A group of communicators from Mid-America Union Conference territory met with other communication professionals from around North America and beyond at an annual conference of the Society of Adventist Communicators on Oct. 15-17 in Chantilly, Virginia near Washington, DC.

Advancing professionalism in how the church communicates its message in today’s media market dominated more than a dozen presentations and workshops attended throughout the weekend by over 170 professionals. Consultants and media specialists presented numerous seminars covering topics, such as how to respond to attention the church receives in the media in the context of Dr. Ben Carson’s presidential bid, and effective engagement with social media. Other benefits of the gathering were opportunities for networking, exchanging questions and answers, and sharing fresh approaches in making the church’s communication relevant and effective.

Martin Doblmeier presented the keynote address in which he pointed out a need for Adventists to consider more attentively the church’s assets of healthy living and care for creation (environmentalism). Attendees also viewed clips from Doblmeier’s newest film focusing on chaplaincy ministries.

Several plenary and workshop session conversations expressed concerns that far too much attention is being given to in-church communication and far too little in engaging with issues and needs of society at large. “We need to stop selfie-broadcasting and start learning to speak to a secular audience and learn the language of our younger audiences. Speaking to ourself is not evangelism,” Kirsten Øster-Lundqvist, communication expert from England, told fellow communicators.

“Developing culturally relevant content is far more important than the time and money we spend in perfecting availability of technology. Media is not an option—it’s here and we as believers, pastors and leaders need to become media literate so that we can understand how to communicate cross-culturally to reach today’s post-post modern secular audiences,” she added.

Next year’s convention is slated to be held in Denver, Colorado.

Ray Dabrowski is communication director for the Rocky Mountain Conference.