By Kelly Kaunda
Once again, there is a headline that resembles one a few years ago in the Zambian media about the SDA Church. I am not the official spokesperson of the Adventist Church neither an employee of the church. Therefore, my views in this article are strictly my own. I write as a member of the church who is also a journalist and a PR practitioner.
When an organization has been portrayed in bad light and the reputation risks being damaged, the normal practice would be for the PR team to investigate the matter and decide on a public response depending on the findings. One of the responses could run something like, “we are aware of the reports in the media and an internal investigation has commenced. We will inform the public of the findings in due course. In the meantime, we wish as an organization to state that we do not condone such behavior by anyone of our members. Should culprits be found, the by-laws of the organization shall be applied accordingly”.
In dealing with the church, do you apply similar standards of PR to address a matter that has the potential to damage the standing of the church? If the newspaper is found to be at fault, do you as a church sue the paper? My opinion is that while the church can draw some benefit from the PR practice, its application to the image of the church is limited, if not very limited. The church is the body of Christ whose reputation is constantly under attack by the devil through the misconduct or alleged misconduct of its members.
You cannot always defend the reputation of Christ or His body – the church through the secular instruments of the law. In a few select instances such as defending those victimized on the basis of their religious freedoms, the church might appeal to courts of law for intervention. If church members are accused of committing adultery, the church as a body may have no way of verifying this information and therefore would be a fruitless exercise to defend the church or seek legal redress. But even if the church found this information to be true, there are internal bible-based methods of addressing sin and wrongdoers. Our greatest advocate is the owner of the church – Christ Himself who is able to defend His own.
As Adventists, our most effective response and more appropriate PR strategy in light of media reports is to pledge at individual level to reflect Christ at all times, in every circumstance and leave no room for the devil to attack the image of Christ. Remember that the battle is not ours because when the devil initially launched the war in heaven, his focus was on usurping God’s powers. Ever since his fate was sealed on the Cross, he has been attacking the weaker members of the body of Christ so that he drives pain in the heart of the Savior and attempt to render null and void the price paid for man’s redemption. Whatever his machinations, the devil is a loser and the body of Christ is headed for victory when the Savior finally declares, “It is finished”!