The Church is called by Jesus to proclaim the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15) and to go and make disciples of all peoples… baptizing them… and teaching them (Matthew 28:19–20). So then, wouldn’t you say that effective communication is essential in carrying out the Great Commission?
“For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But, how then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” -Romans 10:13–14
The gap between preaching and hearing is really important. Effective communication only happens when one party understands the other party’s message. So, the key here is comprehension! Christians, especially global workers serving in oral cultures or among oral learners, should take notice. It is not enough to ensure orthodoxy is being proclaimed and taught. One must also strive to ensure the truth is being received well.
The reception of the gospel is after all the reason why we proclaim and teach. For this reason, the teacher, preacher, disciple, or evangelist should analyze their audience and communication methods.
Recently, Encompass global partner Karin Puhl traveled to Chad and Cameroon to conduct orality training.
Regarding the training, Karin said, “Many people are not aware of the differences between oral and literate cultures or even the existence of oral cultures. But since the church planter, evangelist, pastor, and missionary is responsible to ensure the message of the Word of God is understood, applied, and reproduced by the persons who listen, it is necessary to understand both cultures.”
She added, “Every class I teach shows me in a deeper way the truth that people in the Central African region are oral learners. I am repeatedly impressed at the giftedness of our brothers and sisters in this way of communication and I am learning more ways to use oral culture methods in evangelism and church life.”
Many of the other global workers who took the classes with Karin were amazed at the practicality of the training. Most of the students were using mostly written-based materials to evangelize and disciple their people, but there were many obstacles to the communication. It wasn’t until the training that they could actually put a name on the roadblock they were experiencing.
Orality training in global missions has been a significant movement in the last couple of decades. Karin’s advice to everyone who is in a teaching, discipleship, or evangelistic position is to become more acquainted with the orality models and seek training if it is available. The more orality-trained teachers we have like Karin, the better.
Here are a few resources to help get you started.
Telling God’s Stories with Power: Biblical Storytelling in Oral Cultures
Making Disciples of Oral Learners