About the Vision Statement
Hear and understand:
The written scriptures are important and indispensable, but the Scriptures themselves use the term "Word of God" frequently in an oral context. Note particularly 1 Peter 1: 23-25 where "the Word of God" is what was "preached" to the believers. Similarly in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, the people in Thessalonica HEARD the message and accepted it as "The Word of God" "which is what it was", says Paul.
The repeated Scriptural emphasis on proclamation reinforces the importance of the oral communication of the Word of God.
Very specifically, Romans10:17, says that "Faith comes through hearing the message". This of course does not rule out the possibility of faith coming through reading the message but it is clearly not expected to be the normal route. Current research indicates that something like 75% (or more) of the world's people are predominantly or totally 'oral learners'. Many who are highly literate may actually prefer non-print communications and may even learn better from the use of 'oral communication techniques' than from the printed page. Of course those who are non or minimally literate are oral learners by necessity! (See more information on orality.)
Again the Scriptures affirm the value of communication in the heart language. The story of Pentecost in Acts 2 indicates that all who were in Jerusalem heard the proclamation by the apostles in their own languages. More than a dozen locations are listed! It is likely that all those present would have understood Greek but the account makes the point that God is not biased towards or against any people group or language and that all are included in his plan. No human culture, apart from the influence of the Gospel, is more or less biblical or godly than any other culture! In every culture, the "falleness" of man and the providence of God can be seen. The Gospel can be 'at home' in every culture although it will challenge and change some aspects of every culture.
The book of " The Revelation" also affirms that the people of God will include people from "every tribe, language, nation and race" (Rev 5:9). It is a reasonable assumption that with the biblical emphasis on oral proclamation, 'language' in Rev 5 would refer to spoken rather than written language forms.
As mentioned above, a huge percentage of the world's people are oral communicators to some extent. Even those who are highly literate and 'print focussed' can still learn from oral teaching techniques. The reverse is not true! It is interesting to note that Jesus himself was literate, as were all Jewish boys of his day, having learned to read the Scriptures in the Synagogue. However, Jesus clearly adopted a range of oral teaching techniques rather than rely on literate processes. In using these techniques, no one was excluded from both learning and potentially teaching, no one was excluded on the basis of cost of literacy materials and teaching and learning could continue in the normal context of life. These are significant advantages of oral teaching techniques.
The Gospel is not simply academic knowledge to be learned in the head. It is a life to be learned, a relationship (with God) to be shared, and a community to be a part of. Hence Gospel communication is best suited to the principles and practices of oral learning.
Who don't have Scriptures in a form they can access:
GRN is not just communicating an ordinary human message but rather the life giving word of God. Without that word, without the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation, people are separated from God and eternally lost. GRN's greatest concern is for those who have not yet had a chance to hear that message. This includes people for whom there are no translated Scriptures and no viable local church. It may also include groups where a written Scripture or portion is available but where there are few if any who can read it or make sense of it. Yes, there is much work to be done in 'evangelised communities' but there are still those waiting for their first chance. Those small, often neglected minority language groups are GRN's highest priority.
About the Mission statement
Partnership with the church:
The Church is God's primary agent of mission. As a "para-church" organisation, we are not separate from the church and certainly not above it! We are part of the church, called by God to help serve and resource the church in its task of carrying out the mission of God. Therefore wherever possible, we should seek to partner with, encourage, help and resource the local church (where it exists) and other ministries to carry out the work of mission. Partnership demonstrates the body of Christ and usually results in more effective ministry.
It is easy to proclaim the Gospel! It is much harder to do it effectively. We acknowledge that the most important factor in effective Gospel communication is the work of the Holy Spirit. For this reason prayer is the foundational strategy of all of our work. However, as God's fellow workers we are called to use all the gifts and skills God has given us to carry on the task he has assigned to us.
Basic communication theory says that effective communication will be receptor oriented (not communicator oriented). This means that the logic, the arguments, the construction and thought processes that seem effective to the communicator may have absolutely no impact on the hearer! A person's world view and cultural perspective, their education and life experience will all have a profound influence on the way they process and interpret communication. Thus the content, the style and the quantity of material produced for a language group all aim for effective communication of the message.
Following on from above, effective communication will include an understanding of the way the 'target culture' communicates and passes on important information. It is not good enough to simply translate a script, text, story or message into the words of another language, even if 'it works' in the first culture. The context and worldview of the target group must be understood and taken into account.
One of the greatest barriers to Gospel communication is that the Gospel is perceived as 'foreign' because it usually comes through foreigners and often in foreign cultural forms. GRN aims to overcome these barriers by carrying out careful research to construct its messages appropriately and using mother tongues speakers for the recordings. Cultural appropriateness will also influence such things as program compilation, choice of music and presentation of the finished product.
Audio and audio-visual materials:
Audio and audio-visual formats will not always be the most effective communications. E.g. A live communicator may be able to better embody or live out the message proclaimed. (He may also undermine it!) However, it is worth noting some of the advantages of audio and audio-visual presentations.
- Being recorded creates a more 'permanent' record to guard against modification of the story
- The media is not dependent on the presence or the 'endurance' of a live speaker.
- The message can be repeated as frequently as desired
- The media is accessible to anyone who can hear. They do not need to be able to read.
- Pictures (in various formats) can help understanding as well as increase the appeal of the presentation.
- The media can be used without the presence of the messenger, which can sometimes adversely affect the process (e.g. some cultures do not allow a public disagreement with a guest so the locals 'agree' with the message not out of conviction but out of politeness.)
- The material can be used discreetly in sensitive locations.
- The material can be used at loud volume to enable a community to hear and process the information together.
- The materials are adaptable. Once a 'user' has become familiar with the presentation they can use it in different ways to suit different audiences or contexts.
- In some places a recorded message carries an authority not given to a 'live' speaker. There are also weaknesses of audio and audio-visual communication, such as limited interactivity and limited ability to respond flexibly to different situations, but the advantages should not be ignored.
In every language:
While there is a people group with no effective, culturally appropriate form of Gospel communication, GRN will seek to provide an appropriate audio or audio-visual resource, no matter how small the language group.