“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” – Ephesians 4:29 (GNT)
Unfortunately, the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise at an alarming rate. Several in the Phoenix church are now sick with it. We are thankful for our COVID-19 Taskforce and their direction. Their latest advice is that it is okay to continue to meet in groups of 10 or less while following the CDC guidelines. However, it probably will be sometime in September before we will be able to meet in larger groups.
Plans are moving forward towards the formation of a diversity group here in the Phoenix church. All the advice we have areceived from those places that have already successfully built such groups is to build slowly and solidly. Several of us just watched presentation by the US ICOC SCUAD (Social, Cultural, Unity and Diversity Team) about how to build a taskforce that will help our church to not only navigate the troubled waters that our nation is facing now, but to be disciples who value everyone equally. Learning from the success that others have had will be extremely helpful to us.
In the last newsletter, I mentioned that many things that we think are blessings can also be liabilities. One of those is the Internet. I am distressed that some of our Phoenix brothers and sisters are misusing and abusing social media. As we all process and try to learn the lessons that God is trying to teach us about our racial diversity and social justice, our emotions are often heightened. This can spill over into insensitive and inappropriate postings on sites such as Facebook. There have even been recent instances where some disciples from other churches have been banned from any further Facebook postings!
I want to use this newsletter to remind us of several basic guidelines that God has given us about how to communicate with and treat one another, whether it is in the social media or in person. Please remember that wherever we are, we are representing Jesus Christ and should treat and value each person as he would.
1) A good starting place is our theme scripture, Ephesians 4:29. This is the primary scripture that Gloria and I used with newlywed couples to teach about basic communication, but it applies to every disciple. Is what I am writing or saying harmful or helpful? Does it build up or alienate?
2) “Listen before you answer. If you don't, you are being stupid and insulting.” – Proverbs 18:13 (GNT). How many times have we disagreed with someone, only to later find out that we misunderstood what that person was trying to say? Take the time to make sure that you are clearly understanding the content and intent.
3) “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35 (GNT). Others read your posts on the Internet. Can your audience tell that you love the person you are addressing? You can disagree with someone and still communicate love and respect.
4) Treat everything you post on social media like it is public. It is so easy for someone to take a screenshot of your post and share it publicly with others. A good test is, would you mind if your Family Group read it?
5) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” - Ephesians 4:3 (NIV). Unity is far more important than trying to convince someone you are right.
Until next week, stay thankful, stay calm, walk with God, and encourage one another,
Al Baird for the Leadership Team
Download "COVID-19 PCC guidelines"