Smart moves: Speak positively

By Bob Bickford

Let no unwholesome 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. Ephesians 4:29

The language a Pastor uses is important in the pulpit and in every encounter he has with those in his congregation and his community. Every conversation a Pastor has holds carries enormous power.

Replanter everyone is listening not only to what you say, but how you say it. As the work of replanting proceeds you will likely have to find a way to share strong plain unfiltered truth as you preach and as you lead.
Addressing historical conflicts, hidden or embedded sin patterns, financial shortfalls and necessary programmatic and structural changes are all conversations that you will have with the people in your church.

How should you approach these potentially difficult conversations?

Speak honestly and positively: you must be honest about where the church is and where it needs to go–defining reality is the leader’s responsibility. Speak in specifics and speak with vision for the future of what the church can become with God’s power and help.

Lead toward Scripture: the church can disagree, argue and resist your words, but everyone must submit to God’s word. As you lead let the bible both guide and authority. Every initiative must find its roots in biblical truth. Lead your people on a discovery to find God’s truth for your church and the mission to which you are called. One Replanter has remarked before; “Let the Bible be the bad guy.

Listen Intentionally: as the change process begins to take hold everyone in the church will find themselves in a place of discomfort. The church isn’t what it used to be and it’s not what it will be. As people talk about their struggles or have questions listen to the message behind the message. Don’t take it personal, clarify that you are understanding them.

Respond Graciously: in some instances you’ll be criticized publicly for seeking to lead the church to make positive changes. As that happens everyone is watching for your response. Are you patient? Do you respond aggressively? Do you take the verbal assaults in a Christ like manner? As you respond with grace and humility and conviction the church will learn to view you as a leader with whom they can be honest without fearing your reaction.

Speak Affirmingly: we often underestimate the power of an encouraging and upbuilding word. A church in the process of replanting has likely had more discouraging days of late than encouraging ones. As you see shifts and changes in mindsets and in practice that are heading in the right direction be sure to affirm them publically.

Replanters, get before the Lord, ask him to reveal the impact of your words, lead you as you speak, then walk accordingly.

Published September 29, 2016

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per month full of articles from a variety of Replanting voices.

Bob Bickford

Bob Bickford is a Replant Pastor in suburban St. Louis, serves as the Associate Director of Replant for the North American Mission Board and is the co-author of Am I a Replanter,  Pathways to Partnership and the Associational Replanting Guide. Follow Bob on twitter @bobick