A daring rescue of captives in the jungles of Columbia took place this week and as the details have been revealed, one comment I heard on NPR provides a useful challenge for church communications.
NPR commented on the critical part communication made in the rescue when it was revealed that the government was able to disrupt and confuse the communication of the rebel group so that the rescue could be made.
What a great analogy and challenge for us as church communicators—to disrupt the communications of the enemy so captives can be freed.
In our world today, the enemy of our souls holds the hearts and minds of people captive to all sorts of useless and soul-killing bondage and most of it promoted through the communications people daily receive. We have the message of freedom in Jesus, but are we getting it out there so that souls can be freed?
To do that won’t happen by accident. The government forces carefully studied the communication of their enemy and then strategically replaced them with their messages that resulted in freedom.
Here are some practical suggestions for church communicators:
1. In a world filled with websites for every imaginable media outlet, feedback and comments are solicited. Take the opportunity to comment from a Christian viewpoint.
2. Whenever you attempt to speak for the kingdom of God, be certain you have your facts straight. One essential component of quoting correctly is that if you are going to use the Bible as a proof text, be sure you quote it in context. Don’t pull verses out of context and throw them out as a proof to support your viewpoint. Study the verse, in context, in history, in interpretation. Read the entire chapter and book it is in and commentaries on it to be sure you are quoting and using the verse with integrity. People to whom you speak may not be familiar with the passage, but most people have an innate sense of when someone is distorting a quote for private purposes.
3. When quoting the Bible, I have often found that it helps to acknowledge that the people reading or listening to you probably do not view it as the Word of God. In a secular context, I will acknowledge that upfront by saying something like, “I’m not asking you to take this statement as words from God. For the basis of our discussion, think of the Bible as the historical text that reveals what Christians believe about this topic.” God’s word is true and powerful, whether your audience believes that or not.
4. Always present your comments with “gentleness and respect.” Remember you are to be a witness, not the prosecuting attorney.
If you are a consistent, gentle, clear communicator of the truth of the Christian message, in time the Lord may use your words, spoken and written, in print and on the web, to free captives held by false messages of a world passing away.