Engaging with Media at the Workplace for Transforming Society

Editor’s Note: This GWF2019 Advance Paper was written by the Catalysts for the Media Engagement Issue Network as an overview of the topic to be discussed at the related session at the Global Workplace Forum 2019 held in Manila, Philippines. 

How can people at work engage with the media to equip change agents in society?

The Lausanne Media Engagement Network wants to take you on a journey of exploring the role that media play in your life for enabling various aspects of change. We want to encourage you to grapple with engaging with the media in your workplace for the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum (June 2019). We look forward to receiving your ideas about how media may help you in equipping people to be agents of transformation.

The overall story of engaging with media

In short, our overall story of ‘engaging with media at the workplace for transforming society’ involves the following:

  1. I let God change me personally (via media engagement and in the workplace);
  2. I connect with other people and then we influence one another (via media communities in our places of work);
  3. We sense God’s heart for the hurting world and speak into this sense of pain (via the media channels through our various sectors of work);
  4. Together we equip people in society for their own journey of change (using media);
  5. Help these become agents of change in their own contexts (by using their media tools in their own workplaces).

We begin our journey by looking at what personal change looks like by engaging intentionally with the media. Then we explore the role of connecting with communities of trust in the process of maturing as persons on this discipleship journey. Next, we look at the role of such close communities for contributing in the workplace. Thereafter, we investigate how such teams in the workplace, particularly in the media, may explore the critical needs of people in society. Lastly, we study how teams in the workplace can utilize media to enable people in society to go on their own journeys of change that enable them to become influencers that may transform communities in the wider society.

So why do we need media on these journeys? We live in a world that is highly interconnected and in which information increasingly shapes society at many levels. In small local communities, where everybody meets each other regularly, information can be communicated by individuals interacting face-to face with one other. When we engage as media users and consumers, we relate to media messages that were produced in other geographic and cultural contexts and at other times. Similarly, when we ourselves communicate messages using various media tools, we can influence the thinking of other people who are located in other physical and cultural contexts, who receive these messages at other times. Thus, when we embark on our journey of faith to influence the world through our workplaces, we can expand our influence over space and time by intentionally engaging with the media. Hence, many of the concepts presented in this paper extend way beyond the media-specific workplaces and beyond those people who have media as their primary work. These personal journeys of change can be foundational for equipping workplace teams to address hurting issues of society. This may also happen outside specific media contexts and platforms, yet by deliberately using media in the various phases of change, the intended impact may happen much faster and be extended much wider.

We start the journey by sketching out how we engage with media in our various places of work.

Relating media engagement to the workplace

The workplace is increasingly becoming mediatized, just as our whole society is increasingly being media-saturated. In the workplace context, people consume media, communicate through media and contribute their own media content. With growing globalization, more and more information is being communicated through an increasing range of media channels.

The Lausanne Media Engagement Network focuses on ‘Equipping the global church to engage with media.’ Our network inspires people to grapple with three areas of media engagement:

  1. Media awareness: carefully interacting with messages and technologies in the world of media;
  2. Media presence: intentionally being influencers with integrity within the mainstream media;
  3. Media ministries: sensitively communicating a holistic biblical worldview through contextualised media.

Within the context of the workplace, these questions for each of the three areas of media engagement can help Christians relate effectively to the media:

  1. How do we as Christians engage as media users and consumers within the workplace context, also in relation to our colleagues at work?
  2. How do Christian media practitioners live as witnesses within the professional media environment?
  3. How do we as Christ-followers communicate truth, hope, and healing into our communities through our use of media platforms?

Previously mass media used to be confined to large professional media houses with highly trained teams. Nowadays, we all contribute as individuals to the production and distribution of media content using easily accessible tools. Such personal media communication is increasingly merging with media of large organizations. Even messages from individuals are able to reach large numbers of people through the wide range of media platforms. So, media engagement becomes relevant for people in their workplace.

Some people work primarily within the media, while people in all types of workplaces nowadays engage with media as part of their normal work assignments. The themes of media engagement in the workplace thus relate both specifically to those working as media professionals and generally to anyone engaging with media within their workplace context.

