Why Summit Church Chose Radio Ministry

NRB | November 12, 2020 | NRB News

On Monday, November 9, NRB hosted a NRB Live webinar event with pastor and author J.D. Greear and Moody Radio Manager of Programming Dan Craig. This conversation about why The Summit Church chose to start a radio ministry was led by NRB’s Senior VP of Communications, Daniel Darling.

Even as new technologies emerge and some ministries transition to digital platforms, radio ministry is still an influential medium to reach people with the message of the gospel.

“Rather than competing with our internet presence, if anything, [radio] has amplified it,” said Greear.

Greear had a robust digital presence and ministry before beginning with radio ministry, but eventually people helped him see the ongoing impact of radio in people’s lives.

At the same time, Moody Radio was looking for younger voices for radio. The average age of teachers on Moody Radio was 70 years old, but they recognized the continued importance of having these evangelistic teachers on radio and wanted to make sure that this evangelistic ministry would outlive the teachers who had been dedicated to radio ministry for so many years.

“We have to do a better job in Christian radio of finding the J.D.s,” Craig said. “The pastors who can retain our core audience with their deep biblical teaching and instruction but are attracting the younger audience.”

Although Christian radio was a part of Greear’s story, it took some time for him to realize that there was still consequential opportunity to share the gospel and engage in discipleship through radio.

“I feel like a significant amount of my discipleship happened in the back seat of my parents’ car listening to Christian radio, teachers like David Jeremiah and Chuck Swindoll and others,” said Greear.

As Greear considered this ministry opportunity, faithful leaders in radio ministry encouraged him to take this step.

“David Jeremiah was one of the guys who kind of pushed me over the edge in this. He said that the need in the radio space is a combination of exegetical depth with evangelistic pull,” explained Greear. “He said one without the other is just not going to work because you’ve got to have the content that brings people and edifies them and also put that hook in and create disciples.”

What Greear found was that radio creates a deep bond between the listener and the teacher—a bond that is unique to this medium.

“84% of Americans are still listening to AM/FM radio every day,” said Craig. “It’s the most personal media. It’s that one-to-one relationship that you don’t get anywhere else.”

Teachers on radio don’t know many of their listeners personally, but in a way, they are building friendships with people who they may never meet. As pastors share their lives and messages of hope and salvation, listeners feel like they are getting to know that pastor personally without feeling too exposed or vulnerable.

“[Your automobile] is the safest place to go seek God,” said Craig. “Nobody knows that you’re looking. Nobody knows what you’re doing. You can become a closet Christian in your car and not let anybody know about it for months or years until you’re well-grounded.”

The invisibility of radio breaks down barriers that might otherwise exist.

“They’re not seeing you high and mighty in a pulpit, hiding behind a large wooden structure,” said Craig. “You’re on their level. You’re talking one-to-one, getting into their business in a very biblical way.”

While podcasts can deliver some of these same things, radio is unique in that it offers a real-time experience for listeners. Podcasts are on-demand, and listeners can pull them up whenever they want wherever they are. Radio, on the other hand, feels different. Even when radio broadcasts are pre-recorded, they air at a specific time, giving listeners the feeling that they are engaging with that teacher in the moment.

Greear encouraged pastors interested in getting started in radio to start with prayer and see what doors of opportunity God opens for them. At the same time, there are things that pastors can be doing to prepare for radio ministry. Greear encouraged pastors to focus on pastoring their people but to do it in a way that they are aware of how their teaching might be able to go beyond the scope of their church.

This requires thinking through how to package content—whether that is a sermon or a Bible devotional or any form of teaching—so that it is usable across multiple platforms.

Greear and Craig gave some practical tips for what this might look like:

  1. Focus on quality. Make sure that you have a good microphone. Make sure the quality of your recordings is high.
  2. Record everything. Record the things you know you have a purpose for and the things that you don’t yet know how you would use it. You never know how your team can use that content in the future.
  3. Begin locally. Get on a local radio station, evaluate that, and then see what opportunities you have from there.

Radio is a means to reach ordinary people. Locally, it provides an opportunity for a congregation to invite people to listen to their pastor before even visiting a church. Radio can also help create a sending culture in the church.

“Consider radio as a mission field,” said Craig. “You’re not preaching to the choir.”

Radio ministry is a ministry of sowing seeds and not necessarily reaping the harvest of that or seeing the harvest at all. Statistically speaking, someone has to hear the gospel twelve times before they are open to accepting Christ as their savior. Any gospel presentation on radio can be a part of these twelve times.

“As a radio guy, I get to be part of that. I’m going out of the church, into their cars and homes and those spaces,” said Greear. “And I get to be one of those twelve times that hopefully some pastor gets to harvest.”

To hear more from Greear and Craig about radio ministry, watch this webinar event on Facebook or YouTube.

Continue this conversation at NRB 2021 in Grapevine, Texas, March 15-18. At the convention you will have opportunities to hear from speakers like Paula Faris and Will Graham, attend workshops, and network with influential Christian communicators. This year, there will be specific programming designed to help pastors get their ministries on the radio.

Register now to receive up to $200 off the onsite rate (prices increase after January 1, 2021). NRB members also receive an additional $250 discount off the price of a full registration or Expo Plus pass. In addition, discounts are available for international registrants and eligible students and faculty.

For questions related to registration, contact Monica Palmer at registration@nrb.org, or 202-849-8444.

Click here to register!

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