Building Relationships

It Pays to be Careful with Our Communication

All-too-Common-Scenario

A worship ministry team gathers for its monthly meeting. Pleasantries and
greetings are exchanged. As the group considers new business, results of a
recently completed congregational survey reveal considerable interest in
diversifying their congregation’s style of worship and music. Many members
indicate they would prefer more-contemporary worship and music rather
than a traditional service.

In the discussion that follows, it becomes clear that the congregation’s
changing demographics, including growing generational, ethnic, and cultural
diversity, are driving this shifting opinion about the congregation’s worship
and music preferences. Worship ministry team members realize the congregation
is not big enough to have two worship services. They also are mindful of
the congregation’s commitment to being inclusive of all its members. Then someone makes a motion to change the congregation’s traditional worship
service to a blended one, a service encompassing both traditional and contemporary
worship and music.

Immediately, tensions rise and heated discussion ensues. Feelings are hurt
as irritation surfaces, and people become ineffective listeners and start engaging
in personal attacks. In short, communication and decision-making break
down, resulting in injury to relationships––and what could be a long-lasting
legacy of unhappy memories.

Careless communication causes needless breakdowns in relational health.
Barriers to building healthy relationships include feeling misunderstood, failure
to check perceptions, judgmental attitudes, discounting feelings, finding
fault, ignoring nonverbal communication, and ineffective listening.
Conversely, careful communication is vital to creating and fostering
healthy relationships. For instance, feeling understood, being taken seriously,
speaking for ourselves, expressing feelings, problem-solving, taking
advantage of nonverbal communication, and listening effectively all play
important roles in how we relate to one another.

While people’s understanding of the church varies, as does their interpretation
of its mission, communication is vital to creating and fostering healthy
relationships in our congregations. So, it pays to be careful with our communication!
Fortunately, most people are eager to become more effective in how
they relate to one another. In subsequent blog posts we will examine six sensible, practical guidelines that can go a long way toward helping you and the members of your congregation learn how careful communication builds healthy relationships

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