Tag Archives: media

“Wait for it… wait for it…”

The line has become a set up phrase for some great punch lines. It is familiar to viewers of sitcoms such as “Arrested Development” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

"Men About Town": Noël Coward and Ge...Perhaps it originated in a 1936 Noel Coward play, “Red Peppers.” The author gave it as direction for his actors:

GEORGE: I saw a very strange thing the other day.
LILY: What was it?
GEORGE: Twelve men standing under one umbrella and they didn’t get wet.
LILY: How’s that?
GEORGE: It wasn’t raining. (Wait for it — wait for it.)

That is, wait for the laughter to end before you resume the dialog.

I think the phrase actually started in the Bible.

“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.”
– Habakkuk 2:2-3

That passage has been a theme for my ministry since 1980, when I first heard it cited as a guiding principle for media ministry in a local church. I heard it from Ron Harris, who was Media Minister at First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas at the time.

Until recently, I had always focused on the first three lines.

The primary communication medium of the prophet Habakkuk’s era was the fleet-footed messenger, who would take the words of a king or other important person to the intended “target audience” and deliver the message personally.

The communication media of our era are vastly different. But the exhortation to faithfully report, to “make it plain,” is applicable for us modern messengers, too. Whether we write it, speak it, broadcast it, or post it on Facebook, we strive to be faithful and true to the King.

In recent months and years, I’ve expanded my focus to the last three lines of the passage.

Waiting has never been my strong suit. When I get an idea, I’m apt to run with it and ask for God’s blessing later.

What I’m learning (and I don’t pretend to be there yet) is to “wait for it.” God is teaching me patience… and He’s taking His sweet time about it!

The Prodigal Project is my current schoolroom for the patience lessons. After praying and thinking about this project for two and a half years, I’m beginning to see where God is leading. And it is truly exciting to see Him put the pieces together.

People who want to participate and contribute are showing up regularly these days. And many of those folks weren’t around two years ago. If I’d pushed ahead on my schedule, the project would have been robbed of these creative sparks.

I don’t know how it will all turn out, but I’m learning to enjoy the journey and to anticipate the surprises that await the appointed time.

How about a Communication Audit?


Our church just did a “Generosity Audit.” The objective was to get a handle on the generosity culture of our congregation, and to look at some ways our church can encourage a generous lifestyle among our folks.

We worked with a consultant, who looked at all our communications for a period of several weeks. He talked with the staff and many other key leaders in our church. And then he presented a report which applauded some of our praiseworthy practices, and made recommendations on some changes he thought would move us toward the goal of being a more generous people.

It was a good exercise.

Being a church communication guy, it made me think that maybe churches should periodically conduct a communication audit.

Churches are usually motivated around the themes of generosity and stewardship. For very good reasons, they keep a close eye on the church’s financial health. But many churches don’t often stop and take a hard look at the way they’re communicating with their own members and with the community at large. Every church has a Finance Committee. Not all churches have a Communication Team. (Richmond’s First Baptist Church has had such a team for many years.)

Every congregation is different. Every community has its unique channels of communication. And every congregation and community is constantly changing. People come and go, and communication technology is evolving. Twenty years ago, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no blogs, not much of a World Wide Web, no smart phones, and the only ways to watch a TV program was to turn on your set when the show was on the air or record it on your VHS deck.

These days, just keeping up with the changes and development of technology is enough to make your hair hurt!

So every now and then, it is a good idea to look at what you’re doing, assess the changes in your church and community, and determine if your methods are still supporting your goals.

What should we look at in a communication audit?

How are you communicating with your congregation? Take a brief survey on a Sunday morning. Find out how many of your members use Facebook and Twitter regularly. How many have smart phones? How do they get information about what’s going on in your church?

How are you communicating with your community? The radio and TV stations and the local newspaper are the obvious, default communication channels. Who do you contact at those media outlets? What are their deadlines and submission requirements? Are there websites that cater to your immediate neighborhood? How about community calendars and blogs that might list events at your church?

How well are you communicating? Do the members of your congregation feel they’re in the loop or do they feel left out of church communications? Does the local newspaper editor dread to see email from your church, or does she read it immediately because she knows the contents are relevant and interesting?

It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to answer these questions. But the knowledge you gain through your communication audit can save you a lot of both.