Media engagement may be related to a range of themes within the workplace

Integrating media engagement with the workplace themes

The daily themes of the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum focus on how discipleship journeys influence the workplace and the people who work there. In this article, we explore discipleship by looking at the role of media engagement in personal discipleship journeys and the maturing of workplace teams. The forum also focusses on creative aspects of witness at work and challenges to discipleship at work. We will look at creative aspects within media engagement that enhances witness and to discipleship in the workplace environment. In relation to the forum-theme of looking at the future of faith at the workplace, we will look at how media impact through changed individuals and teams in society may lead to long-term transformative impact that can shape the future.

We can identify three facets of media engagement in helping people to become media influencers:

  • Media awareness: Understanding the worldviews and values of people around you and the workplace; analyzing the worldviews portrayed in the media you consume at the workplace (mainstream media, social media, or online digital media); identifying the worldviews of society as portrayed by the media. You become more competent to respond from your Christian ‘faith perspective’, when you acquire a deeper understanding of the underlying messages of the surrounding media. You become aware of the negative influences that media messages may have on your life, and you identify which positive messages to which you want to expose yourself, which may help you to deepen your faith and to sharpen your thinking.
  • Media presence: On your personal journey of faith, you can help others on the journey with their healing and maturing. Within the professional media workplace, you can be shaping people’s worldviews by communicating your Christian faith in your relationships and by living out your biblical convictions in your everyday contributions at work. This may influence production teams in the mainstream media to be more open towards ‘the faith dimension’. You may also get opportunities to set the public agenda through creative and critical contributions and productions.
  • Media ministries: As you communicate your faith through media channels, you can influence individuals, workplace teams, and the wider society. When you reach out to other people with truth, hope, and love by using media channels, you can minister to them as part of your own faith journey. This may lead to workplace partnerships, which can equip people to begin to minister themselves through the media to others, thus the gospel may reach out much further into other sectors of society.

Media engagement plays a key role in each of the following phases of the journey, beginning from levels of personal change and leading all the way to social impact and change.

Enabling personal change at work through media engagement

I may desire to change the world, but change begins with me. This starts when I as an individual become open to change. God can begin changing me on the personal level when I get to know him in a close relationship. God can help me to repent from trying to please him and to begin trusting him.

When I become vulnerable to God, he can address my own needs and personal issues. Out of the process of inner healing, I as a media professional can begin living out my faith in the workplace. As I grapple with God’s Word and let it shape my thinking and my life, I can wrestle with the many conflicting messages distributed throughout the media within my workplace. As I contribute through my own professional role within media, I can seek to let biblical values shape my perspectives on and my contributions to the media.

On my personal discipleship journey, I learn to understand how the media messages shape the thinking of many people within my workplace. Following on from that, I can provide alternative biblical perspectives on the media. My own journey of personal transformative change becomes the place from where I begin to be able to relate authentically to change that occurs around me and within the media.

Developing trusting teams in the workplace with media tools

I need the interaction of others who help me to mature, since I cannot mature on my own. I need people within deep relationships to enable me to heal and mature. Within authentic relationships with others in the workplace, especially in the context of teams characterised by deep trust, we may experience God influencing and shaping us. I learn to relate closely to the people around me and become able to address the needs of those people within the team. As I am on a journey of deepening such authentic team interactions, I can inspire others in my work context to experience the same type of deep relationships. When such communities become safe spaces within the workplace, discipleship patterns may be developed.

Many new communication tools are available to nurture personal relationships. Direct messaging apps enable personal group interactions, which can help developing relationships within teams. When we strengthen one another as complementary healthy teams, we can inspire others to have a wider and deeper influence. As a team, we can come alongside other people, thereby shaping the workplace. When we use the tools of media intentionally, they can help us to interact with people elsewhere, thus becoming a trusted resource to them. Our team then may influence others. This is the beginning of a transformative process, which begins around one team and then eventually can spread out into a whole organization and even into a whole sector of work.

In working within media teams, we equip people to understand their own needs, as well as other people’s needs in the workplace, which we can then address through authentic and relevant media content. When people then begin to be vulnerable with one another in the teams, we create space for embracing failure. We enable people to be creative and risk trying out new approaches to be authentic and relevant when communicating Christian faith through the media.

Within a journey of faith, our perspectives of biblical convictions and values enable us to speak authentically and relevantly into the cultural contexts of other people. We grow beyond our own immediate understanding into acquiring a wider and deeper perspective.

