Friday, 9 January 2009

Leading in a Time of Crisis 1

Last year was the most demanding leadership year that I’ve had in 6 or 7 years. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. September 07 began very well but then from October until January 08 we entered what I called ‘the perplexed season’.

Firstly our church administrator – an excellent guy – confirmed that he wanted to move on due to the special circumstances following the birth of their first child. Then, a friend and co-pastor here was diagnosed with severe burnout in October. In a church of this size pastoral care is a huge load and now we had an Acts 6 moment. Our growth over the years finally caught up with us in that our infrastructure hadn’t adjusted enough to cope with the numbers of people. We were overrun pastorally and administratively.

It was manic. October and November are my busiest times for Newfrontiers and also the time when I speak most at Kings. At the same time we were in discussions about relocating to a new site (which we were told would cost us £12 million). In mid-November I was informed that we were £90K short in the budget. And then, for the first time in ten years our Sunday attendance was lower than it was the previous year. It’s probably fair to say that the team were under more stress than I had ever seen.

For the first time since I began to lead King’s (the only church I’ve ever led) I didn’t know where we were going – an uncomfortable place to be in and very difficult to lead from such a place. There were still great things going on! We were still seeing people saved every week. We had 1700 attend our Christmas Carol Services. But - I was so overrun that I lost my bearings.

1 Corinthians 4:16 says, ‘therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away… For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all.’

First lesson learnt: Eternal truths do not change, circumstances do – this is foundational. I found an ability through this period to lean into God and His love for me as an individual rather than finding value in the indicators of progress and growth in the church. It pressed me into prayer more. (This is so basic that I am almost embarrassed to mention it!) Grace under pressure!