Change Culture

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25

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Coaching change requires consistent, persisten, courageous leadership. Churches and their leaders must do more than improve. They much change their course, their culture, their assumptions, their attitudes and their actions.

1. Good Leadership is Not Enough! The work of leadership must do more than improve. It must change. This requires courageous, purposeful leadership where we tend to the dual mission of caring for those who are part of our faith community, and connecting with those in our local and global community.
2. Tending to assumptions and temptations (124). Courageous leadership begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. Until we see things in new ways we will be constrained to act in old ways, despite our efforts to change.
3. Courageous leaders must be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise in a time when we feel like we’re wondering in the wilderness.Courageous leadership tends to the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results in ways that have the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives.  
4. There is no going back because the “back” that is remembered doesn’t exist anymore. We are not in a turnaround situation where leaders could return to a more comfortable time when the church was a trusted, centerpiece of community culture life,
5. Since 1965, most churches have steadily lost members. The average age of members has steadily increased due to insufficient numbers of younger generations seeking to be actively engaged in congregational life.
6. During times of disorientation people need to go back to identity, purpose, and context. Mindful of  the Exodus and Exile. As leaders, we need to ask, How will we now be with God? How will we now be with one another?
7. When our landscapes shift, we need to engage in different conversations. During times of loss and transition leader need to ask questions about identity (i.e. “Who are we?”), purpose (i.e. “What has God called us to do?”), and context (“Who is our neighbor?”). There are no easy answers to these questions, and therefore are often dismissed - but they must be raised.
8. Reviewing Ron Heifetz on adaptive change is helpful during transitions, particularly how he differentiates between technical work and adaptive work. Technical work is the application of known solutions to known problems. Technical work leads directly to action. If there is a known solution to a known problem, then the responsible act of leadership is to get on with it—act! But what if the problems are not known and we simply need to learn how to live with a new reality. If technical work leads directly to action, then adaptive work requires learning.
9. In earlier days, mapmakers began to draw maps with intentional empty spaces. It was an admission that they did not know what was out there. Their acceptance of their own ignorance unleashed the power of “we do not know” led to new inquiry.
10. Congregational and denominational leaders increasingly must face the reality that they no longer have a problem because problems, by definition, have a known solution. This is truly an adaptive situation that requires not the loud assurance that comes with leaders with known solutions but the quiet, courageous resolve of leaders willing to enter the wilderness and look at deeper questions of purpose and context. In order to continue we need leaders courageous enough to lead from ignorance—from “we do not know.”
11. Church leaders must acknowledge and manage competing commitments of caring for those within our faith community and caring for those beyond the church walls. Leaders may speak about their public mission of reaching out to welcome and include new people and the surrounding community, but the private mission of satisfying the members already involved in the church often override attempts to redirect attention or resources in any way that might diminish the satisfaction of the people already present and involved.
12. The way ahead will not be mastered by improvements on what we already know and what we already know how to do. A new type of leadership is needed that begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. The questions most churches now face are not the product of things gone wrong but rather of the world grown different. Therefore, leaders must shift their primary orientation from problem solving to exploration—from working better and harder to exploring new ways based on new learning - from tweaking our current maps to moving off the map.
A Prayer for the Church in These Times O God, whose mercy is ever faithful and ever sure, who art our refuge and our strength in time of trouble, visit us, we beseech thee—for we are a people in trouble. We need a hope that is made wise by experience and is undaunted by disappointment. We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. As a people, we need to remember that our influence was greatest when our power was weakest. Most of all, we need to turn to thee, O God, and our crucified Lord, for only his humility and his strength can heal and free us. O God, be thou our sole strength in time of trouble. In the midst of anxiety, grant us the grace to count our blessings—the simple ones: health, food, sleep, one another, a spring that is bursting out all over, a nation which, despite all, has so much to offer so many. And, grant us to count our more complicated blessings: our failures, which teach us so much more than success; our lack of money, which points to the only truly renewable resources, the resources of our spirit; our lack of health, yea, even the knowledge of death, for until we learn that life is limitation, we are surely as formless and as shallow as a stream without its banks. Send us forth into a new week with a gladsome mind, free and joyful in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.—William Sloan Coffin, Riverside Church

So this is a book about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, not the blustery heroics of those who think they have the “answer.” But because it is about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, it is also, as noted, necessarily a book about the assumptions and temptations that keep us from courageous leadership.

It takes courage to make people purposefully uncomfortable. There are temptations aplenty for leaders to avoid this difficult but faithful work. I am convinced that the temptations need to be exposed in order to be avoided. If our leaders are regularly asked for leadership (which, by definition, discomforts) but are as regularly rewarded for management (which, through familiarity, comforts), then leaders need to know the temptations that provide comfort but don’t address purpose, and leaders need to know which rewards to avoid. Our more complicated blessings, indeed.
My background and training through a PhD in psychoeducational processes (a multidisciplinary degree in education, psychology, and business) is heavily influenced by the discipline of “action research” in which one stands with a leader in his or her own setting in order to learn and then use the learning toward intended change. It is not dispassionate research in which the researcher assumes not to influence the outcomes. Action research does not pretend to be “objective” by the norms of research science. Action research recognizes that the researcher—the consultant—by virtue of standing in the field with others, also contributes to the results of whatever action or intervention takes place. In fact, the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results provides the learning that can move us into the future. So I have always understood that as I do my work I too have the old, proverbial “skin in the game.” My work has always involved my understanding of faith communities, my own sense of faith, and my ongoing conviction of God’s movement in our lives. I believe that congregations and faith communities do have, and will always have, the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives if we continue to be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise. And if we keep our courage, for courage is needed in the wilderness.

I no longer believe in linear change as the dominant model by which leaders need to understand their setting. Linear change remains the appropriate way to address problems when, in fact, the situation is authentically a “problem.”
I no longer believe in “expertise.” Nor do I believe in the necessity for leaders to “get it right.” In fact, it is harder to learn new things when one is an expert or when an expert is in the room. And the courage and capacity to get things a bit “off right” may well be more instructive than having the right answer the first time out. Today’s leadership rests more firmly on being and learning rather than on correctly doing. I now caution people to be wary of the one who arrives with all the answers, because learning is about to be sacrificed. I no longer believe in myself (or others) as the primary agent of the future.


Do not miss the earlier point made in chapter 1 that questions from a leader are unsettling. What people want from leaders is comfort. Comfort is provided by easy answers from a leader who knows what to do and asks us to do things right. Comfort gets rewarded. Leadership that insists on questions is unsettling. (Management asks if things are being done right. Leadership asks if we are doing right things.) Consider that Heifetz’s follow-up book was about sabotage and the risk to leadership when people are discomforted by questions that require learning.[ 12]

Consider as well the shift in the cultural attractiveness of congregations as a form of organized religion. It is not news that people are increasingly reporting being spiritual but not religious. People continue to seek meaning that can be found in the life of the spirit. They increasingly, however, do not do their seeking in congregations and denominations or in organized, institutionalized forms.

Real learning depends on ignorance—the acceptance of a “we do not know” that can release the power of inquiry rather than a defensiveness or protectiveness of what we do know from our earlier time of strength. Again, a reflection of Bill Coffin’s prayer: We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. Perhaps a good beginning place is the continual drawing of new maps that have the courage to include empty spaces. The more that we can draw the picture of what we now see and don’t see, the more the new environment will take shape.

