Churches: Get Your Defense Off the Field!

Churches: Get Your Defense Off the Field!

The following guest post is written by Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois

Churches: Get Your Defense Off the Field!

COVID is like a football offense we can’t get off the field and our defense has become exhausted. Regardless of your opinion on COVID, your thoughts on how to shut down COVID or how to properly defend against COVID, one reality remains. We can’t get COVID off the field.  

Right about the time church leadership couldn’t get any harder; it got harder.  

About half of churches I keep up with are back to Sunday worship on-site and half are still exclusively on-line. Some churches are reopening live this week, even as others are closing and going back to on-line only. The playing field changes by the minute. Each congregation, county, and state has its own unique dynamics.  

The de-facto mission of many churches right now is survival from day to day.  Reports of staff and members getting sick, being tested and waiting for results takes energy and diverts energy from other things…like the mission.

Somehow churches need to get back on offense rather than spending each day dodging both real and hypothetical bullets. The defense has been on the field too long and it is exhausted. It is time to bring out the offense!

Here is a game plan!

1) Bring open ended things to close. All of them. Don’t give Satan footholds.

2) Over communicate everything.  If it is worth communicating, it is worth over communicating. 

3) Have clear contingency plans with established triggers.  “What are we going to do if…?”  Play out worst case scenarios and get a plan.  Know what sets the plan into motion.

4) Keep prayer ministries active and engaged. At least some of this is spiritual and not medical. You can’t solve spiritual problems with science; those require prayer and fasting.

5) Be clear about your safety guidelines. Be clear about what you expect.  You can’t win here, so just follow God and your own sensibilities. 

6) Make sure you are two deep on the bench…everywhere. Including preacher and song leader.  Anyone can go down at any moment.  

7) Stay cool (at least appear to be cool) Publicly demonstrate calm, competence and walk in leadership lock step.  Answer questions; ignore attacks.  Mixed messages breed mania and confusion.

8.) Offer everything from worship to communication on multiple platforms.  Remember not everyone is on Facebook or even on-line. 

9) Be the arrow and not the target. Someone WILL get COVID.  Be proactive, not reactive.  Know what you are going to do! 

10) Be prepared to answer the mail. Regardless of what you do (or don’t do), there will be consequences. Make sure you have a clear rationale for your actions because you may well have to offer one. 

Here is the deal: None of us can eradicate risk. Nothing is guaranteed and we can guarantee nothing.  Until you accept this reality, the burden of leadership will continue to be overwhelming.  

To sum it up:  Decide what you are going to do to minimize risk, tell people what you are doing to minimize risk, do what you told them and let them decide how to access what you have to offer.  When you treat people like adults, you get to stop worrying like a parent. 

We are ALL tired. 

Gut tired. 

We need to get the defense off the field. All we can do is let our mission guide us, have a reasonable plan for managing risk and start running the offense. 

Comment (1)

  • Mark Brooks

    Thanks Shane! I think this is exactly what we need to hear. I remember my playing days that when the opposition scored against you the coaches would meet you at the sideline and say, “Get your heads up!” They knew that we had to get the offense moving to shift momentum in our direction. When your head is down you can’t see the goal line! Pastors and leaders this is a heads up moment. Thanks for the advice Shane!

    August 12, 2020 at 5:37 am

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