By Dennis Wiggs
Even in this day when many sermons are posted immediately to the Internet, local radio continues to be an effective method of communicating the gospel. This medium not only allows for a widespread presentation of biblical truths, but the programs inform everyone listening about your church and programs, and identify your congregation as a vital part of the community.
Contact the Station
Many small-town radio stations work hard to include local organizations in their broadcast, and airtime is sometimes available at no cost, especially during less-than-desirable broadcast hours. If this is not the case in your community, work with the station manager to determine program length and broadcast schedule that fits your budget.
Sign a contract only after you understand it completely. Be clear about the cost and the method of payment. Keep in mind that drive time programs are ideal, and a spot before or after the news is most effective for reaching a broad audience.
If you are not ready to broadcast a full-scale radio program, consider a sponsorship ad that repeats your church name, upcoming special event, and location each time your sponsored program runs. This is especially effective for traffic reports!
Plan the Program
Determine the type of radio program you want to present. Five-minute programs demand more preparation time. Longer programs are easier to produce since a preacher could use portions of a previously recorded sermon. Will music be part of the program? This demands more preparation time, equipment, and careful research into recording rights.
What About Finances?
Sometimes the church will include a radio ministry in the budget. Preachers sometimes take this on as a personal project. On occasion, advertising can help underwrite expenses. But don’t depend on listeners to support the program financially!
The radio station must be paid on time…every time. If your bill gets over two months behind, borrow the money, pay the station, and discontinue the ministry. Better to salvage your financial testimony!
Pastors on the radio shouldn’t stutter or repeat themselves, when broadcast time is so expensive! It takes careful preparation of the heart and mind to sit behind a microphone and preach to an invisible audience.
Radio programs should not include information that dates the broadcast. Prepare each program with the intention of using it again. Many Christian radio personalities continue to appear on radio long after their death. They preached for the present but prepared for the future.
Offer Follow-Up Materials
Prepare follow-up literature from your church and offer it free over the airwaves. Literature about the family is requested more than any other subject. Keep in mind, however, that postage often costs more than creating the literature. Count the cost before you make the offer.
You will soon discover that follow-up materials are usually worth the expense and difficulty of producing them. Not only will the printed materials help those who request it, the church’s ministry will spread throughout the community.
Is This Ministry Fruitful?
A lady in our town parked her vehicle on the shoulder of the road and accepted Christ as personal Savior after hearing the church radio broadcast. A family from Puerto Rico heard the Saturday morning broadcast, attended church the next day, and accepted Christ before the service was over. These are welcome but rare occasions. Most radio programs present the gospel for months, even years, with only a handful of decisions.
Will It Benefit the Church?
Sometimes the radio program will attract a few prospects for salvation or church membership. But radio may also attract some peculiar people, like the man who wants to tell you what to preach on your next radio program, or the people who send you anonymous letters, CDs, or booklets to “set you straight” on some doctrine.
If a young preacher thinks he can build a strong church through his radio broadcast, think again. Radio is a missionary ministry. The seed is planted, and the radio preacher trusts the Lord to bear spiritual fruit!
About the Writer:Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.
Adapted from Contact magazine, March 1999.