thoughts/ideas/opinions from scott hodge

Monday, December 29


I’m thinking out loud tonight about communication. Specifically communication in the context of the local church and they way we (as pastors/ministers/talkers or whatever we might be called) communicate to our emerging culture.

Looking back over the last few years of my life I can’t believe how dang intentional I’ve had to become about communicating in a way that would (hopefully) engage the listener. (...especially when it comes to speaking to an unchurched person in their 20's - 30's)

I can remember a time when my communication “style” was all about getting a specific response/reaction from the audience. The problem with that approach was that if there wasn’t an immediate “response” then I would immediately make the stupid assumption that people were not challenged or that perhaps I somehow failed as a communicator.

It’s not easy changing that mindset and approach.

One of the things that I’ve tried to do more and more lately is to think of ways to help connection happen between myself and the group that I’m speaking to. There are probably a lot of ways to do this, but what seems to work the best for me is the use of personal stories and illustrations. Oh yeah, and humor. Humor is always a good thing (as long as it’s funny to someone other than myself).

Authenticity is also huge – not coming across as, “I’ve got it all figured out and let me tell you how to become like me” – but admitting (at times) that certain subjects are even difficult for me and that I’m on this journey just like they (the listeners) are. Vulnerability might not always be easy – but it helps open up hearts.

It seems that before I try to help connect someone to God, I must first connect with them. If I fail to connect to them (as a communicator), chances are that I may not do much good in connecting them to God. a.k.a - the old John Maxwell quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In other words, it is vital that I “earn the right” to be heard. And one of the ways that I earn that right is to help the listener feel like I can relate to them.

It also involves taking the listener on a journey. For example, I can get up on a Sunday morning and open up by saying, “Today we are going to learn about how God really wants us to have a good attitude no matter what we are going through.” Well that sounds nice to “churched” people and it is a true statement – but to the typical postmodern listener this comes across as a very black and white statement (and premature declaration). And without taking the time to build my “case”, walls might shoot up, and then I’ve done more harm than good.

Rather than open up with the end result of what the message will say, why not back up and take the group on a journey to discover that truth? And in the process answer the questions that you know people are asking and/or addressing the arguments and “other sides” that people are familiar with.

Lots to learn...

Any thoughts?