How well do you know your audience? Do you know their names? Their likes and dislikes? Do you know their families? If I had to guess, I'd say that you have a pretty good idea of your ideal listener's personality, preferences and practices. But that's only part of the picture ... because communication – at its most basic – is this: sending a message to a receiver and dealing with the interference between the two.
When it comes to communicating with your listeners, what things interfere with your message? What cultural roadblocks stand in the way of someone hearing your words and clearly understanding your intention?
Here are three cultural realities that affect our listeners and our message. (Source: 17 Striking Findings from 2017, Pew Research Center, 12/26/17)
1) There is a real – and growing – political divide in America. Since 1994, the “gap” between Republicans and Democrats has more than doubled. Today, our views have so polarized, that political opinions are tearing apart relationships.
What does this mean for you as a Christian communicator? Our audience consists of a wide spectrum of opinions and values – even among those in the same political parties. This means that it is more important than ever to speak the truth in love and be a catalyst that unites our brothers and sisters in Christ. It also means that we may need to spend more time researching issues and growing in our knowledge of God's Word in order to know the truth and share it in a way that reflects Jesus Christ.
2) Media is distrusted and divisive. The Pew Research Center shows that our political affiliation determines how people see the media's role. Are we “watchdogs” who hold our leaders accountable? Are we too permissive? Or … are we something different?
What does this mean for you as a Christian communicator? You and I are “the media.” We need to be clear in our intentions and consistent in our words and deeds. We also need to determine if we are more than a music format, and how we help shape our communities.
” The numbers of single or never-wed Americans is rising. According to Pew Research, nearly 6-in-10 Americans under age 35 are living without a spouse or partner.
What does this mean for you as a Christian communicator? God designed families. His plan for us is to live in fellowship with others. He describes our relationship with Christ as that of a bride and groom. God places the lonely in families. How do we describe this kind of relationship to those who have never experienced it? What words and ideas do we use to invite others in to God's family?
The answers to these questions will differ according to markets and audiences, but the challenge is the same: Our goal in 2018 is to study our audience and work to overcome the cultural roadblocks that interfere listeners hearing and understanding the life-giving message of Jesus Christ.