Ever known or worked with someone who only seemed to be able to talk about one subject…themselves? I’m sure you have. A while back I worked someone who had the amazing ability to steer almost every conversation back to herself in some way. On the rare occasion when she was unable to, she would discreetly exit herself from the conversation and walk away. It was actually humorous to witness, if a little sad. From time-to-time, I found myself deliberately bringing up obscure topics just to see if and how she could possibly manoeuvre the conversation to her favourite subject. I know, that sounds a little mean, but she rarely failed! In general, however, most of us tend to avoid such one-sided conversationalists after a while, don’t we?
Sadly many Christian organizations are like that. And they wonder why people aren’t listening.
What got me thinking about this was a notice I received today from an organization that has specialized in broadcasting Christian programming around the world in a number of ways. For years now, they have sent out an interesting weekly news update by email on missions, trends within Christianity and the persecution of believers around the world. They have been a tremendous help in raising a voice for the persecuted and I have been grateful for the assistance.
Today, however, they notified their subscribers that since there were other organizations who have similar summaries to what they have been sending out, that they are going to shift their focus to…themselves. Starting today, their weekly email will feature news and organizational updates about themselves.
I am rather saddened by this, as I have been a subscriber to this group’s email list for many years. I can’t remember when I didn’t receive it, it’s been so long. I may not have read it every week, but I noticed it and I was glad that such a prominent ministry felt it was important to share significant stories of how God was at work in the world.
Their new email format does that too. But now it only tells how God is at work through them in the world. There is a difference.
And so, after probably 10 years, I have reluctantly unsubscribed from their email list. I receive so many emails already and, to be honest, I am more interested in the mission of God that I am in the mission itself. Undoubtedly they think that this new format will help them fulfill their mission better. I’m not so sure.
This decision reminded me of a US denomination that my friend Eric Foley mentioned in a recent blog that decided that the solution to their declining missionary giving was to send more missionaries to churches to tell others about who they were and what they did.
But in the long run, who wants to listen to anyone (or any group) who can only talk about themselves?
Anyway, I think I’ll switch over to this organization’s Twitter account. Looking it over, it looks far more interesting than their new email format. At least for now.