LEADERSHIP & Who are the strategic leaders? by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 08/21/19.

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The word strategy comes from the Greek word for a military general: strategoi. The generals of ancient Athens, led by the forward-thinking Pericles, undertook a grand building project to make Athens the cultural and political center of Greece. The Athenian generals’ strategy paid off, with beautiful buildings such as the Parthenon, making Athens the Greek capital.

Subsequently, in the military field the word strategic has come to refer to the bigger-picture planning that is done before a before a battle begins. Strategic leaders see the big picture, and envision outcomes before the battle commences. They intuitively know what the results should be, even though they are not experts in getting there. In the military, strategic leaders are generals, admirals, etc.

In architecture

An analogy from the world of art may be helpful. The strategic leader is akin to an artist. He or she seems the dim outline of the future, perhaps a gleaming office tower or an eye-catching museum. They can envision what it will look like once it is complete. But, they seek only general forms, shapes and appearances. They see the art and the results.

In the military

Strategic leaders are intentional, big-picture leaders who deal in theoretical, hypothetical concepts and strategies. For example, in World War II generals such as Dwight Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery strategically knew that France must be invaded and wrestled from the German occupiers. The decisions to invade North Africa, Sicily, Italy and eventually France were decided upon by the generals. But, once each of the invasions commenced, leadership was put into the hands of tactical leaders.

In the church

Let’s look at some typical characteristics that distinguish leaders in the church. And, in my consultative work, I have routinely witnessed that pastors can be drawn into the ministry by two competing roles.[ii]

1. The shepherd. Many pastors enter the ministry due to a desire to help fellow humankind with a hands-on, relational, personal and mentoring type of leadership style. This is analogous to the guidance of a shepherd, and is reflected in scriptures about nurture, care and cultivation such as in Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

And, this is exemplified by Jesus who is described as, “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). Pastors drawn by this role often become relational leaders.

2. The visionary. Pastors in this category have an overriding desire to make a significant impact for Christ and His kingdom. They are impassioned by statements such as John 4:34-38, “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying, ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Visionaries have what church growth researcher Win Arn called “church growth eyes … a developed characteristic of individuals and churches who have achieved a sensitivity to seeing possibilities….”[iii] Pastors drawn by this leadership role usually become strategic leaders.

3. A mixture. Oftentimes pastors and church leaders have a mixture of the two above roles and may fluctuate between one or the other at various times in their ministerial journey. However, it is important to note the dissimilar nature of these roles. One seeks to build interpersonal camaraderie and intimacy, the other seeks to attain a physical forward-looking goal.

In the former, intimacy is the purpose, and in the later the future goal is the purpose. Which is needed? They both are, but the wise church leader will employ each as the circumstance warrants and as their abilities allow. Thus, let’s look a bit more at strategic leadership.

Pastors attracted to the ministry because of a vision to make a significant impact for Christ often exhibit strategic leadership. And, they are often passionate about their work, for they see the depravity of humankind and they perceive how Christ provides the necessary answer.

Subsequently, they are often highly enthusiastic and energetic about reaching people for Christ. This passion can sometimes be misconstrued as a fervor for growth, size or power. And, such negative attributes can sneak in. However, what customarily motivates these individuals is the picture they envision of many people coming to know Christ.

As such, visual and revelatory scriptures hold great sway, and they can readily perceive the “great multitudes of Revelation 7:9-10 “… a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

In the change process

Strategic leaders are the first to notice that change is needed. This is because they are always looking ahead. To a degree, they live in the future better than the present. Thus, they can be frustrating to work with if not accompanied by the tactical leader. Strategic leaders thus see the need for change, and love discussing the rationale and theories of change.[iv]

They know what the change should look like, but they have trouble seeing the individual steps to get there. Thus, they are critical for the change process, for they look ahead and see where the church is going and needs to go. But they are also frustrating for other leaders because strategic leaders know what the results should look like, but they are weak at envisioning the step-by-step process.

