Engaging the Congregation Webinar
Jesus engaged people. We are called to be engaged with our congregation. There are core questions which every congregant is asking of their leadership. Sometimes assumptions can incorrectly answer these questions and cause unnecessary misperceptions. In this webinar, we looked at some of these key questions. To help us consider some experience in answering these questions, we solicited input from a panel of three ministering brothers, Elder Bro. Marvin Dotterer, Elder Bro. Jeff Grimm, and retired minister Kevin Knapp. We hope you find the conversation to be thought provoking and encouraging.
Engaging the Congregation Webinar PPT
Thankful to have you all join us this evening, which turned out to be a beautiful evening here in Central Illinois. We are excited tonight to be here and to talk together about the topic of engaging the congregation. And, Matt and I are most excited tonight because we have three special brothers here with us to kind of be a panel and to seek some wisdom from. We have a combined 85 years of pulpit ministry experience here amongst these three brothers. Brother Kevin Knapp to, my right is a retired minister from Bloomington. Elder Brother Marvin Dotterer to my left is the current elder of the Forrest congregation. And then there with you, Matt, is Brother Jeff Grimm, the elder from Goodfield congregation. So the lay of the land tonight, we’re gonna do a little bit of teaching, talk through a few concepts together and then we’re gonna have a facilitated panel discussion amongst these three brothers. Okay. As Arlan had mentioned, I’m gonna spend just a few 10 or 15 minutes with just some narrow concepts, some content that will serve as somewhat of a foundation for the discussion that we’ll engage the brothers with.
The topic is engaging the congregation, answering their unspoken questions. First thing I wanna do is be clear on what our objective is and what our objective is not. Tonight’s objective is to present how we, as leadership, as ministers engage our congregations, we want to be thoughtful about how we engage those in our churches.
And it’s not our objective to talk about how to get our congregations engaged. That is a very worthy topic and one that we should do sometime, Arlan, but it is not tonight’s topic. And so we wanted to be clear about that. So, as we think about the next 40 minutes or so we’re kind of on the same trail there. Tonight’s objective is how do we engage those that are in the pews, those who are coming to church.
There’s the basic concept here tonight is to realize that there are unspoken questions being asked of us. And we, furthermore, are answering those questions all of the time. So the question is begged. I would sure like to know what those unanswered or unspoken questions are. So I can think about perhaps how I’m answering them.
That’s really what tonight’s about. We are going to propose seven questions that typically the folks that are in our churches are asking of their leadership are asking their ministers. And so what those might be is those seven, or you could read ’em they’re on your screen. But, do you love me? Do you trust me?
Do you think you’re better than me? Number four. Are you willing to invest in me? Can you help me? And do I have purpose here? Number seven. Can I trust you now? These are all questions that, and there’s more questions, no doubt, that folks are asking, but these are questions that they’re asking of us. So to the ministers, do you love me? Do you trust me? And so think about this from the perspective of the pew. And a lot of times they’re not really voicing these questions, but they are being answered all the time and we are answering them in our behavior. We’re answering them in our manner. We’re answering them how we address, how we talk, the words we use, the actions.
And so we want to bring these questions to the surface tonight and then consider what does this look like? We’d like you to think about these three settings. We have the pulpit setting, which is when we are addressing folks from the pulpit, certainly that is one lens or one setting that we answer those seven questions.
We also have an individual setting where we’re talking one on one with a person perhaps, and counsel, and then there’s group. We’re at a potluck together. We are, at a church function and we have some sort of presence at that function. And even in those group settings, we are answering these seven questions.
So I would like now to illustrate what this might look like in some practical settings. Now, the purpose of these next couple slides. I’m gonna provide an illustration of what this looks like. These are very practical and they’re used to simply illustrate how these questions come to play. So here’s an example.
I, one time was in a liaison of a particular group and a committee had come to me saying, I, we would like to share this poem at this church function. And they gave me the poem to review and to sanction. And, I read it and I was uncomfortable with the content. I didn’t think it was, maybe for some reason, probably quite appropriate.
Now in this moment I had this sister present this to me. You can imagine we have to think about these questions and you can see that I’ve got some questions perhaps on the chopping block here. Do you trust me? And do I have purpose here? Here, we’ve commissioned this individual to do something.
They’ve come back to me and now I’m gonna say, no. I have got to think about two and six incidents, these questions, how do I proceed now? Doing the right thing and yet, at the same time, answering question two and question six, satisfactory that I do trust her. And, that I do find, and I do believe very much that she has purpose.
