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PLI is devoted to empowering leaders for wider influence for the sake of the gospel in their communities and effective leadership in their ministries. Learn more about our vision and process here.


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In Community

As leaders we are supposed to have the answers. Right? But the world is ever changing and this leaves us feeling off balance. Uncertain.

It takes courage and skill to step out and move into the unknown. We would like to offer five adaptive skills you need to practice in 2018 to lead in this ever changing world. We’ll dissect one each week. See previous posts: 

Lead with a Humble Spirit
Adaptive Leaders Dig Deep
Listen Well
Leaders Go First

In Community

Adaptive change ultimately rests on the ability of a congregation to internalize a change and demonstrate a shift in fundamental values and behaviors.

Changing circumstances around us always presents competing values within us.

It’s why congregations call new pastors to…

  • Lead us into the future,
  • Reach young families,
  • Help us change, grow,
  • Etc., etc., etc.

…and then proceed to resist every step of the way.

The challenge of making fundamental shifts of values and actual behaviors is more than they bargained for.

It’s why most congregations and most leaders seek to preserve their past and shrink away while they circle the wagons.

While only a relatively few congregations and their leaders do the hard work of clarifying their true identity and taking the best of it courageously forward into an oftentimes undefined and uncertain future. 

Pass this around to some of the leaders in your congregation.

Ask them where they spot “circle the wagons” in…

  • Our congregation.
  • In you.
  • In themselves.

“Circle the wagons” usually wins the day when people are stalled because they…

  • Grieve the LOSS of what they’ve known.
  • FEAR the uncertainty of what they don’t know.
  • SURRENDER the Mission of God that should be central to their existence.

Pick the one that’s most plaguing your congregation’s ability to move toward a fruitful future.

To punch through a well guarded status quo mentality, leaders need to “go first.” Ask questions that expose conflicting values. Stay engaged relationally in community.

Leaders must steward well the respect, trust and confidence of the people in their congregation. Leaders that struggle oftentimes have not fastened down the fundamental building blocks that make significant investments in these three accounts.

Many leaders are not good at building relationships.

Many leaders don’t know how to harness the creative energies of people to work together to take on their greatest challenges.

Out of fairness, it’s probably as difficult today as it’s ever been.

The church in the U.S. today is being crushed by stifling institutionalism. Leaders oftentimes champion…

  • Organizational restructures,
  • Demographic trends,
  • 5 Point Plans for the future…

…mostly because it gives the feeling that they’re in control and “taking charge,” all to limited fruitfulness. It comes at the expense of inviting the community of believers into the hard work of challenging conflicting values and making fundamental shifts in behavior that could lead to greater fruitfulness.

Consequently, the PLI family invests in leaders who can lead with clarity and character and competence. This not coincidentally results in confidence, trust and respect in guiding congregations through the messiness of making fundamental shifts of values and behaviors.

Ultimately congregations that press through these adaptive challenges seem to discover a deep dependence upon God. They find a prayerful heart asking the Spirit to blow fresh wind into the dry bones of our crushing institutionalism.

milton friedman quote

Finally, churches will never take on their greatest (adaptive) challenges without leaders that can invest deeply in relationships and be connected in congregational community and fundamentally be able to manage the conflict that will always result.

Jock Ficken
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken

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