After consulting with our leadership here at E-Free, we couldn't help but to see this as an open door from the Lord. The initial start-up costs and the weekly air time costs was not in our current budget so we presented it to our church family asking for people to prayerfully consider a $100 gift above and beyond their regular giving, and within no time the total financial need for the rest of 2013 was completely met.
It took a few weeks after our initial broadcast to work out all of the glitches but now our 9am Contemporary Worship service each Sunday is being broadcast live through a local secular radio station that reaches into over 20 counties in northern Michigan. I honestly never go a week (and rarely a day) without having someone share a story with me about how God is using this extended outreach of our church. It seems to break down into several categories of listeners:
I have heard from individuals who are part of our church that are going through physical trials and cannot make it to church. They are so very thankful to still feel part of our worship by listening each Sunday to our live radio broadcast.
I have heard from individuals who cannot attend church on Sunday morning due to their work. Yet, there employment is such that they are able to listen to our Sunday morning broadcast while they are at work.
I have heard from individuals from our church who do a lot of camping here in northern Michigan over the summer months and enjoy still being able to gather around their camp site on Sunday morning and listen to our broadcast.
But to me, the best stories come regarding the many who do not go to church anywhere, some of which are far from God, who are now listening to our broadcast each Sunday morning. I am not exaggerating when I say that I hear stories about people like this each and every week.
Some would question if having a live radio ministry on Sunday morning would result in people just staying home and listening rather than coming to church. We have found just the opposite to be true. In the months since we started our live radio ministry, our Sunday morning attendance is up between 20-25% over the same months a year ago. In fact, last Sunday alone our attendance was up 40% over the same Sunday one year ago. Most every Sunday I meet someone who is a first-time guest here at E-Free church whose first connection with us was our radio ministry.
Through radio, God is using Gaylord E-Free to meet many people right where they are (home, work, camp sites, hospitals, cars, etc.) and help move them closer to where He wants them to be. As a result, we have had 3,000 creative and attractive personal invite cards made that we will be making available to our church family beginning this Sunday that they can use to invite others that they know, who aren't ready to come inside of a church on Sunday morning, to listen to our service on The Eagle (101.5 FM).
Along with our Sunday morning live broadcast, I also have a 15-minute live show on the same radio station every Wednesday at about 8:20am. This show is not new as it was done for years by Pastor Jim. This weekly broadcast is one of the highlights of my week. It occurs at a high listening time in our community and has produced countless connections and opportunities for me and for our church in our area.
But it doesn't appear that God is done with our radio opportunities yet. We are currently working on producing taped and edited shows of my preaching ministry here at Gaylord E-Free with the goal of launching a 30-minute weekly broadcast which we will be calling, "Folks, Listen!" This new weekly broadcast has a goal to launch in November on The Promise FM (90.5) which is a quality Christian Radio Station located right here in Gaylord and which has a strong signal covering virtually all of northern Michigan.
Radio is just one way that God is allowing Gaylord E-Free Church to saturate our county with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and let bleed over into all of northern Michigan. Tomorrow I will talk about other aspects of technology that will be giving us many more opportunities to meet as many people right where they are and help move them to where God wants them to be!