So you can, again, don’t focus too much maybe on this example, but see this example for what it is. Maybe you can identify with it at some level and see how we are answering these questions a lot of times in unspoken ways. So she’s not gonna come out necessarily and ask me two and six, but I have, in this moment, an opportunity to answer them.
Okay. So this is an individual setting. It’s a one on one setting. The next setting I’m gonna provide is a group setting. Okay. And this is, for example, a minister receiving line. Okay. Now take a look at the minister receiving line, for example, which is a wonderful practice that many of our churches do and wonderfully in this receiving line, we’re really answering one and four quite well.
Do you love me? Are you willing to invest in me? That’s the intention of what we want to do. We want to be able to meet everybody? We wanna learn the children’s name. We want that interaction, and this is a terrific way to do that. But yet to be aware and cognizant also is that perhaps question three is not satisfactorily answered in this setting, right? That some would have this view that wow, you know, nobody meets me, right? Or, not everybody has a line for me, again, and we can think, wow, that seems maybe a bit silly, but we have to remember that people have the freedom to think what they want to think about the things that are said and the things that are done.
So here’s an example where we are trying to answer. We do answer in this practice one and four quite well, perhaps not three, so well, but I want to cast the hope here of tonight and that is we can answer these questions. We can answer these questions intentionally, even in these settings.
So the last one here that I would like to share before we turn it over to discussion is a pulpit setting. So it is a pulpit setting, for example, we might say this is across the pulpit, that God convicted me this week. Right? I’m insinuating by that statement that I am, I’ve been corrected by God.
I’ve been disciplined by God. Perhaps I’ve struggled in some area. This is a very vulnerable statement. And sometimes we’ve, I struggle with being vulnerable because I’m wondering if I’m gonna answer five and seven correctly. Right? I want people to know that I can help him. I want people to know that I can, they, and trust me.
And maybe I’m under my, those two questions in some way by admitting a difficulty in my own life. But yet at the same time, we very well answer number three is that I am not necessarily better than they are. I endure a week similar to them. I struggle with things very similar to them. Right?
So here again, what we’re doing with these examples is simply bringing them to the surface to say, wow, these questions kind of come up a lot. And again, they’re always unspoken to us. They are answered in the minds of those in our congregation. So what do we learn from this? What do we take away that, what is it that we can do?
I’m gonna summarize the three statements. So in summary, the first statement is just a neutral fact. Okay. Unspoken questions are being answered by us leadership all the time. Okay. Neutral fact, that could be good. It could be bad, but unspoken questions are being answered all the time. Now, the next fact is an unfortunate fact.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury to determine how our words and behaviors should be perceived. So we might say, well, that’s not what I meant or clearly didn’t mean that, or they should have taken that away from that interaction. Well, at the end of the day, unfortunately, they have that luxury. To answer those questions according to their perceptions.
Now the third and final fact is a fortunate one. Okay. And this is the one that we wanna leave you on. And hopefully this is the outgrowth of this particular discussion here tonight. And that is simply the fortunate fact is with some initiative we can communicate thoughtfully and answer these questions favorably. And what we want to do then is think, okay, I have to say no to this poem. Right. But how do I answer trust and purpose in the same time? How do I do that? Or how do I with a certain practice, make sure we communicate and get in front of these questions rather than allowing people to answer them.
As they said, right, we have a wonderful opportunity perhaps to speak into these questions with intention. Okay. So that is the three point summary of the seven unspoken question. Okay. And so now we’re gonna turn this over, Arlan. I would like you go ahead and raise the question to the brothers.
We’re gonna have a little bit of interaction, from our experience. How many years of experience Arlan? 85 years if I did my math 85 years. Right. Good. Right. And, so, as we were thinking about this as Matt and I were thinking about this webinar opportunity, what we realized very quickly that one of the opportunities here is to speak counsel and, wisdom from those who have been doing this a lot longer than we ourselves have.
And together, kind of collectively let’s learn together and let’s gain some experience, some understanding just where have you seen these questions interplay. So brothers, as I ask you a few questions, I really want that heart to kind of come out. Where have you seen these questions interplay? Like Brother Matt said, they’re not this isn’t exhaustive list.
