Ken Whitington used to give twenty Bible studies a week. Now he's reaching thou sands of people every day!
His pastor, Elder Donald Lund, showed him how. He supplied him with seventy-eight one-minute radio scripts, each covering some aspect of Bible doctrine in parable form and applied to actual human needs. Then both men came to Andrews University and recorded the first three weeks of the series, complete with theme music at the beginning and end of each message.
Now three radio stations in Danville, Illinois, are airing these broadcasts in prime time every day of the week. One station airs them six times a day; an other, four times a day—and at no cost whatsoever. That's right! All three stations air the spots free of charge as a public service. And you can do it too!
In fact, that's how my Quest for Meaning series of locally produced one-minute radio messages began. A friend and I simply stopped at a local radio station one day and with a silent prayer on our lips handed the program director our audition tape. He smiled and listened, and the station began airing the spots five times a day on their AM-FM operations—free of charge as a public service.
We thought we'd seen the walls of Jericho falling down at our feet. So we marched farther into Canaan.
Four more stations began airing the spots—at such prime times as one min ed a long standing noon meditation and carried Quest for Meaning in its place—and at no cost whatsoever. Impossible? Certainly not. "With God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27). With Him, you can do it too!
Tom Sanford did it in Shelby, Montana. Eleven years earlier the church there had nearly folded. When Pastor Tom came on the scene only a handful of members were holding up the props. But some of them encouraged him to go on the air. The station charged for the time, but the members felt it was worth the cost. So "Pastor Tom" went on the air for one minute twice a day (7:20 A.M. and noon).
The result was an emerging credibility for the church in the community. Pastor Tom was asked to help the area medical committee in their search for physicians. He did. And the medical committee ended up turning over operation of the Toole County Hospital to the Montana Conference. Former church members listened and began coming back. New members joined. In a year and a half church membership jumped from 10 to 120!
Of course, Tom's experience is an exception. But yours could be too! Maybe it is providential you're reading this article. Could God have something great in store for your church as well, something He wants to say through your church to your community?
In one minute
Coke does it. GM does it. Goodyear does it. And Dial. And Excedrin. And Avis. They get across their message. In one minute. And your church can too.
After all, didn't the short parables of Jesus catch people on the run? Stop them in their tracks? In quire into their life styles? Your radio spots can do that. Through them your voice can be heard by thousands in the privacy of their own souls—creating a climate for the Holy Spirit to act aggressively on their hearts.
And what's more, they can hear your voice—the pathos of your heart, the feeling you have for people away from God. Through your voice the Word can become incarnate among the masses. Through your voice the voice of God can be heard—appealing, exhorting, comforting, counseling.
In one minute?God uses little things to do great things when there are few minutes left. He uses the simple to confound the wise. He knows there are frightened people out there, people who'd never open their doors, who'd never hear in any other way. Yet they are people you can reach. In one minute, every day.
It's a matter of seed sowing. And good seed sowing is good stewardship. It's time well spent. "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). In other words, bountiful sowing and bountiful reaping go hand in hand!
Tips for success
Here are some suggestions to get you started on the right foot:
1. Plan an overall church evangelism strategy with your church. Chart your church's growth pattern for the past ten years. Discover reasons for the rise and decline of membership. Ascertain your church's present spiritual health through a confidential, anonymous survey, then discuss the findings with the church. Help the members devise ways of sowing, watering, reaping, and nurturing— including broadcasting as one means of sowing the gospel seed.
2. Set objectives for your radio spot series. Be realistic. Don't plan on filling your baptistry the day after you go on the air! Radio is better at changing attitudes than changing life styles. As such, it will be useful for creating a favorable climate for one-to-one lay witnessing. (You can measure attitude change in the community by using a phone survey be fore and during the time the radio spot series is on the air.)
3. Decide on a theme and a title that matches the theme. According to a recent nationwide survey of station personnel, 1 the most popular topic is health. With that in mind, you might deal with health in its four dimensions: physical, mental, social (including marriage and family), and spiritual. The title for your program should be relevant, provocative, and brief. And it should tie in with your theme. (Here are some samples: Turning Point, Second Thoughts, Quest for Meaning, The Word Has It, Perception, Dimensions, Perspectives, Kaleido scope.)
4. Choose a basic format for all the spots in your series. Begin with a hook (something to catch the attention) and end with a stinger (a play on words or a surprise ending to help the listener re member your point). In each spot try to follow these sequential persuasion steps of Jesus: attention, interest, desire, conviction, action.2
In addition, you should decide whether or not you will use a music theme to open and close your program. Although not always necessary, most sixty-second (and less) radio spots should use theme music to keep the timing perfect. (Ask someone at the station to record this for you on a special radio tape cartridge. Then you can use it every week when you come to the station to record a week's spots.)
5. Construct a sequential outline of topics to be covered in thirteen weeks. Plan individual topics around a theme for the week. For example, a Second Coming theme might have five parts (one per day): signs, manner, time, urgency, and readiness. (Thirteen weeks is the standard run for a series. You can then repeat the series during the next thirteen weeks. Remember, repetition deepens impression. And you'll save on preparation time besides!)
6. Begin writing your scripts. Write like you talk. Be conversational. But avoid religious jargon such as "dearly beloved" and trite phrases such as "friends out there in radioland." Re member, people listen to radio as individuals—not as congregations. So avoid a preaching style in favor of a more intimate, personal approach.
Write inductively. That is, "spill the beans" at the end of your spot. Every thing should lead up to your final point. If you begin by using religious talk you'll turn off the nonreligious person, and he'll turn you off with his radio dial. Instead, begin by visualizing a situation your listener can relate to. Then make your point at the end—either implicitly or explicitly. (Often it is better to state your point in the form of a question, thus encouraging the listener to interact with rather than react to your message. It makes him a participant rather than a spectator.)
Write creatively. Be vivid. Create pictures in your listener's mind. For example, instead of saying, "It's almost the end of time," write, "The alarm clock is ringing" or a similar visualized phrase. This helps your listener relate truth to real life, as Jesus did in comparing the kingdom of heaven to mustard seeds and leaven and pearls (Matt. 13).
7. Contact the radio station. In small town stations you should speak with the station manager. At larger stations you may talk with the program director. Bring with you a carefully typed "For mat Fact Sheet," a one-page description of your "public service feature series" of spots. Explain why you think your series of spots will benefit listeners and the station. Be careful to avoid religious jargon in your conversation. Instead, discuss the program as a service to the community, emphasizing health and family values.
Try to get on the air during either the morning or evening "drive times" and/or any minute preceding news on the hour.
Arrange for a regular recording time each week to record your spots, and record at least a week in advance.
8. Encourage church members to pro mote the spots. You may wish to assign pages in the phone book to certain church members. Ask them to systematically call everyone on those pages, informing them of the broadcast. With variations, a simple message like this one works well: "Hello, Mrs. Smith. I'm ___. In just 16 minutes from now, there's an important message I'd like you to hear on. KXXX. You might turn on your radio to 960 now so you won't miss it! Thank you. Goodbye."
Praise God for radio—a simple means of reaching the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time at the least possible expense.
Let God touch your tongue—to reach the thousands of souls around you— thousands who may trace their first impressions of truth to the hearing of your words on their own radios.
You can obtain a full set of the Quest for Meaning one-minute radio scripts by sending a check for $4.00 (made out to Andrews University) to Dr. James David Chase, Communication Department, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104.