Communicating What We Don’t Say
Five days a week, I sit down at my laptop and stare at a blank screen hoping for a blog post to emerge without me having to do anything. Eventually, however, I have to start typing. There are days when the blogging is easy and others where it is a huge effort, but most days I manage to write something more or less coherent.
My aim is to write something about Christian mission that is informative, interesting, provocative and perhaps even entertaining. Mission is a more complex subject than it might seem at first glance. A lot of very clever and thoughtful people are writing erudite things about the way that God is at work in a changing world – my aim is to capture some of this and to make it available to the general public. Not everyone is going to want to read thousands of pages on Paul’s mission to the Gentiles, or a scholarly paper on missional-hermeneutics – but if I can capture the essence of some of this stuff in 500 words, it may just be of help.
But there is a problem. I try to make things accessible, but what I fear is that I am actually dumbing things down. There is a slight, but very important difference between the two. One of the reasons that I struggle to write posts is that I worry that people might think that I haven’t really understood the subject that I’m writing about. I don’t put in lots of details or footnotes and maybe people will think that this is because I haven’t really grasped the issue.
What this boils down to is that, sometimes, I am more concerned about what my blogging says about me than I am about in what it says about mission.
I’ve started writing about blogging, but I’m really thinking about evangelism! When people talk about evangelism, they often say something along the lines of letting people know that Christians are just normal people. We aren’t strange – honest!
I’ve got a couple of problems with this sort of approach. The first (and least important) is that Christians are actually supposed to be different to the world. Perhaps not in the way that we are painted in some of the media stereotypes, but we are meant to be different. That’s what the word ‘holy’ means.
However, the thing that really bothers me about this approach is that it puts the focus on us. If our aim is to show that Christians are normal people, then our communication is focussed on ourselves, not on Jesus.
I’m a less interesting and communicative blogger if I worry about what people will think of me, rather than concentrating on explaining an issue clearly. Likewise, evangelism which concentrates on projecting something about Christians, rather than about Jesus misses the point completely.
Evangelism is significantly more important than blogging in the grand scheme of things!