The Anglican Communion faces a shortage of qualified communicators, according to an international Working Group on communications. The group—consisting of communications professionals from five continents—concluded that the Communion life was at risk of being detrimentally affected by some Provinces’ inability to source and share their news and stories widely.
In my travels around the world church, I routinely encounter fascinating, inspiring, and transformative work that is going on—and realize almost no one else knows about it. I’m convinced that communications is part of the church’s missional witness to the world but we’re not doing a great job of it.
Here are at least some of the reasons why I think this is happening:
- English is the de facto language of the Communion. If you are among the majority of Anglicans who do not speak English as a first language, you might not want to write down your story and share it. Many Anglicans, I’ve learned, are eager to talk in person about what they are doing but reluctant to commit those same thoughts to paper, at least in part, I think, because they think they lack the ability to do so.
- Folks engaged in the most fascinating ministry around the world often spend so much of their time in ministry that they don’t make the time to tell their story. This is a perfectly understandable impulse but it is one that drives me crazy. We want to hear your story! We want to be able to pray for you and support you and we can’t do that unless you tell us what is going on.
- People are humble. This is wonderful. Lots of people I’ve met engaged in transformative ministry around the world just don’t think that what they’re doing is all that important and can’t see why anyone else would want to know about what they’re doing. Humility is a great Christian virtue—but a little well deserved tooting of one’s own horn wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
And so we get stuck in the position we are in now: no one really knows what else is going on around the world church. The loudest, shrillest, and most destructive voices dominate the conversation. And everyone thinks we’re falling apart. But we’re not. I’m really convinced of that. We just need to tell the story better.
Part of the reason I wrote my book, Grace at the Garbage Dump, is to counter exactly this tendency towards miscommunication. It tells the story of work in one diocese in one particular province. But books like it could be written of the work in countless dioceses around the world.