SLD Blog

Canoeing the Mountains – Book Review

Canoeing the Mountains
by Tod Bolsinger

 

I recently finished one of my favorite leadership books ever, “Canoeing the Mountains.” Tod Bolsinger, our author and guide, uses the explorations of Lewis and Clark as an analogy for one of the biggest issues confronting the Church today: we have no idea what lies ahead.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clarke believed the maps. They believed that if they could reach the Lahmi Pass, they would be able to find the Northwest Passage and give the United States the economic upper hand.

But the maps were wrong.

As they reached the Lahmi Pass, carrying their canoes uphill for days at a time, they did not see the long, slow, decent into the Pacific Ocean. Instead, they were greeted by the Rocky Mountains.

For centuries, North Americans (and most of Western Civilization) lived in a culture where Christianity was not only assumed, it was given precedent.  Prestige. The seat at the head of the table. The “maps” to growing a congregation were well-known and understood.

But over the last couple of decades, the cataclysmic shift has pushed Christianity back from the forefront. Biblical illiteracy is growing – rapidly. Sunday attendance is down. Tithing is down. Youth involvement is down. It has become clear that the maps that got us here will not get us to where we want to go now. We are off the map, or, as my daughter sings every day, “Into the Unknown.”

Fitting, as many times over the previous weeks I have said to my staff, “we’re off the map.” There’s no blueprint for a quasi-militaristic faith-based non-profit church organization handling a pandemic; we are writing the playbook for the future as we go.

There’s no blueprint for a quasi-militaristic faith-based non-profit church organization handling a pandemic; we are writing the playbook for the future as we go.

“Canoeing the Mountains” outlines a leadership model that will help leaders of all levels. Adapting to a culture that does not understand our faith requires new skills, new lessons, and new perspectives. How can we not just survive when Christendom declines, but thrive? Bolsinger lays out the “adaptive leadership” model in such a compelling and captivating way that I was immediately motivated by the book to start putting it into practice.

It’s not only a great leadership book; it’s a great read. Bolsinger’s style is engaging, friendly, and knowledgeable. He uses illustrations and storytelling effectively to convey truths that are either hard to fathom…or hard to swallow. And it’s full of great one-liners, such as “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” “leadership is disappointing your people at a rate they can absorb,” and “you haven’t succeeded until you’ve survived the sabotage.”

Pick it up. It’s only $5.99 to download from amazon (click here to get your copy), and you’ll love reading it so much you’ll be sad when you’re done. But more importantly, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges facing your ministry now, and in the future.

 

 

written by Captain David Eric Kelly, Corps Officer, Levittown, PA, USA East

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