Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

WYSIATI or Can’t We Just Go Back to Normal?

Written by: on January 12, 2023

“I can’t wait to get back to normal” was a regularly heard phrase by the members of the church I served when the Covid Pandemic was in full swing.  Although people were thankful for Zoom technology for worship, the heart felt sense that we were not the same community because we could not be together in person was so palpable. Even as the Pandemic began to lessen its hold on the world, the church wanted to know how much longer we were going to mess with having the hybrid worship gathering. My proclamation that in person worship with Zoom technology was here to stay tapped into the anxiety that Covid change was our foreseeable future.  WYSIATI[1] has been the modus operandi of the church for so long that imagining a different way, even when it is forced up it, is almost impossible.

Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace written by workplace culture thinker, Gustavo Razzetti is a timely book for organizations working to navigate the “gray zone”[2] midst the rapidly changing cultural dynamics that have shoved the world into confronting the digital reality of life. Razzetti offers leaders a toolbox full of wisdom from organizational leaders, a systematic approach to nurture remote work culture and effectiveness, and Mural templates to help facilitate the transformational work needed to embody a healthy organizational system.

Remote not Distant is structured around 5 steps that include 1. Resting the culture, 2. Reimagining a shared culture through inviting those invested into the conversation, 3. Reigniting belonging by means of nurturing deep sense of safety, 4. Rethinking collaboration in reframing 6 modes of collaboration and ways to use asynchronous communication, 5. Release agility that happens when leaders release control.[3] I found the first three chapters particularly provocative as a pastor who continues to wade into this digitally challenging era.

Numerous times through the book I found myself making notes about how to apply Razzetti’s concepts in an institution that often defies change.  For Razzetti, culture is more dynamic than external behaviors; he includes emotions and mindsets that encompass a culture system.[4] Although he glances the topic of how anxiety manifests in a culture system, I found myself asking what are the dynamics in play that relate to Friedman’s proposition of the characteristics of an anxious system[5] and how much does lack of self-differentiation impact the culture system Razzetti describes?

The heart of my NPO is about the need for the church to rethink or reframe its identity, or in Razzetti’s language, culture.  He invites the leader to be cognizant that by way of culture the “what is” and “why” of the organization is conveyed and embodied in community.[6] This echoes the driving point of An Everyone Culture. But this also is at the heart of what we have been talking about through this Leadership education….what makes meaning. Razzetti’s concept of the power of culture echoes something of a  Trinitarian Ubuntu and Friedman’s call for healthy leaders to hold the tension of individualism and togetherness well.

As I continue the conversation with the church to consider how Covid has offered us an open door to rethink how, why, and what is the church God is inviting us to be, Remote not Distant tools can help facilitate conversations.  We can ponder things like: How do we better interact with our digital community in worship? What if we worshipped in hybrid format twice a month and do small encouragement gatherings throughout the month? Could there be value in having more asynchronous planning meetings instead of in person?

It is likely that any given church will resist taking seriously these changes.  It is not only the biases Razatti mentions[7] that paralyze the church. The fear of letting go of control that is a strong subconscious tendency for presentism is a factor.[8] This is a hurdle for those who have been in the church for a long time. How do I help the church embrace a new model that doesn’t make presentism the anchor?

Razetti comments, “Google is missing an opportunity to leverage everything it’s learned from working remotely. The culture that got you here won’t get you into the future.”[9] Leading the church into a future that is not normal and disrupts the cultural system that has been WYSIATI will require me to be continually working on being well-differentiated. I am thankful for the toolbox Razatti put in my hands. Hopefully I will be able to facilitate the church to say, “Bye-Bye normal, hello WYSINATI.”

[1] What people see is all there is is one of the biases Daniel Kahneman addresses in Thinking, Fast and Slow.

[2] The gray zone is the time between the shift between two eras.  This subject is the foundational proposition in Mark Sayers book, A Non-Anxious Presence: How a Changing and Complex World will Create a Remnant of Renewed Christian Leaders.

