What’s Up with Pastor Todd 3-12-21

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 3-14-21

“Communication” is a perennial concern for congregations. It is also the one and only landmine of the “engagement” phase of church consolidation (Better Together, p. 133). Communication is the means by which information is shared. Communication can blow up a consolidation process because–as we have learned from “below the green line” organizational theory–”information is like oxygen in a system. In its absence, people will “make it up” in an effort to keep moving forward. Access to information greatly minimizes the negative rumors that can occur within organizations” (“Leading for Equity”). If information is oxygen, communication is the circulatory system. If there is a blockage in the circulatory system, I think we all know what happens: heart attack! (OK. So now we’re mixing metphors, but I’m hopeful you get the idea.)

The circulation system metaphor fits well with St. Paul’s metaphor of the church as the “the body of Christ.” It is critical, then, that enough “oxygen/information” “circulates/is communicated” throughout all parts of the body continually. Just as the body regulates oxygen flow in the bloodstream, so, too, information needs to be “regulated”–that is, accurate information needs to get to the appropriate people. There are areas of church life governed by confidentiality, but those are very small. In general, the encouragement, especially in the “engagement” phase of consolidation is to overcommunicate! The feedback I’m getting from folks at FCCG is that they need more communication about the consolidation process. Not less. And I’m beginning to notice the “make it up” dynamic happening due to this perceived lack of information.

There is communication happening, though it may not be circulating as widely as needed at this point. GUCCI, the steering team for this project, has created a shared Google drive to store common documents. There is, of course, the Granby UCC Facebook page. The GUCCI FAQ. A joint website has also been discussed. A summary of the February GUCCI meeting is available on the FCC website. A summary of the March meeting will be available soon.

In his book The Eighth Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen Covey writes about “the speed of trust.” When there is adequate trust among members of an organization, it’s easy to speak with one voice. Decisions are made quickly. Communication is timely and accurate. This is because we can trust that we all share the same values, are working toward the same goal, and will follow through with our commitments. I’m wondering if some are sensing that our communication is a little anemic because trust levels among the congregations are not quite where they need to be. Of course, effective communication builds trust, so it’s a little bit of chicken and egg here. But in my mind this means the congregations need more face time. I realize–pandemic and everything–but interacting together as much as possible seems absolutely critical at this moment. Communication is not just about reports. It’s about hanging out, worshipping together, working side-by-side, making decisions together. Let’s locate whatever “circulation system” blockages there may be and “go with the flow!”

Author: toddyonkman

I am a husband, father, author, and Designated Term Transitional Pastor of First Church of Christ in Saybrook (CT).

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