Today’s post is going to be an ongoing project. I’m sharing this a bit prematurely in hopes that the methodology will at least bring some awareness to our readers as they go about their day listening to Contemporary Christian Radio Stations. Our local radio station just did a 4-day fund-raising campaign. Throughout the radio campaign there is the mantra that supporting the radio station financially is supporting the Gospel and the preaching of the Gospel. The question that popped up in my mind was, “how much does this Radio Station actually present the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”
That’s a tough question to ask, because it’s questioning a cliché and asking the person using the cliché to stop and consider the validity of what they said. Most people don’t like doing that, let alone being asked to do it. It is an even tougher question to answer and evaluate because there needs to be room for grace in this, too. There is a tendency to turn this into a “gotcha” exchange, where one side uses the exception to disprove the rule and the other seeks to discredit the exception by using the rule. This isn’t an all-or-nothing saint or sinner thing… as individual Christians we are simultaneously sinner(in flesh) and saint (by faith), so we aren’t looking to vilify nor deify the radio station. We are simply examining the fruit.
To place this endeavor into context within the discernment realm, consider this: a much tougher question with far greater impact would be, “How often does your Pastor preach the Gospel”? By comparison, the question we are asking here today should be easier to consider and evaluate, given that the radio station is not your pastor, elder, or deacon. The radio station is not making disciples, nor is the radio station charged (by Scripture) with keeping watch over your souls as the Pastor (according to Scripture) is. Sadly, there are many who think the local Christian radio station IS filling this role in their lives, and that is a serious problem.
One Hour of Programming
The primary operation of the local Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) radio station is to play CCM. Interspersed throughout the programming are station promos, local news/weather, DJ conversations, and nationally broadcast segments usually of celebrity pastors/teachers/motivational speakers. I decided to grab an hour’s worth of radio programming from the website of our local station to see how tightly packed it is.
Strangely Dim by Francesca Battistelli 8:57am
More Than You Think I Am by Danny Gokey 9:02am
I Refuse by Josh Wilson 9:06am
The River by Jordan Feliz 9:10am
Let Them See You by JJ Weeks Band 9:13am
Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns 9:17am
Brother by Needtobreathe 9:21am
Mighty To Save by Laura Story 9:27am
Keep Making Me by Sidewalk Prophets 9:31am
The Proof of Your Love by For King & Country 9:35am
Same Power by Jeremy Camp 9:38am
By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North 9:45am
Overcomer by Mandisa 9:49am
Here With Me by MercyMe 9:52am
Come As You Are by Crowder 9:56am
Live On Forever by The Afters 10:01am
As you can see, our local radio station plays more than what is on the top20 charts, as we have not reviewed every song played in this hour. Notice how tightly packed that playlist is. Throughout that hour we still hear station promos, event notices, etc. So the question of whether or not, or how often the Radio Station preaches the Gospel falls heavily on the messaging of the songs themselves. That is why we focus so much on the lyrical content of the top playing songs.
But the question of how strong a correlation exists between the money you give to support the radio station and the preaching of the Gospel cannot be answered by simply surveying their website and reviewing the song playlist. We’ll have to be listening for what events are being promoted by the Radio station, which programs by celebrity pastors are being aired between songs, and whether or not the DJs in-fact share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is another concern that should be accounted for, and that is how often a false Gospel is shared on the air, or how often a heretic is promoted by the radio station. Do they allow local churches with questionable orthodoxy record their own promotions of heretics, and does that exonerate the station? Those questions I cannot answer for you, but they should be taken to the Word of God and discussed with your Pastor/Elders.
The Gospel must be Preached
When listening for the Gospel being preached, do not be satisfied by hearing the word “gospel”. It does you no good to hear “good news” if the substance of the good news is never actually conveyed.
Romans 10:1-17 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All
10 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say?“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
I’m limited in how much on-air monitoring I can accomplish because this blog site is not my vocation. I will keep working on this project as I find the time to take notes on what I hear and at what times. As I said in the beginning, my goal in sharing this is to encourage each of you to at least make a mental checklist of what you are hearing on your radio. If you find your local radio station lacking discernment, or failing to share the Gospel, reach out to them in love and encourage them to preach the Gospel.
Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
In Christ Jesus,