Administration,  Church,  Discipleship,  Ministry

Towards a Healthy Church – Communication

Last week, I shared a particular challenge within many churches is the lack of participation by the congregation and the lack of allowing for participation by the leadership. These two issues represent two sides of the same coin and often boil to a lack of expectations – either that someone wants help or that someone can get the job done.

But one reason that jobs do not get done is a lack of communication. This issue can impact many areas of a church – large or small. Insufficient, or ineffective, communication can prevent people from knowing what opportunities are available for service, what the responsibilities are in service, why the service is necessary, etc.

The truth is that these types of communication can come in various forms. But most forms of communication have positive and negative qualities. For instance, verbal communication is beneficial because it is the most fluid. If changes need to be made, a quick phone call or conversation can not only provide new information, but that information can be discussed by anyone involved. Text messages, emails, and other quick forms of written communication can be helpful, but do not allow for the interactive dialogue that verbal communication provides. However, a downside to verbal communication is that if nothing is written (i.e. documented), then misinterpretation, missed information, and misappropriation of the conversation is likely.

On the other hand, written conversation has virtually the opposite impact of verbal communication. It takes longer to develop and cannot be (re-)adjusted as fluidly as a verbal conversation. However, a full account of the development of the change is possible if everything is written (certainly in an email, but even in a text message, or similar).

Therefore, as it relates to getting people involved, written documentation is important. (In the next two posts, I will focus on team descriptions and then job descriptions, and within a few weeks, I do plan to cover other important types of documentation such as a constitution, bylaws, policies and procedures, etc.). Without the documentation, people will not know what might be done, what is expected to be done, and why it needs to be done.

But as we consider documentation broadly, any communication from the church should be consistent with the church’s vision and mission. (For more on the church’s mission, see the posts here, and here.) Furthermore, the communication should be clear. Maintaining a consistency is difficult enough, but maintaining clarity can more difficult because of more variable – namely how people interpret and understand the vision, the mission, what is being communicated, and how it all connects.

So, communication is important. And communicating the why is the most important piece (shout-out to Simon Sinek for his teaching on this!). And then next comes the what. Everything else is largely negotiable. Who is involved is less important than the fact that someone is involved. Where and when are only important if they are important (e.g. a certain event requires a time and place and pre-work to be done by a certain date or time.) Because for the most part, if the work is done at 3 pm or 2 am, the time does not matter as long as it is done. And although the how may seem critical, new ideas allow for new understandings to accomplish the task. So, the Why? and the What? must be clearly communicated, and then let the other parts fall into place.

But without proper communication, ideas do not fall into place as well as they otherwise might. So next week, I will cover some specific ideas that relate to helping people discover the what so they can better determine if they fit what needs to be done. That “what” begins with a description of the purpose of the team/committee and then continues with the individual positions of the team. When these ideas are also clear (and clearly communicated), the chances to get people involved increases. And, again, that is a big part of the goal – because involvement provides opportunities for discipleship – and that, as a reminder, must be our true goal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *