7 Common Communication Mistakes to Avoid

By Dan Reiland

Some of us will never have that great God-given talent to “move the masses,” but we can all improve our public communication skills to meet the need where God has placed us.

It doesn’t matter if you speak to a room of fifty people or three thousand people, the foundational elements of good communication are the same. I don’t preach much, but I teach a lot. That doesn’t let me off the hook. There are boring teachers just like there are boring preachers.

As leaders, we all have a responsibility to become better communicators, even if teaching is not central to our role.

Here are 7 of the most common mistakes, avoid them, and you’ll get better!

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1) Speaking too long.

A great rule of thumb is to keep your talk shorter if it’s not your primary gift. Even if you are good, set a time limit and stick to it. People respond better when they know what they can count on. Simply stated, when you get to the end of your notes, stop.

If you “need” to communicate longer in a teaching environment, there are several things you can do to break it up and help keep it more interactive.

2) Not knowing how to close.

How many times have you listened to a speaker who circled the runway seemingly forever? You wanted to call out, “Land the plane!” (Finish!) Patti, my wife, used to have a hand signal that instructed me to land the plane!

When you write your talk, know where you are going. Have a singular purpose in mind and answer these two questions. What do you want them to know? What do you want them to do? End with precision and clarity in your spiritual encouragement or challenge.

Skilled communicators have a singular purpose in mind and know how to close.

3) Seeking approval, rather than change.

Like good leadership, good communication begins with self-awareness. People pleasing and insecurity are big stumbling blocks to good communication. You become too worried about what people think of you to focus on them.

Knowing who you are and being comfortable in your own skin is a major part of great communication.

Communicators that are secure in themselves stay away from things like exaggeration, forcing humor just to get a laugh, and softening the truth.

The ultimate goal of any communicator in the local church is to move people toward change for their good, according to Biblical values and Christ-like living.

4) Too much content, too little application.

We all like to let our Bible knowledge out from time to time, and it’s obviously good to be passionate about scripture. But the point of our communication isn’t information; it’s transformation. That makes application incredibly important.

I remind myself that the epistles are basically half content, half application. Less is more. Candidly, it’s more work to reduce the content. As the communicator, we should do the work, not make the listeners work to understand what we are saying.

Remember, what do you want them to know, and what do you want them to do?

5) Intellectual integrity over spiritual intensity.

Diligent study is a vital part of good communication, but prayer brings the true life-changing power.

Your preparation in study is a required discipline; you can’t communicate a sermon or lesson without it. The truth is that we can communicate a message without prayer. That is scary, and makes the talk nearly worthless in terms of eternity.

One of the attributes I most respect, and have learned from our senior pastor Kevin Myers, is deep commitment and passion for prayer. Prayer is a profoundly integral part of his preparation to communicate anything. The results are obvious.

6) Failing to connect.

Your ability to be real and connect at a heart level creates the most noticeable improvement in your communication.

Stories are one of the best ways to connect, and you can increase your connection by improving your ability to tell a story. Authenticity gains you great trust in the room.

Reading the room is also key to you understanding how well you connect. A “public speaker” talks at the people, a communicator has a conversation with the people. He or she sees and senses the emotional temperature of the room and adjusts the tone of the talk as they go.

7) Underestimating the significance of encouragement.

When change, true transformation is the goal (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:11-16), you simply can’t over encourage those you speak to.

A good communicator always gives hope. Help the people believe they can do it, and God will help them with the part they can’t do on their own.

It’s not about fluff, Christianity light, or cheap grace. Encouragement is needed to inspire people to first, want to change, and second, elevate self-confidence enough to try.

This article was originally published at: danreiland.com

Wanted: New Church Methods For New Church People

By Karl Vaters

Changing the world with the Gospel of Jesus is less likely to happen using traditional methods with every passing year.

There’s nothing wrong with traditional methods of doing church. As long as you want to minister to traditional church members. Traditionalists (whatever your tradition may be) need places to worship, learn and be discipled. Too many of them have felt overlooked, even ridiculed, in recent years as many churches have rushed to make changes.

But, the traditional church member is dying out…literally.

If we truly want to change the world with the Gospel of Jesus, that is less likely to be done using traditional church methods with every passing year.

Traditional Church Methods Will Only Attract Traditional Church People

We need new ways of doing church. It’s ironic that I’m the guy saying say this. For at least two reasons.

First, I’m one of the traditional guys. A middle-aged, third generation pastor of a brick-and-mortar church with a mortgage and a full-time salary. Sure, the church I pastor has a slightly younger demographic than the average. And yes, we started dressing casually before most churches did. But if the sight of church members wearing jeans while sipping a coffee as they listen to the sermon feels radical – well, that’s just one evidence of how non-radical we really are.

