HomeEvangelismChristian Media: Is It Really Christian Without The Gospel?

Christian Media: Is It Really Christian Without The Gospel?

What does it mean to share the Gospel of Christ? Have you given much thought to that? If you were talking with an unbelieving friend and he asked you what the Gospel was, how would you respond? Take a moment to think through that question. Your friend could receive Jesus right now. But what do you tell him?

I’ve been fortunate to be trained in two fields of discipline. I’ve been a broadcaster for all of my adult life. I’ve occupied positions in talent, programming, and management, exercising my skills and calling in three countries. I’m also trained as a missionary and have been working with Campus Crusade for Christ for 23 years, also in three countries. My training and experience gives me a unique perspective on Christian media.

Now, the perspective that I want to share with my fellow broadcasters is informed by both of these disciplines. What motivates me is people learning about Jesus, hearing the Gospel, and making a commitment to follow him. Because I am both a broadcaster and a missionary I want to see people come to Christ in significant, even large numbers through broadcasting. But can this happen with Christian Radio in the United States? It happens overseas all the time. I know of one broadcast ministry to the Muslim world that receives as many as 1,500 INQUIRIES A DAY from their broadcasts. But this doesn’t seem to happen a lot in the US. I’ve worked in US radio. Most stations are lucky to hear of one person coming to Christ because of their broadcasts every month. Why is this the case? I’d like to share a simple truth. Most Christian broadcasters in the US don’t actually share the Gospel. Don’t get me wrong, most stations air Christian content of one type or another, whether through preaching programs, Christian music, or live talk. And much of it is good. But, there are few programers that share the specifics of the Gospel. It doesn’t happen often, which is why, I think, we don’t see more people coming to Christ.

This is important. I’ve traveled the country from coast to coast many times. I’ve listened to a lot of Christian Radio over the years from the small fries to the big networks, too many to count. So, I’ll just come out an say it. I’ve never once heard a presentation of the Gospel on any of them. Ever. I mean it. Not once. Not ever. 

According to the most recent surveys, 25.5 million unchurched people listen to Christian Radio sometimes or frequently. 25.5 million. Even if just 1 percent of that audience came to faith in Christ through Christian Radio, we’d be seeing 250,000 people coming to faith each year. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. 

Now, if you’re a Christian Radio manager or programmer and you want to make the point that your station is really geared for reaching Christians and not for unbelievers, well, okay, fine, I get that. But that doesn’t change the fact that when people want to hear something about the Gospel or Christianity, they turn to your station. Knowing this fact, why would you not want to capture these precious—seeking people—for the name of Christ? Let me expand on this a bit more.

 Some hosts and producers think that if we share a verse or two from the Bible then we have shared the Gospel. Some think that if we make a few references to Jesus that we have shared the Gospel. Some think that if we even teach principles of Godly living and quote the Ten Commandments that we have shared the Gospel. But, my friends, none of these are sharing the Gospel. Sharing a few verses of scripture, depending upon which scripture you share, may not lead a person to Christ. Saying some things about Jesus may not help a person come to know him. Quoting the Ten Commandments may tell someone about God’s moral requirements, but it may not help him know where to go for help to live out those commandments—to the person of Jesus. Sharing the Gospel, telling people about Jesus, is so much more than these things.

When I was a broadcast missionary with Eagle TV in Mongolia we aired a series of Bible movies about the primary characters of the Bible. Bible poverty in Mongolia was extreme and I wanted people to have a historical understanding for the claims of Christ and to bring them to faith once we aired the story of Jesus. 

I had a doctor friend who worked at Hospital #1 in Ulaanbaatar, Dr. Buck. Once, while at a Christmas party, Buck said, “I need to talk to you!” in a very excited tone. We sat down and he shared with me, “Thank you so much for your Bible movies. Do you know how easy you have made my ministry?” I was intrigued by what he said. “What do you mean?” I asked. He went on to tell me that in almost every situation when he began to witness to a colleague or a patient, in almost every situation, the other person would tell him, “Oh, I know about the Bible. I watch Eagle TV’s Bible movies.”

The Bible movies became an important part of Dr. Buck’s ministry. He knew that when he was talking to someone that if they had seen the Bible movies he would have a stronger foundation to tell them about Jesus—about the Gospel. But just because a person saw the Bible movies it didn’t necessarily mean they knew what they needed to know about Jesus or the Gospel. The Bible movies could only take a person so far. Then Dr. Buck would talk to them and take them the rest of the way to understanding about sin, about Jesus’ death for sin on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. Without those things the ministry of the Bible movies would be incomplete. In fact, that’s why we created a series of Bible studies that to match the Bible movies. Without the specific elements of the Gospel anything else we share comes up short. People need to know the Gospel and become accountable to it. It is for that reason that I say this to my fellow broadcasters: Find a way to share the specific details of the Gospel—it is the most important message in history. 

I once consulted a radio station overseas and when the manager and I talked about his programming I noticed that even though his DJs read the occasional Bible verse, they never told the audience that it came from the Bible. They read them as generic wisdom quotes, but didn’t tell the people the source. So, I asked him, “Can people tune in to your station and hear the specific message of the Gospel?” He said no. Then I asked, “Is there even a single 60-second spot airing just once a week that does that?” He answered no again, and that that wasn’t his vision. This concerned me greatly as 98% of his audience were nonbelievers. He had the audience. He just didn’t tell them what they needed to know, and all the while he was raising funds for his “Christian” ministry from supporters in America while he never made his station overtly Christian. That was disingenuous. Every day he lost great opportunities to bring many people to faith in Christ. I compared his vision to the work we were doing with Eagle TV where 9%-21% of respondents to our programming were coming to faith in Christ each month. 

My friends, think about the programs you are producing. Do your programs have that all-important, life-changing content? Can someone watch a program that you produce or host and by watching come to know the specifics of the Gospel that saves them? There is no more important message in all of history, past, present, or future. So therefore, I urge you with everything in me, be sure you tell people about the Gospel. Make it your primary goal. How can people be saved if they don’t know? How can they know unless we tell them, specifically, what they need to know? You have the audience, all 25 million of them. What will you tell them? Where will you take them? What will they learn from you about Jesus?

What should you share? Share these all important truths:

  • God loves you and you can experience his love.
  • We don’t experience God’s love because of our sin.
  • Sin is rebellion against God, the desire and action we take to go our own way and violate God’s love and commands instead of obeying his law.
  • Jesus Christ is the only Son of the only Living God.
  • Jesus took the punishment that we deserved for our sin by taking our place on the cross, suffering and dying on our behalf that our sin might be dealt with and no longer hinder us from knowing God and experiencing his love.
  • We must must agree with God about our sin and confess that we are sinners who need the salvation that God offers us freely in Christ.
  • Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again, to prove who he was and that his sacrifice for our sin enables us to be saved.
  • We must receive Jesus as a Savior and Lord, agreeing with him about our sin and need for a savior.
  • We should lead our listeners/viewers in a simple prayer of salvation that reflects these truths.

How often on your programs do you share this all important message with your viewers and guests? Can everyone who watches your programs say that they know the Gospel through your programs? My friends, if we do not share the Gospel then how can we expect those who listen to us or watch us to come to Christ? We will only take people to the edge of the lake, but never allow them to swim. 

Always, always, always share the details of the Gospel with your audience. Do this, find a way, and watch what God will do through you to help transform people’s lives for his name.

Tom Terry is head of Global Broadcast Strategy for JESUS Film Project and serves as General Manager of The Better FM, an online radio station for Asia. Tom is also the author of several books, including Bible studies and "Like An Eagle," his biography about living in Mongolia for ten years.
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