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Vital Right-Shaped Ministry

Adaptive Leadership
As churches face new economic and ministry challenges, Adaptive Leadership calls on them to address problems by focusing on learning, engaging stakeholders, acting, and evaluating.  It calls on leaders to become nimble, be willing to experiment, and even to fail as they seek to approach their challenges in fresh ways.

Author Tod Bolsinger tells of the experience of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, in which the explorers, equipped with canoes for the expected waterways leading to the Pacific Ocean, discovered themselves in the Rocky Mountains, ill-equipped for this phase of their journey.  In realizing their mission had changed and trading their canoes for horses, Lewis and Clark were adaptive leaders.  Likewise, we recognize that the church now lives in a cultural context for which old tools, old ways, and old outlooks may not help. We seek to adapt and develop new tools, new ways, and new outlooks inspired by the Holy Spirit for this new day in the life of the church.

This new initiative, Vital Right-Shaped Ministry, funded in part by our 3E Lilly grant, will accompany congregations as they define their values, strengthen their mission, notice their context, and evaluate their

  • Ministry
  • Leadership
  • Space
  • Partnerships
  • Self-perception
  • Generosity
  • Shared Leadership
  • Commitment to Diversity

What do vital congregations look like?

Vital congregations create cultures that call members/friends/disciples to act out of their shared values to live into the mission of God in their context.  The mission is fueled by vision for their desired future and their discernment of God’s pull on them from God’s future.

Vital congregations will have engaged, mature leadership.  Their leaders will be increasing in their self-awareness and self-management, understand healthy systems, and be connected to their contexts.  The emotional intelligence of the congregation and its leaders is key to vitality.

A vital congregation will be able to innovate; they will be nimble and agile.  This means living as a learning organization…willing to experiment and fail, willing to engage in evaluation…what worked/what didn’t work/how do we make it better?

They will be seeking deep spirituality and have a focus on the action and mission of God in their midst.  They will seek the presence/will of God in their lives, and live in the world out of their spiritual convictions.

Vital congregations will have honest conversations around faith and finances without judging others or feeling judged themselves.  They will see generosity as a spiritual discipline to be cultivated throughout one’s life and the life of a congregation.

VRSM will engage congregations to reflect on themselves, asking questions like:

What things need to be postponed?  Enhanced?  Adapted?  Let go?  What responsibilities need to be clarified?  Re-imagined?  Lived out in a new way?  What commitments need to be strengthened?

Church Becoming: Adaptive, Agile, Vital

This is an adaptive moment for the Church, a moment when all the technical, “rearrange the chairs” ways of doing things will undoubtedly prove inadequate to the moment.  In this moment of dis-ease and unsettledness, an innovative Church can connect with those who may have previously rejected the notion that God could speak to them through such an institution. 

A vital congregation will be able to innovate; they will be nimble and agile.  This means living as a learning organization…willing to experiment and fail, willing to engage in evaluation, and willing to trust God to guide their future.


For more information, please contact Rev. Dana Peterson, Director for Evangelical Mission at 970-631-2417 or