Bridging the Communication Gap

Bridging the Communication Gap

July 22, 2011 by

I wasn’t there when the telephone became a pervasive technology but I wonder what the evolution of it was for people in leadership. Company X buys a phone because they heard that it would be useful in some way for them to make more money. They aren’t completely sure why but they dive in anyway?

Here’s the question I have: Did the executives hire people to talk on the phone for them?

If they did, when did it become commonplace for executives themselves to actually talk on the phone?

This thought seems a bit ridiculous to us now (at least I hope it does). But that’s how we treat communication technology today. We need to get past this paradigm where there is a huge gap between those who create content (pastors) and those who operate the technology to distribute it (designers, video gurus, web guys, etc).

I have jumped the gap. I started my career as a youth pastor and eventually a church planting pastor and in the last few years I have fully immersed myself in technologies that help me do my job better. I won’t try and convince you of the benefits of using technology and the Internet to have more presence in people’s lives and to distribute content more efficiently. You should already be there.

There are two issues that bug me right now in the church world:

  • #1: Too many pastors lack the basic abilities to use modern communication tools and in turn have to rely on other people, which is inefficient at best and irresponsible at worst.
  • #2: Too many tech savvy people lack the basic abilities and/or the freedom to create content and shape the voice of their organizations, which is a squandering of their gifts.

We have this massive gap between content creators and technologists. What will it take to jump this gap? How can we encourage pastors and content creators to jump in the game and start realizing what they can truly accomplish with these tools? How do we empower scores of people who are already skilled in using these tools to start shaping the message?

This is the first steamboat designed by John Fitch:

Fitch simply took a steam engine and crammed it into a boat with oars and as you can see, it sucks! (hat tip to Clay Shirky)

I wrote Context and Voice based on my experience jumping the gap from being a pastor to a pastor who can navigate modern communication tools. I want other pastors to jump this gap as well and see technologists grasp an understanding of where pastors come from especially in terms of content.

I want to ask you: Are you seeing progress in your church in this area? If not, what’s it going to take?


Post By:

Vince Marotte

Vince is the internet pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. He's the author of Context & Voice and you can check out his blog.
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7 Responses to “Bridging the Communication Gap”

  • Dean Seddon
    July 22, 2011

    I think there is always a problem with those who manage and those who generate the content. I think inadvertently many leaders have ignored the fact that much of our engagement with the community can now happen online and so online stuff is seen as a necessary evil rather than a tool to reach a dying world.

    I came across aPastor a year or so ago of a church of less than 50 people, yet they have a massive online ministry through their website, facebook and youtube videos. Their online congregation is in the thousands.


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  • Bobby
    July 22, 2011

    Progress? Progress you ask! Surely you jest. Since the vast majority of pastors seem to be “boomers”, and boomers seem somehow empowered to “not do computers”- I don’t see this huge gap between content creators and technologists narrowing for quite some time. And I think it’s foolish, arrogant, absurd and irresponsible-at best. I firmly believe that the best thing we technologist can do is step up to the plate, and tell these luddites to “get over it” and get on with it. Life’s too short to hold on to the stupid beliefs. Oh, it has NOTHING to do with age-I’m 58 and a technologist.

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  • Ana Munzinger
    July 22, 2011

    Even working with a group of relatively young pastors who are more technologically savvy, the gap is huge and doesn’t seem to be narrowing.

    Pastors get busy and they have other things that can quickly be ranked above technological communication. They want to “staff it out” because they don’t see why it’s important. I think the problem is that people can become too concerned with DOING the new thing (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) but forget why they are doing it in the first place. Once you forget the point of communication, you forget the importance of how we communicate. And then it’s all one big mess.

    Someone has to take the leap. Technologists have to find a way to communicate to pastors why technological communication is important. Pastors have to make a commitment to using the technology. But first we have to all agree that we are a team working together toward a single goal – to spread the Gospel.

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  • Michael Buckingham
    July 22, 2011

    hmmm. not sure if i totally agree. I don’t think a pastor has to be into twitter and texting. I think it’s a good thing that they have to rely on others. A pastor isn’t called to be a media guy, he’s called to shepherd.

    In fact I see too many churches that try to put up that bridge and dump it on an executive pastor, etc. and it flops, becomes water downed and viola, mediocrity. Or I see pastors that their eyes light up when people talk technology, art, whatnot and jump in, and the sheep are left unattended.

    It’s within your second point that I emphasize with pastors. Find others you can link arms with that are called to media, creative, etc. Once you’ve found that armor bearer let go and trust them to put creation into action. Trust and people are in fact your bridge, not your ability to tweet.

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    • Vince
      July 22, 2011

      I wouldn’t say that all pastors should be on Twitter, Facebook or any other specific tool. I do think they need to understand the context in which they are dwelling and the subsection of culture they are impacting and use the appropriate tools to have presence in people’s lives (shepherd). Some subcultures have hardly any social media impact and a pastor in that space probably should sweat it too much.

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      • Michael Buckingham
        July 22, 2011

        Absolutely. And it does have a lot to do with context (cue book title), a college pastor needs to embrace differently as he is a different type of shepherd with a different herd of sheep.

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  • Lynn Partridge
    January 29, 2012

    As a lay person over 50, I am very frustrated by fellow boomers who seem proud that they don’t know anything about computers. They are the same people who bemoan the fact that we don’t have a lot of young people at our church, and wonder what we can do to attract them.

    A small volunteer web team has put together a fairly good website for our church, but largely without the help of boomers, who make up most of our leadership, including our pastor. The over-50 crowd generally has more time available for volunteer projects, and would be a great resource if we could figure out how to draw them in.

    Maybe one problem is that writing a blurb doesn’t sound nearly as sexy and immediately gratifying as helping to build a house. If people aren’t using the internet all the time, they don’t realize how much of an impact they can make – that they truly can communicate with the world with that little blurb.

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