This is just, these are seven questions that potentially are being asked and answered for us. And we have a chance to kind of interplay into them, be proactive, consider them and really think about the heart that we are sharing with our, with the pulpits we’ve been called to. So that being said, I’m gonna start with you Brother Kevin, 35 years on the pulpit, just recently retired. Have you ever, in an individual setting, have you ever seen these questions come up and if so, you know, how have you dealt with them. Yeah. Well, thanks for the opportunity. I would like to pretty much address the question that Matt raised or respond to that because I’ve had two interactions within the last month that directly related to these. One, I would consider a failure.
And the other, I would consider it. I would just say it went much better. And I think we got the result we wanted. So to probably the best way to do that is to just kind of give you a touch of background and try to be very succinct here. The first one came about, we received, Dixie and I, received a video via email that eventually went to the internet.
And once we got that. It just raised some alarm, you know, some, a button got pushed and we thought, I don’t think they understand all the ramifications of what they’re putting out there. And so my heart was to let this individual know that I didn’t think he had thought through all the ramifications of what he was doing.
So how I did that, I called, I texted him on a Monday. Thinking he would call me Monday evening. Well, he didn’t, he called me back in five minutes and Hey, what do you want? So there we were. And I could tell just from our little bit of interaction that he was in the middle of a complex problem at work and his mood was down. My gut, the Spirit, whatever it was told me to say, Hey, when you have a chance to think through this get back with me. I just, I wanna give you a little different perspective. Instead out of expediency, I pressed on and registered my complaint, which to, if I had received it, I would have thought this is out of the blue and you gave me a complaint. So what really happened there was, he didn’t hear my heart.
He didn’t hear the context. If I were him. I would’ve question. So, what you’re really saying is you don’t trust me. In addition to that, I don’t even know how to reopen the conversation well. So, I’ll leave that at that one. The other interaction I had was almost identical, Matt, to the one that you shared.
It was a very recent interaction. We were at an event or we had women speaking to women’s issues and men speaking to men’s issues. And as a part of that discussion, they were to offer questions. And so we, they did a lot of work to bring their talks to bear, and we received all these questions, but one of the female speakers offered five questions, four of which were excellent.
The first of which was very concerning. We didn’t know what it meant. So as Dixie and I discussed this, we said, I need to respond to that. So as I thought through my previous interaction and how that played out, my goal was to separate out all of her work and her value and make a very distinct case on a very minor point in all of that, rather than leading with a complaint or the concern.
So I did call her and. I said, thank you for being willing to participate in this. We, have prayed through this and we want you to do this because of your passion for women, your passion for the church. And we’re excited that you’re gonna do this. And we spent a couple minutes with that. And then I went on and I just said, Hey, I love your questions.
Could you explain to me the meaning behind your first question. And as she explained it, I learned that it was absolutely 180 degrees different than I thought it was. It was a positive, not a negative. And it spoke deeply into an issue and I was going, wow. I completely misunderstood it. It wasn’t, it was a very good thing, but because we had that rapport immediately, she said, you know, what, if there’s any concern with that, just drop a question. It’s not even a big deal to me. I will bring it up as an issue, but I have plenty of other questions. So if you or Dixie have any concern with that, then drop it. And so I said, okay. I mean, I don’t think we need to, but I’ll agree we’ll just pull it out. And she was fine with that. And so in that instance, that went much better. I think she walked away saying, you really trust me. You do trust me to do this and I do have purpose. I was selected to do this, and I think sometimes we have to remember that they’re doing more than anybody else even be in that situation to respond.
They’re doing more than anybody else. So I think we can always lead with that. You’re stepping into it and we appreciate that. So, Kevin, I appreciate those two examples. You had the contrast and examples there. What would you say? I think I heard it, but I just wanna emphasize it again. What would you say was the difference between those two, maybe in the approach that you took?
How, how did they play out differently. Yeah. One, one was very thoughtful and one was separating out the concern or the complaint, separating that from the individual separating all of their worth and their value from that. The other one. I didn’t do that. I simply, again, out of expediency out of time out of, I don’t wanna go through this again, I just launched into what turned out to be my complaint or my concern. I think he would’ve heard it as a complaint, to me it was a concern. Yeah. But it, and I didn’t separate that out. I didn’t value him and say, yeah, I love you. I didn’t take the time to set that up and I didn’t leave the door open for future conversation.
And I regret that, you almost purposed to get through the situation quickly, as opposed to taking the time and investing in the relationship upfront. I was more concerned at that moment about getting through it, the uncomfortable enough of it and getting through it rather than this is a long term relationship, that this is a small piece of that I want to talk to you about.
