Sunday, July 29, 2007


It's a funny thing--now that we have computers, email, voice mail, cell phones, iphones, Blackberrys, instant messaging, texting (how is that a verb? but I digress...), and whatever other communication tools are coming out next month, it seems like communication is harder than ever! The problem is that in the information age, there's just too much information to absorb. With all the noise out there, they say it takes at least seven exposures to one message for us to retain it.

For instance, we have a Church-wide picnic coming up next Sunday after the second service. Who knew?! It's been in the bulletin every week since the end of June. I mentioned it from the platform on June 24, when I talked about the emergency budget and how we would now have to each provide our own table service. (Incidentally, not having coffee seemed to strike a real chord--many of you responded by bringing in all the coffee we'll need for the next six months! Hopefully, you're inviting new people to church as well, but again I digress...)

It's just part of the communication paradox--the more communication we receive, the less we hear.

In our church, we have several communication systems:

  • The platform on Sunday mornings. This one can be very effective when used correctly. Most of the time, we don't do verbal announcements because the more that is announced, the less is heard. After two announcements, everyone is already thinking about where they want to go for lunch after the service and not listening to a word that is being said. We reserve this time for events that are timely and related to every single person in the church.
  • The bulletin. This is the primary communication tool of our church. A new edition comes out each week full of information that will keep you connected with what is going on with the Youth Group, with PrimeTimers, with small groups, with church events, and more! Don't forget to read your bulletins!! So many people never even crack them open (you know who you are!) and miss out on all sorts of stuff they might like to know.
  • This blog. Here you can find out stuff before anyone else does. You can find out what direction we're heading as a church, what our big hurdles are, how you can pray, and what kind of progress we're making. Many times, the stuff that comes out here eventually comes out on the platform, but you can get a heads-up before the rest (or if you miss a week visiting Aunt Gertrude, you won't come back saying, "When did we decide we're going to plant a church???")
  • The Prayer Posse. I send out an email (almost) every week to 50+ people in the church, detailing our prayer needs. This is not meant to be a newsletter, but the fact is that in order to pray effectively, people must know what is going on. So each email includes background info, as well as specific prayer requests. (Incidentally, for those without internet access, a print copy is available in your mailbox.) Not part of the Prayer Posse yet? Sign up here.
  • Our website ( Most of the information on the website is static, but you can always see what is going to be coming up for the worship services on Sunday, and there are also places to sign up for the Journey classes or get information about small groups or how to plug into ministries.

In the fall, in conjunction with the 40 Days of Community Campaign, "Let's Get 1t Together", we'll be launching a new communication tool, a revamped edition of the e-newsletter. It will be emailed every week, or every two weeks, and it will contain information that we don't include in the other communication tools, such as events at other churches or in the community, denominational news, youth and children's ministry updates, our church's finance figures, and little tibits like where to find the minutes from last month's Church Council meeting (labeled mailbox in the lobby).

Effective communication is extremely important; it's at the heart of every healthy relationship. Please understand that we are trying very hard to be as effective as we can possibly be in communicating well with this congregation.

HOWEVER... It is also important to understand that communication is a two-way street. When information is coming out, it's important that someone listen to it; otherwise, communication gets short-circuited. When information comes out and there is no feedback, it's hard to know if communication has occurred or not. We take our responsibilities as communicators seriously, but the recipients of communication have responsibilities, too.

I'm notorious for not being able to follow conversations in a crowded restaurant or at parties. I have trouble focusing in on one person and tuning out all the other conversations around me in order to hear them. It's not easy to block out noise, but it's the only way for effective communication to take place.

Ultimately, if we want our spiritual lives to have top priority, and if we are bound to one another in a spiritual community of faith, it means we all have to make church communications a top priority. We have to be intentional about sharing and listening so that it doesn't just get lost in the sea of noise.

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