Every student of Communication 101 understands the significance of knowing his or her audience. Peter’s and Paul’s speeches in Acts chapters 2 and 17 demonstrate the value of communicating in a way that connects.
So, for whom should we write? Each week I may choose to write for a different audience. And yes, this does influence my phrasing and selection of material, just as it did for Peter, Paul and the writers of the Gospels.
Both Peter and Paul tailored their messages about Christ to fit their respective audiences. If these two apostles were to have swapped the messages they delivered on Mars Hill and on Pentecost, neither audience would have responded as favorably.
Or we might consider the four Gospels. Their authors recounted the same story about Jesus, yet each account is designed for the sensibilities of a specific listener. Missionaries and preachers are well aware of the need to understand who is listening.
Knowing the audience can also influence contemporary writing. For example I am convinced that when all of the evidence is examined, the Exodus occurred about 1440 B.C. More about this another time. Yet within an article I might vaguely affirm the Exodus occurred well over a thousand years before Christ. Why?
Many today believe the Exodus occurred about 1290 B.C. They regard this as the educated viewpoint. To accept this date conveys credibility. To reject it is paramount to inviting being labeled ignorant. Accordingly, some readers might not give an article’s main point a fair hearing if it tangentially affirms the traditional Exodus date.
Hence when the date of the Exodus is not critical to an article’s message, by stating it in more obtuse terms this ought to enable more readers to focus upon the primary message. Why create unnecessary barriers?
Many topics today are controversial. Just because people may disagree about a particular subject does not demand we need to be ambivalent. Where good evidence exists, we can stand with strong convictions.
It would seem to be wise though to not insist upon our convictions regarding every detail when they are not necessary to support the primary message. Adopting such a methodology seems to conform to the general principle of Paul’s statement, “I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
To the Jews he did not insist on what he knew to be true about eating bacon, pulled pork and baby back ribs. He conceded this matter in order to focus upon Christ.
For whom should we write? At times I choose to present an idea for those within my fellowship. On other occasions I write for those holding various perspectives within the broader spectrum of Christendom. Still yet, other articles might be tailored for the educated skeptic.
Some are written for those adept at abstract thought. Others seek to connect with practical concrete thinkers. Regardless of who the intended audience might be, writing for that reader shapes how the message is portrayed.
Thus my convictions on a particular point can be much stronger than they might appear in a particular article. At times it can be beneficial to convey last night’s dinner was tasty, instead of insisting that on the previous evening my wife served up a fabulous Texas pulled pork feast.