Almost as a matter of routine, new ways for us to communicate keep cropping up. Remember faxes? Then email. Now text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and a plethora of other potential up-and-comings. Our era gives us more tools than any other era to connect ? to our friends, family, staff, members, and various communities we?re involved with. We can literally share Christ with someone across the world with a few taps.
Yet we still run into communication bottlenecks and breakdowns.
It?s partly obvious. All these new tools generate lots of noise. Millions of digital micro conversations happen every second of every day. There are also other reasons we have communication challenges. Sometimes we just don?t communicate. Or we don?t communicate well. And when that happens ? others tend to fill in the details for us.
We see it most commonly with those in the public eye ? politicians, entertainers, speakers, and authors, for example. If they?re not spreading their own message, their adversaries are spreading another message that could spell doom for their personal brand, agenda, or career. It?s called a communication vacuum and it happens in the church too.
When you have a communication vacuum, you are allowing a gap between what you think people know and what they actually know. The bigger the gap, the better the chance someone will fill in the details for you ? and the more likely these details will not be in line with what you intended.[quote]When you have a communication vacuum, you are allowing a gap between what you think people know and what they actually know.[/quote]
Our true challenge is not reaching our audience; it?s reaching our audience in a way that they will hear, comprehend, and act on our message.
I don?t speak Thai, for instance. While I like Thai food, spoken Thai is noise to me. I cannot comprehend or act on what you?re telling me in Thai. Translated back to English, however, it?s no longer noise to me. Now I can hear, comprehend, and act on what you?ve said.
The good news is getting through the noise and avoiding a communication vacuum can be simple.[quote]Getting through the noise and avoiding a communication vacuum can be simple.[/quote]
Here are a few tips.
First, think creatively.
Creative communication can make your message stand out. More importantly, creative explanations, visuals, and delivery improve understanding and enhance the personality of your message. Challenge yourself and your communications team to think about creative ways to talk about the things important to your ministry.
Details follow the big picture. Start with the big picture. Keep the message focused on the most important things. Simplicity and conciseness intrigue your listener and make things easier to understand. Clarity reigns over confusion.[quote]Start with the big picture.[/quote]
Communicate with consistency.
In communications and marketing, there?s a common rule that you have to say something at least seven times before it?s heard. When we hear the same message consistently from a leader, it eliminates a communication vacuum and increases trust, believability, interest, and involvement.
Lastly, deliver your message in context.
That means saying it in a way your listener understands, at the right time and delivered through a medium (or mediums) that makes sense for the listener and for your message. Remember that context is for the receiver, not the messenger.
As a church, it?s important for us to communicate and communicate well. For those in the public eye, a communication vacuum is a public relations nightmare. To the church, it?s even more important. It?s often the reason members get their feelings hurt, leave the church, or even give up on God.
Communication is not just a part of our job; it?s central to our faith. In 2 Corinthians 2:14 we are entrusted to share the knowledge of Christ ? to spread the fragrance. We have been equipped more than any other generation with the tools to do so.