By Tom Ehrich

I am struck by how many enterprises are setting up a big roll of the dice. Microsoft is betting the farm on Windows 8. Loss-ridden phone-maker Nokia has one shot left with a new smartphone due next month. Blackberry seems down to one last chance at staying afloat.

The upcoming retail season could be make-or-break for major brands like Best Buy, as well as for countless local enterprises. I get the uneasy feeling that some automakers are blowing hard on the dice.

I know this rolling-dice moment is true in the church world. A lot is riding on this year’s stewardship canvass, leadership selections, and boldness in planning.

It is always difficult for mature enterprises to stay afloat. They stop asking pertinent questions, they focus too much on survival, they lose their appetite for risk, they resist change, and the loyal turn out to be loyal to themselves, not to the enterprise.

The compelling vision loses its oomph, and custodians of that vision fight to retain it, rather than seek a fresh compelling vision.

The good news is that staying alive and charting a better course aren’t a dice game. Microsoft, for instance, is allocating $1 billion to advertise Windows 8 – but first, they gave themselves a sterling new product to promote. If Microsoft makes it, it will be superior technology, not hype.

Faced with extinction, serious, well-led enterprises don’t lapse into magical thinking. They knuckle down and get the work done.

I see many church leaders entering knuckle-down mode. They will face enormous resistance from longtime constituents who still want their way, still don’t want change, still don’t intend to support a fresh vision. But leaders seem determined to press through that mindless and selfish resistance.