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« The Incredible or Inedible Word? | Main | The Missing Peace »

Why Communicate?

(The following letter was sent out to my leadership team.  I thought I would share it with you in case you were looking for something that addressed the same problem in your church or organization.)

To Ministry Leaders, Project Coordinators, Task Managers:

How would you like to walk into your classroom and find that all your furniture is missing? Or, how about having a van reserved only to find that the keys were missing and the van wasn’t available anyway?  How would you like to show up for a scheduled meeting to find that it had been canceled?  How would you like to retrieve that piece of equipment or musical instrument and realize that it was gone?  How about opening up the bulletin and seeing a major mistake in the time, date or place of a meeting?  Need more examples?  Probably not.  These are all things that happen when communication goes bad. 

Communication is the life line of effective ministry.  In a large congregation, information must flow freely to the leadership without being diverted or getting stopped in the process.  Otherwise, a few people may know what’s going on, but others who need to know are left out of the loop.  Much depends on your information that involves other people and ministries.  For example, scheduling, use of rooms, use of equipment, clearances to recruit people, approval for activities, and much more, requires good communication to make happen.  

If you are leading a ministry, taking care of a special project or you have been assigned a duty, you must make sure the pastor or appointed leader knows how you are progressing.  You must not assume that if “they” want to know, “they” should come and ask you how you’re doing.  As pastor, I have dozens of responsibilities I’m handling at any given moment.  Even if I remember that I should ask you about your project, I may not see you at that time.  Other demands or emergencies then take my attention and I may not think about it until later.  By then, it may be too late.  The real solution to this comes back to communication. 

Reporting does not need to cover all the minute details.  A few main points may be all that’s necessary.  If concerns arise about the ministry or project, you will probably be asked some follow-up questions.  You should be prepared to answer in as much detail as is needed.  The point is that it doesn’t have to take much time.  It only takes awareness that the information is vital and it must be conveyed.  

Many important ministries and projects have bogged down for months or years due to lack of communication.  Without it, feelings get hurt, wrong assumptions get made about motives or interests, and people waste much time and effort in working on something that ended up being greatly changed or scrapped altogether.   Communication is based on respect for others.  Consider how you would feel if you did not know what was going on.  You would feel hurt, snubbed, insulted and taken advantage of, simply because someone didn’t think it was important enough to tell you. 

Sometimes, people withhold information because it reflects badly on them.  It seems easier to keep quiet and hope nobody asks you any embarrassing questions than to confess your sins.  If you were supposed to do something and didn’t get it done, we still need to know.  Maybe it was no fault of your own.  You may have misunderstood the project, you may have needed some help or you may not have had the money or resources to get it done.  Whatever the reason, you need to tell us the facts.  Others depend on your sharing. 

The bottom line is this:  If you don’t tell anybody what you’re doing, nobody will know!  Your private and personal life is one thing; working for God in a church setting is entirely different.  We are all in this together.  What one person does impacts everyone else in the congregation is some way, even if it is indirectly.  The church operates as a team, not as independent people absorbed in their own world.    

Let’s talk!  We will all be the better for it. 

Pastor Jordan


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