How adaptable is your congregation? How adaptable are you?

   In recent weeks, I have spoken on the adaptive challenges we face, and encouraged us to all nurture the kind of experimental mind-set that will enable the members and friends of this congregation to take risks, embrace innovation, accept failures, learn, grow, and thrive.

   I am proud of the daring experiments we have undertaken on our journey together these past several years, the times we have stood together for what matters most:

  • Supporting service-members, deployed to the warzone. 
  • Marching through the streets of New York for Peace and Planet.
  • Pushing an Action of Immediate Witness on Drone Killing, all the way to the floor of the General Assembly, opening the door for me to represent our denomination at a meeting with staff members of the National Security Council.
  • Showing up again and again as allies and sponsors for Knights Out, the LGBTQ alumni group of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
  • Standing with our Muslim neighbors outside the Newburgh Mosque, and with refugees like Tariq.
  • Sharing the burden our military Veterans carry, by showing up to witness their stories.
  • Examining and repudiating white supremacy culture and publicly proclaiming our solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
  • Reaching out to the worst off during this pandemic, with providing financial and food assistance.

   However, I wonder whether we have really maximized the learning from these experiments, the kind of learning necessary to grow and thrive. In short, I wonder whether the congregation’s culture is an adaptive culture.

   The challenges we face, such as pandemic, racism, militarism, and existential threats of nuclear catastrophe and climate change, are adaptive challenges because there is no quick fix, no simple solution. Addressing them requires work, adaptive work, and this work is ours to do. Beginning with ourselves, our relationships where we have influence, our congregation.

   I am committed to building a more adaptive culture. Please reflect on your experience of the congregation through the lenses of the five adaptability criteria identified by Ronald Heifetz and colleagues in The Practice of Adaptive Leadership.

  They are:

  1. naming elephants in the room,
  2. sharing responsibility for the organization’s future,
  3.  exercising independent judgement,
  4. developing leadership capacity,
  5. and institutionalizing reflection and continuous learning.

   A more detailed survey appears in this newsletter. Please bring your reflections to the Sunday Services on August 2 and 16.

  Let’s do the work that needs to be done and thrive!