The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



The gospel is, after all, a message

Nobel prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi was reported to have responded to a colleague on one occasion, “Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused, but on a higher level.”

Much confusion, contention and conflict result from poor communication. Someone forgets to send a reminder notice or e-mail, and the youth gathering doesn’t happen as planned. Care isn’t taken in preparing the worship bulletin so the pastor must make several oral announcements of hymns and other service components, interrupting the flow and leading some to feel their Sunday sacred hour was diminished. Poor signage leaves visitors wondering where to find bathrooms or the nursery. These types of missing communications are relatively low-level and readily remedial.

Higher-level communication misfires tend to do more damage, harming relationships or diminishing respect. Insensitivity to another’s problems or pain can unwittingly communicate, “Your concerns don’t matter to me.”

So much is transmitted via body language or nonverbal exchanges. An inviting welcome or inspiring sermon can be undone by a scowling face, disheveled appearance or distracting mannerism. It’s important for message-senders to seek and heed honest feedback from a few trusted “receivers.” Asking, “How am I doing in getting through?” or “Was that sermon or newsletter devotion clear and helpful?” are simple ways to solicit feedback.

Such requests for listener response communicate powerfully, “I really care about this community and take seriously my responsibility to serve and convey good news.”

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February issue


Embracing diversity