Canoeing the Mountains: Part 3

Don’t you love a good acronym?

According to Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future, our world has now become VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. In less than one generation, after centuries of stability and slow, incremental change, our world has become VUCA and will only become VUCA-er.

Like Lewis and Clark, we find ourselves in uncharted territory. This beloved institution of the Church in our society is experiencing uncertain surroundings with an uncertain future.

The answer to finding our way through uncharted territory is not to try harder or work harder. To find our way through uncharted territory we must begin a new adventure.

After forty years as a missionary and bishop in India, Lesslie Newbigin retired and returned home to Great Britain in the 1970s. What he found as he returned to his home was a surprise. He found a more challenging mission field in his home of England than what he left in India. He wrote:

“England is a pagan society and the development of a truly missionary encounter with this very tough form of paganism is the greatest intellectual and practical task facing the Church.”

Used to the creaturely comforts of Christendom, Newbigin returned to a homeland that needed a radically new perspective on the place of the Church in its society.

We’re facing the same reality.

So what do we do to keep our churches from dying? What kind of adaptation is necessary? And how will we find the solutions in uncharted and unknown territory?

Ed Friedman has a thought:

“Conceptually stuck systems cannot become unstuck simply by trying harder. For a fundamental reorientation to occur, that spirit of adventure which optimizes serendipity and which enables new perceptions beyond the control of our thinking processes must happen first.”

What is needed? A spirit of adventure!

A spirit of adventure where there are new, unexpected discoveries and ultimately new perceptions. A spirit of adventure where new ventures are tried and bold experiments are taken. A spirit of adventure where each step forward is taken in faith, believing that God is ahead of us, calling us forward.

Lewis and Clark faced the Rocky Mountains, canoes in hand. How do you canoe over mountains? You don’t.

You let go, you learn as you go, and you keep going, no matter what.

May a spirit of adventure compel us into the future.

Peace to you,



Canoeing the Mountains: Part 3
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