Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Lessons from Lockdown with John Stevens and Ray Evans.
1. Lockdown has been a trial. Not of suffering and persecution but of difficulty and challenge. It has tested our leadership and faith. How are we to face this trial? In James 1:2-8 we see that we are to approach it a) with joy because God is working His purposes out; b) with humility as we recognise how lacking we are and cry out to God for the wisdom that we need for the challenges; c) with faith trusting that God will supply what we need.
2. Life is (more) full of decisions than ever. So much is happening that takes up our brain space. We are suffering from decision fatigue with lots of little decisions wearing us down. We are having to make decisions at a time when uncertainty, confusion and change abound plus we also can’t easily get together with others at the moment to make corporate decisions.
3. Our culture makes corporate decisions more difficult. The “What’s in it for me?” attitude can filter into the church making it harder to make decisions with a sense of how we can help one another.
4. Don’t confuse God’s secret will (what God knows) and revealed will (what God has told us in His Word). Respect this important Biblical distinction. Our primary role as leaders is to teach and model and live out the revealed will of God in His Word. But we are also to guide them in the secret will but pastoring and comforting them as they look back of what secret will is and by helping them to submit their hopes and dreams to the secret will,.
5. The story of change: Dream – Leap – Fight – Climb – Arrive (see Illuminate by Nancy Duarte & Patti Sanchez).
6. Understand whether the decision you are making is i) right or wrong; ii) wise or unwise (good, better, best); iii) like or dislike (preference). Problems come when life or dislike are turned into right or wrong.
7. Trust God for His kind providence. “If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” And be very prayerful.
8. You will have to make difficult decisions.
9. At times when we are really uncertain we need high quality team based decision making (HQTBDM).
10. Buckle up because the ’new normal’ or ‘return to normality’ doesn’t look like it is coming any time soon. The guidance for places of worship is unlikely to change in the short or medium term. The probablity is that it will be the “middle of next year” rather than “over by Christmas”.
11. Lockdown has made it clear that we are living in post-Christian and secular context with the church being marginalised more than we would like. Church just isn’t important to national life.
12. A time for humility ecclesiologically. Ways of doing church (online preaching, video preaching, multisite model) that we might have been critical of, we have or will have to use as an emergency measure. At the very least, this should cause those of us with strong views to show humility towards those who have different ones to us.
13. We have seen that Word-centred churches have been more likely to continue to thrive, as opposed to sacramental or social action churches.
14. The last four months have given leaders a new opportunity to understand the lives of others – the barriers people have to coming to church or engaging and participating in church programmes; the pressure on parents; the loneliness faced by elderly people.
15. Church has become more accessible for unbelievers. It is easy for them to join by clicking, leave by disconnecting, and overcome the embarrassment off feeling uncomfortable. But we don’t just want to get church to unbelievers – we want to get the gospel to them.
16. It is the churches that already were making an effort to engage with the community that have been able to capitalise on new opportunities.
17. There is an entropy of enthusiasm. People get excited and involved when new but once they get used to the online format enthusiasm has waned. We can expect that to happen with physical gatherings after they restart too.
18. The “Culture War” over identity, history, liberal progressive agenda vs nationalistic agenda, young v old will continue and get fiercer.
19. Initial spiritual openness has waned. We continue to minister in times of spiritual hardness.
20. Lockdown will produce social and cultural change. Working from home and the decline of the office; Smaller = more flexible/efficient; people not commuting into city centre but more residential based; woke authoritarianism or conservative authoritarianism?. These will have implication for churches.
21. The importance of deep relationships between members and a strong online presence (especially for those who can’t attend services) have been revealed by this period of lockdown.
22. Great idea from Ray Evans. Get members to complete sentence: “Even though… I am thankful for…”
23. A good Senior Leader gets other voices heard so have more insight.
24. Resilience and adaptability means in practice the capacity to cope with a crisis and to grasp the opportunities which a crisis presents. If you don’t have structures, systems, and people in place before the crisis you won’t be able to do it in a crisis.