The church doesn’t really need Christian radio to survive. I know that there are many who tune into Christian radio and listen on a regular basis, but the truth is, Christian radio is not necessary for our spiritual growth in Christ. We especially do not need listener-supported Christian radio stations. If a station has to ask us for money, using the typical ploys of telling us we will be blessed by blessing them, then we should donate our offerings to more legitimate ministries such as the White Horse Inn, or Truth for Life, in which their focus is the preaching and the teaching of God’s word. My focus in this post are the stations that play Christian contemporary music, are doctrinally and theologically inept, and take no real moral positions at all.
What prompted me to say this?
Neil had a post on Saturday about one of the Christian radio stations in Houston that is in the midst of a fund drive, telling their listeners to give to their ministry as “God tells you to.” Neil responded by saying he gave exactly what God told him to: nothing!
Here we have a radio station (seeing their sole existence as a legitimate ministry for Christ) asking for money, and doing so in an irresponsible way. They are making the false assumption that God talks to His people via a “still small voice” in their heads. Never mind that for 2,000 years, biblical Christianity states that God has ceased speaking to us in such a manner. When the canon of Scripture was closed, with the giving of the 27 books in the New Testament, God quit audibly speaking to us. This is not because He cannot, but because He chooses for us to come to His word and look there for all we need to know about salvation and how to live. He even teaches us where we should give.
The problem with these radio stations is that they seriously believe they are an instrument of God being used to bring people to Christ. Never mind that God has chosen the preaching of His word to reach the lost. Never mind that the personalities on these stations are as theologically astute as a children’s Sunday school class. Oh, the self-appointed high-priests of the radio airwaves are indeed putting forth theology, just bad theology. Never mind their their God works on the philosophy of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” as if we could actually make such deals with God. These stations are not true ministries at all, no matter how much they claim to help people.
The people of Christ have become superbly misguided in their understanding of what is and is not true ministry. There are two realms of ministry when it comes to the people of God, there is the ministry of the word and sacraments and the ministry of service. The former is filled by those who are lawfully (according to God’s word) ordained to preach, teach and administer the sacraments of the church. We call these men elders, and the qualifications for being an elder (pastor), are not open to anyone. Unlike the ridiculous movie The Apostle, in which Robert Duvall’s character decides to anoint himself an apostle, we have church courts and other elders that we must submit to for God’s ordination to be of effect. If these radio stations are a legitimate ministry, whose authority are they under? I’m sure none of the disk jockeys and radio personalities on these radio stations are ordained or under the elders of the church in any such manner. They probably lack theological training, and if they have theological training, they lack discernment. How do we know this? Just listen to the lyrics of the songs they choose to play on such stations.
Allow me to say, in the interest of full-disclosure, I have not listened to such stations in probably 10 years. But I know enough to know that nothing has changed in the Christian Contemporary Music world to bring about any confidence in the schmaltz they are putting forth. Just the very nature of these radio stations prevents them from taking any true theological stand on truth. They are looking for the broadest audience they can muster, and to do this, they must shy away from, nay, even avoid-at-all-costs, anything theologically significant. To them, the T-word is anathema, for if you utter anything doctrinally correct, you invite scorn from those who believe to the contrary.
On top of this, the music that these stations play are truly uninformed when it comes to biblical truth. This alone should be reason enough for every pastor who cares about his flock to warn them of the dangers of listening to such blather. (Yes, there are a few artists who seek to give us good, theologically and biblically supported songs. But those are few and far between.) From what I have gathered from recent events in the world of contemporary Christian music is that there are quite a few artists who are no more Christian than they typical Muslim. They entered the Christian music arena simply because it’s an easy road to break into the music industry.
Christians are so gullible. We think that simply because someone has the ability to play the guitar and write a sweet tune that they are somehow automatically anointed by God to bring us godly music. Never mind that God has not given us the office of music minister in the word of God. Yes, I know, He does use music and He does allow for singing. But as you know, the singing is to be done by the congregation, back to God, not the music minister, praise team, etc. But I digress. We are not talking about corporate worship, even though there are congregations that quickly adopt the latest tunes for worship on Sunday from the radio stations they listen to on Monday without giving it a second thought. This is completely opposite of what should be taking place. The church should be giving us the songs we sing from God’s word, not from the sinful inclinations of the musician.
The other area of ministry given in Scripture is the ministry of service. This is where most of the church finds itself. We serve Christ in our daily lives, through and to our families, in our jobs, and other areas of life. Some have tried to raise this level of ministry to that of the ministry of the word, saying we are all of the royal priesthood. They forget that those called to the ministry of the word will be held to a stricter judgment, and in doing so, they detract from the importance of the ministry of the word. They also fail to see that without the ministry of the word, there is no ministry of service. The former can exist without the latter, it should not, but it can. Failing to see the ministry of the word in corporate worship is vital to our walks with Christ. Without the preaching of God’s word, there is no true church. Yet so many view corporate worship as just an add-on to their Christian walk. Yet, it is the most important aspect of their Christian walk.
But I have digressed… again. Who could have imagined?
Some might say that the ministry of these radio stations that seek our financial help is not one of the word, but of service. I would agree that it falls more in the latter than the former. Yet, they still fail because they lack discernment. How many songs do they actually toss in the trash because such songs are theologically heretical? They are far more likely to judge a song based on it’s listenability than on what the words are actually saying. Since this is the case, it begs the question: if they are offering up such tripe to the people of God, what kind of service are they really offering?
Given that, radio ministries, are not true ministries. They are neither a part of the ministry of the word, which requires them to be ordained for that purpose, nor the ministry of service because the service they offer is so inept. Therefore we should give them nothing from our finances.
How do we know? Look at the statement they are offering up in order to raise money for their stations: “Give how much God tells you to.”
This statement led to the point I made at Neil’s blog. If God is going to speak audibly to me, would I really want Him telling me how much I should give to some pseudo-ministry? I can think of a dozen other things I would rather have Him speak to me about than how much I should give to the manipulators at the local Christian radio station. How much to give is an absolutely trite consideration.
Another question we might ask: how do I know if the still small voice that God is supposed to use to tell me how much to give to this knock-off ministry is really God speaking to me? As I have pointed out on this blog before, there is one sure-fire way to test whatever someone claims as a word of the LORD. In other words, if someone says “God says…” there is a real way to test that. If what they say is from God, look to His word to see if there is agreement. If what is spoken from God is actually from God, it will be confirmed in Scripture. If it is not found in God’s word, we can deem it not from God Himself, since He does not contradict Himself.
Therefore, God doesn’t tell us to give to radio pseudo-ministries, but to legitimate ministries like the ministry of the word and sacrament. That is where God is truly leading the lost to Christ, under the preached word of God. Despite the claims of those trapped in Popular Christianity, God is not calling us to support the pseudo-ministry of CCM and the radio stations that play their songs.