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context

Continued from: Aug 31

In Jesus day the common way to receive news was by way of a “town crier”. Actually, this is where we get the word “preach”. Preach means to “cry aloud” and gospel means “good news”. This, however, is no longer the way we receive news. Furthermore, it hasn’t been in over a hundred years. Still when we imagine the evangelist, we see he/she on the corner of some street shouting at people.

Just like the violinist in my previous blog, this archaic method is largely ineffective because people are not in the mindset to hear what we’re saying. We are out of “context”. Preaching is still a beautiful art form and is still incredibly relevant and essential in the right place. But to hear someone “crying aloud” on the street corner today is likely more of a repulsion than a draw.

Let me make it clear though, this blog isn’t about preaching. It’s about how we do whatever it is we do. This is just an example of how I think we’ve been misunderstood. The story of the gospel is beautiful and deserves to be told with real sophistication, mystery, and beauty.

The buzzword of the day seems to be “permissive marketing”. I’m not necessarily saying that what we need is some new marketing strategy. However, the heart of real marketing is the telling of a story and we certainly have a story to tell. Because of the progress of culture we have to gain permission of the listener in order to tell this story. I for one don’t think it’s such a bad thing.

The issue here is that you can’t really tell someone a story anymore until you have won the right to tell it. People must give you permission into their world if they’re going to hear you.

My dream has been to tell stories through music with a level of artistic integrity that could win the trust of a listener. I realize that I certainly have not arrived, but I’m excited about the progress I’ve made.

My question for you is this:

What story are you telling people? Do people hear the heart behind you, or do they hear something else?

What we say is not as important as what they hear.

A while ago I read an article in the Washington Post called Pearls Before Breakfast. This article was about an experiment.

A professional violinist would stand in the Washington DC metro posing as a street musician and serenade DC commuters on there way to work. But it wouldn’t be just any violinist. It would be Joshua Bell “one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made”. The purpose would be to see how differently people would respond to him as opposed to the average street musician.

What they found was pretty striking: Of the thousands of people traveling to work that day, ALMOST NO ONE PAID HIM ANY ATTENTION. In fact only one woman stopped to listen and that was because she recognized his face from a concert three weeks before. “Here he was, the international virtuoso, sawing away, begging for money. She had no idea what the heck was going on, but whatever it was, she wasn’t about to miss it.”

“It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen in Washington,” The woman says. “Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters! I wouldn’t do that to anybody. I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?”

My point is this: Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are, how correct you are, how smart you are, how creative you are or how passionate you are. If you are in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or doing it the wrong way, then you could very well be wasting your time. The key word here is “context”.