Six Core Competencies of Pastors 03: Communication

If I could change one thing about pastors and church folk it would be that they would give each other the best possible interpretation of every action. For example…

You forgot to return my email? You were busy, not negligent.

You didn’t talk to me at coffee hour? You were dealing with an emergency not snubbing me.

You forgot my name in the list of ushers who served last year? That kind of thing happens to me too – I know you weren’t discounting my service.

That kind of thing…

But since I don’t have that ability I will put forward Communication as my third Core Competency.

Communication is huge for pastors. Ministries and churches live and die on the communication skills of pastors, staff and leaders.

Communication falls into two big buckets for pastors. Personal Communication, which is that one-on-one or small group communication – that day-in-and-day-out work of leading, encouraging and doing ministry. And Public Communication, which is worship leadership on Sunday morning, newsletters, websites, social media and other public communications. Both matter as Core Competencies.

Communication like all Core Competencies is something that we can develop – not only at the start of our ministry but throughout. Yet, because this competency can feel so personal, so central to our identity as pastors (and people) we often ignore the signs that our preaching and leading is falling on deaf ears.

Ever been told your preaching isn’t great? Most of us have. But what we do with that comment matters.  This leads me back to why Professionalism is the first Core Competency because Professionalism offers us a growth mindset– this is very different from blaming (its them, not me), discounting (my last church loved my preaching) or ignoring (who do they think they are?). Professionalism helps us think through our initial defensiveness.

Two communication priorities strike me as I visit churches: excellent preaching and communicating a welcome to newcomers. A recent article reminded us once more that when people are looking for a church (mostly when regular church goers move into a new community) they look for a church where the preaching is great and the people communicate friendliness. How good the sermon is on Sunday matters and how we communicate welcome is key.

One last thing, a plea of sorts. Please do a quarterly survey on how you are doing as a communicator. A simple survey can give you feedback about preaching, leadership, and other areas where insight on how it is going is gold to pastoral growth. We often fool ourselves here and we need the wisdom of others. Survey Monkey is a great tool and is easy to use for any pastor. So do it. Because communication matters.

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