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PBA Adaptive Challenge Process

The Adaptive Challenge (AC) process is an exciting process of discernment that seeks the Holy Spirit’s leading in identifying the adaptive challenges that PBA congregations must address if they are to live into God’s future for them.  This process is part of an American Baptist initiative, “Transformed by the Spirit,” that was embarked upon two years ago at the Biennial Celebration in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  PBA is one of many regions within ABC that has partnered with hundreds of American Baptist congregations seeking to discern fresh directions for mission and ministry.

The PBA Adaptive Challenge process (AC) was introduced at the PBA Annual meeting in May 2012.  Persons were asked to participate in the process by providing contact information and PBA church membership.  Interested persons signed up to be a part of their team of interest.  Prospective team members were contacted and sent the “Transformed by the Spirit Adaptive Challenge Workbook.” They were instructed to read the workbook and invited to attend a specific Adaptive Challenge Team (ACT).

Before the Adaptive Challenge Teams (ACT) met, a series of meetings were held with the PBA Board of Directors, pastors, and members of congregations across the PBA to think through the pressing needs confronting the Association. Utilizing the Mission Conversation Cafe format, participants dialogued and dreamed of an inclusive future of ministry within the PBA. Three ministry areas were identified relevant to PBA congregations – diversity, violence, and leadership.  Three ACTs were formed with each team charged with identifying the adaptive challenge relevant to one of the three ministry areas.

The ACTs met over a period of several months at the PBA location.  Care was taken to have each team represent some of the diversity that exists within PBA.  Unique to PBA was the assignment of an ACT coach  familiar with PBA and its congregations.  The ACT coach remained with the  assigned team for the duration of the adaptive  process. This arrangement allowed the coach to work closely with the ACT facilitator and to become intimately familiar with the individuals and group dynamics of the assigned team. All ACT facilitators and coaches met once a month to share, make recommendations, and solve issues that emerged within the teams. It was during these meetings that attention to the details of the adaptive process was refined and in some cases expanded.

The AC process was a successful one in that adaptive challenges were identified for the three ministry areas – diversity,  violence and leadership.  Team members brought to the process a  high commitment level, willingness to be transparent, and openness to discerning the Spirit’s leading.  The next step in the process will be to organize Action Learning Teams that will design experiments specific to the adaptive challenges identified by each of the three ACTs.

Be on the look out for a discussion on the AC process during PBA’s Annual Meeting to be held on May 4, 2013.