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Bridge to the Future

Bridge to the Future

Bridge to the Future: Understanding and Embracing Our Congregation’s Adaptive Challenge

In 2020, First Presbyterian Church engaged the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) to help us identify and live out our unique mission and purpose considering the challenges we face and the opportunities and possibilities that may lie ahead for our church.


In partnership with KLC, we are developing leadership capacity among members of the congregation to mobilize one another as we seek to ascertain God’s will for our church at this time.

To date, two dozen members of the congregation have participated in KLC’s Your Leadership Edge, Lead for Change, and Equip to Lead training programs.  These courses have introduced our members to leadership competencies that will help us identify and diagnose challenges as well as to energize others and to intervene skillfully.

Our understanding of adaptive challenges was furthered through small group book discussions and two virtual visits from Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory.

All members of the congregation were invited to participate in interviews or surveys that resulted in creation of the Bridge to the Future Conversation Guide.  This document served as the basis for a three-part congregational conversation held in July and August of 2021.  Seventy members participated in at least one of the conversation’s sessions intended to:

Build our capacity to discuss tough issues among members with varied perspectives about how we live out our mission and purpose.

Experience the reality of both loss and opportunity so that planning becomes possible by preparing the heart of our congregation to move into a time of experimentation, learning, and new direction for the future.

Help more people to understand what it looks like to adapt in the face of tough challenges and what is required of those brave enough to explore.

In the sessions, members met in small groups to discuss questions outlined in the conversation guide such as what it means to be First Presbyterian Church in Wichita and what makes us unique from other churches with similar mission and purpose statements.  Members also considered conversations that may be needed to move us forward into the future God is calling us to, how we can ensure the process of exploration is trustworthy for all involved, and what it will take for us to step out of our comfort zone to explore new opportunities. A report summarizing themes and comments offered in response to each of the discussion questions is available here.

Through our conversations, we have heard and identified four areas where immediate action is needed. These are communication with and among the congregation, expansion of the conversation to members who have not yet been part of the process, obtaining and sharing of more data to enable informed decisions, and expanding our learning through experimentation.

Now it is time for our efforts to move from work by the pastor and the Transformation Team to the congregation. The team will continue to serve as facilitators and champions of transformation. 

We ask that you support each other as we make conscious choices to expand our thinking through experimentation (trying new things grounded in purpose and conscientious risk). We intend to be deliberate in obtaining and exploring data, and in learning from everything we try so that we can make more informed decisions on how to move forward as a church.

We also ask that you consider becoming more involved in this effort. Here are some simple ways to begin.

Stay information about our work through updates in the bulletin, weekly e-mail blasts, the PresbyNews in Calls to Stewardship announcements during worship services.

Monitor the Bridge to the Future Board for the latest news about our work and our experiments.

Invite a group of friends from within the congregation to read and discuss the Bridge to the Future Conversation Guide and Conversation Summary.

Attend the Kansas Leadership Center’s Your Leadership Edge program. FPC members may register and receive course materials without cost.

Become a member of the Transformation Team.

Become the champion or sponsor of an experiment.

Pray about this work. Ask for God’s assistance in helping us to discern the future he sees for our church and for the boldness to explore this future together.


Contact Cynthia Berner at 641-7587 or