3D Communications

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3D Communications -- Getting your message right in a Globalised World!

By Tamara Neely (From "Insite" April 2010)

There's a new phrase kicking around YWAM circles these days and it could change the way you look at communications forever... even without special glasses. Our communication need to have all 3 dimensions in mind: it is targeted "the unreached", mission supporters and other stakeholders (e.g. politics).

3D Communications

"3‐D Communications" is a concept that has been developed by some of YWAM's fellow messengers in the gospel. To understand it, you first have to first understand the impact of globalisation on the way we communicate.

Where once YWAM was defined by the book "Is that really you, God?" and your personal newsletter laid out on a table at the back of the church hall, there is now a global conversation online with voices from all over the world contributing to the description of who YWAM is and what we do. This conversation includes not only YWAMers, but also its critics, and their opinions are being overheard by pastors, parents, government officials, potential recruits, the people next door and the people and the people you are going to visit on your next outreach.

3­D communications is a challenge to speak and live a unified message that makes sense to this whole audience. In other words, telling the same story and living the same life in the three main dimensions we operate in:

  1. the audience we want to present the gospel message to;
  2. the Christian audience we want to support and be involved with us;
  3. the secular and other‐faith audience to whom we are defending the gospel.

YWAM has been focused for the last few years on improving its communications. Much effort has been put into developing the means by which we can communicate to the many varied and remote parts of our family and express our message to the world. But what is that message? And how well is it understood by those who are hearing it?

The goal of good communication is to protect our ability to do what we are called to do. Poor communication limits opportunities -- not just for you or your centre, but also for the whole mission. Likewise, good communication opens doors. Here's an example -- a young man from southern England is excited about going on a short‐term outreach to a nation in South East Asia which prohibits religious freedom. In his enthusiasm, and desire to win their financial support, he posts a video on YouTube to tell his friends and family about his mission trip. The video details the intent of his team to preach in this nation and outlines his hope that many will convert to Christianity. The video is tagged with the country's name and viewed there by a man who has a relative who works for the government. The team is targeted on arrival, followed on their trip, and everyone they stay with is later threatened and interrogated by police.

How could this have been done differently? Let's look at the principles of 3‐D communication and then recreate the scenario.

Jesus said in John 18:20, "I have spoken openly to the world... I have said nothing in secret." As we know, not everyone liked Jesus' message ‐ some wanted to kill Him for it ‐ but he was able to speak confidently to any audience because He knew who He was, and He was willing to die for what He wanted to say.

Making our communications 3‐dimensional is not about watering down our message or being politically correct. It's not about saying one thing and meaning another. It's about taking a close look at the heart of who you are and what you do and why -- and being able to answer those questions in basically the same way wherever you are.

How is that even possible? Well, what if the young man above had considered how the message he had for his church and supporters would be understood in the nation he wanted to visit? He may have realised that his disregard of the values and laws of that nation were not an effective way to represent Jesus. Examining their motives for going, he and his team may have found that God could give them a revelation of His love for the people of this nation which would lead to a desire to learn more about their culture and customs and a better understanding of how to bless them.

Working out the message you want to share with the world is a process. But when you are writing or speaking on behalf of YWAM, it is essential that you consider the identity and message of YWAM as a whole and how it is presented, because you don't just speak on behalf of yourself then, but for YWAMers in every part of the world. Here are some helpful principles that will help you evaluate how "3‐D" your message is.

1. Motivation

2 Cor. 5:15 ­ For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

To be true to the message of Jesus and relevant to our audience, we must continually examine our motivation. Jesus was moved by compassion. The love of Christ compelled Paul. What is our motive in our work? Is this reflected in our communications? Is it your purpose to glorify God, or to boast to a particular audience? Would Christ's love be evident to anyone reading your words?

2. Integrity

Psalm 51:6 ­ Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Integrity refers to consistency between what we believe and what we do. Do your communications about YWAM reflect the values of our organization and the teachings of Jesus?

3. Wisdom

Matthew 10:16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Colossians 4:5­6 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Integrity does not require you to post your life story on Facebook. There is a line between integrity and discretion. That's where God's wisdom is needed -- and also the wisdom of others. Jesus had a message he was willing to die for, but the way he described himself and his work varied depending on the context and the people he addressed.

If you don't know how the words you use are perceived by the people they concern, maybe you should be talking to them to find out. In particular, we often create difficulties for our YWAM family in other cultures by forgetting that we are an international organization and what appears on a YWAM website in Europe is representing YWAM in Brazil or India or Mali.

4. Boldness

2 Cor. 3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

The result of right motivation, integrity and wisdom is the confidence to share our message with assurance.

There are many ways that we can misrepresent the message of Jesus and cause offense or misunderstanding. A close look at our motives, integrity and the wisdom of our words can bring us to a place of freedom in our communications. Sometimes, this will lead to a re‐examination of terminology we use that has become outdated and no longer conveys our intended meaning. It could mean evaluating the way we promote a particular YWAM event or school to see if it accurately reflects our purposes to a 3‐D audience. It definitely requires a openness to let the Holy Spirit point out prejudices, pride or lack of love in our hearts toward others.

Put on some "3‐D" glasses and start by reading your YWAM blogs, websites and other publications from someone else's perspective. Do they reflect Jesus to you? Does the terminology apply to a 3‐D audience?

In YWAM, as we are moving forward in developing our communications systems, it is essential that we get our hearts and our message lined up with God's so that we can speak boldly about who we are and what we do and why. Because we have a message worth dying for, and we need to get it right.

Further Teaching and Reading

Further teaching on 3­D communications is available to YWAM staff. Contact iy@ywam.org for information.

Further Reading:

  This page was originally retrieved from http://www.ywamlife.com/Resources/3D-Communications-Communicating-in-a-Globalised-World on 11/1/2011.