We have one of our church services in a gym. The gym has a cooling system designed more for basketball than for quiet meditation. We used to program the fans to stop during the sermon. This is great for sound, but it means that we have to make it cold during the first half of the service so that it doesn’t get too hot during the second half.
This summer, we’re leaving the fans on. It keeps the temperature stable. It also gives us some noise to mask the sound of loud heels walking and cell phones ringing and door hardware crashing during the sermon. We’re choosing to allow some noise, knowing that it helps clarify the understanding.
I’m realizing, however, that often we create noise that interferes with understanding.
1. I do this myself when what I say and what I do disagree. James writes,
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
Empty wishes and promises may create noise instead of inviting understanding.
2. I do this myself when I am teaching and spend time talking about myself and my poor teaching technique instead of talking about the content. More words about context may create noise instead of inviting understanding.
3. We do this when people want more communication in our organizations and we simply produce more fliers and longer announcements and three more videos. More messages may create noise instead of inviting understanding.
So what can we do?
- Shut up.
- Think about the audience
- Decide what they need to understand and don’t yet.
- Say and do what will help them understand.
- Let them reflect.
And maybe, keep them cool.