Characteristics

Strategic leadership is “future directed.”[v] Strategic leaders often want people to move forward, and thus they are the first to start moving in new directions. Historian Martin Marty said they “are extremely sensitive to where people are, but are not content to leave them there.”[vi]

Other names for strategic leaders are:

1. Visionaries (George Barna,[vii] Leith Anderson[viii] and Phil Miglioratti[ix]).

2. Role 1 Leaders (Phil Miglioratti[x]).

3. “Top management” (John Wimber, Eddie Gibbs[xi]).

4. “Strong, authoritative, directive pastoral leadership” (Wagner[xii]).

5. Upper-level Management (John Kotter[xiii]).

6. Sodality leadership, which is described as “vision setter, goal setter, strong leader, visionary, upper management” (Ralph Winter[xiv]).

This is the second article in a series of articles on 3-STRand Leadership. Check out the first, “How church change drove a family away,” by Bob Whitesel. Click here for footnotes.

Excerpted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007).

Photo source: istock 

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/understanding-graffiti-leadership/

EXIT BEHAVIOR & Most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher. But don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus. #LifeWay #research

by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 6/26/18.

But don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

The study of Protestant churchgoers found most are committed to staying at their church over the long haul. But more than half say they would strongly consider leaving if the church’s beliefs changed.

Pastors often worry about changing church music and setting off a “worship war,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. But few say they would leave over music.

Churchgoers are much more concerned about their church’s beliefs.

“Mess with the music and people may grumble,” he said. “Mess with theology and they’re out the door.”

CHURCHGOERS STAY PUT

LifeWay Research switch churches

LifeWay Research surveyed 1,010 Protestant churchgoers—those who attend services at least once a month—to see how strongly they are tied to their local congregations.

Researchers found most churchgoers stay put.

Thirty-five percent have been at their church between 10 and 24 years. Twenty-seven percent have been there for 25 years or more. Twenty-one percent have been there less than five years, while 17 percent have been at the same church for between five and nine years.

Lutherans (52 percent), Methodists (40 percent) and Baptists (31 percent) are most likely to have been at their church for 25 years or more. Fewer nondenominational (11 percent) or Assemblies of God/Pentecostal churchgoers (13 percent) have such long tenure.

About two-thirds (63 percent) of churchgoers who are 65 or older are completely committed to attending their same church in the future. That drops to 50 percent for those younger than 35.

Older churchgoers are also least likely to want to leave their church. When asked if they’ve thought about going to another church in their area, 92 percent of those 65 or older say no.

Overall, 15 percent of churchgoers say they have thought about going to another church in the past six months. Eighty-five percent say they have not.

Of those thinking about going to another church, about half (54 percent) have already visited another church. Forty-six percent have not.

“If people are thinking about leaving your church, chances are they’ve already started looking,” said McConnell. “So they’re probably halfway out the door.”

LifeWay Research reasons switch church

Read more here … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/06/26/what-makes-churchgoers-stick-around/

OUTREACH & A book review of Rebecca Manley Pippert’s follow-up to “Out of the Saltshaker” titled “Stay Salt.” #MustRead #ShareYourFaith

Book review by Sam Chan, Christianity Today, 6/29/20.

… Pippert, of course, is best known for her classic book on evangelism, Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life. First published in 1979, Out of the Saltshaker was written to equip believers for evangelism in a culture that was drifting in post-Christian directions. Four decades later, those forces have only accelerated, but Pippert hasn’t lost any confidence that the gospel message can break through walls of hostility and indifference, even in the context of everyday conversations. As the subtitle of Stay Salt puts it, “The World Has Changed: Our Message Must Not.”

A Multi-Pronged Approach

There are three sections in Stay Salt. In the first, Pippert looks at what she calls the means of evangelism—in other words, you and me, the “evangelists.” None of us feels adequate when confronted with the juggernaut of hostile Western secularism. But Pippert reassures us that this is precisely how God works our circumstances. God uses us not despite but because of our smallness, weaknesses, and inadequacies. We are supposed to depend upon God for the courage and strength to evangelize.

