3 October 2019 | Vejlefjord, Denmark [Jan-Gunnar Wold/tedNEWS]
Nearly 60 participants at the Nordic ‘Adventist Communication Academy’ headed to Vejlefjord Adventist Junior College, Denmark, 27-29 September, to hear what was not being said, learn what they did not know, and network across unexplored territory.
Digital communication of the gospel was strongly on the agenda, along with an emphasis to ensure that our friends outside of the Church actually understand what Adventists are trying to say. This led to the very practical, yet intriguing theme, ‘Are you hearing what I’m not saying’. The weekend was a collaborative effort of the Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish Communication departments.
“Our pioneers went all out on the media platform of their day, the printed book,” stated Jan-Gunnar Wold, Danish Union Communication director. “We have to get heavily involved with the various digital platforms of today in order to truly follow our pioneers,” he added.
In very practical terms, Mathias Wehrsdorf, an IT and social media expert from the Danish Union, shared two clear presentations on social media use, how best to post, how to analyse statistics, and tips on how to generate an audience whether at personal, local church or at an administrative level.
Demonstrating that on a practical level, Glen Somerville presented on the church media work in Finland, demonstrating that Finland is more than just a hot sauna. His presentation included a look at how an infant Hope Channel Finland developed a site that attracts people on their mobile devices.
David Cederström shared how the production of podcasts in Sweden can reach both church members and the general public. Contributors, provided with guidelines, record messages mainly in their own homes, with the Church releasing a new message weekly.
“The time has come, where we as a church should consider moving away from hiding our identity,” said Tor Tjeransen, Communication director for the Norwegian Union. He presented the Norwegian push for branding of the various church activities as ‘Adventist Education’, ‘Adventist Health’, ‘Adventist Media’ and so on.
Tjeransen also stressed the importance of using proper copyright picture material for our activities, as only the famous rich can afford the penalty of using stolen images and graphics in church productions. Another participant confessed as to how their organisation had suffered a substantial fine that came several years after a doctor they were filming failed to prove copyright permission on three pictures he used.
One of the key speakers, Daryl Gungadoo, Adventist Review, could not participate in person as he was attending another conference in Berlin, Germany. Distance does not stop a communicator. Using an interactive video link, he shared cutting-edge technology and ideas of how neuroscience can assist us in knowing more about how to target our message to maximise the impact and help attract people to Christ. He stated that this kind of knowledge is successfully used in secular society, noting that as Christians we should try to be just as effective in our communication.
Lehnart Falk is a retired pastor and avid communicator in Denmark. During his Sabbath morning message, he noted how the Apostle Paul conveyed the gospel through a very clear understanding of the culture he worked in. “You cannot only rely on what you say, as the message people hear lies as much in the things you convey but do not express,” he emphasised, before appealing to participants to be more interested in people than in just the methods of communication.
While consistently aiming for high standards, and noting that while many communicators are also perfectionists, Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division Communication director emphasised that the story and content is the most important. “Do not wait until you have the best equipment and nicest studio,” he said. “If all you have is your phone, start using that or other simple equipment to tell your story, then enhance it as you have time and budget.” He also emphasised the need to focus on those issues that the community around is focusing on. “Look at major anniversaries, or local events happenings. What do Adventists have to say on the issue? Do we have a story to tell?”
While aiming for the best and playing professionally produced examples that demonstrate our story such as ‘Reformation Journey’ and the WWI documentary ‘A Matter of Conscience’ that have impacted tens of thousands of lives, Hulbert also played several examples of pieces recorded on a smart phone that nevertheless generated a high viewing audience.
“Too often, we wait for the best equipment before we start recording. That is great, but your story will always be more important than your camera and can make an excellent impact,” he said.
The Friday night audience were then captivated by a recording of his grandchildren, who spontaneously burst into song when out with him on a woodland walk. Quickly pressing the record button on his phone, he captured them changing the words in their own unique version of a well-known children’s song, “Come in today, come in to play, Come into my heart Lord Jesus”.
This is at the heart of digital communication, presenting Jesus Christ in an attractive manner so that others will want Jesus to stay in their hearts too.
Next years communication weekend at Vejlefjord 25 – 27 September is already booked. Tjeransen says the probability of a similar event in Norway is also likely. Stimulating more events such as this is one of the main focuses for the Nordic Adventist Communication Academy.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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