BY CHRISTIANA LONG
Members of the Free Methodist Church are part of a larger family that connects them with people all over the world.
However, Josh Avery — the pastor of student ministries at Freedom Church in New Middletown, Ohio, and the men’s discipleship manager at Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley in Youngstown, Ohio — noticed a need. He realized that although individual Free Methodists know their local church, they do not necessarily understand or know much about Free Methodism as a whole.
Avery began to search for a new medium to help bridge this gap. He came across audio sessions shared from local church services, but he saw the need for a broadcast “that would overview some of the bigger stuff” in the church and “bring light to the different ministries that people don’t know about.”
He thought it would be neat for people who could not make it to Free Methodist conferences to still have access to those events — even from remote areas. He wanted to provide a summary of those events.
Thus, “The FMC Radio Show” podcast was created. Although the Free Methodist Church – USA produces a magazine, books and websites connecting the denomination, Free Methodist-focused broadcasting has been rare since the “Light and Life Hour” radio program that concluded its 36–year run in 1980. Avery produces his show independently, but he has attracted guests such as Bishops Matthew Thomas, David Kendall and David Roller along with other Free Methodist leaders at the national and local levels.
On Feb. 27, Avery debuted his show. His first podcast, titled “The Freedoms We Embrace,” introduced the nature of the show and answered the burning question, “What in the world does the ‘Free’ [in Free Methodist] signify?” Initially, he shared episodes every other week, but as time has passed, he has moved to producing weekly segments that come out every Monday.
Each episode is unique. The first segment typically includes breaking denominational news or discussion of a specific event in the history of the Free Methodist Church, but Avery also likes to add fun into the mix, such as a funny story he discovered or a game show featuring a person within the church. The second segment, the main part of the show, involves an interview or teaching.
One of his favorite parts has been connecting with different members of the FMC. Whether speaking with bishops, pastors, lay leaders or teenagers, Avery gives his guests the opportunity to share about their personal lives.
He is excited about the podcasts he has produced — specifically Episode 8, which Avery said “took days and days, and hours upon hours” to create. He added music to the episode, titled “The Most HATED Church in America,” and even wrote out a script because he wanted to get the story right. In the episode, he reveals a powerful example of forgiveness in his own life along with his efforts to share the love of Christ with members of the Westboro Baptist Church hate group.
Unlike that special edition, most episodes of the “FMC Radio Show” focus on “where God is leading the Free Methodist Church.” Avery wants to continue to learn more about the denomination with which he connected as a college student in 2007. However, he doesn’t want to keep that knowledge to himself; he wants to share it with as many people as he can. He is delighted to find that there are currently people in 26 states listening to his podcasts and downloading the episodes monthly. Downloads also happen in about eight countries outside of the United States. He has noticed that as the months pass, instead of experiencing a decline in who is listening, he has only found a steady increase. He hopes to continue to fill in this gap as long as he has relevant content to share.
Future episodes will possibly include a connection between the FMC and Disney, what it would be like to “sit at a table and have dinner with missionaries,” and daily 15- to 20-minute updates from a general conference.
You can connect to “The FMC Radio Show” through its Facebook page and website, fmcradio.podbean.com. The show can also be downloaded through the podcast area of Apple’s iTunes store. Listeners are encouraged to email Avery at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice mail by calling 914-362-8721 if they have stories or information they would like to share on the show.