So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:25-27, 29, 31-32 (NRSV)
One of the concerns raised in our recent listening conferences was a need for more effective and efficient communication about what is going on in the life of the church. The church leadership and I will be working on plans to address the results of those conferences more fully, however, communication is something we felt needed to be addressed without any delay.
One thing that I have found particularly intriguing in my life is to think about the words we use, and to notice what roots have been combined to give us language to convey the more complex ideas in life. For example, a few months ago I wrote an article about how our word “worship” developed out of a more ancient “worthship.” For me, that tidbit of information adds a layer of depth and beauty to a word we use regularly in the life of the church.
As I have been thinking about communication and community in recent weeks, I couldn’t help but notice the commonalities between those two words. When I think of community I think of the root words “common” and “unity.” A community is more than a gathering of people in one location. That is a group. A community has something in common, and is unified in seeking after that common goal or aspiration. In the church, our common ground is our faith in God, whom we come to know through Christ Jesus. We are also unified in that we are all seeking to become more who God is calling us to be, even though that may (and usually does) look different in each and all of our lives.
Communication is a means by which we build community. Communication in the church, then, is how we share our journeys with God and proclaim the good news of God’s transforming work in our lives. Communication is how we hand down the stories of our faith, and how we share our struggles and our celebrations. It is through our open, honest, and loving communication that we follow Paul’s teaching to the church in Rome when he wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15, NRSV)
Communicating effectively isn’t always easy. When we say something we are trying to put words to an idea in our head and heart. But there is a lot of “noise” in the world and sometimes the person with whom we are trying to communicate gets a garbled message. You might think of the game “telephone” many of us played as children. What’s more is that even when our message is received, it is filtered through the hearer’s own set of experiences and understandings. The end result is what is heard may not be what was said, and certainly not what was intended.
These challenges aside, I believe it is vital to our community that we strive to communicate well with one another. To that end we will be returning to publishing “Board Bites” in our monthly newsletters, as well as including some information on the state of our church finances. I also want to remind everyone that even if I am not in the church office, I strive to be available to you on my cell phone. If, for some reason (for example, I am driving), I cannot take your call at that moment, please leave me a message, and I will call you back as soon as I am able. Let’s all work to keep the lines of communication open, and our community healthy!