The Language of Participatory Church: Context


Last week I continued my series of blog posts on participatory church with my first reflection on language that is common between the two parallel shifts happening in culture and the Church. I started with curation, which I related to content and the old adage that “Content is king.”

But social media marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk has said, “If content is king, then context is God.”

McLuhan - The Medium Is The MessageContext is just as important, if not more important than content, because context shapes the very meaning of the content itself, how it is received and interpreted. Or as Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.”

The Word for the Next Decade
In the most recent iteration of Gary V.’s stump speech, he takes his ruminations on context and the Web even further: “The word that is the single most important word … period. The word for the next decade: Context.” And then adds, “We are living in a context war right now.”

What does he mean by “context war”? I suspect he means that with the massive volume of content being generated online, the battle is to break through the noise and capture people’s imaginations, and to do that involves understanding and engaging people in their context, getting really personal, hitting them where they live (so to speak). And, as I’m sure Gary V. would add, actually caring.

The missional shift in Christianity is also all about context and translating the Gospel message into flesh and bones and hands and feet out in the community (incarnational). And this is very location-specific, down to your street and your neighborhood — as we talked about at Inhabit Conference in Seattle last April.

Watch this keynote from Gary V. and pay attention to what he says about “extending the story,” local, “one-on-one”/individual marketing, and “small town” values — and then consider how all of this relates to how we should “do church” in the 21st century:

*The quote from Google’s Eric Schmidt that Gary V. places a lot of emphasis on has been disputed. However, the massive volume of content being generated on the Web daily is still a fact. No doubt about that.



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Posted on 01-01-2012


  1. Context Is God(‘s) says:

    August 26th, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    […] wrote about Vaynerchuk’s proclamation in a January 2012 blog post on participatory church. At the time, Vaynerchuk had said, “The word that is the single most important word … […]

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