The leaving of Liverpool (and the BBC)
This week I’m leaving the BBC. For the last eleven years I have worked for BBC Radio Merseyside as Religious Producer. I have presented the Sunday morning programme “Daybreak” more than five hundred times. Before that I worked for five years as a programme volunteer, and before that I worked with BBC Radio Cleveland and BBC Radio Oxford. I’ve been part of BBC Local Radio religion programmes for more than twenty five years in all, but now I’m leaving.
I’m leaving for good reasons. As well as working in radio I’m an ordained Baptist minister, and I have been called to be full time minister at New North Road Baptist Church in Huddersfield. It’s an exciting new challenge and I know the hand of God is on my calling to go there and work alongside the church to see his kingdom grow.
But I’m also leaving at a time when BBC Radio is struggling with real faith broadcasting. On one level “religion” has been affirmed by BBC Local Radio. Every station has a Religious Producer (now more often called Faith Producer) and a Sunday morning programme with “faith” content. But fewer of those faith producers and presenters have any personal Christian faith and the broadcasts are moving from being an insider’s view of what it means to believe and becoming an outsider’s commentary on faith.
Most of those broadcasters are doing an excellent job in the few hours they are employed. They manage to produce a weekly programme full of variety in the face of pressure from BBC management which is itself under pressure from an embarrassment in society to proclaim personal faith. And if there are fewer believing Christians then the blame lies with the Church who have not reached out to creative communities and have not urged their best people into creative roles and the media.
My new calling is to help to equip the Church to serve the world in workplaces and local communities. My task, and yours, is to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into places of service and influence. We are sent to be salt and light. My prayer is that our loving Lord will answer the call to make his people saltier and shinier in the world.
As the bright shiny Brian Houston sings: “Who is willing to be broken, who will love me enough that when I call your name, you will go where I send and hearts will be changed. Here I am, send me” (from “Spirit and Truth” on the album In the words of Dr Luke).
This article first appeared in Inspire, the bulletin of themedianet.org