Building Relationships

It Pays to be Careful with Our Communication


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.

Posted August 3, 2016