By Franklin Dumond
The world of the church and the world at large continue to change at an ever increasing rate. The 21st century provides greater challenges than ever to the church leader who desires to remain relevant and current. There are four areas where church leaders need continuing education to meet these challenges.
1. Communication Skills These come in a variety of packages including
a. grammar and usage. Doug Lawrence put it well in a recent blog:
“Check your grammar with people in whom you have great trust, and do it often! The first time you say, ‘She and me went to the meeting,’ you will lose a significant part of your audience. There are people who still care about proper use of language. Your sloppy English skills can undo whatever positive impact you are trying to have. It’s as though you are wearing a cloak of indifference when you don’t care about how you’re coming across in language use.”
- Improper use of I and me
- Incorrect tense usage
- Confusion when two similar sounding words are used incorrectly (further/farther and effect/affect) or when one word is used with two meanings in the same sentence or paragraph
b. social media savvy. Learn to keep private what should be private. Let social media connect broadly but never forget the power of one-on-one communication and face-to-face meetings.
c. people skills demonstrating genuine care rather than artificial friendliness need constant refinement.
2. Personal Evangelism Too many churches report zero conversions in a year because too few church leaders engage in personal evangelism.
3. Making Disciples in a Non-Christian Culture In order to accomplish this, we must realize that we cannot rely on the culture at large to teach basic Christian beliefs. For example, many folks in my generation learned the Lord’s Prayer at school along with the Pledge of Allegiance. This doesn’t happen these days, so church leaders must be more intentional and comprehensive in their disciple-making enterprises.
4. Maintaining an appropriate work/life balance This is especially difficult now that the 24/7 on-call world of ministry has expanded to the 24/7 digitally-connected world of ministry. Many church leaders manage to appear very busy without being very productive. Pilots are reminded as they prepare for solo flight “Don’t forget to fly the plane!” In their case it is tempting to focus so much on the dials and indicators that the essential task of flying becomes secondary. Frantic, last minute preparations are sometimes necessary because of unexpected interruptions and emergency ministry needs. More often, however, they are the result of poor time usage early in the week that produces frantic effort at the end of the week because Sunday is about to arrive! Even in the 24/7 world of connections pastors still need some regularity of schedule to accomplish the routine ministries of worship, witness, and service.