Tag Archives: Christian radio

A Song which would not fly on Christian Radio

Last Sunday’s lectionary is one of those sticky bits of scripture. The anti-peace, divided family stuff out of Luke 12 seems way out of sync. Even more so, to top it off, Jesus introduces it as wishing it was already kindled for the fire he was fixing to bring.

Yep, write a song on that text, and its pretty much guaranteed zero airplay on family friendly Christian radio… so it might be just the sort of thing which would be fun to do. 🙂

I’m sort of bummed out not making it to church last Sunday, as sermons on this text are fascinating. It can be a tricky one to navigate as there are so many themes which can spin out of it… which makes building a song around it challenging and then some. One of the interesting bits to consider is the sequencing of events in Revelation… terror and stress, then worship, and a sort of cycling repeating affair. It doesn’t fit with the family friendly CCM model of “Jesus is my boyfriend” but there are multitudes of similar ripples throughout human existence.

Another way to consider the pushback this text provides is along the lines of a Rich Mullins quote:

Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.”

The Ragamuffin film will be coming out in the next year or two, and there is a record exec talking to Rich in the trailer.

All this talking you’ve been doing at your concerts, thats gotta stop. You’re there to make fans not enemies.

in reference to any number of Rich’s sayings that went against the teachings of popular evangelical preachers.



Lame Theo, and Jesus is my Boyfriend Music

I’ve often wondered why so much of the music on Christian Radio has pretty bad theology, why in some cases, its seriously lacking in artistic content, and far too often its boring and repetitive. I came across this fascinating discussion on Shaun Groves blog, and I think it provides some potential answers. I’ve copied parts of the blog, and some pretty insightful comments below.

I believe putting a gaggle of white conservative Christian women around age forty in a room to register their immediate approval or disapproval of a minute long (or less) musical clip only leads radio program directors to choose music of tomorrow that sounds just like the music of yesterday: all that’s being tested is familiarity. Different loses. Same wins.

I’m saddened by the state of Christian radio today–so much so that I’m seriously considering leaving Christian radio period. At least the general market/secular stations are honest about what they do–trying to earn money and make a profit…. It’s deception. Are we in it for the money or are we in it for the opportunity to show Jesus to a dying world? I’m almost to the point of thinking that I can show Jesus better while working at a secular station than at a Christian station. My point in this is that Christian radio, unfortunately, is no different than secular radio in its procedures, methods, and ways of doing things. It’s all about the money.

I think those in Christian radio have a responsibility to their listeners to give them not only what they want, but also what they need.  I’m sorry if this sounds like a cliche, but I doubt that Jesus or His teachings would have tested well in our control groups (“eat my flesh… drink my blood” anyone?).  At what point are we just tickling the ears of our listeners and fattening them up on Christian junkfood that clogs their spiritual arteries.

The gospels end with a commission.  Yet we are notoriously reluctant to answer that commission ourselves or support those who would.  We only support what we benefit from, what we enjoy, what gratifies us.

Whats interesting, is this was written in 2006…. and now in 2009, the whole Christian Radio domain is undergoing massive shrinkage. The soccer mom audience support is decreasing, the whole industry is changing. The fellow the blog article initially was about is no longer with powerhouse Salem Communications. The GMA is even shrinking…. Its no longer business as usual.

Does this mean programming changes? Thats a toughie… as if the market shrinks enough, it will reach the point where its no longer sustainable. Of course, which demographic would come in to pick it up… And if no one does, perhaps the big conglomerates may start selling things off just to survive.

That might well open the door to a new type of radio ministry, or should I say, a return to the old style locally owned, labor of love of Jesus type ministry. Ie, the 2 guys with a love for Christ in an old RV or trailer, who barely can cover their electricity… but make darn sure the Gospel is preached, not just to 3%, but to as many as possible.

On the fairness doctrine and Christian radio

The argument used by many Christian broadcasters against it indeed is a compelling one. Ie, on controversial topics, time must be granted for opposing views… which makes a lot of sense, until one adds in the listener supported aspect. Ie as soon as focus on the family radio ends up having to allow for a program on prochoice views, their support would drop in a huge fashion. Thus, Christian broadccaster’s feelings of paranoia are very much justifiable.

Its not necessarily a theological issue as much as it is a business one. Ie, one can cover all views and engage those one does not theologically agree with… but mere mention of some topics will set off the watchdogs, and with them, funding likely goes out the window. Imagine talking about or reading Ezekiel 23 on Christian radio…. a guaranteed watchdog hit, to say nothing of the FCC fines (for reference Ezekial 23 is NSFW). I’m not sure its a good thing to censor scripture based upon watchdog paranoia leading to funding, although in this extreme case the FCC has the final call.