Sure. Great examples. I’m curious, Brother Marvin, Brother Jeff, feel free to chime in any similar situations, different situations. What, can we learn about on this individual setting as you interacted in your congregations? I appreciated what brother Kevin shared. I just recently in dealing with a situation, I would say with some similarities to the first one I was reminded that you need to tell someone five things they’re doing right before you share one thing that they’re doing wrong and it helps a lot. And maybe that’s a little bit the principle that was there in the second example that you gave, but, but it’s hard to do that sometimes that takes time and yet it takes, you know, takes this idea of thinking it through and all of that. But I so appreciate that. Brother Jeff anything to share in this example or other examples. Yeah. I think I’m probably the Bernstein Bear.
Those of you are familiar with the Bernstein Bear. I’m probably a good example of the Bernstein Bear’s father. So I had a lot of experience, unfortunately. And just one thing I would add is one thing that I’ve learned over the years is just being willing to admit that I handled something wrong to that person or that I may have handled it wrong is really disarming as far as re-engaging
And I’m sure you brothers have experienced that too. And, so we can’t always avoid where we handle it wrong, but if we’re willing to admit we’re wrong to them. It goes a long ways towards engaging and showing love and respect. So sure. I did have an opportunity about a week later, this same individual did something very positive and I went out of my way.
I actually called him to express thanks for what he had done. And I did not reengage the issue, but I tried to, I tried to manifest that, but I still think I’m in the hole.
Mention something that I appreciated, Kevin, as you mentioned about the second example is that it sounded like that you had some rapport going into. And really thinking of how answering that question of trust and question of purpose before the heated moment or before the brass tacks. Right?
Sometimes we wait perhaps that to answer some of these questions that in some high stake moments and that, I think that’s just a difficult thing, but it sounded like to me that you’ve been answering those questions in that individual prior to that event, right. I would agree with that.
Yeah. Yeah. Great point, Matt Brother, Jeff, I wanna come back to you and just kind of shift the scenario a little bit. I’d like to think more now pulpit setting. So, that was an individual setting where maybe a one on one type dynamic, let’s take it to the pulpit dynamic. Where have you seen this?
Maybe is one of the more challenging arenas to answer these questions, but where have you seen an opportunity through your interactions over the pulpit to communicate or to interact with the congregation the way they answer these questions. Yeah. So one of the first things that I thought of was just openness and realness as much as possible in everything that we do.
I do have a particular situation that I thought of that happened to me a number of years ago, where I addressed a certain Scripture and brought out a truth. And I was approached by a couple brothers and sisters actually really upset with what I said. And, so as I think about the pulpit and the interaction through that. What I learned from that as after it took me a while I actually went, it was back in the days where it was cassettes, not AC Central. And so I actually got the cassette and I listened to it slowly. And I recorded all the words that I said, where they were at issue with them. And I sent it to three or four different elders.
And just to confirm what I said was solid spiritual description. And it was, but what I wasn’t recognizing and that I really finally had to admit to myself is I listened the voice inflection. And I know my body language at the time was horrible. And, we learned that is 80% of the message. So just recognizing those facts and being able to apologize to them for the way it was brought out.
Obviously not backing down on the truth of the Scripture, but the way it was brought off was really horrible and, ruined the biblical truth. And, so that was just a great lesson for me in one way, not to do it and to be very careful with voice inflection and body language, as I bring the message out.
Appreciate that. I mean, we have that concept right of speaking the truth in love. Paul teaches us that in Ephesians and that’s such a hard balance sometimes is that’s why I was hearing from you Brother. Jeff, you know what you said was true. And, I’m sure your heart was loving, but then the intonation, the body language, the demeanor, it didn’t reflect that love like it should have or at least in their eyes.
Yeah, that, and that’s a hard, it’s a one way communication over the pulpit. And that can be a hard dynamic at times. Curious brothers here with me. Any other thoughts around, around this pulpit setting? My old elder always used to talk about how much he disliked, the one way communication of the pulpit.
It was, it is a hard way to have a conversation. So how have you found with your experience? How do we as pulpit ministers, how do we counteract that?
It’s one of the facts of life, of how we share the Word. But I think making yourself safe to give feedback to. I think is important. So that when brothers or sisters give you feedback, they can do it and feel safe in doing that. You will get honest feedback when you do that.
And I think that’s important and it, I haven’t always done that because a first reaction typically is to be defensive. And so that can take away the feeling of, well, you can’t really share with them because they don’t accept it. But to make that a safe environment, I think is useful. It’s a great point, Brother Marvin. It kind of ties with what Brother Jeff was saying there.
