About a month ago I had a long conversation with a woman who wanted to know how Churches can have better relationships with their missionaries. For about twenty minutes I extolled the virtues of Skype, iPhones, magic jack, and drop box ending with the emphatic statement “there is NO REASON for a missionary not to communicate with their churches!”
This morning I was forced to eat those words 😦
While contacting supporting Churches by phone this morning it occurred to me that some had not gotten a ministry update for months. This wasn’t because emails hadn’t been sent out (I was sending them) but because common issues like emails being changed, new church leadership, my communication not being received properly, or the email address being bad. No matter what the reason for this happening the bottome line is its my fault since the missionaries are repesponsible to communicate with their Churches.
After the initial shock and conviction followed by lots apology emails I stopped and asked myself “how could this happen?” It didn’t take me long to realize the answer.
My relationships with those Churches were one-click relationships
- An email update that sends itself to hundreds of Churches with one click
- A Facebook or Twitter post that takes thirty seconds to write
- A blog post that can be seen by anyone after clicking the world publish
Now I’m all for social media because it allows missionaries to easily communicate with their Churches or supporters on a day to day basis. But they also allow people (and their email addresses) to fall through the cracks. And more importantly it’s a very impersonal form of communication.
Things like Facebook posts or a email are good enough for 80-90% of our relationships, but then there are is that 10% to 20% that deserves better.
- They deserve a phone call
- Over a personal text message
- face to face conversation (Facetime doesn’t count)
- Or even (Heaven forbid) a hand written note!
- At the least these individuals deserve to receive communication that’s specifically for them
The thing is if I had communicated with those Churches individually instead of sending a mass-produced email I would have noticed their address had changed, or my updates weren’t being received. But instead I kept clicking the button assuming everything was okay.
I’m not saying that we should all take up the habit of handwriting letters (though it is a good idea) but instead we must find those 10% to 20% of people who deserve a personal contact, and think of creative ways of sending communication that’s meant only for them.
I’ll never forget the day I received in Australa a hand-written card from individuals in a supporting Church, it was an incredibly precious thing because that was something created with me in mind. May God help me to step away from the one-click relationship and communicate with others in a way that they will think is precious.