Ideally, Christian radio should not be just all business and money. It is a ministry after all, but in addition, as a user and licensee of the public airwaves, there is an issue of serving the public, and that is apart from business issues and market demand. Ie, should only the view points of those with tons of cash available be the only ones present on the public airwaves? What if money equates to ear tickling? Or what if errant theology is being propagated, especially so in small markets with only 1 player. Thus, perhaps there is some redeeming value in the fairness doctrine, as it forces many issues out in the open, not just single sided watchdog constrained ones.

Fortunately in our area, its not too bad. Like most Christian radio stations, denominational views outside of the owners own seem a bit lacking which is not so great. In addition, some programs tend to lean towards a theology of glory and are US evangelical focused. Again, not the optimum, but at least Christologically they seem pretty solid. Sadly, there is a distant station which is owned by some type of empire, a whole chain of stations, which airs not only narrow theological views with an emphasis on some far out political positions, but sadly has exceedingly scary emphasis on works based soteriology to boot.  Who knows how many stumbling blocks they put on the air. That is very sad indeed… and again, perhaps the fairness doctrine
just might be beneficial to the kingdom, in that it could result in upsetting the apple cart, that they would be forced to get their act together.

However, there is the issue of what is controversial… and the FCC will see political topics as controversial, but not theological ones. The differences between Rome, Calvin, Arminus, and Luther or lordship soteriology vs free grace, or works righteousness vs justification by faith, sacrements vs ordinances, would not be addressed by the fairness doctrine… despite that in theological circles, such issues are very controversial. Perhaps the issue, is that the average Joe in todays society is unaware of the controversies, or has chosen not to study, not sure. 125 years ago… when churches split over predestination issues, obviously folks had to put in some serious study and questioning. Today, it seems likely few folks could expound on the differences, or maybe folks just choose not to engage, not sure, but things sure have changed.

Just as the average Joes theological views appear to have faded over time. it may well be the fairness doctrine was a good solution for years ago, but not so much today, especially in the listener supported domain. We do have internet radio, satellite radio, podcasting ect, where media channels are for the most part unlimited. Yet, over the air serves a huge segment of the population, many of whom may be limited by the digital divide. Perhaps rather than looking at content, greater regulation as to geographic license ownership may be a solution to provide for some level of diversity. Ie, a limit on the number of stations owned in a market area, and perhaps going so far as to preclude conglomerate ownership in a market with only a single provider. Not sure…

Errant theology propagated over the public airwaves is not cool, yet govt approval of theology puts a huge dent in the constitution, and is not cool either. There has to be a better way… just not sure what it is, especially in light of the digital divide. I sort of think greater diversity in ownership and smaller stations are likely the solution, much more so than the fairness doctrine. That way, even if the most errant theology was broadcast, it is quite likely another broadcaster in the same market has it right, and the local church can step up to the plate to as well.

Christian Radio Good or Bad

For years, I listened to Christian Radio. Back in the 80’s, I was a lab tech as well as a lineman at the airport, and I spent a lot of time traveling back and forth from class to work to class to work and so one.

A few years later, I worked at a Bible Camp, there too, I listened to Christian Radio, although I must admit the mix in Northern Wisconsin was a tad bit different than what I was used to.

And then I moved to Iowa, and we had no Christian radio whatsoever. The stations were just too far away, and as time passed, despite having moved, and worked a number of places, just never tuned in.

Well, last night, I was out doing errands, and I flipped on the dial, and sure enough, there was a Christian radio station. I’d listened to them on and off, but never really actively listened.

Sadly, it was if a new and different gospel was being presented. One so shocking, and so far away from the teachings of Christ, I couldn’t believe it. My first inclination was ok…. maybe a preacher was having a really really bad day, but the more I listened, the more convinced I became that what he was saying, was truly what he believed, and it pervaded his message.

Then I had to step back and think on this a bit. Somewhere through all of the wrong theology, and all of the hate, there is a man, who probably at one time was a devout follower of Jesus. Yet, he let the worlds culture wars get in the way of his devotion, and let them win to the loss of the Gospel.

Despite the fact that evil entered in, God’s word was being preached. The words of a man, while being heretical in and of themselves, are no match for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and scripture was indeed being read. The commentary while out in left field is easily dwarfed by the word of Christ. As scripture says, it will not return void.

I take solace in that, and that ears may hear the good words of our Lord, and that the words of the errant preacher man will indeed return void such that Christ is glorified. It is not the messenger, as it is the Word of the Lord.

Glory and Peace and Honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The radio station will be getting a letter Smile