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Key Learnings in Leading through a Crisis (Especially the Pandemic)

CTA - Christ to All /Jan. 19, 2021
Key Learnings in Leading through a Crisis (Especially the Pandemic)

By CTA – Christ to All

On December 4, 2020, The Wall Street Journal featured an article on Emerson Electric from the perspective of their leader, David Farr, CEO, related to his perspective on leading through the pandemic. While some of his Six Best Tips relate specifically to businesses, many of the tips relate to churches as well. As we begin to see the vaccine distribution and look forward to returning to life outside of “lockdown,” it’s important to spend time reflecting on how the Lord has led your church and community through this time, and review the learnings this pandemic brought.

Four of David Farr’s best tips for leading through the pandemic follow:

  1. Keep Moving Forward—Leaders can’t be afraid to be wrong in making tough decisions, as long as they are staying in motion. Focus all leadership attention on what is keeping the company [church] from moving forward [doing the ministry the Lord called you to do]. Focus all your attention on the problem stopping you until you can get moving again.
  2. Don’t Believe the Conventional Wisdom—You can’t wait for perfect information in order to make a decision. When enveloped by uncertainty, talking with your rivals [other churches in the community] facing similar obstacles can help navigate unknown waters.
  3. Break Down Problems into Smaller Choices—Leaders need to figure out their options based on current knowledge and set the course for the organization, allowing for frequent review, to decide on continuing, pausing or reversing. According to Farr, “Everyone is looking for the perfect answer. There ain’t no perfect answer.”
  4. Over Communicate and Be More Transparent—Err on the side of oversharing to put employees and shareholders [ministry staff and congregation members] at ease. Don’t wait until you have all the information or for them to ask. Farr encourages leaders to “give direction on what is going on—to give vision. You don’t ‘know’ but you need to show what you see.”

In essence, trust has never been more important than during a crisis. Relationships are still at the heart of ministry, and relationships thrive on trust. Your congregation needs to trust that your team will handle the issues confronting you. There is no one right answer, and during this crisis that was most certainly true. Some churches immediately shifted outside, others shifted to an online model, some a combination of in-person and online. All of these worked for their situations and kept ministry moving forward.

Churches also made changes to accommodate the pandemic that they will continue to employ. Online Bible studies is one area many are considering continuing. Groups have discovered new members who might have found it intimidating to go to the physical church, where they don’t have an affiliation, but who find signing onto a Facebook group and attending without feeling the same awkwardness. Each of your ministries can point to your own key lessons learned and how they will shape your future ministry plans. What is on your list is not as important as the act of taking the time to review and document the learnings now—as a leadership team—while it is still fresh in your mind.

Editor’s note: Trust has never been more important than during a crisis. Relationships are still at the heart of ministry, and relationships thrive on trust.

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