Alban Weekly | Tod Bolsinger: What does it mean to stop 'canoeing the mountains'?

9 months ago

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Tod Bolsinger: What does it mean to stop 'canoeing the mountains'?
When Lewis and Clark reached the Continental Divide, they expected to find a river that would allow them to paddle easily to the Pacific Ocean. What they saw instead were the Rocky Mountains.
That's the type of challenge facing church leaders today -- so daunting, so new and so unexpected that the old solutions won't work, says Tod Bolsinger, the vice president and chief of leadership formation and an assistant professor of practical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
"It's not going to do you any good to paddle harder," he said. "You have to make an adaptation, and the key to adaptation begins with going back to your deepest core value."
In his book Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory, Bolsinger draws upon leadership theory as well as his experience as a pastor and seminary professor and administrator to offer a "trail map" for Christian leaders navigating a rapidly changing world.
Bolsinger, who also has extensive experience as a leadership consultant and executive coach, has served Presbyterian (U.S.A.) churches in Hollywood and San Clemente, California.
He spoke recently to our colleagues at Faith & Leadership about his book and the real hero of the Lewis and Clark journey (the only one who wasn't lost): Sacagawea.
Read the interview with Tod Bolsinger »
Pushing against the wind
Leadership is dangerous because people resist change, says the co-founder of Cambridge Leadership Associates. But leaders who care about their purpose should face that resistance.
Read more from Marty Linsky »
Adaptive change and transformation 
Adaptive change demands new learning. A United Methodist Church district superintendent finds an example of adaptive change and transformation in the story of a courageous 7-year-old boy.
 Read more from Virginia O. Bassford »
The risks and rewards of adaptive change
Most people want to avoid change. But the astute leader will help his team members move forward by inviting them to think not just about what will change but also why it needs to change.
Read more from David Lose »
The Turnaround Church: Inspiration and Tools for Life-Sustaining change
by Mary Louise Gifford
The Turnaround Church is the story of Wollaston Congregational Church United Church of Christ, a 130-year-old congregation that once was thriving in ministry, membership, mission, music, and money. For half a century, however, the church had slowly declined and was considering closing its doors. 
The two dozen remaining members knew they had to change, but did not know how. They had very little money left, but they were willing to risk it all. With few resources, members hired Mary Louise Gifford, a new seminary graduate, to be their full-time minister. Wollaston is now a vibrant, Spirit-filled faith community-a turnaround church. Changes in worship, stewardship, and priorities, combined with the congregation's resilience and Gifford's optimistic leadership, have transformed this church. 
Gifford tells us how. Addressing a wide audience, Gifford shows church leaders they have options and reason for hope. People in dying churches will find assurance that they are still a part of the body of Christ. Clergy serving these struggling churches will discover tools and resources to help them guide change. Judicatory leaders will appreciate an inspiring story they can tell about a church that turned around in spite of the odds. The Turnaround Church, while not a prescription for all churches, is a call to make long-lasting, life-sustaining changes.
Learn more and order the book » 
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