Communication is a Three-Way Process

Yesterday morning I was lucky enough to be part of the Church of England Diocesan Communication Officers’ ‘Firefighting or Firelighting’ Conference at Cuddesdon. I was very impressed by the people I met and afterwards wondered whether the Catholic Church in England and Wales can count on such sincere and talented people to help front the Church to the world. The fact that I don’t know bothers me slightly and says something (I’m not sure what) about communications within the Church to which I belong. However, it also made me think a little about the nature of communication itself.

In a Christian context, communication is never merely a two-way process; it is always three-way because it must proceed from, be informed by, and in some way ‘return’ to God. It is, if you like, essentially trinitarian with a small ‘t’. I find that a very liberating thought because it takes so much responsibility from our shoulders. Of course we must do our best to communicate important truths as clearly and simply as we can; of course we must use words to build up rather than tear down; but ultimately we can be at peace because we are relying not on ourselves but on God, who is the Supreme Communicator and can use some spectacularly unpromising material, even the jawbone of a donkey, to get his message across. Come to think of it, if I were a diocesan communications officer, I might just take Balaam’s donkey as my personal mascot!


10 thoughts on “Communication is a Three-Way Process”

  1. Thanks for the analogy of three way communication. I suspect that I was aware of it but hadn’t really thought of it in those terms.

    I’m pleased to hear your praise for those in the CofE who present to the public, because, in recent years there has appeared to be PR disaster after PR disaster, most usually from Lambeth Palace. Hopefully the Church has now developed a more professional and inspirational model to take it forward.

    My Diocese has even revamped it’s website and brought it into the 21st Century. I now need to convince my Parish Webmaster that it might be a good idea to bring it into the 21st Century. πŸ™

  2. I am so happy you say this for all communications. I have experienced it in conversation with my spouse and friends, usually on one-on-one, or within a prayer group. But your bringing it in all communications delights me. As you say, this is very liberating. Thank you!
    You have helped me see that I need to tune in on this frequency also when I talk with our children and grandchildren. This idea brings beauty in the thought πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for your talk yesterday, the idea that omnipresence means that sacred spaces of course include the internet, struck me in terms of my own balance of comms and my approach to work/prayer.

    Your clarity on compassion (and respect) trumping doctrine is I think something internet culture could generally benefit from, and I’d certainly include myself in that πŸ™‚

    • Thank you. I don’t quite mean that compassion trumps doctrine. For example, I couldn’t countenance an untruth in the name of compassion; but I do believe there are circumstances where we need to emphasize compassion. A good example in scripture is Jesus’ attitude to the woman taken in adultery. He didn’t condone her sin, far from it, but what we take away from the incident is the sense of Jesus’ compassion, his wanting to encourage her and her attackers to a better way of living.

  4. Nicely put. I’ve never expressed it that way but on a similar vien, when I train priests and lay people (I’m a professional presentation skills trainer) I often use reference to the fact that they “can’t go Wong” because their words aren’t there own. It’s a useful tool for when I work with very nervous speakers.

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