These words are uttered many times a day (and not just on commercials). We long to be heard, and we struggle to hear each other clearly. The God who created us is the original communicator: He speaks to create, He talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He hears the cry of oppressed people, and reveals Himself in redemption as the “Word who became flesh.” God is always seeking a conversation partner. We believe that God communicates in general ways (through nature), and in specific ways (Scripture and the Incarnation).
As people created for community, we are created to communicate. Our methods of communication vary, but our communication bears witness to the health of our relationships. Communication involves two elements: talking and listening. Because our communication bears witness to who we are, the Bible is filled with reminders about healthy communication. Perhaps the best known admonition reminds us of two key elements: “Be quick listen, slow to speak,” James reminds (1:19). Listening well is a way of loving one another. Speaking in a manner that is “full of grace,” as Paul noted (Galatians 4:6), also bears witness to the love of Christ at work among us. The ways we deal with disagreement and conflict also demonstrate that we are children of the One who finds creative ways to communicate with us by His Holy Spirit.
Pastors are not only professional speakers, we are also professional listeners. The daily work of ministry necessitates our being able to navigate conflict and to be present as active listeners and as spokespeople for the ways of Jesus Christ.
This issue of Grace & Peace, our official “relaunch” of the publication as a quarterly resource for pastors, provides a variety of tools and wisdom to navigate the waters of communication in church life in a way that reflects the love, wisdom, and grace of God.
The message of our life in the community of faith is not just “Can you hear me now?” It is also, “How can I hear you more clearly?” As we are compassionate hearers and communicators, the love of Jesus Christ is magnified in our ministries and relationships.
—Charles W. Christian
Grace & Peace magazine