Resilience – the secret reservoir!

There is a great story told about a football coach describing for his recruiter the type of football player the coach wants to recruit. The coach said there are three types of players. The first is the one who gets knocked down and does not get back up. The recruiter affirmed, “that is not the player we want to recruit.” The coach said there is a second player who gets knocked down and he gets back up. He gets knocked down again and he gets back up again. The recruiter enthusiastically says, “that is the kind of player we want to recruit!” The coach scolds his recruiter saying, “I want to recruit the player who keeps knocking all those players down.”

Resilience is the quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back stronger than before. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and overcome the challenges that could derail their efforts. Resilience is a secret reservoir of strength some people are able to call on in times of need to carry them through difficulty and challenges without falling apart.

In God’s economy there is a spiritual resilience that pastors and church leaders need in order to lead through the challenges of church life and ministry.

In the Corpus Leader Resilience Model there are three component parts to developing the spiritual resilience necessary to lead through times of change and challenge. They are: 1. Spiritual Vitality, 2. Relational Tenacity, and 3. Personal Stability.

These three categories are developed using the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. Grouping the nine Fruits of the Spirit into three categories (relationship with God, relationship with others, and relationship with self) highlight the multidimensional approach to God developing resilience within His people.

The Corpus team refers to Love, Joy, and Peace in terms of Spiritual Vitality. This category and the three associated human experiences within this category seek to establish a believer, a leader, a pastor in the love, joy and peace that can only be found in having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When the spiritual relationship with God is strong, stable, and filled with life and vitality then resilience grows exponentially.

The next set of the Fruit of the Spirit is related to Relational Tenacity. The fruits associated with relational tenacity include joy, kindness and gentleness. These fruits help pastors, church leaders, and Christians win with people. Giving God room to work, being kind in attitude and action, and treating people fair and having good motives are all required to win spiritual with those we have relationships with.

The finally set of the Fruit of the Spirit is Personal Stability. When under pressure many non-resilient people self-destruct. But the person who exhibits faithfulness, gentleness and self-control has the ability to remain calm under extreme pressure in order to come through the challenges they face undeterred.

The world is a challenging place and ministry is a challenging calling. If you can learn how to cultivate your level of resilience you will not just get back up again when you get knocked down, but you will start knocking down the challenges you face and overcoming the obstacles before you! You will bear much fruit!

Knowing resilience is the number one need for church leaders in a post-Covid world, our Corpus team is active certifying coaches with the Leader Resilience Assessment and Coaching Certification tool. We are also hosting one day workshops to help train and bless pastors and church leaders struggling with the challenges of leading in the current climate. Leave a comment, ask a question below or contact our team directly or through our website and someone from our team will respond to you.

If you would like to learn more about the Leader Resilience Assessment and Coaching call 954.557.0855 or visit the Corpus website at www.corpusvitae.org

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Re-Imagine the post-“MEvangelical” Church

Churches are beginning to Re-Emerge from Covid-19. They are beginning to re-gather for worship, re-group for discipleship, and re-deploy for mission. As this happens pastors need to know church members are asking more fundamental questions about the philosophy of church life than they did prior to the pandemic. Church members are asking what do we do, why do we it, how do we it, and is there meaning in doing it?

Pastors must RE-IMAGINE their ministries as they Re-Emerge from the pandemic. Here are the 3 most important things pastors and churches will need to Re-Imagine.

First, Christians are longing for a CULTURE OF COMMUITY. The isolation the pandemic created has resulted in a deep longing for community. Pastors and churches must recognize that superficiality and going through the motions will not be enough to quench the thirst of the human heart’s desire for relationships.

Churches that emphasize the human relationships side of ministry will be the new “seeker” movement of the post-covid church experience. The Community “SEEKER” movement will become the strongest tie to a church -more than theology and more than programs. People of every generation are longing for interaction with others and there is no other organization in the world better equipped to satisfy these God-given longings of the human heart than the church. The church gathered will mean more to its members today than it has in the last 50 years. Honesty, vulnerability, and openness will be hallmarks of the church that creates this culture of community.

Second, Christians are longing for COMPENTENCY OF LEADERSHIP. Pastors who have high levels of competency in the primary functions of biblical leadership will “shine like stars in the Universe.” The entertainment based culture of pastoral leadership and the celebrity pastor in the pastor centric culture of many churches has been exposed during the pandemic. Many Christians have been repulsed by the antics of the “me-centered ministry” that is often on display in “MEvangelical” Christianity.

The church and especially individual church members are looking for competency based leadership. Pastors who have a deep and rich theological understanding of Scripture, philosophy and ethics will thrive as they answer the deepest questions that people have been asking during the pandemic. Pastors who shepherd the human heart and provide soul-care for people nurturing them back to spiritual, emotional, and relational health will be celebrated. Pastors who lead with competency and who are able to assess the current state of the ministry and reposition the ministry in light of the new realities they are facing, will flourish. These three competencies will help many church ReCover what they have lost during the pandemic.