Generational differences weigh in heavily on the form of vital worship, with a broad array of musical forms and the multiple uses of technology. Divergence not only takes certainty away, it also requires a willingness to acknowledge that there can be multiple answers to a question for which one is convinced he or she has a right answer to serve his or her own purpose.

In a convergent culture you lead with your sameness. In a divergent culture you lead with your difference.

If the shift to a divergent culture has been difficult, one of the other markers that we can place on our new cultural map with empty spaces is the shape of the basic distrust that now accompanies most historic institutions in our communities—religious institutions included. In his critical and important assessment of institutions, Hugh Heclo writes about our modern impasse in which “we are disposed to distrust institutions . . . [yet] we are compelled to live in a thick tangle of institutions while believing that they do not have our best interests at heart.”[ 24] Institutions are meant to serve the common good, to manage the affairs of the larger community in ways that benefit both present and future needs. Heclo calls them the “well-worn handles” by which people manage their public affairs. As such, they depend on trust—trust in their purpose, governance and management, and equity in dealing with others. In the earlier period of convergence that was at its height in mid-century, post–World War II America, trust in our institutions was high. In particular, the institutions of religion were highly trusted. A quick Internet search of the ranking of trusted institutions in the United States shows that as late as 1973, 65 percent of the American public maintained a high level of trust in churches. However, by 2017 that level of trust in congregations shrunk to 41 percent. This precipitous drop in institutional trust over those same years was mirrored for a wide range of other institutions beyond churches as well. Heclo

By 2008, twenty-seven years later, Heclo, as noted earlier, was able to describe a very different social contract, his moral polestar: “the correct way to get on with life is to recognize that each of us has the right to live as he or she pleases, so long as we do not interfere with the right of other people to do likewise.” Consider the shift from a contract in which by giving you receive to an understanding that I should claim what I want as long as I don’t impede others from doing the same. A shift from a search for communal happiness to a search for personal pleasure. A shift from the values of shared security to the values of personal fulfillment.
Ongoing, active engagement in religious congregations is shrinking (“ regular attendance” is now defined as less than two times per month), while Internet-advertised, intimate, one-time, faith-based community meals are attracting increased attention in urban areas. In our ambivalence it seems that the wavering social contract of the day is less comfortable with a deep commitment to a lifestyle than it is with paying for an experience. All of this leaves institutions unsure of how to live in the new landscape.


BB | Quietly Courageous



TOP TAKEAWAYS

- Add
- Add
-



---

EXCERPTS


1. Good Leadership is Not Enough! The work of leadership must do more than improve. It must change. This requires courageous, purposeful leadership where we tend to the dual mission of caring for those who are part of our faith community, and connecting with those in our local and global community.
2. Tending to assumptions and temptations (124). Courageous leadership begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. Until we see things in new ways we will be constrained to act in old ways, despite our efforts to change.
3. Courageous leaders must be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise in a time when we feel like we’re wondering in the wilderness.Courageous leadership tends to the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results in ways that have the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives.  
4. There is no going back because the “back” that is remembered doesn’t exist anymore. We are not in a turnaround situation where leaders could return to a more comfortable time when the church was a trusted, centerpiece of community culture life,
5. Since 1965, most churches have steadily lost members. The average age of members has steadily increased due to insufficient numbers of younger generations seeking to be actively engaged in congregational life.
6. During times of disorientation people need to go back to identity, purpose, and context. Mindful of  the Exodus and Exile. As leaders, we need to ask, How will we now be with God? How will we now be with one another?
7. When our landscapes shift, we need to engage in different conversations. During times of loss and transition leader need to ask questions about identity (i.e. “Who are we?”), purpose (i.e. “What has God called us to do?”), and context (“Who is our neighbor?”). There are no easy answers to these questions, and therefore are often dismissed - but they must be raised.
8. Reviewing Ron Heifetz on adaptive change is helpful during transitions, particularly how he differentiates between technical work and adaptive work. Technical work is the application of known solutions to known problems. Technical work leads directly to action. If there is a known solution to a known problem, then the responsible act of leadership is to get on with it—act! But what if the problems are not known and we simply need to learn how to live with a new reality. If technical work leads directly to action, then adaptive work requires learning.
9. In earlier days, mapmakers began to draw maps with intentional empty spaces. It was an admission that they did not know what was out there. Their acceptance of their own ignorance unleashed the power of “we do not know” led to new inquiry.
10. Congregational and denominational leaders increasingly must face the reality that they no longer have a problem because problems, by definition, have a known solution. This is truly an adaptive situation that requires not the loud assurance that comes with leaders with known solutions but the quiet, courageous resolve of leaders willing to enter the wilderness and look at deeper questions of purpose and context. In order to continue we need leaders courageous enough to lead from ignorance—from “we do not know.”
11. Church leaders must acknowledge and manage competing commitments of caring for those within our faith community and caring for those beyond the church walls. Leaders may speak about their public mission of reaching out to welcome and include new people and the surrounding community, but the private mission of satisfying the members already involved in the church often override attempts to redirect attention or resources in any way that might diminish the satisfaction of the people already present and involved.
12. The way ahead will not be mastered by improvements on what we already know and what we already know how to do. A new type of leadership is needed that begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. The questions most churches now face are not the product of things gone wrong but rather of the world grown different. Therefore, leaders must shift their primary orientation from problem solving to exploration—from working better and harder to exploring new ways based on new learning - from tweaking our current maps to moving off the map.

A Prayer for the Church in These Times O God, whose mercy is ever faithful and ever sure, who art our refuge and our strength in time of trouble, visit us, we beseech thee—for we are a people in trouble. We need a hope that is made wise by experience and is undaunted by disappointment. We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. As a people, we need to remember that our influence was greatest when our power was weakest. Most of all, we need to turn to thee, O God, and our crucified Lord, for only his humility and his strength can heal and free us. O God, be thou our sole strength in time of trouble. In the midst of anxiety, grant us the grace to count our blessings—the simple ones: health, food, sleep, one another, a spring that is bursting out all over, a nation which, despite all, has so much to offer so many. And, grant us to count our more complicated blessings: our failures, which teach us so much more than success; our lack of money, which points to the only truly renewable resources, the resources of our spirit; our lack of health, yea, even the knowledge of death, for until we learn that life is limitation, we are surely as formless and as shallow as a stream without its banks. Send us forth into a new week with a gladsome mind, free and joyful in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.—William Sloan Coffin, Riverside Church



So this is a book about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, not the blustery heroics of those who think they have the “answer.” But because it is about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, it is also, as noted, necessarily a book about the assumptions and temptations that keep us from courageous leadership.



It takes courage to make people purposefully uncomfortable. There are temptations aplenty for leaders to avoid this difficult but faithful work. I am convinced that the temptations need to be exposed in order to be avoided. If our leaders are regularly asked for leadership (which, by definition, discomforts) but are as regularly rewarded for management (which, through familiarity, comforts), then leaders need to know the temptations that provide comfort but don’t address purpose, and leaders need to know which rewards to avoid. Our more complicated blessings, indeed.

