Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first to reach the Moon, orbit it, and return. Its three-astronaut crew—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to fly to the Moon, to witness and photograph an Earthrise, and to escape the gravity of a celestial body. Re-entry is the final phase for the Apollo spacecraft and re-entry can be fraught with extra-ordinary challenges, like in Apollo 13. I highly recommend the film “Apollo 13” if you haven’t seen it!
The internet is bursting with ideas to help businesses, schools and churches re-enter following the Shelter at Home phase we face with Covid-19.
As I’ve been interacting with church planters, pastors, denominational and mission executives – I’ve listened to real concerns, thoughts about the challenges of social distancing and future steps to reopening. One leader I coach (who has given me permission to cite his letters to his constituents) has offered wise counsel on several Reopening related topics. Neil Lebhar has served as the Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) since his consecration in 2010. We have been in a coaching relationship since July 2014.
Recently Neil led a devotion with his Executive Committee and one of the leaders shared this insight from Devi Sridhar, a public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh.
“Everyone wants to know when this will end. That’s not the right question. The right question is:
How do we continue?”
Neil used the motif of Apollo 13 and showed the clip of the control room when things didn’t go according to plan. One of the first things the NASA team did was assess the situation. They asked, “What do we have on the spacecraft that’s good?” From that initial understanding of the materials on board, the crew worked with the engineers and essentially “duct-taped” a safe re-entry. Referencing Philippians 3:8-16 Neil assessed the losses, gains and future aspirations for followers of Jesus.
We know Jesus – the most valuable treasure in the world, regardless of losses
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
Knowing Jesus includes both experiencing his resurrection power and suffering
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Neil closed with this excerpt from the book “Victorious: Corrie Ten Boom and the Hiding Place”
Point people to Jesus - Betsie Ten Boom to her sister Corrie
“Corrie, never tell people that it was your faith, for people will say, ‘I haven’t got Corrie ten Boom’s faith.’ But when you tell people that it was Jesus, then they will know that the same Jesus who carried us through is willing to carry them through also. For Jesus died at the cross for the sins of the whole world, not only for us, but for all the Jews and the Gentiles of the world, and He says, ‘Come unto Me, all who are heavy laden.’ So we have a message for the whole world.”
5 Reflection Questions as you Consider Re-entry
- What indicators are you assessing for your congregation to re-open?
- How are you maintaining an unanxious presence in this VUCA (Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous) moment?
- What is your longer-term plan for online services?
- If you re-open and later forced to shelter at home again; what does that look like for your congregation?
- How would you describe the “win” for your congregation through Covid-19?
Please share any ideas you are discovering as you navigate this season with other leaders who are going through this time along with you, so that we can learn from each other – see below.
If you are interested to read well-informed SAMPLE PLANS FOR RE-ENTRY, Canon Jessica Jones (a member of Neil’s team) compiled 4 strategies congregations are contemplating based on CDC Guidelines – CLICK HERE.
Blessings to you and your ministry during this time!
Last week I interviewed Brian Wilson of Access Church. I asked Brian how he is helping his congregation navigate this VUCA moment – to watch, CLICK HERE. In case you don’t recognize that acrostic, VUCA stands for:
As I’ve interacted with pastors and church planters over the last month they tend to fall into one of two camps as it relates to this VUCA moment.
- Camp Survival (hunker down to weather the storm)
- Camp Shine (leverage this season for the Kingdom)
Both camps are triggered by VUCA characteristics, or combinations of…
For instance, if a leader is triggered by a shift in power, then this season is extremely stressful. This leader may be struggling to keep things within their control that are really out of her/his control. The key question for this leader is: “How can we survive?”
In the other camp, the leader sees this season filled with opportunity to try new things. To attempt things they had hoped to do someday; but are now challenged to do now! The key question for this leader is: “How can we leverage this for the Kingdom to bless our community?”
A good example of this is taking ministry online. Delivering worship services in living rooms on devices vs. engaging the BIG room, is one significant step. This has expanded the reach of many of these congregations AND is something most congregations have done for the very first time in the last 30 days.
Releasing people to care for each other in small groups, using a variety of online platforms, is another significant step many leaders have navigated. The fruit has been impressive. What pastors and church planters are discovering across the country is that leaders:
- can be trusted
- can provide care
- can lead effectively
Back to the two camps analogy.
