The Ultimate Seeker Friendly Thing Bill Hybels Is Jealous Of, Or Build Your Own Christian Radio Station

If I ever started a side project blog, and maybe even a book, it’d be called “The Wacky Stuff I Heard on Christian Radio.”  Of course there’s no real plan to follow through with this, though the more I think about it the more I’m convinced it’d be a big hit. Overnight sensation kind of thing.

My dad mysteriously developed a taste for Christian music in his late 50’s. Growing up my friend’s parents tried desperately to get them into Christian music – showering them with Audio Adrenaline CD’s and taking them to P.O.D. concerts. I don’t think my parents knew of such a subculture, thus I was spared. So I find it fascinating that so late in the game my dad listens, nearly, exclusively to Christian radio.

I’ve been with people who, when channel surfing in the car, have stopped at the local Christian radio station for a irony’s sake and mocking laughs. And if you judged Christianity based off of some Christian radio, well, the laughs wouldn’t be totally unwarranted. Hence my new bestselling book.

Christian radio has a unique role in that it’s for Christians by Christians, yet anyone can tune in. It’s almost like having a tap into the Pentagon phones. Knowing this I think I’d be cautious about what goes on there. Especially with people easily cruising on by only hearing six second snippets what’s said can easily be misunderstood.

Knowing any old person could happen on the station would likely entice the station to adopt a seeker-friendly demeanor. You probably won’t have much talk about the trials of God purifying your heart by fire nor the immense difficulty in daily dying to self – that doesn’t translate well in radio. You’ll probably have more talk about all of the hookups God’s given you (no, not that those kind of hook-ups).

There’s dangers with spewing both bubblegum pop Christianity and the real down and dirty “true” faith. The latter is best shared amongst those you know and are with, and the former needs to be balanced out, preferably with more mature believers.

All in all I actually like the idea of Christian radio, even though I’ve vocalized my disappointment with most Christian music. Going to church can be intimidating, and so for those so-called seekers out there they can anonymously tune in. In that way it’s even more open than the most seeker friendly church because you don’t even have to go anywhere – it comes to you!

All that said I think Christianity could be better represented than what gets broadcasted these days. It seems to toggle between feel-good-suburban Christianity and loud-angry-at-the-liberal-state-of-the-world fundamentalism. And this in turns ends up being the perception many have when their tapped into our phone lines.

If you ran your own Christian radio station what would you feature? How do you think Christianity can get misrepresented on the radio?

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18 Responses to The Ultimate Seeker Friendly Thing Bill Hybels Is Jealous Of, Or Build Your Own Christian Radio Station

  1. My Christian radio station would feature genuine hard rock. Korn, Metallica, Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, you name it. Then I would, from time to time, take those songs and dissect them from a Christian perspective – not in a critique, but in a “what is the artist saying here and what can be the Christian take on that?”

    Admittedly, some Nickelback stuff could cause me a little trouble, but most people consider that trashy audio porn rather than real music, anyway.

    I would also play some Christian stuff but wouldn’t promote my station as family friendly, or positive, or anything like that. I don’t think the “Christian message” is equivalent to saying “we’re promoting a Christian message.” I think it’s more about Jesus Christ than it is about bragging about being about Jesus Christ.

    This is only a semi-sarcastic response. I NEED a lot of what Christian music is. I like a lot of secular music but HATE secular radio, especially talk radio and morning shows. Play some blanking music, man.

    • haha good stuff. Didn’t know you were a hard rocker.

      • Well. It’s a weakness battle. Many Christians feel it’s downright sinful, and I often wonder if my preference for it is rooted in personal taste or in sin. I mean, the opening lines of “Y’all Want A Single” don’t exactly do ANYTHING good for the cause of Christ. Yet, there’s MUCH to understanding youth culture, college culture, drug culture, and party culture by hearing what those guys say. Many Christians say we don’t need to understand those cultures, just to preach truth to them. Well. That’s not working too well, in my opinion.

        I like a lot of musical styles, in the right environment. Currently can’t endure country in hardly any form. I once was a big country fan, but thankfully got over it.

        Alter Bridge is quite possibly my overall favorite band, period.

