I am more and more troubled as of late by a certain stigma of communication. Yes, “stigma” – I choose that word on purpose. If you’ve ever been on the wrong side of it, then you’d know the common disdain for this is that sincere. I’ve begun to wonder if catering to it is actually beneficial though.
What am I talking about? The infatuation with “simplicity” in communication – which, by the way, also means “short”. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s actually all it means to most! So could someone be allowed to talk about it? I’ll try to keep it as short and sweet as possible… ironically.
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T SAY EVERYTHING IN A TWEET
There are many difficult things to explain in the life of a Christian, especially when you want to explain things accurately. It doesn’t all fit in a 140 characters, as much as we’d like to pretend it could. It’s popular, even in the church, to say, “If you can’t say it simply, you don’t know you’re subject matter well enough.”
That’s a strange notion to me, seeing as how when I read scripture I see some really long sermons from Jesus! I even see Paul having to resurrect a man who fell out of a window while snoozing through a sermon all-nighter!.
Now, I’m not claiming to be Jesus or Paul, but I’ll go as far as to credit many other communicators as having plenty still worth listening to. In some parts of the world, they still like these hours upon hours of depth.
Besides, if you were to feel lead to even recap most of what the books of the Bible say (which were to be read in entirety, I might add), then you’d be stuck talking to a sleeping crowd these days… Who claim to be interested in the Bible… Curiously ironic.
WHAT IF PRACTICAL DOESN’T MEAN SIMPLE!?
I believe our culture is leaning towards an obsession with simple, and I understand why. It’s a busy and cluttered culture we’re in. I enjoy simple myself. I like a clean open room. I like a well-developed and delivered talk. I like an uncluttered blog with posts around 600 words – well formatted for quick scanning and reading.
I enjoy streamlined functionality. Tools that work well together. Simplistic user interfaces. Soup in a can that’s worth a full meal in 3 minutes! I even enjoy a good 140 character tweet that pokes my brain just as much as the next guy does!
However, I question, are we too obsessed with this? These days, simple (and short) is practical… in ways. However, practical isn’t always simple! What if what we actually need – truly practical help – is actually going to take us longer than we think we have time for? What if it’s actually going to be more complex, hard work and thinking, then we obviously believe it’s worth?
WHAT IF AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS… ME STARVING!
I’m all for practical. I’m all for hanging out in the clouds too! I believe a good communicator, teacher, or pastor can and should do both! Do it in the same message even! However, if what I actually need is a good, long, hard explanation, then don’t hold back!
An apple a day keeps the doctor away… unless that’s all you’re eating! Even then, I don’t think most are getting an apple even! More like, a grape here and there. Sure, a grape is healthy! Yet, I can’t eat just one grape a day and expect my entire body to become more healthy!
So what if we’re just making the matter worse by simply tossing a morsel here and there that stands incomplete, like our physical diet, needing to be combined with many more complex nutrients before it could actually benefit us!
OH YEA, WE’RE RELEVANT. I FORGOT!
I know. I know. We’re supposed to be missionaries to our cultures. Relevant. If they want it short and sweet, we give it short and sweet! Yet, I wanted a dinosaur when I was a kid too, but my parents didn’t get me one! Not even an alligator!
Now, I understand and I’m glad. One didn’t exist. One wouldn’t have been good for me. Same with these simple gospels we’re preaching, perhaps?
OUT OF THE WADING POOL; INTO THE OCEAN
Looking back on my teenage years, I’ve discovered I had plenty of “simple messages.” Oh my gosh, TONS of them! Yet what I needed was something to be in wonder about! Something expansive, vast, huge and important, and worth my time and skills!
What if we’re just teaching people to enjoy a wade in the kiddy pool, when they should be in an ocean, learning to swim hard in the complex, rough, amazement of it all!? Sure, they’re both water, and will have much of the same effect if you’re just in it for cooling yourself. Yet, the differences are nearly infinite!
Only one exists because of the other. Only one of them actually sustains the world.
Maybe a rare few could actually learn to swim. Maybe even build boats that could sail, and discover, and fish for deep things, and give necessary goods to the world! Maybe some would even walk on that water! Shoot… I can only wonder.
Wonder… I wish I was allowed to do that more often.
Thoughts? Have you detected this obsession with simplicity? Been told you talk too long, think too deep, or you’re giving too much at once? Who’s to blame? Who’s right and wrong?