Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Eph. 4:29)
As leaders who are pastors, the primary way we serve the church is through the teaching and preaching of God’s word to the congregation. In a replant, the role of teaching is extremely important, because it’s very likely one of the reasons the church has been struggling was weakness in the teaching/preaching ministry.
As a replanter, your preaching matters, and so do the words you use when leading meetings and visiting congregants in homes or at the hospital. Your non-pulpit conversations impact the deacons and church council. Your response to the critics and complainers carries incredible weight. That you take time to bend down on a knee and speak to the children in the church is important. And how you speak in content and tone can help your people believe God is moving and desires to use them for His mission.
Here are four ways to use your words to bless and lead the body God has called you to replant.
I have never met anyone who said they were encouraged too much. In fact, encouragement in our culture is in short supply. Encouraging words shared to a congregation undergoing a replant serve to assure and inspire people who are wondering if God or you have given up on them, if God can still move, if you are committed to stay with them. As you provide positive encouragement from the pulpit, in the hallways, and in your meetings, the congregation will be more encouraged. They will begin to regain confidence in God’s love, power, and provision, that you will be their pastor, and that they have a future.
Challenge and correction
Many replanters I meet focus their communication in these two areas more than all the others. I won’t disagree about the necessity of challenging the church body toward wholehearted obedience and providing correction when it is needed. (Col. 1:28-29) However, if we’re always challenging and correcting, our people will wonder if we are noticing when the church is moving forward in faithfulness to God’s call and mission. Challenge and correct, but make sure it’s not the only way you are communicating with the church body.
One of the best ways to build momentum in a congregation is to affirm and celebrate evidence of God’s movement and their positive response. When you publicly affirm the Bible study class that gave up their classroom because the growing children’s ministry needed more space, you honor their willingness to change and sacrifice their comfort for the sake of mission. It also sets selflessness as a biblical cultural norm consistent with Jesus’ call to die to self — and calls others to the same actions.
For decades our church simply repeated programs year after year. When we began the process of replanting, it was important to not only do new things but to help our church members see that, with God’s help, we could dream new dreams and do new things in fulfilling our mission to reach those around us. Simply saying, “I can see God using our people and church to do this!” helped our people embrace new ministries and believe they could be used by God in new ways.
As leaders we have to realize that those we speak to often assign more weight to our words than we realize. It is imperative that our words build up, encourage, and minister grace. If this becomes our regular pattern of speech, by God’s grace, our church body will continue becoming healthy and stronger.
Published April 5, 2018