My mom used to say, “Sit up straight or you’ll get bad posture.” I used to think, “Who cares if I have bad posture?” I didn’t get it. When I got older and developed deeper relationships, I learned that actions speak louder than words and what you don’t say can be just as important as what you do.
When I studied visual communications, I learned that every aspect of your design should convey the message you want to get across, from the photos and words down to the alignment and fonts.
At church one Sunday, one of the long-time members got up to share the offertory. He shared about the world-wide issue of economics. He went on about how we should give generously to help create peace in a world corrupted by corporations managing money in inefficient and immoral ways, especially in certain countries, etc.. As he spoke, I began to feel uneasy. It wasn’t him sharing his opinions that I had concern with. What bothered me was the harshness in his voice and that standing at the front, as a public minister, that he was, in a way, representing the views of our community. I kept thinking that if I were a visiting guest or someone from one of those “certain countries” he was speaking of, I might be really turned off by this message, not inspired to give at all, or maybe even come back.
One of the things I love about our community is that we value diverse ideas and believe all have ministry to share. But, is there a point where we need to censor what ideas are shared in public worship if they could be offensive to others? If every aspect of a service does not convey the message we want to portray, under the lessons of communications, we would re-consider our design. Can you do that with people without hurting feelings or damaging the community? Even with long-time members?
That night, I read a chapter called “Posture” from a book recommended to me by a friend called “The Tangible Kingdom”. Posture is defined as “the attitude of the body: the non-verbal forms of communication that accompany what we say” (p.39). The author proposed that our missional efforts also need to be incarnational (meaning “embody in the flesh”). That in order to be truly missional, we need to embody each aspect of the message we want to convey. We need to express that in all our communications: words and actions. We need to have good posture.
I was still thinking about the message shared that morning. I decided that it came down to determining what was more important for our community to express and whether that message was being conveyed. Do we want to be a community that says: we believe it’s important to have perfect worship? Requiring that every single person convey the exact message of our mission? Or, would we rather embody the message that we are a community with different beliefs and our worships provide an opportunity for people to share their diverse opinions in a loving and accepting environment?
As I thought more about it, I decided that I would rather be a part of a community that embraced the latter. So, in my efforts to embody that incarnationally, I am letting go and adjusting my posture.
How’s your posture? The posture of your community? Are you “embodying in the flesh” the mission and message you are intending to share?