DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Evolving Communique

Written by: on November 12, 2015

communication quote

Briggs and Burke seek to bring us into the historical complexities of dialogue and challenge us to communicate effectively. “This book argues that, whatever the starting-point, it is necessary for people working in communication  and cultural studies – a still growing number – to take history seriously, as well as for historians – whatever their period and preoccupations – to take serious account of communication, including both communication theory and communication technology.”[1] Communication is not wrought through syntax and structure alone – it is through cultural sensitivity and an understanding of norms, mores and social interaction that one is able to make an impact and evoke influence.

One of the earliest forms of communication was in the form of icons – these images were used to display the Stations of the Cross to convey a message that spoke to those who were illiterate. “…teaching through visual culture was sometimes under assault, and the images were intermittently attacked as idols and destroyed by iconoclasts (image smashers), a movement which reached its climax in the year 726.”[2] Years I ago, I walked through the hallowed halls of Notre Dame – taking in the magnificence and the life-size icons that encircled the sanctuary.  I was in utter awe. Each carving told the story of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. As I walked through – inches away from these structures – I realized that I was walking with Christ to Calvary – I was experiencing the same angst and awe as I followed the crowded path. It was a moment of worship – a moment that marked my faith. How could history still breathe life into my faith?

As the years progressed, oral communication became the new rage amongst intellectuals, artists, writers and clergy. Debates ensued and the landscape of London was draped in political, religious and social banter. “There were at least 500 coffee houses in London in the age of Queen Anne (reigned 1702-14). They prepared way for ‘clubland’, for the wide range of establishments that catered for different kinds of customer and different kind of topics of conversation.”[3] Years ago, I spent a semester in York, England. The rain pelted on the old windows and the fire roared, but the elevation of conversation was the loudest. The small pub was packed with political discussion, religious debate and academic dialogue – the small pub still held to the assured history of its origin and invited its patrons to come in from the cold and engage in discussion.

Communication evolved over the years and branched out in reach of culture and society. This progression changed much of society’s definition of class and status. Literacy was improving and literature was being written for the common man. Information was offering influence. Superiority stemmed from a different environment – an environment of proletariat labor in exchange for exponential profits. “It was in the United States that the evolutional biological science of Charles Darwin shaped what came to be labeled ‘social Darwinism’. The ‘survival of the fittest’ prevailed in society as well as in nature. Meanwhile, geopolitics, the geography of the state power, as well as science and economics, took shape in Germany.”[4] The quote prior is not to debate the validity of creationism versus evolutionary theory, but to discuss the side-effects of communique advancement. Communication evolves; therefore, it becomes more inclusive and reachable by the masses. This was beneficial to some, but detrimental to others. Technology was painting a rather grim picture for those opposed to Marxism – WWII was fought over power – it was fought over influence – it was fought for sole communication.

Technological advancement and progressive forms of communication shaped the way leadership was established. For the first time, children and factory workers were no longer ignorant to the world around them. They were given the tools to be heard – across the status lines and across the oceans. Radio was giving men and women the opportunity to engage in their community and create change. The authors declare that, “Children had been exploited in the early years of industrialization. Now they were independent, active, and vocal. They held the future not in their heads but in their ears.”[5] The world was becoming intertwined – men and women throughout the world were one – equal in prominence and purpose.

Today, communication is a movement – it is a hashtag filled conversation with viral consequence. A status on Facebook can ignite a march for racial equality. A post on Twitter can form a world-wide debate. A sermon on Sunday can impact millions. “One study of adolescents finds that success in becoming a leader in the online world is less dependent on age and gender than in the offline world and more determined by linguistic skills and the quality of talk.”[6] As ministers, we have the ability to affect change in our own sphere of influence and throughout the world. The technological innovations of travel and transportation allow us to enter into the homes of peasants and kings. This advancement has provided us with the freedom of projecting our voice over the loud speaker; however, many of us are singing off key. Are we speaking their language? Are we engaging in communication? Influence begins with learning the language of one’s audience – the globalized, cultural, diversified audience – one that desperately needs to be engaged in conversation. Ministry seeks to communicate through words and actions – it seeks to show the love of Christ to all humanity. How are we doing?

[1] Asa Briggs and Peter Burke, A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009), 2.

[2] Asa Briggs and Peter Burke, A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009), 7.

[3] Asa Briggs and Peter Burke, A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009), 25.

[4] Asa Briggs and Peter Burke, A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009), 116.

[5] Asa Briggs and Peter Burke, A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009), 150.

