Who’s your Audience?

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, /500

When Jimmy Carter became president of the United States in 1977, the world started to hear about being a “Born Again” Christian.

Many years later, I would be in seminary, where Wes Black, my youth education professor, opened my eyes to understanding “Born Again.” Professor Black pointed out that in the scripture of John 3:1-21, Jesus was talking to Nicodemus specifically.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee who was a member of the Jewish ruling council due to being born into his family. His status in life was due to his parents. Jesus was pointing out that his value must be placed solely in God and not in things of this world. He needed to be “born again,” or as in Greek, it meant to be “born from above.”

“Born Again” was the starting point for the lecture that day many years ago in Professor Black’s class. Black would talk about how Jesus would speak to the woman at the well, to those he would heal, and to help us see that each time the message was different. He didn’t tell all of them they needed to be “Born Again”; he only said this to Nicodemus.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/75

Dr. Black shifted from the scripture and went to the whiteboard, and started to draw the map of a school. He then labeled the different rooms and places around the campus. One room was the band room, another art, then the library, on to the cafeteria, and then the other end of the school had the shop class and the gym. He drew a tree out front of the school and talked about where the smoking students would hang out.

Then room by room, Black asked us how we would talk to them about God. People talked about God being like the coach or the quarterback in the gym. When we got to the library, where many geeks hang out, someone said God is like ROM. ROM is strict; read-only memory refers to hard-wired memory in a computer that the computer relies on to work.

It was becoming quite clear that the lesson was that before you can communicate who God was to a person or group, you must know them. You had to know their terminology.

Moses had predicted that Jesus would be the greatest of all the prophets. He expected that he would be the greatest of all communicators.

Dr. Wes Black opened my eyes that day in class as to one of the biggest reasons Jesus was such a great communicator–Jesus started with the audience.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/800

To communicate honestly, you must understand your audience. You cannot assume the same way you spoke to others will work with the new audience. For example, you cannot believe that if you are interested in the subject, they will be. Also, you cannot assume they will understand why they need to know something unless you communicate this.

Too many Christians went around telling people they needed to be “Born Again.” Their most significant mistake is the audience had little in common with Nicodemus.

Do you know your audience?