Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Evangelism and the media

The "theme of the day" at Lambeth Conference today is "Proclaiming the Good News: The Bishop and Evangelism." Here's the piece I wrote for the daily "Lambeth Witness" newsletter, suggesting that the media everyone seems so intent on avoiding around here could actually be a vehicle for the Good News message we're meant to be proclaiming.

[General Convention 2003]

Embracing the Media

In an age of sound bites and sensationalism it is easy to understand why “the media” has become, for many, a fearsome thing. At this Lambeth Conference members of the press team – identified by the tell-tale sky blue lanyards holding their credentials – tell us that their very presence is enough to send conference participants scattering like the wind.

On this day dedicated to “Proclaiming the Good News: The Bishop and Evangelism” we want to suggest that embracing the media as a tool for evangelism is an oft-missed strategy for proclaiming the good news to a culture yearning to hear it. Just as Jesus spoke in parables to proclaim the news of the Kingdom to those who gathered on the lakeside in Galilee, so we who are charged with that same good news in the 21st century can bring the message of God’s love to those who gather around the telly to watch the BBC News.

While the eyes of the world are focused on Canterbury during these two weeks, we have abundant opportunities to tell the stories of lives that have been changed by the Gospel message and to model the strengths of the Anglican comprehensiveness that is our heritage.

Being open to conversations with brother and sister Anglicans across the divides that challenge us is but one of the extraordinary opportunities we have here in Lambeth. Another is to take those conversations and those messages out into the world through the reporters who are here looking for stories to tell.

Jesus called us to go and tell the good news to all nations. There has never been a better time or better place to do that than here at the Lambeth Conference. May God give us the grace to discern how to use the media we’ve been given to do that work we have been given to do!


Sue said...

I saw you on the news the other day - here in Canada!!

Malcolm+ said...

Thanks for this article. As an accredited public relations practitioner in my secular life, I'm routinely appalled to see church leaders assuming that silence will control a story.

The steps to effective media relations are actually pretty simple:

- Tell it frankly.
- Tell it fully.
- Tell it first.

Silence means someone else is going to tell your story the way they want it told. And in the present Anglican environment, think "swiftboat."

I'm glad my bishop (for all that he is more conservaative than I'd prefer) is prepared to listen to sense about media relations, and has taken me up on my offer to get some folk working on the broad area of strategic communications and media relations for the diocese.

He's already done one interview from Lambeth for the media back home, and we're working on setting up another. And his blog - not that broadly publicized and less than a month old - is up to 1,001 hits as of this evening.

It isn't like Public Relations is new to the people of faith. Those of us in the business like to point out that the first PR practitioner was some guy named Aaron, whose client was his brother Moses.