Communication is an integral part of our existence as social beings. The exchange of information is a perpetual force on our daily lives. While there are numerous methods, the bottom line is that communication is more than the exchange of information; it is a powerful tool with the capacity to change how people perceive, think, and act.
Maybe it’s because of my pastoring background, but while I was completing a Masters in Professional Communications degree in 2011, I was intrigued by an area of communication referred to as Communication for Social Change. It may not be evident at first, but communication for social change is present in all areas of our lives and intertwined throughout everyday communication practices and media.
Communication for Social Change
A Communication for Social Change approach provides the techniques required to inform, motivate, and guide people toward positive and sustainable social and developmental changes. The biggest take-a-way I got from that class was the idea that social change starts with me first. I entered the class with the preconception that I was going to learn the steps to changing other people, but instead the finger of change was pointed at me. Oh wow! The concept makes sense, but to be honest, it frightens me because of the responsibly it places on my words, actions and motives.
A professor of mine once told a story of a doctor who used verbal anesthesia and peek-a-boo to build relationships with children. When questioned about his unique approach, the doctor said, “I never miss an opportunity to make a connection.” Wow. That is exactly what Jesus did while He was here on earth.
Jesus, the Master Communicator
Jesus, the Master Communicator, focused His whole ministry on communicating for social change. He carefully and sensitively constructed His communication to accommodate the nature and life situation of the people with whom He talked. James Witt stated, “Jesus began His communication where people were and not where He assumed they ought to be. He recognized and respected such factors as their world view, culture, previous knowledge and experiences and attention span. He respected each person as a unique individual. He talked the people’s language, using common terms, common issues and common images to communicate the Good News.”
What Message Is Your Church Communicating?
Like Jesus, we to are called to be communicators of God’s Word to others. We should have a personal interest in gospel communication strategies. This makes me think about our churches. What message is your church communicating to the community? Is it a message to inform, motivate, and guide people toward Jesus Christ? Or is it a message of dissention, exclusion and blame? Even more, what message are you communicating to those around you – at home, church or work?
As editor of the Alberta Adventist News (AAN) and Communication/IT Director for the Alberta Conference, I believe it is vital for the Alberta Conference and its churches/schools to be actively practicing a Communication for Social Change approach to ministry. One area where we at the Alberta Conference strive to exemplify such an approach is through the AAN. The Alberta Adventist News (AAN) is a quarterly magazine produced by the Communications Department of the Alberta Conference and its purpose is to inform, encourage and build unity among the constituents of the Alberta Conference.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the AAN ministry in the past. It is always a delight working with you and reading your stories. Let’s continue to pursue a Communication for Social Change approach in ministry – informing, motivating and guiding people to Jesus, the Master Communicator.