Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Facing New Realities without Chicken Little

How do you help our congregations facing a radical change in direction face reality without succumbing to the “Chicken Little Syndrome” and proclaiming, “the sky is falling?” How can you move from a place of desperation and panic, to discerning God’s will through a difficult time? As the leader you must be willing to step back, step aside, and step up to lead through difficulty and help your organization or congregation embrace new realities.

Step back; look at the whole picture. Organizations and congregations are complicated systems. It is easy to focus on only a small part of the picture and exclude the rest. If you aren’t careful you will become so bogged down with focusing on faltering finances or decreased attendance that you neglect the forward momentum in children’s ministry or small groups. If the Strength Finder series of books and studies have taught anything, it is that there is great value in playing to your strengths rather than putting all of your emphasis on your weaknesses. While it is understood you have to balance the checkbook, you shouldn’t decimate the limited resources from the only ministry in your church that is working in order to make up for places that are underperforming. Step back and look at the entire organization and discover not only where work is needed, but also make a list of where God seems to be working most intensely.

Step aside; get yourself out of the center. When reality is shifting, panic seems to be the natural response. You are in the center of the storm and if you aren’t careful you will make rash decisions with long term consequences in a moment of desperation. Take some time, a day or week, and see if you can discern what God is doing and where God is calling your organization or congregation. It is unlikely that a week of discernment will make the situation any worse, but it could allow for emotions to settle and discernment to occur. Once you have discerned where God seems to be working, spend time in focused prayer and reflection to discover if this is where your congregation or organization’s unique calling may lie.

Step up to the God-sized challenge that is in front of you. Chart the way forward. Rather than operating with a sense of desperation, operate from a place of calling and clarity. With a clear direction forward decisions making becomes easier and progress is made faster. It is also a time to bring all of your resources to bear. Bathe the challenge in prayer, involve your best leaders, and focus your limited financial resources all in the same direction in order to gain traction.

Ministry is shifting. Realities are changing. Leaders are needed who can help organizations and congregations not only face but embrace new realities. Take the steps necessary to help your organization move through the time of transition and into future. Leave your umbrella behind, the sky isn’t falling, but a new day is coming that will require you to lead in an entirely new way.  I remain:

Consumed by the Call,

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