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Finding Faith in Faith

This blog is dedicated to exploring the intersections of faith and politics, the intricacies of religious culture and the struggle to balance devotion to a higher being and to oneีs culture.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2002

A Primer to Communication and the Church

What is communication and why is it important for church life?


On the face of it, this question may appear so rudimentary that one may wonder if asking it is useful. In previous conversations concerning the need for an increased level of communication at the University Avenue Church of Christ, the need was expressed in rather superficial terms. For example, when asked what benefit better communication might bring, members were likely to say "so we can know what's going on," or "so we can keep up with the announcements and events."

Certainly an increased number of channels for information orientation is desired (and needed) in the UA church body. However, communication is far more than simple information presentation. The verb "communicate" in its Latin root form is a term that most literally means "to share" (our communicate) or "a mutual participation" (our communication). Christians might be interested in the fact that the original usage of the word was not, in fact, denoting the exchange of ideas or information, but rather was used in the terminology surrounding participation in Communion, or the Lord's Supper.

This observation is not intended to deconstruct the development of the language of communication as a concept throughout history, but rather to draw emphasis to a very critical understanding of what communication does. Communication is about sharing meaning.

Communication can be the mutual sharing of information, ideas, values, concerns, perspectives, worldviews, feelings, perceptions, criticism, understanding, knowledge, wisdom, lunacy, sentiment, observation, wit, truth, error, misconception or commentary. In fact, it is most often several of these things at the same time. Above all, communication is the transferal of culture among the members of community. When discussing "communication," it might be helpful to first think of it as the terms as the sharing of community.

In this light, we should see communication as any activity that seeks to share portions of our lives with others: talking, singing, praying, writing, reading, decorating our building or even choosing what clothing to wear. All of these choices communicate to others, whether we are aware of it or not.

This communication is made up of many messages, some intended and some unintended. Messages can convey meaning by their content, by their tone, by their structure, by their framing, by their timing, by their presentation style, by the reputation of their source and at times, by environmental factors that cause any of these other variables to be perceived differently by different parties.

Before a church can lead others, the members of it need to learn who they are, what they have to say and how to be effective in saying this.

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