it’s a people business

Saw an interesting political clip on Breitbart the other day. It’s TV host Chris Matthews complaining about Obama. I first ran into Matthews on TV when the Clinton scandals were active. He was quite antagonistic to Clinton, but he is a liberal Democrat politically and a Catholic, so I have big disagreements with him on a lot of issues. Still, he’s a guy I like in spite of these disagreements.

And of course, I was interested in this clip because the headline talks about Matthews going after Obama. I don’t particularly like Obama’s politics either.

But take a look at the video, because I want to make a point about the ministry from something Matthews says about politics.

The big point Matthews is making is that politics is a people business. You have to talk to people, build relationships with people, spend time with people. His big complaint about Obama is that Obama is keeping his distance from the Congressmen of his own party.

I don’t know how valid Matthews’ complaint is against Obama, although it sounds true. But as I was thinking about it, I thought about our own ministry and how it is built and sometimes how it is hindered or torn down.

The Christian ministry is a people business also, or maybe, ‘moreso’. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” He commissioned us to “make disciples”.

I have found that its really hard to make disciples by e-mail. You need to sit in coffee shops with them. You need to visit in their homes. You need to get involved in their lives.

You need to find ways to do the same kinds of things to initiate evangelistic outreach. People to people contacts. Spending time.

I love spending a lot of time with my interests, or even simply studying out passages for sermons or articles. Study time is important. But I’ve found that people time is more important.

And the e-mail counseling route often leads to disaster! You’ve seen flame wars online, no doubt. Whew! Wait till someone in the church starts going to it with you by e-mail. I’ve learned that it is crucial to stop e-mail ‘counseling’ sessions before they can get too personal. You can use e-mail to set up appointments. You can use it to distribute encouragement or generic devotionals. But if you have an issue you need to discuss… don’t do it online. Person to person – that’s the ticket.

It’s a people business.



  1. d4v34x says:

    Good word, brother Don!

  2. David Barnhart says:


    I agree with you about the need for personal interaction in people’s lives vs. just email, but I would argue that email also has its place — it should be used alongside personal interaction, not in place of it, and I think it would be for more than just to set up appointments, etc.

    I find that a couple things happen in personal discussions:

    1. One person (either side), can dominate the conversation. In email, you can finish complete thoughts regardless of what the other person is writing. And, if you take time while composing the email, you can let emotion drain away that would not have time to do so face to face, and thus be more capable of rational thinking.

    2. For people like me, I have often prefaced discussions with others with an email first, so I could lay out all my points in logical fashion, before I go into a serious counseling-type conversation. No doubt there are some people who can remember every point and put them together in a logical fashion, but I doubt there’s many of them, and I certainly am not one.

    In short, I don’t find one-on-one a substitute for email (i.e. written communication). They are both very useful. Reminds me of something I heard Dr. Panosian say while I was at the university — deodorant and showers are not substitutes for one another; both are necessary. I find that the written and spoken word complement one another similarly.

    • Hi Dave

      Interesting rejoinder. I have used written notes preparatory to counseling/discipleship sessions, but not used e-mail in the way you describe. A preliminary e-mail outlining the points of discussion might be a useful tool.

      However, where I have seen e-mail counseling go south is when it becomes a back and forth on the topic. You are dealing, usually, with very personal and pointed statements that need to be made. That is VERY easy to be taken the wrong way and perhaps INEVITABLE that it will be taken the wrong way. So I just absolutely won’t get into a back and forth when a serious issue needs to be discussed.

      But I can see your points, e-mail can be used as a tool to enhance one-on-one situations

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3