9 Ways Communicators Can Serve Their Pastor

9 Ways Communicators Can Serve Their Pastor

April 20, 2016 by

A few days ago I published an article about how it’s possible we’ve created a sense of entitlement in our efforts to help church leaders see the importance of church communication.

I mentioned how the work we get to do is vital, but our vision is not more important than our lead pastor’s vision. Our calling is subservient.

The natural question that follows is, “How do we serve our lead pastor’s vision while still fulfilling the calling to communicate well?” How can we help pastors understand that by leveraging our skills they can actually amplify their efforts? How do we get a seat at the table so we can serve well and do a good job?

1. Become Indispensable

Be the advocate your pastor can’t live without.

First, be the “go to” person for your lead pastor. When it comes to strategic planning for your church, make your ideas so great and your execution so excellent that your lead pastor wouldn’t want to even think about having a meeting without you.

Be the lead champion for your lead pastor’s ideas, vision and dreams. Be the advocate your pastor can’t live without.

2. Be a Trusted Friend

As my friend (and CFCC board member) Pastor Andy Swart says, “Lead pastors are generally some of the most insecure people on Earth.” Think about it: they have to constantly share their vision, sticking out their necks in a way that would make most people cringe.

They have to be the change agents for their staff. They have to be the person who points out people’s sin. And they bear the burden of the spiritual well-being of your church. Can you imagine a more difficult emotional place to constantly live in?

They need someone who is unquestionably in their corner. If you are the person who makes them most comfortable in their own skin, you will gain influence with your leader and they will begin to see your vision as an integral part of the vision God has given them.

3. Don’t Be a “No” Man

I remember a time when my lead pastor pulled me aside after a meeting and said, “No matter what idea people come up with in our creative meetings, you always tell us why it’s going to be difficult to pull off.”

I’d become the “no” man.

It wasn’t that I thought we couldn’t pull off these things, I just wanted everyone to know the costs (financial and opportunity costs).

However, in my efforts to dispense information, I was unintentionally losing credibility. I immediately changed my tune to be the “together we can do anything” guy and over time everyone wanted my input on their projects.

4. Don’t Be a “Yes” Man

Sometimes your lead pastor needs someone who can “speak the truth in love.” Often, because of this position, people become afraid to help the big boss see their blind spots.

One great way to gain influence is to be the lone voice of reason or a person your lead pastor can count on to bounce ideas off of.

Be careful here. You have to have a great deal of relational equity for someone to trust you to point out their faults or the holes in their ideas.

5. Show a Strong Work Ethic

One way to get the respect of your lead pastor is simply to work hard and keep up with them.

Lead pastors are often type-A personalities that are driven and give the Energizer Bunny a run for their money. Keeping up with them can be difficult for even the most motivated staff member.

Add to that the stereotype that church workers have it easy compared to people who work in the “real world.” And, let’s face it: artists such as graphic designers, worship leaders and (yes, lump them into that group) communications director have a reputation for being flaky.

One way to get the respect of your lead pastor is simply to work hard and keep up with them.

We preach a lot about creating personal boundaries and caring for yourself if you are in church communication. However, I wonder if we need to swing the pendulum to the other side on occasion and work our guts out to get that seat at the table.

6. Serve Beyond Your Ministry Area

One of the biggest things I did (on accident) to get more influence with my leadership was to show up at a couple of events I didn’t need to attend — a student retreat, the women’s ministry breakfast, etc. — just to serve or learn more about the struggles of those I co-labor with.

It showed that I’m a team player in a very practical way, and, even though I push my own agenda on occasion, I ultimately care more about the church as a whole (read: the lead pastor’s vision for the church as a whole) than my position on the leadership team.

7. Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood

You can’t serve if you can’t listen.

Most people, including many church communicators I know, naturally seek to get their point across first. Even when they do listen, it’s with the intent to reply instead of understand.

The classic Stephen Covey “Habit Five” tells us that this is a bad idea. People—especially lead pastors—can see right through it.

If you want to truly serve the vision of your leader, you have to understand the vision of your leader. You can’t serve if you can’t listen. What if we were able to put aside our need to be right in exchange for the higher virtue of humble submission? Can you imagine how your lead pastor would come to value you?

8. Disagree in Private, Agree in Public

This is another classic leadership principle, but it’s so difficult to do. When someone publicly questions the vision of your leader, don’t quickly agree and throw your leader under the bus. This is your pastor’s vision, not the best way to code a website.

Even showing a bit of hesitation instead of complete solidarity will open the door for dissension. Keeping your disagreements private and showing unity will help tremendously in moving forward.

Loyalty is such an important value for top-level leaders.

On the flip-side, if you consistently gossip or do things to undermine your leader, you’ll never be allowed into the inner circle.

9. Help Move Your Pastor Forward

It can be tempting to think your pastor is backward or too far behind the times and throw your hands up in frustration. I get it. But take a minute to slow down.

Most pastors are trained in theology, leadership and counseling. Very few have the opportunity take a communications course in seminary. Your pastor needs your help to understand the communication issues you’re chomping at the bit to solve. And communication expert that you are, few communicators have been trained in theology, leadership or counseling.

So before you school your pastor (or give up on them), take the time to be schooled by them. They might have reasons for being slow to come around to your suggestions. You’re going to need to work together in order to move forward.

Your pastor needs you. That’s why you’re there. And you need to do your work in humility, to help your pastor improve and help your church improve. That doesn’t happen if you give up.

Serve Your Pastor

Your leader needs to see you as the go-to person for executing vision. They need to trust that you will be an optimistic friend who wants to help them realize their God-given dreams, while being straight with them about problem areas at the same time.

They need to know that you’re willing to work hard on the big picture goals of the organization and put the needs of the greater vision ahead of your own agenda.

They need to know that you’ve got their back and that you understand their heart.

If you can do that, the influence you seek as the communications expert will naturally come. But more importantly, you’ll be pursuing your pastor’s vision and moving your church forward down the path God intended.


Post By:

Chuck Scoggins

Chuck is passionate about serving the local church. Hit him up on Twitter or on his blog, ChuckScoggins.com.
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