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Leadership is about disappointing your people at a rate they can absorb. 

COVID-19, calls for racial justice, political unrest, and economic struggles have overwhelmed the ability of many, including many leaders, to absorb the changes that are racking our lives, communities, and world.

Listening to a conversation, I heard a person predict that we will emerge from this season and most congregations will resume 85 to 90% of what they were doing in 2019. What this says is that 10 to 15% of what we did in 2019 will be gone. Whether we want those things to be gone or not, it is change that we can't control.

We can't control these changes, and we even may be disappointed with some of them, but we can step into these changes with wisdom. Here are four wise ways to deal with the changes: 

Name the Changes

What's the 10 to 15% change that's happening? Is it a change in a more profound commitment to justice? Is it a change in people taking greater responsibility for their discipleship? Is it the unveiling that your congregation's discipleship pathway was not adequately designed for such a time as this? Does it have to do with finances, attendance, or people preferring online worship? Whatever your changes are, name them. It's the first step to looking wisely into the congregation's future.

Name Your "Why"

What's your why? Every organization has a why—a driving motivation. For instance, Apple's why is challenging the status quo. They believe in thinking differently, and out of that why they create their products. Every congregation needs to name their driving motivation and live out of that driving motivation. 

  • How do the changes you've discerned impact the driving motivation, the why, of your congregation? 
  • How can your driving motivation shape these changes furthering your congregation's call?

Discern Your "How" 

Leadership needs to discern how it will engage these changes so that the vision and the mission of the congregation go forward. They also must engage them in a way that reflects the congregation's core values. One tool that is helpful in this is Susan Beaumont's Planning in a Liminal Season. Beaumont's tool helps churches think through through adaptive changes.

Envision Your "What" 

When we speak of our "what," we mean a picture of our God-given, hope-filled future. If your congregation names its "why" and discerns its "how" what is your vision of the future? If all goes well, will you see deeper discipleship, a community that engages in person and online, a congregation with a heart for Biblical justice? 

Change is hard—especially when we have no control over it. But unexpected changes also open the door to imagining a new future as we live out God's call on our congregation.

So what do you see as the 10 to 15% that has changed in your congregation? Take a few moments and put your ideas in the comments section. Let's see what changes are coming our way or are already here.

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