30 October 2008

Guest Blog - Debra Buenting from YWAM's International Communication Network

Miranda and I have been in meetings this week as part of an ad-hock YWAM Global Communication Team. We are working to advise and lead YWAM in issues surrounding communication in our mission. Miranda invited me to submit a guest post to her blog, so I welcome the opportunity to briefly consider communication with you.

The word communication comes from the Latin word, "communis." By looking at other words that come from the root, we get an insight into what communication really is. Common, communion, communicable, commitment, committee, community.

Communication is the primary means we have for connecting with others, for creating and maintaining relationships. We have at our disposal complex forms of language (which includes both spoken and written), as well as the language of gestures, facial and other physical expressions, non-verbal vocal sounds, and as our choices in clothes, cars, art, furnishings and many other things that reflect our unique personalities and communicate who we are.

In the beginning God spoke the world into existence. Just as God communicated and the world came into being, so we create realities when we communicate. As communication scholar Quentin Schultze (2000) wrote in his brilliant book, Communicating For Life: Christian Stewardship in Community and Media, “When we communicate, we create, maintain, and even change shared ways of life…Every time we communicate we creatively exercise God’s gifts by contributing good or bad practices of culture.”

It is helpful to view communication as THE tool for building relationships. The Bible is a record of God relating with individuals and societies and them relating with Him. It is often called God’s love letter because it is a primary tool we have for learning what He is like and how He relates to us.

We know that Jesus was a great communicator. He was unimpressed with the power structures of His day by those who used communication to dominate and conquer. Jesus demonstrated alternative a lifestyle as He loved those that society considered unlovely. He touched. He spoke words of forgiveness and healing. He encouraged. He gave up power to model servanthood. And instead of writing systematic volumes of theology or trying to implement His ideas through religious or political power structures, He told parables. Parables are nothing more than compelling stories that rely on indirect communication to share ideas and facilitate redemption.

Jesus used the technologies available to him during His time on earth. Remember when we took the boat a little way out so He could address the crowd? He was using the water as His megaphone to amplify His voice.

Jesus healed people’s bodies and spirits. When He healed the deaf and dumb, He was also healing their ability to communicate in a culture that made it difficult for people with physical challenges.

God created you to be a communicator. When you do it well, you are being who God made you to be and are helping redeeming a central element of the universe.

Blessings, Debra Buenting

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