Open or Closed: Decisive Decision-Making Under the Microscope

By Doug Franklin May 27, 2020

In churches across the nation, many leaders are struggling to make the decision about when and how to reopen during the pandemic.

To be fair, this is a tough decision. If churches open too soon and church members get sick, that would be very devastating to a church. But, on the other hand, if churches don’t open, they are allowing the government to have a much higher degree of control and a power than they were ever intended to have.

a decision is needed

While I recognize the difficult dilemma that churches face, I believe that it’s critical that church leadership make a decisive call in this matter. Whatever their decision may be, they will have the challenging task ahead of them to sell their decision to their congregations.

Let me be clear. I don’t think is there a right or wrong decision. Above all else, our leaders will need to listen to God and do what he says. This post is not about what our leaders should do; it’s about our leaders being under the microscope and having to make a really tough decision.

Remember, we are called to pray for our leaders, and the best and most powerful thing we can do right now is to lift them up in prayer. I also believe it’s important for us to follow their lead and believe God is directing them at this time.

the decision-making microscope

I have been around church all my life. I have worked in churches and I have worked with churches, and I have noticed that most church leaders don’t like to be under the decision-making microscope. They like to make decisions over a long period of time, cloaked in the secrecy of the elder board. They like to see how the winds are blowing in the congregation.

Being decisive has not been their highest strength.

Due to freedom of religion and a lack of persecution in this country, most of our leaders have never faced a decision like this before. This goes way beyond choosing the VBS theme, selecting the mission statement, or choosing how to produce a weekly worship service. This is a decision that depends on vision, pastoral care, and grit.

And this decision–more than any other in recent time–will be under the microscope. It will reveal how our leaders make decisions.

decision-making based on conviction

following group think

Some leaders will meet with other church leaders in their town or denomination to consider a plan. Yes, there is safety in numbers, but it’s hard to have real conviction that comes from God when we made decisions in large groups.

relying on the government

Some leaders will hope the government will make the decisions for them, and they will hide behind the executive order of the Governor. Many church leaders were grateful for the initial order to close because it kept them from making a tough decision.

riding the fence

Some leaders will ride the fence and do both. They will “sort of” open and “sort of” stay closed. This could also look like a staged opening. This decision gives everyone a little something.

following convictions

No decision that is made is going to please everyone, so leaders are going to need to believe in their decision. Once they have made a decision, they are going to have to explain themselves and get people to buy-in. Leaders will need conviction, clear communication and perseverance to make it through this season.

My simple point is: leaders should pray, seek God, and do their best to follow his voice and trust in their convictions. They should not look for a strategy outside of prayer to get them through this dilemma.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More