COMMUNICATION, PART 1
15TH OF MAY
We have many types of communication. I will give some advice to preachers, speakers and leaders in the church and then I will write about the necessity for clear and good communication on the human level. You might not think that this is so spiritual, but most of the marriages are broken since they lack a sound communication. They misunderstand each other. The problems of a congregation are often caused by misunderstanding or lack of healthy communication. When Christians do not talk to each other, the fact is that they really do not know how to communicate. I have often had a desire to teach in churches about this topic. Lack of communication or a wrong one, can cause great problems. It is therefore of vital importance that we learn this art and we need to know how to convey a message.
I will start by giving some advice to preachers and then to write about the consequences of no communication and then a lop-sided one. This will not be a very theoretical teaching, but some thoughts that I have about the theme.
I start with the congregation. Everybody who says something from the pulpit or the platform is conveying a message or is giving information. When we go to church, we want to listen to a sermon or some teaching. The preachers and teachers should have been taught how to preach and convey the message, but not all of them have. They should know how to touch the listeners. In a congregation one has listeners in different age groups and with different backgrounds. A preacher told me that he wanted a fifth grader to understand his message and he never made his sermon more complicated than that. If you speak too long or too complicated, the listeners might lose the interest and wander around in their own thoughts, missing the message. I believe that we as humans are more interested in topics that are relevant to our every-day life. If we should hear a lot about things from the past or many theories, they must have a certain actuality. A sermon must be built on the Word of God, but it is easier to remember a sermon if the preacher illustrates the sermon with some stories. If he or she can tell a funny or touching story, I remember the message even better and it becomes easier for me to apply the Word of God in my own life. Some preachers are reading their sermons. They must be careful since these sermons easily can become dry and monotonous. Some do not dare to let the manuscript go and they are driven by fear. The listeners sense that. The other extreme is those who do not prepare themselves at all and hope that the Holy Spirit will fill their mouth. The Holy Spirit can come in both cases and I have been in circumstances where I could not prepare myself. One has to draw from the resources in the one’s spirit then and lean on the Holy Spirit. I normally pray for fresh “bread” from heaven and I pray and prepare myself, but when I preach, I leave the manuscript and only look at it occasionally. I have experienced that the Holy Spirit has asked me to preach on something else since some of the people there had that need.
Jesus says that we should feed the lambs and we are not there to show people how clever we are, but to give them spiritual food. Paul talks about giving milk to the newly borne and the immature, but more solid food to the more mature. All spiritual children are supposed to grow and we all need a variety of food. I have seen that certain churches are known for their special messages. One church might be known for their teaching on the spiritual gifts, another for signs and wonders and another for prophesying. I believe that the Holy Spirit will warn us and tell us that we should both give and receive the whole gospel. If we eat the same food over and over again, we can get a deficiency disease. That is unhealthy.
If one is a member of a congregation, one needs much more information than the biblical. What kind of meetings do they have for the different needs and for the different age groups? Where and when do they meet? I have been for the first time to a church and they presumed that everybody knew these things. I am bold enough to ask, but everybody is not that bold.
How much should a church-member know about the activities and the problems of the church? I do not want to make a list of rules for this, but suggest certain things. I believe that we as members should have some information about the budget. How do they use my money? One should know when they change pastors and leaders. If they stop or start a bigger project, I think we should know. All mission trips should be announced. One should know where, when and how much they cost and what one expects of each person in the team. If the congregation has some special problems, I think that the members should know in order for them to pray about it. One does not need to know the names in a conflict, but only that there is a conflict to be prayed about.
In the church where I have been a member, we have congregational meetings. We are only given information about all the fantastic reports or events, but the negative events and reports come by rumors. That to me is wrong. When one is silent about the unpleasant things, one can give room to the devil. The fantasies of the people are more dangerous than the real facts even if they should be unpleasant. I do not need to know the details about other people, but when our church started a church in another place and we all blessed the pastor going there and he returned after a couple of years without a word of information or welcome back, I was wondering. To-day I know that our church was not a success and was given to another church organization. I could mention many examples of silence that has given room for rumors. I am losing trust when everything that is negative is “hidden under a blanket”. Can I really trust the positive reports then? For me communication is to tell the truth and a half truth can easily become a lie.
Do you have one-way or two-ways communication in your congregation?
Maybe you are wondering what I mean. In some churches the leaders think you are criticizing if you have an opinion of your own. All the information should come from the leaders. In other words: From above and down. I do not believe that the pastor should ask his or her members for every decision they take. They are supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit and they are responsible towards God, but no pastor is perfect and as a member one should be allowed to ask questions. When they make a mistake, I think they should confess that. If you have said something publically, you should also confess it publically. Maybe the pastor comes with a prophecy that states what should happen and when. When it never happens, he should apologize. We can all make mistakes, but I say something about it when I do. I lose trust in a person who cannot admit his mistakes. I gain trust in one who can admit his or her shortcomings.
I visited a church some years ago. At the end the main pastor and his wife went forward and asked us all to pray for them since they had some difficulties in their marriage. I wanted to come back to this church since the leaders were so humble. “I can trust these people”, I thought. I do not trust people with a façade of perfection. None of us are.
I sometimes meet people from my church and I ask how they are. I might get a lot of spiritual answers and they insist that they are so well and the Lord is so good. The sad thing is that their face and the rest of their body say something else. I become sad and think that neither God nor I can help these people before the façade is falling off. We do not need to tell everybody everything about ourselves, but
BE HONEST AND ALLOW THE FAÇADE TO FALL WITHOUT GOING INTO DETAILS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!