I escaped from the cold and snow of Kentucky last week to attend a conference in the somewhat less cold and certainly more sunny city of Greensboro, NC. I’m thinking this blog is a good place to process what I heard into the context of developing people and ministry (and hoping you will agree!), beginning with Dr. Leonard Sweet’s address. Here are some of my take-aways…
Dr. Sweet began by pointing out that many of us in the room are “Gutenbergers,” having a preferred communication style using the written word. The rest of the room was made up of “TGIFers.” Yes, there’s new meaning to that old acronym which, for my generation, meant “thank goodness it’s Friday.” The new meaning? Twitter, Google, iphone, and Facebook! Sweet’s message, of course, had to do with changing the communication methods we Gutenbergers employ–words and principles–to the preferred style of the TGIFers…images and stories.
New news? Absolutely not. In fact, you may already be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah… I’ve got this!” But before you hit the delete button, let me ask you this: Do you practice what you know?
Take-away #1: It’s not all about me
Typically, my initial approach to convincing people that their vocation is serving others is to employ scripture and its principles. But what difference might it make if I began with a contemporary image or a story to illustrate the biblical call to serve. Would this more effectively invite the hearer to consider a different paradigm for their life in Christ? Would it lay a better foundation for introducing the principles of equipping… a more effective foundation?
As equipping leaders, we rely on the word of God to make our point about every believer’s call to serve, and well we should. I often feel a sense of urgency and think that God’s word is the most expedient way to convince believers to leave their posh-pew Christianity behind and engage in real life in Christ through serving. But that’s coming at it from my preferred style (Gutenberger) which doesn’t necessarily catch the attention of everyone in my audience.
Which actually brings me to a second point…
Take-away #2: It is about them
If Dr. Sweet thought he was addressing a bunch of fuddy-duddy Anglican priests and leaders, he missed the mark. He was speaking to a group of highly passionate, highly missional leaders who are determined to make the ancient Christian faith relevant to the lives of all generations, leaders who are always looking for the most relevant means for reaching the lost. The audience didn’t need convincing; I think most were looking for something more substantive. The old axiom proves itself again: Know your audience.
Take-away #3: Wake up and smell the coffee!
Dr. Sweet’s message was not new news for me, any more than it is for you. It was a wake-up call! I need to climb out of my comfort zone… my default mode… my preferred way of equipping. I need to know my audience, e.g., Gutenbergers or TGIFers? How do I invite their attention? Through the written word and its principles? Or do I need to first approach them through their other four senses? What might that look like?
- a story of serving told by someone other than me
- a visual of some sort–video, skit, art, props
- an actual serving experience
- What innovative ideas can you employ?
So… are you awake now? I hope so, because I have another question to consider:
Is there a difference in the way we “advertise” ministry opportunities to Gutenbergers versus TGIFers?