More and more studies are confirming that a crisis actually boosts creativity. It’s easy to see why we all live in a state of constant frustration. CNN reports that we consume about 74 gigabytes — nine DVDs worth — of data every day. And that’s not counting personal problems, career challenges, and other obstacles. But the Wall Street Journal confirms that “having your world turned upside down sparks creative thinking.” How?
Because of the revelations recently about the data leak from the Ashley Madison website that encourages people to engage in adultery, my friend Ed Stetzer posted this statement on his blog: “Based on my conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada, I estimate that at least 400 church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning Sunday.” He followed with some excellent advice to the ministry leaders who may be caught up in the scandal. Because of my focus on media and culture, I wanted to follow up with some practical advice elders, board members, and other church staff need to know if a member of your pastoral team has been involved in Ashley Madison, or any other moral failing:
What do you do after your national spokesperson (or CEO or pastor) has been arrested? (Worse – for being a pedophile.) That’s what Subway’s leadership is asking this week after the news that Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesman, plead guilty to possession of child pornography. The federal charges state that he repeatedly paid to engage in sexually explicit acts with children and that he received and distributed child pornography. The documents also say that Fogle, 37, used Web sites for commercial sex and traveled extensively to engage in sexual acts with minors from 2007 until June 2015. So the question becomes
In the religious and nonprofit world, a leader’s moral failure still has a major impact. Along with the theological and scriptural issues, there’s also a significant trust issue involved. The common thinking is that if he or she can’t be trusted to honor marriage vows, then the leader is likely untrustworthy in other areas as well. However you personally fall on the spectrum of that thinking, the truth is, churches, ministries, and nonprofits take a heavy hit when a leader has an affair, or worse, is involved in illegal sexual behavior. In these cases, how the organization reacts in the first 24 hours is critical. Having advised numerous organizations through these difficult situations, here’s my recommendations for the first 24 hours of the crisis:
Whatever the size of your church, nonprofit, or business, you need a spokesperson. Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with a crisis or disaster, but my advice is to always be ready. The question isn’t “if” a crisis will happen, but “when.” Even if you’re involved in assisting after natural disasters you’ll encounter the media on many levels, so it’s always good to put your best foot forward. So what makes a good spokesperson? Here’s what you need to consider:
I asked a distinguished panel of donor development and fundraising experts about the advice they would give churches and ministries during a financial crisis. The panel included the late Mary Hutchinson, as well as Mark Dreistadt, Dale Berkey, and David Holland. I asked them to send me a couple of suggestions that could help a church or ministry get through a tough financial time. Here’s their suggestions:
Rarely a week goes by that you don’t see a public relations nightmare happening at a local church, ministry, or nonprofit. From a leader’s moral failing, to financial improprieties, to inappropriate sexual relationships, there are many ways a crisis can damage or destroy an otherwise great organization. And sometimes a crisis happens that’s not even your fault. That’s why I asked Kathy Lovin, who does a brilliant job managing Public Affairs and Communications for The Salvation Army USA Western Territory for some coaching on handling a crisis. Here’s her excellent advice: