One of the greatest impacts of COVID-19 is the disruption of interpersonal communication—which is the heartbeat of all gospel-centered churches. Indeed, communication is the engine underlying every ministry’s strategy at Faith Family Church. Over time, limited interpersonal interactions will erode church unity unless extra effort is made to keep the lines of communication open and flowing between leaders, volunteers, members, and the community.
Admittedly, all of us have experienced some level of communication breakdown in our daily lives. Whether it be among family and friends, co-workers, or fellow church members, the connection has been weakened, if not totally severed. Here are three ways we can avoid communication breakdown with our fellow parishioners:
1. Be Intentional
Poor communication is the enemy of unity. When there’s an information vacuum, people tend to assume the worst. For example, is there someone with whom you previously interacted on a regular basis that you have not spoken to in the last few months? While it may not be intentional, the other person may explain the silence to himself with thoughts like, “I guess I’m not that important to him, after all.”
Strong communication builds trust and doesn’t happen by accident. In fact, it is almost impossible to overcommunicate in this regard. It does require you to take the initiative to reach out and connect with others on a meaningful level. When it comes to relationships within the body of Christ, we are our brother’s keeper. This is especially true in today’s self-centered culture.
If COVID-19 has created distance with someone in your life, don’t wait for them to contact you; be proactive and initiate contact today.
2. Be Strategic
How you initiate contact is important, too. You might call, text, or use social media (although simply “liking” a social media post doesn’t count). Face-to-face communication is always the best option, if they’re comfortable with it. For example, our Men’s Ministry has a prayer breakfast the first Saturday of the month (August 1 is the next opportunity), and you could ask them to meet you there. Restaurants are opening back up their dining rooms and getting together for breakfast or just coffee could go a long way to reestablish relationships.
Effective communication also requires a specific message that is received and clearly understood. Therefore, know what you want to say and say it well. Let them know the reason for the contact, such as, “I’ve missed seeing you and am wondering how you’re doing.” Ask if they’re staying connected with church online, working from home, or if they have any special needs. In other words, you’re not just calling to chat, but to express concern and offer help if needed. The act of reaching out lets someone know that you are thinking about them and does wonders to dispel distrust.
Finally, challenge them about attending church services. As I mentioned in my last blog, a substantial number of “practicing Christians” admit to not attending any type of church service (in person or online) in recent weeks. I’ve read that people are feeling less and less obligated to attend church, and COVID-19 is becoming a “get out of church free” card. This is not a healthy trend, and we need to exhort one another not to neglect our assembling together, in person or online (Hebrews 10:25). Faith Family Church is increasing our worship service capacity to 100 people (still 50% of our main sanctuary’s capacity), so now is a great time to reach out to those you’ve missed. Make sure they know how to reserve seats online or use YouTube’s live chat if they’re watching the livestream.
3. Be Spirit-Led
When it comes to impacting others for Christ, effective communication must rely on the Holy Spirit. He is the one that energizes our words and empowers our actions to influence people. Jesus told his followers, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) More than ever, the church must commit to intentional, strategic communication that is carried out in dependence on God. To that end, let me encourage you to do two things:
First, keep your own life in good order with the Lord. Jude challenges us to “keep ourselves in the love of God.” (Jude 1:22) Drawing close to God will get you out of your own head and produce genuine concern for others, leading you to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Second, act on those spiritual impulses. Should the Holy Spirit bring someone to mind, make a point to reach out. It’s one thing to pray for others, it’s another thing to become the answer. You’ll be amazed at what the Lord will do through you to make a difference in the lives of people. Being Spirit-led means being sensitive to that still small voice, and then obediently acting on it.