Yesterday (18 Jan, 2007), Dr. Atul and I (representing SAIACS) went to attend a Media Consultation hosted by FEBA Institute of Communication, Bangalore. In a letter we were told that the “discussion” would be on whether Christians institutions have negatively influenced/used Christian media, which in my view was needlessly confrontational (with Christian institutions). However the meeting was actually geared more to ‘inspire’ christian institutions to use more of the media (wisely) for mission, especially in partnership with FIC. The structure was two presentations, followed by discussion and followed by Lunch. There were about 20-25 participants.

The main thrust of the meeting was to say that we need to be more creative and take more initiative in communicating the gospel, using the media as indispensable medium for communication.

One thing that stood out for me was the need to keep writing, keep doing something… and this journalic space is an example of that. But more particularly to write books, publish articles, use the radio medium… in other words, mass communication is not simply for the masses, but also an example of quantity of mediums and quantity of messages!

There was not much discussion on the negatives of media usage, for instance cost analysis, right pedagogy… which is obviously understandable for an organisation that is a leader in mass-communication in India. However, without such discussions, such meetings can drift towards clichés. (Not always, but there is a danger).

There was a brief mention on the inverse proportion of audience tolerance to media options, but the way to ‘solve’ them was not adequately discussed (ie. the only proposal made was to move with the times, keep in pace with the changes). However, the many questions that emerge as a result for instance, whether there is a singular Christianity to communicate in the first place, (ie. too many Chrsitianities thus too many people shifting channels of denominations)… could not be broached.

Without being too critical I will at least say that the organisers did not fully take into account that most of the participants were already media-savvy, would thus already be using media actively. Instead of challenging the participants to use media (creatively), perhaps it would have been better to discuss/engage in “how” to move forward in our already-creative usage.

Still, such initiatives like this consultation are needed. Greater clarity, will also help us all to continue to think about these issues in a more focus.

I would like to add, finally, that unless we use the media (whatever medium) for our internal/Church discourse… we will never be adequate in our external/Mission discourse.