Responding to “Canoeing the Mountains” Part 1

You’ve heard of the Louis and Clark expedition. A couple of hundred years ago, the United States purchased a massive chunk of land stretching to the Pacific ocean. President Jefferson wanted to figure out if there was a water route through to the Pacific Ocean. So he commissioned two men to lead a group of explorers to figure the answer out.


The assumption made by practically everyone on that day was that the geography of the continental US was the same from the East Coast to the West Coast. So, arriving at the headwaters of the Mississippi river, they expected to find a water route straight through to the Pacific. Seeing the Rocky Mountains changed everything. What they expected to find did not exist. The plans they had for conquering the route would not work in the future. They had to canoe the mountains. They had to come up with a different way to overcome what existed in the future.


Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory.

Todd Bolsinger, the writer of this book, subtitled this book “Christian leadership in uncharted territory.” he argues that the future of the church stands dramatically different than the past. And the future of the church perhaps looks as distinct from the past as a river and a mountain. It’s not just another bend of a journey the church has traveled over the last century. It is a dramatic restructuring of how the church exists.


I assume as I read this book, he will lay out the structure of how he thinks I should lead in this uncharted territory. Right now, the book certainly resonates with me. I grew up as a pastors kid and the world today certainly differs a lot from the world where I grew up. The church I serve today sits in a community with very different views on God and the Bible and church.


Terre Haute Indiana is not particularly liberal. It’s not unusual as a community. It’s just that it represents a larger world A world where the Bible and the church plays a different role. Unless I can figure out how to lead well in this new world, the church will struggle at 65 Home Avenue. Or it will cease to exist.


Leading well on the map

I’ve covered about 70 pages out of maybe 223 pages in this book. The biggest thing that stands out right now is this concept of leading well on the map before I can be trusted to lead off it. For me to lead my church into uncharted territory, I need to do a great job of leading with excellence where I am. I like the quote of the indelicate on official team motto that the writer shares: “we can fail, but we can’t suck.”

I need to make sure that the way that I lead my church drips with excellence. It “doesn’t suck.” It’s OK if things that my church tries fail. It’s not OK if I don’t do an excellent job in preparation. This weekend we host a block party. My responsibility then is to do the best job I can in preparation for this block party. It’s OK if the block party fails to reach an abundance of people. It’s not OK if a lot of things are underprepared.



I suppose I need to take a break from writing and get to doing what I’m describing. I will try and respond to and write on several more topics in this book as I go along. Certainly worth the read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: