Crisis Mismanagment

One of the newer emphasis’ of this era is to be a life-long learner.  Constantly seeking to understand and gain new knowledge, skills, or talents is being pushed as a new value.

As the leader of a team (that happens to work for a United Methodist Church) I have tried to model this and more recently we have incorporated it into our staff meeting.  So as a group we have been reading Patrick Lencioni’s book “Silos, Politics and Turf Wars.”  His premise is not new; his elucidation of the human story is ancient and modern.  When things are going good, humans have a tendency to go right along with the flow.  In organizations we have a tendency to silo into our daily routine, our department, and our agenda.  We become acutely aware of our groups needs, wants and desires and they get the bulk of our attention.  Ultimately we become advocates for our silo!  Until a crisis happens.

A crisis calls for all-hands on deck.  A crisis makes everything else secondary.  A crisis requires nearly all of your time and energy – oh and everyone else’s as well.  And a crisis has a tendency to cause us to rethink our priorities; to assess what is truly important.

We can purport “crisis” across any discipline, any organization, and any family unit.  No matter which of these environments is infiltrated by “crisis” we know the serene becomes chaotic; a battlefield.  And the crisis becomes the frontline where time, energy and resources are heavily invested in order to manage, control and hopefully arrest the crisis.

Interestingly Lencioni covertly suggests that reacting to a crisis is a form of mismanagement.  If you have to deal with a crisis as an organization, then you have missed the opportunity to lead in a way that unifies the collective around a rally cry, a “thematic goal,” a common dream.  While Mr. Lencioni deals in the world of corporate politics, his fable and theory are germane to the church environment.

Leaders expend lots of energy dealing with the politics of church structure.  Worship needs more resources; children’s needs more volunteers; youth needs more space.  The board or boards want to have a say so in everything that happens and ultimate decision-making power.  People need more care and people want to be free of obligation and left alone by the minister.  The squeaky wheel gets oiled but it keeps you from strategically averting crisis.  And the pastor hops from silo to silo to silo trying to convince everyone to focus on the work of the kingdom.  Does this sound familiar?

Until a crisis happens – then we gain clarity of purpose and focus!

Lencioni suggests that we need to develop a rally cry, a thematic goal, a God-sized dream for the future and get all hands on deck to push through.  We don’t need a crisis to get everyone’s attention.  We don’t need a crisis to get everyone’s focus.  We need a compelling cause!

I wrestled with this for North Star Church – as I leave I wish I had more time to help us rally around the dream of being a neighborhood church that “fosters new and growing relationships with God and others through worship, learning, serving, and witness.”  But I don’t have a lot of time left and maybe it isn’t my place anymore.  It’s Tony’s opportunity to sound the trumpet call for North Star.  But I will not be dismayed – God is presenting me with a new place to go and to sound the trumpet call; to focus the hearts, minds and passions of the community on a God-sized dream for their context.

In these last 60 days I pray that God’s Spirit will overwhelm our communities of faith that are in transition.  May His steadfast love and mercy flood us in a way that it washes away all anxiety, fear, and doubt.  May He replace it with trust, faith, and the perseverance we need to run wildly after His dream for us!

Blessings for the journey.  In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

About Jim Hoffman

Pastor, teacher, leader, novice blogger, wanna be author and Christian conversationalist. Passionate about environmental architecture - creating spaces where people can foster new or growing relationships with each other and God. Currently leads a faith community on Ward Parkway in Kansas City and happily married to Margaret. Blessed with four adult children and two grandsons.
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