Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

End of An Era

Earlier this December, Grace to You radio ministries officially closed their tape lending library for good. The change in technology from the clunky cassette tape to CD and MP3 format was too much.

I work at GTY and in a strange twist of irony, I have only listened to maybe a little handful of the Grace to You radio broadcast since I learned of John MacArthur in the summer of 1988. My first and biggest exposure to John MacArthur was the tape lending library. A friend of mine in Arkansas had been saved at Grace Church in the early 80s and spent a couple of years there before moving back to my home state. He brought with him a trunk load of John MacArthur tapes, bought a duplicator, and began making tapes to hand out to people. He gave Lance Quinn, the long time senior associate pastor of Grace, his first John MacArthur tape.

When God saved me, I was introduced to this fellow and he handed me my first John MacArthur tape, a sermon from Matthew 7 called, Empty Words. The preaching was profound. What I liked about John was the fact that he went through the Bible verse by verse, used the Bible to explain the Bible, exposed his listeners to Church history during the sermon, and of course, he was rock solid theologically.

I called the 800 number of GTY and ordered a catalog, and I was thrilled to learn when I received it that they had a lending library program to which I could pay a yearly, nominal fee to check out 6 or so cassette messages at a time and listen to as many of them as I could pass back and forth through the US mail system. I immediately signed up and began listening to tapes via mail. I listened to John's series on God, Satan, and angels; selected chapters in 1 Corinthians, particularly chapters 12-14; 1, 2, and 3 John and Jude; a lot of the gospel of Matthew; portions of Romans; many special series; and a bunch of question and answer sessions John gave at his church.

At one time, as I understand it, there were as many as 5,000 members participating in the tape lending library program. When I began working for GTY, one of my duties was to drive the ministry van down to the Panorama City post office in the morning and pick up the lending library mail. Usually there would be 5 to 10 giant mail bags filled with packages for the lending library I had to lug out to the van. That was in the early to mid-90s.

Over the last 10 years or so, the lending library has dwindled down to about 200 participants. Earlier this fall, a couple of guys at GTY called each and every one of them to inform them of our decision to close the library because it was becoming more of a burden for us to maintain, especially financially. It is bitter-sweet to think of the library closing. I know I probably speak for thousands of people when I say how it was used by God in a big way with my spiritual life.

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Blogger Charles said...

That is kind of sad. I used to be a member of the tape lending library and probably listened to hundreds of tapes like that over the years.

9:37 AM, December 28, 2010  
Blogger DaveS said...

It deserves a moment of silence and respect. My first exposure to GTY was also through the tape ministry and then radio. All methods have their day of usefulness, technology changes the message goes on. Have joy in the impact it had, not sadness that its day has passed.

3:35 PM, December 29, 2010  
Blogger Edward said...

The tape ministry was my only means of hearing Brother John's sermons. Now I have the broadband internet. I still have a closet full of tapes I copies through the lending program. You people at Grace Church are a blessed bunch of folks. I have a lot of respect for your opinions and articles too Brother Fred.

5:44 PM, December 30, 2010  

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