Without communication, the gospel dies, but great communication of the Good News brings the message to people’s hearts and lives where the Spirit works. Moving the needle from good to great for church communications requires effort on several fronts, and a new book provides invaluable advice on one of those fronts.
Turning Barriers into Bridges: The Inclusive Use of Information and Communication Technology for Churches in America, Britain, and Canada, by Dr. John Jay Frank, homes in on one aspect of great communication: accessibility.
Accessible communication was a top concern for the apostle Paul, who wrote, “Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?” (1 Cor. 14:9) Similarly, “If technology makes a message unintelligible to some people, how will they know what is being said?” (Turning Barriers into Bridges, p. 55)
Turning Barriers into Bridges presents Biblical, legal, and cultural reasons for making church communications accessible, and it provides specific guidelines to do so. Many church leaders fear increased costs. This book offers ways to use information and communication technology in ways that dramatically increase the size of audience who can hear and read church communications such as sermons, bulletins and newsletters, committee meetings, and projected lyrics.
The accessible use of technology in churches sends the message that God is accessible to those of us who are able to see, hear, and read well and to our neighbors and fellow church members who are less able. Frank argues that typical, one-size-fits-all church communications reach about 66 percent of people, leaving about one-third missing out on some or all. However, “we can easily and inexpensively use information and communication technology to bridge the gap between the Gospel message God has entrusted to us with the millions of people who cannot see, hear, or read well.” (Turning Barriers into Bridges, p. 10)
When the Word was made flesh, God became accessible to us. Simple and mostly inexpensive changes to the ways we communicate can make the gospel accessible to 95 percent of the population. Think of the implications for outreach, pastoral care, church administration, and teaching/preaching if we communicate effectively with 95 percent of people instead of 66 percent.
Grounded in Scripture and current research, Turning Barriers into Bridges offers more than 80 ways to accessibly use information and communication technology. It is available in 12 point font paperback; large print—18 point—paperback, and Kindle format at amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk and worldwide. Or, contact the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Be sure to get the updated 2016 edition.)
Don’t just buy one copy, buy three: one for yourself, one for the person who creates church print and projected communications, and one for the church’s tech team. It will help your church incarnate the Word for many more people in your congregation and community.