My background and training through a PhD in psychoeducational processes (a multidisciplinary degree in education, psychology, and business) is heavily influenced by the discipline of “action research” in which one stands with a leader in his or her own setting in order to learn and then use the learning toward intended change. It is not dispassionate research in which the researcher assumes not to influence the outcomes. Action research does not pretend to be “objective” by the norms of research science. Action research recognizes that the researcher—the consultant—by virtue of standing in the field with others, also contributes to the results of whatever action or intervention takes place. In fact, the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results provides the learning that can move us into the future. So I have always understood that as I do my work I too have the old, proverbial “skin in the game.” My work has always involved my understanding of faith communities, my own sense of faith, and my ongoing conviction of God’s movement in our lives. I believe that congregations and faith communities do have, and will always have, the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives if we continue to be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise. And if we keep our courage, for courage is needed in the wilderness.



I no longer believe in linear change as the dominant model by which leaders need to understand their setting. Linear change remains the appropriate way to address problems when, in fact, the situation is authentically a “problem.”

I no longer believe in “expertise.” Nor do I believe in the necessity for leaders to “get it right.” In fact, it is harder to learn new things when one is an expert or when an expert is in the room. And the courage and capacity to get things a bit “off right” may well be more instructive than having the right answer the first time out. Today’s leadership rests more firmly on being and learning rather than on correctly doing. I now caution people to be wary of the one who arrives with all the answers, because learning is about to be sacrificed. I no longer believe in myself (or others) as the primary agent of the future.




Do not miss the earlier point made in chapter 1 that questions from a leader are unsettling. What people want from leaders is comfort. Comfort is provided by easy answers from a leader who knows what to do and asks us to do things right. Comfort gets rewarded. Leadership that insists on questions is unsettling. (Management asks if things are being done right. Leadership asks if we are doing right things.) Consider that Heifetz’s follow-up book was about sabotage and the risk to leadership when people are discomforted by questions that require learning.[ 12]



Consider as well the shift in the cultural attractiveness of congregations as a form of organized religion. It is not news that people are increasingly reporting being spiritual but not religious. People continue to seek meaning that can be found in the life of the spirit. They increasingly, however, do not do their seeking in congregations and denominations or in organized, institutionalized forms.



Real learning depends on ignorance—the acceptance of a “we do not know” that can release the power of inquiry rather than a defensiveness or protectiveness of what we do know from our earlier time of strength. Again, a reflection of Bill Coffin’s prayer: We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. Perhaps a good beginning place is the continual drawing of new maps that have the courage to include empty spaces. The more that we can draw the picture of what we now see and don’t see, the more the new environment will take shape.



Generational differences weigh in heavily on the form of vital worship, with a broad array of musical forms and the multiple uses of technology. Divergence not only takes certainty away, it also requires a willingness to acknowledge that there can be multiple answers to a question for which one is convinced he or she has a right answer to serve his or her own purpose.



In a convergent culture you lead with your sameness. In a divergent culture you lead with your difference.



If the shift to a divergent culture has been difficult, one of the other markers that we can place on our new cultural map with empty spaces is the shape of the basic distrust that now accompanies most historic institutions in our communities—religious institutions included. In his critical and important assessment of institutions, Hugh Heclo writes about our modern impasse in which “we are disposed to distrust institutions . . . [yet] we are compelled to live in a thick tangle of institutions while believing that they do not have our best interests at heart.”[ 24] Institutions are meant to serve the common good, to manage the affairs of the larger community in ways that benefit both present and future needs. Heclo calls them the “well-worn handles” by which people manage their public affairs. As such, they depend on trust—trust in their purpose, governance and management, and equity in dealing with others. In the earlier period of convergence that was at its height in mid-century, post–World War II America, trust in our institutions was high. In particular, the institutions of religion were highly trusted. A quick Internet search of the ranking of trusted institutions in the United States shows that as late as 1973, 65 percent of the American public maintained a high level of trust in churches. However, by 2017 that level of trust in congregations shrunk to 41 percent. This precipitous drop in institutional trust over those same years was mirrored for a wide range of other institutions beyond churches as well. Heclo



By 2008, twenty-seven years later, Heclo, as noted earlier, was able to describe a very different social contract, his moral polestar: “the correct way to get on with life is to recognize that each of us has the right to live as he or she pleases, so long as we do not interfere with the right of other people to do likewise.” Consider the shift from a contract in which by giving you receive to an understanding that I should claim what I want as long as I don’t impede others from doing the same. A shift from a search for communal happiness to a search for personal pleasure. A shift from the values of shared security to the values of personal fulfillment.

Ongoing, active engagement in religious congregations is shrinking (“ regular attendance” is now defined as less than two times per month), while Internet-advertised, intimate, one-time, faith-based community meals are attracting increased attention in urban areas. In our ambivalence it seems that the wavering social contract of the day is less comfortable with a deep commitment to a lifestyle than it is with paying for an experience. All of this leaves institutions unsure of how to live in the new landscape.













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- Quietly courageous
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* Quietly courageousBB | Quietly Courageous

TOP TAKEAWAYS
* Add
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*



EXCERPTS

1. Good Leadership is Not Enough! The work of leadership must do more than improve. It must change. This requires courageous, purposeful leadership where we tend to the dual mission of caring for those who are part of our faith community, and connecting with those in our local and global community.
2. Tending to assumptions and temptations (124). Courageous leadership begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. Until we see things in new ways we will be constrained to act in old ways, despite our efforts to change.
3. Courageous leaders must be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise in a time when we feel like we’re wondering in the wilderness.Courageous leadership tends to the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results in ways that have the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives.  
4. There is no going back because the “back” that is remembered doesn’t exist anymore. We are not in a turnaround situation where leaders could return to a more comfortable time when the church was a trusted, centerpiece of community culture life,
5. Since 1965, most churches have steadily lost members. The average age of members has steadily increased due to insufficient numbers of younger generations seeking to be actively engaged in congregational life.
6. During times of disorientation people need to go back to identity, purpose, and context. Mindful of  the Exodus and Exile. As leaders, we need to ask, How will we now be with God? How will we now be with one another?
7. When our landscapes shift, we need to engage in different conversations. During times of loss and transition leader need to ask questions about identity (i.e. “Who are we?”), purpose (i.e. “What has God called us to do?”), and context (“Who is our neighbor?”). There are no easy answers to these questions, and therefore are often dismissed - but they must be raised.
8. Reviewing Ron Heifetz on adaptive change is helpful during transitions, particularly how he differentiates between technical work and adaptive work. Technical work is the application of known solutions to known problems. Technical work leads directly to action. If there is a known solution to a known problem, then the responsible act of leadership is to get on with it—act! But what if the problems are not known and we simply need to learn how to live with a new reality. If technical work leads directly to action, then adaptive work requires learning.
9. In earlier days, mapmakers began to draw maps with intentional empty spaces. It was an admission that they did not know what was out there. Their acceptance of their own ignorance unleashed the power of “we do not know” led to new inquiry.
10. Congregational and denominational leaders increasingly must face the reality that they no longer have a problem because problems, by definition, have a known solution. This is truly an adaptive situation that requires not the loud assurance that comes with leaders with known solutions but the quiet, courageous resolve of leaders willing to enter the wilderness and look at deeper questions of purpose and context. In order to continue we need leaders courageous enough to lead from ignorance—from “we do not know.”
11. Church leaders must acknowledge and manage competing commitments of caring for those within our faith community and caring for those beyond the church walls. Leaders may speak about their public mission of reaching out to welcome and include new people and the surrounding community, but the private mission of satisfying the members already involved in the church often override attempts to redirect attention or resources in any way that might diminish the satisfaction of the people already present and involved.
12. The way ahead will not be mastered by improvements on what we already know and what we already know how to do. A new type of leadership is needed that begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. The questions most churches now face are not the product of things gone wrong but rather of the world grown different. Therefore, leaders must shift their primary orientation from problem solving to exploration—from working better and harder to exploring new ways based on new learning - from tweaking our current maps to moving off the map.
A Prayer for the Church in These Times O God, whose mercy is ever faithful and ever sure, who art our refuge and our strength in time of trouble, visit us, we beseech thee—for we are a people in trouble. We need a hope that is made wise by experience and is undaunted by disappointment. We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. As a people, we need to remember that our influence was greatest when our power was weakest. Most of all, we need to turn to thee, O God, and our crucified Lord, for only his humility and his strength can heal and free us. O God, be thou our sole strength in time of trouble. In the midst of anxiety, grant us the grace to count our blessings—the simple ones: health, food, sleep, one another, a spring that is bursting out all over, a nation which, despite all, has so much to offer so many. And, grant us to count our more complicated blessings: our failures, which teach us so much more than success; our lack of money, which points to the only truly renewable resources, the resources of our spirit; our lack of health, yea, even the knowledge of death, for until we learn that life is limitation, we are surely as formless and as shallow as a stream without its banks. Send us forth into a new week with a gladsome mind, free and joyful in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.—William Sloan Coffin, Riverside Church

