In May of 2017, I started my tenure as Executive Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church. Less than 60 days later I found myself coordinating the church’s first adoption. Both the Immanuel staff and myself were in uncharted territory. A couple of our pastors had worked for a multi-site congregation, but none of us had adopted another congregation.
Fast forward to February of 2018. The Immanuel staff had done an incredible job of adopting the previous congregation and re-launching the site as Immanuel Baptist Church at Armstrong Mill. Yet, I could sense some tension building amongst the staff. Dan Russell, a seasoned minister of 40+ years, pulled me aside and said, “Communication can always be better.”
Most of my failures would have been mitigated if I had just communicated better. When you are not the primary leader the need to communicate becomes twice as important.
Two arenas in which I could have improved my communication are frequency and channel.
When you are communicating with others you have to discern the frequency needed for communication. There are three levels of frequency:
Often – I needed to communicate more often with my lead pastor and with my peers. I don’t want to be prescriptive, but if you only talk once a week, then you aren’t communicating enough. Sometimes a text is all you need, for others a 5 minute drive-by to their office will be extremely productive.
Regularly – A team needs regular communication. This may or may not be a group of peers and could be specific to a project like launching a new campus. I would encourage scheduled conversation at least every other week. In between meetings send a digital check-in, like an email, to check progress.
Periodically – These meetings are for your entire staff or congregation. They need to be concise updates on problems that you are solving or upcoming projects. Typically these are informational and reflect the decisions that have been made.
During COVID-19, often meant meeting daily, regularly meant meeting 2-3 times a week, and periodically meant communication weekly to our congregation. The situation should dictate the frequency to communicate.
The second arena of communication is the channel of communication. Here are some common channels…
Face-to-Face – When decisions have to be made you should get on the phone, get in a room, or get on a video conference. Decisions should never be made over email or text messaging.
Group Messaging – A group text or communication app like GroupMe should be utilized when communicating quick changes or to give status updates.
Email – I believe emails should be sent as a review of uncompleted tasks or as a summary of a meeting with action points.
Mass Communication – Every situation needs to be reviewed individually. When communicating to the staff at large or the congregation you must remember to be clear and succinct and to be prepared to follow up with multiple emails.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all communication method. You will have to work on improving communication constantly. Learn where you could communicate better and learn how to best communicate with people.