Episode 153 – Adaptive Church – A Conversation with Dustin Benac

In this episode we sit down with the Author of Adaptive Church: Dustin Benec and he shares about his book, the process, and empowers you with next steps on how your church can be more adaptive.

Full Show notes

  • The space to look for novelty, innovation, newness, what some people call fresh expressions, is not within the existing structures of institutions, but at the point of intersection between existing institutions. 
  • One of the things that is really interesting about the Pacific Northwest is first, that there is a marginal position for religious organizations.
    • They don’t set the table, they are just invited the table, often times they are not invited to the table at all because people don’t think that they can trust them. 
    • On the other hand, there is a history of religious entrepreneurship. To be a person of faith and to be a religious organization in the region is to be entrepreneurial. It’s the water they drink. 
    • It’s an ideal environment to study the conditions that support innovations, creativity, and collaboration on the edge of christendom and on the other edge of christendom. 
    • Sociologist and scholars of religion talk about it (the pacific northwest) as America’s religious future. But it raises an interesting question – what future is it?
  • You actually recognize that there is incredible resilience, there’s incredible creativity, and there’s dynamic and vital expressions of Christian community that have always been there but they’re often times conveniently overlooked by the more popular narratives of religion in   public life. 
  • We need to have a next generation of leaders and those who will follow us but we don’t have the institutional structures in place to cultivate, to care for, to educate the next generation of leaders. 
  • The communities of faith and the leaders who were already rooted locally tended to have greater resilience amid the precarity of the pandemic. So for those who had practice partnership and exercised the collaboration muscle and understood that their ministry and life of faith may be expressed in a congregation but is ultimately indexed locally, the disruptions caused by the pandemic or the pandemics were certainly challenging, but they were comparatively less challenging and less disruptive because they had already made the move to be more like an adaptive church and explore the new possibilities of organizing and collaboration and community in a changing world. 
  • In order to lean in the practice of partnership, the first thing that often times is required is learning and doing the personal work that is required to enter into partnership in a meaningful way. You have to first do the personal work of understanding yourself, understanding some of your story, understanding the story of your community, so that you can enter into partnership in a way that honors the partnership and doesn’t just try to extract something in a transactional way. 
  • Our communities, our congregations, our institutions are more often built on a competition and scarcity model than a collaboration and community model, even if community is in their mission. So we actually have to unlearn certain things before we can begin to partner in meaningful ways. 
  • We all live in neighborhoods and we all have shared values that cross traditions and cross faith convictions, and we can partner around the needs of our neighborhood. 
  • In order for there to be a meaningful future for the church, it requires institutions in order to transmit these values and practices from one generation to another. 
  • But ultimately if there is a future for the church which I think and hope there will be, it will be a future that takes place because of the work of God in our midst. And that’s what I saw in the northwest, is that people understand this as the work of God.
  • Insofar as my ongoing work and ongoing ministry and ongoing service and scholarship can somehow participate in the work that God is already doing, that’s what gives me hope, and that’s what I think will be a meaningful future of the church, even if it’s a future that doesn’t look like the church that I inherited.
  • Good first steps to take in response to a call to become a more adaptive church:
    • Rest; be still, care for yourself  – if you feel tired, weary or crisis worn, if the idea of taking another step seems exhausting, and it might even fell like it breaks you. Because it’s not ultimately your work to do, it’s the work of God. 
    • Take a step into something and a step out of the comfort of where you are:
      • Asking the question – what’s possible together?
      • An invitation – you invite someone to partner in a new way.
      • An invitation in the step of creation. Creativity and Creative expression is often the sight for newness to emerge.
      • The step of risk – I imagine you have a sense right bellow your breastbone, but there is a risk you’re invited to take, maybe it’s staring something, writing something, saying something, leaving something, leaving something, but just taking the first step could be an incredible transformative journey where I hope you encounter God along the way. 
    • You don’t have to do it all, you just have have to take the first step, and then you take the next one, and the next one, and as you do that work, one of the things that I imagine you will find is that there are other people who are taking those steps with you, and you are not alone, because you don’t have to do this work alone. 
    • Connect with Dustin Benac