How Not to Waste a Crisis: Quit Trying Harder, By Tod Bolsinger
How Not to Waste a Crisis
  • Length: 112 pages
  • Dimensions: 5 × 7 in
  • Published: August 13, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0866
  • ISBN: 9781514008669

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Rising to the occasion calls for a new skill set. But when crises hit, we return to our defaults and double down. The upheaval you find yourself in can reframe your leadership and revive your team.

In this volume, an ideal place to begin the Practicing Change Series, Tod Bolsinger explores the opportunity available in a reality shaken by health, financial, social, and political disasters. Crisis is an opportunity to stop trying harder and begin embracing adaptability. Through observation, interpretation, and intervention, we as leaders can explore a way forward. When your church or nonprofit needs fresh vision, take these steps to learn how to lead anew, and then continue on your leadership journey with the next volumes.

In this essential Christian leadership resource, you'll find:

  • Wisdom on leading your organization through a crisis by embracing adaptability
  • Practical advice from experienced Christian leader and bestselling author Tod Bolsinger
  • Brief and accessible chapters sprinkled with colorful illustrations
  • Real-life case studies and balcony time exercises for teams

The Practicing Change Series from Tod Bolsinger offers an engaging introduction to how we process organizational change and come through with renewed mission and vision. Each of the four illustrated volume opens and closes with a case study and includes balcony time exercises for teams to process together. Also available: The Mission Always Wins, Leading Through Resistance, and Invest in Transformation.

"The Practicing Change Series is compelling and immediately applicable. Each book weaves us through story, illustration, and discussion to contextualize paradigm-shifting frameworks for thinking. Your leadership, but more importantly the impact through your leadership, will experience a trajectory change through the words penned. Tod is a master storyteller, carefully threading points, principles, and processes with ease and nuance. Today's era of leadership calls for continual, on-the-go growth, and this series offers solutions to today's demands. For the leader whose time is limited and responsibilities toward self and service are complex, these books are for you."

Wendy Nolasco, general supervisor and vice president of US Mission for the Foursquare Church

"Here's a scary truth: regardless of where you work or what you do for a living, a crisis is coming. In fact multiple crises lie ahead for you because our world is now changing at an unprecedented rate, and those changes will render you and your organization obsolete if you can't find a way to continuously adapt to these coming crises. Leading through these changes will require leaders who aren't afraid to slay some sacred cows, challenge conventional wisdom, and even live outside their own leadership comfort zones. Adaptation will be the single most critical survival skill of the twenty-first century. Tod Bolsinger's four short books in the Practicing Change Series are the 'emergency preparedness drill' that you will be grateful to have read when the next 'tsunami' hits your organization. Read them now before the next wave hits your shore."

Richard Stearns, president emeritus of World Vision US and author of Lead Like It Matters to God

"I couldn't stop highlighting! This book is essential reading for pastors, coaches, and anyone else who has ever felt the pressure to swoop in and save the day. Tod Bolsinger illustrates how old approaches and stale mindsets won't work to solve tough twenty-first-century challenges. He gives us easy to use tools for engaging more people to solve tough challenges. This and the other three books in the Practicing Change Series are a road map for anyone who wants to build a culture where everyone leads."

Julia Fabris McBride, coauthor of When Everyone Leads: How the Toughest Challenges Get Seen and Solved

"The Practicing Change Series is like having Tod Bolsinger as a personal coach. He offers practical and powerful wisdom for anyone who is wrestling with the complex challenges of ministry leadership today."

Mike Bonem, consultant, coach, and author of The Art of Leading Change

"Tod Bolsinger is a prophetic voice to leaders in both the nonprofit and for-profit environments. We are facing a world that doesn’t trust leadership, but in this book Tod provides us with a leadership masterclass on how to reframe our thinking and learn critical lessons as we respond to present challenges."

Major Nesan Kistan, divisional commander with the Salvation Army

"Like a coach who speaks to you from the coaches' box above the playing field, Tod Bolsinger offers wise and practical insights for anyone leading through crisis. I wish someone had introduced me to Tod Bolsinger when I started pastoring a church years ago. I would have avoided many of the common mistakes he warns against in How Not to Waste a Crisis. If you aren't sure how to respond in crisis—be it a leadership, organizational, financial, or personal crisis—do yourself a favor and learn from Tod's insights. You will not only benefit, but your team will thank you as well!"

Blake Holmes, lead pastor at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas

"Ministry is tough, but the challenges of ministry can shake us out of complacency or mediocrity. These encounters can wake us up to see and even embrace new ministry opportunities. Tod Bolsinger's book is an accessible guide that helps us to embrace the crises that come our way and to see them not as obstacles but as catalysts for something new. This book does not offer quick fixes, nor does it call us just to work harder or more efficiently. Rather, we are encouraged to slow down, see more clearly, break old habits, face the loss, and wait on the Lord in preparation for the next season of ministry. This book is an excellent resource for ministry leaders and ministry boards. I highly recommend it."

Kurt Fredrickson, associate dean for professional doctoral programs and associate professor of pastoral ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary

"This series is required reading for anyone who wants to lead change. In the very best way, reading these books was like sitting down with a mentor who has done the hard work of leading change himself and wants to help us work through the mistakes, challenges, and dynamics we can't see by ourselves."

