The Bible tells us that the word of the Lord “sounded forth” from the believers in Thessalonica, so much so that their message and faith was widely known in Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:8). There is no finer way of getting the message across than personal contact and living example. But we can amplify this by making good use of the media available to us in our modern era. Sometimes this is the only way we can reach contacts in the first place.
Advertising in newspapers and magazines is a long-established way of getting our message across. It’s worth trying to get a write-up of our activities too – and sometimes editors are only too glad to be given some free copy to go with paid advertising. Visiting the newspaper or journal’s offices and making personal contact with the key staff makes it easier to get good service, especially if placing adverts from overseas. Newspaper advertising can be very expensive, but in places where we do not have much of a presence, it can help us to make a start in gaining contacts. If we are able to give public talks, then a newspaper advert is another means of publicising the talks, along with leaflets, posters, and word of mouth.
The brotherhood now has a vast range of media offerings, from DVDs to YouTube videos. Discerning use of these can help our preaching efforts. We have an excellent range of magazines which we should be willing to make use of. It may be costly, but if the contents encourage contacts and members to deepen their understanding of the word of God and their sense of our community and its fellowship, the cost is well worth it.
Radio and TV
Radio and TV also provide opportunities. In some parts of the world it’s relatively easy to get onto the channels, particularly commercial ones. I’ve been interviewed on radio a number of times and always found it a stimulating experience. Radio and TV can make a considerable impact on a wide-ranging audience. In such circumstances “take no thought about what you will say” becomes more pertinent, as the interviewer’s questions are not usually provided in advance. I recall being on the radio in Trinidad and Tobago, when listeners were phoning in with questions, challenging what I had said. A woman disagreed with me that there would be a future Judgement. She quoted the words of Jesus in John 5:24: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” As so often when we are challenged with a verse, it’s usually best to look it up – and in this instance, the context shows that Jesus has other things to say on the subject, referring to “the resurrection of life and … the resurrection of judgment” (v.29). If we let the word of God release its message, it will provide the answers we need. However, in this instance the caller came back at me with her one verse and I decided it was best not to labour the point. Sometimes we can pile up the evidence but lose the person in the process – and also others listening in. We have to be “wise as serpents”. A prayerful approach is essential and helps the nerves, as well as the ability to recall ready answers and to maintain a Christ-like attitude.
The almost universal spread of computers and the internet has opened up many new opportunities. Many CBM areas now have their own websites, and, using targeted Google Adwords, can reach a lot of people. The excellent CBM website thisisyourbible.com is a great example of what can be done, providing information about Bible teaching, not only online but also through offers of media such as DVDs. The March edition of The Christadelphian contained an excellent report of a preaching initiative in Nottingham, called from Above, that combines street preaching with the use of social media to gain contacts who will receive a monthly message, delivered through email, text, Twitter and Facebook. It also has a website: from-above.org.
The internet and social media such as Facebook may, like everything in our world, have much potential for evil. Disappointingly, many Christadelphians use Facebook to publicise the most trivial aspects of their lives or to express views on political or other issues which seem entirely inappropriate for those who claim that “here we have no continuing city”. We should be careful about this: there are novice brothers and sisters in many developing countries who must be astonished by the lifestyle and attitude of many Christadelphians they come across on Facebook. Do we really want to parade our worldliness before them – and even more important, before our heavenly Father, his Son and the angels who watch over us?
By contrast, it is possible to use social media to promote the positive side of life in the Truth and to let people know about the many good things going on in the brotherhood. Particularly when we are preaching in places where there are few or no Christadelphians, social media can give the many people who now have access to the internet a sense of what our community is about. In the absence of physical fellowship, virtual fellowship can give a real sense of connection and belonging. dailyreadings.org.uk and other websites are very helpful when we are encouraging brothers and sisters to get into the habit of doing the daily readings.
The media, social or traditional, give us the opportunity to show our love of the Scriptures and advertise the healthy lifestyle that should accompany our walk to the kingdom. Intelligent and prayerful use of the media can be a really effective way of reaching thousands of people with our message of hope.