Know Your Audience

There is a story of a mother who had anxiously anticipated the moment when she'd be faced with the inevitable question about the 'birds and the bees.' When that day came her young daughter seemed genuinely confused and perhaps a bit traumatized. So, what went wrong?

She was confident she had just the right plan in place. She rehearsed it over and over in her mind. But, the one thing she forgot to truly consider was...h
er audience.

That became all too clear, after she shared her carefully crafted explanation about the miracle of life. Hoping she'd successfully communicated, this eager mother asked her daughter - "What do you think about God's amazing plan that brought you into the world for mommy and daddy to love?" Her daughter looked up and simply replied, "Gracie said that she was delivered by a stork, and I just wondered what store delivered me."

In our eagerness to share truth, we too can forget to consider the question, "Who is my audience?" before we speak. What is their background? What is their family dynamic? What is their age? Their maturity level? Are they hungry to learn, or are they just looking for a quick answer? 

Even with the best of intentions, it is so easy to overload people with information. And yet, at other times, we don't share enough of the story, and we leave the listener craving for more. When we take the time to consider our audience, and act on that insight, we can teach more effectively and build stronger relationships.    

In the Christian world, we often 'water down' our Bible stories - especially with kids. We definitely need to consider our audience, but there are so many great stories in the Bible that are never shared. Here's an example...

If I asked you who Naaman was (from 2 Kings), what could you tell me?

1. Perhaps, you'd recognize his name as that leper who was healed.

2. Maybe, you'd know that the prophet Elisha plays a key role in this story.

3. You may even remember that an Israelite servant girl suggested how  Naaman may find healing for his leprosy.

But, did you know that Naaman might have never gotten healed of this horrible disease because of his pride - even to the point that he had major temper tantrum? He said, “I thought that he (Elisha) would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy." (see verses 11-12)

Even though Naaman copped an attitude, his servants tried to reason with him and encouraged him to simply do as Elisha had instructed. And, in his obedience he found healing!

Oh, but we're not done yet.  There's so much more to the story!

Sadly, we find greed, trickery and lies in the life of Elisha's servant, (yes, Elisha's, not Naaman's). And, what is the final result? 

He is struck white with leprosy. 

Whoa! That's a lot to absorb. But, many of our audiences are ready for this and other stories found in the Bible! Yes, we need to be wise in how and what we share with our listeners, but we must also not be afraid to dig a bit deeper and trust God to help us - and our audiences - grow in our knowledge and faith.

"Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Colossians 2:7


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