Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on ‘Beyond the Covid Crisis: Leading in Complexity’ with John Stevens, Tom Fenning and Jen Charteris.
1. We live now in the hope of full redemption. On our journey, we cry out to the Lord because the world is still a hostile environment with everything still needing to be put right. On our journey we are able to stand confidently in the presence of the Lord and serve Him because our sins have been forgiven. On our journey we are to wait for the Lord with expectation that He will fulfil all His purposes. On our journey we are to put our hope in the Lord, trusting Him because of His promises and love.
2. COVID Update
– English roadmap is being kept to.
– From April 12, children and youth activities can resume.
– From May 17, groups of 6 or 2 households can meet indoors or groups of 30 people outdoors (plus 30 people at weddings, funerals, and wakes).
– From June 21, no limit on numbers that can meet indoors and outdoors.
– Needs to be an acceptance that this is the roadmap that is going to be followed.
– Currently there is no change on guidance for indoor singing or face masks (reflective of government cautiousness).
3. Check out Andy Hunter’s talk, Life After Lockdown.
4. Four helpful words for churches considering how to come out of lockdown:
REFLECTION – Process emotionally how last year has been. In what ways has God blessed us? What has been really tough? These are good questions to ask both the elders and the church members.
PRIORITISATION – What to prioritise. Encouraging people to come to services physically as soon as they can. Prayer. People spending time with one another.
RECRUITING – Leaders have got used to a few running everything out of necessity. Need to delegate back to people to serve in church life.
COMMUNICATION – Trying your best to communicate clearly and repeatedly what you are doing.
5. How do we use research and work from the secular sphere in terms of organisation? By critically appreciating what there is out there is leadership and management literature. You can find lots of common grace. But it will never go far enough in terms of fallenness and sin nor understand human potential high enough in terms of being made in the image of God.
6. Leadership is a profoundly theological activity! “Now we all find out what I really stand for.” How we take leadership and exercise leadership reveals what our hearts are like.
7. When dealing with massive complexity and uncertainty there are two dimensions at play. How close or far we are from certainty and how close and far we are from agreement. When we are close to certainty and agreement it is business as usual; when we are close to certainty and far from agreement you get debate and factions; when we are close to agreement but far from certainty you get crisis; and when we move further from certainty and agreement you get complexity leading to chaos.
8. Crisis is what happened at the start of COVID. In early stages of a crisis, you are close to agreement with leaders allowed to take the lead. But longer this goes on for, you end up in zone of complexity, and the challenge is how you hold onto some form of coherence (a plan, unity in church life).
9. Levels of agreement and certainty have a dynamic relationship. Loss of certainty will expose differences that were hidden. Loss of agreement will give rise to new uncertainty. One benefit of complexity is that it brings great potential for new possibilities to emerge.
10. How do we increase coherence?
– Inquiry – understanding the reality; seeing possibilities and generating new options; having a posture of ‘not knowing’; and being curious.
– Patterns – developing the capacity to see, understand, and influence patterns; integrating variations into a healthy whole rather than forcing standard answers. Understanding that different groups of people are reacting in different ways and need different things.
– Simple rules – a baseline of shared standards and expectations which enable adaptive decision making without anarchy; having a few shared simple things like attend physically and pray together.
11. Approaching strategy. There are times to be planned (long-term, analytical, top down, ‘the five year plan’) and other times to be emergent (responsive, reflective, participatory, ‘iterative process’). It is healthy to learn to do both and for them to interact.
12. The Ladder of Abstraction. Worldview leads to values (these are enduring, biblically shaped). Values leads to principles and goals and then policies and decisions (revisited, reassessed, re-formed, restated). Policies and decisions leads to practice (disrupted and unpredictable).
13. A biblical worldview includes the nature of God, the nature of authority, the story of redemption, the problem of the heart, the context of community, and the perspective of eternity.
14. Our worldview and values which are biblically form are things we hold tightly to, whereas policies and decisions and practice are matters we hold looser to.
15. There are a number of polarities which we need to hold in tension such as:
– Action AND Reflection.
– Safety AND Risk.
– Confidence AND Humility.
– Structure AND Freedom.
– Fast AND Slow.
– Innovation AND Tradition.
– Parts AND Whole.
– Unity AND Diversity.
– Stability AND Change.
These are important tensions that don’t need to be resolved, but rather for both to be maintained in the right balance.
16. Containers are what you put around things that are a bit disorganised to allow organisation. Containers include daily check ins, surveys, future events to plan, great question(s), simple rules, a catchphrase, evaluation.
17. When dealing with complexity, good leaders who prioritise:
– Asking a question before knowing answers.
– Relationships before structures.
– Reflection before reaction.
– Constructive dissent, not destructive consent.
– Collective intelligence, not individual genius.
– Identify and understand ‘positive deviance’.
– Negative capability (knowing when to do nothing), not heroic activity.
– Empathy, not egotism.
18. The posture of a leader amid complexity:
Knowing AND Not Knowing.
Confidence AND Humility.
Learner AND Teacher.
Energy AND Rest.
19. Communication in complexity requires many times and in various ways! Assume much less understanding or agreement than in more ‘normal’ times.
20. Four marks of leader – Thankful, Joyful, Prayerful, and Hopeful.
21. Not knowing is okay. Some many things we don’t know. But there are eternal truths in God’s Word and certainties about what He is doing and will do, that we do know.
22. The right kind of mindfulness – be alert, curiously engaged, everything takes more time thinking through.