Leading the Church During COVID-19
By Sutton Turner — Chief Operating Officer of Vanderbloemen
Our team at Vanderbloemen is committed to bringing you resources to help you be the best leader possible during this time of crisis. For the next few weeks, Sutton Turner, Vanderbloemen’s COO, and Pastor Dave Bruskas, Campus Pastor at The Village Church in Fort Worth, TX, will hold a short conversation to provide encouragement to pastors and church leaders. They will walk through how to apply the Bible to our current situation as we face the impacts of COVID-19.
During this global crisis, churches are decentralized and are faced with learning how to lead their teams and staff effectively virtually. Although churches have this new reality, it’s still possible for the leaders of the church to help foster leadership growth and development. Today, Pastor Dave shares biblical principles on leading others well through a crisis.
‘You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.’ 2 Timothy 2:1-7 (ESV)
This scripture reminds us as Christian leaders going through a crisis, you can lead others well by:
- Being strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Leading effectively often requires self-awareness and relying on Jesus to be our strength, especially during times of crisis. Spend time in his word, understanding how Jesus led with a hands-on, empathetic approach. Use his example as a guide to stay focused on the most important part of leadership: the people you lead.
- Reproduce other leaders. This helps provide diversity in church leadership with other skills, gifts, and talents. It also allows you to take part in growing the next generation of leaders and develop the kingdom. It even benefits you because as others learn to lead, it can take some weight and responsibility off of your plate.
- Constantly be doing the hard work of leadership development. As we continue growing in leadership development, it’s important to grow in depth and breadth of the emerging leaders around us. It isn’t easy to take on the burden of others, but Jesus shows us it is well worth the battle.
How to Foster Leadership Development
Assess the gifts of others. Help those you’re developing understand what they need to become a stronger leader. Their gifts should be complemented by those around them in order to be more effective.
The people who know your strengths and weaknesses best are those who are working with you every single day. Help call those out in the people you lead. Show them what talents they have and help them understand how to use their gifts wisely.
Allow space for failure. Cultivating a space where emerging leaders know it’s okay to fail can be an opportunity for them to learn and grow in their leadership development. Failure has the ability to teaches us so much. Failure is also unavoidable, and the more responsibility you have, the more opportunity there is for failure. Making failure normal (because it is) creates an environment of trust and will encourage deeper growth. Mistakes are the greatest vessel for learning, so let your emerging leaders know that. Be okay sharing your own failures to make them comfortable.
As you are being patient with the leaders you’re developing, you might find it challenging to give them difficult tasks or put them in situations where they may not succeed, but this is a perfect opportunity for you to cultivate a space for them to know that it’s okay to fail sometimes. Let them know that leadership is not perfection, and great leaders know their weak spots and work to strengthen them.
Foster unity within diversity. Celebrating the differences in skills and perspectives of those around you can help churches have a clear sense of unified direction. Appreciating unique skills and viewpoints helps your team and staff to feel appreciated for the different gifts and talents they offer. We all have different skills, and each person’s talents make your team better as a whole.
While developing unity, it’s important to remember that it’s unifying to make mistakes as a leader and then be forgiven by our Lord. Showing a flawed team that you yourself are flawed is a great, humble way to connect.
3 Biblical Principles of Reproducing Leaders
Share in suffering. This is the time to share in suffering during COVID-19.
Prepare for the tasks. Train for the role by leading yourself well in order to lead others and create leaders effectively.
Don’t be discouraged. This is a journey and a process, just like a farmer that sees the fruit of his labor over time. Be reminded of the grace of God as you are preparing leaders.
It’s important for leaders to admit they need the contributions of others. Lacking this level of self-awareness can sometimes make those around you feel like what they do is insignificant. God has designed everyone with different skills and it’s imperative that leaders are able to be intentional about aligning themselves and others accordingly. Dave suggests that leaders “dwell deeply in the areas you’re supernaturally spiritually gifted in and do well. Build a team around you and value, love, and honor that team that shores up your weaknesses, then you have something good.”
Sutton Turner is the chief operating officer of Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices, and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally.