Monday, March 9, 2009

Communicating the Gospel

Romans 10:17 (KJV) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Welcome to the 21st Century! This new era presents the Church with countless means of reaching the saved and the unsaved alike with the message of redemption, encouragement, love, and peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ. For centuries there were only two basic ways of communicating the Gospel, by word of mouth or in written form. Today we have Radio, TV, Internet, DVD, CD, and several cutting edge churches are even using holographic imagery to project their Minister into several building sites at one time. This all sounds pretty far out, but as a wise man once said: "The more things change, the more they remain the same." So the basic rules of communication still apply. We must consider our audience, the setting, the tone, and most importantly, the message that is meant to be conveyed.

Communication is a funny thing, though. The same message brought forth one way is interpreted an entirely different way in another format. Take for instance, this blog. This is my 15th post and anyone who has visited has read what would be characterized as my own thoughts, opinions, observations, and perspectives. But I bet you didn't know that 6 of my blog postings are actually near word-for-word sermons that I have preached at my home church in the past 6 years. In each of those instances, multiple people told how "the Lord really used you" and "the Holy Spirit spoke to us tonight!" Once I'm asked to speak, I am entrusted with the burden of seeking God for a message for His people. This blog format is different in the way it is received. It is read, pondered, and reactions are slower an more deliberate, which would lead one to assume that this writing was produced the same way, making for an entirely different experience. So what was once the "Word of God" when I was standing behind the pulpit, can now be interpreted entirely different.

Fact is the Word of God will be, perhaps even needs to be expressed in different forms. This approach is not without Biblical precedent: The Word of God was transmitted orally from the days of Adam until Moses when God chose to record upon tablets his most basic commands of obedience for Israel. Jesus spoke in parables, sometimes explaining them in-depth while other times assuring His disciples that there understanding would come in time. Nathan informed David of his sin and his punishment with vivid, relevant imagery. The prophets of the OT spoke of heavenly visions, not to mention the heavily symbolized nature of the Book of Revelations. And as for technology? We've already mentioned Moses' tablets, but also Ezra spoke from a specially built wooden pulpit and employed a clever system of "sub-preachers" to carry the Law throughout the sea of people present. And Christ Himself commissioned a sea vessel to be launched out from shore so all the people could hear him.

So it is clear that we are to remember that the method of communication is not nearly as important as the message.

elder todd

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