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Tod Bolsinger
husband, father, professor, seminary leader, pastor, author, hiker, runner, adventurer, outdoors-lover
Interests: Beth, my kids,The Church, lattes, fly-fishing, skiing, hiking, running, triathlons, National Parks, marveling at nature, red wine, dark chocolate, traveling and planning trips, rooting for the Angels, reading many books at one time, barbecuing meat.
Recent Activity
Intervarsity Press created this video introduction to my book on Christian leadership in uncharted territory. Related articles Google and Jesus Agree on At Least One Thing Of Collaborators and Winter Coats Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2015 at Tod Bolsinger
If leadership experts, missional theologians, pastors, CEOs of Christian organizations, Christian leaders in the marketplace and higher education all converged to hear the adventure story of Lewis and Clark and discuss what it means for leadership today, this is what they'd say... "When Fuller Seminary decided to launch out... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2015 at Tod Bolsinger
By Tod Bolsinger “No one would live in Boston without owning a winter coat. But countless people think that they can exercise leadership without partners…” -Ronald Heifetz “I’m going to need new clothes,” my daughter warns me. “It’s just a weekend trip,” I remind her. “I mean, if I go... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2015 at Tod Bolsinger
Living and leading in the light of a Christmas surrender. “What we are all searching for is Someone to surrender to, something we can prefer to life itself. Well here is the wonderful surprise: God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. The irony is that... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2014 at Tod Bolsinger
Google might be on to something. But then again, Jesus had it long before Google did. Earlier this year in a New York Times article, a top Google executive said the company’s hiring had moved from typical resume highlights toward something more abstract. “Intellectual humility,” they called it. Without humility,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Tod Bolsinger
“So, Charlie, when are we going fix that wall that’s falling down?” My good friend, Charlie heard the voice from the yard next door. Frankly, he hadn’t noticed that the wall was falling down. Charlie is not the kind of guy who notices these things. But, Jim, the next door... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Tod Bolsinger
“Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him…” Ephesians 4:15 In my new role at Fuller Seminary, I have been trying to follow the example of our faculty. Academic Dean and Leadership Professor, Scott Cormode teaches his students, “Leadership begins in listening.” And Scott... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2014 at Tod Bolsinger
I’m a pastor in a denomination that is in the middle of (yet another) divide. I sat through another discussion about exiting churches at our Presbytery meeting a couple of weeks ago. It was like being part of a divorce negotiation with a couple that still loves each other yet... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Tod Bolsinger
We sat together at a coffee shop in Pasadena. Me, a bit nervous. He, warm and kind. He had committed to fund the spiritual formation work I will be doing at Fuller Theological Seminary for the next three years. I wanted to buy him a cup of coffee as a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at Tod Bolsinger
It was the whisper that made me leave my church. It was the one line that I heard over and over again in the five years that I traveled across the country first in leading a commission for my denomination and then as a consultant in organizational change. “Why didn’t... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2014 at Tod Bolsinger
Two meals, two conversations, the same topic. (Over and over again.) One was the pastor of a declining church, the other a growing one. One was in an urban setting, the other rural. One of their churches was well -known, even iconic, the other was church that is not really... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2013 at Tod Bolsinger
I spent the past week in the beauty of Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center at the West Coast Presbyterian Pastors Conference. I am uploading my speaking notes here for the attendees and others who want to follow along. Download 1-Canoeing the Mountains_Leading Through Adaptive Change_WCPP Download 1_Change or Die_understanding adaptive... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2013 at Tod Bolsinger
I spent the past few days speaking on adaptive leadership to church leaders of Fellowship of Presbyterians. After being asked a lot of questions, I decided to repost this piece from October 11, 2011, to give some context for my own journey into learning to lead differently. For those who... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2013 at Tod Bolsinger
This is a repost of an article that first appeared here in May 2010. Recently I have been working with clients who are struggling with congregations who want the pastor to be a 'chaplain' care-taker of the congregatio, while the leadership recognizes the need for a more transformational leader. In... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2013 at Tod Bolsinger
If western societies have become post-Christian mission fields, how can traditional churches become then missionary churches? Lesslie Newbigin An older pastor looked at me with a sigh. He is nearing retirement. And he remembers well how, not that long ago, life was really different. “You know, when I began my... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
Continuing to repost the series from 2010 that seems to spur the most conversations with pastors I coach. The key concept here comes from Peter Steinke and his work with Healthy Congregations. In my last post, I suggested that the core competency for leading any “community”--from a family to a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
Reposting another segment from my 2010 series on "Good Disappointing Leadership". This is perhaps the most brutal reality of all. But if you expect it, you can endure it--and in the end it may just be the key to any real lasting change. “If you are a leader, expect sabotage.”... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
Another post on "Good Disappointing Leadership" will follow, but wanted to offer a word of practical hope... "How does culture change? A powerful person at the top, or a large enough group from anywhere in the organization, decides the old ways are not working, figures out a change vision, starts... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
I am reposting this series on the conversation that I have the most with the pastors I coach. This is part 1. “Leadership is disappointing your own people at a rate they can absorb.” Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky Most of us who take on leadership roles do so from... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
November 2012. I am reposting this series from 2010. It is probably the most requested topic by the pastors I coach. "Disappoint people too much and they give up on you, stop following you and may even turn on you. Don’t disappoint them enough and you’ll never lead them anywhere."... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
Leadership is distinct from management because leadership is about transformation—personal and organizational transformation. While management, like stewardship, cares for what is, leadership is about what can be or what must become for an organization to fulfill its reason for being. To that end, let me offer three leadership truths that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
You are tasked with the big problem. You work hard. You learn. You listen. You consult. You think. You scribble. You problem solve. Then… The muse inspires. The bolt of lightning strikes. Clarity comes from the sky and you see the Big Idea. You frame it in a classic Jim... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
Connecting Conversations about leading learning communities: gives some church leader specific implementation of And helps me with the thoughts I have been developing here: Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2012 at Tod Bolsinger
Thanks Casey. Good thoughts indeed.
Jeff, This is a great response. Thanks very much for posting it. In essence, however, you are proving my point. I agree with you that our polity is not our problem. And while there may very well be a 'gap' between our diagnosis and our prescription, that was NEVER the point that was debated at GA either in the committee or on the floor of presbytery. We WANTED a debate about what would create a missional PCUSA and what would stimulate trust, collaboration and creativity at the most local level of connectionalism (i.e. the Presbytery) Further, our commission would have wholeheartedly agreed with you (and NEXT and The Fellowship) that a solution would not come from Louisville, which is why our prescription was about returning POWER to Presbyteries to do whatever they needed to do to support the mission of the Presbyteries. To be sure, our 'prescription' was NOT non-geographic presbyteries, but about flattening our structure and engaging in an EXPERIMENT (with all kinds of safety valves) in TRUSTING PRESBYTERIES with the POWER to do whatever they needed (yes, including the power to re-orient around non-contiguous boundaries if they thought it was wise to do so) to support missional congregations. My point in mentioning this is NOT that I believe our idea was the only one, or even the best, but that the whole discussion DIDN'T EVEN TAKE PLACE. Indeed, the GA didn't even agree to continue talking about it. (When have presbyterians ever said we should stop talking about stuff...?) So, why we may have disagreed on the MCC report conclusions, I trust that you are indeed one of the tinkerers that give me hope.