Beyond Minimum Coverage

Tonight on the way home from a trip, I passed by the corporate headquarters for an insurance company here in Columbus. SafeAuto is a pioneer in state minimum insurance. Their only point of business is providing minimum auto insurance coverage, and they have made a successful business of it in 16 states, mostly east of the Mississippi.

At the same time, I had just finished listening to a sermon by Pastor Gary Keesee from Faith Life Church in New Albany, Ohio regarding the Good Samaritan. While I have heard sermons on the subject of being a good neighbor (Hey! That’s another insurance company’s slogan!), I had never heard one particular point brought out. And that was, “Why did Jesus mention the inn and paying the innkeeper?”

Pastor Keesee’s emphasis was that Jesus could have easily made the point about being a neighbor to someone, without adding in anything about where he took the man and how he paid for his care. In most people’s eyes, it’s just extraneous information. But it’s not: it’s an example of how God does more for us than just bandage our wounds and go on His way. He takes care of us and provides for our needs in full.

In my travels around the country, I hear many Christian radio stations, both music and teaching/talk. Most of them are now doing a really good job at the point of comforting their core listener and making her feel good about her faith, her family and her circumstances. But I submit to you that this is Minimum Coverage.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, God is really showing us that He is the Samaritan; rejected by His people, He still cares more for the wounded neighbor than His real neighbors did. He is showing his heart. I once heard a pastor say that the second most important character in the Bible, after the Person of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is you. Everything in the Bible is either about Him, His relationship and covenant with us or our relationship and covenant with Him.

What the Good Samaritan did was go beyond Minimum Coverage into Kingdom Coverage.

The great ministries, pastors, broadcasters and people I know have seen the secret in the Bible long before I have: if you take care of people, God will take care of you. This is what the Kingdom of God is about.

So, how does all this apply to radio?

The great stations focus on people.

There’s a little more to them than just playing the song she wants to hear and talking about what’s important to her. It’s about people. Her, people in her life, people she doesn’t know. People that don’t fit the listener profile at all.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Z88.3 in Orlando is rightly held up as a great Christian radio station, but I submit to you that a significant portion of their success is a result of another passion besides the perfect song and being “Safe for the Little Ears”: the weather. Z88.3 is the primary EAS station in Central Florida, and with the volatile Florida weather, they always have something to talk about. This also means that they are talking to people that would probably never tune them in otherwise. This is a Kingdom mindset.

KSBJ in Houston is another station that is passionate about their core listener, but their overarching success comes from being a servant to their local and international community: they are constantly and consistently reaching out to Houston and beyond with ministries to people in need. The second thing on their list of priorities (after serving Jesus!) is “We Love People”. They even mentor other radio stations, teaching them the core competencies of good radio and how to love people. Touching and teaching others with no thought of promotion of the station is Kingdom mentality.

The pattern here is obvious: it’s about people. I think that sometimes we in Christian radio can forget that everything is not about the station. We’re absorbed in our work, we want higher ratings and more income so we can reach more people for Christ. While that focus is admirable, it’s incomplete. It’s Minimum Coverage.

Examine the work of your station. What can you point to that is beyond Minimum Coverage? Are you doing things that might not build ratings or income, but will build the Kingdom?

Jesus said it best in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I will translate this to radio-ese: “Seek first to serve God’s Kingdom (people!), and Arbitron, finances and influence will be added to you as well.”

Let me know what you think, and if you have need for some insight into how to do these things, I am available! Use the feedback widget on the right.

— Terry Dismore

© Lazarus Communications Group 2011

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