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Opening the Windows of the Echo Chamber

echo chambers

It’s hard to learn anything new when all you hear is your own voice coming back at you.

This is one of the most disheartening aspects of our current cultural climate. So many of us can’t bear to hear anything that doesn’t fit our previously-held worldview. Instead, we retreat into our echo chambers, with social media gladly (and very profitably) reinforcing that behavior.

I hold very strong views, both theologically and politically, so it would be easy for me to feel like I’m moving forward when I’m retreating into the comfort of only hearing voices that reinforce my preconceived notions.

But the further I go into the echo chambers of my own belief systems, the less I like what I find. Even when I agree with the content, the attitudes feel dangerous – and not in a good way.

Soon, the familiarity becomes a trap, then a chokehold, tightening its grip and threatening to strangle the life out of me.

Clearing Out The Toxic Atmosphere

Staying inside an echo chamber is like being locked in a room, breathing recycled air. It’s familiar, but soon it gets stifling and eventually the atmosphere becomes toxic.

Getting out of my own head and listening to people outside my own belief systems is like opening a window and letting fresh air in.

I don’t have to agree with an idea in order to learn something from it.

Echo chambers may feel comfortable for a while, but in the long run they are confining and restricting.

Creativity thrives in the open spaces. By walking among the opinions that challenge me.

Faith blooms there, too. Not in the clamping down of alternative viewpoints, but in the freedom to speak, listen, disagree, argue – and ultimately to be challenged, stretched, and renewed.

Let In Some Fresh Air

So I’m opening the windows.

Breathing in the fresh air of hearing diverse, even wrong opinions and comparing them to my own ideas and (possibly wrong) conclusions.

If what I believe is threatened by hearing another opinion, it’s not true enough to be worth fighting for.

But if my opinion is changed in the process, then I’ve come even closer to the truth.

Truth does not fear different opinions. So neither will I.

Instead, I will strive to keep the windows open.

To let the air in.

To let the light shine.

To let the truth breathe.

This article originally appeared here.
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Karl is the author of four books and has been in pastoral ministry for almost 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California, where he has ministered for over 27 years with his wife, Shelley. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. Karl produces resources for Helping Small Churches Thrive at KarlVaters.com, and has created S.P.A.R.K. Online (Small-Church Pastors Adapt & Recover Kit), which is updated regularly with new resources to help small churches deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and aftermath.