Download here. This week’s episode of The Connected Kingdom finds us in coversation with Harry Schaumburg, a man who has dedicated his life and ministry to helping people recover from sex addiction and addiction to pornography. In this conversation we seek to ask him very practical questions about issues that are on many people’s minds.
Here is a breakdown (including time stamps) of some of the topics we cover and the questions we ask:
2:55 – How widespread is this problem?
4:30 – What’s the real issue here? What’s the heart issue?
8:48 – Should every wife suspect her husband and be suspicious that he is looking at pornography?
13:12 – How important is open communication about the sexual relationship within marriage?
15:41 – How can we protect our children?
24:30 – Here we quickly go through a list of very practical questions and answers.
What does a wife do if she discovers that her husband is looking at pornography?
What does a husband need to know about how pornography may affect his wife and family?
Does pornography tend to escalate over time?
When and how do you know you’re cured?
Can you offer a quick critique of Every Man’s Battle?
When does a person need to seek out help from his local church and when should he seek out help from a professional counselor?
If you want to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.
I’m not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. However, I’m going to make a prediction: The Daily is doomed. It takes a brave man (or a fool) to bet against Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch, but here’s my reasoning.
About aged 9 (35 years ago!), I discovered the daily newspaper. I used to race my Father to the front door when it was delivered every morning. He usually won. However, I would hover impatiently as I waited for him to finish his morning skim before going off to drill, fill, and pull (guess his career?). I started with The Glasgow Herald, but by age 17 I was enjoying The London Times. I would read it from cover to cover every day; no small feat, considering it contained about the same number of words as a small novel.And did I know the world! Apart from the detailed coverage and analysis of UK news on a national and regional level, there were always 1-2 pages on the USA, 2-3 pages on Europe, and 2-3 pages on the rest of the world. On top of that there were sections covering a wide range of the weird and the wonderful in arts, culture, sports, and hobbies. The Saturday paper was two or three times the size of the Mon-Fri version. The Sunday paper was even bigger (I’m told). Worldview I must have spent at least about 10-15 hours a week consuming this extensive, varied, and regular diet of news and opinion. And I did this for over 20 years. It certainly didn’t give me a Christian worldview, but it definitely gave me a view of the world. Then came the Internet.It wasn’t until I downloaded The Daily and tried it for a few days that I realized how radically the Internet has changed my news reading habits. As I swiped through the articles on my iPad, I was impressed by the clear presentation, the colorful graphics, and the smart technology. But I was totally bored. The articles were well-written. But I would not ordinarily have chosen to read even one of them. And that’s the difference. Now I get to choose. Now I get to be my own editor. Growing up I got used to the omniscient newspaper editors choosing what I needed to know. There was no alternative. And, stuck on a train on the boring morning commute, I had no choice but to read what they dished up. However irrelevant or boring the articles, they were more interesting than the Glasgow suburban rail-scape. Dallas? At the office coffee break, I could either join in the discussion of Dallas (under-thirties read here) with my six female colleagues or pull out the newspaper. I couldn’t open Internet Explorer because, even though I had a computer on my desk, the Internet was still unheard of (as were color monitors!). But that forced news diet, chosen by another, has now been replaced by the Internet smorgasbord. This newspaper addict can’t recall the last time he needed or took a daily newspaper fix. I’ve now got so used to just reading what I choose to read, pursuing my own interests via an unlimited number of websites and blogs, the idea of someone choosing what I should read seems like reverting to childhood.I know I don’t know as widely as I used to know. I know that in some ways I had a wider worldview when I was a teenager than I do now. And I know that is to my own impoverishment. I do try to force myself to read books, blogs, and websites that expand my knowledge and vision. However, my default is now to go deeper with my passions and interests rather than wider with the passions and interests of others. And if I am representative of the general public – and I think I am – then not only is The Daily doomed, but so also are daily newspapers in general.Deeper and narrower And, if you want another prophecy, here’s the future (or something like it). Zite is a personalized iPad magazine/newspaper that gets smarter as you use it. A kind of Flipboardon steroids, it analyzes your blog-reading, Twitter feed, etc, and, using complex algorithms, chooses the news that reflects your interests. Over time, as you read or reject its suggestions, the selections will more and more accurately reflect your interests. Welcome to the new age of news. It’s a far deeper world; but also much narrower.
Dennis Prutow recently wrote a great book on preaching called So, Pastor, What’s Your Point. His point was that we can preach for 40 minutes plus and leave people none the wiser. “What was all that about?” people ask each other as they leave. There may have been lots of good ideas but no real point to what was being said.
