2005-06-25

An open letter to powerFM in Dallas

This is a letter sent to our really cool Christian Alternative rock station in Dallas. As you will find out below, I really love this station and support them financially. I love them enough to tell them that they have done some things that worry me. This letter is written to address these issues. I think this letter is important because it addresses some of the issues all of us Christians deal with when we try to engage culture creatively... and all of the issues I criticize them for are issues I must keep myself in check about when I try to engage culture as a youth minister.

You can find powerFM at: http://www.897powerfm.com
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Howdy from Coppell,

My name is Nate and I have supported the station for the last several years at $10.00 per month. I know that is not a whole lot, but our family doesn't have much more to give above our tithe. Over the last two years there has been some direction with the station that concerns me. I have been sitting on this and not saying anything, hoping it would go away... but it comes up every time I listen to the station.

So, here it goes:

1. The first thing is kind of subtle, but I think it points to a major attitude shift. Your motto shifted from "The True Alternative" to "The Christian Rock Station" about a year ago. I love the idea of powerFM being a "true alternative" to what the world is broadcasting on stations like 102.1, 102.9, and 106.1. It is a phrase that indicates an outreach mentality, an incarnational reality of being the body of Christ "on air" to reach out to the metroplex. On the other hand, the motto "Christian Rock Station" means that we are marketing to Christians only. We are reaching inward and creating a Christian ghetto of alternative culture so we can run away from the world and not interact with it. The word "Christian" turns off anyone who has a negative connotation of Christianity (for whatever reason) and says plainly "this station is for us chosen people, not for you pagans".

The wording itself is not the important part. It's not like I expect you to keep the same catch phrase forever (I know marketing well enough to understand you can't do that). But it is the idea clearly portrayed behind each catch phrase that is the issue. Is powerFM just a service offered to the Christian ghetto, or is it a bold outreach of light and life to a dark world? If it is the latter, I would suggest using a catch phrase that clearly portrays that.

2. The second issue is a mainly a matter of my personal taste, and nothing theological or missional. It is this: most of your bands seem to sound the same, and there is no big difference in most of the music you play. Most of the music you play is of the guitar-driven, angst-filled, three-white-guys-with-long-hair, teen alternative variety. That is nice sometimes, but could you vary it a bit? Some techno? Some electronica? Some hip hop (other than a one-hour show each week)?

I switch off powerFM frequently because the song style gets monotonous for me. Maybe its just that the Christian music community is predominantly offering that one style of music, and you have no choice and you are doing the best you can... but, it just seems like there could be some more variety.

3. Finally, "creation moments" drives me nuts. There are a whole lot of folks out there who completely believe in Intelligent design, but have no place for a literalist reading of Genesis 1. I totally believe that the only way that we got here is that God spoke us into existence, but I think there are not only scientific problems with a "six literal 24-hour day creation", but also serious exegetical and theological problems as well. I love hearing evidence that there must be a Creator. I hate hearing that the only way I can be a Bible-believing Christian is to put my brain in a trash can and believe that God had to do it in six 24-hour days.

I believe that "creation moments" portrays Christians as being willfully ignorant, and ultimately serves to turn people off to Christianity rather than turn them on. You would be better served by dropping them and either (a) switching to a ministry that advocates Intelligent design only, without the 6-day baggage, or (b) switching to another type of apologetics ministry that provides more general "facts" which support Christianity as true and reliable.

Gosh, that is harsh and I am sorry to have said all of that. This is 2 years worth of concerns bottled up in one email, and it makes it sound like I hate what you are doing... and I don't. I really support about 85% of what you do and think its great. There's just some things I wish you would change. I hope you understand.

In closing, I want to reassure you that I am NOT going to pull my funding of your station over this. This letter is not a threat of pulling funding, just a statement of concern. I think that your station is a phenomenal outreach in many ways, and we want to support you for the long haul. However, as my letter indicates, I am concerned that some things you are doing are compromising your outreach.

May Christ fill your life,
Nate Bostian
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.