Thursday, August 22, 2013

Communicating the Gospel

What does it take to communicate the Gospel? The message is rather simple: God came to earth in the form of a man named Jesus, lived sinlessly as that man, willingly accepted the weight of every other man's sins upon his own shoulders, died the death that was due that sin, and then rose from the dead on the third day thereby demonstrating that he'd overcome that sin and the death due it. To everyone that believes that good news and thereby embraces Jesus as Lord (and follows him), the victory over sin and death he achieved is shared with them.

Now a lot of effort has been and is made to analyse, criticize, synthesize and publicize what makes communication successful. That is particularly true in regard to the Gospel, because it accomplishes nothing if it's not shared. As would be expected in a venture that is so reliant on communication, the church world is up to its eyes in books, conferences, magazines, blogs, and courses on effective, relevant communication. Are those efforts misplaced? 

I find it remarkable that Jesus, our prime example, at the critical moment in extending his ministry, did not commission communicators to help him fulfill his vision. He neither relied on the instruction of experts in the field, nor enlisted those so instructed to do his bidding. Instead, gasp, he chose friends to help him, and not even well-spoken ones at that! That is counterintuitive at best, not at all what a wise leader should do--so why did Jesus do it?

Obviously, the quality of communication is not what converts sinners. Could it be that a church's true evangelistic success (that is on people actually becoming born again) depends more on whether or not Jesus has friends in that congregation than on how well that church markets its message? Is this not a Spirit thing after all? If his friends are not capable of communicating the gospel message with effect, and the onus seems to be on their bad technique, it may well be that it's not the gospel they are actually trying to communicate.

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