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What has the Lord Sent You to Say?

Few people know that I majored in broadcasting in college and that my masters is in communications management. From time to time I dip into that part of my education to help church leaders become more effective communicators.

Let’s start with journalists. They respond to events around them and get a following. Easy, right?

Out of all the media professionals, I think journalists are notoriously a tough crowd. Some go to prison rather than divulge a source. A few are imprisoned or even shot for being mistaken as spies. They often can be seen in harm’s way. They take the heat from important people for holding them accountable. And Christian journalists have no fewer pressures as they work hard to accurately explain how God is at work.

You may not be a journalist, but do you have a message of salvation from God? And how will you share it with those who need to hear it? Personal meet-up? Hand them a tract? Facebook them? Tweet it?

“The Lord sent Nathan” is how 2 Samuel 12:1 begins. Nathan, who was a prophet, told King David a story; a parable actually. He crafted it in a way that it emotionally involved the King. David was upset that a rich man would take a poor man’s only lamb to butcher and feed his guest. Nathan stood and delivered one of the most famous judgments in the Bible, “Thou art the man.” David had caused Bathsheba’s pregnancy and her husband, Uriah’s death. Christian journalists and other thought-leaders have a “prophet” truth-telling ministry, not unlike Nathan’s.

Now let’s return to the showdown between Nathan and David. When Nathan spoke, David repented, and the Lord spared his life. When Christian communicators share their stories, they should expect change.

Print-only journalism is dwindling in readership across America. In the 20 years from 2000 to 2021, Pew Research reported that the circulation of newspapers declined 42% with just 23.4 million Americans reading their news each day. Some studies say that print journalism will not stop, but it will rather find its niche like radio has done.

Newspapers will never again dominate the secular news industry. The hardened write-or-die reporters constantly face the reality that they need to look beyond the literate word to fully communicate. But there are other ways to communicate truth in our society. Journalists still use print, but they’re also accessing outlets in broadcasting and social media. They can’t just think that their message is just to be delivered one way. It’s the message that must get through!

That means that truth-tellers today must look at an audience’s preference and how quickly that truth, especially biblical truth can be carried to others. And that’s what intrigues most about telling Bible truths in Bible stories. Today’s next generation are a communications force that is personally engaged in embracing what is genuine and foregoing the slick, the formatted, and the scheduled delivery. They thrive on “real.”

Christian communicators, like journalists, can learn a lot from those with an oral worldview. Like Nathan standing before King David, they will tell stories out of their calling from God to their ministry. Will those reporting news stories let people who interact with their content (visual or story) draw out biblical truth? Users of smartphone and web-based media want to stay informed. They’re clearly blurring the lines of information and entertainment seeking a brave new world of education, style, and entertainment.

Think about how you receive decision-making information. It has to come into your life  through your five senses. The stuff we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste are gateways to our minds—and ultimately to our hearts. The more senses that are engaged, the more effective the communicator will become. Brain theorists have noted that emotions etch memories.

Emotional situations cause our adrenal glands to secrete peptides that hang around in our blood streams for hours, if not days. Emotions turn events and even information into memorable experiences. Think about your first kiss, the puppy you got on Christmas morning, winning a race, smelling and tasting your favorite blend of coffee or cookies, or even acing a test. Experiential learning means more than “sitting and getting” whether it be by staring at ink on paper, text on screen, or via some other channel.

As many pastors are starting to say, “Don’t turn off your smartphones, but text out to your followers and friends the truths that the Holy Spirit teaches you today!”

The bottom line is that church leaders must help believers become truth-tellers who craft their own stories of faith. Will churches empower communication in the hands of those who dare to communicate as God sends them?

What is God calling you to say? How will you say it? And how can I help?

-Mark Snowden directs the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association and runs a ministry helping churches master orality methods to convey God’s Word.

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