Throughout our thirty plus years of ICM ministry there have obviously been many challenges and obstacles to overcome, yet they have often been localized in certain countries or perhaps regions. For example, living through the fall of the Berlin wall in the early nineties and the ramifications for ministry in eastern Europe and Russia, and then in the last twenty years the increasingly tightening of freedoms in Russia and how all of this has affected the expansion of the Gospel.
Yet what is truly unique about 2020 is that what we all are now experiencing is affecting the whole world to some degree. Each region we serve in is having to deal with similar realities and having to learn what the Church, leadership, and ministry looks like in these times as well as preparing for the future.
While there seems to be no end to the bad news this year, it has been encouraging for us to see the innovations of leadership and ministry training that is taking place in every one of the regions we serve. The level of change and disruption we are all experiencing will inevitably make structural changes in society that will survive past the end of this pandemic. While most of us do not typically like the disruption of change, for those with a forward vision, change always has the potential to bring about positive innovations.
One such change is the acceleration of the digital transition that was already taking place. Many believe that in only one year we have been “forced” to make changes that would have likely taken ten years. Like it or not, it is one of the unavoidable realities of the global changes we have gone through. As we choose to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness we can be part of the new thing that God may want to birth through the ashes of this year.
As a ministry, all our materials have already been accessible as PDFs online to our Coaches around the world. They have been using it to either print in their language or provide digitally for participants on computers, tablets, phones and so on. This year propelled us to use other digital innovations such as Apps and Zoom training conferences. While we have been moving this direction, what has occurred is that more leaders are now open to utilizing the materials in this way. This is not only the case in technologically advanced countries such as Europe and Russia, but also in Latin America and Africa. Accessibility has truly leveled the digital playing field.
This year has also afforded us the opportunity to develop some new exciting leadership materials in addition to coming alongside our MCNet leaders to encourage them as they discover what models work in their countries. In spite of the challenges they have continued to train leaders who will be effective in the body of Christ and their communities.
We will be producing some more training videos for our team as well as hope to minister to them in person next year as this pandemic subsides. We believe the lessons learned from this year will help us be even more effective as we together see to fulfil the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).
[If you are interested in reading how true wisdom differs from just acquiring information in the digital age and how this affects leadership you can access a two page article that Phil sent to the MCNet team, “Leadership, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom in the Digital Age”]