SearchTV Seen All Around the World
by: Stafford North | November 5, 2018
Good News in October ran a story about the Wilkins Radio Network reversing its position about refusing to broadcast programs from churches of Christ. The article told of several programs which have, thus, been restored to major cities in the United States. After that article ran, Phil Sanders, the speaker on SearchTV emailed me to share that this reversal of policy also allowed the restoration of Search on thirty-five of their radio stations. So, that was more good news coming from that decision.
This article, however, also gives Good News a chance to share other information about SearchTV which is produced each week in Edmond, Oklahoma, and appears weekly on 200 TV stations, 150 cable outlets, on seventy radio stations which carry the audio portion of the TV broadcast. They also appear on WGN America. All of these broadcasts mean that the SearchTV programs are available in all 210 TV markets in the United States as well as in Alaska and many foreign countries. In fact, of the 118 million households in the United States, more than 100 million of them have access to the weekly broadcast. Beyond this, the program is on YouTube which is available by going to Google and looking for “SearchTV Ministry.” And, in addition, their website contains many past programs which get thousands of downloads each week.
This ministry began in 1980 when Mack Lyon, the preacher in Wewoka, Oklahoma, decided that he could reach people with the gospel through a television program. Later the Edmond Church of Christ was willing to become the sponsor so the program could be expanded. After the program had been on for twenty-eight years, Lyon recognized that he would need to find someone to replace him. Phil Sanders, who had experience in television programs, was chosen for that role and he came in 2008 so he and Mack could work together for two years to allow the transition to be done gradually. By 2010, Phil had become the regular speaker.
The response to the program is remarkable. They send out 6,000 transcripts and CDs of each weekly program and their website gets 600 hits per day. In addition, others contact the SearchTV office by mail, email, and telephone. Search sends its printed monthly newsletter to 65,000 addresses each month and the newsletter is also available on line.
Search has four full-time workers on the staff along with two others who serve part-time. To supplement what these can do, however, fifty volunteers come in each week to handle the mail, to make CD copies of the program and to send them where they need to go.
This ministry spends $9,000 a day to purchase time on TV and radio stations, pay salaries of the staff, and cover printing, mailing, and travel costs. Eleven hundred churches and a host of individuals provide the support and they are always seeking new supporters to replace those dropping out and to keep their work growing.
Each program lasts for about twenty-five minutes and is composed of Phil’s opening teaser which seeks to lock those who hear the beginning of the show into wanting to hear the remainder, then some recorded hymns sung by the sponsoring congregation, followed by the main lesson, then more singing, and finally a statement to put the message in perspective. Sanders says this format works well because many like to hear the a cappella music and stay with the message to hear this congregational singing. Also, by breaking his comments into sections, people don’t drop off because of hearing too much from “a preacher.” And the program has the feel of a worship service which enables the program to serve many who are shut-ins and cannot attend a church service. These listeners sometimes sing along and some even have communion prepared to take during the broadcast.
Sanders chooses his topics to deal with fundamental Bible truths but seeks to deal with them in ways that will benefit those who hold various views about the Bible and who may have a post-modern view of life. He also likes to share with his audience information from apologetics to help them have a stronger faith in the scriptures. Sanders tries to keep the program relevant by keeping up with current events, reading recent books, and noting surveys that tell what people are thinking about many topics.
To keep people informed about the program and to develop new contributors, both congregations and individuals, Phil travels about thirty-five weeks out of the year. Often on these trips people share stories with him about how the program has been beneficial—in some cases, just to say how the program has helped them gain a better understanding of the Bible, in others cases, the broadcast has brought them back to the church after they had strayed away, and in still other cases, the person has been baptized into Christ as result of hearing the program.
So, it is good news that Search is back on thirty-five radio stations, but it is much greater good news that this program is seen in every one of the 210 TV markets in the United States and in many other places around the world. And it is good news that many are watching and being brought closer to the Lord through this work.
You may write them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.searchtv.org. There you may contribute, ask to receive their monthly newsletter, ask a question, or download programs you would like to hear.