This idea of having openness and realness and the ability for dialogue and discussion. Brother Kevin, anything you’ve experienced as you’ve kind of questions that you’ve seen are really important to try to answer over the pulpit. Yeah. I guess I would say to me, trust is the foundational element of anything that we do.
If we don’t have trust, it’s very difficult to engage in the rest of this. So I think as an ongoing way to live is to continually try to build up trust and that would be my input.
Arlan. I was I appreciate Jeff your comment about listening to the cassette. Right? So my daughter, after a sermon one Sunday comes to me and says, Dad, why were you so mad at that? She said, you’re so mad. Now, that’s not one of our questions, Arlan, maybe we should put that in there. Are you mad now? Are you mad at me?
Well, and I tried to explain to her that I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t mad, but I thought, you know what? She’s entitled to think, whatever she thinks. Evidently she got the message that I was mad. So I went and listened to myself, which is a painful experience. And I could see how she thought I was mad. And then I thought if every 11 year old and younger thinks that I’m mad up there.
Yeah. And probably others think I’m mad. Okay. Anyway, I, it was just a good, it was a good realization. And so now I will ask my wife is a calibrator for that. And even my kids are, you know, how did I come across, Matt? Just, I just really, I thought of that when you shared, I listened to the cassette of me, but anyway, right.
So there’s a, there’s a pulpit setting. Yeah. Yeah. And I just wanna highlight a theme. I just heard in both of those cases over there, right. Matt, you went back and listened to yourself. Jeff, you went back and listened to yourself. It is a painful experience. It’s a difficult experience. But our memories are usually not that good.
And especially when we’re in those type of environments, it can be a very healthy thing periodically. I wouldn’t want anyone to ruminate on it, but periodically to go back and see how is that coming across. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the audience and, get a sense of what’s being communicated is what you really wish to communicate.
Brother Marvin, I haven’t led with you yet kind of I’d like you to go wherever you’d want to. We haven’t really talked about the group setting, but anything that’s kind of come into your mind as we think about answering these questions and helping the congregation, you know, feel loved and valued and trusted and supported.
I think these questions are all very important. Maybe I’ll talk a little bit about the one. Do you think you’re better than me? Because I think that’s real, it’s there. I think we try not to portray that. At least I hope we do, but so I just, I thought of a few places or situations in our own congregation where we’ve tried to alleviate that feeling. One is we recently started some small group Bible studies and, well, first of all, to do that, we hadn’t been doing that along with topicals. I just asked the congregation openly, whether this is something they would be interested in doing. And so that, and they were, so we started them.
And when we set up our small groups, the ministers all participated, but none of the ministers led the small groups. We had other brothers that would lead the Bible studies just to, to show them that we don’t feel like we’re any more qualified to do this than they are. In fact, some of our other brothers are probably more qualified.
It’s hard to do that sometimes because in that kind of a group setting, it often defaults back to the minister to have the final say. And so it has to be intentional on the part of the minister not to do that. Same thing can happen in our potluck groups. You know, we can get into some good Bible discussion, spiritual discussion, and if a minister is a part of that group, it just, again, seems to be somewhat of the default.
Go back to him to say, well, you know what’s really the answer to this. What’s the final word on this. And that’s, and so we have to be really intentional, in maybe our role in that sometimes is to draw out other people’s thoughts and opinions. That we can maybe take a little bit of a leadership role in doing that, but only for the purpose of showing that there’s a lot of good thoughts and there’s a lot of experience and a lot of spiritual minds within our brotherhood that are beyond the pulpit.
And so any ways that we can show that we don’t, we have this role and it is a role and it is to be respected as a role, but it doesn’t make us any better than someone elseno more than being a Sunday school teacher makes someone better than others or any other role that we have at the church.
That’s a great example. Brother Jeff, Brother Kevin, anything you wanna kind of build on off of that or any example, especially with that idea of, do you think you’re better than me? I mean, anything comes to your mind in that regard.
So one thing I’ll just speak up as Brother Marvin was talking that really, that’s been, I’m not suggesting that you all go home and do this, cuz it may not be appropriate in every case, but I know in Goodfield, I noticed that we are always going first to things, you know, first in line at the baptism meal first in line at the funeral meal.
And so just funerals, for instance, we’re an older church, so we have a fair amount of them. And so we started as a minister team or group. We just, when the prayer was over with, before the meal, we sat in the back and we went through last and just something little like that really people really seemed to appreciate, and it was easy to do.
And it’s something that was just always done for years and years. And I’m not sure even why. And, so there’s some little things like that that we can do that really changes that persona a little bit and that people seem to appreciate it. So just one thing that came to mind. Yeah. No, I appreciate that example, cuz it really speaks the heart of what we were talking about, that we cannot control what other people will think.
We can have great intentions and pure hearts and pure motives in many things. And yet there is a story that is being told by others and it sounds like, in that case, it was a healthy experience to kind of consider that story and think there, is there a way that we can counteract that story or share some more light onto what we’re trying to accomplish here and maybe it’s an explanation or description or of our intent or maybe it is as you share Brother Jeff, maybe it’s taken the back of the line type thing.
Kevin, any thoughts? Well, just a couple of things. One Jeff that you keyed on. For years, it was our practice in Bloomington that when we would go to the noon table, we all sat as a minister group and someone raised the question, why do you stay as a group? And the inference was, are you better than us, you know what, what’s going on there?
And as we thought through that, we made a decision that we would not do that. And so we disperse among the congregation. Typically the brother who has the service, doesn’t go in for the first setting. He stays in the hall in case there’s an opportunity to engage others, maybe some friends or some people who have questions about that particular message.
And we found, I think that valuable and breaking down walls. So now you have four or five people in different places and all of a sudden you’re meeting different people and having different interactions on maybe as we get into those group settings. I think group settings can be most difficult, especially if the eyes keep coming back around to, you know, that yeah.
You’re the authority answer. Yeah. And a question that I don’t know who, where I heard it, but it’s a common one, but I think is so has been a real wonderful tool for me is, Brother Marvin, tell me about your journey, you know, or brother Arlan tell me what happened when and it, and it takes that pressure off.
I’m supposed to answer something to. I’m interested, whatever the Lord’s doing in your life. I’m really interested in that. And I think the group would benefit from that. And that simple question for me has been a, just a wonderful tool to deflect. And then I feel way more comfortable backing away and just letting it go from there.
That’s a great piece. Cuz when you bring, when you ask someone about themselves, right, that’s an instant input of value and that’s an instant piece where you are. You’re making them realize that they have a place, they answers a many of these questions that there’s a purpose and there’s a something I wanna gain from that.
It sounds like there’s a little bit of attention or a little bit of a balance to play there too, because I could see a scenario where, okay, so we’ve listed listeners here in this and like, okay. So it sounds like anytime someone ask me a question, I need to defer to somebody else and almost kinda get closed off and say, okay, I’m gonna go into a shell here and I’m gonna say, no, you, you, you and I know that’s not what we’re saying here, because that speaks against in this, the great concept again, earlier of this idea of being open and transparent and being real. And, so it’s not just the only time they see you is up there on the pulpit or in the line or whatever. There is that lively interaction true and honest, healthy interaction. Great thoughts. I really appreciate it. I’d like to maybe shift gears for the last few minutes we have together about another 10 minutes or so.
We ask when you register for these webinars, we ask you to submit questions of what you would like to see answered and, I went through those last few days and I pulled out just a couple of them, tried to capture some themes and pulled out a couple of them. We’re not gonna get to all of them. But I’d like to address a couple of those questions and we’re open to you chatting in or typing in some more questions we’ll patrol that and monitor that and bring those up in the next 10 minutes if you do so.
But brothers, I’m not gonna call anyone out specifically. I’ll tell you the question. This question came up from one of the listeners. It was, I’ve been told that sometimes our preaching could be more applicable to the daily life problems we face. So how do I? That was feedback they had received.
How do I prepare my mind before preaching to address this? Do these questions that we’ve kind of talked about, do they help us push our preaching to a more daily application type level? Any thoughts as you consider that question, see everyone deferring to each other.
Brother Jeff, do you have any thoughts about how do you keep preaching in a very practical sense. Yeah. So the first thought I thought of when I saw that question and I’m thinking to myself here, so I’m talking to Jeff Grimm. Being willing to continue to learn and grow as a speaker. Like even learning good communication skills and being willing to continue to grow in that, I think is a key. And, you know, the, obviously the Apostle Paul says it’s not with excellence of your speech, so it’s not about that. But I think. At no point did I think he indicate that he wasn’t trying to be a better communicator every day. So that sort of convicted me that I just need to continue to keep learning and doing a better job by God’s grace at what we’re called to do.
Cause we’re handling such a beautiful Word. It’s worthy of everything we can give it, right. Yeah.
