Recently, I finished a book by John P. Kotter titled, “A Sense of Urgency”. In it, Kotter looks at what causes businesses and organizations to thrive in uncertain times. He calls this a true sense of urgency and offers four tactics that support the strategy. While Kotter writes from a business perspective (the book is published by Harvard Business Review), I think there are three key takeaways that the Church can glean from his book.
- Watch out for a false sense of urgency.
One of the most significant insights from the book, for me, was the idea of a false sense of urgency. This is when there is a perception that the organization is in trouble and in need of change, but the resulting behavior is a rush of activity instead of meaningful productivity. In the Church, we can easily run into situations built upon a false sense of urgency. The schedule is full, everyone is in a small group, we have a meeting every night of the week – but there’s no fruit being produced. It’s not how much you do, but what you’re doing. It’s not the quantity of activity, but the quality. You could have twenty small groups running, but if there are no disciples being made is it any better to have twenty as opposed to one? Better to have a small tree producing lots of apples than a large tree that doesn’t produce any.
- Find the opportunity in crisis.
Kotter points out that times of uncertainty and trouble aren’t necessarily the worst things that can happen to us. If approached correctly, these times can yield tremendous outcomes for us. In particular, they help push entire organizations from a position of complacency to one of urgency (and hopefully true urgency). I think the Church is in this very situation today. The world is changing at an increasingly quicker pace. It’s easy to look at the world around and feel threatened and scared for the Church and her future. However, this is also a time when those who are most rooted in a certain method and style of church are most likely to accept new efforts and practices. Now is an amazing opportunity to catalyze change in the Church because more and more people recognize the need.
- Behave with urgency every day.
If we want to develop a sense of true urgency within the Church, then our leaders – both paid and unpaid – need to behave with urgency every day. This means clearing and prioritizing the schedule, moving quickly, speaking with passion, behaving in accordance with your words, and letting others see you physically act with urgency. You don’t have to run around wildly, but aim to hustle in everything you do. Be focused, be clear, and act accordingly. Letting others, especially those in your church, see you move with urgency will get them to move with urgency too.
Does your church operate with a sense of true urgency?
How can you practically find the opportunity in crisis and behave with urgency ever day?