Monday, October 26, 2020
We’ve all seen them—storm clouds, black and billowing, tempestuous. Their appearance warns of the violent weather within, about to be unleashed on all below.
Sometimes though, the blackness is edged with light—sign of a sun only temporarily blocked from view—a silver lining that promises good to follow.
In my August blog, Pivot: A Kairos Story, I wrote of the decision to pivot from offering the Kairos Course in our standard, in person, format to an online offering—an accommodation to the ongoing limitations imposed by the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Moving a course with a global footprint and a 20+ year track record from a face-to-face delivery model to an online one would normally be a considered, careful experiment, filled with caution, evaluation and review.
Making the pivot in 2 months, with no safety net, has felt at times like jumping out of an airplane into one of those big, black clouds.
When you are tumbling through the storm there isn’t much time to evaluate. But a few months on, still facing ongoing challenges, here are some silver linings that are beginning to gleam ever more clearly.
5 Silver Linings
Although it’s obvious that an online course is not constrained by geography, beyond the increased access to the Kairos Course by people in more rural parts of Canada, the silver lining for the Simply Mobilizing Canada team is the future leadership potential it creates.
Since the Kairos Course leadership teams are developed out of the pool of alumni, growing that alumni pool in more rural communities creates the potential for developing geographically dispersed leadership capacity when we are once again able to meet in person.
While there has always existed an informal ‘tech person’ role for setting up computers and projectors at the beginning of each in-person class session, the need for a person with technical skills has become central to our ability to effectively offer online courses. This has been a barrier to online course growth in the short-term.
The silver lining for the movement is the potential for younger leaders, who generally possess greater technical skills, to be more involved in courses, thus speaking into the direction of the movement.
Broad-based promotion through social media etc. has been a neglected area in the Simply Mobilizing Canada movement. We have relied on word of mouth and local church promotion to fill courses, which was effective enough to have kept the development of a more comprehensive strategy low on the priority list. With the disappearance of the local church as a means of promotion, (since online courses aren’t hosted by a particular church), different promotional strategies are being developed.
The silver lining is that the strategies being developed to serve our needs in this Covid-era will serve our needs even when we resume in-person courses.
4. Community and connection
One of the pillars of the Kairos Course and other Simply Mobilizing courses is that information must lead to application.
Significant course time is devoted to integration, an activity that is best cemented by the sharing and accountability offered in a small group setting. Pre-Covid, an ideal scenario was that small locally based accountability groups would continue, as application was worked into ordinary life. With the loss of geographical proximity in courses, this process has had to be reimagined with greater investment and intentionality to ensure this outcome.
If these trials prove successful, they will inform how we manage this course component even when we are able to be together in a physical class—another silver lining.
5. Global learning in real time
Since the Kairos Course is offered globally in over 80 countries, the challenges we’ve been faced with in Canada are not ours alone. Everyone is trying to figure it out in real time, within the constraints of their pandemic experience.
Because of previously built relationships and the global leadership’s posture to encourage experimentation, creativity and peer learning have been unleashed, resulting in faster, better outcomes.
This has perhaps been the biggest silver lining—a global community growing together in the midst of a storm.
When the Covid ‘storm’ has passed and we’re back to calmer skies, the lessons learned from this experience need not be lost. The silver linings during this season are opportunities to grow, stretch, and learn, if we’re willing.
What are the silver linings you see?
Take the opportunity to really look and see what God is doing in the midst of this storm—you might be surprised at the opportunities that are opening up.
If you want to develop your ‘eyes to see’ what God is doing, consider taking the Kairos Course. Online courses are being offered regularly. Find one that suits your schedule at Simply Mobilizing Canada.
Lorna Johnston is the Diaspora Ministries Leader at Outreach Canada. She leads two national teams--Loving Muslims Together (LMT) and Simply Mobilizing Canada (SMC). She works with teams of diverse and experienced leaders and ministries across Canada to alert and activate the church in Canada to the changing opportunities to engage God's mission right here in Canada.