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Who Exactly Is Your Audience?

In one chapter of the fascinating new book by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet – “Jesus: A Theography,” they raise some interesting points concerning Jesus’ audience. Even though He engaged the Rabbis on a regular basis, they make it clear His main audience wasn’t religious leaders. He wasn’t trying to persuade or convert the Jewish establishment because they didn’t respect his credentials or authority. Jesus focused on the common people. That’s why he spent so much time in villages, rather than the major towns of the region.  In fact, Viola and Sweet point out that the religious leaders avoided him as long as they could, but because of his popularity they were finally forced to listen and engage.

It’s a unique book, and I highly recommend it, but as I read this section, it made me realize how intentional we should be about finding the right audience. Had Jesus focused on the religious leaders first, they would have dismissed him, and perhaps branded him crazy or a criminal and almost no one would have heard the message at all.  But by knowing who he was, and recognizing his particular message, he engaged the general public first. This gave the message time to be heard, shared, and acted on. Once the religious leaders finally got involved, the momentum was too great to stop it.

So the questions for you are – Who’s your audience?  Who are you intentionally engaging and why?  Is it the general public?  Leaders?  Religious or not? Young people?  Business people?  Men or women?  Someone else?  Jesus chose the right audience at the right time, and his message eventually swept across the known world.

What about you? Who are you trying to reach? As I’ve said many times, it doesn’t matter how great your message is, if no one is listening.

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  1. Several years ago we planted a church in [someplace] for the [Bible Following] denomination. We were very intentional about targeting the common people. We started small, relational, and had an unchurched feel.

    Within a few years our attendance was booming, and the majority of attendees and those in our larger “congregation” were unchurched and not a part of the denomination. It was fun, exciting, and right on track for what we intended to do.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately), the members of local churches and our overseers would come visit and say: But these people don’t look like [Bible Following] Christians. And, this doesn’t feel like church.

    We used to laugh at their ignorance until they withdrew our funding and transferred me to another state.

    In a blog I chronicle the lessons we learned – and conclude that I should have resigned, stayed in [someplace] and taken the church independent.

    1. …and denominations wonder why they’re in decline. I’ve seen that played out so often I’m thinking about writing a book on the crippling power of bureaucracy and how it destroys innovation. Glad you’ve emerged and thanks for the post!

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