“Whether you are an activist advocating for social and political change, a manager leading an organization, or a leader looking to shape an entire society, the need to create interconnectivity and interdependence remains essential” (Satell, 35).
I’m writing this particular blog post on the three year anniversary of the day I made the difficult decision (along with many around the world) to suspend our public, in-person worship gatherings due to the global pandemic. I was reminded of this specific timeframe due to all of the social media “memories” that have been popping up, recalling that wild time three years ago.
I, along with our team, quickly rallied to create a number of Facebook posts, Instagram videos, and church communiques expressing the urgency of the moment and our “plan to pivot for the coming weeks.” Weeks! Ha! Who would have known?!?
Here’s just a snippet from one of the communiques: “In order to help minimize the spread of this virus, out of concern for our particularly vulnerable members, and in cooperation with health officials, we are suspending, etc. etc. etc.” Does all this sound familiar? Does it spark a bit of PTSD in you, like it does in ME? Even as I type these words (without being overly melodramatic), I gotta tell you: it makes me emotional. That was a hard season. That was a VERY hard season.
But, by the grace of God, and a lot of hard work, we made it. “Cascades” by Greg Satell highlights a couple principles that I believe (now in hindsight) played a vital role as to how we made it…and why we are (again by the grace of God and hard work) healthier than ever before.
Of the six principles in “Cascades” I/we managed to do the first three (and will continue to aspire to do the last three):
1. Identify a Keystone Change.
Satell says that “It starts with a grievance. Yet to succeed, you must go beyond grievance to identify an affirmative vision for what you would like to be different and then identify a single, fundamental change that will bring that vision about” (Satell, 98).
We didn’t know much, except that we could not meet together publicly and in large groups. This is not the time or place to debate these perceptions and/or realities. I’m still pretty tired, and very likely to throat punch you, so keep your opinions to yourself on these matters…however, with the information we were working with, and the underlying “grievance” of “the church needs to meet together, but how?” we began to articulate a affirmative vision. Here it is:
The Church gathered is only as good as the Church scattered.
The New Testament (particularly the Book of Acts) has much to say about The Church scattered, under a degree of persecution, and how it not only survived, but thrived. This was our rally cry.
2. Make a Plan.
It would decimate my word count if I copy/pasted all the pastoral letters, emails, memos and video scripts I generated in that season. Suffice it to say: we had to pivot, and the pivot required the clarity of a plan. I don’t recall who exactly said it, but I will give credit to Andy Stanley for this brilliant thought: “Where there is no certainty, let there be clarity.”
The plan we put in place was multi-faceted, but specifically in regards to our staff, the plan was to split it into two teams, and refocus our collective energies:
TEAM #1: Broadcasting. This was a team devoted to Content and Communications, with a focus on the overall way our congregation would get FED and LED.
TEAM #2: Narrowcasting. This was a team devoted to Care and Connection, with a focus on reaching out, helping, praying, and ministering to as many individuals as possible, primarily one-one-one or within small groups. Which brings me to Satell’s third principle for cascading movements and change.
3. Build a Network of Small Groups
The global pandemic afforded us an opportunity to reinforce our House-To-House ministry model. Admittedly, it was the way the church HAD to meet, a la the 1st Century early church, which was also in the midst of cultural upheaval. In the process, we found that a healthier scattered church contributed greatly to a healthier gathered church (when we were able to meet in person again). This network of loosely connected small groups that were united by a common purpose, which was to Encounter Jesus, were the agents and avenues of change within our congregation. Satell says “To grow, you have to connect, and the more you connect, the more central you become. The more central you become, the more power you have. And with enough power, you can bring change about” (Satell, 164).
These three principles brought about significant change to our church, such that, I believe we are radically different and better than before. There is, more than previously, an growing “interconnectivity and interdependence” (Satell, 35).
Now, my desire moving forward is to intentionally, and organizationally work on the remaining three principles: indoctrinate values, create platforms for participation, mobilization, and connection, and lastly, survive victory by staying true to our values.
By the grace of God, and a lot of hard work, we are in a season of the Lord’s favor and touch upon our congregation. Attendance may be 1/2 the size it was pre-Covid, but I gotta tell you, we are experiencing the palpable, manifold and manifesting Presence of God like never before. Right now, this degree of “cascading” renewal and revival is being experienced all across our country and world.
Let it continue, Lord! As in the days of old, DO IT AGAIN!