In September, MAI-Europe organises an event for Christian authors and content creators in the Balkans. Anna Shirochenskaya explains why it is important to strive for excellence in writing.
Even though video and image flood social media, the word is still fundamental to carry out any communication project.
This is what drives the training of Christians who wish to communicate a relevant message in a society full of all kinds of content. One of the most experienced organisations in preparing and helping communicators is Media Associates International (MAI), whose European division is organising a meeting for writers, communicators and content creators in September in Dobromirka (Bulgaria). Details can be found on the event’s website.
The focus of the conference, which is expected to be attended by people from all countries in the Balkan area, is to explore different aspects of training, but also to generate synergies and connections between Christians who understand the fundamental role of communication in today’s age.
Anna Shirochenskaya is one of the organisers of the event and answered some questions for Protestante Digital and Evangelical Focus.
[photo_footer]Some images from previous MAI-Europe meetings.
Question. What’s the vision of MAI-Europe?
Answer. MAI-Europe was founded in 1990 as a small support group for MAI-International but in recent years, it has grown and developed its own program with a vision of supporting and connecting European publishers, authors, editors, and content creators to produce quality Christian content that enriches the church and influences society.
We envision a Europe where readers everywhere have access to life-changing Christian content, written in their heart language. We seek to foster growth and excellence in the Christian publishing community in Europe by providing support, training, and resources to those involved in the production of Christian content.
We aim to connect Christian content creators, promote collaboration, and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experiences between professionals and those who are still finding their own voice.
Our hope is that a new generation of content creators will emerge, inspired, trained, and equipped to produce content that inspires, educates, and transforms lives.
Q. How is this vision reflected in the event that you are preparing in the Balkans?
A. Our vision is reflected by a few key words: content creators, local content, connect, and foster growth and excellence.
Firstly, we understand the importance of local voices. Though Christianity is global, every area and every country has its local expression of faith that reflects its history, mentality, and worship practices. And these local expressions of faith enrich the global church. We become stronger when we follow the same Lord, read the same Book, but can enjoy a wide spectrum of expressions of faith, learning from the wisdom and experience of one another.
[destacate]“Our hope is that a new generation of content creators will emerge, inspired, trained, and equipped”
[/destacate]Secondly, the strength of Christianity resides in strong local communities and strong local churches. This is why we think it is important to promote local communities of Christian content creators, including the Balkan community. For many centuries, the cultures and histories of the Balkan states were tightly intertwined, so they have many common challenges, understand each other well, and can better help each other in their creative Christian efforts.
Lastly, training is crucial for both personal and professional growth, both for the participants and facilitators. This emphasis on learning from one another reflects the vision of MAI-Europe to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among Christian content creators. We learn together. And this is the main blessing of this kind of event.
Overall, the event in the Balkans reflects the vision of MAI-Europe by prioritising local voices, promoting community among content creators, and providing a learning opportunity for Balkan participants.
Q. What’s the situation of Christian writers in the Balkan countries?
A. In general, Christian Balkan writers find themselves in a similar situation. Christian book markets in most of the Balkan countries are relatively small. However, being a religious minority in most of the Balkan countries, Protestant Christians are socially very active.
In the 1900s, quite a few Christian book and magazine publishers started in the area, but few of them have lasted to the present day. That has left the Balkan countries with a plethora of able and dedicated authors and content creators.
In the digital era, these individuals and small publishers have a second opportunity. Now they have new means to share their content with a wider Christian community, both locally and internationally.
Q. In the past, we used to talk about writers and authors. Today, we talk about “content creators”. Do you see new opportunities for creative people, writers in the era of the Internet?
A. In modern society, each person consciously or unconsciously becomes a content creator. In the past, we used to chat with three neighbours after finishing breakfast. These days, one might post something on Facebook over their morning coffee, and by the end of the day, their message will reach at least a hundred people whom they call their friends.
[destacate]“Almost every person, creative or not, is a content creator and content promoter”
[/destacate]So almost every person, creative or not, has to come to grips with the fact that we are all content creators and content promoters. And this knowledge comes with a weight of responsibility for all Christians: we have to think harder than ever before posting something, and we need to strive for excellence in how we spread the message of Christ in the digital world.
No doubt that today creative people have many opportunities and much wider audiences. So we need to learn every day how to be masters of numerous creative tools and not end up as slaves to those tools. With the spread of Artificial Intelligence, we also need to learn a new type of programming: understanding the language of AI to achieve desired results that can be used for the glory of God.
Q. The forum offers a special discount for young participants, and the program includes chances to develop new skills. Do you feel that the younger generation of content creators respond well to what you are offering them?
A. It’s a bit too early to say if we have many young participants. The younger ones are not the first ones to rush to push the “register” button. Anyway, it’s our priority to connect with the new generation of content creators, and next year we hope to have more events for them.
Q. What else would you like to add?
A. The digital world is dominated by images and sounds. So, we need to remind ourselves that the art of communicating our thoughts and our message with precise and well-chosen words is still needed today. Any type of content starts with words. We need them to formulate our vision, ideas, write video scripts, or classic texts.
Christ once said, "For by your words, you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned." These words also refer to the words that we publish, both on paper or in digital format. Over time, words do not lose their value. So the time that we invest in learning how to use words for the glory of God and the good of His children will never be time lost.