“The church is the body of Christ. It is a living organism, a vibrant system. And just like human bodies, human organizations thrive when they are cooperating with the wisdom of God for how that system is designed, how it grows and how it adapts to changing external environments.
“You know your body has to adjust to a new time zone after a plane flight, or to new foods when you arrive in a new culture. And you know you have to learn a new language or develop the skills for navigating an outdoor marker in a foreign land. That is what adaptive leadership is all about: the way that living human systems learn and adapt to a changing environment so they can fulfill their purpose for being.”
It makes sense. Why would the way of being built for 50 years ago be expected to be the way of being till kingdom-come? The need for adaptation is a given. The better question to ask is: What must stay the same while everything changes?
Tod Bolsinger talks about an organization’s DNA: “In biology, DNA ‘contains the genetic information that allows all modern living things to function, grown, and reproduce.’ In human bodies our DNA is code that makes each of us unique, helps us to survive and thrive, and is what we pass on to offspring in reproduction. In organizational systems thinking the DNA of a group is a way of describing the essential and unique attributes—the ‘defining essence’ or code of that group.”
He goes on to say, that “code is neither healthy nor unhealthy in itself, but the culture that comes from a church’s code can be either positive or destructive. ‘Healthy growth is the result of a church’s congruence with its code; poor health is caused by incongruence.’ When the elements, interconnection and purpose of a system align, the system is healthy; when they do not, the system becomes dysfunctional.”
As we face a changing environment and consider what it looks like for us to adapt, what pieces of our DNA must remain? What would we change that would bring us to the point of saying, “That’s no longer the same organization”? What DNA must be preserved?