How do you lead well as a church leader in a weird and crazy world?
Most church leaders were trained to lead congregations during times of relative stability. You knew you would have to work harder than your predecessors to keep and attract young people. You knew you would have to don more hats and roles than those who came before you. You even knew you might have to steward churches through the process of closing their doors. All of that was trying, stressful. But in retrospect, it was easy compared to the times you’re in now.
Today, you are doing all the above while leading congregations through succeeding waves of a global pandemic. At the same time, you’re dealing with ongoing racial reckonings and trying to keep political division from derailing your ability to preach the Gospel.
Seminary didn’t give you a playbook for leading in times like these.
That’s why I’d like to give you three tips for leading in these weird and crazy times. Plus, I’ll share with you the beautiful flip side of weird and crazy. Finally, I want to give you a hint about how long to expect things to be this weird and crazy. READ ON.
Let’s start with the flip side of weird and crazy.
While the world is spiraling out of control, a new era of human cooperation is also taking shape. It’s as unexpected as all the weird and crazy stuff. But it’s the stuff of hope.
The most obvious example is how scientists from around the globe quickly collaborated to produce at least three highly effective vaccines using innovative technology, developed in part through the genius of female scientists. Remember when public health officials speculated that there might never be a vaccine? Now, hundreds of different vaccines are being tested. Crazy, huh?
Less obvious is the way that strangers came together to support people whom they never met. For instance, the crowdfunding site GoFundMe raised $625M in just six months for COVID relief. At the same time, giving to advance racial justice skyrocketed. Meditation groups multiplied all over the world as people brought spirituality into their homes. Online worship numbers soared even as yoga classes, 12-step meetings, and concerts streamed directly into people’s living rooms. Crazy good.
These two extremes—both the chaos and the creativity—remind me of Deuteronomy 30:19: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”
That choice is still before us. It will remain a stark set of choices for at least the next five years, a period that correlates with increased solar activity. Solar flares are historically correlated with the highest incidences of human reactivity—like revolution and civil war—as well as equally high incidences of human flourishing—like breakthroughs in the arts and sciences. This time of volatility will last through 2025. So, expect to be working with the energies of change for a while.
Church leaders, your role is to channel these energies. Here are three important tips on how to do this.
- Don’t underestimate your influence as leader. You have the distinct privilege of channeling these energies. There’s a reason the biblical writer noted that “without a vision the people perish.” Leaders bring vision. Vision paints a positive picture of the future that guides people’s focus, resources, and imagination. Visionless people, on the other hand, wander; they can wander into chaos or creativity.
- Use your influence wisely. Actively steer folks toward being spiritually grounded, and emotionally centered. The more self-regulated they are, the more they will be able to tap into creativity and collaboration, instead of chaos and grievance. Capitalize on this season of change by calling your people to their own greatness. They will rise to the occasion and join you in your positive vision.
- Declare what you are FOR. When your vision is “against” or “anti” you exacerbate the energies of division. As tempting as it is, don’t go there. Being against something reprehensible may strengthen you, but it also strengthens “them.” When you choose what you are FOR, however, you draw forth the energies of collaboration. When you are FOR something, anyone, even “them” can join in.
Yes, these are weird and crazy times, church leaders. Not only because of the health, economic, and societal challenges we face, but because of how much good is taking place! The human family is coming together to create a global network of resilience. Strangers far and wide are eager to help bear one another’s burdens. We finally get how interconnected we are. Faith leader, this is your time to lift up Jesus, his dream of the Kingdom, and the Beloved Community that calls us all.
You don’t have to weather these weird and crazy times alone. Join me for a free seminar, How to Create a Culture of Renewal, in which you’ll learn the barriers to achieving renewal, the miracles renewal can bring, and how to take your next step—a “must attend” for church leaders.