Making our own noise

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.

7 thoughts on “Making our own noise

  1. Frank Reed

    There is something to be said for the less is more approach in an increasingly noisy world.

    Simple direct and to the point give people a chance to ‘get it’. As soon as I try to impose my will upon them (just the idea of my will meaning anything as compared to God’s is trouble enough) I will lose them and any chance of helping.

    Thanks for the reminder. I will shut up now.

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  2. Rich Dixon

    Now I’ve heard everything…a preacher who suggests “shut up” as a solution.” 🙂

    Strikes me that thinking about the audience and figuring out what they need to understand involves relationship and listening.

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  3. Cheryl

    I don’t know if you have ever tried having a time of silence for prayer and meditation during your service, but I have to admit it takes some getting used to–and sometimes I am eager to hear noise again. 🙂

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