main ingredient is...