Here are three questions for you to reflect on to “seize the day” during this VUCA moment!
3 Questions to “Seize the Day”
- What camp do you find yourself in today, right now?
- Are you content “camping” there?
- Based on your response to the previous question:
- If “no”, what can you do to switch camps?
- If “yes”, what can you do to maximize this season to help your church shine?
I’ve written two blogs in the past that you might find helpful, related to the topic of VUCA:
- Leading Through VUCA
- Coaching VUCA
None of us have been down this path before. If you are confident that you know the way forward – then good on ‘ya. For the rest of us, my prayer is that His light would illuminate the path so that you can take the next significant step to lead yourself and your congregation forward.
Several years ago I met with Brian Wilson and one statement he made back then stuck in my mind. It was in response to the notion of church planting. Brian’s response went something like this: “that is so hard, I don’t think I would ever want to plant unless the Lord made it super clear”.
Three years later, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, Brian has partnered with Him to plant Access Church – a vibrant community of Jesus followers in Menefee, CA.
Brian is a member of our Leadership Collective. Last week I interviewed him to ask how he is helping Access Church navigate this VUCA moment. In case you don’t recognize that acrostic, VUCA stands for:
As I’ve interacted with pastors and church planters the last month they tend to fall into one of two camps. Survival (hunkering down to weather the storm) or Shine (leveraging this season for the Kingdom). Brian shared his observations as he leads Access Church through this VUCA season to Shine in the midst of adversity.
Chance for the church to shine:
- Opportunity to shine brighter
- Create momentum & connection
- Be opportunists
Encouragement to Pastors:
- Leaders shine brightest in adversity
- Attend to yourself
- Come out of this stronger
Watch the entire interview – CLICK HERE.
I had the privilege to interview Colin Noyes and Micah Dodson in response to the question: Why does disciplemaking begin in the Harvest?
Watch the video – CLICK HERE!
Colin lives in Brisbane, Australia and is an authority on disciplemaking movements. For the last twenty years he has served in denominations, ministries and leaders as a coach/consultant/trainer. Colin has authored three books on the topic.
Here are key points Colin shares:
- Jesus started in the harvest
- Disciples worked in the harvest because they were a very small group in a pagan world
- Disciplemaking was a normal part of life for every believer
- People today are interested in Jesus and what He has to say
- The post-Constantine church has to be obedient to Jesus and look back
Read more about Colin – CLICK HERE.
Here are the key points Micah shares:
- Orienting our lives around people who don’t know Jesus
- Jesus intends that we make the most of every opportunity
- Live in proximity to people who don’t know Christ
- Empower people to go out
Micah is an experienced church planter. He serves in the Pacific Northwest coaching, training, and assessing church planting leaders. Micah brings a compassion for the church planting couple and family in partnership with his wife, Kristen. Read more about Micah – CLICK HERE.
Please interact with the points from above, in the conversation below.
Pastors, church planters and staff members have been forced to work from home in virtual offices due to the warnings, limitations and restrictions imposed on local church ministry due to Covid-19. For many this is the first time working in a virtual environment. Adding to the angst of the situation is the inability to meet with people in regulay, face-to-face meetings.
Here are some of the questions this raises for lead pastors, church planters and staff members:
- How can I help my staff stay on mission?
- How can I coach my staff to brainstorm solutions?
- How can I support my staff when conflict surfaces in their team?
Leaning into this new reality is begging leaders to lead differently. More so now than ever it is critical to raise your effectiveness as a team leader for your church staff. A number of pastors, church planters and staff members that I have worked with over the years have benefited from assessments to reveal their strengths and weaknesses.
Discover the skills you need to develop when leading a virtual team.
Below is a FREE, 5 minute quiz that will help you reflect on 8 critical skills of an empowering leader. So if you are looking for a way to effectively lead a virtual church staff team the, “How to lead your church staff effectively during uncertain times” quiz is an excellent first step. Once you submit your responses to the quiz, a report will be generated and e-mailed to you immediately with suggestions to help you grow in the respective areas.
Take the “How to lead your church staff effectively during uncertain times” by clicking on the button below.
START HERE FOR FREE QUIZ