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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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Like Nothing Else (via Jeff Robinson)

Ministry is not the hardest thing anyone can do.
But it has a unique character; and a particular aspect of that character needs a particular awareness in order to go the long-term.
From Jeff Robinson at Crossway blog.

Jesus said it best in John 15:5: Apart from me you can do nothing. As a pastor, you either learn early to write that over the door of your heart or you don’t last long in ministry. It’s really just that simple. One of my favorite passages in my first few years of ministry was Mark 4:26-28 where Jesus tells the parable of the seed. It’s very pithy, there are just a couple of verses. The farmer plants the seed and then he goes to bed. When he gets up, lo and behold, the seed has germinated, grown, and he knows not how. Of course, we know how. We know it’s the grace of God.
God has invested this gospel truth in you, but it’s not about you because you can’t do anything to save people or sanctify people.
You realize pretty early that the call to pastoral ministry is not like anything else you’re going to do in life. You’re likely not going to have product at the end of the day. You’re not going to have widgets that you’ve made. You’re not going to have a byline at the top of the page or anything like that.

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From Complaint To Contentment (via Erik Raymond)

Erik Raymond writes about how pastors (and others) can go from complaint to contentment without your circumstances actually changing:

From the post.

Our Temptation
We are often tempted to find contentment in our circumstances: If things were only going better, then I would be happy. I’d be content if the church was growing, people were getting baptized, and my ministry was affirmed.
But this is a faulty way to think about contentment. As pastors we should know better, but we easily forget it. The Bible tells us to be content (Heb. 13:5). Is there any indication in the Scriptures that we needn’t be content if our circumstances are difficult? Of course not. While we may be tempted to remedy our grumbling with a new set of circumstances, we must remember that this is far short of the biblical solution. God wants us to be content even amid our toiling in the hard patches.

Our Model
Let’s remember the Lord Jesus himself. He was the most content man who ever lived; and yet, he was mistreated at every turn. His circumstances, if we are honest, were quite difficult every single day. Then we remember the Apostle Paul. Here is a guy who was publicly stripped, beaten with rods by a mob, and then thrown in prison. Later that night, while in prison, he leads a hymn sing and prayer meeting! (Acts 16:22–25) We would all agree that these are really bad circumstances, yet Paul (and Silas) seems to be content. Does this challenge you a bit when you think about your ministry?

Our Solution
How do we go from complaining to contentment? The Apostle helps us further:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)
Paul shows us here that contentment, rather than being tied to our circumstances, actually transcends them. If he is in a season of abundance, he is content. If he is in a slim season, he remains content. How can he say this? Notice the source of his contentment: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Paul is content in the midst of changing and admittedly difficult circumstances because he is content in a God who is unchanging and eternally glorious.
This is particularly helpful when tempted to ministerial pride or coveting. If things are going well for us or for others we should rejoice in God being made much of. Contentment in God reveals itself by rejoicing in the expansion of his fame—whether in our church or the church across town.

Read the whole post here.