And that’s not only true of preaching, it’s true of all our communications: emails, announcements, comments at elder’s meetings, etc. Here are five suggestions to help improve pastoral communication:1. Cut the words We can confuse our hearers by saying too little, by not explaining enough. Sometimes we assume too much; we think that everyone knows the background as we do. Sometimes we don’t trust people enough; we think they will misunderstand or that they shouldn’t really know this anyway. Whether over-assuming or under-trusting, the end result is that people are left scratching their heads…or shaking them!However, by far the most common problem for pastors is at the other end of the scale. They confuse and bamboozle by verbosity. It is one of the hardest yet most essential skills a pastor can acquire – to summarize and simplify. Can I shorten this sentence? Can I use smaller words? Can I be less abstract and more concrete? Can I illustrate? Do I need to say the same thing three times? Do I need to say this at all? 2. Consider the purpose What are you trying to achieve with this message? When you ask such questions you start thinking about more than just the words; you consider body-language, clothing, environment, etc. If you are wanting to show care to a lonely single mother, you don’t do that by dressing like a teenager and visiting her late at night alone. If you want to persuade a young woman not to marry a non-Christian guy, then you don’t address that with her in front of the Youth Group. If you want to comfort a man on the loss of his wife, then you don’t do that in a restaurant with the possibility of him breaking down in public. 3. Create the hearing scenario in your mind The Indian proverb says, “Try to walk a mile in another person’s moccasins.” A skillful communicator is able to sympathize and empathize with those he is communicating with. He is able to imagine what it is like to live their life and be in their situation. He looks at the background, the history, the pressures, the stresses, the health issues, the job situation, etc., and tries to live in that world by imagination. And then he tries to hear/read his message as if living their life. We have to ask not just, “How am I going to say this?” but also, “How is this going to be heard?”4. Consult with others Some preachers run their sermons past their elders, and some even do the same with their wives! I’ve never done that and I don’t recommend it. That can become a bondage and unduly influence what God has given us to say. The only exception I would make is if you are dealing with a particularly sensitive issue. Then it might be worth passing it by someone. And that’s where I believe consultation comes in most – when dealing with sensitive issues. If the elders ask you to address the congregation on a potentially controversial or divisive issue, then make sure every elder signs off on the statement before it is issued. Give enough time for feedback and incorporate as much as you can before sending it out to them again for final approval. If you are dealing with criticism, then ask a trusted person or two to review your response if written, or to consult with you beforehand and then come with you if you are going to be face-to-face with the person.If you blog, tweet, Facebook, or publish congregational newsletters, again it is worth having one or two people who will keep you accountable and who will give you feedback about the impression you are giving. 5. Check motivation If our motivation is wrong, then our communication is also bound to go wrong in tone or content. Why am I writing this or saying this? Is it to make myself look good? Is it to attack someone and prove them wrong? Is it to keep a person or family in the church at all costs? Isn’t it appropriate that the Epistle dealing most with communication, begins with a promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
The pastor is in the communication business. Whatever else he is, he is a communicator. Everything he does is about communication. Communication is his “product” or “service.” Whether he is preaching, counseling, chairing a board of elders, emailing, blogging, facebooking, writing newsletters, evangelizing, meeting someone on the street, or even just standing in a public place – he is communicating; he is communicating a message. His words, his expressions, his tone of voice, his body language, and even his clothes are communicating a message. An awareness of this continuous communication mode is the first step we take in becoming good communicators. There is no point in being a skillful preacher, if our person-to-person communication skills are poor. The one will undermine the other. We can be as eloquent as Cicero, but if we spell like an infant in our emails then our credibility and reliability will be undermined. So, here are four preliminary questions to consider in all pastoral communication.
1. What is my message? Whether we are preaching, leading a Bible study, visiting a sick person, or writing a report, we need a clear statement of purpose. What do I want to get across here? And can I sum it up in a simple sentence? 2. Is my message accurate? Is this true? Am I telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? We hope that spiritual leaders would never intentionally tell a lie. However, it can be very tempting to tell the truth, but not the whole truth, especially when we are facing problems in a congregation or in a personal relationship. We may hold back something that does not present ourselves in the best possible light.3. Is my message appropriate? We can be clear and truthful about our message and yet fail to communicate because our message may use words that are too big, or sentences that are too long. Alternatively, if we are addressing educated and mature Christians, we must not come across as condescending and demeaning.And what about the tone of the message? If dealing with hurt and wounded people, am I communicating like a sympathetic friend, or like a math teacher dealing with statistics? If communicating with critics, am I addressing them as an angry opponent out to win an argument, or as a gentle peacemaker out to win them over. If dealing with serious sin, am I communicating the gravity of the situation, or am I trying to sweeten the bitter pill with lashings of comedy? 4. Is this the right medium? The pastor has many vehicles for his words today. On top of sermons, he has bible studies, fellowship meetings, counseling sessions, family visitation, private conversation, email, private letters, congregational newsletters, pulpit announcements, telephone, letters to newspapers, blogs, podcasts, etc. The medium is part of the message and has to be chosen wisely if we do not want to damage the message itself.