Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory
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Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory

InterVarsity Press / 2015 / Paperback

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Explorers Lewis and Clark had to adapt. While they had prepared to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, instead they found themselves in the Rocky Mountains. You too may feel that you are leading in a cultural context you were not expecting. You may even feel that your training holds you back more often than it carries you along.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a pastor and consultant, Tod Bolsinger brings decades of expertise in guiding churches and organizations through uncharted territory. He offers a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you reimagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world.

If you're going to scale the mountains of ministry, you need to leave behind canoes and find new navigational tools. Reading Canoeing the Mountains will set you on the right course to lead with confidence and courage.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0830841261
ISBN-13: 9780830841264

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Author Bio

Tod Bolsinger (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the vice president for vocation and formation and assistant professor of practical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of and A frequent speaker, consultant and blogger, he serves as an executive coach for corporate, nonprofit, educational and church organizations in transformational leadership. For seventeen years, he was the senior pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church in San Clemente, California, after serving for ten years at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Tod and his wife Beth have two children.

Endorsements

Contemporary pastors and church leaders face a daunting challenge. The world and the church have changed dramatically. Congregational expectations have never been higher or more complex. How can we lead our churches with wisdom and kingdom impact in the ever-changing world of today and tomorrow? Tod Bolsinger answers this pressing question in his timely book Canoeing the Mountains. Combining solid biblical theology, contemporary leadership theory and years of experience as a pastor and church consultant, Bolsinger offers a new vision of pastoral leadership as well as dozens of practical examples that bring this vision to life. All pastors and church leaders need to read this book, for their own sake, for the good of their churches and for the advance of God's kingdom in the world.
-Mark D. Roberts,
executive director, Max De Pree Center for Leadership

Since the missional church discussion began to develop real momentum, the constant question has been how does this theological vision of the church after Christendom translate into the practice of real congregations struggling with enormous challenges? A great deal of excellent work has been done, and there are excellent resources for the community and leadership seriously committed to missional change. But Bolsinger's book is a major step forward. It is based on solid missional theology, rooted in concrete congregational experience, shaped by provocative research of many diverse voices and communicated energetically and creatively. Most importantly, it is shaped by theologically informed hope, not just optimism, and takes the risks that must be taken for the sake of faithful witness today. I strongly commend this book!
-Darrell L. Guder,
Henry Winters Luce Emeritus Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

As a committed practical theologian, Bolsinger blends the best insights from Scripture and leadership theory with an empathetic understanding of the most pressing questions of today's leaders. If you're like me, you're not only going to want to read this book, you're going to want to read it multiple times.
-Kara Powell,
faculty member at Fuller Seminary, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute

Ministry in post-Christendom is indeed uncharted territory. For so many pastors and leaders, this is a time of uncertainty, the unknown and displacement in finding a way forward. In Canoeing the Mountains, Tod Bolsinger cleverly solicits imagery and vocabulary that today's pastors and leaders can cling to as they begin to truly climb the mountain of adaptive change necessary to transform churches to better health. While there are many books about adaptive change, the process takes years to grasp and understand. Tod's retelling of the story of Lewis and Clark provides concrete stepping stones to a fluid journey and repackages these concepts in a way that is digestible, inspiring and thought provoking. I will use this book with my own congregation as we continue to canoe the mountains of adaptive change.
-Theresa Cho,
copastor of St. John's Presbyterian Church, San Francisco

Do not canoe another stroke or portage another step without Canoeing the Mountains in hand. In today's post-Christian world, we are navigating uncharted waters where our churches demand innovation at every turn. How do we lead for transformation when the world is transforming even faster? For anyone committed to and dazed by the changing realities of today's church, Tod Bolsinger offers a needed vision.
-Meritt Lohr Sawyer,
executive director, Paul Carlson Partnership, Evangelical Covenant Church

