Summary of COVID & Recovery

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Crises change individuals, groups, organisations, societies and cultures and COVID has been a crisis. During a crisis, all our energy is taken up by responding to the pressures, changes and challenges of just surviving, and recovery is impossible in the crisis state.

None of us fully understand the impact of COVID yet. An event is critical or traumatic when:

  • • It is highly unusual or unexpected
  • • It is potentially dangerous to life or well-being
  • • It has a significant disruptive impact
  • • It is universally feared by reasonable people
  • • It is something we struggle to make sense of

By this definition, COVID has been a critical and traumatic event for most people in Australia.

“Recovery (from a crisis) is the process of adapting to accept and thrive in a pandemic aware society.”

Recovery cannot be programmed, but the following are 4 principles around recovery from a crisis that will guide our recovery discussions:

  1. 1. Recovery can begin when safety and stability begin to emerge, so creating safety and stability as soon as practicable will help recovery.
  2. 2. Everyone will have experienced Covid isolation differently but as stability returns, they will all have stories and emotional responses that it will be important to share and to process. We need to be prepared that some people will need more help.
  3. 3. Part of recovery is developing a shared understanding of what has happened and what it means. This may take years and in the meantime there will be differing opinions on what happened and why and on how we recover. We need to be wary of simplification and personalisation and be prepared for conflict.
  4. 4. There will be no return to “business as usual”. Very few activities will recommence unchanged but people will adapt to these changes at different rates. “Over time, most make the adjustments and find their feet.” But this is not a straight forward and easy process to lead.

COVID and Recovery-Some Leadership Practices

“Organisational recovery is not a program or a single event. It will most likely involve intentionally creating safe spaces for people to listen and share, opportunities for individuals to work through what has occurred for them personally and what has happened for the organisation, help in making appropriate sense of it all and the changes it has produced, and practical guidance around settling into the new shape the organisation takes as COVID-19 slowly becomes history.”

Leadership through crisis recovery is not straight forward. The following are 8 leadership practices to guide us during this period. A suggestion would be to discuss how your church could implement each of them, with your Session and leadership teams.

  1. 1. Intentionally create and maintain COVID safe spaces and regularly communicate the priority of safety to those in your organisation.
  2. 2. Set up short term support groups for people to share their COVID isolation experiences with the intention of developing shared understanding and support for one another.
  3. 3. Use a mentor or coach to process your own COVID experience and be aware of your own limitations, levels of stress and workload.
  4. 4. Develop an informed, up to date response to COVID. Communicate it and follow through with appropriate changes.
  5. 5. Equip and model constructive responses to conflict and hold people to appropriate Christian standards of behaviour. Create a culture which is generous, open, kind, supportive, patient and tolerant of differences.
  6. 6. Assess the changes which have taken place in your organisation:
    • i. What elements remain unchanged?
    • ii. What losses have there been?
    • iii. What new processes are on the horizon?
  7. 7. Clarify any changes in roles or responsibilities for staff or lay leaders and provide training and support for the adjustment process.

    Depending on the size and complexity of your organisation, you might:

  8. 8. Appoint a medium term transition or recovery team of 4-5 key leaders to keep intentional recovery on the agenda.

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    Healthy Churches is an initiative of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland (PCQ), Committee for Ministry & Resourcing (CMR).This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 and must be attributed appropriately: (Title, author, source, license.)