9 characteristics of a church planter: Communication

By Joseph Velarde

One of the key ingredients of effectiveness is the ability to communicate clearly. Jesus was the best at this. When you watch Him through the Gospels, he talks with such clarity. Even when everyone didn’t get it, He knew exactly what He was doing.

What is the Jesus way of communicating clearly?

First, you can tell He was clearly communing with His Heavenly Father and secure in His identity.

Jesus regularly withdrew and prayed and was led by the Holy Spirit. In other words, Jesus gave what He has given by way of seeking what His Father wanted him to say. The Gospel of John records that Jesus said, “I only say what God has asked me to say.”

What is your plan for praying in order to hear what your Heavenly Father says of you and has for you to say to others?

When we pray, we prepare our hearts to be reminded that our communication performance doesn’t secure our Father’s love for us. We don’t have to prove our worth and shouldn’t focus on the possibility of letting someone down. You become a vehicle who has received His love, and now you’re giving that love to others via communication.

This is an easy step to skip or skim over, but prayer is the real work of communication. I know you’ve got a lot of work to do, but prayer is what allows you to have clarity to make sure your work is His work for your life. It will also give you clarity in sharing with others. Prayer makes you more productive and fruitful in the long run.

Second, Jesus communicated clearly by speaking the language of His audience.

He would often use parables to help people understand what He meant and put themselves in the story. Parables allowed him to engage their imagination and inspire them toward what he was inviting them into.

How do you illustrate your communication with personal vulnerabilities, stories, examples, quotes and object lessons?

We always want to keep our communication Jesus-centered and Bible-based, as Jesus himself did. However, many of us forget that Jesus didn’t shy away from illustration and speaking plainly. We live in a post-Christian world where people have no or little Bible knowledge. This is a challenge, but also a great opportunity to do as Jesus did. He used terms they didn’t understand, but He explained them. As we use common church phrases, we must explain what we mean. Like when we say ‘righteous,’ it is good for us to briefly unpack what we mean, so not to confuse.

What phrase do you commonly use that needs to be unpacked or exchanged for other words?

Third, Jesus communicated clearly by asking questions.

In the Gospels, Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. He didn’t ask the questions because he didn’t know the answer, but rather to cause those listening to think. Questions requires people to wrestle with how they would answer. It also allows you to hear what others are thinking. This shows we care about people. Many go through life without being asked meaningful questions. You will be surprised how much people will share when you take the time to listen.

How are you at asking questions? What questions do others ask that you find helpful?

Fourth, Jesus communicated clearly by speaking with conviction and compassion.

As you watch Jesus share with others, He was full of grace and full of truth. This is what is so needed today. We often want one or the other, but Jesus was both.

We practice conviction and compassion when we are clear on our expectations and make sure those have been communicated and agreed upon by those we are speaking with. This takes time to think through and to share with others. It is valuable because it will give a shared vision to move forward with.

We are not communicating well when we assume what someone else will do, instead of talking with them. This will lead to resentment, because we feel disappointed. That is an unloving and unhelpful way to live.

Jesus said the measure we use with others is the measure that will be used on us. That is why empathy is such a powerful tool. Empathy allows us to enter the experiences of others. That requires conversation that is beyond an email or text message.

Are you honest without being harsh? Do you say what you mean without attacking? Are you clear on your expectations? How is your tone, body language, and facial expression when communicating with others? Does it express disdain or empathy?

We must work for this clarity as we seek to communicate. Our inability to do so will lead to confusion, which will cause fatigue and frustration. Thankfully we don’t go it alone! Jesus has and will continue to show us the way forward. May we let Him lead and set the course as we seek to communicate clearly.

Published January 31, 2018

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per week chock full of articles from a variety of Send Network voices.

Joseph Velarde

Joseph Velarde is the Lead Planter and Pastor of Riverbend Community Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Riverbend is a Multiplying Church Center who has the desire to see God start a movement of church planting in the Lehigh Valley and around the world. Joseph has been blessed to have Amy as his wife for 10 years.