At some level we all understand ministry flows out of relationship. We are able to serve people through relationship and influence out of the relational equity we have with people. Relationship underpins everything in mission and ministry. Yet how relationships play out varies from context to context.
Building relations and connecting through social media helps, but I still like a pat on the back…and a kick in the pants conveyed digitally doesn’t ever go well.
I find that in a nation like Thailand, face time matters so much more. As I assumed the lead pastor role at Our Home Chapel, I found immediately the importance of face time. As soon as I walk into the office, people come in wanting to seek advice, ask questions, give advice, share stories, ask for money, and the list goes on. We could accomplish much of this work over the phone or on email, but nothing really happens until you can meet face to face or in person. The Thai literally say your body is there with you when you talk together. Maybe we take for granted the nonverbal parts of communication and enjoy the phone and other digital means of communication as Westerners, but in Asia, presence matters. Maybe we miss how observant Thai people are to the subtle nuances of the nonverbal may exist.
People call Thailand the land of smiles due in no small part to the varied smiles a Thai person can have. In Thailand, there are said to be nine kinds of smiles, including the smile that means I am going to kill you. When we realize how much gets lost in translation over the phone or via secondary modes of communication, I get why face time is so important. I have come to find that decisions don’t get made or deals don’t get finalized until you meet in person with people. I have seen the power of being present with people when we went south to visit a couple that we want to coach in church planting. We just need to be present with each other. Maybe this limits our future growth potential numerically, but a greater potential for deep discipleship, leading to a multiplication of growth.
How do you see the presence of in person in relationship valuable?