Inviting a Muslim to speak at your church is not exactly a popular move. Nor is inviting a Jew, Buddhist, Animist and Communist, all for a multi-faith conference. But as I covered last time, it’s important for everyone involved to interact with people of different faiths. As I’ve embraced the vision of the Global Faith Forum and brought people of other faiths together for dialogue, I’ve had to do a lot of communicating to my own congregation. A multi-faith dialogue doesn’t come easy.
Along the way I’ve learned a few lessons about communicating significant ideas, which has little to do with multi-faith dialogue and everything to do with how you can communicate big ideas to your congregation.
How do you communicate effectively when you are leading a church or churches to do something significant?
There are those things that are fun and hip and everyone wants to be a part of – with good momentum you get a lot of hype and growth and enthusiasm because everyone is having fun—I like those things!
Then there are those things that must be addressed because it is right and justice demands a response. These things are about conviction, not hype—and they are costly—yet the price of denying righteousness to someone or something doesn’t stop in that moment but winds up with historical and emotional consequences that can last generations is even more costly.
- First, to communicate effectively you must be convinced of the truth of what you have heard from God. Truth embodied leads to conviction that gives courage and passion to move forward and sound the charge.
- Second, you can’t use guilt, shame, or bullying—when facing something hard before it gets better, it may get harder—weak-kneed leaders will birth weak-kneed people.
- Third, you have to first model right behavior. Don’t start telling them what must change and what all of you must do together until you first are modeling it.
- Finally, bring them along gradually one step at a time celebrating every gain.
I remember when we finished our multi-faith weekend, a lady who loves God and has been a strong supporter but was questioning the event in advance told me, “Bob, I don’t know what I was thinking. I get it now. We’re just building relationships so we can understand each other and maybe bring down the tension in this world and be witnesses to Jesus Christ—I get it.” She is driving the prayer focus for our Global Faith Forum and so excited!
Next time we’ll cover the major roadblocks to having a multi-faith dialogue.