Second, as a traditional church guy, I have no idea what I’m asking for. None. What would a truly God-breathed, Bible-honoring, life-transforming, people-reaching, radical change in the way we do church look like? I have no idea. But I do know this. We’re not just looking at one idea or one new way to do church. We need to be open to a whole lot of new ideas and new ways to do church. The days of landing on one particular church format, then promoting it as the right way to do church can’t end soon enough.

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Future Church Possibilities

Actually, there are a handful of principles that I think are likely to become more common in the next few years. I think the new, dynamic church is likely to be

  • Meeting in smaller, rather than bigger groups, even in big cities
  • In non-traditional sites
  • Locally grown and less generic
  • More hands-on in mission and outreach
  • More focused on relationship building
  • Highly adaptable, even experimental
  • Passionately focused on the core truths of God’s Word

At least I hope so.

Unfortunately, it’s also very likely that, while these new ways of doing church will be met with joy and relief by some, they will be met with skepticism and anger by many.

Step Up and Stand Out

If you’re crazy in love with Jesus and want to help other people fall crazy in love with Jesus, but you can’t figure out how to do that in a traditional local church setting, here’s my suggestion.

Stop trying to fit in.

Start standing out.

Start ministering the unchangeable truths of Jesus in ways that make sense for the people God is calling you to minister to, even if they’re the kinds of people who won’t come to a traditional church. Don’t worry about all the naysayers who will condemn you just because what you’re doing is different.

The church could use a boatload of different right now.

And I’m not the only old, traditional church guy who will be cheering you on, either. There are a lot of us. We may not know how to do it ourselves, but maybe we can be like Simeon and Anna. Maybe we can recognize Jesus when he shows up at the temple in a way no one else expected.

After all, the only “right” way to do church is any way that reaches people for Jesus.

This article was originally published at: Christianity Today.

 

7 Steps to Start Becoming a Church People Want to Commit To – Part 1 of 2

By Karl Vaters

People who don’t go to church, don’t want to go to church. They’re not rolling out of bed late on Sunday morning wishing they had somewhere more churchy to be.

In fact, a growing number of people who do go to church don’t want to go, either. If we don’t give them something worth committing to, they’ll be gone soon.

It’s not that people are less capable of making commitments than they used to be. They just commit differently. But too many churches haven’t caught up to that reality.

So how do we get people to commit to the church / ministry we lead? Especially when our church is small and struggling?

I don’t have all the answers, not by a long shot. But I’ve learned a handful of principles over three decades of ministry that have helped our church become a place people are excited to be committed to.

These steps won’t cost you any extra money and very little extra time – the extra time because of the learning curve. It’s not about adding to your already limited schedule and overtaxed budget. It’s not about doing things bigger. It’s about focusing on doing church better. Working smarter, not harder.

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Where Our Focus Needs to Be

But first, despite the title of this post, the challenge before us isn’t about getting people to go to church.

It’s about inspiring people to commit to

•Worshiping Jesus

•Genuine relationships with God’s people

•Making disciples

•Doing ministry for those in need

If your focus is trying to get people to commit to your Sunday service schedule, your denominational preference, maintaining your church building or anything like that, you might as well stop reading right now. In fact, you might as well close your church right now.

The days of people going to church for anything less than a genuine relationship with Jesus are over. Yes, there’s still a residue of those people, but they’re dying out – literally. And they won’t be replaced by a new group. Nor should they be.

But if you want people in your church because you have a passion to help them connect with Jesus and God’s family, read on.

1. Clear Away Anything that Isn’t Jesus

If people continue to go to church, it won’t be because they feel a sense of loyalty to a tradition most of them have never had in their lives to begin with. And it won’t be because they want to be entertained. They have better entertainment on the phone in their pocket than we can ever compete with.

The only thing that will get them out of their house and into our churches is if we give them a cause worth living (and dying) for. Namely, an authentic presentation of the gospel of Jesus – through our words and our lives.

If your generational traditions or your hip, new staging helps people do that, great! Keep doing it. But if not, don’t let your church’s personal preferences keep people from seeing Jesus.

Whether he’s hidden behind stained glass windows or laser lights and fog machines, anything that obscures Jesus instead of revealing him needs to be ditched.

2. Emphasize Relationships Over Spectacle or Tradition

For small churches especially, being a church that people want to commit to starts and ends with relationships.

We need to help people make connections to Jesus and each other.

We need to help people make connections to Jesus and each other. Then work together to build bridges with those outside the church walls.

Long after our traditions have grown stale and the spectacle has been replaced by a bigger show somewhere else, genuine relationships with Jesus and people will last.

3. Be Genuine

People are far less naïve than they used to be. They can spot phoniness in people very quickly.

This is especially important for church leaders, because we have a culture in which respect for leadership is lower than it has been in a loooong time – and mostly for good reasons.

Respect doesn’t come with the position of pastor or leader any more. In fact, it’s more likely to be viewed with skepticism than honor. That skepticism will only be overcome by practicing what we preach.

This article will continue in the next post.