How To Deliver Bad News To Your Church, Part 2
By: Jay Mitchell September 4, 2013
In How to Deliver Bad News To Your Church, Part I, we discussed how it's much more enjoyable to deliver good news to your church than bad news. However, as a pastor and church leader, it's inevitable that at some point, you're going to have to share some sort of bad news with your church community. What do you do when that time comes?
Here are the final four of seven tips to consider when preparing to deliver bad news to your church.
4. Slow down and be authentic.
Don't rush, and don't take too long. If you do rush, your congregation may feel like the situation is not important to you. Take the time to deliver the message with authenticity. However, don't take too long. The entire service is not about this message. Remember, there will likely be people present who are just visiting or are new to your church. How you handle this moment will show them who you are and can actually build confidence in your church and your leadership As we mentioned before, the longer you take, the greater the chance you'll say something you don't want to say. The point is to set aside a reasonable amount of time to deliver the bad news to your church and stick to it.
5. Create a release valve.
Assume that a few people will have additional questions or concerns, so have a point person available that people can meet with privately to get those questions answered. Be sure to set expectations about the amount and the kind of information you are able to share. Not everyone needs to know everything, so you’ll need to use some discretion here. Having a release valve in place will show that you are being intentional and have a plan. Create a plan for folks to "vent" about their concerns. It is better for you to give them the opportunity to vent to you instead of to other members of the community, which may start gossip and rumors.
6. Don't answer questions that aren't being asked.
In an effort to be forthcoming, we sometimes give more information than our church body is asking for. It’s important to ask yourself, "What are people really asking?" and "What do people really need to know?" There isn't much more insulting than when you attend a service where challenging news is being communicated only to have the leader glaze over what's really important and spend time talking about something no one cares about. Conversely, unless members of the congregation are directly impacted personally, there are some things they don’t need to know. A good leader can discern the difference between the two.
7. Be redemptive.
One of the many things we learn from the Cross is that even the worst scenarios have the power to be redemptive. A crisis in your church, if handled wisely, can be used by God to create new opportunities for growth and new vitality to your community. The goal of your communication is not to cover your bases and minimize conflict, but rather to keep the door open for God to bring his redemptive and healing power to your church and your community.
When delivering bad news to your congregation, always ask, “Is what I’m communicating going to further God’s redemptive plan for my church and the people involved in this crisis?”