Influencing work sectors via media engagement by identifying key needs

As we have identified the needs of individuals and teams within the workplace, we have been on a transparent discipleship journey with them. Once we look at the wider needs of people in society, our understanding of the deeper and wider issues enlarges.

When our teams begin investigating critical issues in society, we begin by observing the evidence of personal hurt. When we start digging deeper, we understand some of the root causes that maintain the pervasive evil in society. Within the media sector, various injustices are so deeply entrenched within cultural contexts that they are very challenging to address.

While we as teams deepen our understanding of the needs of society, we can begin by orienting our work towards helping others. We utilize media tools to exploring the needs in society more broadly. This means we can utilize media and communication tools to interact more widely with people, in order to learn more about the deeper and wider context of the identified issues in the communities.

The understanding of the issues and the underlying worldviews, will equip us to begin speaking into society through the media. We begin by influencing our particular sector of work, such as the media sector, by using media and communication tools to influence various other teams or organizations. We can then equip more people and teams to utilize the media for addressing the needs of others in society through our particular sector of work. Thus, teams are being equipped for influencing society.

Many factors are contributing to keep the environment stable within the work sector of media. When teams become creative to address issues of deep hurt, key opposing challenges will be uncovered. These challenges can range from ridicule, to direct confrontations rising out of opposing worldviews, and even to actions that seek to prevent our media contributions.

We then sense the critical needs of the world around us and can shape our workplace towards being a strong voice into various sectors of society. When we utilize media to engage authentically and relevantly with colleagues and the wider society, we may experience a transformation of these critical issues with truth, beauty, and goodness.

Transforming society by equipping change agents through media engagement

We primarily influence society, not through our own personal impact, nor through our team’s impact, but by equipping change agents within society. We equip people in society to form their own transformative teams. We utilize all types of media channels to communicate with individuals in society, helping them to begin moving into their very own journey of change.

We then inspire people to use media tools to create their own safe communities in which they can mature to become equipped for influencing various sectors of society. These change agents in society would then use their own range of media tools to communicate and influence people within their communities.

When we address the issues in the future of media in the workplace, we look at the implications of future technology, such as augmented/virtual reality that create immersive media experiences. We explore how people will relate to such very different media messages. As we prepare people to influence society by using media, we want to include helping people respond to the challenges and opportunities of uniquely different future media contexts.

Transformation is primarily about very close relationships: with God, with one another within teams characterized by deep trust, and with the wider society. As we engage with media tools to facilitate change, the professional relationships within the media workspace are of critical importance. Just as important are the relationships between the media contributors and the media users and consumers within society. Through deep trust emerging out of such relationships, authentic and valuable interactions enable deep inner change that leads to wider social transformation.

Integrating our personal journeys with media engagement at work

We end our journey by bringing all the phases of change together. The journey of influencing the world starts with myself in my own personal relationship with God. I then continue by nurturing communities through the media within the workplace, which can then extend through the workplace into the wider society. My own transformation and the maturing relationships with others may become the influence that I model for wider society with whom I communicate through media.

When these individuals in society become inspired to go on their very own journey of change, they mature within a group of trusted colleagues and/or friends, they mobilize their own sectors for understanding the needs in society and they then become agents of change within other communities that extend beyond our own reach.

Our initiatives to begin shaping social values and worldviews through intentional media usages within our own local contexts have then expanded into shaping other spheres of society. We address the deep hurt and pain of individual people nearby and then equip others to help the people around them to grow into living more mature lives.

We have a key role as workplace professionals in using media communication tools, in order to contribute to the holistic mission of the global church. This includes reaching people from all groups and sectors of society with the Good News of the biblical story of Jesus Christ, leading to lives and communities of truth, beauty and hope. This may bring biblical transformation to the workplace and beyond.

Questions for further reflection

  1. How can I engage with the media on my own journey of healing and transformation?
  2. In which way can I relate to people within a trusting team to mature in my own contributions of using the media to equip others?
  3. How can our trusting teams explore the deep needs in society using information from various media sources?
  4. What process could our teams utilize to inspire other teams in our various sectors of work to address critical issues in society using the tools of media?
  5. How can we equip change agents within society for their own journey of transformation to influence their local communities?
  6. How can we integrate our personal journeys, our team journeys, and the journeys of our work sectors to creative cohesive media engagement processes with people in society?

Date: 01 May 2019

Grouping: GWF 2019 Advance Paper

Gathering: 2019 GWF

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