The Gospel Advocate Company has supported the work of churches of Christ since 1855. We are glad to offer “Bulletin Bites” for use by congregations. Please be sure to include the author’s name and tagline when copying these articles for use in church bulletins.
“Forewarned is forearmed,” so the saying goes. It always helps to understand as fully as possible the situation at hand. This search for information led the United States to develop several new methods of espionage during the Second World War. One of the simplest, and yet most effective, tools used for finding useful information was Content Analysis.
Not being able to trust Nazis propaganda produced for public consumption, American analysts instead looked at the frequency of topics arising in the German media. Content Analysis highlighted shifts of national mood and accurately let America to have a clear picture of life behind enemy lines.
This approach proved valuable in cutting through a facade, and was useful during the Cold War in understanding the mind-set of the Soviet Union. The strength of Content Analysis rests in its simplicity and ease of application. Beyond espionage, the methods of Content Analysis have found wide acceptance and currently are used in various marketing, public relations, and political applications.
Content Analysis also reveals interesting trends within congregations. A simple exercise is to list all the church activities mentioned in a congregational bulletin. When times of worship and Bible study begin to be crowded out by things that are not worship or Bible study, a disturbing trend is uncovered. Also, listing the subjects covered in Sunday morning and in Wednesday evening classes, or the topics addressed from the pulpit can reveal shifts in emphasis that will dramatically change the church over time.
Perhaps the most sobering application of Content Analysis is in our own lives. Listen to the topics discussed at a typical church fellowship. Do Christians talk about the truths of Scripture, or do the topics we discuss reflect a more secular outlook? Does the content of our communication differ much from our friends and neighbors who are not Christian? As Jesus reminds us in Luke 6:45, “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Watching ourselves and our congregations, let’s try ever to be moving closer to the Lord, rather than farther away.