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Mission study focus: using media to reach communities with gospel

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–In Boston, a director of missions uses a weekly broadcast on a Greek-language radio station to open doors to a gospel witness.

In Florida, a lay advertising executive discovers billboards sponsored by Christian businesses as a powerful way to communicate Christ’s provision.

And in Fort Worth, Texas, a church discovers how an Internet website opens new doors to reaching their community.

The common thread: using the media more effectively as an integral tool of the church. And all are featured in the video portion of “The Message Through Media,” the adult North American Mission Study for 2000.

“In the modern age, getting the word out requires a vision for mission — using today’s technology to reach hundreds, thousands, even millions who are lost and searching,” a narrator states on the video.

The North American Mission Study traditionally is used by churches during the season leading up to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, although it can be used throughout the year. A planning kit titled, “Mediating the Message,” includes printed resources and videotapes for adults, children and youth. The youth study is titled, “High-Tech Missions,” while the children’s study is titled, “New Ways for a New Day.”

The 2000 study is somewhat of a departure from those of previous years in that it not only shows the work of missionaries, but it gives lasting, practical information on how churches can be effective doing missions in their own communities.

“For the first time we’re not studying about the mission board’s work, but we have an emphasis on how local churches can use media in evangelism. It’s more of a direct application of it,” said Tim Seanor, director of NAMB’s mission education team, which developed the study.

“For illustration and examples, we use missionaries who work with the North American Mission Board and real-life examples of churches who use media effectively,” he said.

Another new aspect of the study is that it becomes a lasting resource for use by the church and its future leaders who will handle media. The study is accompanied by a comprehensive 156-page book — also titled, “Mediating the Message” — that provides “how-to” information on using various media effectively. It covers developing a media strategy as well as detailed information on newspaper, other print media, television, radio and the Internet.

“This is the kind of book that I would have studied in seminary in order to know how to use media in my community,” Seanor said. “That’s why this book is a lot more permanent. It’s a good reference.”

Seanor said the approach is part of a transition to NAMB’s new approach to mission education, in which the emphasis is not only on “praying, giving and going” but also on “learning and understanding.”

“It is more than just being aware of what missionaries do. It is being aware of what I can do that is missionary,” Seanor said.

The study is also different in that the material can be presented over the course of several sessions or in a single session, depending on the needs of the church or church group.

For more information on resources available for the study, visit the www.namb.net/educate/nams webpage. Also featured on the webpage is an update on how the Fort Worth congregation featured in the video — Wedgwood Baptist Church — later was able to use its Internet site to present a strong testimony of Christ nationally in the wake of the tragic shootings at the church on Sept. 15 of last year in which seven people were killed.

North American Mission Study resources may be ordered through LifeWay Christian Services at 1-800-448-8032.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson