5 Ways For Prophetic Leaders To Be Heard During this Crisis

By Macky Alston

My heart is broken on this day. And I don’t know how you’re feeling, but this is a day where I don’t know necessarily what’s going to happen. But if you’re a person of faith, whatever that faith may be, you’re the kind of person I am likely to look to for guidance, for assurance, and for direction.

The reality at the borders right now in regard to family separation and detention given the Supreme Court rulings that have come down today—this is a time for prophetic witness, and you all are the prophets of our time.  So the recommendations that I want to offer are five basic reminders. If you’ve taken Auburn’s media training, then this will be familiar. And if you haven’t, I hope that this makes sense to you.

The reminders are:

1) Know what you want to say. Be really clear. What is the one sentence take-away as you prepare to preach, as you do your social media, as you reach out to the press?   What’s the point? What’s the moral of your story?

2) Tell a story. What is a story that will move the heart of the folks you most want to reach, that roots you in your authentic witness, and really can best connect with the folks you’re trying to connect?

3) Who are you trying most to connect with? Who do you want to reach most? You can’t, I believe, really compellingly reach everybody at the same time.   If I’m trying to reach my daughter, whose name is Alice Alston, who’s 15, and my mother, whose name is Alice Alston (which is just true), who’s 84, look, I’m  going to use very different languages—language and strategies—to reach them, stories; even my body language will be different.

So as you climb up into the pulpit, as you write that op-ed, be really clear: who are you trying to reach? What’s the name of that person you’re trying to reach? Be clear on that. Prioritize.   Because if you can reach just that demographic, then that’s a win. You don’t have to do everything but if you can move one group of folk? Then that’s great.

4) Be religious. This is a time where folks are trying to figure out, if you are religious and as we are religious, the difference between right and wrong and the languages of our faith traditions.   My hope would be that, as you try to reach that particular person and folks like that person, you appeal to the moral code that is that which they base what they believe to be true on.   You are a religious authority; so many of you are a moral authority. Claim that.

5)  Be relevant. Know what’s going on in the news cycle on the moment from which you speak, in which you speak. Read the news.  You don’t have to understand everything, but the news is changing so rapidly right now that as you are headed to service on Friday or Saturday or Sunday, make sure you’ve gotten the latest.

As you’re rolling out your op-ed, remember that we’re headed toward Fourth of July. We’re headed into the summer. My kids’ last day of school is today. Remember what everybody’s thinking about right now as you try to appeal to their conscience in   regard to the families, for example, at the border, or the families who can’t be reunited because of the Muslim ban.

Those are five things: Know what you want to say. Use story. Know who you’re talking to. Claim your moral authority in the particular language of your religious tradition. And be relevant.   Know what everybody’s already thinking about given the day of the week, the time of the year, and the news cycle currently going on right now as you prepare to say what you’ve come to say.

If you would like information on one of our trainings please email [email protected].


Macky Alston is Senior Vice President for Creative and Prophetic Leadership at Auburn Seminary and an award-winning filmmaker. 

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