How do you keep score in your church? What do you look at when you determine if you are successful? These were questions that we were asking ourselves as leaders of the church a few weeks ago. The common answers are often the number of people in a service, amount of money coming in, and/or the number of programs that are operating. We were trying to move away from such answers, because we all knew that those things do not always mean you have a healthy church. One of the values we wanted to have be a measure of our success was direct communication.
What do I mean by direct communication? It is quite simple in theory. It involves two basic things, directness and communication, quite profound eh? Let’s break it down a little more. First, it means being direct. It means going to the person you have problems with. In Matthew 18:15 Jesus calls us to go and talk to the brother who has sinned against us. Just us and the person who sinned against us, nobody else at first. That means no telling ten other people to gain support for your side or even harboring some sort of grudge without ever actually dealing with the issues.
Of course the need for this directness is beyond just when things go wrong. Are you able be direct and earnest in talking about your life, likes, and dislikes with people or are you constantly hiding and on the defensive around people. Not to say we have to be so open that people around us know everything there is to know about us. However, we do need to ask if we are hiding behind a facade or are we being who we are?
Let’s move to the communication part. Communication requires two things; talking and listening. It also requires at least two people. This is where things get really difficult, because you can only control the way you act and approach communication. You may be willing to talk and listen to those around you in a direct fashion, but that does not always mean that the person you’re communicating with will.
Why is this so important? Whether it is because we live in an age of mass media or just because of our massive egos, it seems that our definition of communication is only to talk. Even worse it is usually only talk to those who agree with us and call those who don’t names and/or never directly address what valid points they may bring up. We have, all too often, turned communication into a one way street. All this does is create tension and resentment. It divides when we are called to be united.
Sadly, we don’t have to look too far to see evidence of this. People complain about things that someone did, without going to them and communicating with them about it. We fail to listen and think that the role of communication is to get the person we disagree with to do what we want or to agree with our view. We call people names and make caricatures of them when they disagree with our views instead of talking with them and getting to know them and their views.
Obviously, direct communication is not easy and goes against the flow of where we are today. However, I see a lack of communications in too many corners. I see it in our churches, our country, and even in my own relationships with people. It takes a lot of work to do, and it is not always work that is appreciated. However, it is work that we need to do, even though I know it is hard and I have a lot of work to do. Honestly, as Christians, we should be the champions of this, but I don’t see that we are. I know I want to be known for this, care to join me and help the cause?