20 Ways to Communicate Better in Church Work
Whether you’re communicating with volunteer teams and congregational committees or you’re a lead pastor engaged in executive coaching for churches, how you say things is important. Communication issues cost businesses hundreds of thousands each year. In a ministry environment, the cost of poor communication is more than money; it might be measured in souls.
Check out these 20 tips for communicating better at work. Use them to improve your own communications or as coaching lessons for other church staff.
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1. Keep doors open.
Encourage better communication among everyone with open-door policies. Physical and metaphorical open doors support transparency and make it easier for church staff and others to seek coaching, advice, or just an ear to listen.
2. But maintain confidentiality.
Confidentiality is critical in any workplace and especially in the church. This doesn’t mean you’re keeping secrets, but that everyone in a ministry position is honoring the trust others put in them when sharing personal information, troubles, or prayer requests.
3. Send email follow-ups.
After important meetings or discussions, follow up with an email. List the critical talking points or decisions, and restate any takeaways or assignments. Invite the other parties to comment on anything that might have been misunderstood or forgotten. When executive coaching in churches, this is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page.
4. But don’t get caught in the email thread loop.
Don’t let email discussions drag on forever or breed multiple threads when a simple phone call or face-to-face discussion can solve the issue. Know when to take it out of written communication.
5. Coach (and correct) one-on-one.
Discreet coaching and correction with individuals are typically more effective than addressing a group. People don’t always know which bits of information they personally need to take from a group address, but if you pull them aside and gently instruct them, there’s less room for misunderstanding.
6. But do ensure everyone is in the loop.
Don’t rely so much on the one-on-one approach that you don’t get information to everyone. Processes, announcements, and other important communication should go to the entire team or even congregation.
7. Be confident in your approach.
Take time to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and work on developing your leadership and communication skills. That way you can communicate confidently, increasing the chance that staff and others will listen to and follow your guidance.
8. But be open to correction yourself.
No one is perfect, and everyone has opportunities for growth and learning. Be open to advice, feedback, and coaching yourself. Almost 90% of human resource experts say that check-ins and peer feedback are important for success.
9. Use simple, concise language.
Don’t cloak your message in big words or confusing language. Use Jesus as an example. When teaching, he told stories that were relevant to the people who were listening. Be concise in your communication, and make it relevant to those you’re working with.
10. But don’t talk down to people.
Avoid talking down or sounding condescending. Even when you’re in a leadership position or involved in executive coaching in churches, you’re still part of a team. Keep in mind Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 12: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” And no one part is greater than the whole.
Want to learn ways to bring your congregation together as one in a remote or hybrid service environment? Discover 9 tips for better online church services.
11. Use visuals to convey your point.
Not everyone is an auditory or textual learner. Around 65% of people are visual learners, so infographics, signs, and pictures can go a long way to helping you convey your message.
12. But don’t rely solely on passive communication.
Signs are great. They help remind people to do (or not do) things. But they’re also passive and can easily be ignored. Don’t rely on this type of communication to ensure staff or congregations know what to do. For example, if you have an online donor option, talk about it from the pulpit during announcements on top of putting the information in the slide deck for the big screen.
13. Be aware of your body language and tone.
Think about how your body and your tone of voice are communicating. Do they tell the same story as your words? If you mean to provide gentle correction while coaching someone on your staff, it helps if your tone is also gentle.
14. But know that not everyone reads body language the same.
This is especially important for lead pastors and others working in churches that reflect many cultures. Invest in teaching that helps you understand what body language and phrases might mean for different people. Consider investing in the same for your leadership teams so they can communicate more clearly with congregants and donors.
15. Don’t repeat yourself unnecessarily.
People will stop listening if you sound like a broken record. Instead, concentrate on making your message clear and effective.
16. But do explain things when necessary.
That doesn’t mean a once-and-done approach is appropriate for all communications, though. Complex ideas may need to be explained a few times. Again, you can take your cues from Jesus, who explained the Kingdom of God many times using different illustrations.
17. Use humor and personalization.
Be human in your approach with others. Don’t be afraid to laugh, enjoy shared interests, or talk about families or other factors important to staff, congregants, or donors. Humor and personalization help engage the other person for more active listening.
18. But don’t cross inappropriate lines.
Always consider your communication in the lens of the Holy Spirit and what is good, appropriate, and true.
19. Expand into digital communication options.
Use digital methods of communicating to streamline coaching, meetings, donor engagement, and other functions. That can include social media, websites, video conferencing, and app-based giving.
20. But don’t push options on people.
Not everyone is ready to go digital with communication, giving, or other tasks. Ensure you’re offering choices that meet the needs of your entire staff or congregation.
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