One of the most important roles of leaders is to help people “connect” and engage in “conversation” with each other. This is especially true right now.
Another key function of leadership is perspective. The difference between a leader and follower is… perspective.
This past week, 50+ of us gathered to do just that. We gathered to connect and gain perspective… from different countries, contexts, ministry focus and viewpoints for a “Town Hall” meeting. All of us came to listen to one another and seek to gain perspective from the pandemic we are experiencing together as a world.
We divided our interaction into two parts: (1) How is God at work using this moment to shape you as a disciple and leader and, how are you responding? (2) How is God at work using this moment to shape your leadership and your ministry context… how are you as the people of God responding in your setting?
A big impact of our 90-minutes together was seeing and hearing each other’s voices from various locations around the world.
Eight countries were represented. Some of those who attended were themselves at various stages of having the COVID-19 virus. Some were from cities and countries that had been shut down, some from places that were shut down, and some were just entering into the curve.
Here are threads of the insights / perspectives from what was shared. TEN perspectives, which no doubt will adjust and we continue to live into this time. All TEN may not fit your context or side with your perspective, but together they give voice to some of what the Spirit may be at revealing, and what Jesus desires to say to His church.
Social Distancing – Relational engagement > While we each need to heed the call to maintain “social distancing” in order to inhibit the spread of the virus, maintaining physical distance does not/should not translate into “relational distancing.” In fact, the farther we move away from the physical presence of one another, the closer we need to move into efforts to stay relationally engaged with one another. Many ways are being tried, all attempts are essential right now.
Smaller – clearer > Though we experience immediate, short term changes resulting from this crisis, lasting change is coming to the future of the church as a result of this time. The future most could result in a smaller church, yet a church much clearer in its purpose and mission. In the future, the church could be lived out in smaller units, flexible in expression, able to meet a greater diversity of needs. Into the future… smaller… less staff… fewer programs… more local… more neighborhood driven.
Greater dependency removes our false sense of control > The virus has “backed ” us into a time of greater dependency on God, revealing how little control we have on our lives. Our option is now to trust in our God. Most of us in “The West” live under the illusion of self-sufficiency. We resist feeling we are dependent on God. A crisis of this magnitude renders us helpless and more in line with what the vast majority of the world experiences every day.
Worry about replicating Sunday service > Most of the attention within the States and with the Pastors seems to be more focused on the “tech” required to get their Sunday service online, as opposed to responding to the needs of the community. Sunday is one way to establish hope and bring some “normalcy” to congregants. But will “normalcy” into the future be about more offering worship services or being the Church?
Grief, heaviness, sadness, anxiety-matched-with hope, incredible peace and genuine excitement > We are experiencing dread and worry as parents and leaders… gratitude for the time to stop and be with family and experience a type of society-wide sabbath… fear and anxiety of the unknown. Those emotions are being held in tension along with a longing. passion for prayer/interceding, expectancy for the new, a church moving into renewal and rediscovering what it means for us to be followers of Jesus. Other words shared: lament, gratitude, creative and guilt.
Slow Down – Be still – Know He is God > All of the emotions related to the pain of this moment is calling for us to slow down and listen to God, and be patient in order to recognize what He is saying and where He is moving. It is a time for discernment. It is about being intentional to allow ourselves time to connect with and bring Christ to the conversation and needs that are all around us.
Isolation processing > God keeps reminding me (us) of how he uses isolation processing, especially in the lives of leaders. God is as interested in us having ourselves get all we can out of this unique season, as oppose to merely “getting through it.” Leaders often don’t stop – won’t listen – respond based upon their own ideas of what should be done, thus revealing the purpose/need for isolation.
Prophetic Word… Make disciples > Disciples that see what I see, feel what I feel, hear what I say, and do what I ask. Clear a path for God to use His Son’s Gospel of grace. Honor, respect and revere the Word, one book at a time. Use all gifts He gave us to minister grace to others. Employ the ways and methods that Christ used and meditate on His finished work.
The local church configured differently; loss > One definition of leadership is “disappointing people at a rate that they can handle.” In the future, we will need to help people navigate the ocean of loss. Staff who will lose jobs as well as health. Caring for people even while we are all in quarantine. The ongoing call to listen to the needs and feelings even if we don’t have the answers.
This won’t go back into the box > Social media, technology and the new ways of connecting we are now (in some ways) being forced to adopt are here to stay. We will not return back to what once was. Hard to tell what/how online and onsite will look like in the future, but now people see the possibilities, it won’t go back. Bible studies, prayer groups, kid’s crafts, small groups, 1-on-1 discipleship and coaching, men’s groups, etc. All now are online! The farther these continue in this format, the greater the potential of them being done differently in the future.
Overall… this moment is being seen as a time of “global shakeup and personal wake-up.”
At this time…
Listen to God – Listen to Others – Listens to Self … “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).