So this is a book about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, not the blustery heroics of those who think they have the “answer.” But because it is about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, it is also, as noted, necessarily a book about the assumptions and temptations that keep us from courageous leadership.

It takes courage to make people purposefully uncomfortable. There are temptations aplenty for leaders to avoid this difficult but faithful work. I am convinced that the temptations need to be exposed in order to be avoided. If our leaders are regularly asked for leadership (which, by definition, discomforts) but are as regularly rewarded for management (which, through familiarity, comforts), then leaders need to know the temptations that provide comfort but don’t address purpose, and leaders need to know which rewards to avoid. Our more complicated blessings, indeed.
My background and training through a PhD in psychoeducational processes (a multidisciplinary degree in education, psychology, and business) is heavily influenced by the discipline of “action research” in which one stands with a leader in his or her own setting in order to learn and then use the learning toward intended change. It is not dispassionate research in which the researcher assumes not to influence the outcomes. Action research does not pretend to be “objective” by the norms of research science. Action research recognizes that the researcher—the consultant—by virtue of standing in the field with others, also contributes to the results of whatever action or intervention takes place. In fact, the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results provides the learning that can move us into the future. So I have always understood that as I do my work I too have the old, proverbial “skin in the game.” My work has always involved my understanding of faith communities, my own sense of faith, and my ongoing conviction of God’s movement in our lives. I believe that congregations and faith communities do have, and will always have, the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives if we continue to be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise. And if we keep our courage, for courage is needed in the wilderness.

I no longer believe in linear change as the dominant model by which leaders need to understand their setting. Linear change remains the appropriate way to address problems when, in fact, the situation is authentically a “problem.”
I no longer believe in “expertise.” Nor do I believe in the necessity for leaders to “get it right.” In fact, it is harder to learn new things when one is an expert or when an expert is in the room. And the courage and capacity to get things a bit “off right” may well be more instructive than having the right answer the first time out. Today’s leadership rests more firmly on being and learning rather than on correctly doing. I now caution people to be wary of the one who arrives with all the answers, because learning is about to be sacrificed. I no longer believe in myself (or others) as the primary agent of the future.


Do not miss the earlier point made in chapter 1 that questions from a leader are unsettling. What people want from leaders is comfort. Comfort is provided by easy answers from a leader who knows what to do and asks us to do things right. Comfort gets rewarded. Leadership that insists on questions is unsettling. (Management asks if things are being done right. Leadership asks if we are doing right things.) Consider that Heifetz’s follow-up book was about sabotage and the risk to leadership when people are discomforted by questions that require learning.[ 12]

Consider as well the shift in the cultural attractiveness of congregations as a form of organized religion. It is not news that people are increasingly reporting being spiritual but not religious. People continue to seek meaning that can be found in the life of the spirit. They increasingly, however, do not do their seeking in congregations and denominations or in organized, institutionalized forms.

Real learning depends on ignorance—the acceptance of a “we do not know” that can release the power of inquiry rather than a defensiveness or protectiveness of what we do know from our earlier time of strength. Again, a reflection of Bill Coffin’s prayer: We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. Perhaps a good beginning place is the continual drawing of new maps that have the courage to include empty spaces. The more that we can draw the picture of what we now see and don’t see, the more the new environment will take shape.

Generational differences weigh in heavily on the form of vital worship, with a broad array of musical forms and the multiple uses of technology. Divergence not only takes certainty away, it also requires a willingness to acknowledge that there can be multiple answers to a question for which one is convinced he or she has a right answer to serve his or her own purpose.

In a convergent culture you lead with your sameness. In a divergent culture you lead with your difference.

If the shift to a divergent culture has been difficult, one of the other markers that we can place on our new cultural map with empty spaces is the shape of the basic distrust that now accompanies most historic institutions in our communities—religious institutions included. In his critical and important assessment of institutions, Hugh Heclo writes about our modern impasse in which “we are disposed to distrust institutions . . . [yet] we are compelled to live in a thick tangle of institutions while believing that they do not have our best interests at heart.”[ 24] Institutions are meant to serve the common good, to manage the affairs of the larger community in ways that benefit both present and future needs. Heclo calls them the “well-worn handles” by which people manage their public affairs. As such, they depend on trust—trust in their purpose, governance and management, and equity in dealing with others. In the earlier period of convergence that was at its height in mid-century, post–World War II America, trust in our institutions was high. In particular, the institutions of religion were highly trusted. A quick Internet search of the ranking of trusted institutions in the United States shows that as late as 1973, 65 percent of the American public maintained a high level of trust in churches. However, by 2017 that level of trust in congregations shrunk to 41 percent. This precipitous drop in institutional trust over those same years was mirrored for a wide range of other institutions beyond churches as well. Heclo

By 2008, twenty-seven years later, Heclo, as noted earlier, was able to describe a very different social contract, his moral polestar: “the correct way to get on with life is to recognize that each of us has the right to live as he or she pleases, so long as we do not interfere with the right of other people to do likewise.” Consider the shift from a contract in which by giving you receive to an understanding that I should claim what I want as long as I don’t impede others from doing the same. A shift from a search for communal happiness to a search for personal pleasure. A shift from the values of shared security to the values of personal fulfillment.
Ongoing, active engagement in religious congregations is shrinking (“ regular attendance” is now defined as less than two times per month), while Internet-advertised, intimate, one-time, faith-based community meals are attracting increased attention in urban areas. In our ambivalence it seems that the wavering social contract of the day is less comfortable with a deep commitment to a lifestyle than it is with paying for an experience. All of this leaves institutions unsure of how to live in the new landscape.


