What Your Organization and Ministry Can Learn From the Netflix Movie 'The Crown'

Just when I finally get around to some things I've placed on the "back burner", Netflix releases season 2 of its original drama, 'The Crown'. And there's much organizations and ministries can learn from this movie.

For those who are unfamiliar with this movie, 'The Crown' chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy), from the 1940s to modern times. 

The series begins with an inside look at the early reign of the queen, who ascended to the throne at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI, as well as the people who played a big role in events that shaped the later years of the 20th century.

While watching season 2, I couldn't help but notice that episode 5 is about change. Change in how we lead, change in what we say and how we say it. Change in leadership, staff and even our inner circle.

If you have been following me for any length of time, you know that I'm all about change as it relates to ministry. This particular episode of the Netflix Movie, 'The Crown', is a teachable moment for any organization and ministry.

Season 2 episode 5 (Marionettes) features a young John Grigg, writer and publisher of a small publication, who is concerned that the institutions of Great Britain, more notably the Monarchy and the "church" were becoming "irrelevant and outdated". 

This episode clearly illustrates:
  • How leaders on every level hate change, and some even struggle with it.

    How sensitive leaders can be to the very suggestion that they should make even the smallest of changes in themselves, as well as their ministry.

  • The mere mention of change, for some, suggests that they did or are doing things wrong.
  • Change for many of them is hard, so they tend to cling to the traditional and the status quo for a sense of security.
Throughout the movie, you'll notice the conflict between those who want change, and those who do not. Conflict between those who recognize that change is needed, and those who want things to stay the same. 

This conflict comes to a head after a speech the queen gave at an auto plant in England. I couldn't help but notice that even as the speech writers were putting the speech together, the old speech writers preferred wording that was traditional, where as the younger writers suggested that they use words that conveyed "dignity, and reflect our current times."

This episode is a stark reminder of how people and culture have changed, unfortunately, ministry as a whole, and it's leaders continue as if nothing's happening. It illustrates the inability of many ministry leaders to communicate with a new generation, and why our Christian lingo needs a serious overhaul. 

We have created an entire vocabulary of words and phrases that only religious, churchy folks understand. 

Can we make it plain, so that a new generation will be more willing to hear God's word?

Can we teach the Word of God in a way that is actionable, relateable and can be applied to the lives of those we lead today? 

This episode of the 'The Crown' is a great illustration of how doing anything for long periods of time becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit, it becomes a way of life. When it becomes a way of life, we don't question it or those who are in charge of making sure it happens or gets done. Why change? "We've always done it this way."

Needless to say, the speech didn't go over well. The queen soon recognized that many of their traditions created a divide and a rift between the Monarch and the people. 

Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman is an example of how traditions and outdated models have a history of being or becoming barriers or stumbling blocks. 

The queen realized that tradition is not always the best guide or teacher. By the same token, you shouldn't let tradition dictate how you do ministry.

The young writer and publisher eventually convinces the Queen to make necessary changes, even in her royal court. The queen realized that if she and the monarchy are to be adored by the British people, they would have to become a monarchy that the people would want to adore.

If your ministry truly wants to reach and connect with your community, you''re going to have to make the uncomfortable but necessary changes. This means you'll have to reshape your mission, tweak your vision and shift your strategy. 

The word of God transcends time. However, many of our traditions, events, programs, and even the scenery of your place of worship does not. Time to come out of the time warp. 

Ministry could use more creativity, some rethinking, rearranging of patterns, thoughts and processes that favor positive transformation, rather than rules that say you have to do what we've always done. 

Ministry could use more people like Queen Elizabeth, leaders who are willing to make the difficult decisions that are necessary for change, including staff changes and those in your inner circle.  As John Grigg put it, "Only the boss can get rid of the bad servants."

After watching this episode, the one thought I hope you walk away with is, don't just talk about change, Make It Happen!

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