So we think the Bible is relevant. It is relevant to today because the Bible is timeless. So when we think about how can we make it relevant to those that we’re preaching to? Some of us are gifted in sharing a lot of personal experiences. Some of us are not. And I, think to try to do that without that coming naturally, wouldn’t flow very well.
So, but so maybe we can think about how we can take the Word that we have opened to the Word that God has given us for the day. And just think about situations that we face on a regular basis and how can we apply the teaching that we had to those situations? It may not be anything personal that happened to us, but just how we can take what we’ve just read the lesson and apply it to something that we do every day, or maybe not every day, but at least on a regular basis that we face these things.
And, how do we prepare our minds for that. I don’t think we prepare our minds any different for that than we would for just any time we go to the pulpit. Sure. You know? Sure. Just. Sure. Or if I could even say anytime, I mean, anytime I’m studying the Word of God, I’m speaking to understand. Okay. So what does this mean for me?
Right? Where is this are the certain, the thoughts and intents of my heart? Where do I need to be sanctified and changed and grow? I, someone said it, but it’s been very healthy for me to view the pulpit ministry as an opportunity to be a learner together with the congregation. And when I see that question of, do you think you’re better than me?
Absolutely not. If, I view myself as a learner together with the congregation, that’s gonna naturally, come out. I think in the demeanor and the attitude, and then, and just in how we share and interact together because I’m learning and we’ll continue to learn, you know, all the days of my life.
Any other thoughts around those question? I guess the only thing I might add is that the Scripture is just replete with raw human emotion. And so, if we’re in the Psalms, it deals with everything from ecstasy to absolute, you know, where David’s terrified to where God’s left him. And I think we can leverage that a little bit because we all have those deep human emotions.
Not that we’re preaching to emotion, but that is a part that when our emotions are touched, we are touched. Let me shift to another question then that it comes up. Is there any one thing that stands out as a wrong way to engage the congregation? Is there something that stands out as a wrong way to engage the congregation?
As a great question, I thought kind of came through the channel. The one thought that I had with that, and I’ve probably been guilty of a lot of wrong ways, but, two things, one would be, and they’re similar, one would be as if you ask their opinion and then ignore it. Or if you give a responsibility, but in the end you make a final decision. You know, you you’ve engaged them.
At least seemingly, but in the end, you really haven’t. Yeah. You’ve tried to make them feel like they were engaged, but in the end they really weren’t engaged. Because you didn’t really, and it could come under, do you value me or do you trust me or whatever, but, and not doing that, but if we’re going to ask for input or if we’re going to give someone a responsibility, then it we really need to be able to do that. So great example. Any other thoughts? Well, I’ll just share a few things that I have heard and a couple have been directed at me. One very, very simple one. I had a man critiqued me by my asking once who was an educator and he said, Kevin, when you get to make your point, you get so soft that I can’t hear you. In other words, you’re going along preaching and I did want to break that and make a point, but he said you get so soft, I can’t hear you. I just can’t hear what you’re saying. A second concern was that there are times that it, when I approach the pulpit, that I had something on my mind and instead of engaging the congregation and bringing them alongside, I was 10 feet deep and they were trying to catch up and that was not appropriate. And maybe the third is I even as a communicator, I struggle when people apologize for being there. So it’s one thing to understand that we’re handling God’s Word and we are a servant and we want to demonstrate humility, but to spend the first two minutes apologizing for being there, I think the congregation responds by saying, well then why are you here? So there’s no need for us to dig ourselves into a hole and then try to recover the rest of spend 40 minutes getting out the hole. We’re all servants and nobody is above each other. But those are just some concerns I have heard and experienced personally.
Sure. Yeah, that would really make them ask the question. Can you help me? Right. Not in a very positive way for sure. Yeah. Brother Jeff any thoughts along that question, or just, I’m gonna open it up kind of any other thoughts you have at this point. So, on that question from an individual interaction, a mistake that I have made, and it’s maybe partly my personality that I have to keep tamping this down.
But one of the mistakes I have made a number of times is when I’m listening to someone, interacting with them where I would tend to get defensive instead of just listening and caring and being willing to take that and think about it. And like my dad used to tell me, count to 10 before you respond.
And many times I’d get to one and a half and I’d get the response in. So that would be in a way that I’ve learned is not a good way to interact or engage is by being defensive or quick to answer.
Appreciate that. Other thoughts? Matt, have you had anything chatted in there? I have one more question I’d like to go to, but no, I don’t. Okay. Okay. So I saved the easiest for last but kind of a twin question here. I just, I really appreciate these two questions that came in. So the first one I think, speaks to our heart, our personal level.
