The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a disruption to the global economy that will shape organizations for years to come. On the front lines, employees of essential organizations face uncertainty and fear as they work to deliver services and products to their customers. Employees of non-essential organizations work in isolation from home or face furloughs and the anxiety of unemployment. We all await the unknown end of the crisis.
Our goal as the Wheaton Center for Faith & Innovation is to participate in God’s redemption and restoration of a broken world. The COVID-19 crisis is a moment for action rather than despair. Light shines brighter in the midst of darkness, and in the face of fear and tribulation, love and peace become more radiant.
There is much to be done. Business leaders seek guidance on navigating investments, cash flows, HR, performance, and profitability (or lack thereof). Christian business leaders seek wisdom as they discern how to love their employees, serve their customers, and bear witness to Christ in these uncertain times.
CFI recently reached out to Christian business leaders with the following questions in mind:
- What are the current implications being felt by leaders within the CFI network?
- How are they navigating the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis to integrate faith and wisdom as they discern the way forward?
- What are prayers and concerns that are being felt by leaders around the world? In our exploration of the Christian leaders’ responses, we discovered that the COVID-19 crisis presents an unprecedented opportunity for social innovation and cultural transformation. We are in the midst of a pivotal moment where the gospel of peace can be spread and positive innovations can emerge.
In our exploration of the Christian leaders’ responses, we discovered that the COVID-19 crisis presents an unprecedented opportunity for social innovation and cultural transformation. We are in the midst of a pivotal moment where the gospel of peace can be spread and positive innovations can emerge.
Each blog in this series has discussed a different aspect of the innovation opportunities in the current climate. Part one talked about the importance of spiritual engagement, the foundation of transformational change. Part two discussed relational engagement as an important aspect of spiritual engagement. In a time when many people are afraid, Christian business leaders have the opportunity to grow trust within their companies and their communities through intentionally pursuing relational engagement. Part three explored the importance of social innovation in time when so many people need effective, efficient, sustainable solutions to a variety of problems. In this final installment, we will discuss the ultimate goal of this process – transformation.
Transformation is possible as leaders of organizations mobilize their companies to work with stakeholders to serve employees, customers, suppliers, government, NGOs, and the community well. Well-being outcomes may be aligned with UN Development goals, but they also need to be aligned with the vision of faithfulness outlined in Matthew 25:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (Matthew 25:34-36).
In light of this vision, it is not enough for organizations to ensure customer access to products, promote responsible production and consumption, foster organizational profit/loss sharing, encourage the health and safety of employees/customers, and reduce the disparity of access to essential goods wherever possible. Rather, they also must seek to address the concrete physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the people both within and outside the organization. Among other things, this may involve offering financial planning and resources to employees to help mitigate the effects of future furloughs and unemployment; contributing to local structures and networks that provide resources to people in need, and fostering a corporate culture that values people more than profit.
Christians who proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ need to live in a manner worthy of that gospel. Jesus depicted this kind of life as being marked by the care of those in need. Christian leaders have a great opportunity in this season to be spiritually engaged as they innovate to meet the needs of the people entrusted to them to see the transformation that extends beyond COVID-19 recovery.
We closed the survey by asking participants how we could pray for them, and we invited the CFI team, executive members, and community partners to join together for weekly prayer meetings via Zoom. Together we prayed for the CFI community to seek God’s wisdom and will as we seek to be faithful through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly all participants mentioned the need to pray for the gospel to be advanced during this season, and they sought opportunities to share about the peace of Christ that transforms all our lives.
For more on this project see our COVID-19 resources page and check back next week for Part II of our COVID blog series.