I have been very blessed to be able to read several game changing books this year. Sometime in the next week I am going to post a list of my top book, music and movie choices from this year. Right now the latest game changer for me is “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell. It’s inspiring because Rob Bell reminds us that the Bible is a living book, how the stories of the ancient people have relevance to us today because we are essentially living out the same kind of stories. We are encountering God and having a relationship with him the same way those in Bible times did.
Rob Bell recognizes that culture has changed and the ways of spreading the message of God has had to change with it. But he also recognizes that the Bible has relevance to today because the Bible is alive and the Bible stories continue in our lives, each and every day. As someone who studies communications, I really like how he wrote about how the first century Christians communicated a totally different way than we do. People in the Bible were real people with real stories and real relationships with God. These people lived in a different culture, an oral culture, and as such their methods of communication were different than they are today.
The message is always relevant, but sometimes we need to change how we communicate the message. It’s important that we think about communication carefully, because, as Marshall McLuhan (this really intelligent dude who wrote a lot about communications) says, “the medium is the message”. The way people communicate with and experience God in this day and age is different. Things that are important to us are stories, experiences, individuality. We communicate through the written word, and through symbols and visual media.
I’m currently working on a dissertation about worship experiences. The fact is that the more multisensory we can make worship, the more people will have a chance to encounter God. With a multisensory experience, more people can experience God in ways that they understand. The stories of the Bible have relevance to our lives today, because, despite the differences in technology and communication, these were real people living real lives encountering God in a real way, and that continues today with us.
Bell, R 2012 ‘Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith’, HarperOne, New York.