Reflective Communication: Beyond Information Overload
by: Stephen Miracle
A few minutes ago I checked my Bloglines Feeds to check up on any new articles. Two hours ago I sat through a meeting with my boss and co-workers about disciplining middleschoolers. Yesterday, I attended classes and days before I researched through books to write papers for those classes. If that is not enough. I listen to ESPN on my drive home and watch the local news when I get home. I understand that we are in the information age and as a natural learner, I love the fact I can find information any time that I want. But with all this information coming from everywhere all at once, I am going through an information overload. Then on Sunday, we're expected to hear more teaching - translated information.
The climax of most traditonal, contemporary and even emerging worship times is the teaching. Whether it is a message about being a missional community or how to be more productive, the messages are about spitting out more information to an allready overloaded group of listerners. Add to the fact that with advent of more information also comes with the price of reduction in time. We as God's communicators try very hard to spread a message out a full thirty minutes. When the average listener could read the points through a blog post in five minutes. Because the message is central point of the gathering, the listener just wasted an hour of her time. She also knows it is our fault.
If you believe God has sent you a teaching message that people must learn from then by all means share it. Just do it by cutting out all the fatty extras. concise it down to the main points and post it on your blog. On the other hand, if you wan't to inspire, transform and have the church take action in the world.. Forget spitting out more information and focus on reflection. I, you and every other average individual get plenty of information, but no time to digest and reflect on it. We could have the most impact with our messages by allowing others to reflect on their interactions of the previous week during our messages. Tell stories that resonate. Share good and bad experiences that came from the stories. People don't need more new tips and creative "how-to's". They need a space where they can sort through the junk of the past week and find God's path through it. Lets stop trying to compete with the world and offer what they can't find in it.
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I can't tell you how many services I sat through an offering message and a main message - totalling almost 3 hours of preach time (sometimes over 4 hours)...4 days a week....for 16 years. Do I sound depressed? yep, I know all about information overkill.
Thank you for your article and I really hope pastors and teachers take this to heart.