Have you ever shared something important with your church plant family, followed-up in writing, and been shocked by how many of your people appeared to be listening but never heard you?
I sure have…and so did Moses. (Lugging those commandments around, he could literally say, “How could you miss it…it was written in stone?!”)
Church planters want to make disciples. You’re not in it for the money. You labor to communicate with people and influence them with the gospel. As the leader in your church plant, your influence comes in two basic forms:
- through example (watch me);
- through communication (listen to me).
As we seek to influence and disciple our people through communication, we have two forms at our disposal, verbal and written. Regardless of your strengths and weaknesses in those two forms, I know this about church planters who take their calling seriously: we all want to be effective communicators.
Most of us don’t have a problem getting the communication “out there”. We have a problem getting heard.
It is hard to get people to listen. And because it is hard to get people to listen, it is hard to get people to follow. There is a never-ending tug-of-war between you leading through communication and your people following by listening.
Now, all of us have a preference and strength. Generally, we prefer to say it, preach it, teach it in formal or informal settings. Writing it? Yuck.
Here is the reality of church planting: it is rare for a planter to have the luxury of only needing to communicate verbally. You must write well.
Over and over again, you will discover all of the people who need to hear to the…[announcement, news, vision, call, challenge, sermon, emergency, prayer, etc.]…are rarely in the same room at the same time.
Time and again, we are forced to lead, in part, through our written communication. And more often than not, we struggle to get heard—particularly by the people who were not in the room when we originally said it.
I Feel Your Frustration
I feel your pain and frustration. You said it. You wrote about it. You posted it, emailed it, snail-mailed it but it never got heard. I’ve played a role in more of these scenarios than you could imagine. I’ve shown up to the “important, exciting thing” we shared to find a handful of people and a heart full of disappointment. I felt dismayed. Stung. (And now I know how my wife feels when she says, “Are you going to answer me?”, and cutting my eyes away from the game I say, “Oh, I didn’t hear you.”)
At this point, like you, I’ve also pointed the finger at ‘them’—the ones who refused to listen. Deep down, I thought, “How dare they?”.
Let’s just say, I’ve failed enough to help you. So next week, I’ll give you a 3-step plan to make better disciples through your writing.
Ponder This For You & Your Church Plant
In the meantime, ask yourself these three questions to see if you’re a good candidate for my simple 3-step plan:
- Do you receive the same amount of compliments on your writing as you do your speaking? (This can be a good indicator of how improving your writing will improve your leadership. The aim is improvement, not compliments or being someone you’re not.)
- Do you have any viable way of knowing how many of your people are “hearing” what you write? (It is easy to write it, print/post/send it, and forget about it. When preaching, you get immediate feedback. With writing, you don’t. Do a little investigation this week.)
- Do you get frustrated when you write it and they don’t seem to hear it? (Ever since the garden, we are quick to blame others instead of looking at ourselves and taking ownership. You can’t force people to read your written words. You can improve your writing so they have no excuse. Do some Spirit-empowered self-examination this week to see where you might be blaming others and serving yourself when you write.)
See you next week with a 3-Step plan to help you!