At GCC, we use all sorts of media to communicate what we believe is the most important message there has ever been – the Gospel. We’ll try anything to get the point across. Sometimes someone will quote Marshall McLuhan and argue that the medium IS the message. I think what they’re trying to say is that our methods have watered down our message. I’m not buying it.
Now, as far as I understand McLuhan’s concept, I think he’s right. The tools we use to communicate say as much as the actual content of our message. It’s just that I’m ok with that.
If I buy a girl roses to tell her “I love you”, the medium (the roses) is consistent with the message (“I love you”). If those roses are nasty leftovers I bought on discount a week after Valentine’s Day, I’m not sure “I love you” really comes across.
One core tenet of our message is that, in spite of our sin and utter inability to reach God, He traveled the distance and came to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God paid a great price and went to the greatest length to reach us and save us. When we wrack our brains and bend over backwards trying to communicate that content, I think our medium reinforces our message. When someone sees the Church using every possible tool to get the point across, I think it’s consistent with a Gospel that says, “God paid the ultimate price to reach you and save you.” Imagine the inconsistency in telling someone, “God loves you but has very narrow parameters on what means I can use to get that across.”
Sure, we need to be sharp about all of this. Media come with liabilities. But all of them do, not just the new or innovative ones.
Shane Hipps is a marketing-guru-turned-Mennonite-pastor, and I’ll be hearing him talk about this idea at Q Conference the week after next. I think he’s going to disagree with me, and that’s ok. I’m excited to hear what he has to say. Whether I agree or not, I think he’ll help me think more critically about all of this.
What do you think? (And really, I’m not just looking for a resounding affirmation. If you agree, that’s awesome. But I’m all for dialogue.)