Recently a friend of mine, who manages an Australian Christian radio station approached me with a question people were asking him. Basically people were saying that because this station (and in fact most Christian radio) does not air long play teaching during the day, but is mainly music focused, that they are “watering down the gospel.”
This is how I approach situations like this.
1. People have been saying that about Christian radio (‘watering down’) since radio first came out, so what they are saying is nothing new or clever. Radio was originally viewed by many ministers as a frivolity if not an outright evil. (Sounds like the way some Christians view social media today!) They resisted using its medium to spread the gospel. This just means that people have a natural fear of technology and change.
2. When missionaries go to a foreign land and minister the gospel to starving people, they feed them first. Christian radio is like that – we are often the first bit of Christian input many people have in their lives. If we jump straight to Revelations we will only freak them out.
3. My friend Berni Dymet (who now has an international media ministry) said that if people has insisted that he believe in a literal Adam & Eve when he first started to look into Christianity, then he would NEVER have become a Christian. Christian radio gives people a glimpse, a hint, a sneak peak at who God is. That is our purpose. We are not here to give the complete gospel message – that is the job of the local church.
4. Radio is technically a Christian idea. The first person to theorize the existence of radio waves was the Christian physicist James Clerk Maxwell. His studies of light led him to the electromagnetic theory and in 1865 he proved that radio waves are possible. Around 1885, the German scientist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz actually produced and detected radio waves.
5. People listen to radio because of familiarity. Once tuned in they will only continue to listen if they recognize and enjoy the music they hear.
6. It’s not just sermons that can trigger a change in people (in fact they can often put people off). Songs all contain a message, an idea. They are disguised as entertainment but they are really a vessel with a message hidden within. Our biggest influences of today are movies, TV shows and music. Radio takes care of the music side of things, and we must recognize the power influence that these songs have.
7. Jesus used entertainment to communicate powerful important messages (parables), we do the same by primarily airing music, and not long play teaching.
8. Understand the medium you are using. You don’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. In the same way we need to recognize and seek to understand how the medium of radio does work. Not how we think it should work, but how it does actually work. Radio today is not designed for sermons.
9. We are not here to present the full gospel message. We are the media arm of the local church. We need to learn to do what we are built for well. The church needs to do the same.
If you have any further thoughts on this I would love to hear them.