Here is the latest Government ad campaign in the battle of Coronavirus.
You get the message don’t you. We are meant to keep our distance when out and about. We should be around about two metres apart from each other, that’s obviously not meant to be a precise measurement. It’s a rough distance.
There are two brilliant things about the ad message. The first is that the Twitter and Facebook police who assess whether or not something is a good or bad thing are going to hate it. And guess what they do when they hate something? They retweet it, thousands of times with lots of comments about how stupid it is and how no-one can imagine three fridges next to each other because fridges come in different sizes and you don’t get fridges outside.
Meanwhile lots and lots of people are looking at twitter, seeing the message and talking about what being 2 metres apart from others looks like. And they are thinking about fridges, three individual fridges, probably with a mini Boris walking into each one to get away from a reporter. By this time we can’t get those images out of our head. The advert has done its job, it has reminded us again of the importance of social distancing. It will stick
Christian preachers will do well to learn from this. It’s what is sometimes called “sticky communication.”We aren’t always good at that. The reason is that we tend to come from backgrounds where we love talking about books, writing and abstract concepts. The problem is that lots of people don’t think in abstract concepts. They think visually and they want to see concrete examples of things that work.
So, when we stand up to preach and quote our favourite obscure theological author as though they should have heard of him, we talk over most people’s heads. When we trawl our memories or the internet for obscure examples from history we lose them. When we put together a power-point presentation with our five year vision, we leave them cold. It’s not that they lack intelligence and wisdom, it’s that we lack communication skills … and wisdom.
I can’t help feeling that this reflects a little of the elitism in our churches that locks us in to a narrow class and cultural make up. I also guess that we shouldn’t be surprised if it makes us harder to follow on line and come under pressure to shorten our sermons. I wonder how much our preaching would improve if we gave more time to story telling and concrete examples?