Communication is a journey. It is the process of taking someone from where they are to where they need to be. It is a means of changing perception, direction, understanding or focus. It is a continuum of shifting framework that must be carefully managed for the appropriate information progression to take place.
Good communication must assume that there is a gap of understanding between two people and then progressively fill in that gap with layers of information and experience to reduce the distance between them.
Sunday morning worship is often a great example of bad communication.
The worship team comes to the church early to warm up and pray up for the service. They press into the presence of God and quickly travel past the distractions around them to find the place of true worship in their hearts. Then they take the stage. They continue in their personal experience, modeling worship in front of the congregation.
In the meantime, the congregation has gathered. They may have come dragging unhappy children, discussing family challenges, or even being angry at one another. They may have been chatting about a TV program or sports event – or trying to decide where to go to eat after service. Their minds are not focused – and while they came to worship, they are not ready to worship.
When the two groups of people meet, an immediate disconnect exists. You can find the congregation looking around, still chatting about the ball game, or staring blindly at the platform. They are not engaged. They are in another place. They have not made the journey.
The worship leaders must recognize this gap and meet the people where they are if communication (or real worship) is going to happen. They must find the place where the people engage and move them step by step from where they are to where they need to be. That’s communication.
When trying to market our churches, the same principles can be applied. We must recognize that people have presuppositions about who we are, how we act, and what we are like. We must discover what the people perceive and systematically create a communication journey that brings them to a new point of understanding.
Several years ago, I managed a Christian television station in Illinois. I became aware of the fact that the majority of our audience was Christian and that we were not reaching our community for the Kingdom. We consequently made a format change to incorporate more family programming into our schedule to attract a larger audience. The goal was not just to draw an audience, but to present them with the Gospel and win them for the Kingdom.
We also recognized that the viewing audience was at various places in their spiritual journey. Some were atheists or agnostics; some believed in God in a general sort of way; some went to church, but didn’t have a vital relationship with Christ. We identified specific points on this continuum that could be stops along the pathway and created TV spots specifically designed to speak to people at each point of understanding and move them to the next place along the journey of communication. The point of our communication effort was movement from where they were to where they needed to be.
When you think of communication, realize it is more that a series of facts, more than information, more than methods or technology. It is a journey of understanding- a trip filled with distractions, challenges, and competing messages. Good communicators understand this and build their communication stream so people arrive at the destination relaxed and refreshed, with a whole new perspective.
Don’t just shout information, communicate! It takes more work, but the rewards are definitely worth it.
That’s it for now, keep your knees down, your chin up, roll with the punches and give God the glory!