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Deep Communion vs Digital Communication (via Drew Hunter at Crossway Blog)

Drew Hunter observes that modern communication technology can be a helpful aid in growing relationships when it supplements face-to-face interactions, but when it becomes a primary or sole means of communication relationships will stagnate at superficial levels.

Deep Communion vs. Digital Communication
… Modern technology is a great tool for keeping up certain aspects of our relationships. Writing emails, sending texts, scanning posts—all of these helpfully complement true companionship. But they cannot fully replace it. These are the shallow ends of relationships. We find these tools convenient, but then we’re tempted to neglect the deeper waters of shared experiences and face-to-face conversation. Very often the way we use technology leads away from, rather than in to, stronger friendships. We often trade deep communion for digital communication.
Technology can hinder friendship in four ways. First, it often depersonalizes communication. We use it to connect, but over time, we feel less, not more, connected. We use it to move closer, but we end up farther away. We trade conversations and experiences for details and updates. We’re more connected to more people more often than ever before, but many of our relationships become more superficial and less satisfying.
Second, technology can disengage us from real communion. Sometimes when we connect with people through technology, we disconnect from those who are sitting right around us. Friends sit across the table at a coffee shop and enjoy friendship, but not with each other—with the friends on the other end of their phones. Once when I visited a workplace, I stepped into a break room and saw six coworkers sitting around a lunch table. The room was silent. Five of them stared at their phones while the sixth looked at her food. She sat at the table with them, but she ate her lunch alone. Surrounded by peers, she had no one to talk to.
Third, technology disembodies conversation. When we engage in person, we experience our friends in unrepeatable and holistic ways. We notice her expressions, intuit her moods, and learn her quirks. Embodied friendship is full of dynamic, realtime, give-and-take interaction. In contrast, digital communication doesn’t demand much more than fingers to flit around a keyboard. This has a place of course, but it doesn’t match experiencing a person’s real presence. For me to see Dane’s head roll back and hear his laugh, to talk through personal challenges across the table with Taylor, to see the romance in Christina’s eyes, to sense the sincerity in Bill’s encouragement, or to pick up the witty humor in Trent’s tone—there is simply no digital equivalent.
Finally, technology creates dependence on less personal ways of addressing personal issues. Confessing sin and admitting failure, or on the other hand, addressing sin and confronting failure—each of these is challenging, and digital communication seems easier. We take time to craft a statement, and we don’t need to worry about immediate reactions. But then we soon prefer to replace a personal meeting with a phone call; a phone call with a voicemail; a voicemail with an email; and an email with a text. Each step smooths the path for the next. Soon we can hardly muster the courage to say anything difficult in person. And without the reassuring eye contact, gentle tone, and responsive clarifications, we often end up adding complications rather than clearing things up.

Read the rest of the post at Crossway Blog.


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Silence Teaches Us to Listen (via Brian Croft)

Brian Croft writes about the virtues of silence in a noisy and distracted world.
It is a practice that Christians exercise before God, and one that we then exercise toward one another, so that we might truly listen.
Croft explains how silence enables us to listen, not just wait for our turn to make noise.

Silence Teaches Us to Listen
I was deeply troubled to learn that I had been a pastor for so long, and yet remained a poor listener. Sure, I listened, but it was mostly to prepare a response. I needed to learn to listen without needing to respond—just to listen and empathize.
As I embraced silence, I realized I was learning to listen. I heard sounds around me I never noticed before. I felt more receptive to God’s Word. It’s amazing what happens when you’re not preoccupied with trying to figure out what to say or do next.

Read the rest of Croft’s post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

112.
Q. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. That I do not bear false witness against anyone, twist anyone’s words, be a gossip or a slanderer, or condemn anyone lightly without a hearing. Rather I am required to avoid, under penalty of God’s wrath, all lying and deceit as the works of the devil himself. In judicial and all other matters I am to love the truth, and to speak and confess it honestly. Indeed, insofar as I am able, I am to defend and promote my neighbor’s good name.


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A Social Media Strategy From Ligon Duncan

Ligon Duncan is a Presbyterian from the USA.
First posted as a series of Tweets, then collated and shared around the internet, here’s his ten-point social media strategy.

  1. Relentlessly encourage, edify, and inform.
  2. Ignore trolls, mockers, and slanderers into oblivion.
  3. Starve dissensionists, narcissists, and errorists of the attention they crave.
  4. Point people to sound people and resources.
  5. Exalt Christ. Bible. Grace. Truth. Gospel.
  6. Stay out of food fights. Don’t lob hand grenades into serious discussions. Bring people together.
  7. Be kind. Persuade (rather than rally).
  8. Treat people on social media like I would treat them in person.
  9. Don’t be different on social media from what I am in my life, family, church, and ministry. Be the same person online and offline.
  10. Don’t give inordinate attention to people whose only “platform” is social media and who elsewhere have little accountability, responsibility.

source


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A Simple Formula For Church Administration (via Jared Olivetti)

At Gentle Reformation Jared Olivetti offers a formula that seeks to narrow the gap between communication practice and communication desired outcomes.

The formula is: Information + Inclusion = Importance & Involvement
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So before we start pointing fingers at congregation members for not showing up to work days or not “buying in” to the latest ministry, it may help to re-examine how well the leaders are informing and including in every possible way they can. Often, by examining and evolving in these areas, we will see involvement increase as people understand how valued they by their church family.

Read the rest of the explanation here.


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Making Church Communications More Efficient (via Jonathan Howe)

Jonathan Howe writes about communication strategy for church, the necessity of effective communication, and how more is not always the same thing as better:

I would suggest that instead of being concerned with simply communicating more, churches should be focused on communicating more efficiently and effectively. These four steps will help your church determine what efficient communications look like in your context.

  1. Determine what works best for your people. There’s no one-size-fits all communications plan for any church. Different churches need different methods of communication. If you listen to your congregants, ask for their input, and pay attention to what seems to resonate with them, you can determine what you should stop doing, keep doing, or start doing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try new methods. Unsure if your congregation would respond to an email newsletter? Try sending one per month for a few months and see what the response is. Find champions for new technology in the church to help you spread the word about the benefits of different communications methods.
  3. Be persistent, but not stubborn or wasteful. Give a new communication initiative a few months before throwing it out. But don’t be afraid to kill something if it doesn’t take, even if you like it, or if you want people to like it. Don’t stick with a communication method just for your own benefit or pleasure. If it isn’t working, don’t continue to waste time and energy on ineffective communications.
  4. Use tools that foster efficiency. Software—both online and computer-based—is widely available for communications. You have templates in Mailchimp, design templates for Canva, and social media auto-schedulers like Buffer and Hootsuite, dedicated social media apps for on-the-go posting. Use tools that work for your workflow and messages. Finding the right tool, or even a better one, can make a huge difference in the efficient use of your time and your message’s effectiveness.

Red the whole post here.


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What Great Listeners Actually Do (via Harvard Business Review)

A friend of mine highlighted this article from Harvard Business Review.
It’s packed with helpful content.
The conclusion:

We suspect that in being a good listener, most of us are more likely to stop short rather than go too far. Our hope is that this research will help by providing a new perspective on listening. We hope those who labor under an illusion of superiority about their listening skills will see where they really stand. We also hope the common perception that good listening is mainly about acting like an absorbent sponge will wane. Finally, we hope all will see that the highest and best form of listening comes in playing the same role for the other person that a trampoline plays for a child. It gives energy, acceleration, height and amplification. These are the hallmarks of great listening.

Read the whole post here.