Indigitous in East Asia: Day 2
One of the themes of the second day of this media conference in southeast Asia* was how to reach people with art. Where facts and statistics speak to your mind, art speaks to your heart. That’s the reason so many use art forms – anything from films to ethnomusicology – to share the Gospel.
One speaker who works with unreached people groups in Asia talked about having the people create their own hymns using their people’s traditional style of music, rather than the western musical styles most associated with the church. When they had previously tried to learn western-style hymns, it didn’t resonate with the people. Further, the “odd” musical style made them feel further isolated from the neighboring community.
Once they were given permission to perform hymns in their own style, not only did the music resonate with them, but they proudly and boldly performed the songs for everyone to hear, leading many non-Christians in the area to join them in song.
The people eventually recorded their hymns to share with others around the world who share their language and culture but do not yet know Jesus. One new convert said, “We always admired the way you Christians lived, but we were worried we would have to give up our culture.”
When it comes to your digital strategy, are you expecting others to conform to your cultural norms or is your strategy flexible enough to be adapted to fit an indigenous context?
Another speaker talked about the importance of good storytelling. “He who tells the best story wins,” he says. There are a lot of stories out there competing for people’s attention; Christians need to stand out. “We’ve got the greatest story ever told, but we don’t often do it justice.”
There were many ministries in attendance who specialize in creating short evangelistic films. There were others who were concerned with finding innovative ways to bring those films to the people – anything from marketing strategies to using wifi hotspots or SD cards in closed countries.
One man told me about his dream of having a film depicting every story in the Bible, including the epistles, proverbs, and psalms. Another kept telling me that we need to create short, 30-second videos that peak people’s interest and bring them to our longer content. “Ad agencies have been doing this for a long time to sell clothes and beer. We offer something of a much higher value than that!”
* For security reasons, we cannot give the name of the conference or the name of anyone in attendance. In fact, this photo was taken at a different conference since we weren’t allowed to take pictures here!