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Staff Health

Clarity in the Calm

The sound of instruments and singing poured out of the auditorium. All of a sudden, a law enforcement officer was standing in front of me ...

In less than ten minutes, our Lead Pastor was going to be preaching. That morning, my role as Executive Pastor was standing in the lobby and welcoming the late arrivals. The sound of instruments and singing poured out of the auditorium. All of a sudden, a law enforcement officer stood in front of me and began dictating that our Lead Pastor had to immediately be moved to a secure location in the building.


Within minutes, multiple police cars and law enforcement arrived in and around the facility. Our on-site security team had all exterior and interior doors secured. The Children’s Ministry went into lockdown. Our interior cameras were being scoured to see if an individual, who had murdered someone earlier that day and had audibly named our pastor, was in the building.

We quickly confirmed that the individual was not in the building, but no one could leave until the police felt confident in everyone’s safety. In agreement with law enforcement, we decided to continue with the service in progress and not mention anything that was happening until the end. The worship team added a few minutes to the worship set, we played a pre-recorded video sermon from our Lead Pastor, and before the service was over, it was confirmed that the suspect was not in the area.

Following the service, the Elder Board addressed the congregation and explained that there had been an incident in the community that was a potential threat to our staff. He assured the church body that security precautions had been taken, but there was no ongoing issue. He then instructed the 1000 people in attendance on how to pick up their children and exit the building. There was a slight dip in attendance the following week, but, in the weeks to come, folks came back and continued to multiply disciples.

So why tell you all that? To illustrate this point: a mark of good leadership is Be content (2)getting clarity while in the calm. Years prior to that Sunday morning, our team talked through many potential emergency scenarios and what-ifs. We trained ourselves and our volunteers regularly to understand and know what the best options might be. If we had not taken these steps, the outcome might have been even more chaotic and potentially crippling to our long-term ability to have Gospel-influence in the community.

Get clarity while in the calm. You’ve probably experienced trying to get clarity in the storm, but if not, we certainly all felt it when the pandemic hit.


Simply put, storms add stress ... Storms add anxiety.


Rationale, emotions, and choices are much easier to engage in the calm. In the storm, well … not so much.

Though this applies to ALL of life (marriage, parenting, friendships, finances, etc.), in what areas of you ministry do you need clarity? Here are a few examples: 

  • How to off-board staff in a way that honors them and God
  • Ministry decisions if giving were to decrease by 25% and 50%
  • What to do if an attendee or volunteer tests positive for COVID
  • How to engage if a street preacher stands outside the main entrance and tells everyone entering they’re going to Hell if they worship here (yep, true story)
  • How the Elder Board will handle a rogue, toxic Elder

There are so many more topics to tackle that I could list here, and all of them need to be thought through, talked through, and given some sort of planned framework.

But don’t do them all at one time!

  1. Start by gaining clarity in one “stormy” topic per week
  2. Work with one other person to write up a first draft
  3. Show it to two or three other trusted leaders
  4. Revise it and then go through it with those it would affect
Remember that this is a part of being a minister of the Gospel! It demonstrates care, leadership, and service, and the Lord will honor you in this.

Want to talk through a stormy topic? I'm here to listen and assist!



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Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith

Along with being a Pastor's Kid, Caleb has been in vocational ministry for over 20 years. From family ministries to executive leadership, from church mergers to multi-site to church planting, Caleb brings the experience of multiplicative ministry in a variety of cultures and contexts. Caleb and his family live in Rochester, MN where he serves as Executive Pastor of Strategy & Culture at Autumn Ridge Church. He is also a certified coach and facilitator for both Auxano and Ministry Insights. Caleb's passion in ministry is helping people and local churches maximize their Gospel impact.

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