We went out and bought a whole bunch of shade coverings, and we bought a second platform outside and new equipment, because now we were doing outside service instead of inside. There were about six months where we spent way more money than usual, and we're taking in less money than usual because we weren't gathering in the church service and people weren't used to giving electronically yet.
Thankfully we have a very generous church and they eventually put all that money back but having the money available when we needed it immediately was really helpful. We had resources in reserve.
In the meantime, I was talking to a lot of congregations and a lot of pastors who were in real crisis because they didn't have resources in reserve. They needed every single Sunday in order to keep the lights on. And some of them didn't survive more than a month or two into this because they had second and third mortgages and, immediately, they couldn't pay them right away. They couldn't pay salaries, they couldn't keep the lights on.
And so the churches that had resources were able to step up and make the adaptations they needed to make. And those that not only didn't have resources in reserve, but in fact were operating at a deficit, they really struggled. Some of them didn't make it at all.
So if you want to survive and thrive during a pandemic, coming out of a pandemic, and getting ready for the next crisis, whatever that might be, or just simply business as usual: have resources in reserve. Putting resources in reserve is not a lack of faith. It's good stewardship.
So that's the first one. Have resources in reserve.
Secondly, churches that responded and thrived during, coming out of, and going into whatever comes next, had team-based leadership. Team-based leadership. This is another phenomenon that happened fairly early into the pandemic.
And this one really kind of shocked me. The first one about a lot of churches not having resources in reserve, I knew that because our church had been that way. But the lack of team-based leadership, some of it surprised me because I'd lived for years where I had to do everything because we hadn't put teams together. But there was a portion of this that really kind of shocked me.
So let me walk you through it. I had small church pastors who called me—some of them, not a lot, but a few who said like two, three months into the pandemic, they came and they said, “I've got a weird problem that I don't know how to solve.”