(First published May 30, 2013)
I keep saying to people around church, “we are creating our own noise.” I realized that I need to take some time to explain what I mean.
Imagine conversing with a friend in a quiet coffee shop. You’ve not seen each other for a long time. You’ve been looking forward to this conversation, this visit, for months.
You can lean back in your chairs, speaking quietly. You hear every word, every chuckle. A couple more people come in. You lean forward. Someone turns on some music. You speak louder. It’s harder to pay attention, harder to listen.
Sentences get shorter. Ideas get less complex. You can’t talk with the same depth of feeling, with the same range of reflection when you have to shout.
Now, imagine that everyone in the coffee shop is a friend. They all have been helping you plan for this visit. They want you to be able to talk with each other, to think well together. They are all on your side. But the noise that they are creating makes intimacy and understanding impossible.
That can happen when people walk into our church (Probably yours too. And maybe my blog. Possibly your store.)
Every piece of information creates a sound. Often not literally. Sometimes we just print a bulletin. Sometimes we put images on a screen. These are silent. But they can create clutter, which is the visual version of noise. And every announcement from the platform, every facebook update, every special event, every bold headline, every display, every banner, every sign, every piece of background music has volume.
Here’s the challenge. All of events may be good. All of the announcements may be important. But if we are making so much noise that no one can hear, we are the barrier to our own communication.