How do you overcome the desire to please people and be liked? And that speaks to what can be a temptation of all of us is that we wanna just say what people want to hear and, be liked by everyone, and try to, to satisfy all of the myriad of, crowds that we know are in the audience.
And then they maybe tag in with that a little bit different direction, but tag in with it a little bit. How do you engage those specifically who maybe are not trusting of church leadership who already kind of come with a bias against church leadership. How do you engage that group?
So, first one kind of, how do you counteract yourself your own temptation there a little bit, but then the second one, kind of, how do you get into it with others who maybe don’t trust leadership, any experience or wisdom to share kind of as a parting question.
I could probably address the second part of that to maybe just a little bit easier than the first part. Cause that, that first part I that’s a challenge. It’s a challenge to me. And I’d probably be looking for advice on how do we overcome that desire. We wanna stay with the Word, but it is we want people to appreciate and maybe appreciate what we have to say. But the engaging those who do not trust leadership and I think we’ve had experience with that. The only thing that I would say to that is that we, we have to, when we are speaking with them and I’m thinking more here probably more either on an individual or a group setting, not necessarily from the pulpit, but making sure that we use the Bible that when we defend our position or when we’re trying to explain something that it’s not just, well, that’s how we’ve always done it or that’s, this is how I feel that it should be done, but we use the Scripture for how we defend what we do. So then, and in being in a position of leadership I, when I share, I try to be very open as much as I can when we share from the forums and from the conferences.
And, but being clear that we are using the Scripture and how much we are using the Bible and so you may not. If you don’t trust us, it’s really maybe more, are you trusting the Word? Yeah, because it’s really the Word that we are using. And so I, it doesn’t necessarily change hearts and minds, but I think it’s how we do that.
It’s, how we would do it. Jeff, why we have some better thoughts on that, on, on how to do that. Yeah, that’s wonderful. Years ago, I was having trouble with one of my children as a teenager. And I got some advice from him wise old elder and two things he said, and one of them is exactly what you just brought out.
He said, use the Word at the appropriate time. And then the other thing that I’d like to speak to is the other thing that he said is keep an open mind of communication with your children as best you can. So I found those two to be really, really good advice. . And so I think on an individual day basis, especially, and this could be in a group setting, being attentive, attentiveness to individuals instead of disinterested or dismissive.
You know, we have a choice in each relationship. And for me, the ones that are most challenging are the easiest to be dismissive of or disinterested, which leads to disregard and disdain, where if I can have attentiveness, it leads to empathy, rapport, and influence. And so it’s just always a reminder to me that just the basics show attention where I can, and we don’t always get there, but you do the best you can.
So, that would be just in communication, just being a good listener. Yeah. And that’s that, that will go a long way in maintaining that open line of communication. Sure, Kevin, any thoughts and any closing here as we share or anything else you brothers would like to share? No, I guess maybe just with that thought, I thought you explained it extremely well with is to continue or maybe, one see if I can figure out why they don’t trust us. Trust me. And that may, they may not even know actually, or they may, or it may be a very hurtful thing, but that open line of communication is about as powerful as anything I know is that you continually try to show them that you care about them.
I think we didn’t really talk a lot about it, but just that, do you love me? Just trying in every way that you can to let the congregation know that you do, you may not always agree and agreeing and loving are two separate things, but that you do love them. You care, you’re interested in their lives.
I think our wives really play a large part in this. They can they fill a gap that I can’t fill. My wife is extremely good in sending out cards at appropriate times. Just maybe somebody’s going through a struggle, sending a card to them, remembering just events in their life, not just when they happen, but in subsequent years and times.
And, to the people that receive them, it comes from me. You know, and it’s just showing that you care, I think is, it just goes a long way in having a good relationship with your congregation. Sure, sure. You know, my mind as your brothers were speaking, went to Corinthians, especially first Corinthians and you saw an interaction there with Paul in a church that I would say in many times was distrusting of church leadership and you see the, almost the agony that he went through as he tried to engage speaking the truth in love and yet holding to the truth and yet serving and loving every chance he could. And I think it speaks to the tension that we can, those in leadership can, can feel and it speaks probably to, you know, Christ’s counsel there, you know, he, that will, serve, you know, needs to be the greatest servant of all in so many words.
And. Great counsel, as we consider that. And as we look into that. We deeply appreciate your time, this evening. This has been rich conversation and rich experience shared.