Pastor, Connexus Church and Author of Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow
There are always conversations you need to have but you don’t know how to have. It’s true in life and it’s very true in leadership.
How do you talk about the fact that so much needs to change in your church?
How do you get your somewhat resistant board to open their minds to new possibilities?
As a leader, you’ve probably already flagged more than a few issues you would love to talk about with your team. Issues such as:
Why is our church not growing faster?
How healthy is our team (really)?
Why is it so hard to attract and keep high capacity volunteers?
What’s happening in our culture that we might not be responding to?
What are we actually prepared to change around here?
Maybe the future belongs to the churches that are willing to have the most honest conversations at a critical time. That's what my new book, Lasting Impact is designed to facilitate.
So, how do you get started? What do you say? And what happens if people disagree or things get heated?
5 Tips on How to Have That Critical Conversation You're Too Afraid to Have
Here are 5 tips that can help.
1. Frame the issue thoughtfully and in advance
People hate to be caught off guard by a challenging conversation.
Understanding what’s on the table before you get to the table helps so much.
If you’re talking about a chronic issue that your church needs to address or a topic that can help lead you into a better future, framing the issue well and framing it in advance is critical. It helps everyone show up having thought through what’s at stake.
2. Stay clear about what you’re discussing
I personally find one of the greatest challenges of having conversations with leaders is keeping people focused.
How do you combat that? Write down the exact points you want to cover to keep you and your team focused.
And don’t just keep it to yourself. State what you hope to accomplish in the meeting so when you leave you know you made progress.
If you know ahead of time what you want to accomplish, you are far more likely to accomplish it. People will also feel their time has been much better spent.
3. Attack problems, not people
If you’re really having an intense discussion (and you should be having these if you want to make progress), emotions may get heated.
When they do, make sure you attack problems, not people. It can be so easy to personalize conflict. We do it in our marriages all the time when we say things like “You always…” or “You never…”.
Let the people you’re talking with know that you’re for them, and what you’re trying to do is to attack a problem together.
4. Empathize with opposing views
I went to law school. It’s instinctive to me to dismiss an opposing point of view immediately. I can even come up with 5 reasons why their idea is a bad idea pretty quickly.
But when you do that, you don’t gain ground; you lose it.
A better approach is to actually show empathy for the opposing point of view.
Instead of saying “I can’t believe you won’t let that tradition go. That’s crazy!” what about saying “I can understand why that would be difficult to give that up. I’m sure if I were in your shoes, I would feel the same way. But what do you think about the people we’re trying to reach? Do you think our old strategy is the best strategy with which to engage them?”
Do you see the difference?
5. Find an outside voice to help
It’s one thing for you as a leader to float your ideas. And often you need to do that.
But it can also create tension because many leaders end up defending their ideas.
As a result, again and again in my time in leadership, I’ve solicited outside voices to help us arrive in a new place as a team.
The least expensive way to find an outside voice? Read a book together. Our teams have read many books together over the years.
That’s Why I Wrote Lasting Impact
When I wrote Lasting Impact, I crafted every chapter with team discussion in mind.
I hope the book can give teams and boards a chance to agree or disagree with someone who’s not the room in the hopes that you can agree together on what God is calling you to do next. Plus, I tried to cover the 7 issues almost every church of every size needs to tackle as they try to move forward.
As a special bonus, if you order your copy of Lasting Impact between October 6th and October 13th, you’ll get the free audio version of the book for free. Just go to www.lastingimpactbook.com after you order and fill out the bonus claim form.
Here’s hoping your future is filled with great conversations that will move your mission forward.