BB | Quietly Courageous



TOP TAKEAWAYS

- Add
- Add
-



---

EXCERPTS


1. Good Leadership is Not Enough! The work of leadership must do more than improve. It must change. This requires courageous, purposeful leadership where we tend to the dual mission of caring for those who are part of our faith community, and connecting with those in our local and global community.
2. Tending to assumptions and temptations (124). Courageous leadership begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. Until we see things in new ways we will be constrained to act in old ways, despite our efforts to change.
3. Courageous leaders must be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise in a time when we feel like we’re wondering in the wilderness.Courageous leadership tends to the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results in ways that have the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives.  
4. There is no going back because the “back” that is remembered doesn’t exist anymore. We are not in a turnaround situation where leaders could return to a more comfortable time when the church was a trusted, centerpiece of community culture life,
5. Since 1965, most churches have steadily lost members. The average age of members has steadily increased due to insufficient numbers of younger generations seeking to be actively engaged in congregational life.
6. During times of disorientation people need to go back to identity, purpose, and context. Mindful of  the Exodus and Exile. As leaders, we need to ask, How will we now be with God? How will we now be with one another?
7. When our landscapes shift, we need to engage in different conversations. During times of loss and transition leader need to ask questions about identity (i.e. “Who are we?”), purpose (i.e. “What has God called us to do?”), and context (“Who is our neighbor?”). There are no easy answers to these questions, and therefore are often dismissed - but they must be raised.
8. Reviewing Ron Heifetz on adaptive change is helpful during transitions, particularly how he differentiates between technical work and adaptive work. Technical work is the application of known solutions to known problems. Technical work leads directly to action. If there is a known solution to a known problem, then the responsible act of leadership is to get on with it—act! But what if the problems are not known and we simply need to learn how to live with a new reality. If technical work leads directly to action, then adaptive work requires learning.
9. In earlier days, mapmakers began to draw maps with intentional empty spaces. It was an admission that they did not know what was out there. Their acceptance of their own ignorance unleashed the power of “we do not know” led to new inquiry.
10. Congregational and denominational leaders increasingly must face the reality that they no longer have a problem because problems, by definition, have a known solution. This is truly an adaptive situation that requires not the loud assurance that comes with leaders with known solutions but the quiet, courageous resolve of leaders willing to enter the wilderness and look at deeper questions of purpose and context. In order to continue we need leaders courageous enough to lead from ignorance—from “we do not know.”
11. Church leaders must acknowledge and manage competing commitments of caring for those within our faith community and caring for those beyond the church walls. Leaders may speak about their public mission of reaching out to welcome and include new people and the surrounding community, but the private mission of satisfying the members already involved in the church often override attempts to redirect attention or resources in any way that might diminish the satisfaction of the people already present and involved.
12. The way ahead will not be mastered by improvements on what we already know and what we already know how to do. A new type of leadership is needed that begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. The questions most churches now face are not the product of things gone wrong but rather of the world grown different. Therefore, leaders must shift their primary orientation from problem solving to exploration—from working better and harder to exploring new ways based on new learning - from tweaking our current maps to moving off the map.

A Prayer for the Church in These Times O God, whose mercy is ever faithful and ever sure, who art our refuge and our strength in time of trouble, visit us, we beseech thee—for we are a people in trouble. We need a hope that is made wise by experience and is undaunted by disappointment. We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. As a people, we need to remember that our influence was greatest when our power was weakest. Most of all, we need to turn to thee, O God, and our crucified Lord, for only his humility and his strength can heal and free us. O God, be thou our sole strength in time of trouble. In the midst of anxiety, grant us the grace to count our blessings—the simple ones: health, food, sleep, one another, a spring that is bursting out all over, a nation which, despite all, has so much to offer so many. And, grant us to count our more complicated blessings: our failures, which teach us so much more than success; our lack of money, which points to the only truly renewable resources, the resources of our spirit; our lack of health, yea, even the knowledge of death, for until we learn that life is limitation, we are surely as formless and as shallow as a stream without its banks. Send us forth into a new week with a gladsome mind, free and joyful in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.—William Sloan Coffin, Riverside Church



So this is a book about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, not the blustery heroics of those who think they have the “answer.” But because it is about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, it is also, as noted, necessarily a book about the assumptions and temptations that keep us from courageous leadership.



It takes courage to make people purposefully uncomfortable. There are temptations aplenty for leaders to avoid this difficult but faithful work. I am convinced that the temptations need to be exposed in order to be avoided. If our leaders are regularly asked for leadership (which, by definition, discomforts) but are as regularly rewarded for management (which, through familiarity, comforts), then leaders need to know the temptations that provide comfort but don’t address purpose, and leaders need to know which rewards to avoid. Our more complicated blessings, indeed.

My background and training through a PhD in psychoeducational processes (a multidisciplinary degree in education, psychology, and business) is heavily influenced by the discipline of “action research” in which one stands with a leader in his or her own setting in order to learn and then use the learning toward intended change. It is not dispassionate research in which the researcher assumes not to influence the outcomes. Action research does not pretend to be “objective” by the norms of research science. Action research recognizes that the researcher—the consultant—by virtue of standing in the field with others, also contributes to the results of whatever action or intervention takes place. In fact, the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results provides the learning that can move us into the future. So I have always understood that as I do my work I too have the old, proverbial “skin in the game.” My work has always involved my understanding of faith communities, my own sense of faith, and my ongoing conviction of God’s movement in our lives. I believe that congregations and faith communities do have, and will always have, the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives if we continue to be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise. And if we keep our courage, for courage is needed in the wilderness.



I no longer believe in linear change as the dominant model by which leaders need to understand their setting. Linear change remains the appropriate way to address problems when, in fact, the situation is authentically a “problem.”

I no longer believe in “expertise.” Nor do I believe in the necessity for leaders to “get it right.” In fact, it is harder to learn new things when one is an expert or when an expert is in the room. And the courage and capacity to get things a bit “off right” may well be more instructive than having the right answer the first time out. Today’s leadership rests more firmly on being and learning rather than on correctly doing. I now caution people to be wary of the one who arrives with all the answers, because learning is about to be sacrificed. I no longer believe in myself (or others) as the primary agent of the future.




Do not miss the earlier point made in chapter 1 that questions from a leader are unsettling. What people want from leaders is comfort. Comfort is provided by easy answers from a leader who knows what to do and asks us to do things right. Comfort gets rewarded. Leadership that insists on questions is unsettling. (Management asks if things are being done right. Leadership asks if we are doing right things.) Consider that Heifetz’s follow-up book was about sabotage and the risk to leadership when people are discomforted by questions that require learning.[ 12]



Consider as well the shift in the cultural attractiveness of congregations as a form of organized religion. It is not news that people are increasingly reporting being spiritual but not religious. People continue to seek meaning that can be found in the life of the spirit. They increasingly, however, do not do their seeking in congregations and denominations or in organized, institutionalized forms.



Real learning depends on ignorance—the acceptance of a “we do not know” that can release the power of inquiry rather than a defensiveness or protectiveness of what we do know from our earlier time of strength. Again, a reflection of Bill Coffin’s prayer: We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. Perhaps a good beginning place is the continual drawing of new maps that have the courage to include empty spaces. The more that we can draw the picture of what we now see and don’t see, the more the new environment will take shape.



