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Winston Churchill, Discipleship, & Being Wartime Leaders

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The weeks have been all running together, haven’t they?

The experts all agree that the best way to say sane and healthy in this time of lockdown is to get in a “routine.” 

My post-COVID-lockdown routine has, like many of yours, settled down.  Long hours on Saturday through Thursday.  

But Fridays?

Fridays are made for long morning runs.  

I cherish the almost-2 hours running as the sun is coming up.  It’s my alone time, where I put on a podcast or two, pound the pavement, and really let God do the re-creation work that He’s so good at.  It’s exhilarating and liberating, and often He brings brainwaves that affect major parts of my life, be it marriage or parenting or ministry.

This Friday’s brainwave was brought to me by way of Mark Sayers, one of the hosts of the awesome This Cultural Moment podcast.

Recently, Sayers was on The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast speaking into the cultural trends of how our new church world is operating in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.  

He holds that we’re in the midst of the biggest cultural shift since World War II and likened Winston Churchill’s leadership of the United Kingdom during the war to some of the pastoral decisions we’re being forced to make now.  I’m a bit of a WWII nerd, and it struck a particular chord.

He then made a comment at one point that got my brain spinning:

“We need to adapt like we’re a government at war.” 

Of course.

Churchill, like many other wartime commanders, knew that his country needed to adapt or else be overrun.  Winning a war comes from clarity of vision and mission, and then doing whatever it takes to GET to that goal.

He almost single-handedly carried his country through the most trying of times, making allies, inspiring his people, and instilling in them a deep sense of hope.  Imagine spending 9 months of your life in bomb shelters every night because of an enemy air force dropping explosives on your house, yet summing up the courage to do so because of your leader’s inspiration and tenacity?

And we think 7 weeks of quarantine is bad!

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During my Friday run, a thought which had been sitting in the back of my mind for the last 7 weeks of lockdown made itself very present: 

“What if God is intentionally using this time to remind us of the ever-evolving war we SHOULD be in?”

I would never deign to say that God caused this.  But He can sure use anything He pleases, right?

Church leader, listen closely:

You are at war. This war will not stop once the days, weeks, or months of this COVID-19 crisis ease up.  

Our mission is the Great Commandment, to go and make disciples in whatever way we can.  God has given us a fresh, new digital church medium with which to do so.  And He’s given us a time such as this to do it.  He’s giving us a whole lot of on-the-job training, too.

This will end, eventually.  And yet we’re still going to be at war.  A war that encompasses all of eternity, one that God has said we need to be fighting in His name.

Churchill made a terrible peacetime leader.  If he didn’t have a goal or a mission, he floundered.  If he wasn’t innovating, inventing, and investing, he was failing.

Churches, likewise, make terrible peacetime disciples.  

We need to be wartime leaders at all times, not just during the times of crisis.  

Always innovating our way to a better online discipleship model.  

Inventing a new way of engagement.  

Investing in our people so that they can use technology to make new disciples.  

We need to be making decisions that allow our online platforms the space to grow, adapt, and change.  Just like a wartime country.  We need to be fighting for the things that matter, namely the eternal destinies of people we can affect through this online medium

What’s next?  I’m not sure.  And neither are you.  

But use this time of hard work, involvement, and learning.  Don’t let this go to waste.  Because when this is all over, and you’re back to “normal,” you have a God who is encouraging you to do more in this battle of life than you can even imagine.  

And I read the back of the book.  

Spoiler: we win.

Keep fighting, church leader.  Your Father is more proud of you than you can even believe.

PODCAST 066: The Stuff the Church Didn't Do When COVID-19 Hit, or Biblical Functions of a Digital Church, Part 3
PODCAST 067: Tyler Sansom & the Relational Approach to Church Online

About Author

Andy Mage
Andy Mage

Andy is the Digital Pastor for Bay Hope Church, located in Tampa, FL. He was a worship pastor for 10 years before that, and can routinely be found drinking every single drop of coffee he sees. Andy lives in Odessa, FL, with his amazing wife and 3 amazing kids.

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