Adaptive Change in Eight Minutes!

You just have to watch this video of a young man trying to ride a bike that has had only one simple change—when you turn the handlebars to the right the wheels turn to the left and vice versa. You can find it here at The Backwards Brain Bicycle (click here to view).

How long did it take him to digest this knowledge? Less than a few seconds. Understanding what the welders had done took no time at all.

backwards brain bikeHow long did it take him to understand the change? Are you ready for this? It took him a full eight months until he could successfully ride a bike where the steering assumptions had been reversed. Interestingly enough, he also tried this on his 6-year old son who, because of his childhood brain elasticity, was able to accomplish the same feat in two weeks. Eight months for dear old dad who had been riding for 25 years and two weeks for his youngster who had three years of cycling experience.

I am not going to say much more about this. I really want you to just watch the video and then either think about it yourself or, better yet, have a discussion with others using the following questions:

  • In what ways has making changes in your church felt like riding a Backwards Brain Bicycle?
  • destin sandlinDestin Sandlin says, “My thinking was in a rut.” In what ways might your thinking about how to be church be in a rut as well?
  • Destin Sandlin says, “Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head sometimes you cannot change that even if you want to.”
    • Is this true?
    • In what ways is it true?
    • In what ways might it not be true?
    • What role does the Holy Spirit play in change?
  • Destin Sandlin says, “I had set out to prove that I could free my brain from a cognitive bias, but at this point I am pretty sure that all I proved was that I could only re-designate that bias.” If it is true that we cannot free ourselves from biases then what biases do you want your church to adopt?
  • Destin Sandlin says he learned three things from this experiment:
    • “I learned that welders are often smarter than engineers.” Who are the welders in your congregation?
    • rubiks cube“I learned that knowledge does not equal understanding.” Knowledge of the “backwards brain bicycle” took Destin a few seconds to get. Understanding of the bicycle took him eight months. What does this mean for how your church will respond to the scripture, “In Christ, the old has passed away; behold, the new has come!”
      • What is the difference between knowledge and understanding?
      • What is the process of going from knowledge to understanding?
    • “I learned that truth is truth no matter what you think about it. So be careful how you interpret things because you’re looking at the world with a bias whether you think you are or not.” What are the biases that you can’t even see yet? (Okay, I admit it—that is a trick question!)

Church consultants tell us that mainline Protestant Christianity is in an “adaptive change” climate where the old tools no longer work. We need new assumptions and new biases. This video is the best example I have seen of what “adaptive change” actually looks like and how it works (and how hard it is!).

From now on I am not going to try to explain adaptive change. I am just going to say, “Can you and your church ride a backwards brain bicycle?”

If you can, you are way ahead of the curve!

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