The Medium is the Message….

Recently my brother, Dr. Mark Hahlen, posted the following quote on his Facebook page.

Dr. Mark Hahlen

I have included it, and part of the discussion that followed.   In the discussion I have removed names of contributors in order to protect their identity, etc.  Basically — food for thought……

The idea that “the medium is the message” holds important ramifications for the communication of the Christian faith. First, the real message of Christianity is not rational propositions but the person of Jesus Christ with whom a personal relationship is possible. Second, this personal relationship is experienced and communicated in a community—the church, his body. Third, to communicate a relationship with Jesus Christ, the church must be an embodied presence, an authentic and real community in whom the Spirit dwells. Fourth, the primary concern of the church is to communicate not dogma, though it does have its place, but faith. Fifth, the primary way of communicating faith is through a combination of oral, visual, and print forms of participatory immersed communication (or cultural transmission).

Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 65.

  • Charles L. Hahlen Check out Real Life Ministries in Idaho / Jim Putnam. Church is a Team Sport. Same idea(s). Real Life Discipleship through relationships
  • I am left wanting more details about the fifth item – “Fifth, the primary way of communicating faith is through a combination of oral, visual, and print forms of participatory immersed communication (or cultural transmission).” How exactly is this carried out? If we are truly the body of Christ, it has to start with us – it is our arms that need to be reaching to those around us. The church must be all of those things described, but in order to bring people into community, it must start with each one of us extending that love to those around us…communicating faith to me means getting into the trenches and loving those around us in tangible ways, and listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit for opportunities to share the gospel as trust builds. But it doesn’t stop at sharing the gospel. Perhaps we need to clarify what we mean by communicating the Christian faith. Do we mean sharing the gospel with the lost or communicating the foundational truths of our faith through discipleship? Jesus didn’t tell us to just preach the gospel, He said to go and make disciples, so both concepts go hand in hand, but typically conversion occurs which brings the person into community…both are important facets of communicating the Christian faith. Post-moderns tend to value experience above information which also affects the fifth item…
  • Charles L. Hahlen Conversion is not really something you see discussed in scripture. With the possible exception of the Ethiopian those coming to Christ are immersed in water and the culture of the church.
  •  But that is not typical for today…it is often difficult to get someone to come to church…effective witnessing is often done over time through relationships…
  •  through the leading of the Holy Spirit of course
  • Charles L. Hahlen To clarify. When I speak of church I seldom mean the building or necessarily corporate worship. The church is at its best when disciples are doing life together which may include corporate worship the old adage. The church is the members. Not the organization
  • Charles L. Hahlen . Dr Mark strikes again. It is this type of thought-provoking discussion our father drove us crazy with …..
  •  Do you understand the fifth item? Sounds to me like he is referring to multi-media in a building – or its way over my head…
  • Charles L. Hahlen I take it as oral (preaching teaching discussion prayer singing ….). Visual (object lesson. teachable moments. Books charts study guides….). Print ( books video Facebook …..). Cultural transmission. ( living life together as the body / community ).

    Too often we convert – add to church roll – move on. Jesus was both message and the medium for the message. The church is Christ. Medium for the message and the message.
  •  It is pretty simple I guess – as Christ followers we should be a reflection of our Savior…we (the church body at large) should be conveying the message through our actions and all of the things he mentions are natural manifestations of being the message bearers – and that as message bearers we also influence how the message is received…but I am still chewing on that fifth item…
  •  Thanks Charles – very nicely put As you describe it, it seems to me that the fifth item is directed at the many venues of discipleship which is so important, but sadly sometimes a neglected part of our faith…thanks for a thought-provoking discussion!
  • Charles L. Hahlen Loved it also.

Jesus is the message (The Word, John 1) and He is the medium (Word became flesh, John 1).  The Church’s message is Jesus, and the church is also the medium (body of Christ).

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