Beyond Tolerance: Understanding and Loving Each Other
Did you know that the communication era you grow up in has a profound influence on what you trust as authentic, where you look for authority, as well as your preferred communication style? In his book, The Millennium Matrix, Rex Miller lays out the four primary communication eras experienced in our world; from ancient times to today. We can learn a lot about ourselves and our church using this frame of reference developed by Miller. Knowledge of what it was like to grow up in the Print, Broadcast, or Digital communication eras can help us to better understand differences in our needs, values and preferences. This understanding can then help grow our empathy and compassion for each other as diverse members of the Trinity faith family and the Body of Christ.
We do not have anyone living today that grew up in an ancient culture where Oral communication was the primary means of sharing and remembering information (the ancient past – 1,400 AD). However, it is helpful to remember that influence and that visual art was also an important communication tool. Early church buildings were full of art and for the illiterate masses, stained glass windows were their Bibles.
The Print communication era, 1,500 AD – 1950, brought changes and when printed literature became common, a clash took place between the new Print culture and the old Oral one. For multiple reasons, believers of the newly literate “print culture” no longer felt the need for or appreciated art. This era emphasized linear/logical/rationalistic thinking and church architecture had fewer embellishments.
The Broadcast communication era (1950 – 2010) created another clash that continues. Churches started looking like TV studios with a stage, sound and lighting. The worship service became more of a celebration featuring bands, videos, and drama. Because this approach works great for large groups, the era of the mega-church was born.
Now, only fifty years after the beginning of the broadcast era we have an emerging Digital communication generation that is less interested in broadcast style churches. Mass media no longer holds the power it once had as personalized media gives individuals primary control over what they read, see, and hear. Digital technology is changing the way people work, think, and behave. According to Miller, there are signs, that digital era churches will have candles, incense, art of all kinds and liturgy as part of their worship. Worship services will be more interactive, less performance-oriented, and generally smaller.
As Christians, LOVE is the essence of our faith. The love God first extended to us, our love for God with all our being and the love we are learning to have for others as we love ourselves. May we look to each other from our diverse backgrounds and giftedness and love well!
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”