the shape of leadership

Three Things Pastors Can Learn From Politicians

Reaching people with your message

Kent Ingle on June 10, 2019

As Christ followers, we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. We must be willing to engage in civic discourse and articulate the principles that define our faith — regardless of our sphere of influence.

As church leaders, we have the most important message anyone could ever hear: the gospel of Jesus Christ. But in a world of competing voices, our words often become lost in the noise.

Perhaps we could learn a few things from politicians who connect effectively with others. Here are three lessons I think we can glean from the political arena:

Speak throughout the community. Ministers can become so insulated in the church world that they forget how to connect with different kinds of people. Politicians know they have to break out of their bubbles and build relational bridges if they hope to win others to their side. That means going where people are, rather than waiting for people to come to them.

If you fail to connect, you may become just another voice.

Speak from experience. Politicians go beyond simply repeating what they heard at a seminar, read in a book, or saw on a video. They share details from their own lives to help people feel they know them. They recall conversations with constituents they’ve met. They talk about people who may benefit or suffer as a result of legislation. Few things are more captivating or persuasive than relatable stories.

Speak with others in mind. Whether they’re addressing labor union members, college students, or retirees, politicians know how to tailor the same basic message to different audiences.

The Church must do the same. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

If you want your message to resonate, make sure it is relevant (it matters), timely (it matters now), and specific (it matters now in a material, measurable way). When people see how your message relates to them personally, they’ll be more likely to lean in and consider responding.

If you fail to connect, you may become just another voice.

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