Community Check

Second Step:  A community reality check

As we draw close to God in workship, prayer, filling our heart and mind with Scripture, and living out an obedient, transformed life, we then experience that our values, desires and concerns become more attuned to what is on God’s heart.  This leads us to be concerned for people because God created them and is calling them to know him.

A helpful way to pursue loving people is to take a fresh look at learning what is going on in their lives, and to then consider ways that you might minister to them through media: 

Their Difficulties: What are the community’s concerns and struggles, and how do they attempt to resolve these?

Their Longings: What are the hopes and dreams that they long for?

Influences: How are people in the community influenced?

Arts: What art forms seem to speak most powerfully to the community?

Stories: How does storytelling function in the community? 

Respond to these questions in ways that are varied and detailed.  Then, prayerfully and  thoughtfully consider the variety of ways that Scripture speaks to each one.  This will be good fuel for wise media planning.

The “Arts For A Better Future” workshop helps to equip people for this process.  It is built around a strategy (and textbook) called “Creating Local Arts Together” (CLAT).  CLAT gives people a practical and organized way to take a holistic look at the possibilities for Scripture engagement through local forms of art and media.  

Important!  More Reality Checks:  

  • Media in and of itself can be used by people either for good or for evil.  However, some forms of media may be so identified with a traditional culture that local Christians might resist using these.  For them, traditional forms of media and art are regarded as a part of their past life which they want to leave behind them. 

    • Examples:  
      • In Bolivia and Ecuador, this was the case with Andean musical instruments for a number of years.
      • In Guatemala, it is often said that “the marimba has a spirit which calls us to dance and drink.”  
  • Be respectful and sensitive to insider perspectives, while also realizing that some of these may be guided more by an animistic belief system than by Scripture.  It is therefore important to spend time building friendships with those who create or use local forms of media, praying for them and with them, and working with local church, educational and civic authorities (depending on the type of media being planned) to arrive at a healthy consensus about media strategies.  

  • Start small, and be willing to fail, learn and try again.  Involving cultural insiders in a well managed, Scripture-focused, collaborative process of learning and decision-making can help develop broad-based responsibility and “ownership,” and can benefit from many insider insights.

  • Wise planning of media production and use for Scripture engagement often involves an investment of time, energy and economic resources.  The process should therefore be guided by an overall strategy based on the kind of impact you are seeking to achieve. “Media forms, thoughtfully and intentionally produced and distributed, can enhance and ensure quality Scripture exposure, learning and engagement by capitalizing on these strengths:  accuracy and completeness, reproducibility, scalability, accessibility and sustainability.”  (Quote from:  Orality Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, 2013; “Media: The Mortar that Holds It Together,” by David Swarr and Lori Koch.)

  • In some cases, a given type of media may not be used locally but has a latent potential for great success.  

  • Since our goal is to enable our audience to engage with the message of Scripture, we should always seek to use media to open up dialogue in a way that causes people to realize their need for God’s truth.  A well-known maxim followed by many in media production is: “Don’t tell people what to think, but rather what to think about.”  In other words, don’t focus on giving people solutions they aren’t yet ready for, but rather focus on ways to invite them to engage in conversations and activities through which they will come to realize that indeed, God’s Word speaks to their concerns and provides guidance on how they can experience a truly abundant life. 

Testimony:  
A group of Quechua women in Peru are producing dramatized radio plays that highlight an issue which Quechua women struggle with. The radio play ends at a point of conflict or tension—without resolution.  This is intentional.  The program is designed to then shift into a mode in which a group of women then discuss the issue in the light of their cultural norms and what the Bible has to say on the subject. This has been very effective in creating dialogue within the community.

Click here to go to “Media Resources and Partners in the Americas,” or first take a moment to tell us what kinds of benefits you see for doing the Creating Local Arts Together reality check in your community.

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