I am interested in effective communication, not as an end in itself, but because if we want to make disciples, we need to train and equip each other effectively. And for this, sermons just don’t cut it.
Talking at people isn’t good for much
There is good evidence, via properly designed surveys and studies, and from people’s experiences, that sitting people in rows and preaching at them is a poor way of communicating, informing and encouraging positive change. Churches are not universities (and these approaches don’t work well there either), but communities on a mission together, and people need to be involved in decision-making, learning and doing if they are going to get involved in the mission.
A growing chorus
There is plenty of support for these observations.
I have also linked several times to Felicity Dale’s excellent blog Simply church, which provides good insights into a simpler, more personal, form of church. And there are others saying the same things.
Church in a circle
I have recently started following Church in a Circle blog, with its byline “From monologue to dialogue. From audience to participants. From performance to empowerment.” While authors Kathleen and Kevin-Neil write about many different topics, their main emphasis is on making church an interactive community. As they say:
Church in a circle starts with the seating arrangement, but ultimately changes the way we meet and interact as God’s people. It changes us from consumers into participants. It changes the way we see each other. It changes the way we learn and teach others about God. It’s time to stop filling rows and start forming circles.”
I found the following to be particularly helpful:
- Efficient or effective? Rows vs circles in church – how doing things what seems to be the easiest way (for the ministers at least) ends up achieving the least.
- 10 reasons to stop sermons and use other learning tools – why sermons are ineffective ways to teach, motivate or train.
- Open Space – harnessing the power of circles – a practical way to open up communication.
You mightn’t think there is much that can be said about communication and community in church, but Kathleen and Kevin-Neil keep coming up with good ideas. Check it out.
But wait, there’s more!
Tony Jones is a speaker, writer, theologian and leader in the so-called ’emerging church’ movement in the US. A recent blog post (Fix Denominations by Getting Rid of Management adds another dimension to the discussion of 21st century church – “Bureaucracy is bad for the gospel.”
Christianity is (hopefully) changing!
Photo: Church in a Circle