Every crisis is different and the one we find ourselves in is particularly unique. Still, there are lessons to be gleaned from the past and principles learned in previous fires that can shape how we navigate adversity today.
We recently asked a few staff members and church planters to share what they've learned about living as a follower of Jesus during times of crisis. Here's what they shared.
From Brent Storms, Orchard Group President and former church planter in Boston:
Over the past couple of decades with Orchard Group I have experienced a handful of crises: the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the 2008 recession in the global economy, and the brutal impact of Hurricane Sandy on New York City. There have been two additional major challenges mixed in as well: one significant leadership challenge and one major family disruption. In many ways, our current global pandemic crisis is unlike anything we’ve confronted. However, there are still strong lessons from the past that can help us navigate now and into the future. We can’t lead healthy organizations if we don’t remain spiritually healthy ourselves. Every leader will experience crisis at some point. If leaders are going to be effective through crisis, they need to be aware of and prioritize their own spiritual health.
From Nick Parsons, Orchard Group Recruitment Director and former church planter in Japan:
I’ve had the strange experience of serving local ministries through several crises: in Thailand during the 2004 tsunami, supporting colleagues serving in Japan during the 2011 tsunami and nuclear crisis, as well as in Joplin, Missouri during a devastating tornado. What I have learned is that crisis reveals the true strengths and weaknesses of our character. It reveals the idols we worship (comfort, control, or security, for example). Crisis also reveals the true strengths and weaknesses of our organizations and churches. It exposes leadership capacity and leadership flaws. The results of this revealing can be discomforting or encouraging. In any case, we are reminded in crisis that our truest strength, our greatest hope, and our strongest security is found in Christ. We must learn, adapt, and grow in these situations. But most importantly in crisis, we must ground our lives in and deepen our dependence on Christ.
From Luke Greer, Orchard Group Partnership Director, and former church planter in Mexico City:
At the height of the swine flu epidemic, our little church plant in the Mexico City Valley was rocked by a statewide shelter-in-place order. Being the church without physical gatherings felt impossible. (2009 was years before the first Zoom video conference!) The weeks and months that followed continued to be difficult with mounting job losses and a volatile economy. That year was profoundly difficult, yet in some unexpected ways, the crisis accelerated the mission: inroads were paved with new people who hadn't yet encountered the church or Jesus, new volunteers stepped up, and tithing took on a new urgency for many church members. Many times, the hardships we were facing were very the things that God was using to provide new inroads for his work.