HOW CLEARLY DO YOU COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHURCH PEOPLE?

I’m slowly working through Will Mancini’s book “Church Unique”. I say “slowly” because he makes me stop and think a lot. Will spends a lot of time talking about vision clarity. In one place he talks about “Clarity Gaps”. He mentions four of these:

1. The gap between the leader’s perception and reality. Ouch! That one hurts already. Is he saying that we as leaders aren’t always in touch with reality? Here are a couple of questions he suggests:” Do you know the morale level of your congregation?” “Do you know how your leadership team feels today?”

2. The gap between what the leader is thinking and saying. He asks, “What really is the most important thing you need to say to your people?”  I have a bad habit of asking people that I coach to give me their vision in as few words as possible. I usually stop them about five minutes into the answer. By then I am confused by all of their words.

3. The gap between the leader’s words and how the followers receive those words. We’ve all got filters. People hear what we say through their unique filters. So many times what we say and what they hear are two very different things. Mancini asks “How will their hearts receive your words and metaphors?”  And “How many ways will they need to hear your ideas?”

4. The gap between the followers’ understanding and the words they use to communicate their understanding. Mancini admits that this one is beyond the leader’s ability to control. But the leader needs to monitor what the people are saying, looking for inaccuracies and misconceptions.

Each of these gaps is commonly found in churches (and any organization for that matter). It is the leader’s responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible, as often as possible and to listen for the feedback from the people.


 

Where Did the Young People Go?

I hear it all the time, “We wish we had more young people in our church.” In my last post, I spoke about signs that point to a future of decline in a church. One of these is the lack of young people being developed into leaders. Actually, it isn’t just small, older congregations that have this problem. Actually some fast growing young congregations suffer from the same symptom. They aren’t developing leaders.

Developing leader means more than throwing some poor kid behind the sound board and saying “How about mixing the sound today?” Or, “You are good with computers, make us a new webpage.” What I am talking about is an intentional process of developing leaders. Churches more often use people rather than developing them. They get in this desperation spiral of trying to throw everything together every week and never develop a process.

Churches that have an ample amount of young leaders tend to have a few things in common:

1. They have a process. They take people from Point A to Point B and then to Point C. This process is repeatable and reproducible. It is written down and clear.

2. They have people who are dedicated to developing leaders. There are people whose calling is to coach or mentor – and they focus on that calling. These people aren’t overloaded with a bunch of other responsibilities.

3. They have a clearly defined outcome. They know what they are trying to achieve in a young leader’s life, and they know what it looks like when they get there. Expectations from the church to the young leader and from the young leader to the church are spelled out.

4. They develop more than skills. They are interested first in developing character and a servant’s heart, and only then in developing skills. Most churches only teach skills (Let me show you how to run the sound board).

5. They allow young leaders to try. They are willing to take appropriate risks with young leaders, knowing that sometimes they are going to fail. These churches will sacrifice Sunday morning “excellence” in order to allow “air time” for developing musicians, teachers, etc.

So the next time you ask yourself “Where did all the young people go?” many of them are at that church down the street that practices these five things. They are being stretched and challenged. They are being allowed to grow and develop. They will become bored with a church that offers them anything less. Wouldn’t you?

 


 

LOL

Our theme for this year in the Peninsula Baptist Association is “Life on Life” or LOL (not original to me). God has put it into my head as I visit from church to church that many churches are dying because somewhere along the line they stopped training up a new generation of leaders. Of course, the verse I have chosen to accompany this theme is 2 Timothy 2.2. In that verse, Paul encourages his young protege to take what he has learned from Paul and pass it on to reliable people who will in turn pass it on to others.

I firmly believe that the church that takes this approach to leadership development will continue to renew itself indefinitely. The reasons that many churches don’t have any young people are many and complex. But one of the biggest reason is that the church chose not to do anything with the young people when they had them. Oh, they baby sat them, entertained them, preached at them and basically bored them to death. But the leaders failed to take these young people one on one and coach them into leadership roles in the church – and them give them the reins of leadership.The church leaders weren’t willing to let go of the authority or take a risk on a young leader. And now, they look around and the young people are gone.

I learned a long time ago that the best way I can multiply my leadership is to spend real time one on one coaching potential leaders. It is the most important (and most fun) thing I do in ministry. I plan to offer opportunities throughout this year for our people to learn skills in coaching, mentoring, apprenticing, etc. I will be bringing in outsiders as well as providing training myself. It is going to be a great year!