A superb book on the need for adaptive leadership in the twenty-first-century church. With imagination and insight formed through his experience as a pastor, church consultant and seminary leader, Tod Bolsinger challenges leaders in the Christian community to recognize the unsettling reality of being 'off the map.' We have 'trained for a world that is disappearing.' Bolsinger offers fresh, practical advice that integrates the best of leadership theory with the realities of church leadership, illustrated with vivid metaphors and real-world examples, resulting in a seminal book on how to navigate this new world. A must-read for everyone interested in church leadership.
-Uli Chi,
former board chair, Regent College Board of Governors

I see many pastors and leaders of churches who are exhausted by the daunting task of leading churches in a culture that is changing faster than it ever has before. There are many books that tell us we need to change, and there are also many books that give a vision of what a new kind of church could look like. There are very few that address the difficult task of helping leaders navigate the complexities of leading that is necessary for a changing world. Tod Bolsinger's Canoeing the Mountains provides the right mixture of theological insight, leadership theory and relevant stories that will give the necessary principles to help leaders face unfamiliar terrain.
-Dana S. Allin,
synod executive, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians

There are lots of books these days on leadership, but this one shines because of the author's ability to pull together the many threads of leadership literature. In a most winsome and engaging way, Tod Bolsinger weaves together the best of current leadership research - adaptive change, systems theory, organizational transformation - with the real-life challenges of a pastor/practitioner who has spent years trying to put all this together in a congregation while still preaching Sunday by Sunday and doing funerals on Monday. Tod has lived this book out in denominational circles and as a coach to other pastors trying to bring change within a congregation. Like a master storyteller, Tod also weaves in the story of Lewis and Clark as a historical parable of the change and challenge in which we find ourselves today in the church. This is a book that you simply must read!
-Jim Singleton,
associate professor of pastoral leadership and evangelism, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Given our ever-changing, complex and demanding world, all leaders will benefit from Canoeing the Mountains. From his personal experience as an accomplished pastor, executive coach and organizational leader, Tod Bolsinger provides powerful frameworks and tools that will inspire and empower twenty-first century pastors and church leaders to maximize their impact on their congregations and in the world.
-Andy Chan,
vice president, innovation and career development, Wake Forest University

When Fuller Seminary decided to launch out in our own uncharted terrain, we called on Tod Bolsinger to join our leadership team. When you read Canoeing the Mountains, you'll immediately understand why. Bolsinger brings a scholar's mind, a pastor's heart and a wealth of leadership and consulting experience to the task. His ability to translate the most important organizational leadership material into the day-to-day challenges of the Christian leader is without peer. His vulnerability and authenticity resonates as he shares his own leadership learning journey. This is the leadership book the church needs today.
-Mark Labberton,
president, Fuller Theological Seminary

Editorial Reviews

"Tod Bolsinger, a colleague of mine at Fuller Seminary . . . uses the metaphor of 'canoeing the mountains' based on the experience of Lewis and Clark, who successfully completed the mission of the Corps of Discovery because of their ability to lead creatively in light of unexpected circumstances. . . . Whether you're a pastor, a small business owner, a branch manager, or a CEO of a major company, you are probably facing challenges not unlike those confronting . . . Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. If so, I encourage you to get a copy of Canoeing the Mountains. You and those you lead will be glad you did."
"Ministry in post-Christendom is indeed uncharted territory. For so many pastors and leaders, this is a time of uncertainty, the unknown and displacement in finding a way forward. In Canoeing the Mountains, Tod Bolsinger cleverly solicits imagery and vocabulary that today's pastors and leaders can cling to as they begin to truly climb the mountain of adaptive change necessary to transform churches to better health. While there are many books about adaptive change, the process takes years to grasp and understand. Tod's retelling of the story of Lewis and Clark provides concrete stepping stones to a fluid journey and repackages these concepts in a way that is digestible, inspiring and thought provoking. I will use this book with my own congregation as we continue to canoe the mountains of adaptive change."
"Unlike leadership books from the business world, Canoeing the Mountains is written by a churchman for church people. He understands the unique pressures and complexity of relationships that exist in a local church. Instead of giving a 'one-size-fits-all' solution, Bolsinger provides guiding principles for doing church in this new era. . . . The book left me hopeful and eager for the adventure ahead."

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