4 Conversations Every Church Leader Should Have

When you are in leadership, people come to you for answers.  

“What do I do about this volunteer?”

“Where are we going as a church?”

“How do we respond to that group of people?”

“How do we increase giving in our church?   

And, as a leader, you’re kind of supposed to know what to say in those moments.  Is it just me or does that feel like a lot of pressure!?!?

At a foundation level, leadership is about bringing clarity to complexity.  It’s the ability to engage the toughest of questions and provide clear and actionable answers.  

So, what do you do when everyone is looking at you and you’re supposed to have answers?  I believe that the long-term quality of our leadership is contingent on four ongoing conversations in our lives.  These conversations will supply us with what we need to answer the toughest of questions.  

So, what are these four conversations?  I’m glad you asked.  


Conversations With Jesus

The greatest gift you bring to your congregation is not your intelligence, your skills, your spiritual gifts, or your experience.  The greatest gift you bring to your congregation is a thriving relationship with Jesus.  

Regular conversations with Jesus will shape you more into the leader that God desires you to be.  

Consistent conversations are crucial for us as leaders.  I believe that through this growing relationship God will provide clarity on many of the questions that arise in ministry, help us respond to these questions with answers that are spiritually sound, and reflect the heart of our gracious God.  


Conversations With People Who Disagree

What do you do when people decide to leave your church?  

I believe the wisest thing you can do is reach out to them and ask for a conversation.  Ask them why they are leaving and then genuinely listen.  Although these conversations aren’t very fun (and can honestly be painful), there is often something important to be learned as to why they are leaving.  

Is there a missing ministry in your church?  Is there something in the way you speak from the stage that is off-putting?  Is the style of your music outdated and irrelevant?  

My point is that if you, as a leader, want to have good answers to the questions that arise, you have to be in touch with reality.  And, one of the best ways to stay in touch with reality is to listen to people who disagree with you.   


Conversations With Yourself

The questions that arrive in your inbox or show up in your staff meetings are not simple.  If they were, someone would have already answered them.  No, these questions are complex. 

They are often a choice between multiple good ideas, or sadly, a choice between multiple bad ideas.   They are deep questions and deep questions require deep thinking.  They require a long conversation with yourself.  

Where, in your life do you have space for thinking deeply?  Good leadership requires deep thinking. 

If you don’t have space in your life for long conversations with yourself over difficult questions, there is a good chance that your answers to the deep and complex questions facing you as a leader will be shallow and simplistic. 

This is dangerous.  We won’t see all the possible outcomes.  We won’t see the hidden potholes.  We could inadvertently lead our people and our congregations into dangerous waters.  

A few suggestions here:  

  1. Schedule walks in which your purpose is to simply think.
  2. Turn off the podcasts and playlists on your commute and let your brain process and create.
  3. Sit for thirty minutes in a peaceful environment and mull over the tough questions.  

This might feel like a waste of time but I would challenge you—what will cost you more?  A few hours during your week to think, or the time it will take to backtrack on a poor decision? 


Conversations With Friends 

The last conversation needed for providing good answers to difficult questions is conversations with friends. 

The wise counsel of friends and mentors has protected me and my ministry from all sorts of pain that I would have unintentionally inflicted.  There is immense wisdom in one simple question:

“Does this sound right to you?”

Who are you processing with?  Who do you trust to tell you the truth and reveal your blind spots?  I would encourage you to set up regular conversations with these people.  


Wrap Up

Our people need answers to the toughest of questions.  This is what great leaders do.  I believe that our ability to consistently provide wise answers is dependent on four ongoing conversations:  With Jesus, with people who disagree, with ourselves, and with friends.  

Here’s my challenge:  Pursue these conversations.  These conversations will lead to greater perspective and greater perspective leads to better decision making.