≡ Menu

Good Communication is Better Than Strategic Genius

Given two teams, one with great strategists and one with mediocre strategists that can communicate effectively, the mediocre will always win*.

Ok. That’s a grand assertion for which I have no statistics. And maybe some hyperbole crept in. But as I’ve worked on various teams, one thing that has consistently been either the conduit of success or the minefield of utter destruction is communication.

If a team cannot communicate, execution is going to be challenging at best. Emails get lost. Plans get miscommunicated and therefore mis-executed. And some poor kid is sent home without any cake. No body likes to be the only one without cake. If all of this is true (and you know I think it is), then just as important as a good plan is a good plan of communicating. And while there are various means of communication (email, text, twitter, carrier pigeon), all I’m claiming is that a shared consistency is important. Good communication is better than bad communication on the fanciest new medium.

Good ideas are important. Good strategies are important. But without good communication, ideas and strategies remain scribbles on a napkin.

*Yes, I know this was a bit of a silly hypothetical situation. Given that a team is comprised of “great strategists,” one would expect that a primary strategy in use is good communication. PSA over.

A Conversation about Finishing Things

The hardest part of most things is the starting. Once you’ve begun, the momentum of overcoming the initial immobilizing friction is enough to carry you along.

This is what I’ve found when writing. Lists are easy. My mind is an ocean of skeletal thoughts, half-developed, half-understood. But to begin to put flesh on those bones, to articulate what is otherwise half-hidden in the closet of my mind, that is hard.

Because of this, usually the simplest, shortest, most accessible tasks and writings get done. The “Got it. Thanks!” emails, or the short, two-sentence responses that require no thought; those are the simple skeletons. Dressing them takes no time.

But the bigger ideas, the book ideas, or how-to ideas, the skeletons that I’ve not even begun to dig up, those remain buried, only partially exposed for my mind to consider. But then, to think of the work that it will take to excavate, to carefully reconstruct and then generate those thoughts into something cogent, coherent, that is a daunting task. And rather than rescuing those ideas, I pass by them for the change on the ground. Low value, but easy to grab.

Part of the problem is that I am more motivated to do things that give instant gratification in exchange for little work. And part of the problem is that I often doubt that those “finds,” buried in the groundwork of my mind, are valuable to enough to be dug out.

And part of the problem is that I’m afraid of not being perfect. Which is bad, because perfection is hard to define and impossible to attain.

All that to say, I didn’t finish the essay you assigned and was hoping that you would give me an extension.

More Thoughts about Church History

I have profited greatly from my Church History course at Reformed Theological Seminary. While I wouldn’t expect someone to enroll at RTS simply to take the class, there is no need! Thanks to technology and the glory of the internet, you can go and download the lectures for free at iTunes U. Consider this my endorsement.

After having completed the course, I had a few more thoughts regarding Church History.

  1. History confirms human nature. There are a plethora of things that have changed since the early church. Cultures have come and gone, empires fallen, discoveries and advances made. But one thing that has not changed is the human problem. While technology or culture may shade or color the manifestation of sin, the problem of sin is as old and constant as the garden of Eden.
  2. Honest church history (and history in general) ought to mitigate against chronological snobbery. C.S. Lewis described chronological snobbery as the false assumption that the present and all that it entails is intrinsically superior to the past. With so much focus on the present in social media, the publishing of new, exciting books, new TVs shows, new iPhones, new everything, there seems to be an abiding focus on both the blessed present and the hopeful future. After studying some of the triumphs and the failures of the past, such intrinsic optimism seems misplaced. I don’t think it demands that you be pessimistic about the present. It just keeps us honest.
  3. There is so much more to learn. Of all the courses that I’ve taken, it seems that Church History has left me with the one of the greatest senses of inadequacy. I would imagine that I suffer from “knowing enough to be dangerous.” I hope that with a continued pursuit, I can further benefit from the lessons of the past.

Three Thoughts about Discipleship

The vision of our youth ministry is to be a youth ministry that makes disciples who make disciples. Not terribly flashy, but it gets to the point. And, yes, I’ve thought through the fact that the Great Commission was given to the apostles, and that disciple-making is a function of the church. Nonetheless, we want to raise up teenagers who take responsibility to be a witness, and in that witnessing, help others get to know Jesus better. “Making disciples who make disciples” is an easy and memorable way to communicate that.

So lately I’ve been thinking about discipleship. Here are three of those thoughts.

  1. Discipleship is a long process. Seriously. Baking a cake takes what, an hour? A seminary degree takes three years if you’re going full time (or considerably longer if you’re taking my approach). But being formed into a disciple of Christ is a lifetime process. One could argue that the timer doesn’t ding on this side of eternity, depending on how you define “disciples.” Which leads me to my second thought.

  2. We as a youth ministry must be intentional about what we seek to impart. I can imagine most hands-to-palms right now with a chorus of “Duhs.” Well, I’m slow on the pick-up. If we have a teenager who comes consistently from 6th to 12th grade, we get about two hours a week for seven years. That’s 728 hours total (not including breaks or extra retreats or stuff like that) out of 61,152 hours that a person has in seven years. That’s 1.19%. Not a lot of time to impress upon a teenager the “whole counsel of God.” This is another reason that I’m thankful that it is not our job alone to make disciples. I know that we’re not factoring in time with adult leaders or more involvement. But still, it’s not a lot. 1 percent. This is one reason that parents are the primary disciple-makers of their kids. Time. (And love and hugs and other things that impact a person’s ability to disciple others.)

  3. Nonetheless, God is faithful in the discipleship process. It has been very encouraging to see passion rise in the lives of some of our teenagers. To hear their increased interest in the Bible and in worship. To hear them practically addressing the idols in their lives with repentance and renewed faith. God can take 1 percent and turn it into seven baskets of leftovers. Or something like that. He does what we cannot. Which is good because, well, we cannot.

Three Thoughts about Church History

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been taking a course on Church History from Reformed Theological Seminary. I can’t recommend RTS enough. Their faculty and staff are wonderful, and the courses I have taken have been spiritually and ministerially fruitful.

This course on Church History, spanning the book of Acts through to pre-Reformation era Christianity, has been thoroughly encouraging and challenging. Here are three reasons.

  1. Learning about martyrs puts things in perspective. Without trivializing the struggles we legitimately face, it’s convicting to read about guys like Polycarp who basically said that he didn’t need to be nailed to the stake because the God who would enable to be martyred would give him the strength to stand in the fire- literally. I’m thankful for the freedom that we have and the fact that we don’t face the kind of persecution that Christians in the first three centuries did; but oh, for an ounce of their faith!

  2. I’m thankful for the saints who “figured it out.” I’m thankful that we’re not having to hash out the Trinity or the natures of Christ. We will always need to submit our theology to the Scriptures. But I’m thankful for the well-worn path that has been paved by the saints before me.

  3. History gives perspective. Have you ever been in a meeting where there were eight of your peers and you guys have just brainstormed a “great idea?” Everyone is very excited about this “great idea.” And then an older, wiser person walks in and shows you all the things you didn’t take in to consideration and shows you why your “great idea” is really an old idea that has been tried and failed? At the risk of being pessimistic, Church History is that old guy. It steps into our world with our shiny innovations and reminds us that 1. our ideas are not new and 2. sometimes they’re horribly wrong. We have the benefit of those who have experienced the pain of poor theology that can hopefully prevent us from going down the same roads. As the saying goes, if you don’t learn from history, etc.

A little history is good for everyone.