Christian Media and the Culture
Yesterday, I attended an all day workshop for presenters and staff members of Radio Tygerberg. It has been our privilege to be involved in Radio Tygerberg from its very beginning in August 1995. We are told that our Salt and Light programme, every Tuesday night, is the longest running programme on Christian community radio in South Africa.
We came together yesterday to consider how Christian media can have a greater impact on our society. Here are some of my notes from yesterdays Media Workshop.
"Mass media is the most powerful tool… to manipulate the masses. It shapes and moulds opinions and attitudes and defines what is normal and acceptable." Carl Jung
Media is the most powerful culture shaping entity on earth. The media revolution began with Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the Printing Press in 1454 and the production of the first printed book in the world - The Bible in Latin.
The Media Revolution
It took radio 38 years to reach its first 50 million people. It took television 13 years to reach 50 million people. It took the internet 4 years to reach 50 million. It took Facebook just 9 months to reach 200 million people. By 2010, over 800 million people had been reached by Facebook. The average teenager spends 10 hours a day in front of a screen.
What About Radio?
In the light of the rapid development of other media, the question has been asked: Does radio have a future?
The Reach of Radio
Statistically, radio listenership is growing worldwide. In the United States there are over 200 million regular listeners to radio. Radio reaches 92 million more people each week than Google does in a whole month. Radio is the most cost effective medium, far cheaper than television, magazines and newspapers. No medium reaches more people throughout Africa than radio.
The official State RAMS listenership statistics for 2012 show that Radio Tygerberg has the largest listenership of any community Christian radio station in the country. RAMS calculates that Radio Tygerberg has 352,000 regular listeners. The 10 Christian community radio stations in South Africa collectively have 1,139,000 regular listeners.
The average listener to Radio Tygerberg tunes into the station 5.8 days a week and averages 31 hours listening to the station each week. Statistically 1 in every 6 people in the Cape Peninsula tuned into Radio Tygerberg over a four week period. 66% of the listeners to Radio Tygerberg are women, 90% are over 25 years of age, 78% have Afrikaans as their home language, 67% are coloured, 22% white and 10% Xhosa.
Ministering to Our Communities
We spent a lot of time considering what is wrong with our society and how our churches and Christian media can more effectively impact culture speaking to the real needs, struggles and frustrations of the average listener, and offering practical, Biblical solutions.
Life Issues for Which We Must Provide Biblical Solutions
People in our communities are struggling with economic problems, unemployment, health issues, crime and corruption, marriage and relationship conflicts and issues, family challenges, child rearing issues and substance abuse. We need to offer practical and relevant Biblical solutions and more opportunities for action and involvement in the community.
Wisdom and Prayer
We need wisdom and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We need to be more prayerful and thorough in our preparation through careful, systematic study of the Word of God.
Creative and Innovative
Presenters were encouraged to simplify terminology, to beware of using religious terminology which may not be understood by an increasingly secular society. We need to be more creative and innovative in communicating the stories of hope and purpose, impacting lives radically for Christ.
The Radio Family
Radio is not a pulpit, but a couch. We must not think of the hundreds of thousands, but of the one listener. Effective radio is more of a conversation than a sermon. The listeners are more of a family than an audience.
We need to think outside the box and be authentic in communicating the life-changing Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many hurting, vulnerable people amongst our listeners. They need a message of God's love, grace and freedom.
A generation ago the average person was asking: "What is truth?" Today it is more common for people to be asking: "What is the point?"
Surveys have shown that the average person in society has a negative view of religious people. The world's perceptions are that the church is filled with fakes and frauds, money grabbing, self-righteous hypocrites, who are boring, judgemental, out of date and out of touch.
Religion vs. Relationship
We are not offering the people a man-made religion, but a genuine relationship with God our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. We must creatively communicate the unchanging Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, without compromise, to an increasingly cynical and secular society.
In many cases, the church is no longer shaping the culture, the media is. Not only secular media with its evolutionism, materialism and existentialism, but also much of the Christian media, particularly on TV, is sensational and superficial, dominated by the Health and Wealth, Name it and Claim it excesses which have given a very distorted and negative view of the church to the world.
Understand the Times
We need to understand the times (1 Chronicles 12:32) in order to effectively impact our culture for Christ. The over one million people being reached by Christian community radio stations throughout South Africa should be having a far greater impact on society. We need to get back to the Bible and speak to the social issues, boldly, to bring about transformed hearts, renewed minds and changed lives.
Confronting the Crisis
The church is in a serious crisis. We need to ask: Where we are going? We need to stop asking God to bless what we are doing and get involved in what God is doing, because that is already blessed. If you want to achieve something you have never achieved before, you must do something you have never done before. Be the change you want to see.
Pray for Christian Community Radio Stations
Please continue to pray for the Christian community radio stations in South Africa: Radio Tygerberg, Radio Khwezi, Link FM, Radio Pulpit, CCFM, Highway Radio, Rainbow FM, Kingfisher, Good News Community Radio and Impact Radio.
Salt and Light
If you live in the Cape Town area you can tune into Radio Tygerberg 104FM at 9:30pm each Tuesday, or you can listen to Salt and Light online at www.104fm.org.za through live streaming.
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Dr. Peter Hammond