Third, every church and church member in the post-covid culture is looking for CLARITY OF PURPOSE.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, a Holocaust survivor, and the founder of a school of psychotherapy focused on our search for meaning. In his later years he sought to understand the central human motivation for living. This is often referred to as logotherapy. Logotherapy is based on the philosophy that striving for meaning in life is the primary, most powerful motivational driving force in humans. Frankl believed, meaning was determined by what we love.

The ultimate goal for which we can aim is not power, money, pleasure, or fame – it is love. It is the tender and passionate affection for another. It is the deep appreciation and outward expression of care. It is the sacrificial interest to bring pleasure to others. To love is the highest goal to which we can aim. It captures our imagination and awakens our heart for a promise and hope awaiting us in the future.

It is in a love for God expressed in worship, prayer and devotion that will clarify our spiritual purpose. It is our love for others expressed through care, compassion, and encouragement that will re-focus us in our mission. It is our love of self, rightly viewed as a beloved child and creation of God that will rid us of “MEvangelical” Christianity. It is purpose found in the love of God, the love of others and the love of self that will help pastors, churches, and each of us as individuals to Re-Imagine what is next for the church.

If you would like to learn more about these and other issues facing the church in a post-covid world visit the Corpus website at www.corpusvitae.org.

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Leading on the Backside of the Curve

Most pastors have learned, followed, and practice ecclesiological principles rooted in church growth concepts. This is a MAJOR problem for the 90%+ of church leaders who are leading a church that is stagnated or in decline. Regurgitating church growth models when postured in a church revitalization setting will not only frustrate a church, but it will also paralyze a pastor.

In the church growth philosophy you ask:

  1. What should we do next?
  2. How can we succeed ?
  3. What vision do we embrace next?
  4. How can we build on our momentum?

On the back side of the curve EVERYTHING is different. Entirely different questions must be ask, and they point to an entirely different leadership model if Jesus’ mission for His church is going to be recovered. The questions include:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. What can we preserve?
  3. What do we need to stop doing?
  4. How will our values lead us through our challenges?

One the front side of the church growth curve you live on past success because it still has an impact. Your organizational knowledge and culture is still intact. Technical expertise with church events and leadership is valued most. Compromise can still work. Win-win scenarios can still be developed. New people, pastors and programs can still move the needle.

On the back side of the curve everything changes. You must address the fear of change, and loss. The fear of loss causes grief and the 5-stages of grief make leading more emotional than rational. You must be an expert at conflict resolution. You must always remember why you exist. You must state your values in fresh ways so they remind you of why you do what you do, but they also must challenge your existing culture. Finally, you must be willing and able to overcome the sabotage of otherwise good people who do not want to experience the loss of thing they have loved.

You will see from the diagram inserted above the three horizontal labels that describe the type of leadership required at each stage in the life cycle of the church. There is visionary leadership on the frontside of the curve. There is managerial leadership at the top of the curve. There is adaptive leadership that is required on the back side of the curve.

The church growth model expressly taught that visionary leadership was leadership. Those who could not muster the gifts of visionary leadership, were considered to manage the vision after the visionary. Thus the title managerial leader became popular. But few have discovered what adaptive leaders is and fewer still what it requires. So consider a few things about Adaptive Leadership (AL).

Adaptive Leadership requires leaders to challenge not reinforce the status quo. AL’s must challenge the existing church culture which will pit them against many if not most member within the church. AL’s preside over the church when loss is the main experience. AL’s must be resilient for 3-7 years to see a church through the necessary change. AL’s must help churches and Christians unlearn something in order to learn new things. AL’s must survive the sabotage many existing church leaders will throw their way. AL’s must be hard on the outside without becoming hardened on the inside. Adaptive leaders must remain calm, remain in relationships, and remain resilient.

There is much more to learn and know if you are in an Adaptive Leadership situation. Leave a comment or connect with our team at (954) 557-0855 to discuss more.

Rob Peters is the founder and president of a non-profit church revitalization ministry called Corpus. You can learn more by visiting the website at www.corpusvitae.org

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Post Coronavirus Church Trends

There will be many who predict how church will change post coronavirus, and the script is not yet fully written yet. There are a few safe bets when it comes to the future of church after the pandemic is over.

1. Essential ministry will flourish and extraneous ministry will flounder. For the first time in our lifetimes the church is not building a vision curve on top of another vision curve. Aubrey Malphurs made famous the successive “S” curve model (see below), and it has been a household staple for churches and pastors for 30 years.

