“Brother” Jed Smock, a longtime Speakers Circle fixture who left Columbia at the end of last year, created a new stir Sept. 18 with the announcement of a possible TV show centering around his family.
Hollywood producer Roger Nygard recently signed a contract with Country Music Television to film a pilot episode for a reality show featuring the Smock family. Jed made the announcement via Facebook last week.
“It’s another way of getting our message out to people we cannot reach on campuses,” Jed said. “Television is a big medium for getting out a message.”
Jed, founder of Campus Ministry USA, is well-known at MU for his years of controversial preachings on campus. His organization’s mission is “to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the college and university students of America and the world,” according to his website.
After operating out of Columbia for nine years, Jed moved back to his home state of Indiana last year, where he has been preaching at colleges such as the University of Illinois, Indiana University and Indiana State University.
Nygard said he first discovered Jed when he saw him preach at the University of Minnesota while attending the college.
After witnessing Jed’s preaching firsthand, Nygard included the evangelist in his 2010 documentary, “The Nature of Existence.” Nygard said the idea for the reality show originated here.
“Recently while I’ve been pitching reality TV shows, it occurred to me that Jed and his family could be a good subject,” Nygard said. “And CMT has apparently agreed.”
Nygard contacted Jed in February with the idea for a show. He said he made a five-minute pilot, called a sizzle reel, and pitched it to various networks. CMT decided to sign a contract for a pilot presentation, which is an abbreviated version of a pilot.
Nygard said if the network likes the second pilot, they will order episodes for a series.
Jed first began preaching on campuses in the 1970s. His wife, Cindy, joined after seeing him preach at the University of Florida, where she was a student, in 1978.
“A short time after that, I felt that God was calling me to preach the gospel to my fellow students,” Cindy said. “So I started going out on campus at the University of Florida when I was still attending and preaching the gospel.”
Cindy said there are several reasons she and Jed focus on spreading their message to college students.
“We believe that college students are the future leaders of our country and even the world, and they are going to be people of position and influence,” Cindy said. “We want to reach them with the gospel, with the love of God. We want to see them converted and turned from their party lifestyles, their selfish lifestyles to a life of love for God and love for their neighbor.”
Cindy said she and Jed plan on continuing to travel around campuses and preach to college students until they die or Jesus returns.
“A lot of people say I have legendary status on college campuses,” Jed said. “I have spoken on hundreds of campuses from every state as well as on campuses abroad. I’ve been doing this five hours a day, five days a week for the past 40 years. We typically create quite a stir.”
If the show is picked up, Jed said it would focus half on his campus ministry and half on his family life.
“I think (the show is) a good candidate because they’re an interesting family,” Nygard said. “And they see themselves as a normal family who just happen to have day jobs preaching. Brother Jed’s pretty unique, so it’ll be a unique show if it does indeed end up going to series.”