by Mike Schrage, Executive Director, GNPI
Here are some surprising things you might hear in our production studios:
- Don’t use yellow in the video. The United Nations did and the community assumed they were talking about contraception…huh?
- The Indian bride’s dress should be red, not white. White is the color of death…what?
- The photo of the Ugandan men holding hands is okay, but the picture of the married Kenyan couple holding hands in church won’t fly…are you serious?
- Is she driving on the left or the wrong side…oops, a little judgment there!
- Incredible how there is no word for ‘thank-you’ in a certain language, but there are 25 words for ‘a spotted cow.’
It’s hard to know what cultural priorities dictate. Make a wrong move in an environment different from yours, and you’ve got egg on your face (or whatever that translates to, wherever you are)! At GNPI we give high priority to cultural relevance.
Next to being faithful to the Word of God, this is most paramount.
Call it what you want: contextualized, customized, or produced on a case by case basis. However, understanding the following is key to understanding GNPI’s core value of cultural relevance:
Our goal is for the viewers (probably not Americans) to understand the message of the media so that they can be reached for Christ. Therefore, GNPI’s global productions will often look different from what would be normally produced in the United States.
This is why we strive to work so closely with nationals and missionaries who work in these diverse places.
The incarnation is a great example of cultural relevance. God left his throne to walk our dusty streets and experience our sin-struck world. Since he did that for you and me, we’re going to do everything possible to share his message with people in a way that resonates with them. The colors, phrases, actions, settings, attitudes, they all communicate. In fact, experts believe 70% of communication is nonverbal; that’s something to talk about!
Wikipedia references this concept from The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara and Allen Pease. When a person or group is absorbing a message, they are focused on the entire environment around them. Meaning, they use all five senses in the interaction: 83% sight, 11% hearing, 3% smell, 2% touch and 1% taste. So culturally relevant video just makes sense!
Why be culturally relevant? It’s the only way to communicate the Good News of Jesus with power and effectiveness.