Chris Cole muses on radio, the Greenbelt Festival and the gift of encouragement.

Chris Cole FRSA
Chris Cole FRSA

Have you ever felt so excited about an idea or a set of circumstances which you've gone through and then experienced utter deflation when the encouragement you expected back from your friends was not forth coming? Even as Christians we're not immune to insensitivity when it comes to encouraging each other. If you're honest you've probably been on both sides of this human dilemma. I certainly know I have. I must confess that in my own busyness and self-absorption I have not given people my heartfelt attention when they entrusted their hopes, ambitions, aspirations and inner thoughts to the care of my response. The result of this insensitivity and lack of encouragement can easily lead to disharmony, which in turn can lead to some very discordant sounds.

Let me illustrate what I mean through a personal observation, but on a larger scale. The Greenbelt Arts Festival has probably accomplished more in terms of raising the profile and advancing the cause of Christians involved in the arts and especially music than any other organisation within the UK. Equally, it has probably attracted more criticism from those it has sought to serve and those who just simply don't understand what Greenbelt is endeavouring to achieve. Now I happen to believe that criticism can be a very healthy and necessary tool, which used correctly, can benefit our relationships. What I do have difficulty with, however, is when criticism isn't motivated by a balanced attitude which encourages and affirms at the same time that it challenges. I feel certain that over the past eighteen years the Greenbelt executive have like many other Christian organisations struggled to arrive at the right decisions and worked long hours without much thanks or appreciation. This same scenario can be applied time and time again to literally thousands of Christians and hundreds of Christian organisations.

What has all this got to do with David and radio stations? I hear you ask. Well I suppose I am either naive or old fashioned enough to still believe that as Christians we need each other. Values which incorporate ideas of mutual service and cooperation (harmony) are very necessary if, as the Christian Church, we are to achieve anything of significance within our generation. These are concepts, which sound inviting enough when we say them, but in reality really require some 'bottle' and commitment to work through.

As far as Cornerstone House and Cross Rhythms are concerned, there are some exciting opportunities available to us, but we are going to require the good will of many Christians and Christian organisations to turn these opportunities into realities.

At the time of going to press with this issue of the magazine, I was informed by a network programme controller that he was interested in receiving a demo-tape of an FM-style Christian music programme sponsored by the Cross Rhythms magazine. He understood that the programme could be syndicated to the five stations within the group. Since the changes within the Broadcasting Bill in January of this year, I have received other indications from independent local radio stations that they are interested in sponsorship deals linking a radio programme with the magazine.

Unlike America, which has hundreds of Gospel radio stations, England has none as yet. Contrary to popular belief owning a radio station is not a license to print money. The recession is affecting radio stations just the same as everybody else. Whatever we attempt as Christians to do within the media it is important that we get our facts and sums right as well as our spiritual hearing.

The Cross Rhythms team have a burden for Christian music. We would even go as far as to say that we believe the strategy which we have for pioneering good quality contemporary Christian music on the existing general radio stations is inspired. All of the ingredients are there; an excellent music magazine (well we think so); a fully equipped radio studio to the highest technical standards; a sympathetic legal climate; and eight years experience in developing FM-style format programming. We even have John Smith spots thrown in on occasion for good measure, cobber. In short, it should not be too difficult to put a Christian music programme on 10 stations in twelve months. What we need even more than all this, however, is God's seal of approval and the conviction that He is going to do the business.

The real difference between David and Saul was David wanted the will of God for his life and knew the power and intimacy of God's deliverance when he was attacked by a lion and a bear whilst guarding the sheep. Saul wanted the position more than obedience to God. When they both faced up to Goliath Saul had the organisation and weaponry, but he didn't have the faith. What he saw in Goliath filled him with fear he hadn't experienced the same personal power and intimacy of God's deliverance that David had.

When David squared up to Goliath with what must have seemed to most as certain suicide since all he possessed was a sling shot, no one at that battle knew the faith that was in David's heart. As you probably already know if you are a regular reader of our magazine we have always been short on resources, but we believe God has really compensated us with the gift of faith.

Please pray for us - because we sense we're going to slay a few Goliaths. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.