Communication in Today's World

It is no secret that today's world is somewhat diverse from that of 20 years ago in dress, thinking, and in the way that people respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in some instances. These realities and the fact that the church has been mandated to reach all people with a message of salvation pose a challenge as to how the church communicates its message of hope. How does the church appeal to today’s youth with a message that it considers relevant and necessary for life now and later? How does the church reach Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists who have little, if any, appreciation for “the message”? I am of the view that for communication to take place there must be a message, a messenger, and a recipient; and of course there must be understanding, or what is referred to as encoding and decoding. Accordingly, I present the following points that I hope will prove useful and beneficial.
Communication Involves a Message
The Bible is very clear as to what is its central message. In fact, it is best summarized in the well known passage John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (NIV). That message which has been written over 2000 years ago is still relevant and potent in its ability to change and save the vilest of sinners. Additionally, the Bible identifies both the messenger and the recipient of the message. In the context of the passage, the Messenger is Jesus Christ and the recipient is the world. By extension, we are to be God’s messengers reaching out to the world. In doing so it’s necessary that we remember that though the message is still current, we must consider the best possible ways, methods and approaches to package it if the message will reach the seeming difficult and unreachable. I can only imagine how hard it is to reach Hindu worshippers, but the gospel is for all and has power to save all human beings.

Communication Involves Best Methods
Given the aforementioned, it is critical that best and most effective methods be employed to reach all persons, as people are different in their sense of appeal and what attracts them. Now that does not minimize or even downplay the message; instead, it simply says that the message needs to be packaged in a way that appeals and arrests the attention of the recipient or receiver. By that it is also necessary for the Church to avail itself of today's technology which, though not limited to following, includes radio, television, the Internet, printing, satellite, telephone, social networks and the like. These along with other means of technology are known to cover vast territories and penetrate homes and environments that would otherwise be almost impossible. With technology and appropriate and unique packaging or branding, it is possible to appeal to various classes in all arenas.
While there is always room for improvement, I feel that our church, The Seventh-day Adventist Church in general, is to be commended for advances in employing today’s technology as a means to reach members and non-members globally. Quite frankly, I love being able to access the Sabbath school lessons online with its colorful and attractive format and in various languages. It appeals to me. Also, it is constantly creating Applications that appeal to today’s youth who prefer to use their cellular telephone for more than the normal communication. Such persons can access the Bible, hymnal, quarterlies, inspirational thoughts, news and even ways of reaching diverse people groups, etc. Then, too, the investment of millions of dollars in radio and satellite technology is to be commended.

Communication Involves Total Dependence upon God
With all of the above, it must be underscored that technology is not to be considered an end but a means to an end. By that the church must never believe that technology by itself will draw and keep people. Certainly, it may draw and appeal to persons, but unless the Spirit of God overshadows the process, it will simply be a focus on the technology; but no Spirit of Christ in the process makes it ineffective, and people are turned off or are not reached with “the Message.” The same can be said if we change up the order of service and introduce new ways of worship, inclusive of praise and worship, and the use of certain instruments with careful consideration to their most effective use and adaptation, under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. People may be drawn, but for the wrong reasons. However, when all our approaches and technological methods are prayerfully engaged, the Spirit of God can do a mighty work. The same is necessary for those of us who are operators and programmers of the equipment. It must be more than just setting up or fine-tuning; it must be a dedicated ministry, so that our lives do not become a hindrance but a compliment. Thereby Facebook can have the face of Christ, and technology is simply seen as the vehicle and not the goal or main point. As a result communication of the message is not skewed but properly decoded, and Christ is allowed to do His work through the medium of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed unto His death” (Philippians 3:10).