But we’ve never done it that way before! This has to be one of my least favorite phrases of all time! Just because we did it once doesn’t mean we have to do it this way forever! Actually a great perspective gained from this book as well as many others is that what we’ve done is perfectly designed for where we are not where we’re going!
Think about that for half a second. The way we’ve always done it has gotten us here. Times are different now so we can’t expect the old ways to have the same effect. The things that have always worked will in all likelihood have little to no positive effect whatsoever! And if I’m being totally honest, if we just do it the same old way over and over while the world around us is constantly in flux, we’ll do more harm than good! Now don’t hear what’s not being said! There is one constant and that’s the Word of God. Our traditions are not set in stone. Our traditions are not set in stone. Our practices are not set in stone. But God’s word is never changing. As long as that stays constant we are free to flex our practices to better meet our ever changing community.
Canoeing the Mountains is a book that really gets at the change needed to move an organization forward, admittedly it’s specifically written for churches but the principles here can be applied far beyond church life. Author, Todd Bolsinger, uses the imagery of Lewis and Clark and applies their westward trek to how the church is needing to adapt to uncharted times and waters. When Lewis and Clark moved westward by boat and found themselves at the foot of the mountains they were faced with a strange challenge. They could either keep rowing and attempt to row up the mountains, even where there was no water, or they could take a different approach.
Now think about that for a minute. How ludicrous is it to row a mountainside? How silly is it to even think you could attempt such a thing. While we would never consider doing this, we often lead our churches (and other organizations in this very way). So what in your church, business or organization needs to change? What canoe do you need to set down so you can begin climbing the mountains that are before you? Take a minute to evaluate the landscape, consider what’s non-negotiable in your organization, list the things that need to change first, then begin moving up that mountain. You can always build a new canoe on the other side!
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is tired of the status quo and wants to lead their organization through a time of intentional and real structured change.