Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Just before Christmas, a church in New Zealand launched a new billboard that received extensive coverage from news outlets and blogs around the world.My overwhelming thought to this entire sordid story was that medium matters. Some messages are best suited to some mediums and others simply cannot be communicated through some. I will never be able to teach anyone chemistry in a 30-second ad format. I might be able to teach bits of it that way, but never could I give the larger picture, and some of the fundamentals just cannot be communicated that way.
Most Protestants and, likely, most with no church affiliation thought the billboard was simply comparing Joseph’s ability in bed to God’s. Catholics were outraged because the billboard implied Mary wasn’t a virgin. Still others thought it was a good joke and it was about time “the church” got a sense of humor.
But this story begs the question: is all publicity good publicity? By that metric, the billboard was a raging success. The ad rose above the clutter and noise of the traditional Christian stories written or broadcast around Christmas. It provoked controversy, outrage, vandalism and thorough media coverage for the church.
So thinking about that I ask myself, "What is the best medium to communicate Christianity?"
The answer, I think, is straightforward - flesh. I know many would say preaching, but I disagree. We are not saved by the Sermon on the Mount, we are saved by Christ's death and resurrection - by the actions of His flesh.
In the end there is no "communication strategy" for the gospel, there is only a life strategy. Verbal communication, in any medium, fills in the blanks, rounds out the picture, contextualizes the action, but it is not the essential message. And yet, it seems to be where we pour our energy - I think because it lets us avoid actually making changes to our own flesh.
I cannot help but wonder what would happen if a congregation started to worry lessa bout its communication strategy and more about how to build genuine disciple out of who was there. I thinkt he results might be revolutionary.