Sunday, February 17, 2008

Know your audience

When we were at Kalein in TN, we got to experience some Native American Tribal dances. Some of the wisdom Charlie, the leader, passed on to us before they danced was that as leaders of church congregations we should take the time to know our “audience.” Not just in general but individually as well. I think this applies to all of us not just creative pastors and church leaders. He gave a few examples for why this is so important.

He explained that when the “White Man” came to the land of his ancestors and saw them praying to the sun in the day and to the moon at night, the white people automatically assumed they were polytheistic. In fact they were Christians. The thing the white people didn’t take the time to understand was that his tribe saw the sun as an opening in the sky, a window almost, for their prayers to enter into the realm of the Creator, God. The moon was the same window provided for the evenings.

He then gave an example where the tables would be reversed. He said that if he came to a Christian church, not knowing the Bible and the sacraments of our American culture, and saw us taking communion while calling it the eating of Jesus’ body broken and the drinking of his blood poured out on the cross, he would consider us cannibals. He would be unaware of the symbolism.

I had never thought about that before. Maybe you haven’t either. Just a reminder that we need to take into consideration all of the cultures, perspectives and understandings of the people around us if we plan on being effective communicators of the Message.

1 comment:

bonnie said...


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