There was a University of Rochester study done deep in the bowels of the campus many years ago. The researchers tracked the difference in how men and women processed changes in direction. Men, it turns out, pay more attention to the metrics of distance and time. Women are more attuned to visual cues.
What this means is that (in general) if you give a man directions, you should focus on how long he should drive before making the turn, whereas women (in general) prefer to be told to make that same turn at the large green house.
We access our world in different ways and therefore, in order to communicate clearly we need to learn to speak both languages.
Isn’t it amazing we get anywhere at all? And if communicating is difficult between individuals, think of the challenges facing organizations… or in my life, churches who hear things and process things in ways that are unique to their own cultures. No wonder communication is a challenge!
Organizations struggle with metrics.
My denomination recently rolled out something called the “Matthew 25 Initiative”. One of my biggest concerns was how this could best be communicated to our congregations. In many ways, this initiative is a counter to our old narrative of division. This initiative points us in the same direction, regardless of whether we measure the journey in miles or in landmarks.
I’m suggesting my churches keep the following in mind:
1) Think of this initiative as a set of compass directions, and not a travel guide. This initiative offers three different directions: congregational vitality, eradicating poverty and dismantling racism. It doesn’t offer a complete program to perform.
2) This is unexplored territory in many ways… and although there is a general sense of what we mean when we say “congregational vitality” each church has their own journey. Consider that this journey has no indicators of mileage and no landmarks to navigate by…. which means we will all be a bit disoriented (and that is ok!).
3) The destination will keep moving on the map – which is why these are compass directions (walk west!) as opposed to a definitive map (you’ve arrived!).
4) The joy of the journey is often found in the companions on the road.
And of course, it all begins with a single step.