Spreading a Passion for Jesus
In mid-November, Highfields Church in Cardiff was the venue for BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship. So what was it like to be featured on the radio?
“It felt a bit like doing open-air preaching to a million people.”
Dave Gobbett, pastor of Highfields Church in Cardiff has been reflecting on the whole experience. Since the broadcast, numerous people have been in touch with the church, with Dave receiving emails about his sermon from as far away as Belgium and South Korea.
“The main thrust of my message from Ephesians 2 was that Jesus uniquely brings people together because Jesus uniquely brings people to God. Only Jesus can pull our troubled world together.
“All the words of my sermon needed to be agreed before the broadcast and at first I didn’t write enough. So, I kept adding bits in and tried to get in as much as I could – I felt sure I would be asked to tone it down. In the end, the script only received a minor revision – and even that was just stylistic, it wasn’t related to the content.”
Highfields were first approached to be the venue for this live broadcast in December 2018. Hosting Sunday Worship was 11 months in the making and meant a busy weekend for the congregation, requiring some flexibility from the wider church.
To start with, there were three hours of rehearsals on Saturday afternoon – including an “as live” recording in case anything meant that the live broadcast couldn’t go out on the following day. Then the congregation had to be in their seats for 7am on the Sunday ahead of the broadcast at 8:10am.
“It meant we were finished by 8:50am,” Dave added. “And then we continued with our regular second morning service at 11:15, so it was full on. More than that, we couldn’t have very young children at the live broadcast in case they were disruptive, so it meant a lot of families who would normally attend our 9:30 service having to come along for the later one.
“But it was such an encouraging time. All of our members were so excited that the church was going to be on national radio. I mean, why wouldn’t you tell people about that? So, we had lots of our non-Christian friends listening in and it was a great opportunity to introduce them to the church and for them to hear the gospel via this ‘air-drop’.”
For Highfields, it meant a bit of a departure from their normal Sunday morning. They sang well-known hymns and were accompanied by a small orchestra pulled together by a church member who is a senior musical director.
The Radio 4 service needs to be exactly 38 minutes in length with a 50:50 split between singing and speech. Everything is agreed beforehand, so there is little option for spontaneity. That said, Dave is looking forward to doing it again in the future.
“Our mission statement for Highfields is Spreading a Passion for Jesus, and this enabled us to do a bit of that, on a slightly larger scale than normal! There was a huge buzz around the church ahead of the broadcast going out with everyone telling their friends.
“We’re talking with BBC Radio Wales about recording a couple of services in 2020 and then doing another live broadcast for Radio 4 in 2021. It’s a lot of work but we’re looking forward to being involved again. It was a massive privilege.”
The service is available on the BBC Radio 4 website until Tuesday 17th December. Listen here.