Conversations with ATX Leaders Part II: Jurie Kriel

As we dive in to part two of an ongoing conversation with Jurie Kriel, we explore how communities of faith will respond during this season.  Pastor of 5Twelve Church in downtown Austin, Jurie reflects on his this crisis has forced the church to answer the question, “What is the church?”  This rethinking of Church has evoked different ministry leadership responses. “Churches will either fight, flight, freeze or flourish,” shares Jurie.  Across the spectrum, some churches have fully embraced digital opportunities, while others freeze, struggling to recognize that people’s lives have changed.


Jurie challenges us to rethink the “front doors” of church. “I don’t think in person engagement of the church will every change, but we will have to ask, ‘Are we building a church for those we want to reach, or are we building a church for those we want to reach?’” We went from a marginal number of students being schooled online to 100% of students being schooled online. In the same way, purchasing has changed, with more consumers analyzing online prior to purchasing online OR in person. Now, the way people initially engage with church may have shifted forever.


We see among society three groups of people, “A third of society just wants to go on with life, they want to host parties, they want to gather.  Then another third are the opposite– they aren’t leaving their home, and then we have a third that are undecided,” comments Jurie. “So your churches have now be split among these three groups.”  Churches have to learn to develop a hybrid state, extending an invitation but respecting concerns.


Beyond addressing people’s concern, leaders are also adjusting to a new pace in leadership decisions. “It’s not just about the shifts that have taken place but the rate of those shifts.  Things have changed rapidly,” remarks Jurie.  With ever evolving information, projections and plans can only be made weeks at a time rather than months or beyond. “What we found as secure is being shaken.” The rate of change drastically impacts how we lead, and Jurie predicts leaders with the ability to quickly adjust will thrive.


As leaders we are called to focus onward and move forward.  We have been through a pandemic storm, emerging into an economic impact and continue to face societal and cultural storms. “We have to be stepping out and walking on the storm.” Jurie challenges believers, “We have to find our strength where our strength will be found, and embrace the desperation for God to come and be God in our lives. When we go beyond our expectations for ourselves that is where we will encounter God.” Be encouraged and challenged as we journey together through the eyes of another amazing Austin leader.

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