CONVERSATION: Thomas E. Trask and Juleen Turnage
Today's world of digital information finds the church at a critical crossroads in sharing the gospel. As people are flooded with ever-increasing messages from every point of view, how can the church effectively get its message out?
Recently, Rick Griepp, resource development coordinator for the Assemblies of God's Office of Public Relations, spoke with AG General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask and AG Communications Director Juleen Turnage about the local church's need to seize communications opportunities.
tpe: What should the church's response be to today's media technologies?
TRASK: I believe the development of media technology, while used for evil by some, is a gift to the church of Jesus Christ, enabling the church to take this gospel into all the world with a far greater reach and speed than ever before.
TURNAGE: Jesus was the greatest communicator who ever lived. He used all the methods of His day and created a few of His own. I believe if Jesus were on earth today, He would capture the technology to communicate to this generation.
Without question, digital technologies provide the church the greatest opportunities it has ever known for communicating the gospel. Our message can literally circle the globe in seconds through the use of the Internet. It has broken down most every barrier that has prevented us in the past from reaching everyone everywhere. Now, regardless of geographic location, political systems, or cultural differences, the church can communicate to the world. We must capture the moment and use all means to win people to Christ.
tpe: What new technologies do you feel have the greatest opportunities for presenting the gospel and how should the church use these effectively?
TRASK: The technologies that allow for the transmission of the gospel and other truths and information about Christian life offer the church unprecedented opportunities to reach the lost. Tools such as the Internet, Web sites, audio/video streaming, television, blogging Web sites, teleconferencing and others all need to be used by all believers for the sake of building God's kingdom.
tpe: What's new in terms of media ministry for the Assemblies of God?
TURNAGE: In the past year, we have initiated several new communications efforts. For example, for two weeks last November we took our message to the Jumbotron in Times Square and ran several hundred spots to tell the 21 million visitors there life is never hopeless because God gives hope. Together with U.S. missionaries, area pastors, prayer centers across the nation and Master's Commission students, we distributed thousands of literature pieces and prayed with people. That outreach continues to bear fruit.
Last June we rolled out the AGchurches.org project, which provides a free Web site to every Assemblies of God church. The response has been phenomenal, with more than 1,000 churches participating in the first six months. This ministry provides the greatest potential for bringing together ministries, resources and programs from the local, district and national levels.
We are planning a number of other efforts this year including podcasting, audio/video streaming, and special communications from the general superintendent. Many of the AG publications are now available on the Web as Webzines. So the challenge is not lack of opportunities, but rather keeping up with all that's available.
tpe: The Assemblies of God will launch a new multimedia program entitled ÒNothing's Too Hard For GodÓ in just a few days. Why did the church select this theme?
TRASK: ÒNothing's Too Hard For GodÓ offers hope and encouragement for the many challenges people face. Sickness, finances, loneliness, loss, broken relationships and a host of other issues could cause one to come to the conclusion there is no answer. But as the theme states, there is nothing too hard for God. If one will seek His help, God is ready and willing to give help. Our world needs to hear this message. We as a church need to share it with them on every corner and in every community.
tpe: How is the new ÒNothing's Too Hard For GodÓ media plan designed to be used, and what benefits does it offer the local church?
TURNAGE: The Assemblies of God has developed several multimedia campaigns since the 1970s. Thousands of churches have used these in their communities and seen results as people have accepted Christ and come into the local church.
The original campaigns were developed to use for 30 or 60 days. I'm excited because the new campaign has much more flexibility. It can still be used for a media blitz of 30 to 60 days if the church wishes. However, many pastors have asked for a sustained media plan they can use indefinitely in their areas. So we have developed this one with that in mind.
Several new elements are available with this plan, including a Web site with powerful video testimonies from people who faced insurmountable situations and found with God nothing is ever impossible. Small group materials have also been developed for use with this theme. Even small items like postcards are available in the new media plan.
Without question, this is a great ministry for increasing visibility, for sharing the good news with the lost and for reaching many who are looking for an answer to life. Churches of any size will find they can afford and use this campaign to take the gospel well beyond the walls of their church and deep into the untraveled corridors, living rooms and individual hearts of their community.
tpe: Do you plan to continue developing these types of media tools for the Assemblies of God?
TURNAGE: Absolutely! The leaders have made a commitment to offer these campaigns in two-year cycles. Another new one will roll out in 2009.
tpe: How do pastors and churches get started in using this new program?
TURNAGE: We have a starter kit (item #086655) available through Gospel Publishing House for $29.99. Order this kit, watch the promotional DVD, read the planner and pray. Ask God what He would have you do to take this powerful message to your community.
tpe: What would you like to see happen as a result of this new media plan?
TRASK: I would like to see our churches step out in faith and prayer to minister in their areas using this plan. I would also love to see our pastors, churches, sections and districts join hands and work together in undertaking it.
May our entire constituency see this effort for what it is — a ministry to reach people where they are with the gospel. May every church that participates bathe this outreach in prayer and fasting so the lost would respond and come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
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