Church Leadership and Accidental Communication
The church leadership said WHAT?
There’s nothing worse than being blamed for saying something you never said.
Whether in the schoolyard, the workplace, or in your own home, being misunderstood is both frustrating and counter-productive in every aspect.
What you meant to say and the way others interpret it are often two totally separate things.
In reality, we communicate in many ways beyond the simple use of our voice. Body language, attitudes, and indifference are also loud communicators in every realm of life. So, what are you saying?One of the loudest forms of communication is not what you say and do, but also what you don't say… Click To Tweet
Actions speak louder than words.
As we translate this into the church realm, we must be aware of what our words and actions (or lack thereof) are communicating to our members, regular attenders, and visitors. What are they hearing us communicate as church leaders?
As church communicators, we have two options: be intentional, or be misunderstood.
Here are some accidental communications that may be happening at your church right under your nose.
1 – Church leadership communicates something that is no longer occurring
Sometimes as routine, habit-driven leaders, we have a hard time letting go of things that are dying.
I get it. We’re builders.
We spend our days working with broken people and watching God’s grace transform them, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Sometimes we allow this loyalty for tangible people to seep over into intangible programs and initiatives.
That’s not healthy.
That program, directive, or trend in your church that was once “a thing” is no longer “a thing,” yet you’re still treating it like it is.A discerning church leader knows when to resuscitate something and when to let it die. Click To Tweet
I know, I know, “it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” I believe that. But our faithfulness is to God and people, not programs and initiatives.
Sometimes, for the sake of being faithful to people, we need to divorce our pet church program.
If you’re promoting that particular church program every week, and you are the only one that is showing up, maybe it’s time to do something different.
While we may tote it as a badge of faithfulness, when we communicate something that is no longer occurring, it can easily be interpreted as “they value programs more than people.”
Guard against it!
2 – Church leadership forgets to see through a first time visitor’s eyes
You know the routine.
Every Sunday you show up and go through the checklist. You turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, test the mics, brew the coffee, shake the hands, and pray with the volunteers. That’s a good thing.
But that first-time visitor doesn’t know the routine.
They are pulling into the parking lot, and that is literally all they know to expect.
They arrived. Now what?
What is your church communicating to first-time visitors? We’ve got to remember to see through a first-time visitor’s eyes. Where they park, enter the building, drop off their kids, locate a restroom, grab a refreshment, find the sanctuary, secure a seat, and pick up their kids is all a mystery to them.
From entering to exiting the parking lot, an effective church owns the first-time visitor workflow.
Stop and think it through. Literally drive into the church lot and start asking questions that a first-timer would ask. Then, decide how you are going to communicate the answers to those questions along the way.
When we forget to see through a first-time visitor’s eyes, we can easily come across as cliquish, chilly, and awkward – not the impression we want to leave, and not the best catalyst for church growth!
3 – Church leadership fails to differentiate between major and minor events
When it comes to church events, if everything is huge, nothing is huge.
Sometimes in a quest to appear busy or garner more attendance, we over-promote minor events.
That Sunday afternoon potluck was delicious, but did it really require a direct mail campaign, door hanger blitz, and 20-foot promo banner?
That’s a bit of an extreme example, but my point is this…
A discerning church communicator knows which events to promote to the church and which events to promote to the community!
As a general rule, try to promote church family-oriented events within your church family, and pull out all the stops for your community evangelistic events. When your community hears from you about an event, they will know it’s special!
When we fail to differentiate between major and minor events, we can easily overwhelm and confuse the church and community in regard to priority.
4 – Church leadership assumes everyone speaks fluent Christianese
“To all of you prayer warriors out there, I truly covet your prayers.”
“Let me unpack this for all of you baby Christians.”
If you grew up in so-called “church world” you’re well-acclimated to many of the terms, phrases, and colloquialisms used in our evangelistic churches. (for a primer on Christianese, check out Jon Acuff’s Top 20 list)
However, those who are new to church world will find much of this terminology confusing, awkward, and just plain weird.
The last thing we want to add to the fragility of a first-time visit is a language barrier!
When we use confusing terminology we may unintentionally communicate elitism and superiority. “You can’t really relate with us unless you’re on the inside.” Be intentional with your speech, and break the habit of using nebulous church jargon!
We’re communicating whether we want to or not. There is no option for simply “not communicating.” Since we’re already communicating, it only makes sense to leverage this opportunity for the sake of the gospel. Let’s be intentional about it! If this article was helpful please let me know, and don’t forget to share the love!