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About 20 years ago, you might have seen me with a cape and a huge “S” on my chest that stood for “Superpastor!” Well, maybe not literally, but you might have wondered if I thought I could run meetings faster than a speeding bullet, preach more powerfully than a locomotive and leap ministry issues with a single bound.
You probably know the routine: Our church had plateaued at a few hundred people, and I was the reason. I did almost everything: counseling, coordinating, leadership of all meetings, etc. If our church was to change, I needed to change.
Since I have my pilot’s license, God used that to teach me my primary role in the church. Simply put, He focused my attention on three aspects of flying: 1) communication with the controller; 2) navigation of the plane; and 3) speed and altitude. Similarly, as a pastor, I needed to 1) keep in touch with “the controller” through prayer and study; 2) prayerfully and creatively navigate our direction through the grid of the church’s vision; and 3) strategically determine the pace and spiritual altitude of the congregation.
As God gave me this parable, I was immediately cured of “hero-itis.” I identified leaders to take on some of my responsibilities and gave each person clear guidelines for proper decision-making.
Once the team was developed, I thought flying the church forward would be easy. Within months, however, we began to take a nosedive. Eventually, I discovered a huge disconnect between the church’s key leadership and myself. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see what I saw. Then I realized they didn’t have my vantage point. My cockpit view and flight instruments gave me clarity on where we were and where we were going. But my team did not have the same insight, causing a much more turbulent flight than any of us wanted to experience. I realized I had to do more than fly. I had to effectively communicate with the crew!
Below are three proven ways you can regularly communicate with your leadership. Staff members, elders and ministry leaders may need specific information modified for their roles, but to unite the leadership team under one purpose and mission, each team member should consistently hear from you in these areas:
Authentic feedback: How are we doing? Our team learns a great deal from our victories, defeats and struggles along the way. We must communicate with leaders openly about our journey. This process becomes most useful as people own the victories and defeats as a team instead of singling out one person to receive credit or blame. I find that if I frequently and honestly share what is and isn’t working, leaders become “less touchy.” Also, if they feel like they have a safety net underneath them rather than fearing someone will tear down their character and efforts, they will want and value my evaluation.
Clarity: Where are we? How far along the journey are we toward our goals? Are we on track? Will we even be able to reach our goals? Communicate the answers to these questions with specific examples of the next steps to take.
Vision: Where we are going? The vision must remain pure and emphatic in all you do. I help my team to look beyond the intricacies of ministry activity and see the big picture. I try hard to paint a picture that evokes a clear image. Keep vision casting simple, but be creative with it. Have your team share the vision back to you in their own words or break them into small groups to brainstorm how to share the vision in the most creative way. Taking time to help the team catch and embody the vision enlarges the vision beyond my inability to be omnipresent!
Landing your church or ministry on a united mission will require effective delegation and communication. As the senior leader of your church—and the vision—aviate and navigate, but by all means, don’t forget to communicate.
Kyle Searcy has a passion for developing a new generation of leaders. He serves as senior pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Ala., and Norcross, Ga. Learn more at KyleSearcy.com.
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