God Goss producer ALI BURNETT explains how churches can use radio to get the Gospel message to a much wider audience
A recent survey for confused.com put 'religion' 12th in a list of the top 50 subjects people today are most confused about. Somewhere in the top three was "What women see in Russell Brand" (now that really can be called confusing!).
But, isn't it amazing that in today's fast-moving world of instant communication, most people still don't know what Christians see in Jesus? There is still no single Christian website which is a household name. And social networking can be narrow – confined to those linked to you by subject interest alone.
Even the term “mass media” is increasingly a misnomer, as audiences for more and more channels get smaller and smaller.
Yet shows like The X Factor continue to unite the whole country, whilst a scandal on Radio 2 gets discussed in Parliament. Traditional broadcast media is more powerful than ever.
Surprisingly, perhaps, radio remains the UK’s most trusted medium, ahead of TV, web or print. This year saw an all-time high in radio listening: 89% of the country! And an amazing 61% of 18 to 35-year-olds (the age group least reached by churches) still listen to their local commercial, music-based radio station.
However, most of those unchurched listeners do not “get” religion. The band Razorlight put it in a nutshell with their hit song America: “There’s nothin’ on the TV, nothin’ on the radio that I can believe in …”
Except, perhaps, God Goss.
God Goss is one minute of good news – showbiz-style – currently broadcast on two Heart Radio stations, Cambridge and Norfolk, every Sunday at 10.15 and 11.15 am. The timing is deliberate, because God Goss isn't for Christians.
Research by Engels shows that any western broadcast audience is usually made up of 5% Christian, 5% firmly atheist and 5% actively seeking. God Goss seeks to cater for the remaining 85%: the non-churchgoers who don’t care about religion at all.
A weekly Goss bulletin contains stories such as Amy Winehouse being invited to visit a monastery; prayer being good for your health; Wayne Rooney wanting to be a priest, or the tubby vicar who lost eight stone. It's good news, to encourage listeners to raise a smile and see faith in a different way.
The ‘news’ approach is also deliberate. Often, the most off-putting thing for a non-churchgoer is to have religion shoved down their throat in a mini-sermon.
God Goss does what Jesus tells us to do: “Let your light shine before men”. In other words, tell the good things Christians are doing. We also tell people when a celebrity encounters God, because just to know that famous people can believe may change the idea that Christianity is irrelevant today.
The vision is to see God Goss on every county-size commercial radio station where it can reach the largest numbers quickly – like Heart, or the northern Big City Network of stations like Metro (Newcastle), Hallam (Sheffield) and Radio City (Liverpool). But it won’t get on air, and be heard by non-churchgoers, unless churches pay for the airtime.
Regular, weekly 'drip-feed' (ie the stories God Goss produces) won’t convert anyone overnight, but it can and will change attitudes. It's not sowing seed – that's a job for our churches. But it is clearing the soil first, clearing it of bricks and stones, misconceptions and misunderstandings.
God Goss is there as a free mission resource to churches, but – and I cannot stress this enough – if it doesn’t get on the radio, the 85% won’t hear it!
Getting God Goss broadcast in your area is incredibly cheap, if enough churches work together: £10 per church, per month. Once 60 to 100 churches in an area have pledged their support – depending on the size of their commercial radio station – there will be enough funding to launch God Goss.
And, if more churches come on board, God Goss could expand into more slots or a podcast on the radio station website, where it could get thousands of visitors, and where churches could potentially advertise seeker-friendly events.
You can listen to God Goss at www.godgoss.com to find out more about the people behind the project. But please don't just play it to yourselves, as we will not reach those outside the Church without radio airplay.
I urge Churches Together groups across the country to set up Media Mission Funds and pledge to make God Goss a household name by running it on their local commercial radio station.
Start with the big stations like Heart – smaller ones cost half the money, but only reach a fifth of the audience.
Get behind God Goss, and get your area gossiping God!
God Goss needs YOUR help
Our vision is to see God Goss on every county-size radio station, where it can reach largest numbers quickly. But it won’t get on air, and be heard by non-churchgoers, unless Christians or churches pay for the airtime.
Call Ali on 07774 248189 or go to www.godgoss.com to:
Cheques to support this ministry should be made payable to "God Goss" and sent to PO Box (TBC)
God Goss is produced by a small group of professionals, working in and alongside the media, who believe that Christianity – and sometimes other beliefs as well – can get an unfair press. God Goss is an attempt to change all that. We're an ecumenical group with no denominational affiliation, but we gratefully acknowledge central production support from Church Army and charitable trusts.
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