Technology has given us tools to communicate our message beyond our wildest dreams, especially in our ability to communicate with images. As a result of this, channels of communication have sprung up (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube) that are primarily image-based. In the past (though this will be hard for younger church communicators to imagine) a quality image cost hundreds of dollars to buy and sometimes hundreds more to reproduce it in a quality church communication. It obviously isn’t that way anymore. Hundreds of thousands of digital images, digital icons, are free to use in any way we want.
We know that in general (and it’s very general — there are always exceptions: ask any age person with a serious Pinterest addiction) that younger generations tend to like the more image-based channels; older generations are more text-based.
No matter what tools we use to create our message, no matter what channels we use to share it, the one thing that never changes is our core content. Our content, permeated with the truth of the entire Bible and culminating with a call to salvation and discipleship in Jesus, must be the anchor and ultimate purpose of our communication ministry. It takes many pieces in many forms to completely share that message, but we need to keep that in mind.
Digital Icons or Concrete Words?
Here is one of the greatest challenges, controversies and problems confronting church communicators today: the mistaken priority use of images over carefully crafted words to communicate our content. It doesn’t matter what technology channel we use, the issue of the communication value of words vs. digital icons is the same.
Digital icons can hit us with emotion and delight, but their actual message can be harder to pin down. Just because images are cheap, easy and fun to use today doesn’t mean they on their own get our message across.
Words are the primary carriers of content, of clear propositional truth. Words, however, are difficult to wrangle into meaning. It takes work, thought, planning and editing with words to even approximate clear communication.