Michaela O'Donnell, executive director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and author of Life in Flux

"Leaders who know organizational change is needed but don't know how to go about it will find accessible, practical, and wise guidance in Tod Bolsinger's Practicing Change Series. I've found the concepts of adaptive leadership incredibly helpful in thinking through organizational challenges. Bolsinger helps us apply and practice these concepts in a way that will transform our organizations and ourselves as leaders."

Teri McDowell Ott, editor and publisher of the Presbyterian Outlook and author of Necessary Risks: Challenges Privileged People Need to Face

"This is one of the best real application leadership books I have read given the constant changing environment we all are leading, managing, and living through. As a leader in the midst of constant change this book brings simplicity and a step-by-step practical process to incorporate into the fiber of problem solving. How Not to Waste a Crisis will live on my desk as a consistent reference. I have purchased this book for my executive team and will do so with Tod's others in his Practicing Change Series. Thank you, Tod, for sharing your wisdom on how to lead in a transformational manner through times of great challenges."

Mack B. Rhoades IV, vice president and director for intercollegiate athletics, Baylor University

"How Not to Waste a Crisis is vintage Tod Bolsinger: clear, profound, practical, and actionable. Tod offers helpful ideas and practices drawn from the real world of organizational leadership in the complex times we're living through. This concise guide to adaptive leadership is precisely the kind of tool that can help faith leaders thrive in leading real, deep, and lasting change."

Barry D. Jones, senior pastor of Irving Bible Church and author of Dwell: Life with God for the World

"Our typical response to a crisis is to panic or power up. We batten down the hatches, hoping to weather the storm, but who would have ever considered a crisis as something not to be wasted? Only Tod Bolsinger. In this incredible work, he calls us to three new skills that will help any leader adapt to a changing landscape and learn in and through every crisis."

Léonce B. Crump Jr., senior pastor of Renovation Church, Atlanta, and coauthor of The Resilience Factor

"Leadership is a lot like twirling a baton: it looks easy until you try it! If you are involved in leadership at any level I would highly recommend Tod Bolsinger's Practicing Change Series. It invites those of us in leadership to reflect on and rethink what it means to be a leader and to build a resource of trust 'in what really makes a difference—transformation.'"

Daniel Dorsey, GHM, president of Glenmary Home Missioners

"As much as we hate it, crises are inevitable in leadership. Tod Bolsinger brings a refreshingly new perspective on how to lead through crisis, and it's not what you think. But it's exactly what heroic leaders who love to jump in, fix things, and rise to the challenge need to do."

Carey Nieuwhof, founder of the Art of Leadership Academy and author of At Your Best

"Tod Bolsinger has a gift. He has an amazing gift of taking relatable life experiences and connecting leadership principles in ways that help lead to learning and transformation. We have worked with Tod at Chapelwood, and he has helped us learn how to craft experiments to help us learn. How Not to Waste a Crisis is a very accessible resource that can help any leader who is guiding through change. Allow Tod to invite you and your people up to the balcony to see that you can figure out change together!"

John E. Stephens, senior pastor of Chapelwood United Methodist Church

"There are no roadmaps for navigating the uncharted and unpredictable territories of crises, change, transition, and transformation. Yet Tod has provided us with a survival kit. It's full of skills we can learn and practice to help us lead through the most disruptive and unprecedented seasons. How Not to Waste a Crisis will resonate deeply with anyone in leadership. There will be moments when you think, I wish I had this book when . . . Tod has distilled the wisdom, study, and experience of years into a reader-friendly leadership manual, which is more than a book. It's an immensely practical and helpful coaching session. Adaptive leadership is a journey and I encourage you to embark on it. There are three more titles in Tod's Practicing Change Series to help us on our way. Personally, I can't wait to get stuck into all of them."

Phil Dooley, global senior pastor of Hillsong Church

"The best books are the ones you read with a journal and a friend. Tod's books are like that—they spark insights and ideas that make you want to think about what he has written and then talk about it with someone else. This book added to my understanding of adaptive leadership but then lingered in my mind long after I read it and continues to challenge and inspire me as a leader."

Trisha Taylor, author of The Leader's Journey: Answering the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Marty Linsky
About the Practicing Change Series

Introduction: Humbling Lessons for Experienced Leaders
1. A Leadership Story: Superhero Leaders in a Crashing World
2. Old Mindset: Don't Just Stand There—Do Something!
3. New Skillset Part 1: See the Shift Before Solving the Problem
4. New Skillset Part 2: Seek Out Diverse Perspectives
5. New Skillset Part 3: Formulate Questions for Learning
6. Adaptive Reset: Don't Predict. Prototype.
7. The Story Continues: Giving the Work Back to the People

Discussion Guide: Take Your Team to the Balcony


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Tod Bolsinger

Tod Bolsinger is the founder and principal at AE Sloan Leadership Inc., the executive director of the DePree Center Church Leadership Institute, and associate professor of leadership formation at Fuller Seminary. He is the author of the Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year in pastoral leadership, Canoeing the Mountains, and the Christian Book Award Finalist, Tempered Resilience. Tod and his wife, Beth, split their time between Pasadena, California, and Ketchum, Idaho.