Australia’s Faith FM radio station is reaching hearts for Jesus.
Published on: 08-28-2022
How can we share the life-changing gospel message with every Australian? In the car, at home, on the construction site, while picking the kids up during the afternoon school run? On a tractor on a farm or a smartphone on a train? At 6:00 p.m. or at 3:00 a.m.? These are the questions the team at Faith FM is answering using people, technology, and an enormous amount of prayer to proclaim the saving message of God’s grace in the context of the three angels’ messages.
Paul1 was an atheist who had gone through a marriage breakup and had reached a low point in his life when he happened upon a Christian radio station. What he heard grabbed his attention, and for the next few years he found himself listening exclusively to this station called Faith FM. One day after hearing a message about giving your life to Jesus and the importance of baptism, Paul decided to show up at the nearest Adventist church to ask the pastor to baptize him.
Paul’s story is more common than you might think! “As we look back in just the past few years, we are in awe of what God has done,” says Michael Worker, secretary of the Australian Union Conference (AUC). “We have seen people all over Australia connecting with the church and making decisions for baptism through the opportunities Faith FM has created.”
“Local churches often contact me with stories very similar to Paul’s, where someone just showed up at church requesting Bible studies or baptism after listening to Faith FM,” says Robbie Berghan, content and promotions manager at Faith FM. “Many ‘everyday Aussies’ in our increasingly secular country are quietly listening, and the Holy Spirit is slowly working on their hearts, until one day they take the step to connect with the local Adventist church.”
Huge Growth From Small Beginnings
Faith FM began in 2008 with a small group of volunteers, a single low-powered FM license, and a potential population reach of about 500 people. In 2015 AUC saw the enormous potential for Faith FM to become a missional tool for the entire Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia. In 2016 AUC leadership began building a Faith FM team based at their offices in Melbourne. With additional investment from local Australian conferences and Adventist World Radio (AWR),2 Faith FM has been able to launch several live programs, such as The Breakfast Show, Drivetime, Tassie Encounters, and numerous other morning and afternoon shows, totaling about five hours of live programming each day.
According to the Faith FM station manager, Michael Engelbrecht: “Today, the Faith FM network is made up of more than 200 low-powered broadcast sites and has a potential population reach of just over 6 million people.” This equates to a national network covering one in four Australians, and it serves as a flagship ministry in Australian communities for the Seventh-day Adventist Church 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Faith FM carries the everlasting gospel of Jesus into cars, homes, and workplaces. The Faith FM app connects with listeners not only across Australia but around the world.
As a voice without barriers, Faith FM proved its value during COVID-19 lockdowns when other forms of outreach were not possible. Faith FM not only continued to operate but also saw record levels of growth in listener engagement.
“God is truly blessing the work of Faith FM,” says AUC president Terry Johnson. “We have seen listener engagement grow 300 percent over the past two years, and in the same period we have seen requests for free Christian literature and resources increase by 700 percent.”
“We have reimagined what a radio program could be,” says Berghan. “All new content for Faith FM follows a very intentional format with specific engagement opportunities, and as a result we have seen phenomenal results in listener engagement.”
By employing a range of new technologies such as an interactive smartphone app, SMS bots, and intelligent evangelistic offers, the Faith FM team has been able to streamline and scale processes that have allowed for smarter and faster follow-up.
“The aim of the gospel content we air on Faith FM is to take a real person on an intentional journey, ultimately bringing them to a lasting decision for Jesus. We call this journey ‘Broadcast to Baptism,’ ” says Berghan. “The journey goes far beyond the airwaves, and the sooner a listener is connected to a local community of faith through one of our local ambassadors, the more likely their Christian experience will thrive.”
It was the Faith FM ambassador program that helped Susan not only connect with a local church but ultimately decide to follow Jesus and be baptized. Susan did not grow up in a Christian environment. She had a difficult childhood and faced many challenges, including financial hardships and physical abuse. Finally, she left home at age 14. Susan continued to live her life as most Australians do, with no faith—until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every evening the news broadcasts were filled with grim reports and death counts from all around the world, and Susan began to wonder what would happen if she died. A few days later while driving, she stumbled across Faith FM, and the first message she heard was on the biblical teaching about death. Wanting to learn more, Susan contacted the station and requested a free resource on the topic.
Faith FM’s listener relations team connected Susan with Brian,3 the local station ambassador, who formed a friendship with her and connected her with his local church. During the next few months Susan’s life changed dramatically. She joined a small group, made new friends, and went through a Bible study course that culminated in a decision to follow Jesus and to be baptized.
“Broadcast to Baptism” Strategy
The ambassador program is just one aspect of the “Broadcast to Baptism” strategy. To help create further opportunities for listeners to connect face to face, Faith FM has been piloting what they call Faith FM community dinners throughout Australia. These events are designed to provide listeners an opportunity to meet and greet Faith FM presenters and personalities over a meal. The presenters share TED Talk-style messages, which link with upcoming programs conducted by the local church.
This partnership with local churches is proving highly successful. A real sense of connection between the community and Faith FM’s presenters develops, and almost half of all attendees are joining the follow-up programs.
“I am so impressed with the number of listeners who attended our Faith FM dinner,” says Luke Reeves, pastor of the Armidale Seventh-day Adventist Church in New South Wales. “Everyone was excited to meet the presenter, and the interest in the follow-up seminar was fantastic.”
Faith FM is a demonstration of what Total Member Involvement looks like practically, and there are plenty of ways for local church members to contribute. “It might seem that Faith FM is a corporate radio network,” says Johnson. “But Faith FM depends on teen groups, young professionals, singles, older people, and everyone in between. Whether we’re recording a devotional message on a smartphone or helping to find a local broadcast site, Total Member Involvement is vital to us in accomplishing our mission.”
When asked how people can help, Engelbrecht says, “We have seen how the gospel flourishes during challenging times, but we have learned that none of this happens without a great deal of prayer. I would simply ask people to pray for Faith FM—for our content creators, our ambassadors, our scheduling, our donors, and, of course, our listeners.”
Prayer definitely changes things, and miracles still happen.