Tech or Touch

Email Is Not a Substitute for Face-to-face Communication

One of my pet peeves is email. More specifically, it is email that is used as a substitute for a personal touch.

Ministry is people work. It involves building real relationships and nurturing spiritual growth. Hebrews 10:24 instructs us to, “Consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”

Emails, text messages, and other tech tools can augment ministry relationships, but they should never be the sole facilitator of them. There is a reason local church ministry is local. It involves two-way communication that involves seeing the whites of someone’s eyes!

Face-to-face communication allows for so much more than mere words. For instance, I can ask you whether or not you are coming to a Sunday school class activity via email, but I can’t very well discern the spirit of your response. If all I need is a yes or no answer, email may be fine; but if I want to strengthen a discipling relationship, I probably need an opportunity to communicate directly to your heart.

Sometimes email is a cop-out for us as leaders. It’s faster, easier, and frankly, more comfortable. (I don’t make myself as vulnerable to your rejection when I shoot you an email saying that I missed you on Sunday evening, rather than seeking you out and reminding you that you need to be faithful to church.)

Biblical leadership requires a willingness to put ourselves in an uncomfortable position to encourage growth in others. It requires extending ourselves to provoke others to spiritual maturity.

Email is an incredible asset for administration. (I send and receive hundreds each day.) But it’s a lousy substitute for face-to-face discipleship.

Before you send your next ministry-related email, pause to ask yourself if this conversation would be more successfully fulfilled face-to-face.

February 13, 2012

Dr. Paul Chappell

Senior Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church and President of West Coast Baptist College

Other Articles by Dr. Paul Chappell

Pastoral Leadership
Communication, Mentoring, Pastoral Leadership, Technology

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Dr. Paul Chappell

Senior Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church and President of West Coast Baptist College