The Five Adaptive Muscles


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You’re listening to Igniting Imagination, a podcast to spark the spirit within you from Wesleyan Investive and Texas Methodist Foundation. This season, we are sharing conversations about the five adaptive muscles the church must strengthen to be fit, agile, and ready for God’s now. For more information about these muscles, visit

TMF’s Leadership Ministry team had conversations with pastors, bishops, conference leaders, spiritual entrepreneurs and practitioners from various fields about the adaptive challenges the church is facing in the pandemic and post-pandemic world. Through these conversations, the team identified “Five Muscles” that congregations need to strengthen and flex in order to thrive now and in the foreseeable future. The “Five Muscles” have been affirmed by numerous leaders who note that these are the muscles the church must continually exercise to be fit, agile, and ready for God’s now.

The “Five Muscles” are Grieving Well, Discerning Purpose, Walking Alongside / Neighboring, Distributing Power, and Expanding Imagination. In this episode, host Lisa Greenwood and this season’s co-hosts, Scott Sharp and Blair Thompson-White, give an overview of each of the five muscles. Their conversation is not only packed with insights about what leaders and congregations might consider related to each muscle, they also model for listeners how to talk through each muscle and exercise them together.

Guests this season will dive deep into each muscle. Join us for: Grieving Well with Suzanne Stabile, Discerning Purpose with Susan Beaumont, Walking Alongside / Neighboring with Coté Soerens, Distributing Power with Joerg Rieger, and Expanding Imagination with Amy Oden.


  • “If you only go to the gym and you only work on your arms and you skip leg day every week, you’re not going to have the complimentary strength that you can have, and I don’t mean just to power lift, but to move through life.” -Scott Sharp [04:48]
  • “This is not a one and done kind of thing. You can’t just run around the block once and think that you’re back in shape. It’s a constant, constant thing.” -Blair Thompson-White [28:32]
  • “Just because I’m exercising or doing something doesn’t mean that I’m actually doing all that my body needs to stay fit and agile.” -Lisa Greenwood [29:42]


  • [00:01] Intro
  • [01:09] Why the muscle metaphor is a helpful image
  • [05:20] How we identify the five muscles
  • [06:30] First Muscle: Grieving Well
  • [11:34] Second Muscle: Discerning Purpose
  • [15:36] Third Muscle: Walking Alongside / Neighboring
  • [18:43] Fourth Muscle: Distributing Power
  • [23:43] Fifth Muscle: Expanding Imagination
  • [28:41] A wake-up to do more
  • [33:20] A blessing
  • [34:15] Outro


Read the book, New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World--and How to Make It Work for You by Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans.

Our hosts refer to the progression “We Welcome You--We Stand with You--We Need You.” This is the work of Sandra van Opstahl. Find more information about her here.

The question "What biblical narrative are you currently inhabiting?" was incorrectly attributed to John Thornburg. Gil Rendle was the first to offer the question that is now widely used by our Area Representatives team when working with congregations.

Read the bios of our hosts on our podcast website and find quotes and other information about each episode.

“God Has Work for Us To Do” music and lyrics by Mark Miller. Visit Mark’s website at or find him on YouTube at

This podcast is brought to you by the Leadership Ministry team at TMF and Wesleyan Investive. Leadership Ministry connects diverse, high capacity leaders in conversations and environments that create a network of courage, learning, and innovation in order to help the church lean into its God-appointed mission. For more information and to support Leadership Ministry, visit

40 episodes