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Adaptive Leadership

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been learning about a helpful skill for me and probably a few church leaders in the Cincinnati Area. That skill is called “adaptive leadership.” Adaptive Leadership is the ability to help an association or church to handle change quickly and to make the right calls when needed for future decision-making. And the important thing is to keep making the right decision. It’s not done just one time, but staying after it enough to keep handling needed changes.


About a year ago, I traveled to Peachtree City, Ga., to hear firsthand from Rob Peters about what it meant to be an Adaptive Leader. Rob is a church consultant. Steve Hopkins from the state convention and Ron Renner who was pastor at Beacon Church also attended.


According to Rob Peters, in his book, The Overseer, there are six things an adaptive leader needs to do to bring revitalization. (xv)


1.      Accurately assess the church – Be aware of your church’s strengths and weaknesses while being objective. It’s not easy to do!

2.     Rightly position the church – A leader needs to help a church understand itself. Its positioning can be negative or positive. What distinctives does your church have that sets it apart from others?

3.     Clearly cast vision – A leader needs to help the church members know where it is going, what it stands for, and why. Visioncasting must be repeated often.

4.     Multiply disciples – Jesus said to make disciples. Some churches think of discipleship as attending a series of classes. However, the multiplication process keeps a church fresh, honest, and growing!

5.     Rally other leaders – Is your church a leader factory? How many are attending a Bible school or seminary? Are the leaders in your church helping others to be their church’s leaders?

6.     Effectively execute plans – Is everyone in your church aware of plans and want to participate in them? Buy-in is critical.


It is one thing to be flexible and bend with every idea and trend that comes along. However, an adaptive leader only adapts to biblical principles and the plans that come out of prayer and deep discernment from a number of counselors.


One time I met a foundation director that was shaking his head when I entered his office. He said that their foundation wanted to give money to help a church in New York State. However, he had just turned them down because every Monday, they gathered to see what God wanted them to do that week. The Foundation director did not think it wise that a church was so focused on changing every week that they couldn’t stick to an agreed-upon plan.


Being adaptive is not easy, but it starts by listening to the Lord and then sticking to His plan long-term to see it to completion.


Plan to hear Rob Peters on Monday, March 18th at the G3 Summit. He’s scheduled to speak at the afternoon pastor’s conference, then after a meal provided by CABA, he’ll be our keynote speaker. We plan to meet at Lakota Hills Baptist Church in West Chester where Travis Smalley pastors. The event is free and it is open to church leaders in CABA.


-Mark Snowden directs the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association



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