Take a quick inventory of all the types of media you’ve accessed today. Have you watched TV? Did you read the newspaper or review an article online? Have you played a DVD or CD? Have you streamed, podcasted or downloaded? Maybe you glanced at a few digital billboards as you listened to the radio on your way into work, where you spent the next 8 hours staring at a computer screen and communicating via email and maybe telephone with colleagues far and near.
America is noisy. I know these media exist elsewhere in the world, but we seem to have an absurdly high concentration of all of them, which often compete for our attention simultaneously. I’m a fan of technology and the way it’s transformed communication and access to information, but I’m also aware of just how numb I’ve (we’ve) become as the constant exposure to messaging bombards our psyches. There are hundreds of messages that vie for your attention each day: Buy now. Eat here. Spend your time doing this.
I just started a new job at Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH). Over the past few decades, much of the work of the ministry has been focused on the translation of the Scripture and making sure that the people of the world have access to it. There are Bible translations in more than 1,300 languages in the FCBH library, and I’m constantly amazed by how many nations or people groups have been impacted by receiving the audio Bible in their native tongue.
The position I was hired for is US Programs Coordinator. I’m supposed to connect with ministries across the country, providing the audio Bible and Gospel films to those who want to use them as part of their ministry model. Here’s the problem: there is a lot of competition for time and attention, even in the ministry world. Leaders of faith-based organizations are in no way immune to the noise of the world and the constant pressure to do more with increasingly limited resources.
Each organization has a mission to fulfill and a vision to pursue. It may feed, clothe, house, or educate the poorest among us. It has a program to execute and a limited window of opportunity to work within. I get it! I’ve been there.
One of the leaders at FCBH asked a poignant question when talking with a ministry: “Do you have room for the Gospel?” It’s a question that I have answered incorrectly many times over. Reflecting over my time in leadership of a faith-based organization, I can’t say that my programmatic structure included the reading of or listening to God’s Word. It was part of my personal life but was not a part of the program we offered to our clients.
I don’t question the authenticity or the power of God’s Word. I’ve seen many lives transformed through it. So why is it so difficult to have it play a central role in ministry work? For me, the lure of carefully worded studies and proven educational methods held such a strong appeal that I gravitated toward materials that would meet people where they most needed to be ministered to―in financial woes, broken relationships, pain, issues of self-worth, etc. All the while, I’d forgotten the foundation that laid the framework for all this good material: God’s Word.
So, now I’m on a quest to engage with ministry leaders and program directors to ask that startling question; “Do you have room for the Gospel?” There’s an opportunity to check off that box by passing out Bibles, hoping they get opened and read. However, it’s a much higher level of commitment to host a listening group or carve the time out of other programs to watch portions of the Gospel film.
So, if you lead an organization or program here in the U.S., I’d love to share some ideas on how to incorporate the audio Bible and/or the Gospel films into your setting. The added beauty of choosing to engage in a Gospel listening or watching program is that there is no curriculum to buy and there are no lesson plans to craft. Better yet, is the fact the Holy Spirit is solely responsible for transforming the lives of those who hear the message. You just provide the opportunity for those you serve to hear the Good News. After all, “. . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
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