Insights from “Leading Beyond the Blizzard” ©

Arguably, the most insightful piece of writing I have read during this season of chaos we call the “COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis” is based on a "Redemptive Edge" podcast by Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker and Dave Blanchard called "Leading Beyond the Blizzard." The extensive article and its accompanying podcast are available at . The article is written "especially for leaders of businesses and nonprofit organizations who are fellow Christians, because Christians of all people are equipped to face the current reality with both clear-eyed realism and unparalleled hope." A sampling of the excellent insights included in the article are...

“From today onward, most leaders must recognize that the business they were in no longer exists. This applies not just to for-profit businesses, but to nonprofits, and even in certain important respects to churches.

Yet we urge every leader to realize that their organization’s survival in weeks and months, let alone years, depends far more on radical innovation than on tactical cutbacks.”

“Grief and loss go together in Christian faith with vision and hope in a singular way, because they are the story of Cross and Resurrection. There is no greater grief than Calvary, the crucifixion of the very Son of God by the ones he came to save. There is no greater hope than Easter. And the risen Lord of Easter made himself known to his disciples by the wounds in his hands, feet, and side. "

Among the many deep insights and profound wisdom shared both in the article and the podcast is the phrase “let’s step into this is a redemptive creative imagination.”  I want to urge every pastor and lay leader, as a priority in your leadership life, to make the time to carefully read the article and listen to The Redemptive Edge podcast special episode: Dave Blanchard and Andy Crouch discuss “Leading Beyond the Blizzard.”  After you have done so, I strongly encourage a conversation (actually multiple conversations) together exploring the implications for your congregation, community and the Central Texas Conference as we discern how to move forward in  faithful way from the impact of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.

This will not be a short or simple conversation but a period of prayer, deep reflection, holy conferencing with others and discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit. “Let’s step into this with a redemptive creative imagination.”  We can breathe deep because Jesus is still Lord.. We can trust ourselves to the future in the hands of God. We can “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” because the Lord is with us. (see Psalm 23)

Andy Crouch states by way of encouragement and faith application: “In this essay, we outline the major challenges we face and some forward steps we can take, acknowledging that we all are operating with profound uncertainty not only about the future, but even about the present. We write in the confidence that Jesus is Lord, that his Spirit is even now working powerfully in all of our lives, and that God is good.”

Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director of the Lamar Smith Center for Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, offered an excellent summary of Leading Beyond the Blizzard from the authors along with his own commentary. I share it below with his permission.
  1. The novel coronavirus is not just something for leaders to “Get Through” for a few days or weeks.  Instead, we need to treat COVID-19 as an economic and cultural Blizzard winter and beginning of a “Little Ice Age” --- a once in a lifetime change that is likely to affect our lives and organizations for years.
  2. Due to the complex and interconnected nature of our society and economy, the majority of businesses and nonprofits are “effectively out of business” as of today, in that the underlying assumptions that sustained their organization are no longer true.
  3. The priority of leaders must be to set aside confidence in their current playbook as quickly as possible.  Write a new one that honors their mission and the communities they serve and make the most of their organization’s assets; their people, financial capital, and social capital, leaning on relationship and trust.
  4. The creative potential for hope and vision is unparalleled right now---but paradoxically this creativity will only be fully available to us if we also make space for grief and lament.
  5. We write this out of love for Christian organizational leaders and their work, with humility in a time of considerable uncertainly and prayerfully hope that we are proven wrong by God by His gracious providence working miraculously through human ingenuity in this season.
    1. We are not going back to normal
    2. This Blizzard, mini Ice Age will last 12 to 18 months
    3. No group is better equipped to deal with this than Christians as we partner realism with hope
    4. We can probably keep the first 3 or 4 slides in our deck as the church, everything else needs to be re-evaluated.
    5. Our greatest resource is trust

We must reimagine our organizations to outlast the rigors of a possible Ice Age.
Partnering grief and lament with vision and hope go together in a Christian response to this pandemic.
If we are wrong, and the blizzard passes, the winter is mild, and the little ice age never arrives, our organization already knows what to do.
I hope this is helpful in this season. I think the challenge for most church leaders is how we respond according to our understanding of the life, mission, and theology of the Church.  If we can do this, I believe we will see many more opportunities to be the church and even transform the church. This is if we don’t just see this pandemic as a problem to be solved or a season to be outlived. – Rev. Mike Ramsdell 

Please read the entire article by use Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard. Carefully listen to the podcast. Then use Mike’s excellent summary as a reference point. Hold to the promise of the risen Savior. “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”  (Matthew 28:20)

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
(Isaiah 41:10, KJV)