An echo chamber is a lousy place to serve.
Isolating ourselves to hear only an echo of our own opinions keeps us from growth. This is because part of the process of growth is for our thinking to be challenged. When we discuss truth or ideas with people with whom we don’t agree, we better learn where others are coming from and are able to either change in areas we need to grow or sharpen our understanding and articulation of what we already believe.
As important as it is to have our thoughts challenged is, however, there is still tremendous value to the partnerships with people with whom we do already agree. And this is where the echo chamber warning and analogy breaks down.
A partnership is not the same as an echo chamber.
For instance, marriage is to be a partnership. Healthy marriages are based on shared love and support, not disagreement. This is one reason that 2 Corinthians 6:14 warns, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
Ministry partnerships, too, are usually stronger the more both parties share the same beliefs and ministry philosophy. Although it is healthy to have ministry relationships where everyone is free to share new ideas and hash out possibilities, the reality is that you’re going to be most productive in a shared partnership with people you already agree with.
This is similar to the rhetorical question God posed to the nation of Israel, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).
There are those who suggest that one should so insulate himself in ministry that he hears only his own opinions. This becomes an echo chamber and is a generally ineffective way to serve the Lord.
But then there are those who go to the opposite extreme and suggest that one should so open himself to every opinion that he hears little of what he already agrees with. This actually has the tendency also to make a person an echo of differing philosophies…just not the philosophies he had when he started!
I would suggest that the better idea is to align oneself with those with whom you biblically and philosophically agree, while having an openness to fresh ideas and remaining willing to engage in other conversation.
There is a difference between an echo chamber and ministry partnerships. And if you miss the difference, you may find yourself not aligned with those with whom you originally agreed…and perhaps with those who hold to the truth at all.
No, you can’t serve well from an echo chamber, but you can serve more effectively in a healthy ministry partnership when you are both on the same path of truth.