Wednesday, June 10, 2009

message & medium ...

"My concern for you in your new role Trav, is that you might become so focused on the dynamic of the means you use to bring the message that you forget about the dynamic of the message itself."
That was the latest insight given me by my mentor ... and it's bugged me a bit ... mainly because I know he's right.
I can't back away from integrating the method of "storying" into how I present the Bible to young people ... and I can't back away from injecting creativity into the way I teach God's word ... not because I'm willing to sacrifice truth on the altar of pragmatism, or because I'm just trying to be relevant ... but because I see an ancient path in the means of storying the Scriptures, and I genuninely believe that creativity in communication is a very real expression of worship to God ... so I cannot back away.
But I do take the warning ... I take the warning of searching so hard for the perfect song or picture or video loop to complement the story, and in that search I lose sight of the simple power of the gospel ... in my own life, and in the lives of those who hear from me.
I don't want to become another ministry statistic clambering for the next "new way" at the expense of the ancient "new way" ... I don't want to become subject to the consumerism that the generation I hope to reach are subject to ... simply by trying to be clever.
I've seen the power of the gospel work without "environmental input" ... I've seen that power with those things as well ... and I've even seen the power of the gospel speak into people's lives in spite of the distraction of our cleverness ... the issue then doesn't seem to be whether or not we be creative in our teaching - but how we view creativity.
If we see creativity as "what we need to do to make God's Word relevant", then we pragmatically elevate the medium over the message ... but if we see creativity as a legitimate and authentic expression of worship, then that creativity becomes part of the fabric of the message we proclaim - not replacing, but revealing the truth of the gospel.
So in one sense, the medium is not the message when it comes to teaching the Bible, in another sense the medium we use may well be an expression of the message we bring - and because the message has been through us, and we are the medium of that message (2 Corinthians 3:3) ... in this way, the medium is the message.
So I've taken the warning (and will seek to continue to) ... but this warning has also helped me to realise that the dynamic of the means of communication may well be birthed out of the dynamic of the message itself ... how can I tell if it's not? ... that all depends if my preparation is out of striving in the flesh or resting in the Spirit ... and if, at the end of the day, the message is not clear ... I might as well pack up and go home.

2 comments:

Dan Beasy said...

Great insight & discovery. Even greater that you have a mentor that will challenge and steer you and your ministry. And greater again that you listen and learn from your mentors words.

ninety9 said...

This really struck with me Trav. It's such a tension - I am so glad you have been challenged, as you say, so you don't become a statistic, but more importantly that you remain an effective medium yourself for God's message! Love it.