Having been a big fan of the Greenbelt festival for years, I'm delighted to be speaking there for the first time at 2.00pm this Saturday. Asking What would Jesus spin?, I'll be exploring media, PR and “spindoctoring” from a Christian perspective and suggesting that Jesus' own communication methods are an example we can learn from. (See http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/festival/2009/lineup/event/2691 ).
It's a subject close to my heart. I'm constantly frustrated by negative attitudes towards media engagement in Christian circles.
To be fair, such attitudes are neither surprising nor entirely unjustified. I would not want Christians – or anyone else – to be uncritically accepting of the media's priorities. Unfortunately, however, it is easy simply to dismiss the media, to underestimate their importance, to be too frightened to tackle them or to think it is all a matter for experts.
The alternative is Grassroots PR – the notion that media engagement is something anyone can engage in. If we are to follow Jesus' call to promote the Gospel, we have a responsibility to use effective communication methods, just as 16th century reformers made use of the newly invented printing press and 18th century anti-slavery activists took advantage of the growing newspaper industry.
In Jesus, we have a leader who almost never gave a straightforward answer to a question and challenged the assumptions of all those with whom he spoke. He took on the authorities of his day and directed his messages to his audiences with parables and soundbites. Jesus' followers should be the last people to shy away from media engagement.