Aubrey Malphurs made this model famous and can be found in Advanced Strategic Planning.

While the model has been helpful as pastors tried to learn to cast vision, this classic model from the church growth era never allowed the church to flush out its out dated models and ministries. The approach compounded ministries creating redundancies resulting in complex churches. There have been many efforts to create a Simple Church but in the end the models were just regurgitated church growth ideas. The result was essential ministry was clouded and churches have become confused about what its ministry really is and how ministry should be performed.

The coronavirus has force the church to experience the Kubler-Ross model. This model holds the potential to flush “ineffectiveness” and “unproductiveness” (think 2 Peter 1.8) out of the church system.

Moving into the recession/depression portion of the curve holds the potential to flush out programming, ministries, and activities that do not help the church make disciples. The many churches going through the motions of religious activities because of programing traditions or leader preferences will accelerate their decline, decay and ultimate demise post-coronavirus. During the crisis donors have been able to see and feel what is mission critical and what is non-essential. They are funding mission and ministry whereas programing and traditions are being defunded.

If you can’t clearly articulate the mission critical ministries, then you will loose your resource base.

2. The church will stop fighting over models and we will start fighting for the mission. Paul in 2 Tim 2 tells Timothy to “flee from . . . and fight for.” In the next statement he says there are many who have gotten involved in “foolish arguments” and our foolish arguments have distracted the church from the primary mission. We learned this outside of the Bible belt living in a community which was less then 1% evangelical Christian. The things that seemed important when we moved there became much less important after we had lived there for a few years. The things that seemed important pre-coronavirus will not be nearly as important post coronavirus.

3. Church meetings with have a higher participation rate. Most pastors lament not being able to get all their team members in the room at the same time to discuss issues and make decisions. Even finding the right time on the calendar when most members of team are in town has been difficult in the past. After the meeting is over the efforts at communicating the decisions made and executing decisions have been impaired. But now participating via zoom, teams, etc. is a new norm. Pastors and participants will have to learn on-line meeting etiquette, but a giant leap forward into the electronic age will help the church fulfill its mission more effectively. Execution will also improve due the fact that so many have had to become disciplined with their meetings.

4. Evangelistic engagement will increase but it will move on line. Gospel presentation have skyrocketed since coronavirus. However, most of them are taking place as an arms length transaction via the web. Christians have become comfortable with the 90 second testimony, etc. where they are professing their personal faith on line. The web will be the point of declaration and the place for public profession long after the virus subsides.

5. The supply chain of business and medicine will partner with the church as its distribution center. The church has discovered the power and benefit of the grocery worker, pharmacists, and truckers, and the medical and business has seen the power of the church’s mobilization and communication network. The best of all of these entities has emerged and the partnerships will grow strong and intentional post coronavirus.

To learn more about how the church will Re-Emerge from coronavirus vision Corpus website and download the Re-Emerge playbook. You will find perspectives, checklist, and a workbook for your church to use as you Re-Emerge post-covid.

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10 Post Corona Church Norms

Pastors and churches are rightly focused on Easter Sunday and the hopes of the Resurrection. Easter is the apex of all Christian hope and celebration. But pastors and churches are also very aware that post-Easter ministry is looming and it is feeling very different and longer term than anticipated. 

Our team www.corpusvitae.org works with churches, networks, and denominations in 12 states and 7 countries which allows us to observe larger trends in church life. As we work with, interview and survey our partner churches trends are beginning to emerge. Here is what we are hearing, observing and anticipating:

1. People will gather in smaller worship gatherings and smaller small groups (50% full will be the new full and people will walk out of full rooms and worship centers).

2. The church will recover its essential ministry and nonessential ministry will have fewer participants and get less money.

3. The church has given people permission to stay home for worship services and worship attendance will go down another 15%, but online viewing will go up 50%.

4. Pastoral care will focus on psychological issues and the church will finally engage the mental health crisis.

5. Discipleship will occur in groups of 3 during the workday and groups of 12 or less in homes in the evenings.

6. Missions will focus more on the immediate community than traveling abroad.

7. The church will redefine hospitality in the age of social distancing. There will be no potlucks and no greeting time during the worship service.

8. The church will partner with the business and medical community in new and creative ways to solve community challenges.

9. Money will flow to mission(s) and ministry and out of programs and facilities.

10. Preaching will focus on meaning and significance so that the existential questions people are asking can be answered.

Coronavirus is changing the way people think about church. Our team believes that churches that view themselves as a movement instead of an institution can thrive in the new realities they face.

If you need help ReThinking your ministry during the Coronavirus crisis you can view Corpus’ Crisis Management Playbook here. Also, the full ReFocus process can help your team redesign its ministry to thrive in the new realities. Learn more about ReFocus here.

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