We get letters! (OK, emails.) Here’s a particularly good one from Jo Lisa Blossom:
We just attended the TG training and were thinking about ‘highlighting a Champion’ in our newsletters and email updates. I was envisioning meeting with them, getting to know them and why they give (or go) to our cause and then writing up an article with a picture, quotes, etc. This seems like it would encourage TG principle # 7- ‘The relationship between champion and champion is as important as the relationship between champion an organization.’ Other champions would be encouraged and so would the one highlighted. I intend to make the focus what the Lord is doing in that person’s life to lead them in the cause but is this lifting someone ‘up’ besides Christ? Is ‘highlighting a champion’ a good idea?
Quick answer, LJB: Absolutely.
The New Testament consistently holds up imitation as a key component of the discipleship process. Paul urges the Corinthians to imitate him in 1 Corinthians 4:16. The author of Hebrews says (in 6:12), ‘We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.’ (Hebrews 13:7 and 3 John 1:11 are two more great imitation verses, by the way.)
In newsletters, one of the key components of success is writing in such a way that the reader can identify with the subject. In too many of our articles, we write about what our staff is doing or what the recipients of our ministry are doing. The problem with that is, the reader can’t seem himself or herself in that picture. S/he may be inspired, heartstring-tugged, or fascinated. But none of these are central to the New Testament process of discipleship.
So yes, highlight a champion for the purpose of encouraging imitation. And make sure to choose one who is both giving and going, since you want to hold up individuals to imitate who are ‘all in’.
Here are some ways to do it creatively:
- Along with the interview, put the champions’ P/E/O chart in the article. Explain what the P/E/O chart is, and invite the reader to download a blank one they can complete for themselves (or call the ministry for help, of course).
- Avoid asking general questions that result in the usual expected answers. Ask questions that are intentionally designed to draw out answers that lead to growth for the reader. For example, avoid asking, ‘So why did you get involved?’ Everyone reading the newsletter is already involved at a basic level (else they wouldn’t be holding the newsletter in their hands), so that question is not likely to lead to much of anything other than prurient interest. Ask questions like: Do you see yourself as a P, an E, or an O? What were the steps that brought you the most growth? Were you ever tempted to give up? How did God grow you through that temptation?
- Make sure to include a single, specific action step at the end. If you only profile the champion, readers will think to themselves, ‘That’s very nice.’ Instead, make sure to end by saying, ‘Take the champion challenge! [Champion’s name] said that what took him to the next level of understanding, commitment, and passion was writing a letter to the government of China on behalf of a persecuted believer [or whatever the growth step is that the champion identified]. Here’s your opportunity to take that same step. Go to the website and etc etc…’
Thanks again for your question, JLB. Make sure to send us a link when you post your champion’s profile online!