The Arts of Communication in Religious Leadership

Skills in communication are absolutely vital to the effective leadership of religious and other non-profit volunteer organizations and communities. The loftiest theological ideals, the best ministry aims, the clearest decisions and goals, the most innovative or adaptive approaches for discipleship, ministry, and mission will all come to nothing if they are not clearly and effectively communicated.

But, aside from courses in homiletics, clergy are not typically trained in the principles of organizational communication1. Through our surveys, we asked both clergy who had participated in Transition into Ministry (TiM) programs and those who had not how well seminary or divinity school had trained them in the area of communication.

19a chart how much seminary prepared for communication

Both groups rated their training or preparation in the communication arts as modest at best. Less than 40% of recently ordained clergy said that seminary had prepared them “a lot” or “completely” for the work of communication.

As a result of their lack of formal training, clergy adopt the same approach to learning communication skills that they do to learning decision-making skills: they commit themselves to learning on the job by trial and error.



For Your Consideration

  • How and what did you learn about the arts of communication?



Related Articles




1 For an outline of the basic principles of organizational communication, see Other resources about organizational communication are listed in our section of resources about communication and relationships.