My business partner Rebecca Wilson and I have written a book that we hope will persuade the church to bring the techniques and insights of mass communications to bear on the challenge of evangelism. We believe that evangelism is the principal challenge facing the church, but that the church has demonstrated little capacity or commitment in confronting it.
We'll publish an excerpt from the book later this week on Daily Episcopalian.
This passage, informed by our work at Canticle Communications, describes the attitudes and evasions that we believe the church must overcome if it is to flourish and grow.
In our work, we attempt to help faith communities to identify their distinctive gifts and their most treasured values, and then to speak about these matters to the particular audiences that God has put in front of them. Although it may sound strange given the declining vitality of mainline denominations, this enterprise is not always considered to be valuable. In a number of communities and denominations, communications positions and budgets are the first to be cut when fiscal times get tight. Additionally, church leaders, who may be decent communicators themselves, often assume that they know as much as they need to know about the field—an attitude that it is difficult to imagine them holding about, say, the law, or accounting. Conversely, they may think of communications primarily as a matter of maintaining the proper technologies, acknowledge that they are out of their depth in this area, and entrust the entire endeavor to an information technology specialist.
Finally, there is a frequently expressed bit of half-formed wisdom that the church simply needs to live out the gospel in order to attract people to Christ. We suspect, however, that it is not enough to live faithfully. We must speak faithfully, as well. We must proclaim our faith, as well as embody it. And to tell our story to contemporary audiences, we must baptize the tools and techniques that other organizations use to spread their message, inform their members, influence society, raise money, and engender the devotion and enthusiasm necessary to sustain their communities.
In Speaking Faithfully: Communication as Evangelism in a Noisy World, we do our best to give readers a sense of how this work can most strategically and creatively be done.