I'm finding more recently that my main issue with mainstream churches today is not with their attractional models, extravagant sanctuaries and inward focused programs, it goes much deeper than that. The root of my issue is the lack of capacity to effectively adapt. The church today is realizing its need to change in this uniquely dynamic era, but change, in the way we've seen it in the past, is not adequate to describe the kind of shift that needs to take place today. I have been learning more recently that the way in which we change requires change itself.
In the book, The Missional Leader, Alan J. Roxbury and Fred Romanuk make an important distinction between continuous and discontinuous change that help us understand why leaders are finding it difficult to effectively adapt to the current mode of change in society. "Continuous change develops out of what has gone before and therefore can be expected, anticipated and managed", it's change within a familiar paradigm. "Discontinuous change is disruptive and unanticipated; it creates situations that challenge our assumptions", an "unpredictable environment were new skills are needed", so dynamic that a static set of skills will prove insufficient to stay in stride. We simply do not live in a linear, cause-and-effect predictable world. Many leaders are trained to have skills that function within the framework and linear path of continuous change, but it requires a completely different process of learning to construct within a discontinuous changing environment. Roxbury and Romanuk say that
"the classic skills of pastoral leadership in which most pastors were trained were not wrong, but the level of discontinuous change (in this postmodern era) renders many of them insufficient and often unhelpful at this point. It is as if we are prepared to play baseball and suddenly discover that everyone else is playing basketball. The game has changed and the rules are different." (p.11)
As I alluded to in a previous blog, I feel as though we underplay how exponentially rapid change is occurring and how much reform and adjustment needs to be made as we expand the kingdom of God. The simple acknowledgement that the way we learn and adapt requires a new set of skills and a revised frame of thinking is a step in the right direction. The book The Missional Leaders probes deeper into this subject and gives great clarity in how leaders can facilitate change within their congregations. It's a great resource! This blog basically scratches the surface of what this book discusses.