Leading Your Church Out of Crisis

Pastors, if the way you're leading your church today is similar to your pre-pandemic plan, you probably have a bad plan.

Your church has been through two years of extreme trauma. We’ve had countless tragic deaths, political division, ongoing racial tension, economic inconsistencies, and we’re walking into new challenges related to the supply chain, inflation, and even war.

As the world reopens, the external 24-hour-a-day pressure is starting to lessen. That’s causing us to scale back on our leadership intensity.

This is a major mistake.

This isn’t the time to be letting up. This is the time to take a breath, refill, and lean back in with intensity.

This episode outlines how you can position yourself and your church to take ground coming out of a difficult season.

We’ve been so focused on leading well during crisis that we’ve missed these three things:

1. The toll crisis leadership took on us.

For the last two years, you’ve been so focused on leading through crisis that you haven’t even realized how emotionally exhausted, mentally taxed, and spiritually fatigued you’ve become.

Many of you aren’t just tired, you’re depleted. There’s a really big difference between being tired and being depleted.

If you’re tired, you can take a nap. If you’re depleted, you need to refill. You need to take a significant amount of time doing things that replenish your leadership energy.

You will never pastor well when you’re on empty. Jesus took time away to rest and recover. You need to, too.

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” - Luke 5:16

Here's a hard truth: This is completely up to you. Nobody is coming to rescue you. You have to take the necessary steps to refill for yourself.

To assess where you really are, ask these four questions:

  • How are you physically?
  • How are you emotionally?
  • How are you relationally?
  • How are you spiritually?

This last season has been similar to getting in a fight.

When you get punched in a fight, you don’t start to feel the pain until after the fight when your adrenaline has worn off.

The same thing is happening to us as church leaders right now. The adrenaline is wearing off, and we’re starting to feel the pain of the last season.

Assess where you are and make some adjustments.

You can’t serve others consistently without refilling occasionally.

2. The toll crisis leadership took on our staff and volunteers.

For most of our teams, the last two years register as trauma. They’ve faced waves of challenges and most of them have experienced deep personal loss.

Like you, they’re feeling the weight of leading their ministries through crisis and have made significant sacrifices.

Not only did they feel the pressure of leading their ministries well, they also felt the pressure of pleasing you and your attenders.

When leaders feel this intense pressure over a long period of time, they don’t continue to perform well. They start to feel defensive, wonder if it’s worth it, and ask “would my skills be better used somewhere else?”

Your leaders are unsettled, and unsettled leaders create unsettled followers.

3. We've entered a completely uncharted season of church leadership.

No matter how much experience your team has, they’ve never led through a season like they’re in right now.

That’s why you probably have a bad plan if your leadership plan today is similar to your pre-pandemic plan. The things that worked in 2019 no longer work. You’re not leading after a crisis, you have to lead your church out of one.

Leading out of crisis is your most important role right now, and it’s going to take an entirely different mindset. We’re going to dive into the specifics of that new mindset in the next episode of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.

Your ability to realize you’re leading in an entirely new world will determine whether you succeed or fail in the future.

Think about what is different about the people you serve with. Over the last two years…

  • Your team’s work rhythms have completely changed.
  • You’ve had some new leaders emerge and others start to struggle.
  • New working relationships and systems have formed among your teams and ministries.

If you lead your church now like you led before, you will not succeed in your leadership.

When you’re in a crisis, you instinctively know what you have to do. You have to…

  • Act decisively.
  • Adjust swiftly.
  • Communicate frequently.
  • Conserve cash.

You know what it takes to lead in a crisis, but leading out of a crisis is going to be much more difficult than leading in one.

In the next episode…

We’re going to get really practical and talk about the six keys for leading out of a crisis.

Until then, assess your leadership. This season has taken an intense toll on you and your church. Do whatever it takes to refill yourself and your team.