Generational differences weigh in heavily on the form of vital worship, with a broad array of musical forms and the multiple uses of technology. Divergence not only takes certainty away, it also requires a willingness to acknowledge that there can be multiple answers to a question for which one is convinced he or she has a right answer to serve his or her own purpose.



In a convergent culture you lead with your sameness. In a divergent culture you lead with your difference.



If the shift to a divergent culture has been difficult, one of the other markers that we can place on our new cultural map with empty spaces is the shape of the basic distrust that now accompanies most historic institutions in our communities—religious institutions included. In his critical and important assessment of institutions, Hugh Heclo writes about our modern impasse in which “we are disposed to distrust institutions . . . [yet] we are compelled to live in a thick tangle of institutions while believing that they do not have our best interests at heart.”[ 24] Institutions are meant to serve the common good, to manage the affairs of the larger community in ways that benefit both present and future needs. Heclo calls them the “well-worn handles” by which people manage their public affairs. As such, they depend on trust—trust in their purpose, governance and management, and equity in dealing with others. In the earlier period of convergence that was at its height in mid-century, post–World War II America, trust in our institutions was high. In particular, the institutions of religion were highly trusted. A quick Internet search of the ranking of trusted institutions in the United States shows that as late as 1973, 65 percent of the American public maintained a high level of trust in churches. However, by 2017 that level of trust in congregations shrunk to 41 percent. This precipitous drop in institutional trust over those same years was mirrored for a wide range of other institutions beyond churches as well. Heclo



By 2008, twenty-seven years later, Heclo, as noted earlier, was able to describe a very different social contract, his moral polestar: “the correct way to get on with life is to recognize that each of us has the right to live as he or she pleases, so long as we do not interfere with the right of other people to do likewise.” Consider the shift from a contract in which by giving you receive to an understanding that I should claim what I want as long as I don’t impede others from doing the same. A shift from a search for communal happiness to a search for personal pleasure. A shift from the values of shared security to the values of personal fulfillment.

Ongoing, active engagement in religious congregations is shrinking (“ regular attendance” is now defined as less than two times per month), while Internet-advertised, intimate, one-time, faith-based community meals are attracting increased attention in urban areas. In our ambivalence it seems that the wavering social contract of the day is less comfortable with a deep commitment to a lifestyle than it is with paying for an experience. All of this leaves institutions unsure of how to live in the new landscape.













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TOP TAKEAWAYS
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EXCERPTS

1. Good Leadership is Not Enough! The work of leadership must do more than improve. It must change. This requires courageous, purposeful leadership where we tend to the dual mission of caring for those who are part of our faith community, and connecting with those in our local and global community.
2. Tending to assumptions and temptations (124). Courageous leadership begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. Until we see things in new ways we will be constrained to act in old ways, despite our efforts to change.
3. Courageous leaders must be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise in a time when we feel like we’re wondering in the wilderness.Courageous leadership tends to the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results in ways that have the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives.  
4. There is no going back because the “back” that is remembered doesn’t exist anymore. We are not in a turnaround situation where leaders could return to a more comfortable time when the church was a trusted, centerpiece of community culture life,
5. Since 1965, most churches have steadily lost members. The average age of members has steadily increased due to insufficient numbers of younger generations seeking to be actively engaged in congregational life.
6. During times of disorientation people need to go back to identity, purpose, and context. Mindful of  the Exodus and Exile. As leaders, we need to ask, How will we now be with God? How will we now be with one another?
7. When our landscapes shift, we need to engage in different conversations. During times of loss and transition leader need to ask questions about identity (i.e. “Who are we?”), purpose (i.e. “What has God called us to do?”), and context (“Who is our neighbor?”). There are no easy answers to these questions, and therefore are often dismissed - but they must be raised.
8. Reviewing Ron Heifetz on adaptive change is helpful during transitions, particularly how he differentiates between technical work and adaptive work. Technical work is the application of known solutions to known problems. Technical work leads directly to action. If there is a known solution to a known problem, then the responsible act of leadership is to get on with it—act! But what if the problems are not known and we simply need to learn how to live with a new reality. If technical work leads directly to action, then adaptive work requires learning.
9. In earlier days, mapmakers began to draw maps with intentional empty spaces. It was an admission that they did not know what was out there. Their acceptance of their own ignorance unleashed the power of “we do not know” led to new inquiry.
10. Congregational and denominational leaders increasingly must face the reality that they no longer have a problem because problems, by definition, have a known solution. This is truly an adaptive situation that requires not the loud assurance that comes with leaders with known solutions but the quiet, courageous resolve of leaders willing to enter the wilderness and look at deeper questions of purpose and context. In order to continue we need leaders courageous enough to lead from ignorance—from “we do not know.”
11. Church leaders must acknowledge and manage competing commitments of caring for those within our faith community and caring for those beyond the church walls. Leaders may speak about their public mission of reaching out to welcome and include new people and the surrounding community, but the private mission of satisfying the members already involved in the church often override attempts to redirect attention or resources in any way that might diminish the satisfaction of the people already present and involved.
12. The way ahead will not be mastered by improvements on what we already know and what we already know how to do. A new type of leadership is needed that begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. The questions most churches now face are not the product of things gone wrong but rather of the world grown different. Therefore, leaders must shift their primary orientation from problem solving to exploration—from working better and harder to exploring new ways based on new learning - from tweaking our current maps to moving off the map.
A Prayer for the Church in These Times O God, whose mercy is ever faithful and ever sure, who art our refuge and our strength in time of trouble, visit us, we beseech thee—for we are a people in trouble. We need a hope that is made wise by experience and is undaunted by disappointment. We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. As a people, we need to remember that our influence was greatest when our power was weakest. Most of all, we need to turn to thee, O God, and our crucified Lord, for only his humility and his strength can heal and free us. O God, be thou our sole strength in time of trouble. In the midst of anxiety, grant us the grace to count our blessings—the simple ones: health, food, sleep, one another, a spring that is bursting out all over, a nation which, despite all, has so much to offer so many. And, grant us to count our more complicated blessings: our failures, which teach us so much more than success; our lack of money, which points to the only truly renewable resources, the resources of our spirit; our lack of health, yea, even the knowledge of death, for until we learn that life is limitation, we are surely as formless and as shallow as a stream without its banks. Send us forth into a new week with a gladsome mind, free and joyful in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.—William Sloan Coffin, Riverside Church

So this is a book about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, not the blustery heroics of those who think they have the “answer.” But because it is about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, it is also, as noted, necessarily a book about the assumptions and temptations that keep us from courageous leadership.

It takes courage to make people purposefully uncomfortable. There are temptations aplenty for leaders to avoid this difficult but faithful work. I am convinced that the temptations need to be exposed in order to be avoided. If our leaders are regularly asked for leadership (which, by definition, discomforts) but are as regularly rewarded for management (which, through familiarity, comforts), then leaders need to know the temptations that provide comfort but don’t address purpose, and leaders need to know which rewards to avoid. Our more complicated blessings, indeed.
My background and training through a PhD in psychoeducational processes (a multidisciplinary degree in education, psychology, and business) is heavily influenced by the discipline of “action research” in which one stands with a leader in his or her own setting in order to learn and then use the learning toward intended change. It is not dispassionate research in which the researcher assumes not to influence the outcomes. Action research does not pretend to be “objective” by the norms of research science. Action research recognizes that the researcher—the consultant—by virtue of standing in the field with others, also contributes to the results of whatever action or intervention takes place. In fact, the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results provides the learning that can move us into the future. So I have always understood that as I do my work I too have the old, proverbial “skin in the game.” My work has always involved my understanding of faith communities, my own sense of faith, and my ongoing conviction of God’s movement in our lives. I believe that congregations and faith communities do have, and will always have, the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives if we continue to be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise. And if we keep our courage, for courage is needed in the wilderness.

