Communication Funnels

In my last post, I wrote about megaphones as metaphors for the communication dynamics that many associate with "preaching." According to Romans 10:13-15, no one hears the gospel without someone "preaching," a term standing for the multitude of ways the message can be announced, ways not limited to speech delivered from platforms and pulpits, the kind of speech normally associated with churches, or with someone proclaiming to audiences in other public places. Communication funnels serve as metaphors for these other ways of "preaching," ways that can be just as effective as those represented by megaphones.

A funneling approach to "preaching" isn't about one-way, listener-targeted communication, but two-way, listener-engaged communication, communication that leverages existing small openings to its advantage, rather than merely blasting through background to gain a hearing. A funneling approach also isn't limited to using only one message, facilitating instead the delivery of multiple messages, multiple messages not referring to multiple gospels, but to multiple sharings of the gospels. Finally, a funneling approach doesn't require message efficiency, but allows instead for message expansion in response to a listener's feedback, or because the "preacher" needs to share more to ensure a listener's understanding.  

In summary, communication funnels (1) stress two-way, listener-engaged communication; (2) leverage existing small openings to their advantage; (3) allow for multiple messages; and  (4) facilitate message expansion. These dynamics lead to a much different experience in the "preaching" of the gospel, experiences that emphasize relationship and real-life connections to the truth, two essential elements of what we might call, "come and see evangelism." 

Earlier I wrote that "preaching" stands for the multitude of ways the message of the gospel can be announced. I am not arguing for the exclusive use of funnels, though I do think the use of megaphones is overrated in this post-modern world of ours. It turns out that both approaches to "preaching" can be found in the New Testament, with megaphone evangelism on display, for example, in various scenes in the Book of Acts, though the Book of Acts itself, in combination with the Gospel of Luke, is a clear example of funneling. The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts are Parts 1 and 2 of an evangelistic treatise on Jesus and his exaltation. I find it interesting that while Paul and Luke were using different approaches to "preaching," they were travel companions and ministry partners. Luke was undoubtedly aware of what Paul wrote about "preaching" in Romans 10:13-15, his awareness leading him to fulfill Paul's words, not to ignore or replace them, through his writings to Theophilus, Luke's awareness underscoring the biblical value of a broader understanding "preaching" using both megaphones and funnels

Though both are legitimate, there are times when one of the ways of "preaching" could be more effective than the other. The reasons why Paul chose to megaphone and Luke to funnel center mostly on matters related to message efficiency vs. message expansion, a topic I'll take up in more detail in later posts. In the meantime, I want to wrap up this post by asking you to ponder the emphasis on relationship and real-life connections to the truth that I mentioned earlier. Both of these are integral to knowing and sharing the gospel story-arc.

 

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Randal Gilmore