Chapter 8: Leadership in Crisis


The COVID-19 pandemic presented church leaders with one of the most arduous tests of leadership in over a century. The early days of the pandemic were marked by a historical level of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. The stakes were literally life and death.

Churches lost not just members to the virus, but also pastoral staff. At the same time, the pandemic took away the fundamental practices that define the body of Christ, such as worship, communion, and baptism, as well as the building blocks which form and sustain communities within larger congregations, such as youth and small groups. The pandemic created a monumental challenge for American churches and pastors that, in many cases, precipitated a leadership crisis.

While many leaders showed tremendous courage and compassion amidst the initial uncertainty, they tired over time, especially as loneliness and weariness set in. Where leadership weakness was present, the pandemic exposed it, sometimes with devastating consequences.

Based on Chapter 8 of the report, in this episode host Aaron Hill (editor of ChurchSalary) sits down with two researchers from the Arbor Research Group, Brent Sickel and Terry Linhart, to talk about the numerous leadership crises that occurred during the pandemic and why. This episode also features interviews with several pastors and lay leaders who were directly affected by or lived through a leadership crisis.

Hosted by Aaron Hill, editor of ChurchSalary

“COVID and the Church” is produced in conjunction with the Arbor Research Group and funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. through a grant from the Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders (ECFPL) initiative.

Executive produced by Aaron Hill, Terry Linhart, and Matt Stevens

Director for CT Media is Matt Stevens

Audio Engineering, Editor, and Composer is Tyler Bradford Wright

Artwork by Ryan Johnson





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