Why Churches Should Advertise on the Radio

Why Churches Should Advertise on the Radio
Gary Crossland


Christian radio credits a large portion of its present income to religious non-profit organizations. The fact is that, in almost every case, churches constitute the heaviest generic category of advertisers on Christian radio. But some churches would rather put their promotional dollars to work somewhere else. Here are a few of their reasons.

“We don’t believe in self-promotion”

All churches advertise whether they call it that or not. All word-of-mouth, flyers on the supermarket bulletin board and even the sign out in front of the church is advertising. Furthermore, the church is obviously paying some amount of money for these projects. Radio is nothing more than an electronic extension of what the church is already doing to promote itself. Obviously, every congregation thinks that they have the best church in town. And no one attending church A would invite people to go to church B. Church radio advertising has become nothing more than word-of-mouth en mass.

In my opinion, radio audiences need to be more aware of local ministries they can plug into more than national ministries with which their involvement is limited. People cannot grow if they don’t have roots. By purchasing program or spot time on a local Christian station, local ministries are addressing the greatest need in their community – personal involvement with other believers encouraging local fellowship.

“We would rather evangelize on secular radio”

Let’s not think for a moment that the Christian radio listener is without the need for evangelization. While it’s true that Christian radio plays to one of the most quality audiences in America, our research involving every primary data bank in the country conclusively proves to us that there are those in the Christian radio audience who, in many ways, change the spiritual profile of the entire composite.

A general manager of one of America’s premier Christian stations recently told us that a local survey of his listeners revealed that between 19-21% were yet unregenerate. Even more were without a church home. If we forget these aspects of our audience, we will lose sight of the tremendous missionary platform from which to address our local communities. No longer is Christian radio just serving to bless the body of Christ; nor is it just a medium of Christian entertainment. There is no doubt that a large segment of the Christian radio audience constitutes one of America’s ripest harvests. It is to this segment of the audience that ministries need to address on Christian radio. For some reason, Christian radio has become increasingly popular as a format that plays to either those who aren’t yet saved or who aren’t living like it. Local ministries need to promote themselves as a place for these souls to take root.

“We use newspaper”

All the more reason to do radio as well. Any agency in America will tell you that radio is the best support medium for print available. According to Radio Advertising Bureau, the average adult (25-54) devotes only 11% of his/her media attention to newspaper, compared to 41% given to radio. Only 41% of newspaper readers recall seeing any single full-page ad. 33% note half-page ads and 27% note quarter page ads.

This means that a client could decrease his full-page ad space cost in half while only reducing his notations by 25%. Then, by adding radio to the mix, his bottom line results would go up. Remember – print supplies the copy, but radio supplies the sizzle, the sound, the emotions, the reinforcement. Print plus radio will bring more results than just print alone. This type of cross-media promotion is a much more effective way to advertise.


“We tried radio, but no one ever says they came as a result of radio”

Radio will seldom be the primary reason why someone visits your church. The most-common reason will be word-of-mouth. Other important factors include location, the sign out front, print, or any intrusive medium. Radio, however will make all of these work better. Your radio spots may end up being the most-recent impression on the visitor’s mind, giving him his final reason to visit. If your church distributes visitor cards that ask, “How did you hear about us?” do not to expect the “radio” box to give you an accurate reading regarding the power of this media. The reason – very few people hear about a church from the radio first. They may be sold on visiting, but they are seldom introduced to a church in this manner. What the church should ask is, “Are you aware of our advertisements in the yellow pages, newspaper, radio, etc.?” This question will give the church the information that they seek. It is altogether obvious that if a visitor has been reached by the church’s ads, they have been influenced by those ads. The old saying is, “What gets your attention gets you.” Constant repetitious exposure to a church’s campaign cannot help but to have an effect.

When a client tells me, “No one ever joined our church because of radio,” my question is this, “During your campaign, did your attendance go up? If so, there is no doubt in my mind that radio can take at least partial credit. If there is a positive correlation between their radio campaign and their growth, radio shares in the victory.”

“We just advertise special events”

This is fine, but don’t try to build a church on this type of advertising. Let’s face it – an evangelist or music group is just like a visitor. When you invite visitors to come see a visitor, they will leave as soon as he does. In other words, these special visitors have become nothing more than an audience, and not a serious prospect for the church. This should not be surprising since these ads draw people on the pretense of being a spectator rather than a potential church member. Consequently, unlike most visitors, they generally come with the intention of leaving.

The unfortunate aspect of advertising special events is that the most important thing about church temporarily becomes the evangelist, the musician, or whatever. In reality, you end up doing more advertising for your guest speaker than you do for yourself. When the object of the ad is gone, so is the reason for your visitor to stay. To build up real church growth, the church should do a long-term image-awareness campaign, emphasizing the major features that are permanent – the pastor, the church itself, etc. Here’s the rule: advertise temporary events and the reason that a visitor comes is the same reason that he will leave. If you advertise those things that are permanent, the reason that your visitor visits will also be the reason that he stays.

“We don’t want to proselytize”

It’s next to impossible to pull anyone from a church where his or her spiritual needs are being met. You may, in fact, draw some away from a situation to which they should not belong. If they are not being spiritually fed at their present church, you should not have a problem with them visiting your church. Secondly, if people do visit your church as a result of your ad, most of the time it is because they are searching anyway. Your spot will never draw anyone that is justifiably happy with their present situation. In fact, after writing over 1000 church spots, serving as a church promotion consultant for a major Christian station, I have seldom witnessed this problem.

From a financial standpoint, the best way to justify purchasing airtime on a Christian station is to determine the per capita income of your market. Knowing the number of families that you have in your church should tell you what percentage of their average income ends up in the offering plate. This will then tell you how many families have to be acquired from any campaign in order to break even on your advertising investment. In more cases than not, I have discovered that the benefits derived from advertising more than compensate for any outlay of funds.



The above article, “Why Churches Should Advertise on the Radio” was written by Gary Crossland. The article was excerpted from www.aliveradionetwork.com web site. June 2017.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”