Ken Costa on Leading Through the Coronavirus Economic Fall Out, How to Make Decisions In the Midst of Uncertainty, Approaching Wealthy Donors In Bad Economic Times, and What’s Ahead for the Church

Ken Costa—a London-based, internationally renowned banker, author and speaker—talks about leading in the midst of the chaos the Coronavirus pandemic has done to the global financial system, what that means for the average leader, how to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, how to approach wealthy donors in bad economic times, and as past chair of Alpha International, discusses what he thinks is ahead for the church.

Welcome to Episode 333 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey gives his latest thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis and how to respond as leaders.


Leaders In Living Rooms

Have you yet subscribed to the Leaders in Living Rooms podcast? My good friend and leader, Sean Morgan leads these conversations. If you’re a next gen leader, and you’re taking over for a Boomer or a Gen Xer who is passing the baton, you do not want to miss this podcast. It’s so good. He interviews a whole class of leaders who are doing that transition right now, and no one is better at it than Sean.

This month’s episode features Dave Stone from Southeast Christian. He became the successor to a legendary founder 15 years ago and now has just passed on leadership to Kyle Idleman. Dave is also the current interim pastor at Harvest Bible in Chicago, they drill down into all of that.

Check out Leaders in Living Rooms wherever you get your podcasts, or go to


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Text CRISIS to 33777 to get access to Carey’s How to Lead Through Crisis online course

Joseph of Arimathea by Ken Costa

Holy Trinity Brompton


1. This crisis is the perfect storm

Why has this crisis been so disruptive? Ken has observed that this crisis has been a perfect storm. We have the Coronavirus, which is precipitating a lockdown of the entire world’s economic systems. At the same time, people are afraid of contracting the virus, the death toll is growing every evening, and we are being reminded about this constantly.

The current crisis is much more like 9/11 than the great recession because the great recession was basically just bailing out the banks, while 9/11 was a total financial freeze and had lasting effects. This is even bigger. The Coronavirus crisis is unlike any other crisis we’ve faced, but Ken wants us to see that there are still opportunities to be seized in this time.

2. The best time to approach donors was before the crisis hit. Tips on doing it now.

In times like these, you might have to turn to a major donor for help keep your staff paid and your mission funded. If you do need to reach out to major donors, your approach should have started months or years ago, but if it hasn’t, you need to start with examining the investment you have made into that business leader’s life.

Have you poured into them in the good times as well as the bad? Have you cared for them as a person more than you have cared for them as a donor? Once you examine these things, Ken recommends that you give them something significant to put their investment in, and give them a front row seat to watch it happen.

3. When you don’t know what to do, don’t

When you don’t know what to do, don’t. The world, at the moment, could be described in an acronym, VUCA. It’s Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Anxious. When the world is that unpredictable, you can’t make decisions for September or August. You just need to make the right decisions for today.

If you do decide to make a decision for September today, and you choose one specific path, you are probably wrong and will have to make a major correction later. But if you keep a general direction that has flexibility, you will be able to make a better specific call as the time comes closer.


In this moment, the real characteristic of a leader is going to be flexibility. @kenjcostaCLICK TO TWEET

You’re always going to have to make decision on not having 100% of the knowledge base. And that’s the nature of leadership. @kenjcostaCLICK TO TWEET

How the church rises and responds to this will be the formative experience of our generation. @kenjcostaCLICK TO TWEET

This is what we need to see. People are prepared to stand up for what they believe, rather than what is convenient. @kenjcostaCLICK TO TWEET

When you don’t know what to do, don’t. @kenjcostaCLICK TO TWEET

You see what has happened here is that there’s been a collective loss of control. @kenjcostaCLICK TO TWEET

I think this is going to shape the psychology of a generation. @cnieuwhofCLICK TO TWEET

8:00 to 4:00 didn’t work anymore for a long time, but now I think it’s broken beyond repair. @cnieuwhofCLICK TO TWEET


Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.


Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our new YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen. We’ll add select episodes to YouTube as time goes on.


The world is experiencing a series of unprecedented challenges, and you’re leading in the midst of it all.

I’ve got a brand new online, on-demand course, called How to Lead Through Crisisthat can help you lead your team, your church and yourself through the massive disruption.

The course is the gift from me and my team to you and leaders everywhere. In light of everything that’s going on, we decided to make it available 100% free.

Inside How to Lead Through Crisis, you’ll learn how to:

  • Cultivate a non-anxious presence that inspires confidence and trust.
  • Care for yourself so the crisis doesn’t break you.
  • Master the art of fast-paced, clear decision making.
  • Gather and interpret the most reliable data that will advance your mission
  • Advance digitally to scale past physical barriers and grow your outreach.
  • Lead your team and congregation remotely

While no one has all the answers in a crisis this big, in the course, I share the mindsets, habits, tools and strategies that I believe will help you lead through crisis to get you and the people you lead to a new (and better) future.

You can enroll and get instant access for you and your team here.


Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from world-class leaders like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Nancy Duarte, Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Erwin McManus and many others.

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Mark Sayers is one of the most profound thinkers and cultural commentators today. In this interview, Mark explains how the current pandemic almost instantly deconstructed and threatened both consumer Christianity and secular salvation, he shares principles on how to lead through the COVID crisis, and offers some insight into what the new post-pandemic church and world might look like.

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