One of the 13 essential characteristics of effective replanters that the Replant Team has identified is emotional intelligence. Dictionary.com defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Based on that definition, you can probably begin to see why this is important for a church replanter.
Church Replanting is Emotional Business
The work of Replanting a declining or dying church involves a lot of emotions. There are strong emotions on the part of your church members. Perhaps they can still feel the emotions they had during a particularly contentious business meeting. They probably remember happy occasions, like the baptism of a child or a grandchild, or a baby dedication. They also probably remember sad occasions, like a funeral of a husband or maybe even a child. No doubt they remember sweet times of fellowship with members who have either passed away or left the church for various reasons.
Often, church buildings themselves can bring to mind many emotions. This is why you’ll hear people say, “I’ll never set foot in that building again,” or “Pastor, I just couldn’t attend church anywhere else.”
As a replanting pastor, you must be aware of the strong emotions involved in the process. You must learn to navigate a very emotional process with tact and grace.
But you also must learn to control your own emotions. Sometimes in the work of replanting, you as pastor may be unfairly attacked. You may be approached by an angry church member right before the service (or even just before your sermon). Can you control your emotions so you don’t ruin your witness in front of the whole congregation? Can you listen enough to get to a deeper issue behind the strong emotions?
You may need to sit (sometimes for extended periods of time) and listen to members express their frustrations, disappointments, and anger at the process (and, yes, sometimes even at you). Remember that you are called to shepherd even those folks who don’t like you very much.
Caring for Emotionally Unhealthy Members
There is another reality we face as church replanters. Often we will have a number of emotionally unhealthy members. This means that we must be aware of our own emotions and how we respond when confronted by an emotionally unhealthy church member.
On one hand, this reality should not surprise us. If a church has unhealthy structures, or consistently has unhealthy leaders in place, top-notch leaders and emotionally healthy individuals may leave over time. That will mean emotionally unhealthy individuals find themselves in places of leadership they have neither the gifting nor the spiritual maturity to hold. In the long-term, the answer is to raise up emotionally healthy leaders who are qualified and gifted for those positions. In the short-term, it means you may have some headaches.
Meanwhile, as much as possible, start discipling those members and leaders you do have. God can change anyone’s heart, and leadership skills can be learned. Believe that God has placed you at this particular church with these particular people for a purpose: to make His name great in your community through your church.
To learn more about Emotional Intelligence, check out these blog posts by Mark Hallock.
- Emotional Intelligence is Transforming
- Emotional Intellligence Points Others to Christ
- Emotional Intelligence and Your Development
- Where Replanters Often Fall Short: Emotional Intelligence
Published March 3, 2021