A recent article on the BBC website1 recounts the story of a man who was the only audience member to attend the show of a stand-up comedian in the packed schedule of events during the 2022 Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe Festival—the world’s largest annual arts festival.
Even though the comedian had only one person in his audience, he decided to continue with his comedy act because he wanted to honor the audience member who had paid for his ticket. After the show the comedian remarked: “It was honestly one of the best shows I have ever done.” The audience member responded in kind: “I cannot remember ever laughing that much.”
However, the story gets even better. Unbeknownst to the comedian, a reporter who arrived early to review the next act, after genuinely enjoying the show, tweeted with high praise about the event, causing the comedian’s following show to be a near sellout.
The value of one!
Scripture is infused with this value. When you have a moment, read through the succession of the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son found in Luke 15, and at the end, ask yourself the same thematic question for each parable: How many of the 10 coins were lost? How many of the sheep were lost? How many of the sons were lost? Invariably, the answer to every question is one. In every single parable, the thrust of God’s desire, His deepest concern, was about the one!
It’s a sobering thought when we think about it. Ellen White makes a profound and deeply arresting statement on this very thought: “If but one soul would have accepted the gospel of His grace, Christ would, to save that one, have chosen His life of toil and humiliation and His death of shame.”2
Let that statement sink in for a moment. Christ would have endured and risked everything on the cross if you were the only person to choose Him in all the billions of people that have ever existed and will ever exist on Planet Earth before He returns. Can you comprehend that? In the most personal sense, we are of infinite value to God.
No wonder Ellen White remarks: “The soul is of infinite value. Its worth can be estimated only by the price paid to ransom it. Calvary! Calvary! Calvary! will explain the true value of the soul.”3
The infinite beauty of this unselfish love on Calvary becomes even more poignant when we realize that when Christ chose to suffer and die for our salvation, He was valuing us above Himself.
Jesus says it best: “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt. 18:12-14).
2 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 135. (Italics supplied.)
3 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church ( Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 3, p. 187.
Adventist Review Ministries [ARMies] strives to create varied media content that deeply resonates with the needs of our readers, listeners, and viewers. Our approach relies on a teamwide, data-driven mindset where what we create, including what we develop in our media innovation studio, is user-tested from its earliest ideation stage, to ensure an engaging end-user experience when it is released.
We call the process User Experience Design, and it begins with understanding the end users’ needs; understanding their thinking patterns and desires, and designing meaningful, engaging, and visually exciting media products, as well as highly usable platforms to serve up that content—all based on those core end-user needs.
Leading the team’s research, experience, and creative design functions means driving the behavioral research to understand the types of media products and platforms that will create the most engagement. That done, we creatively work to design and produce the products we now know will resonate with you, our audience!
For instance, we recently launched a brand-new ARMies website. Its design focuses on ensuring that end users can easily find and search for con- tent and be able to take key actions such as shar- ing or subscribing. Before we began designing the website, behavioral research helped us establish the key goals and thinking patterns of the end users. Next, we tested and retested the design with real users. Only after that research did we develop and release the site.
A well-designed, thoughtful interaction experi- ence is key to ensuring that people engage with the spiritually nourishing media we aim to create, and subsequently share it with others. This is what motivates me. Coming from a deep corporate back- ground, having built and led Experience Design and Innovation organizations for multiple industry verticals, I have long desired and looked for ave- nues to contribute to the work of our church.
It is with joy that I have reviewed the team’s activities over the past four years. Even with challenges, we have always strived to apply the core principles of Experience Design and Innovation methodology to our content and product development. It’s because, ultimately, we want to enable end users to stop, read, view, listen, and share. A person’s decision to go or stay, to pause and view, to listen, to read, or to leave a piece of content online can be measured in seconds.* We aim to create and design interaction expe- riences that will help people pause long enough to engage with our content.
The field of Experience Design is hugely important to our evangelism efforts as a church. We work hard as a team to ensure that believers and nonbelievers alike can be attracted and fall in love with the Bible story and the beauty of our unique Adventist mes- sage. Whether it’s a video from our on-de- mand video platform that drives someone to an article on end-time events, or, perhaps, something health-related, our goal is to tell and help people experience the beauty of Bible truth through a multimedia ecosystem; a story that we ultimately want you, the end user, to own and experience for yourself. That is true engagement.
Daniel Bruneau, the ministry’s creative director, helps us negotiate a world where both people and machines live, learn and try to change for the better.
Growing up, Ashley Bloom, a London-based illustrator, saw some great examples of illustrated children’s Bibles, but often felt frustrated that the depictions didn’t do the actual stories justice. “When drawings were too childish and didn’t communicate reality, or where prophecy illustrations looked very amateurish, I felt it took away from the sense of realism and believability,” he says. That drove me to study illustration and graphic design at university, and ever since, I have always tried to use visual communication as a way of bringing the Bible to life.”
Taking on Bible-based projects has allowed Bloom to strengthen his relationship to Scripture. “In illustrating the story of David, I tried to interpret it as a graphic novel. In my effort to illustrate the story as accurately as possible, I began analyzing small parts of the text that I had previously overlooked.” As a youth leader in his local congregation, using art to convey biblical truth is an important educational method. “Whenever I teach young people, even if they’re not artistic themselves, I still make them illustrate things like prophecies based on the text, because it causes them to question details they might otherwise gloss over, and it increases their understanding,” he says.
Bloom has a unique way of looking at the notion of placing Christ at the center of his art. “There are two elements to it,” he says. “One part is that it’s actually as important what I don’t draw as what I do draw. There are some things that I’ve committed to not try to depict. One of them is the face of Christ Himself. That’s just my understanding of how it relates to the commandment of not making graven images and realizing the reasoning behind that is to keep us from doing a disservice to something that we could never accurately portray. So there are certain scenes that I’ve committed to not actually draw, and it’s because I think, as an artist, your level of reverence for your subject matter has to come across.”
In the creative and emotive world of the arts, inspiration is often taken from the culture, the times, and the way in which the world moves. But for the artist who places Christ at the center of his or her work, how does one juxtapose Christ with culture? “I try to make sure my culture doesn’t influence my work too much,” says Bloom. “I recently worked on a T-shirt design for a Christian client who wanted to make a line of shirts that appeal to young people outside the church. So I drew a few superhero characters looking like they are about to take on an enemy, but with Jesus’ hand just visible, raised in front of them saying, ‘It’s all right, guys. I’ve got this.’” That kind of relevance, reaching out to people and meeting them where they are, if done well, can be effective.”
Daniel Bruneau is creative director for Adventist Review Ministries.