Leaders Communicating With Leaders
A number of years ago, I found myself consulting with one of my first churches. I remember walking into the board room, sitting down with the staff, and getting them all exciting about the many new and innovative tools we'd be using to get the church on the right communications track.
However, pretty soon they seemed to be getting confused.
I started hearing questions like: "Do we give access to the database to the whole congregation or just the leadership?" "Is Slack for project management or just to talk to one another?" "Who is our website for, our congregation or for new people?"
There was a lack of clarity on which tools and platforms were to be used for what purpose and intended for which audience.
Bringing Clarity To Chaos
On one level, there are systems we use in the church which have no real control over how people use it. We can create a website intended to reach new people, but that doesn't mean that's who's going to use it. However, we CAN be intentional about which systems we use and equip our leaders to use and employ them properly.
This is why before I start dealing out the possible systems a church can use, I walk them through the 3 levels of church communication:
1. Leaders Communicating With Leaders
2. Leaders Communicating With Church
3. Church Communicating With Mission Field.
To be clear, there are many more levels and complexities one could add to church (or any) communication. I just think these three levels are the most helpful in getting leaders understand which systems to use in which strategic way.
In this article, we'll be talking about the first level of church communication.
Leaders With Leaders Communication
I truly believe that before church leaders can start communicating with their congregation or their community, they have to create a culture of communication and collaboration among the leaders.
Oftentimes, leaders rely upon outdated systems and unclear expectations to guide their internal communication process. This can leave leaders feeling disconnected and frustrated. What's worse, many can't imagine another way.
“Create a culture of communication and collaboration among the leaders.
Systems Vs Process
One of the things I like to do on this first level is distinguish between the word "systems" and "process". Systems are those platforms (email, texting, memos) we put in place to get the job done. They are the tools that help us accomplish our goals. They are essential, but meaningless without process. Process is the sequence of event, the expectations, the step-by-step actions which are executed within systems, in order to accomplish a goal.
Why take up a whole paragraph explaining something so incredibly boring? Because often we get really excited about systems (because they sound cool and useful) while forgetting that without a clear and strategic process to implement into that system, it's all worthless.
To illustrate this point, how many times have you signed up for some cool new system, only to drop it almost immediately? The reason? The people who "sold" you the system did not sell you a process. So when you set-up your new system, you probably didn't think through how you were going to actually use it.
That's all to say, when you set up system among your leadership to encourage a culture of communication and collaboration, you need to put just as much thought into how you'll be using the systems as you did into choosing the system itself.
Where To Start
So I just want to make one system recommendation and one process recommendation.
The system is Slack. You may have heard of it but couldn't imagine how it could apply to the church. Quite simply, it's by far the most useful communication tool I've ever run across, used for team collaboration.
To learn more about slack, check out lesson 2 of clearpath academy. It's one of the free lessons and if you can onboard this system onto your leadership team, it will be a game changer.
But don't just onboard the system, also give your team guidelines and expectations on how to use it. Give them things like expectations on response time, ways to use it, ways not to use it. Teach them to integrate it with other systems they use as well as how to create boundaries so your leadership team isn't always overwhelmed by the urgent. Give them permission to stop emailing and texting completely and hone their communications in this single platform.
Once you start communicating with your leadership more effectively, you'll be ready for what's next.
Founder and Lead Catalyst for Clearpath.Church. Josh is ordained in the Reformed Church in America and is passionate about helping small churches find their voice. Josh lives with his family in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California.