Thom S. Rainer on How to Lead When the Vision Stops

Not every church leader will face a vision-crushing blow. But they exist. They hurt like a heavy-weight sucker punch. You didn’t see it coming, and it was hard like an Acme anvil. Church leaders (especially us pastors) can overreact. We can cry wolf when it’s just sheep around. There are cases, however, when one event jars everything loose, when something unforeseen grinds the church to a halt. The vision stops. No one moves.

How do you respond when your church experiences collective blackout? How do you lead when you’re shell shocked with everyone else? When it’s impossible to think about a new vision, what are the immediate next steps?

For any leader shepherding followers through a major crisis, the first step is to care for people. When a bomb hits, most of your people will not know what to feel. When people are numb, they’re not thinking about the future. No one wants to see a beautiful vision painted when the canvas has vomit on it. This caring process is a cleaning process. Forget about grand plans and get on your knees and scrub. Sometimes it’s all you can do to shepherd people.

Once the air clears, the next step is to describe reality. People don’t stay numb forever. They become angry. And confusion only exacerbates anger. It’s a mess. Don’t deny it. You’ve got to wake up people to present reality. Be real. Be honest. Explain what happened. Even if confidentiality prevents full disclosure, be clear in what you can describe. Clarity helps people realize the present can lead to the future. Don’t leave people stuck in the mud of ambiguity.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Thom S. Rainer