[3] Razzetti, Gustavo. Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace. Liberationist Press, 2022.  Page 6. Kindle. These 5 steps are then the 5 sections of this book

[4] Ibid.  Page 13.

[5] Friedman, Edwin H., and Peter Steinke. A Failure of Nerve, Revised Edition: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. 10th Anniversary edition. New York: Church Publishing, 2017.

[6]Razzetti, Gustavo. Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace. Liberationist Press, 2022. Page 14. Kindle.

[7] Ibid. Pages 38-39, 48. Safety, anchoring, and proximity biases which are also found in Sway and Thinking, Fast and Slow

[8] Ibid. Page 40.

[9] Ibid. Page 295.

About the Author


Nicole Richardson

PC(USA) pastor serving a church in Kansas City. In my spare time I teach yoga and scuba diving

12 responses to “WYSIATI or Can’t We Just Go Back to Normal?”

  1. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Nicole, I really enjoyed reading this post. So much of what you share about church leadership rings true in my context as well. I often wonder why the church’s default setting leans toward resisting change of almost any kind. Specifically about hybrid ministry, when people discount it because it is not done in-person, I have said, “A lot of the New Testament is distant ministry since the Apostle Paul was in prison and wrote letters to people far away.” That has actually gained some traction for whatever reason. Also, “Trinitarian ubuntu?” That blows my mind in a good way! You ask the question about how to better engage the digital community in worship. Have you found some aspects of that desire that are working? We ask that question on our staff often.

    • mm Nicole Richardson says:

      Roy thank you for engaging my blog! The first and often comment about the kind of hybrid worship I am leading is “this is messy”. The church I am currently serving is still working to wrap their heads around this first level of messiness. But I am doing it in patient steps to bring them along. However, I really like Razzetti’s Murals and plan to utilize them as I lead them into more messiness. One of my favorite resources has been the Gamestorming book.

  2. mm Andy Hale says:

    COVID-19 is a repetitive theme throughout many of our posts. I wonder why…

    Since you changed context midway through his program and the pandemic, what would you say were the common differences between the two churches in how they responded to change?

    • mm Nicole Richardson says:

      The biggest difference is a cognitive mindset. The church I was at was totally discouraged by Covid which exacerbated what was already going on because of denominational leadership.
      This current congregation is better poised to enter into challenging conversations around change.

      So I guess ultimately it is about having hope.

  3. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Nicole: It will be interesting to see how well the Church and other Christian ministries will adapt to remote work. You ask good questions in your post. My gut tells me the Church will be slower to adapt to and implement remote work than other industries in our economy. Technology companies, education, government are all leading the way right now. The Christian leader who can create a culture with hybrid workers will be valuable.

    • mm Nicole Richardson says:

      Troy I agree about the slowness of change in the church. On of the biggest shift in remote ministry for the church will require a shift in defining what the pastor spends time on. Churches currently can’t comprehend the pastor not preaching every sunday let allow allocating time for digital content production.

  4. mm Eric Basye says:

    Thanks Nicole. I am not sure why, but this concept of “remote” is challenging for me as I think about the church, though I am not really sure why. In holding the tension of the Church (and people of God) being kingdom-different (and not like the world), but also understanding that good leadership demands change, what do you see as the forecast of vocational pastoring in the US?

  5. mm Jonathan Lee says:

    Hi Nicole, thank you for your post. You mentioned the need for the church to rethink and reframe the identity. How has the the church been shifting away from it’s original and called identity and what are some questions we can give to the congregation to help them own to rethink and reframe as one body?

  6. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Awesome post Nicole!
    I am curious about this question you posed, “how much does lack of self-differentiation impact the culture system Razzetti describes?” Especially in light of Sayer’s book and the further impact that our media driven society has on one’s ability to rest in solitude. Henri Nouwen “The Way of the Heart.” Nouwen talks about that in solitude is when our spiritual transformation is integrated with our being. Somehow, I think that the recent lockdowns revealed that weakness, together with lack of differentiation. What do you think?

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