Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Questions...


What connects with listeners? What will entice them to listen long enough to really consider the message? How should one express the Gospel so it comes across as both: astonishing and penetrating, exhilarating and disturbing?

These are the kinds of questions we at The Lutheran Difference ask ourselves. We ask for two reasons: 1. It would be satisfying to finally understand why one episode takes off and another lags behind, why one becomes an overnight hit, and another starts slow and mostly stays slow. And then, 2. If it ever became obvious to us what recipe always guaranteed a great show, we’d strive to hit the same marks every time.

A few of you out there have sent us private emails letting us know what you think, and we’ve responded to all the emails sent so far. If you’re one of those who’ve taken the time to dialog with us a bit, then you know we’re still trying to figure many of the basics. Nevertheless, despite the fact that we’re still in the beginning stages of this podcast ministry, as of today over 2700 shows have been downloaded. We think that’s pretty good, considering most folks didn’t become aware of the show until September. (Yes, there’s a few who’ve been listening since mid-July, and you know who you are. God bless you.)

So far, all this has merely been a preface, setting up for what I really want to say: IMHO, the episode that just went up, episode 12, is going to be the topical episode that quickly becomes the most important and most popular show in the archives. Our topic is very personal, because when you touch on a person’s salvation and assurance and doubts, you’re getting very personal. The title of the show is in the form of a question: Am I really a Christian?

Am I really a Christian? How can I know for sure I’m saved? Or how can I help my brother in Christ get past his doubts? These are not hypothetical or theoretical questions. These are questions that many people agonize over. Any answer that merely tries to explain salvation in abstract terms is not going to help anyone move from doubt to faith that finds joy in the Lord, the Rock of our salvation.

Who will this episode help? Everyone. Because so often the way to get past a confusing question is not to search for answers, but to reconsider whether the right question is even being asked in the first place. In other words, so often we can be a tremendous help by simply reframing the question. Just as a part of our minds are prone to read the Scriptures through lenses colored with legalism, so also we wrestle with questions which (unthinkingly) have assumed a confusion of Law and Gospel from the beginning. If the way a question is being considered is predicated on confusing Law and Gospel, we do a great service by reframing the question so it now properly distinguishes them.

Doing the episode and reflecting on it, we also believe we can now answer our original question, What connects with listeners? A message connects when it addresses an important question that touches on the heart as well as the mind.

Hope you enjoy the episode, and even more, we hope you get the opportunity to help someone who is stuck in some doubts.

1 comment:

David said...

Father Held and brother Matthew,

One thing I run into is the lamentable teaching that we can notice progressive holiness in the lives of others and ourselves. You addressed some of that in the last installment. Perhaps a further examination of gratia infusia would be in order.

I remember plenty of energizing sermons after which I really felt like I could get it under control. However, I would not make it out of the church house without feeling devastated.

What a delight week after week to go to worship and confess that by nature I justly deserve Father's temporal and eternal punishment. That by itself made me know that the Lutheran church is home as much as one can have home here in this vale of tears.

God's blessings on you two as you proceed with these programs.†