Et Tu, Church?

CTM“We assume that our followers will have our backs.  But that is all a comforting fantasy if you are truly trying to bring change to an organizational system.  Whether it is a family, a church, a business, a not-for-profit or a government, all the best literature makes it clear: to lead you must be able to disappoint your own people.  But, even doing so well (‘at a rate they can absorb’) does not preclude them turning on you.  In fact, when you disappoint your own people, they will turn on you.”

“Sabotage is natural.  It’s normal.  It’s part and parcel of the systemic process of leadership…Saboteurs are usually doing nothing but unconsciously supporting the status quo.  They are protecting the system and keeping it in place.  They are preserving something dear to them.”

“Many who sabotage you will even claim that they are doing you a favor by doing so.  [Edwin] Friedman describes the ‘peace-mongers’ as ‘highly anxious risk-avoiders’ who are ‘more concerned with good feelings than progress’ and consistently prefer the peaceful status quo over the turbulence of change – even if change is necessary.”

~ Tod Bolsinger, Canoeing the Mountains

Real sanctification requires a people to live together

by Todd Bolsinger

This has always flummoxd Christian leaders, whether illustrated by Paul admonishing the Corinthian church, John Calvin fretting as he walked the streets of Geneva, or ministers in our own day lamenting our lapse in values. But th problem is especially tough today. That’s because real godly change — real sanctification — requires a people to live together in convenantal relationships, and we’re less inclined to that than any generation in human history.

It Takes a Church To Raise a Christian, p.

The church is the means to be transformed into the likeness of God

by Todd Bolsinger

The church is God’s incarnation today. The church is Jesus’ body on earth. the church is the temple of the Spirit. the church is not a helpful thing for my individual spiritual journey. The church is the journey. The church is not a collection of “soul-winners” all seeking to tell unbelievers “the Way” to God. The church is the Way. To be part of the church is to be part of God—to be part of God’s Communion and to be part of God’s ministry. to belong to the people of God is to enjoy relationship with God and live out the purposes of God. The church isGod’s present-day word and witness to an unbelieving world. And, most importantly, the church is the only true means to be transformed into the likeness of God.

It Takes a Church To Raise a Christian, p. 17

The first “spiritual disciplines” were all communal ones

Todd Bolsinger

Notice that the first “spiritual disciplines” were all communal ones. They did not race home, have a personal quiet time, and give up smoking, but instead “devoted themselves” to”the apostles’ teaching” (shared beliefs), “fellowship” (shared relationships), “breaking of bread” (shared meals). and “the prayers” (shared spiritual life), all expressed in a communal life together. Indeed the passage goes on (vv.43-47) to demonstrate just how quickly and how completely the personal conversion experience reoriented a new convert’s whole communal life.

It Takes a Church To Raise a Christian, p. 71

There is a crucial difference between a crowd and a community

Todd Bolsinger

But there is, of course, a crucial difference between a crowd and a community. That is where a umber of would-be models for twenty-first-century Christianity get it wrong, and that is one of the key themes of this book for many churches, the main goal is to build a big crowd, and community is tacked onto the bargain (usually in the form of a small group), the way that medical benefits and vacation days are tacked onto a job offer. But while crowds come and go, true and enduring Christian community is a foretaste of heaven, the essence of the discipleship, the enduring witness to an unbelieving world, and an absolute necessity for human transformation.

Even more subtly, but importantly, there is an enduring difference between a collective of individual Christians and a community. Many pastors and lay leaders talk the right talk—about needing to be relational rather than programmatic—but they then get hopelessly lost in creating relational programs so that their collective of individual Christians will have a sense of connection to each other. However, the fundamental reality of the church as an enduring, covenantal, irreducible, and Trinity-reflecting entity in and of itself is overlooked entirely. Even as Emil Bruner wrote a half century ago in The Misunderstanding of the Church, “togetherness of Christians is  . . .not secondart or contingent: it is integral to their life just as is their abiding in Christ.”

It Takes a Church To Raise a Christian, p. 15

A crucial difference between a crowd and a community

by Todd Bolsinger, pastor San Clemente Pres. Church

But there is, of course, a crucial difference between a crowd and a community. That is where a number of would-be models for the 21st century Christianity get it wrong, and that is one of the key themes of [my] book.

For many churches, the main goal is to build a big crowd, and community is packed onto the bargain (usually in the form of a small group), the way that medical benefits and vacation days are tacked onto a job offer. But while crowds come and go, true and enduring Christian community is a foretaste of heaven, the essence of the discipleship, the enduring witness to an unbelieving world, and an absolute necessity for human transformation.

Even more subtly, but importantly, there is an enduring difference between a collective of individual Christians and the community. Many pastors and lay leaders talk the right talk — about needing to be relational rather than programmatic — but they then get hopelessly lost in creating relational programs so that their collective of individual Christians will have a sense of connection to each other.

However, the fundamental reality of the church as and the enduring, covenantal, irreducible, and Trinity-reflecting-entity in and of itself is overlooked entirely. As Emil Brunner wrote a half-century ago in The Misunderstanding of the Church, “togetherness of Christians is… not secondary or contingent: it is integral to their life just as is there abiding in Christ.”

It takes a church to raise the Christian

The Problem With “Going Pro”

Interesting article and many more like it on Todd Bolsinger’ blog. You may not be particularly interested, but if you are it is at

Coach_leadWhat do Wayne Gretzky, Bart Starr, Isaiah Thomas, Ted Williams and many, many pastors have in common?  They were once great players who became woeful coaches.  

I know, it’s an interesting tidbit about the superstar athletes, but what does this have to do with being a pastor?

http://bolsinger.blogs.com/weblog/2010/04/the-problem-with-going-pro.html