I remember many years ago as a non-believer but a church-goer seeing a sign on the main street of the city I was living in at the time. The sign flashed on and off and simply said, “Jesus Saves.” I was in my first year of a three year seminary degree (Master’s degree) and had no idea what that meant. In fact, I considered it a rather odd sign. I mean, where did Jesus save? At which bank? What did Jesus save? It really made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. By the end of my third year in seminary – even upon graduation day – I was still clueless and had no idea what it was all about.
Of course, a number of years after being ordained a priest I was born again and came to understand what it meant that “Jesus Saves.” However, it really does make one wonder if the message is getting through. I mean, fast forward 40 years and ask yourself if the message “Jesus Saves” is getting through today, where you live, in your life and ministry? In a culture of noise and competing ideologies and religions is the Christian message getting through to the people we are trying to communicate with? If it was difficult 40 years ago to understand – it is much more difficult today in our post-Christian culture.
Think about it, we live at a point in human history where the act of communicating has never been easier. We can talk to friends in Kabul, Afghanistan, via Skype, as easily as a colleague in the next office to us. Twitter uncovers breaking news faster than nearly every news agency. Text messaging is transforming the way an entire generation communicates with one another and those around them. And yet, it is still not easy to explain the Gospel and many of the ways we attempt to this this make no more sense that a sign flashing in red letters “jesus Saves” did 40+ years ago.
In several churches that I work with here in North America we have begun to wrestle with this problem. We have begun to have everyone’s cell phone number (yes, even the teens) so we can text daily the prayer requests and the events of the day at the local church. Youth leaders are touching base with those they minister to through texting. We are beginning to have people text us their questions as they are actually listening to a teaching or Sunday sermon. Then, at the end of the teaching, we will put the top three questions on the overhead and answer them in discussion format right in the service.
Even here at Ralph Howe Ministries we are highly technological – I am typing this on an iPad in a restaurant waiting for someone to arrive. We use texts worldwide to communicate the Gospel and to train and equip those we are discipling and mentoring. We have two identical web sites – mirror images of each other – one in English the other in Russian. We do daily blogs in English and three a week in Russian increasing to one a day shortly. We have added video clips to our teachings, use MP3s, DVDs and other media to communicate with people around the world. Facebook and Twitter round our our current stable of communication tools. But, not for long as we are growing and adapting, adopting and adding new ways to communicate almost weekly.
Yes, we believe it is possible to explain the Gospel in a way that today’s world will understand that Jesus Saves. However, there is much that needs to change if we are to do it effectively, efficiently and now! What can you adopt and learn about technology you have available to use that would help you to better explain the Gospel and impact lives for Jesus.