Like many organizations that are serving entrepreneurs and start-ups, we have been challenged by Praxis' article Leading Beyond the Blizzard. It gives an excellent framework for the current moment, and for moving forward over the medium and longer term.
Borrowing the concepts of "blizzard" (~8 weeks) and "winter" (~8 months) from the article, here are four points of guidance we're currently offering to church plants that we serve in cities around the world. Hopefully this provides some helpful next steps and helps to spark fresh ingenuity for churches everywhere:
1. Your ministry is now digital.
Why: Remember the mission: more and new people encountering Jesus and growing in discipleship.
Blizzard step: Begin measuring and following up with first-time viewers/”visitors.” Example: A digital connect card.
Winter prep: Reimagine staff and systems that are designed for sustained online ministry. Example: Retooled job descriptions and org chart.
2. Your ministry won’t be “normal” anytime soon.
Why: Returning to “normal” will not likely happen overnight.
Blizzard step: Prepare self and staff for grief and bereavement care. Example: A prominently placed “Are You Hurting?” landing page on church website.
Winter prep: Plan contingencies: think through everything your church can accomplish without being able to meet in larger gatherings for an extended period. Example: A revised church website making digital next steps integral to everything.
3. Your ministry’s financial reality has changed.
Why: Volatile economy and substantial job losses will likely result in less income.
Blizzard step: Stop spending on things that are less relevant now, in order to start saving for and spending on benevolence. Example: A benevolence strategy with a compelling “ask” for those with stable incomes.
Winter prep: Prepare contingency budget with 70-80% of your originally projected income for the next 8-12 months, and imagine what can be reallocated for benevolence. Example: CARES application. And a “worst-case” plan for furloughing staff.
4. Your ministry’s success requires self-leadership now more than ever (mind, body, spirit, community).
Why: Sustainable and fruitful ministry flows out of your life with Jesus.
Blizzard step: Plan and take a sabbath day this week. Identify your temptations, idols, and stressors in this season. Example: A 24-hour social media fast.
Winter prep: Reimagine for yourself and family: sustainable daily and weekly rhythms that include life-giving community, personal discipleship, and retreat. Example: A fresh personal work schedule to optimize personal health and effectiveness.