May 6, 2020

Resilient—Yes, We Are

Resilience: The capacity of a system or enterprise to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances. We can embrace resilience by holding to our core purpose, being adaptive, authentic, remarkable, relational.

“Messy disruptions will be most powerful when combined with creative skill.”  (Tim Hartford, Mess: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.)

“Crisis is an accelerator” Carey Nieuwhof


Last week you received two invitations from the Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth:

  1. To apply for a one-time CEMCG MicroGrant of $1,000 for the purpose of creating/enhancing an online faith community or online groups, upgrading digital spaces, and increasing the ability to make disciples in this COVID-19 season and beyond.
  2. To participate in the Fresh Expressions Resilient Church Academy and Master Classes: Skills & Strategies for Quarantine and Post-Quarantine Congregations

Your response to these two invitations was immediate! Within hours of our sending them out on Wednesday and Thursday, you responded by submitting your MicroGrant applications and registering for the Fresh Expressions Resilient Church webinars. In fact, as of May 5th, we have 78 approved CEMCG MicroGrant applications and we are still counting the number of Resilient Church Academy and Master Class participants (enrollment still open).

I suggest that your immediate response to these opportunities, as well as to many other recent webinars, ZOOM—or other online courses, indicates several things about you, your leadership and your congregations:

  • You desire to be a resilient leader, lead a resilient church, and proclaim a resilient Gospel!
  • You are listening to the Holy Spirit and prayerfully discerning what it means to be the church in this time of forced disruption—the COVID-19 pandemic crisis
  • You are willing to take a risk and move out of your comfort zone
  • You are willing to learn, be innovative and try something new
  • You are embracing what it means to be adaptable, authentic, remarkable, and relational—and responding
  • In response to a forced disruption of the ‘church as it has always been’, you are leaning into this liminal time to creatively imagine your ‘what’s next’—how to be the church in new ways; to reach new people who are not already being reached
  • You are discovering how to communicate and build relationships with more innovation and authenticity
  • You are seeking authentic and creative online worship, social media, digital platforms, small groups, bible studies, morning/midday/evening prayer, youth and children’s ministries, mission and community engagement, and discipleship
  • You are embodying what it means to be present with your congregation in ways that honor who you are, whose you are, and how you are being called to serve in the ministry of all people

In the FX Resilient Church Master Class, Shannon Kiser suggests that in this season of crisis we have the opportunity to consider Forced Disruption (crisis of COVID-19 pandemic) vs Constructive Disruption. “Constructive Disruption is the act of productively challenging inherited wisdom or structure; opening up the creative imagination to replace what we have with something we might imagine.”

She continues, “The same thing that makes for resilient ecosystems and cities, makes for resilient churches. becoming uniform can be problematic, so we must diversify. There are three elements to a resilient church: diversity (clergy/laity-release the ministry of all believers), discipleship (equip disciples to grow into the ‘with God’ life, lean into discipleship), dependence (live into a greater dependence on God).”

Take advantage of this strategic opportunity to ask a few questions:
What is the core that we need to carry forward?
What have we discovered in the pivots we have made?
What do we need to let go of and leave behind?
How will we move forward towards greater fruitfulness and impact?
How will we reach new people—people who are not being reached?
What do you imagine the church to be on the other side of this crisis?
How will you use this time of disorientation to move into a new orientation?

For such a time as this—grateful for your leadership in this season of our lives and in the life of the church!

Stay well and be encouraged!

Rev. Meg Witmer-Faile, Associate Director

Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth