As I’ve said many times before, and is well known by most of you, communication is the number one task of any community which seeks to be healthy and vibrant.  We honor Jesus as “The Word” and we share our faith in him through words and actions.  And yet, in the same breath, one must say it is also one of the hardest things for any community to do well.  There are so many pitfalls and mistakes that can happen with communication.

For any community here at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a large part of the challenge is the quickly multiplying number of forms of communication, and each new form gets new adherents (who often then leave behind older forms of communication – at least as their primary means of communicating).  Just for fun, let me try my hand at all the ways in which members of our congregation communicate:

– Verbally in person (through formal and informal networks);

– On the phone (either directly or via answering machine… no, make that “voicemail”);

         – By mail (and by this, I mean United States Postal Service delivered mail!);

– By e-mail (and I must note the fact that many/most persons change their e-mail name and/or service provider every few years);

– By website (if you haven’t seen ours, it’s at http://www.FranklinCircleChurch.org);

– By Facebook message (this has expanded exponentially – and unexpectedly to me – in the past few years);

         – By text message (directly to one’s cell phone);

– By Twitter (one of the newer formats that seems to have taken root);

As a pastor of a congregation which seeks to “Widen The Circle For ALL God’s Children” and committed to the rich diversity of God’s people, I feel it is incumbent upon us for our community to use as many of the means of communication as we possibly can.  If we truly want to be a community where the youngest amongst us feels as welcome as the oldest, we need to communicate in forms that are the most familiar and most effective for all.  I am proud (?crazy?) to say that Franklin Circle Christian Church communicates in ALL the above ways.  Currently… Until the next trend becomes established!

And, of course, one begins to realize that as the number of formats increase, the chance for miscommunication also increases.  What happens when something is communicated in one format, but not another?  Who was left out?  What happens when information is updated so that the slower forms of communication (say, mail) have different information than the faster forms (say, Twitter)?

Likewise, as a congregation aware of the economic, physical, generational, and racial disparities of our world, there is what is called a “digital divide” which acknowledges that technology, in general, and technological advances, in particular, are not always available to all people.  Because of physical disabilities (say, blindness) or economic circumstances (living in poverty) one might not have access to an internet connection, skills to navigate the technological developments, or perhaps even a computer itself!  (A good article on this can be found at http://www.edutopia.org/digital-divide-where-we-are-today… which is ironic because only those with access to a computer can read this!)

I have been deeply impressed with the new organization, headed by Disciples of Christ clergywoman Verity A. Jones, the project director of the New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary.  She, and a host of others, are helping church leaders to think more care-fully and theologically about what and how we communicate regarding our faith.  You can learn more, again, online at: http://blog.newmediaprojectatunion.org/.

For Franklin Circle Christian Church I think I would simply say that as your pastor I am aware of the confusion and frustration that can come from miscommunications and feeling like you are being “left behind” as we try to use newer technology to communicate to a new generation of folks.  I beg of you your patience, but never hesitate to let me/us know when we have had a misstep.  I also hope to offer some education in the near future for those who wish to at least know what things like “Facebook” and “Twitter” are and mean to our world.

 

God’s Grace Is Abundant!

Pastor Allen

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