From time to time I like to break down examples of communicating front door content (content that is consumed outside the context of a relationship).
I hadn’t heard about the response until an inquiry was made as to wether or not my church was going to be involved and it was then that I had to ask what they were talking about. Rick Perry, current governor of Texas, wanted to hold a political rally that would get him some national news coverage so he invited some big churches in Houston to pull together 30,000 people to gather for a day of worship, prayer and fasting.
I’m not going to get into the politics of the situation so much as I want to get into the message that was communicated.
The Response is a terrific example of good intentions gone bad. Getting together for an entire day to worship and pray? Awesome! Disguising what is actually a political rally as a worship and prayer event? Bad form!
There are four pieces to this puzzle and thus four viewpoints to deconstruct:
Rick Perry intended to use the experience to launch his push for the White House by getting the backing of the Evangelical Right and from what the news reports are saying he accomplished just that.
What he was saying: “We need to pray for America”
What was being heard: “I’m awesome and more Christian than the other candidates”
What preacher would pass up an opportunity to speak in front of 30,000? That said, I don’t see what the take away is for preachers as far as the benefit to their local community that they are trying to reach. I’d be curious to know what church vision lines up with this sort of public spectacle.
What they were saying: “God has a plan for America”
What the public heard: “We hate gay people and liberals”
The people who attended were more or less just caught in the cross fire of the news cycle but truth be told they were just looking for a spiritual experience. They have deep concern for their country and this was their chosen way to express it. You can’t fault that.
What they were saying: “We love America and God”
What was being heard: Nothing; their voice was marginalized by the political noise
The people who just heard about The Response on the news at best saw a run of the mill political rally and at worst were turned off to Christian spirituality.
What they were hearing: Here’s a quote from the Huffington Post:
“But context is everything, and the context for this event was remarkable: a governor launching a presidential bid by teaming up with some of the nation’s most divisive extremists to hold a Christians-only prayer rally that suggested Americans are helpless to solve the country’s problems without divine intervention. Some media coverage is missing the boat: the issue wasn’t whether it was okay for a politician to pray, or the size of the audience, but the purposes of the event’s planners and their disturbing vision for America.”
That quote sums up the worst case scenario for how the message from the event was received by the American public. Truth is there was probably a lot of people (Christians) who thought the event communicated a positive message.
What do you think events like this communicate on behalf of the Church?