Close the Generational Communication Gap

Close the Generational Communication Gap

September 26, 2016 by

Imagine a world where everyone on your church’s marketing team clearly communicates: requests come early, events go smoothly and no one ever argues. It seems like a far cry from reality, especially if your team spans multiple generations, but it might not be as unattainable as you think.

My team and I experienced an incredible time of growth, learning and stretching this past year. With the generational gap and team dynamics, we could have fallen to misunderstanding and miscommunication. Somehow, we didn’t. We came out on the “good” end. Here’s how.

Be Relevant and Intentional

In the struggle to be relevant, we sometimes lose our intentionality or vice-versa. However, you can be relevant and intentional at the same time.

In the struggle to be relevant, we sometimes lose our intentionality.

My grandma, who serves as our church secretary, is intentional in everything she does. At the same time, she loves cool graphics, the new website and our expanding use of technology in the church.

She isn’t an outlier. The situation is commonplace because our seniors desire intentionality and relevance. They also understand the benefits of being relevant to younger people and want to bridge the communication gap.

Understanding their heart and mindset has proved transformational and helped us get them on board with what we’re doing. The secret to success was starting with the why.

We communicated clearly about why we chose something like a new, digital system for guest follow-up with not only our leadership team but also key people who both did and didn’t connect with technology. As a result, we got the whole church on board, eliminated tension and closed the communication gap.

Check Your Communication Assumptions

We communicate with people via many different mediums: texts, email, handwritten notes, phone calls, face-to-face meetings, etc. But what works for one person doesn’t always work for others.

I assumed email or texts were the easiest way to do everything.

As a younger leader in the church, I had to learn this lesson because I assumed email or texts were the easiest way to do everything. That might have been true of people interacting directly with me, but it definitely was not the best way to communicate with other team members.

I found out the hard way that a text could be perceived in a way I hadn’t meant. Who knew that a text could be perceived wrongly (sarcasm) or taken as an insult?

Don’t repeat my mistakes. Decide how you want your message to come across and choose the medium that best conveys the heart and tone of the message. Calling people on the phone is a legitimate way to get a point across and to avoid tension and hurt feelings.

Value and Show Respect

You know the old saying, “Respect isn’t given, it’s earned”? That’s dumb. OK, maybe not dumb, but it’s not what we’re supposed to do. We should give people respect because Christ calls us to (See Matthew 7:12, Romans 10:2).

We value and respect people because Christ calls us to.

His words don’t apply only to respecting elders. It’s about respecting everyone, regardless of age, and serving them in love (Philippians 2: 3-4, 1 Peter 4:10). The minute someone feels disrespected or misunderstood, they shut down, stop working toward team goals and expand the communication gap.

When you respect people and their opinions and ideas, the communication gap closes. It guarantees everyone is on the same page and reorients them toward the ultimate goal: loving Jesus and seeing him proclaimed inside and outside the body of the church. I promise that your communication will be exponentially better than it has ever been if you go out of your way to tell the team that they’re valued and set an expectation of respect during meetings and conversations.

How do you close the communication gap among your team?

Image: realize_photo (Creative Commons)
Post By:

Kyler Nixon

Kyler is the creative pastor at Crossroads Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and serves other churches in the Midwest by creating sustainable communications and digital media. Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram.
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One Response to “Close the Generational Communication Gap”

  • zach
    September 26, 2016

    Good points! I completely agree!! A pastor said the other day at a “revival” meeting I was attending that it is a lot more difficult to lead a multi generational church than it is to lead a multi cultural church.


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