A while ago I started a second, or was it a third, blog. It’s called Venn Theology. I promised to post serious stuff there. I’m still figuring out the balance for what goes where. But you’ll find, if you look, that I’ve posted some stuff this week. One of the things I’ve posted, is, I think, of particular value. It’s a social media strategy. Or the framework for one, for promoting Christian events. Perhaps it will be of some use to you, perhaps not. I’m ju
I just wrote a massive post on Venn Theology about literary theory and the Bible. You should read it, and comment (it is 2,500 words). Because this is something I’ve spent most of the semester so far thinking about, and wanting to argue about, with people who are big on single purposes for books of the Bible, and single “implied readers”…
But here’s a little bit I thought was more generally interesting. I reckon a lot of the Bible is written to persuade, and I think there’s a natural comparison between the Bible and press releases – which shapes the way I approach questions of rhetorical purpose. From that post (which I’d love you to read and comment on):
I want to suggest that much of the Bible, particularly the historic and prophetic books of the Old Testament, and the gospels, are just like Press releases. The case is harder to make for the New Testament pastoral epistles, where specific intended readers are mentioned. But letters to church groups, because they naturally contain people of different status (both spiritually and socially) are, again, just like Press Releases.
Press releases are, by their nature:
- Intended for multiple audiences – the media, and the masses (through the conduit of the media). What you write in a press release needs to tick the right boxes for the journalist who’ll read it (because you send it to them), but it also has to have some sort of appeal to the final audience. In the case of my organisation press releases were put online for our members (financial supporters) and the public to read, sent to journalists, staff, politicians and board members.
- Factual, but subjective – press releases are a particular interpretation of the facts. It’s not the job of the press release writer to be objective. That’s the journalist’s job. Press releases come with bias.
- Persuasive for each intended reader – there’s not a whole lot of point writing a press release if you’re not trying to persuade somebody to respond in a certain way on the basis of the facts of the story. Press Releases aim to persuade each intended recipient – and often to persuade them to do different things. The journalist has to be persuaded to write a story, the end user (the reader) has to be persuaded to see things from your point of view and to act accordingly, the staff member of your organisation has to be persuaded to think (and speak) of the subject matter a particular way, the financial supporter has to be persuaded that your work is of value and that they should keep supporting it.
Those three elements become important when you set out to write a press release. Every line counts. But every line counts differently for different people. Joe Average may not care where the money for a project is coming from, but the small business who has given you $1,000 of their hard-earned wants to know that that cash is being put to good use. The Board of Directors don’t really care about how a project is going to effect an individual resident, but papers love that stuff. Because they like pictures and stories about people. But the one document is used to inform and persuade many readers, from many backgrounds. And that is wrapped up in the author’s intent. If the author writes with purpose. And I’d like to assume that the writers of the Bible fall into the category of writing with purpose. But I think our job is to assess each book of the Bible for a variety of purposes for a varied audience – not one purpose for one audience. Unless that purpose is specifically stated. But even then, it’s place in the canon suggests that God has different purposes for different people in different circumstances to the intended recipient. Right?
I’ve said before that Christopher Hitchens’ treatment of Christianity is a little shoddy. He is guilty of creating a straw man Christianity out of the very worst of “Christian” behaviour and setting it on fire in beautifully vitriolic prose. He is, I think, the most dangerous of the nu-atheists because he is so articulate and personable. He’s more appealing than Dawkins, I think, because he demonstrates a sense of humour.
Here, in this article, he is interviewed by a Unitarian minister, Marilyn Sewell, who wants to know if he doesn’t like Liberal Christians as much as he doesn’t like fundamentalists…
Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?
Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian…
Read my full take on this, and some more interesting bits from the interview, over at Venntheology.
Mikey posted a bunch of reflections on the web and ministry the other day in a stream of consciousness bullet point diatribe. They’re tips that are worth reading – and a good perspective from somebody who is in ministry and thinking about how technology can be used as a platform for the gospel and for building relationships.
Once you’ve finished reading those and you’re all depressed about the internet and stuff…
I’ve recently started using Twitter heaps more. It seemed all I needed was a better app on my iPhone and the new Mac app. You can follow me @nm_campbell if you like. Let me know if you’re a Twit too.
I’m also getting close to having 100 fans on Facebook. Which is cool. I’ve started using that Facebook page to share links that I maybe once upon a time would have posted here (and possibly eventually will). These links appear on the top right of the blog proper, so if you’re a feed reader I suggest you join the masses and “like” St. Eutychus.
If you are a feed reader you might have noticed a bunch of new links on the bottom of feed items – these come courtesy of feedburner – you can now click a few different links to share stuff you like where you like. Isn’t that exciting. I like it when people share the stuff I’ve found. It somehow legitimises the time I waste on the Internet. So please do it.
And, I’ve installed a theme that I paid for (called Standard Theme) on my coffee blog and Venn Theology. I’m trying to decide whether or not to install it here too. Check them out. Especially my coffee blog – thebeanstalker.com. I’m pretty happy with it.
That is all.
If you are, and you have thoughts about how to use Facebook and Twitter in ministry – then you should totally head to Venn Theology (which I assume you all read already) and comment on this post. Do it.
Image: Well timed Dilbert from Church Crunch.
In a week or two I’ll start not cross promoting so much because I’ll assume you’ve all been made aware of it. But in the meantime, I like this post a lot. And I think it’s important and I’d like to make it a bit of a resource post when I have conversations with friends who are in ministry and are thinking about how to use “social media”… I have those conversations often.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what goes here and what goes there.
But in the last few days you might have missed these posts at Venn Theology (my new serious blog)…
1. Reasons you might be really terrible at Powerpoint.
2. Colours and branding and marketing and what they say about you and your product.
3. My lovely wife Robyn is posting her most excellent essay on Daniel in an eight part series. And would love your comments.
4. I’m unpacking my newly developed (or developing) approach to interpreting the Bible by grasping the historical context… ok, it’s not new, but I’m hopefully going to show the benefits of adopting such an approach. Here’s a follow up video with history professor/Biblical scholar/all round good guy Edwin Judge.
Did that headline get your attention? Good.
I have an important announcement to make.
My blog is splitting up.
My serious side is divorcing my silly side.
This will hopefully result in less frequent posts here, and a reduction of lengthy boring stuff. You can find the serious stuff at a new domain, one I originally registered because I planned to make thousands of Venn Diagrams. Venn Theology – it’s exploring the overlap between things I’m passionate about – Christianity, Communication, and Culture.
It won’t be as boring as it sounds. Hopefully it’ll be thought provoking and engaging, I’m going to try to up the quality of posts, keeping it as useful as I can, and hopefully making a positive contribution to the broader church with my experience and/or expertise in the realm of marketing and public relations, and I’ll be putting together as many useful resources for ministry, and surviving bible college as I can.
For the next little while the content on Venn Theology will be some old stuff from around these parts refreshed and republished. You can subscribe to Venn Theology’s RSS feed here, and, if you haven’t already – the St. Eutychus feed here.
What this means for St. Eutychus is more of the same, but Cornetto style – no boring bits.