I no longer believe in linear change as the dominant model by which leaders need to understand their setting. Linear change remains the appropriate way to address problems when, in fact, the situation is authentically a “problem.”
I no longer believe in “expertise.” Nor do I believe in the necessity for leaders to “get it right.” In fact, it is harder to learn new things when one is an expert or when an expert is in the room. And the courage and capacity to get things a bit “off right” may well be more instructive than having the right answer the first time out. Today’s leadership rests more firmly on being and learning rather than on correctly doing. I now caution people to be wary of the one who arrives with all the answers, because learning is about to be sacrificed. I no longer believe in myself (or others) as the primary agent of the future.


Do not miss the earlier point made in chapter 1 that questions from a leader are unsettling. What people want from leaders is comfort. Comfort is provided by easy answers from a leader who knows what to do and asks us to do things right. Comfort gets rewarded. Leadership that insists on questions is unsettling. (Management asks if things are being done right. Leadership asks if we are doing right things.) Consider that Heifetz’s follow-up book was about sabotage and the risk to leadership when people are discomforted by questions that require learning.[ 12]

Consider as well the shift in the cultural attractiveness of congregations as a form of organized religion. It is not news that people are increasingly reporting being spiritual but not religious. People continue to seek meaning that can be found in the life of the spirit. They increasingly, however, do not do their seeking in congregations and denominations or in organized, institutionalized forms.

Real learning depends on ignorance—the acceptance of a “we do not know” that can release the power of inquiry rather than a defensiveness or protectiveness of what we do know from our earlier time of strength. Again, a reflection of Bill Coffin’s prayer: We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. Perhaps a good beginning place is the continual drawing of new maps that have the courage to include empty spaces. The more that we can draw the picture of what we now see and don’t see, the more the new environment will take shape.

Generational differences weigh in heavily on the form of vital worship, with a broad array of musical forms and the multiple uses of technology. Divergence not only takes certainty away, it also requires a willingness to acknowledge that there can be multiple answers to a question for which one is convinced he or she has a right answer to serve his or her own purpose.

In a convergent culture you lead with your sameness. In a divergent culture you lead with your difference.

If the shift to a divergent culture has been difficult, one of the other markers that we can place on our new cultural map with empty spaces is the shape of the basic distrust that now accompanies most historic institutions in our communities—religious institutions included. In his critical and important assessment of institutions, Hugh Heclo writes about our modern impasse in which “we are disposed to distrust institutions . . . [yet] we are compelled to live in a thick tangle of institutions while believing that they do not have our best interests at heart.”[ 24] Institutions are meant to serve the common good, to manage the affairs of the larger community in ways that benefit both present and future needs. Heclo calls them the “well-worn handles” by which people manage their public affairs. As such, they depend on trust—trust in their purpose, governance and management, and equity in dealing with others. In the earlier period of convergence that was at its height in mid-century, post–World War II America, trust in our institutions was high. In particular, the institutions of religion were highly trusted. A quick Internet search of the ranking of trusted institutions in the United States shows that as late as 1973, 65 percent of the American public maintained a high level of trust in churches. However, by 2017 that level of trust in congregations shrunk to 41 percent. This precipitous drop in institutional trust over those same years was mirrored for a wide range of other institutions beyond churches as well. Heclo

By 2008, twenty-seven years later, Heclo, as noted earlier, was able to describe a very different social contract, his moral polestar: “the correct way to get on with life is to recognize that each of us has the right to live as he or she pleases, so long as we do not interfere with the right of other people to do likewise.” Consider the shift from a contract in which by giving you receive to an understanding that I should claim what I want as long as I don’t impede others from doing the same. A shift from a search for communal happiness to a search for personal pleasure. A shift from the values of shared security to the values of personal fulfillment.
Ongoing, active engagement in religious congregations is shrinking (“ regular attendance” is now defined as less than two times per month), while Internet-advertised, intimate, one-time, faith-based community meals are attracting increased attention in urban areas. In our ambivalence it seems that the wavering social contract of the day is less comfortable with a deep commitment to a lifestyle than it is with paying for an experience. All of this leaves institutions unsure of how to live in the new landscape.


BB | Quietly Courageous



TOP TAKEAWAYS

- Add
- Add
-



---

EXCERPTS


1. Good Leadership is Not Enough! The work of leadership must do more than improve. It must change. This requires courageous, purposeful leadership where we tend to the dual mission of caring for those who are part of our faith community, and connecting with those in our local and global community.
2. Tending to assumptions and temptations (124). Courageous leadership begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. Until we see things in new ways we will be constrained to act in old ways, despite our efforts to change.
3. Courageous leaders must be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise in a time when we feel like we’re wondering in the wilderness.Courageous leadership tends to the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results in ways that have the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives.  
4. There is no going back because the “back” that is remembered doesn’t exist anymore. We are not in a turnaround situation where leaders could return to a more comfortable time when the church was a trusted, centerpiece of community culture life,
5. Since 1965, most churches have steadily lost members. The average age of members has steadily increased due to insufficient numbers of younger generations seeking to be actively engaged in congregational life.
6. During times of disorientation people need to go back to identity, purpose, and context. Mindful of  the Exodus and Exile. As leaders, we need to ask, How will we now be with God? How will we now be with one another?
7. When our landscapes shift, we need to engage in different conversations. During times of loss and transition leader need to ask questions about identity (i.e. “Who are we?”), purpose (i.e. “What has God called us to do?”), and context (“Who is our neighbor?”). There are no easy answers to these questions, and therefore are often dismissed - but they must be raised.
8. Reviewing Ron Heifetz on adaptive change is helpful during transitions, particularly how he differentiates between technical work and adaptive work. Technical work is the application of known solutions to known problems. Technical work leads directly to action. If there is a known solution to a known problem, then the responsible act of leadership is to get on with it—act! But what if the problems are not known and we simply need to learn how to live with a new reality. If technical work leads directly to action, then adaptive work requires learning.
9. In earlier days, mapmakers began to draw maps with intentional empty spaces. It was an admission that they did not know what was out there. Their acceptance of their own ignorance unleashed the power of “we do not know” led to new inquiry.
10. Congregational and denominational leaders increasingly must face the reality that they no longer have a problem because problems, by definition, have a known solution. This is truly an adaptive situation that requires not the loud assurance that comes with leaders with known solutions but the quiet, courageous resolve of leaders willing to enter the wilderness and look at deeper questions of purpose and context. In order to continue we need leaders courageous enough to lead from ignorance—from “we do not know.”
11. Church leaders must acknowledge and manage competing commitments of caring for those within our faith community and caring for those beyond the church walls. Leaders may speak about their public mission of reaching out to welcome and include new people and the surrounding community, but the private mission of satisfying the members already involved in the church often override attempts to redirect attention or resources in any way that might diminish the satisfaction of the people already present and involved.
12. The way ahead will not be mastered by improvements on what we already know and what we already know how to do. A new type of leadership is needed that begins with a focus on ideas, assumptions, and temptations rather than with a focus on action or on what to do. The questions most churches now face are not the product of things gone wrong but rather of the world grown different. Therefore, leaders must shift their primary orientation from problem solving to exploration—from working better and harder to exploring new ways based on new learning - from tweaking our current maps to moving off the map.