[6] Justine Cassell, David Huffaker, Dona Tversky, and Kim Ferriman, “The Language of Online Leadership: Gender and Youth Engagement on the Internet,” Developmental Psychology 42, no. 3 (2006): 436-449.

About the Author

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Colleen Batchelder

I speak at conferences, churches, companies and colleges on intergenerational communication, marketing, branding your vision and living authentically in a ‘filtered’ world. My talks are customized to venue needs and audience interests. My passion is to speak with organizations and bridge the intergenerational gap. I consult with companies, individuals, churches and nonprofit organizations and help them create teams that function from a place of communication that bridges the generational gap. I’m also the Founder and President of LOUD Summit – a young adult organization that presents workshops, seminars and summits that encourage, empower and equip millennials to live out their destiny and walk in their purpose. When I’m not studying for my DMin in Leadership and Global Perspectives at Portland Seminary, you can find me enjoying a nice Chai Latte, exploring NYC or traveling to a new and exotic destination.

9 responses to “Evolving Communique”

  1. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thank Colleen for a great blog as always!

    You shared lots facts about the new technological innovations and the advantage of it; but the number of people you able to preach today is enormous; but does that mean, it has the greatest impact? We, the church need to become more interactive with the people we want to evangelize, especially if they are youth and young adults. This is as true online as it is face-to-face in person. We need to speak the language of a post-literate digital culture.

    Social networking sites are popular, and the Church must meet people where they can be found. We also need to speak this post-literate digital language in our Religious Education classes, adult faith formation classes. Public schools, colleges, and Protestant churches are using PowerPoint presentations very effectively.

    The churches today face the complex issues affecting today’s teens in our media-driven youth culture. Christian churches are discovering that the “old ways” of reaching teens with the gospel are no longer effective. What are your thoughts on the arising issue?

    It is great sharing. Thanks Rose Maria

    • Thank you, Rose!

      It’s interesting how we seek to measure success by numbers. We weigh our effectiveness through charts and graphs – turning society into a mathematical equation; where impact is merely seen through analytics. Today, bestsellers entrance us with their promises of likes, shares and follows. They have transformed humanity into an engagement with numbers and projects. In our pursuit of reaching the masses, have we forgotten how to engage with the individual? I would venture to state a definite YES. So how do we reach this generation? “Many churches are reaching out digitally through websites, podcasts, and social media. The data suggest these tools may be making incremental gains with young churchgoers, but rarely finding traction with churchless adults” (Churchless, Barna & Kinnaman, 19). Social media and technological communication has served to connect Christians, but it hasn’t done much to reach those outside of the sanctuary. How do we change that? How do we reach an audience that isn’t seeking the church?

      I loved that you stated, “We also need to speak this post-literate digital language…” One example of this is how we ask people to find a scripture verse. It always makes me chuckle when I hear a pastor ask me to turn my Bible to a certain page. I haven’t brought an actual Bible to church in about 3 years. I turn on my iPhone, search for the verse and compare it with different translations. If there’s time, I might even look up a commentary on the same topic. We interact differently – we must seek to be relevant when speaking from the pulpit and the pew.

  2. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Colleen,

    As you describe, “As I walked through – inches away from these structures – I realized that I was walking with Christ to Calvary…” I’m thinking, “Now THAT’S communication: not just thoughts or ideas, but visceral experience.” I’m drawn into the scene as well.

    You wrote, “Today, communication is a movement – it is a hashtag filled conversation with viral consequence.” Do you think the ease and speed of communication results in shallower thinking? Do you think texting culture and practice damages writing skills

    • Thank you, Marc!

      Communication should bring us on a journey – a journey that transforms our surroundings and engages our convictions. It should challenge us to be changed. I wonder how many of our interactions reach that pinnacle of communique.

      I find it difficult to engage with culture at times – especially Christian culture. Many desire to rely on emotive understanding or traditional conviction, rather than debate. As I read through the pages of this week’s assignment, I was almost envious of the time periods where coffee shops held audiences captive and held intellectual conversation as commonplace. In today’s world, good conversation is like a buried treasure that one feels lucky to find in the midst of superficiality.

      I started reading some of my books for the Academic Essay, and one statement kept rolling around in my mind and purging through my belief. Rachel Held Evans describes her experience with doubt and declares, “While my parents had always welcomed questions, my friends and professors diagnosed the crisis of faith as a deliberate act of rebellion” (Searching for Sunday, Evans, 51). I think many of us are averting the questions – we’ve found comfort in the convenience. Christianity is something that is preached, not discussed – and leading thousands astray with unanswered questions. Service is scheduled – people check in – and we prepare for next week’s message. Millennials are trying to find community – a place where their doubts are not accepted or acknowledged, but answered. Church needs to become a dialogue.

