I thought I understood ministry communications.

Then I spent two months in Berlin asking the question, “How do I tell someone about this?”

It’s really not a matter of substance. There’s plenty of fodder and activity to publish remarkable stories on a daily basis. Prostituted women are finding a café just for them on Kurfürstenstraße to rest, grab a warm drink, and share their story with someone who cares. A couple of entrepreneurs are giving away all their profits to help stir up forgotten vibrancy in a dilapidated district. The challenge isn’t finding something to say.

It’s how we say it.

The eyes and ears focused on Berlin represent a complicated, nuanced and varied audience. And, the Internet is a public space. Just broadcasting stories of the positive change throughout the city will undoubtedly offend some and inspire others, simply because of the Christian faith undergirding the efforts. But what if our communications took on a more missional — or hospitable — tenor online?

You know, like, talk the way we would with regular humans?

Ministry communications are so often tailored to just one audience, neglecting the sensibilities of a possibly hostile one. But to communicate in a way that is interesting and inspiring to the city’s population itself is both sincere to who we are and honoring to God.

Boiled down, here’s the gist of what I learned about the opportunity at hand:

  • Be informed about our subjects
  • Be courteous toward our audience
  • Be faithfully potent with our message

Inevitably, we will confront or even spark controversial dialogue. But it doesn’t have to alienate.

It is our holy book that says, after all, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6, ESV), or another way, “The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (The Message).

Photo attribution: By Christian Mertes (Mudd1 12:26, 18 April 2007 (UTC)) (Own work) 

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