The story that is unfolding in our world today was unimaginable a few short months ago. None of us were prepared for the disruption we have been forced to embrace. We find ourselves in a historical moment that is reshaping our world.
Andy Crouch released a fascinating article on March 20th, 2020. If you have not read it, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to do so. Andy seeks to provide some prophetic words for those who are leading teams, organizations, and churches. He also clearly points to the chilling reality of how this crisis will significantly impact every business, non-profit organization, and church.
Blizzard, Winter, and Ice Age
He uses three words to describe what we are facing: Blizzard, Winter, and Ice Age. Each of these requires something different of us. Blizzards last a few days and require we have enough milk and toilet paper to survive the likelihood of being homebound for a few days. Winter lasts a few months in many U.S. states. It demands we be inside more and change the type of clothing we wear.
Andy describes an Ice Age like this: “An ice age forces us to make significant changes to how we do what we do. It does not change why we do it, but it will most certainly change how it gets done and what our organizations look like for years to come.”
A New Normal & Grieving the Past
The longer this crisis extends, the more we realize that “normal” is not coming back. With that reality settling in, read this power quote from the article:
“Yet we urge every leader to realize that their organization’s survival in weeks and months, let alone years, depends far more on radical innovation than on tactical cutbacks.”
The rapid change we have recently experienced has brought on extreme levels of grief. We are grieving on so many fronts. At its core, we are grieving the loss of what once was. And yes, we should grieve. If we do not grieve each loss well, our future will include some undesirable realities for our individual and collective lives.
From Triage to Strategic Posture
Many leaders have spent the past couple weeks triaging the most pressing needs. They are creating new ways to communicate, staying connected to their teams, and building new systems for an even more online world.
Eventually, every leader on the planet needs to move to a strategic posture. If Andy is right, once we have navigated our way through short term fixes, we have to move to a posture that is strategic and focused on radical innovation.
The organizations that thrive in this season will be those that learn to discern the needs of the new world and meet them. This will demand leaders, pastors, and churches to find new ways to engage the world. We cannot wait. We must get after that work now.
Don’t Waste This Crisis!
We’ve heard it said that crisis is a terrible thing to waste. COVID-19 would be a terrible thing for the Church to waste. In a moment, the Church in the U.S. had to decentralize and figure out ministry in a completely online world. If the U.S. Church boomerangs back to cozy and comfortable with a consumeristic culture, we will have wasted this crisis.
Decentralize by Empowering
It is time to figure out how to remain decentralized by empowering more leaders than ever before to be everyday missionaries in the places where they work, live, and play. It is time for us to commission our people to make disciples who make disciples. Now is the time for us to not only empower but send missionaries to start fresh expression of the Church in the sore parts of our communities. The needs on the other side of this crisis are going to be significant. We are going to need hundreds, even thousands of missional outposts to meet the needs of hurting people.
Today we must also send some of those missionaries to start micro-churches in their neighborhoods. Each of these new missionary ventures must be purely centered on reaching new people with the Gospel. Now is not the time for the Church to circle the wagon, trying to figure out how to do digital potlucks. We need radical innovation to prepare for the new world that is here right now.
It is time for the U.S. Church to morph. It is time for every leader in the Church today to figure out what radical innovation is within their context. Once their minds and hearts are wrapped around this, we need to get on our knees before Jesus and beg Him to prepare the way as we lead our way into a radically different future.
You do not have to do this alone! Find a coach, cohort, or network to journey with along the way. We all need fellow travelers who can help us discern the best path forward.
Our heavenly Father believes in us. He is not caught off guard by the story that is unfolding in our world. He is fully prepared. He knows the path forward for each of us. Do not delay in seeking that path.
Pivot and innovate, or the businesses, organizations, churches we lead will not be prepared to thrive as our new normal shifts into our new reality.