That’s a concept from one of my favorite (if sometimes crassly scripted) British comedies, W1A. An affectionate but satirical look at the BBC which it turns out is like any other bloated government endeavor – ever seeking to justify its budget and to some degree immune from practical, ground-level influence. The Way Ahead Task Force was assembled to “think big thoughts about the BBC’s purpose” among other things. We are living in a time where our own Way Ahead can seem unclear.
One effect of the global shutdown has been mental shutdown.
We are bogged down by cognitive dissonance and a certain blindness that comes from having too much information and, at the same time, not enough. This time of crisis has exposed new ground, opportunities, weaknesses, and some shocking realities. Our lives and our businesses may change dramatically as a result.
But we all know we have to move forward. Constituents need us and our ministries and services perhaps as never before. Will we just watch these opportunities wither? How do we think about bringing structure to our strategy in ever-shifting ground?
How do we find our Way Ahead?
Start with your WHY. This upheaval may change the way we do business (ministry etc.) – that’s our HOW, but our WHY, our purpose, will give us the best fix for the Way Ahead.
Then take a fresh look at your situation in light of your why. Disruption can break open potential, expose gaps, and show us opportunity. Here are a few areas of great disruption and opportunity to think about:
- Education – how it’s delivered, what it accomplishes, and what it costs. Everything is up for reconsideration now.
- Mental Health – in the best of times mental health is a big need, now with joblessness, loss, transition and a host of follow on issues, demand for mental health services and resources will grow.
- Jobs and Employment – losing a job is categorized as one of the hardest losses to bear. Millions of people here in the US and worldwide will be trying to find their way. Millions of companies large and small will be trying to recover, fill positions and reorganize.
- Real Estate and Relocation – we expect financial distress and employment changes to drive decisions about relocation, selling assets, and downsizing.
- Civil Rights Litigation – sad to say but one of the biggest surprises of the “pandemic response” has been the trampling of civil rights. The right to open a business, conduct worship, speak freely. Righting these issues will take on significance as we move ahead.
- Financial Services – bankruptcy, restructuring business, tax advice, investment, retirement, and areas of financial expertise will be in high demand. The financial world has shifted dramatically, everyone knows it.
- Health-Related Industry – in a healthcare crisis, the focus turns to all-things health, this includes fitness and nutrition.
- Food Security – food shortages have raised new questions and options for the supply chain and are driving an interest in sustainable access worldwide.
- Web Services and Accessibility – even the most reluctant computer user has had to accept the essential nature of technology as a result of this crisis. A rapid expansion into the day-to-day life of even the lightest, most reluctant user is now a reality.
- Radio – we have been powerfully reminded that internet access to information and communications are controlled by a handful of people. These people and businesses are under no obligation to be fair, tell the truth, or bear responsibility for any harm they might cause. Radio is an important alternative, especially for conservative and Christian audiences.
- Missions (both Rescue Missions and Mission-Sending) – in both areas the needs increase in times of dislocation and uncertainty.
- Churches – the church can take on new significance and importance during times like these. Spiritual encouragement, relationships, community building, relief, and practical help are specialties of the church. Virtually every item listed above could have a church outreach and ministry tied to it.
As CS Lewis wrote in The Silver Chair: “Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”
There is a Way Ahead for all of us. It’s time to decide what to do … the landscape has changed, but the needs we serve are still there. And if God forbid, we face a “second wave” in the fall, we have time to set up strategies to meet it. Either way we are stronger as businesses and ministries. Let’s do this!