Friday, September 21, 2012


The first words of the CTK Mission Statement are:  To create an authentic Christian community.   An authentic Christian community is difficult to create.  An inauthentic culture is a little easier to develop, partly because there are so many characters who will come along to "help" you, like:

The “Expert" - this is the person who is not interested in learning from others, only teaching others.  They overestimate their own contributions, and underestimate the contributions of others.  This arrogance precludes them from the benefits of true community.
The “Pious” - this is the person who is mostly concerned with how good they are, and how good others are.  They takes great pains, and gives them to others.  They are not grace-based; they are works based.  They make it difficult for others to feel loved and accepted in their current state.
The “Silent Observer” - this is the person who does not engage.  They are completely at ease sitting back and watching others the work of relationships.  They don't share, they only receive.  
The “Mind Reader” - this is the person who spends a bulk of their time assessing other's thoughts, behaviors and motivations.  They are no good at it, but that doesn't keep them from trying to live everyone else's life.  (And as long as they are living someone else's, they'll never have to live their own.)
The “Placator” - this is the person who only wants to see everyone "get along," even if it means forsaking reality.  They don't want to face real issues, preferring to just cover them up.  They vote for the superficial over the substantive.  
The “Devil’s Advocate” - this is the person who is contrarian "just because."  They just can not bring themselves to be positive, or affirm others.  It's hard to have community with them, because you can only align with them on the downbeat.  
The “Non-Stop Talker” - this is the person who never gives up the mic once they get it in their hands.  They filibuster the conversation - losing touch with the fact that relationships are intended to be a back and forth proposition. 

Monday, September 17, 2012


When people gather together in Jesus' name it is usually a good thing.  People are usually blessed by getting to know each other.  But not always.  People can also get hurt in relationships, in several ways.  Christian Education guru Roberta Hestenes identified seven ways that communication can actually damage community.

  1. Gossip and false witness - Sharing ideas/opinions/news that damages reputations, effectiveness and self-esteem of others 
  1. Triangulation - avoidance of face-to-face, indirect communication, appeals to outside authority as referee, involving third parties before direct conversation.
  1. Withholding pertinent information - knowing important facts or realities but not volunteering information helpful to others, enjoying “insider secrets.”
  1. Using verbal or nonverbal speech to control - domineering, interrupting repeatedly, rudeness, loudness/anger, hostility, overtaking, not pausing or stopping, disruptive humor.
  1. Attacks or Accusations/Labeling - quick criticism or negative reactions, assumption of bad motives, undermining credibility, name-calling, nonverbal expressions or gestures that undermine speaker.
  1. Favoritism or Neglect/Indifference - affirming one or two people consistently more than others, not noticing or ignoring one or more of those present.
  1. Persistent Silence or Distracting Behaviors - habitual silence or prolonged withdrawal from participation, changing the subject prematurely, unfriendly stubbornness, inappropriate gestures or behaviors.
 With this list in hand, it's a good idea to:
1.  Review your own ways of relating.  Are you, as a leader, putting the unction in dysfunction?  Remember, the pace of the leader is the pace of the team.

2.  Review your team's behavior.  When you gather with your staff, is everyone on their best behavior?  Or is your team being sabotaged?  Think through your team with this list in mind.

3.  Review your groups.  Do they know what bad behavior looks like?  Maybe it's time to review the list.  Equipping sometimes means informing people of what doesn't work.

4.  Review the body.  Are there cancerous cells that are destroying your community?  If so, leaders see what needs to be done, and do what needs to be done.  Gently instruct, and if necessary, take action to protect your people from damage.