Notes from an excellent FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Leading into the New Normal with John Stevens and Ian Jones.
1. Three essential qualities for leadership from Joshua 1:1-9. 1) Courage – to be someone willing to do what is necessary even when it is unpopular; 2) Obedience – to God’s Word to lead under God’s rule; 3) Faith – trust in God to be with us and to keep His promises. This is what we need as leaders and what our people need from us at this time. We have a leader in Jesus who is exactly like this and who provides an example for us.
2. The uncertainty of the ‘new normal’. We don’t know how long lockdown will last. We have no idea what life will look like or look like for churches when lockdown is relaxed. There is the need to constantly change and adapt.
3. Is what we’ve done to respond in the short term sustainable for the medium term?
4. Four stages churches will need to go through: i) STABILISE (setting out to sustain normality)– ii) NORMALISE (patterns that are sustainable) – iii) MOBILISE (taking opportunities) – iv) FUTURISE (what new future looks like). At the moment we are somewhere between STABILISE and NORMALISE.
5. Leaders need to understand the constantly changing context, and respond and anticipate, review and assess. They need to make sure they give time, space, and emotional energy to this.
6. Plan with sensible horizons. Whilst you can plan with reasonable detail for the immediate future (next month), you need to be flexible enough to change in the medium term (3 months beyond immediate) and long term (4 months beyond medium term).
7. Keep your mission the central focus. This shouldn’t have changed and needs to drive everything.
8. Some dangers to watch out for: Exhaustion – whether you are an extrovert or introvert; Exaggeration – of your default leadership style; Unrealistic expectations – of how things will restart (we need to be aware that at the end of lockdown people will be exhausted and out of routine, momentum will be lost).
9. Developing Stages of a Crisis:
Initial Response (2-3 weeks) – What does it feel like? Adrenaline, busyness, disorientation, excitement, concern for people, solutions, working together, loss as plans cancelled, anxieties about coping (including comparison anxiety), opportunities, establishing new structure.
Developing Routine (3 months) – What does it feel like? Frustrating/boring, novelty worn off, hard to gauge feedback, needs patience with self and one another, restful in some way and busier in others, self-discipline, mental health.
Gradual Recovery (6-12 months) – What does it feel like? Thankfulness/Celebration/Relief v Grief/Anxiety, traumatic lack of confidence (not knowing what is normal), medium-term uncertainty (new ways of doing things), identifying lessons learned, memorials.
Long-term Reconstruction (1-2 years) – What does it feel like? Changed values, relationship more important, recognising limitations and the need for interdependence, more focus on health and hygiene, appreciation for key workers, helpful lessons learned from online preaching.
10. Don’t get the church members hopes up that church life will be back to normal anytime soon. The need to downplay expectations.