Sep 18, 2007

Not Your Daddy's Church

Ron Heifitz, a senior lecturer in leadership at Harvard University talks about the difference between technical challenges and adaptive challenges.

Technical Challenges:
  • You already know the solution
  • You already possess the necessary know how
  • It is a matter of applying what you already know
  • This is a question of implementation
Adaptive Challenges:
  • You do not know the solution
  • Standard operating procedure will no longer work
  • Requires imaginative and creative experimentation to discover solutions
  • New discoveries will be made
  • This is a question of transformation
  • Success will be built on lessons learned from failures
  • Adaptive challenges present danger and huge opportunities
I recently converted from a PC laptop to a Mac. I wanted to do this for a long time but didn't because of the challenges of switching everything over. This - switching computer systems - represents a technical challenge.

I am a dad to a middle schooler. And in the last year or two mother nature has visited her with some new presents - hormones. And because of that, my little girl has been transforming right before my eyes. And due to her new transformation, I am finding that we must both discover new ways of relating to one another. She is no longer my little girl, and she is not quite yet a woman. And in this transition time, we are both learning how to be a family together.

This is an adaptive challenge. Karis and I are both learning to adapt to this new reality. We cannot remain the same. Neither of us know for sure what and how we are to be. We are learning from our mistakes on how to be a family. We both love one another and respect each other and are looking forward to this new way of relating.

The reason why I mention all this is because when it comes to what the church is going through today, are we dealing with a technical challenge or is it an adaptive challenge?

Does the reality of the post-modern, post-denominational, post-Christiandom reality present us with challenges that can be fixed by tinkering with existing modes of operation? Or are we coming to an age where standard operating procedures will no longer work for the new realities we are facing?

Could it be that the realities of the world we are facing requires us to be creative and imaginative about who the church can be in this new reality? Could it be that we are called to experiment with new forms and modes of what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ so that we can become relevant to a world who loves Jesus and can't stand the church?

I don't know what the future church will look like. But I am convinced that tinkering with standard procedures is not the answer. What is needed for the adaptive challenges of the new reality posed by a post-modern, post-denominational, post-Christiandom is leaders who will take this challenge by the horn and create opportunities out of the danger of irrelevance. It will require new and creative ways of dreaming about what the church of Jesus Christ can do to make a difference in this new world. And, yes there will be many failures along the way. But we will learn our lessons from these failures, and in time, we will find our way out of irrelevance to where the church of Jesus Christ can shine brightly the light of Jesus Christ.

That much I know.

There is something in the air. This is not your daddy's presbyterian church. Something new is afoot. It's a God revolution.

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