  3. Aaron Cole says:

    Colleen,

    Love your illustration quote at the beginning! I will tweet that! Great blog, especially from a gifted communicator as yourself. Is there a media or communication opportunity that you see that we (Church) should be evolving and taking advantage of?

    Aaron

    • Thank you, Aaron! Make sure to tag me @Colleen_Batch. 🙂

      The greatest tool we have is the ability to engage – to engage with a culture who is prepped with questions and intellectual pursuit. Many times, social engagement is simply entertainment that seeks to quiet the questions. We perform and present our message – blinding the crowd with our flickering strobe lights and multimedia presentations. We engage the senses, but lose our sincerity. This is why many are leaving the church in search of answers. Real answers that expose Christianity and reveal Christ – answers that go beyond our doctrine and deal with our doubts. “Periscope” is enrapturing audiences, because they are empowering the average person. One of the greatest forms of communication is dialogue – a force that interacts with the unknown and exposes the unseen. It allows the church to be visible – it opens the doors of the sanctuary and the lives of its pastors. The world is able to see us and engage authentically and honestly. Periscope is the perfect antidote for our perfection-driven ideals. The generation is massively interested in authenticity and equality. This application offers pastors the ability to invite others in to their lives and to invite others to affect their life. It empowers their audience to make an impact.

      I also love to ravage through the latest business bestsellers and peer into Entrepreneur Magazine for their communication tips. Many articles discuss social media, applications and software; however, each article bears the same thread throughout – communication. Multi-million dollar entrepreneurs say that their greatest effort is in engagement. They seek to comment, dialogue and communicate with their audience. They invite their followers to collaborate.

      If we invited our audience to collaborate – to work with us and not only accomplish our projects, but work together to accomplish a greater good – we would truly have fellowship – we would truly have a church. We would truly have unity and purpose and a Kingdom mindset.

  4. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Colleen:

    Do you sense that this book “pushes the envelope” of media in our day? As a millennial, what do you see on the near future in the area of media?

    You said, “Communication is not wrought through syntax and structure alone – it is through cultural sensitivity and an understanding of norms, mores and social interaction that one is able to make an impact and evoke influence.” You said that it is through “cultural sensitivity, norms, mores, and social interaction” that we make an impact. I feel at times that media has pushed the envelope on all four of those items.

    Media, from my opinion, has historically been a shock to its contemporary audience. When the thought of electricity, wireless communication, horseless carriage, etc. came to light, it was not well received. Your thoughts?

    Phil

    • Thank you, Phil!

      Media has defiantly sought to push the envelope; however, I believe that that the church must shadow their efforts to push it even further. We look at television shows and gasp at the content. We turn the channel and shield our eyes and attention from the influence; however, the show still remains influential and our audience experiences the aftermath of its indoctrination. What if we sought to speak about the “hot topics” before they pushed us to a reaction? What if we delved into the themes of sexuality, purity, addiction, gossip, divorce and racial tension? What if we sought to interview people who experienced these realities and exposed our churches to healthy communication?

      Years ago, I worked at a local restaurant as a server/hostess. The conversations around me were raw, in-depth and far from Christian focused; however, their freedom of expression made me question my own. Did I understand what was truly going on in the minds, hearts and bodies of those I was trying to reach? Was my ministry answering their questions? I came to find that most of my coworkers had experimented sexually during high school, many of them were addicted to drugs and alcohol by the age of 17 and the majority of them believed and practiced open relationships. What if we sought to understand their questions and then speak from that position? What if our answers were relevant to their quest?

      Charles I stated, “…people are governed by the pulpit more than the sword in times of peace…” (Burke, 24). As pastors, we have the ability to govern – with our words, our topics and our preaching. Perhaps the world would stand and take notice, if we were the ones to shock them – if we were the ones to speak first. Media has sought to terrorize us – to scare us from the facts, because it has declared it holds more authority. It’s time to dispel that lie.

  5. Pablo Morales says:

    Colleen,
    You have the gift of writing. You are good with words!
    You concluded your blog with a few questions. You said,
    “Influence begins with learning the language of one’s audience – the globalized, cultural, diversified audience – one that desperately needs to be engaged in conversation.”
    How are you engaging this audience in spiritual conversation? What has worked and what has not? I’m interested in learning from your experience and insights.
    Pablo

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