It happened again as it does most every day. Someone from our church stopped me this week and with great excitement told me that one of their neighbors is now attending church with them and guess what their first contact with us was? Your guessed right! It was listening to our 9am Contemporary Worship service live on the radio. That story is playing out over and over and over again. It is nearly impossible to go a full day or to go anywhere in our community and not meet someone or hear of someone that we are reaching through our radio ministry.
I have to admit it - I'M HOOKED! I have bought in "hook, line and sinker" to the value of radio (and all other technologies) to reach as many people as possible with the truths of the Word of God. It reminds me of what Dr Jerry Falwell called "saturation evangelism." which he defined as "reaching every available person through every available method with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Currently our radio ministry has two branches. Every Wednesday morning at about 8:20, I have a 10-15 minute live show on The Eagle 101.5 FM. The Eagle is the hometown radio station here in Gaylord, Michigan that reaches into over 20 counties in northern Michigan. It isn't a Christian station. It is quite secular. It's style is "classic hits at random" but its draw is it's community flavor. Each Wednesday morning I take in with me a topic about life and Mike (the morning "radio guy" who is exceptional in connecting with people over the airwaves) and I talk about it. He asks questions and I answer them from a Biblical point of view. I have been doing this weekly show for the entire 2.5 years I have lived here in Gaylord and have been amazed at the listenership there is in town. It is not uncommon at all for someone to stop me in the community and say, "Hey, I recognize your voice - your the preacher on the radio, aren't you?"
Beginning over the summer we were able to expand our radio ministry on The Eagle when one of the Sunday morning slots opened up to air our service live. The growth we have seen in our church since we started airing one of our Sunday morning services live on Th Eagle has been dramatic and much of that is due to people who first heard our service on the radio and are now checking out our services live and in person. The best part is that these are not people that we are drawing away from other churches. For the most part, the people who are listening to The Eagle at 9am on Sunday morning are those who currently do not go to church.
As God continues to open doors we are hoping to see this expand even more. The Promise FM (90.5) is part of Northern Christian Radio whose station is located right next door to our church. We are currently working on finalizing plans and production to broadcast a weekly show of the sermons I preach here at Gaylord E-Free in a show we are going to call, "Folks, Listen!" The Promise FM has a powerful signal which covers large areas here in northern Michigan and even up into Canada. Over 500,000 people live in the listening area of The Promise FM. The opportunities to impact thousands more for Jesus via radio is staggering.
In order to help The Promise FM and to begin to gain exposure for our new radio show that starts next month, I am participating as one of the "on-air" personalities for their fall share-a-thon in which they are looking to raise $120,000 in pledges. I spent 2 hours on air Tuesday, 3 hours on Wednesday and I will do 3 more hours "on-air" on Thursday.
This is all amazing but radio is just the beginning of how we believe God is leading us to use technology to saturate our county with the Gospel and then let it bleed over into all of northern Michigan. Live streaming on the internet; broadcasting to other parts of our facility; satellite campuses in other areas of northern Michigan and even a TV ministry is part of our prayerful vision.
Please pray with us that God will allow us to utilize technology to meet as many people as possible right where they are here in northern Michigan so that we can help to move them to where God wants them to be!