Tag Archives: communication

Red Flags of Brokenness

Tuesday Re-mix –

Broken relationships are like infections, they only get worse with time, and the consequences can be devastating.

They almost always start the same way.  There are hurt feelings which go unaddressed.  Maybe there was bad behavior involved, or maybe there was just an oversight.  Maybe there was no wrong doing at all.  But feelings got hurt and were left that way with no meaningful attempt to deal with them.  The injured person tries to ignore the pain or tries to hurt the other person in return, but the pain itself is left to fester, much like leaving an infection unattended.  Very soon after that, the relationship is broken.

But like the infection, the damage then is only beginning.  There are actual stages of brokenness in the relationship.  They can be identified, even measured to some extent.  There is a common progression, a typical stage-by-stage process which every broken relationship goes through.  The stages represent some clear “red flags” which I can use to check myself.  When I see these things happening in me, I can know I have crossed a line and need to do something about it.  Depending on the person and the circumstances, some may go through the stages quickly, and others more slowly.  But when my relationship with you breaks,the progression is fairly predictable:

Stage 1: “Otherization” – You determine that I am no longer “one of you”.  I am suddenly different.  I have a different character, a different essence.  This represents a distinct change in “us”.  You “otherize” me when you suddenly choose to focus on what is different and you choose to ignore all our history which may show otherwise.  Maybe this distancing is just a defense mechanism, or maybe it is a conscious choice.  Either way, it is taking a step …

Nobody Likes “Accountability”

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

With all the recent news from the Sports world about Tiger Woods and the Chris Henry tragedy, and with church and political leaders continuing to behave badly in very public ways,  “accountability” seems to be on the forefront of people’s minds.  It seems we all believe that accountability, as a concept, is a good thing.  All of us are for it, even would insist on it…as long as it applies to someone else.  But let somebody suggest that perhaps we ourselves (i.e., you or I) might benefit from a little more accountability in our lives and suddenly it’s a nasty idea, ill-conceived, feels judgmental, and who are they to make such a suggestion anyway?  I suppose it is just a matter of perspective.

In my line of work as a church mediator, I talk and teach quite a bit about Christian accountability.  It may well be the most common subject I address.  Scripture is replete with references to it.  As Christians, we really are to be involved in one another’s lives.  Think about Nathan/David, Paul/Peter, Paul/Timothy, Peter/Ananias/Saphira, and the list goes on and on.  Think about Matthew 18, Galatians 6:1, Philippians 4, I Corinthians 5, James 5, and the list goes on and on and on.

But, interestingly, even though the Bible talks a great deal about the concept of accountability, I haven’t found an English translation yet that actually uses the word “accountability”.  In that way, it is much like the word “evangelism”…lots of scriptural support for it, but the word isn’t actually used in scripture.

And so, this leads to my quagmire.  Maybe you can help.

What better word can we use to describe the process by which I …

Cultivate ’09: The Power (and Responsibility) of Church Communication

This is the third in a series of posts about Cultivate ’09, a one-day conversation held at Park Community Church in Chicago about church communication.  Born out of conversations among some  respected consultants in this field (Dawn Nicole Baldwin, Tim Schraeder, Kem Meyer, among others), Cultivate was the first of what I hope will be many similar gatherings.

In my mind, there is an obvious connection between church unity (my calling) and church communication. Church unity is all about relationships.  Relationships, in turn, are all about communication.  You can do the logic from here.

There is an element to church communications which is not so much about PR or marketing or branding or logos.  A critical part of the ministry of church communications is how a church communicates within the body of believers. The ministry of church communications necessarily must include some strategies about how to facilitate conversation among the church itself.  Sitting and talking with Cultivate participants, it was clear to me that many of these communications professionals at least have a glimpse of what this means (actually, some have much more than just a glimpse).  There is power in formatting how a story is told.  More importantly, there is responsibility in using that power to bring about God-honoring results.

In a session with Kent Shaffer (of Bombay Creative and churchrelevance.com), he said it this way: “Communication [in churches] is more than just sending the right message…it is evoking the right response.” When we begin to take seriously our objective of “evoking the right response”, we begin to see that we can actually empower how people see each other.  We can facilitate conversation among them, strengthening relationships.  We can help bridge communication gaps within a church body, and thereby “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond …

Cultivate ’09: Telling God’s Story from One Generation to the Next

This is the second in a series of posts on my impressions from Cultivate ’09, a church communications conference at Chicago’s Park Community Church.

The gathering place for registrants of Cultivate ’09 was the coffee bar in Park Community Church.  It was where we all relaxed while we waited for the doors to the auditorium to open.  It was a spacious room with several couches and tables and nice chairs, and a full service coffee bar.  It was a fitting room for this crowd of communications professionals, most of whom were of the gen-x variety (when I walked into the room, the median age went up a good 10 years).  I felt like one of the few who was not carrying a Macbook in a shoulder bag or backpack and wearing thick-rimmed narrow glasses and shirt-tail out over jeans…all marks of a generation younger than I.

Coffee barThis type of atmosphere is where an entire generation of Christians gather to tell their stories.  And they do tell their stories differently than my generation does.  I suppose my generation (and the one before mine) enjoy telling their stories by standing and talking, such as in a pulpit or on a platform.  Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Rick Warren, Erwin McManus, etc. are all masters of telling stories in this way.  I suppose when my generation gets really creative, it tells a great story through a feature-length movie (insert the name of your favorite movie producer here–chances are he/she is a Boomer or older).

But as you transition from Boomers into Gen-x’ers (now in their 30’s) and then into the millennials (now in their 20’s), the story-telling changes dramatically.  Their are now two young adult generations who present and receive “story” completely differently from the rest of us and even from one another. Their …

“Only YOU Can Prevent [church] Fires”

Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and re-run for your consideration and comments.

Church fights…forest fires.  Perhaps it is Ron Susek’s book Firestorm that brings the illustration to mind (one of the really good books out there about church conflict), or maybe it is the “scorched earth” I find when I first look across the landscape of a troubled congregation.

Whatever the reminder, a raging forest fire is a great metaphor for a church fight. Once it gets to the “out of control” stage, the devastation is unimaginable and the utter helplessness catches you completely by surprise. Many of you know this from personal experience.

I am no expert on fighting forest fires, but I know this about fire: it needs oxygen to survive. Find a way to cut off the oxygen, and the fire will dissipate quickly. Water, dirt, foam, wet blankets can all serve the purpose.

Firestorms in churches also have a fuel: gossip. Without it, they cannot survive. But with enough of it, the small initial flames of conflict can grow bigger and faster than our minds can fathom. It is a universal underlying factor in every single church conflict with which I am even vaguely familiar. Gossip always makes the conflict worse, not better.

Here is how I define gossip (hide your toes, there’s a crushin’ a comin’): anytime you find yourself in a conversation about a brother or sister who is not here and he/she is not being edified in that conversation, it is gossip. I take this definition from several places in scripture, such as Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”