“I was drying the breakfast dishes when I saw them coming up the driveway. Instinctively I knew they were Seventh Day Adventists (sic)…The leader was a soberly-dressed, quietly-spoken man in his 40s…[and] rattled off a tale of the Archangel being sent to earth by God to check things out and returning to say we were making a mess of it. It seemed we are in a period of heavenly discipline.”
Any Seventh-day Adventist would agree that the above sentence hardly reflects the teachings of the church. Any Adventist would also be unable to stop the fact that it was part of an article published in a metropolitan daily newspaper read by about 555,000 people.
That’s basically having the whole of Canberra and more thinking it’s common practice for Adventists to witness by going door-to-door, sharing beliefs that are not even taught by the church.
At least that’s hardly scandalous. What about those people who think Adventists belong to a cult? What about those who believe we’re non-Christians? What about those who have absolutely no idea what a Seventh-day Adventist is?
Unfortunately, myths and misconceptions will continue to prevail, and the Adventist Church will always be an unknown to the masses unless church members take an interest in engaging the public using the language of the media.
It’s not about being a professional writer, journalist or media relator. Getting the media interested is not difficult as long as you know what they want and how and when they want it.
But why bother promoting ourselves when it’s the Gospel that matters?
Because this is not about patting ourselves on the back or blowing our own trumpet. It's simply about letting people know who we are, what we believe and not remain hiding in a corner with our heads buried in the sand. And it’s about doing it in an efficient manner.
It’s not called the mass media for nothing. Television, radio, newspapers and even the Internet touches everybody’s lives one way or the other. And the public inherently believes most of what they hear from the media, be it on television or published in the papers.
In this current day and age, it's not what we have to say that matters. It's what others have to say about us that does.
So unless we get reporters writing about what Seventh-day Adventists are doing in the community, the love and care Adventists show others and the fact that we are mainstream Christians, we will simply have to live with the fact that nobody understands us.
Engaging the media and educating the public about Adventists is not a task for the professional communicator, but something any church member can do. The next time your church does something you think is newsworthy, why not contact your local media?
This is a first of a series entitled “Born to be a star” distributed to local church newsletters in Australia and New Zealand. Find out how to engage the media in the next entry.
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