Communication Is A Two Way Street

I keep coming back to the idea of communication vs. declaration, which makes sense, every time I sit down to write I'm trying to communicate something. Communication happens when an idea is effectively transmitted from one person to the other. Declaration (as I'm using the word), on the other hand, happens when something is typed up, said, or acted out; it is a tree falling in the forest whether anyone hears it or not.

Communication is difficult. In order to communicate, you have to understand your audience, their culture and history, then figure out what specific words, cultural references, and emotional tone will translate the message from your language to theirs. Even communication with my wife, a white, twenty-something, North American, with a conservative upbringing, has to be worked at every single day.

As a follower of Jesus, I'm called to communicate some significant items of truth to those around me. It's easy to think that because I've said something I'm off the hook, if they reject it, or get mad, that's their problem. Really? If I use Christianese terms like salvation, sanctification, or atonement, or even nice sounding Jesus phrases like, Jesus died to save you from your sins, based on a persons history, you might as well just say, "You shouldn't smoke any more, oh and go to church."

We unfortunately just assume communication is like file transfer, so we grunt louder and flap our arms faster, assuming this is a volume problem. But it's not a volume problem, it's a problem of perception and imagination; we don't often realize what we're communicating, so we don't stop to think about how we might repackage the idea. Communication is never easy, misunderstanding abounds, but that is no grounds for giving up on imagination to simply yell the same lines even louder. In the music world that would make you KISS, do you really want to be KISS?

So the question is, will you shout louder, or will you stop, listen, imagine, and then communicate? The kingdom needs imaginative communicators, not people who assume miscommunication is someone else's fault.