The articles in a daily newspaper or lyrics from a popular local song can be used to analyse underlying worldviews embedded in media messages.
This is part two of three of the paper "Media Engagement beyond the Coronavirus". It was first published by Global Missiology and re-published with permission. You can read the first part here.
Media engagement plays an important role in equipping people on their journeys of faith and in life.
The Lausanne Media Engagement Network (Lausanne Movement n.d.a; n.d.b) has provided numerous workshops to equip people for engaging with media, mainly in East Africa and Europe amongst media practitioners, Christian leaders, teachers, and youth leaders, as well as at international Lausanne conferences.
The training has provided theological foundations for media engagement together with practical tools for how to analyse media, connect with media houses, and produce inspirational media content.
The workshops have helped participants to engage with media both for personal spiritual growth and for the transformation of their communities. Ultimately, the various workshops have functioned as training to equip people to become competent in teaching others about engaging with media.
Helping another person begins in small steps by coming alongside them. What a person learns on his/her faith journey, he/she can use to inspire others for their faith journeys.
When a group of influencers learn to trust Jesus together, they can equip another group on their communal journeys of faith. When they become vulnerable towards others and develop trust, they can love them by addressing their actual needs (Thrall et al. 1999, 68).
Equipping people to engage well with media also begins on a personal level, then expands as communities of people equip others for media.
Equipping for media engagement can help individual media contributors in social media, groups of people in churches interacting with media as an online church, and organisations contributing media content into various media spaces.
People can be equipped with key practices for each facet of media engagement. Simple practical exercises help people to apply and internalise these media concepts. Each inspiring story shows how people are practically implementing media engagement in their local contexts.
Equipping people towards media awareness:
Practices: Christians learn to identify and analyse worldviews that are embedded in media messages, and how to evaluate and critique media messages. They learn to formulate and communicate from a biblical worldview perspective and learn how to discuss media messages and their underlying worldviews with their families, friends, and colleagues in their local communities.
Exercise: The articles in a daily newspaper or lyrics from a popular local song can be used to analyse underlying worldviews embedded in media messages.
Story: A Christian media practitioner hosted a “reading competition” for youth in Kenya. After the learners read a book on media critique (Telfer 2015), they wrote an essay to reflect on their experiences with the media. The book’s author attended the prize-giving and then presented media awareness workshops for the parents. Furthermore, the youth learned about becoming aware of the media they consume through regular media topics in a local Christian youth magazine.
Equipping people towards media presence:
Practices: Inspire Christians to enter mainstream media spaces intentionally and equip them to live as credible witnesses within various facets of society, especially within workplaces in various mainstream media.
Exercise: Identify a Christian working in mainstream media and develop a friendship to encourage and motivate this person in his/her professional work.
Story: A media-focussed pastor in Uganda visited local media stations, praying with the staff, encouraging them, and nurturing relationships with them. Initially they were very sceptical of the church and only reported on its problems, but later they became more open also to report on inspiring church initiatives.
Equipping people toward media ministries:
Practices: Equip Christians to assess the needs of an audience in order to create relevant gospel media messages and to tell meaningful stories on a personal level.
Exercise: Simply take a smartphone to record a short video that addresses a current issue, either by interviewing a person or by filming a local situation. Contribute clear ideas through personal perspectives and share the video on accessible media channels.
Story: A church in Uganda wanted to contribute gospel messages for Easter over television, but they did not have their own station. They visited a local TV station and proposed providing an Easter message. The station offered a broadcasting slot at midnight over the weekend. The pastors arrived in the middle of the night and presented their prepared Easter messages to the audience.
Once people have learned how to engage with media themselves, they can then become equipped to help other people engage well with media.
Training Christians to teach media engagement can have great impact, but they must be provided with resources they can use to equip others.
For media awareness:
provide simple tools for worldview analysis of media messages that Christians can pass on to others;
equip Christians to teach worldview thinking about media through the church and through educational institutions; and,
facilitate Christian apologists to train younger apologists with tools, opportunities, and internship experiences so they learn to address life-issues and key questions within various contexts.
For media presence:
motivate pastors and Christian teachers to inspire their youth to explore creative media work, including looking for opportunities within mainstream media;
equip participants to hold seminars within local churches that can help Christian influencers to communicate relevantly and clearly within secular media spaces; and,
help participants to encourage mature media professionals to coach and mentor younger Christians in mainstream media.
For media ministries:
equip Christians to help others find their own passion, calling, and voice to express their stories through media;
provide tools to Christians for focussing primarily on relationships with others and then utilising media channels to engage with them; and,
help Christian media communicators intentionally to equip younger communicators to contribute their own media messages.
A story of equipping Christians to engage with mMedia
Over the course of one year, a young Christian leader in Uganda who attended media engagement training workshops became a local media engagement influencer. He travelled to various regions with his bishop where he trained groups of pastors on media awareness, who then could equip their congregations.
This leader also interacted with media professionals by caring for their needs and hosting events about media presence. Furthermore, this man contributed to media ministries by addressing the local issues of reconciliation by providing media content to local media houses and nation-wide broadcasters.
He applied the media engagement training as he equipped many others to spread wholesome media influence into various facets of Ugandan society.
A tool for equipping Christians to learn about media issues
One tool for equipping people is the Lausanne Global Classroom on media and technology (Burdick n.d.), which addresses faithful discipleship in a world increasingly shaped by media and technology. The online videos and the user guide of this Global Classroom enable critical thinking about and creative engagement with media and technology.
Those media practitioners who are teaching “media engagers” can help each other by building relationships through collaborative networks where they can share their experiences and helpful resources. Such collaborative training for engaging with media widens the media influence.
Lars Dahle is Associate Professor in Systematic Theology (with specific emphasis on Christian Apologetics) at Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Apologetics, NLA University College (Kristiansand, Norway); CEO of Damaris Norge (an extended activity of Gimlekollen); and Founding Editor of the journal Theofilos.
He is co-editor of and contributor to The Lausanne Movement: A Range of Perspectives (Oxford: Regnum 2014). He co-leads with Rudolf Kabutz as Lausanne Catalyst for Media Engagement.
Rudolf Kabutz serves with TWR in South Africa as a future media strategist and project coordinator, focusing on using new social media initiatives to supplement broadcasting media for equipping leaders in Africa.
Holding master’s degrees in mathematics as well as strategic foresight, he co-leads with Lars Dahle as Lausanne Catalyst for Media Engagement.
Las opiniones vertidas por nuestros colaboradores se realizan a nivel personal, pudiendo coincidir o no con la postura de la dirección de Protestante Digital.