By Billy Walker
There’s a vast difference between possessing the ability to speak in a large group setting and speaking one-on-one in a smaller group dynamic. While many pastors get paid to practice the former at the pulpit, the latter is often needed when dealing with church staff and volunteers.
For some pastors, the communication skills that come naturally when preaching to a congregation seem to disappear in personal encounters. Maybe this isn’t a problem for you, but it’s an issue for me.
The larger the audience, the easier it is for me to communicate and speak with confidence, purpose, and passion. But in smaller or one-on-one environments, I struggle.
I’m learning some tips, however, that are helping me in these situations. Here are three of them which can also help you improve your communication with your church staff and volunteers.
1. Communicate the Purpose.
Helping your staff understand the overall purpose behind their tasks is vital to keeping them involved, on the same page, and pursuing the main goal.
Learn how to easily define ministries, motives, and even momentum in a format you and those you’re talking to can easily remember. As pastors, we do this with our sermon points. Smaller contexts deserve the same approach.
Stay focused, be purposeful in your discussions, and make sure to discuss goals in the early stages of conversation. My wife says I get distracted because I can be talking with her but suddenly stop mid-sentence because something catches my attention. Instead of doing this, stay on target. If you veer off, steer back to the primary purpose of the meeting.
2. Build Others Up.
When you provide positive reinforcement and show appreciation to others it gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility. Accentuating the positive moves people in the right direction more than dwelling on the negative does. Providing consistent positive communication also makes people more open to constructive criticism when it’s needed.
Scripture says, “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Did Jesus ever aim to move people in a different direction than the one they were headed in? All the time! But never with condemnation. We’d be wise to follow His example.
3. Stay Positive.
Another tip for improving communication is to maintain a positive attitude. Adrenaline is a great. It pushes us to meet deadlines and pursue excellence, but it’s not sustainable; attitude is!
Remember the story about the woman in the crowd in Matthew 9:21-22? She said to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well.” Jesus turned, saw her, and said, “Have courage, daughter. Your faith has saved you.” The woman was made well at that very moment.
Don’t ignore the phrase, “she said to herself.” That was her faith-believing-attitude moving her to faith-believing-action. As pastors and leaders, we can help people develop similar attitudes.
The minister, church staff member, or volunteer who maintains a positive mindset, is also the one who finds themselves hard to replace.
Billy is a third generation pastor of Calvary Church in Southgate, Michigan. He’s vice president of the Billy Walker Evangelistic Association and is president of the Pastor’s Conference for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.