  2. My first order of business is to take care of what Bernard hints at in his last sentence: GET RID OF COMMERCIALS!!! I hate commercials. I despise any radio station, especially those who call themselves Christian radio stations, that play 1 or 2 songs and then have 5-10 minutes of commercials. That being said, I would leave off most preaching, or at least be selective who and when it would be on. No feel-good, health/wealth garbage.And I would play music, preferably more rock oriented with slots of what I call “Now I lay me down to sleep” music. Yeah, I probably wouldn’t last very long. 🙂 But I would have fun trying!!

  3. I like commercials better than I like shareathons. I’m not a fan of the listeners “controlling” the station by not providing funding. I’m also not a fan of the station appearing to beg for money because they’re a “listener supported ministry”. I know why Christian stations do that, but it personally turns me wrong.

    As to why there are so MANY commercials, it’s because radio has had to cut prices in order to attract advertisers, and because the total cost of DOING radio has gone up, that means they have to have more commercials. They don’t do commercials just to make us mad – they can’t have a radio station otherwise. Ain’t no free lunch.

    I would personally work to have shorter commercials – more 10 second sound bite spots scattered more effectively through the music.

    • oh man i agree it’s so annoying when every radio preacher begs for money at the end. Seriously every single one of them says “we’ve been blessed in the past but this quarter our giving is down and we are having difficulty….” They’ve been having a rare bad quarter for the last 20 years….

  4. David says:

    I used to work in radio DJ-ing and consulting for Classic Rock stations. Believe it or not, the station managers are not stupid. They have program formats that get ratings, and entice the purchase of radio spots. It is about ears and dollars, and nothing else. The genre is Christianity, which is tough because it is age inclusive. They probably cater to the 25-45 crowd because they are making purchasing decisions, have money, and need stuff. The older people get, the less likely they are to change brands, eventually don’t need anything. I used to buy Fords but they sucked, so I didn’t drive one for 25 years. I had a Samsung stereo back in the day and I just bought a Samsung TV.

    The part that is always missing from Christian radio is inspiration. You have all the canned 30 minute shows (which the ministries pay for, and are often commercial free). Charles Stanley, Creflo Dollar, Chuck Swindoll, and Focus on the Family etc. As you can see it is the same problem with trying to get the church to be unified. It will never happen because people have good ideas, and don’t really car what God thinks.

    I don’t think there should be any Christian radio stations. I think all these cheesy-ass ministries should work to get on main stream radio with their music, with their message, and stop hiding out in irrelevancy! In Australia during the revival, a number of worship bands had Top 40 hits. That is how to get the message out. Conversely, there are Christian bands that wussed out to get main stream attention and turned from their original message. Now that’s religion for ya.

    My radio station would be unpredictable, following the leading of the Holy Spirit. That’s why I don’t have one!

  5. Jason Wert says:

    If it’s a listener supported station, the overbearing Christian-ese is because the people usually pony up the most money are the ones who like hearing that kind of stuff because it’s “getting the message of Christ to the masses.” (Just one of the many phrases I heard in over a decade of Christian radio.)

    As for commercial stations, it’s all about maintaining the “image” of being a Christian radio station.

  6. theoldadam says:

    I’d feature the preaching and teaching of my pastor.

    He’s the best I’ve ever heard at unpacking all of this law/gospel stuff, and he really knows the gospel ( as opposed to the Jesus (+), stuff we hear these days).

  7. Larry Hughes says:

    I have never listened very much to Christian radio stations for any length of time. The program format bored me or I felt it was a sham. “Send me your donations and you will be richy rewarded with material wealth beyond your dreams. ” If they mentioned spiritual wealth, I would be more inclined to believe them.

    If I had to run a christian radio station, It would be filled with inspirational music and very little chatter. Inspirational verse could be substituted for the usual chatter now heard on the radio. Of course some commercials and news bulletins to add logistics.

    However radio is really designed to play music so one should follow that format even in christian avenues. I for one think the radio is quickly becoming a dead format designed to listen to as you drive.

    I sincerely think the audio visual format is the new way to go. It puts you right in the middle of the program and can experience greater emotions or feedback to the sensory modes in one’s brain. So far, the current programs on TV are still missing the mark with their pretty sets and hawking for donations more frequently that getting a message out. A news format of activity with in the Christian realm expounding on salvation of others might be more of a catalyist to create a a larger audience. But then again, What do I know?

    I still think old time revivals are the best way to reach out to others.

  8. Pingback: With You In The Cow Poop, Or The Promises of Christian Radio* | Charlie's Church of Christ

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