Community and Communication

Over the last few days, I’ve been on the fringes of a new community and it’s been a fascinating experience. After years of using MS-DOS and then Windows, I’ve been giving Linux a try (though this is not a post about Linux). Because I’ve been trying to do a few non-standard things, I’ve spent a fair bit of time reading Linux forums looking for advice. Here are a few thoughts…

Not everyone speaks Linux! I’m far from a computer novice, but I really don’t speak Linux. Unfortunately, far too many Linux enthusiasts assume that everyone speaks their own particular jargon. Even when writing for newcomers, they load their advice with confusing terminology. Sometimes a writer will put something in clear English, but will then link to a jargon laden page at some crucial point.

You need to start where people are. Newcomers to Linux will often write things like ‘I know how to do this in Windows, but I’m confused in Linux’. Embarrassingly, Linux enthusiasts will often reply dismissively by saying something along the lines of ‘If you are so keen on Windows, go and use it then’. They don’t hear the question, the person is not saying that Windows is better, they are simply saying that Windows is familiar and they need some advice. The best writers on Linux start of by saying ‘you are used to doing X in Windows, but in Linux you need to do Y, here is how you do it’.

Reflecting on this, I wondered whether newcomers find our churches similar to the way I found the Linux community. Do we expect people to automatically speak our Church language and do we expect them to understand our insider culture without us helping them to make the transition? Just a thought.

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

4 replies on “Community and Communication”

I’m not sure that my analogy can be stretched that far without fatal damage.

That being said, I hope that churches and Christians don’t feel the same smug sense of superiority that SOME (not all) Mac users seem to posses.

I definitely agree with you. As an outsider, the more “insider information” there is that everyone else seems to know and take for granted, the more alienated you feel.

As humans we all naturally see the world from our own perspective. I think one sign of being Christ-like is consciously putting ourselves in other people’s (particularly outsiders’) very different shoes and seeing the world from their perspective. Only then can we really communicate effectively.

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