A Prayer for the Church in These Times O God, whose mercy is ever faithful and ever sure, who art our refuge and our strength in time of trouble, visit us, we beseech thee—for we are a people in trouble. We need a hope that is made wise by experience and is undaunted by disappointment. We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. As a people, we need to remember that our influence was greatest when our power was weakest. Most of all, we need to turn to thee, O God, and our crucified Lord, for only his humility and his strength can heal and free us. O God, be thou our sole strength in time of trouble. In the midst of anxiety, grant us the grace to count our blessings—the simple ones: health, food, sleep, one another, a spring that is bursting out all over, a nation which, despite all, has so much to offer so many. And, grant us to count our more complicated blessings: our failures, which teach us so much more than success; our lack of money, which points to the only truly renewable resources, the resources of our spirit; our lack of health, yea, even the knowledge of death, for until we learn that life is limitation, we are surely as formless and as shallow as a stream without its banks. Send us forth into a new week with a gladsome mind, free and joyful in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.—William Sloan Coffin, Riverside Church



So this is a book about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, not the blustery heroics of those who think they have the “answer.” But because it is about a thoughtful and purposeful courage, it is also, as noted, necessarily a book about the assumptions and temptations that keep us from courageous leadership.



It takes courage to make people purposefully uncomfortable. There are temptations aplenty for leaders to avoid this difficult but faithful work. I am convinced that the temptations need to be exposed in order to be avoided. If our leaders are regularly asked for leadership (which, by definition, discomforts) but are as regularly rewarded for management (which, through familiarity, comforts), then leaders need to know the temptations that provide comfort but don’t address purpose, and leaders need to know which rewards to avoid. Our more complicated blessings, indeed.

My background and training through a PhD in psychoeducational processes (a multidisciplinary degree in education, psychology, and business) is heavily influenced by the discipline of “action research” in which one stands with a leader in his or her own setting in order to learn and then use the learning toward intended change. It is not dispassionate research in which the researcher assumes not to influence the outcomes. Action research does not pretend to be “objective” by the norms of research science. Action research recognizes that the researcher—the consultant—by virtue of standing in the field with others, also contributes to the results of whatever action or intervention takes place. In fact, the repeated cycle of observing, diagnosing, planning action, and reviewing results provides the learning that can move us into the future. So I have always understood that as I do my work I too have the old, proverbial “skin in the game.” My work has always involved my understanding of faith communities, my own sense of faith, and my ongoing conviction of God’s movement in our lives. I believe that congregations and faith communities do have, and will always have, the potential to reflect God’s purpose in our lives if we continue to be open to discernment, discovery, and surprise. And if we keep our courage, for courage is needed in the wilderness.



I no longer believe in linear change as the dominant model by which leaders need to understand their setting. Linear change remains the appropriate way to address problems when, in fact, the situation is authentically a “problem.”

I no longer believe in “expertise.” Nor do I believe in the necessity for leaders to “get it right.” In fact, it is harder to learn new things when one is an expert or when an expert is in the room. And the courage and capacity to get things a bit “off right” may well be more instructive than having the right answer the first time out. Today’s leadership rests more firmly on being and learning rather than on correctly doing. I now caution people to be wary of the one who arrives with all the answers, because learning is about to be sacrificed. I no longer believe in myself (or others) as the primary agent of the future.




Do not miss the earlier point made in chapter 1 that questions from a leader are unsettling. What people want from leaders is comfort. Comfort is provided by easy answers from a leader who knows what to do and asks us to do things right. Comfort gets rewarded. Leadership that insists on questions is unsettling. (Management asks if things are being done right. Leadership asks if we are doing right things.) Consider that Heifetz’s follow-up book was about sabotage and the risk to leadership when people are discomforted by questions that require learning.[ 12]



Consider as well the shift in the cultural attractiveness of congregations as a form of organized religion. It is not news that people are increasingly reporting being spiritual but not religious. People continue to seek meaning that can be found in the life of the spirit. They increasingly, however, do not do their seeking in congregations and denominations or in organized, institutionalized forms.



Real learning depends on ignorance—the acceptance of a “we do not know” that can release the power of inquiry rather than a defensiveness or protectiveness of what we do know from our earlier time of strength. Again, a reflection of Bill Coffin’s prayer: We need an anxiety about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things but does not unnerve us. Perhaps a good beginning place is the continual drawing of new maps that have the courage to include empty spaces. The more that we can draw the picture of what we now see and don’t see, the more the new environment will take shape.



Generational differences weigh in heavily on the form of vital worship, with a broad array of musical forms and the multiple uses of technology. Divergence not only takes certainty away, it also requires a willingness to acknowledge that there can be multiple answers to a question for which one is convinced he or she has a right answer to serve his or her own purpose.



In a convergent culture you lead with your sameness. In a divergent culture you lead with your difference.



If the shift to a divergent culture has been difficult, one of the other markers that we can place on our new cultural map with empty spaces is the shape of the basic distrust that now accompanies most historic institutions in our communities—religious institutions included. In his critical and important assessment of institutions, Hugh Heclo writes about our modern impasse in which “we are disposed to distrust institutions . . . [yet] we are compelled to live in a thick tangle of institutions while believing that they do not have our best interests at heart.”[ 24] Institutions are meant to serve the common good, to manage the affairs of the larger community in ways that benefit both present and future needs. Heclo calls them the “well-worn handles” by which people manage their public affairs. As such, they depend on trust—trust in their purpose, governance and management, and equity in dealing with others. In the earlier period of convergence that was at its height in mid-century, post–World War II America, trust in our institutions was high. In particular, the institutions of religion were highly trusted. A quick Internet search of the ranking of trusted institutions in the United States shows that as late as 1973, 65 percent of the American public maintained a high level of trust in churches. However, by 2017 that level of trust in congregations shrunk to 41 percent. This precipitous drop in institutional trust over those same years was mirrored for a wide range of other institutions beyond churches as well. Heclo



By 2008, twenty-seven years later, Heclo, as noted earlier, was able to describe a very different social contract, his moral polestar: “the correct way to get on with life is to recognize that each of us has the right to live as he or she pleases, so long as we do not interfere with the right of other people to do likewise.” Consider the shift from a contract in which by giving you receive to an understanding that I should claim what I want as long as I don’t impede others from doing the same. A shift from a search for communal happiness to a search for personal pleasure. A shift from the values of shared security to the values of personal fulfillment.

Ongoing, active engagement in religious congregations is shrinking (“ regular attendance” is now defined as less than two times per month), while Internet-advertised, intimate, one-time, faith-based community meals are attracting increased attention in urban areas. In our ambivalence it seems that the wavering social contract of the day is less comfortable with a deep commitment to a lifestyle than it is with paying for an experience. All of this leaves institutions unsure of how to live in the new landscape.













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