A common strain that many pastors feel is the pressure of not being able to miss a Sunday. In their own way, each one says the same thing:
“I don’t feel like I have anyone on my team who can do what I do…”
At Next Level Church, we have several capable communicators on our team, but it didn’t happen by accident. It has been a combination of the blessing of God and an intentional approach on our part.
It starts with desire. When we started 8 years ago, I knew I wanted to have others who could do what I do. I didn’t want to be, “the only one who could feed the sheep.” I knew this would take a lot of security on my part and the patience to believe God to raise up others on our team as well.
It also requires a strategy. 3 years ago, I began strategically executing the plan to multiply our speaking structure. I started with my associate, Mike, who had moved with us 8 years earlier, and our newly hired executive pastor, Scott Drummond. Once we had 2 guys who had the natural ability and passion to speak, I got extremely strategic about it. Today, we’re developing several other young communicators with the same strategy.
A Strategy to Raise Up Communicators in your church:
1. Include them in on message creation. Rather than just writing messages alone, I started bringing in them in to help me process ideas through. This allowed them to see how I think about message preparation. It also gave me some great ideas and illustrations that I never would have had otherwise.
2. Use their personalities in other ways from the stage. We always have 2 people give announcements in our services. This keeps things fresh and provides for movement and energy in the service, simply by having two personalities on stage instead of one.
The biggest benefit though is allowing our people to become familiar and comfortable with the other pastors on staff. They see them having fun, joking with each other and being in the know with your church. Over time, this creates a comfort in people with having someone other than me on the stage.
3. Let them speak with you present. I want our church to know that, “just because I’m here doesn’t mean I have to be up there…” I intentionally schedule Sundays where they speak with me there. I need our church to be comfortable with me being in the room, but not always being up front. (By the way, I will often jump into one of the announcement guy roles when they speak. We believe in “Interchangeable Parts” in every way.)
4. Work with them before, during & after. When they’re scheduled to speak, we worked up the big idea and spark for the message together. Then they flesh out the raw outline. They bring it back to me and we talk through. This allows me to run it through the filter of our people, because as the guy who talks to them the most, I know their aptitude best. After we meet, they bring the talk up to a mature form and we meet one more time where they “pseudo-preach” it to me in my office.
I stay involved in the process the day they speak as well. We will meet in the green room backstage between services to tweak the content even more. I want them to know what I’m thinking in real time.
Finally, the week after they speak, we debrief and listen to the audio CD or watch the video back together. I thoroughly dissect it with them. Good, bad and ugly.
Here’s what I’ve learned: If I want them to do what I do, I have to be willing to slow down enough to allow them to see how I do it. From my experience, most pastors aren’t willing to do this. They just want their other guys to watch them and then just “get it.” I wish that were true, because we’d all be much better golfers after watching Tiger Woods every Sunday.
6. Teach your church that they are a teaching hospital. We are committed to seeing young leaders reach their full potential. If you’re looking for perfection, you’re gonna need to find another church. From the beginning, we have taught our people that they are apart of a Divine Experiment and things won’t always go perfectly. We would rather fail trying then never take a risk.
7. Put them inside of a series you’re already doing. Including them inside of a series allows them to leverage a greater credibility and allows them to “continue” a thought instead of trying to build a stand alone message. Second, It communicates that you are a teaching team, not individual communicators.
8. Use the word “we” as much as you can. For example, “at Next Level Church we believe” instead of, “at NLC, I believe…” Its a subtle difference but over time, it helps shape the culture in your church’s mind.
9. Use somebody other than you, to be the “Campus Pastor” in your service. Even if you only have one campus, we have found it helpful to use another pastor on staff, to close the service. This gives them a pastoral and credible voice, and over time, establishes their voice to the people.
10. Use other pastors to lead things like communion, child dedication, and baptisms. I want our people to know that I’m not the only one, (or the best one for that matter!) to lead these important pastoral elements. I want our church to be comfortable with the other pastors ministering to them in spiritual moments, like communion, baptism, etc.
3 years later, the results have been amazing! Our church people have become accustomed to me not having to be up there 52 weeks a year. This new reality has enabled me to get the rest I need, speak in other churches, and help other pastors in great ways! The benefit of having confidence in other communicators on your team will far outweigh the time and energy it takes for you to get them there.
Begin NOW to develop your strategy to raise up other communicators who can do what you do in your church. It’s worth it.