When beginning a new cm leadership position – how to improve communication with the senior pastor

Your Question:

“I am directing a CM that hasn’t had a CM director before me.  How can I establish, or improve the communication between the senior pastor and the CM?”

The Issues:

It is safe to assume that most CM leaders would like clearer communication with the senior pastor. Typically, the senior pastor is focused on the larger responsibility of leading the church. He values the CM (since he approved your position), and yet probably relies on you to lead the CM. Building clearer communication with the senior pastor is not difficult unless he tells you that he trusts you and doesn’t respond to your attempts at increasing the communication. It is not bad to keep him informed regarding the ministry, regardless of whether he responds or not. More communication is always better than too little communication.

Scripture Foundation:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”  Hebrews 13: 17

Short Answer:

Some believe that there isn’t politics in the church. Sadly, there is politics in church ministry! Any time you have two people attempting to serve together, there is “politics.” The greatest way to improve communication with the senior pastor is to understand him.  Getting to know his interests, fears, and dreams will help you better communicate with him.  It is much like Paul’s work in Athens, recorded in Acts 17.

“…While Paul was waiting for them (Timothy and Silas) in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols…Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ‘People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.’” (Acts 17: 16-23)

Paul spent time getting to know the people to whom he would soon preach.  Building clearer lines of communication with the senior pastor demands that you ask God to help you understand him.  If you are invited to attend church staff or board meetings, listen carefully to what he says in response to church needs or challenges. If you aren’t invited to attend these meetings, you may need to ask him questions about the CM in order to better understand his vision and openness to more communication.  As an employer, he probably doesn’t want an employee to always ask him how to do the job for which the employee has been hired. Instead, ask general questions like, “Tell me your vision or dreams for the CM,” or “What have you always wanted from the CM?” or “How much involvement in the CM do you want?” or “How can I keep you informed about the CM?”

If you feel it is appropriate or if you think the senior pastor would like it, you can ask to have a short weekly “briefing” with him.  During these briefings, you can quickly highlight the current CM efforts, programs, challenges and progress toward your CM long-range plans.  It would be good for you to have a standard outline for these meetings.  The meetings can be as short as 20 minutes, or as long as it takes for you to briefly answer his questions.  Let him guide the meetings. If he is busy, make the meetings short. If weekly meetings aren’t possible, consider sending him a weekly email that gives him the same “updates” that you would share with him in a face-to-face meeting. If he is busy being the senior pastor, don’t worry if he doesn’t reply to your weekly emails. Sending them is the goal. Hopefully, he will read the emails. 

Another great technique in increasing communication between the senior pastor and the CM is to personally invite him to every CM event, and make sure he feels welcome to visit the CM during a regular service. As you attempt these various techniques, don’t worry about his response. You are doing a very good thing by keeping him informed about what is going on in the CM.  The more you communicate with him, the more he will understand and support you! For more ideas, click on the links below.

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