In the second section, Pippert takes us through the message of evangelism—the gospel. Here we might roll our eyes. Don’t we already know this stuff? But Pippert got me excited about the gospel with the fresh language she uses. She skillfully presents the gospel as both a rebuttal to the accepted doctrines of secularism and a positive message our friends will want to hear.

In the final section, Pippert outlines the method of evangelism. This might seem like another occasion for eye-rolling. Surely not another formulaic technique! But Pippert instead motivates us to love our friends and to “proclaim” the message through questions and conversations rather than a pre-rehearsed monologue.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/june-web-only/rebecca-manley-pippert-stay-salt-evangelism.html

TRENDS & Is the Political Left Becoming More Religious? What sociologists found. #OxfordUniversity #AssociationForTheSociologyOfReligion

Is the Religious Left Resurgent?” by Joseph O Baker, Gerardo Martí, Sociology of Religion, Volume 81, Issue 2, Summer 2020, Pages 131–141, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sraa004 Published: 08 April 2020

Abstract:

Journalistic sources seem to suggest that there has been a resurgence of the American Religious Left (i.e., politically liberal Christians who support progressive agendas) in the wake of the strong support from the conservative Christian right in the 2016 presidential election of Donald J. Trump. Using quantitative analysis, we draw on survey data from the General Social Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute, and the National Congregations Study to assess the possibility of a resurgence among the Religious Left. In comparison with a speculated rise, our analysis indicates a notable decline in both the prevalence and engagement of Americans who self-identify as both religious and politically liberal. Not only is the constituency of the Religious Left shrinking, they have also been steadily disengaging from political activity in the last decade. Especially when looking at more recent elections, it has been those among the Secular Left who have been the most politically engaged. We summarize these empirical patterns in relation to the Religious Right and consider the potential for influence among the Religious Left aside from electoral politics. We also briefly consider other possibilities for their political impact and reflect on the inadequacy of the label “Religious Left” for capturing important dynamics. In the end, we urge greater attention to politics among sociologists of religion, providing a set of research questions to consider in light of the upcoming American 2020 national election.

Read more via … https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/81/2/131/5818067?redirectedFrom=fulltext

MOSIAC CHURCHES & Understanding Graffiti Leadership by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 2/21/19.

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One of the most influential art forms in American history first appeared in its current form on public walls in the late 1960s.

Graffiti is an improvised, colorful and risky art that is layered on public buildings, bridges, railway cars and subways. A product of urban artists who often eschew training, it is a fitting metaphor for another characteristic of millennial leadership.

While modern leadership often disciplines itself to keep colors and lines in their place, millennial leaders create a leadership collage of colors, symbols and statements. (Paradoxically, the style known as “modern art,” including the works of Matisse, Picasso and others, shunned the orderliness of previous periods of art and acted as a precursor to millennial thinking. This demonstrates the broad strokes and limitations underscored by the term “modern.”)

Some of the attributes of graffiti artists are:

  • Risk-takers
  • Improvisers
  • Led by spirit and passion
  • Breaking human convention for the sake of improvement
  • Creating a collage of colors, styles, messages and meanings that make the world take notice
  • Different artists add their style to others’ art
  • Personal symbols and icons retain individuality.
  • And, graffiti often contains reoccurring elements, including:
  • Name or epithet
  • A philosophy line
  • Synergy created by blending multiple shapes, styles and colors

Graffiti reminds us of the improvisational, risky and outward-focused collage of Millennial leadership. This is not for the faint-hearted, nor the small-minded.

Graffiti leadership embraces risk

In response to these modern perils, the Millennial leader seeks a more elastic and organic approach. While the modern leader tries to create stability and minimize risk, the millennial leader recognizes that chaos is a byproduct of the human condition (Romans 3:23, 5:12). According to organizational theorist Mary Jo Hatch, the millennial leader “embraces complexity and uncertainty and their contradictory demands.”

When researcher Lois Barrett and her colleagues studied churches that were effectively reaching young non-churchgoers they found that a reoccurring pattern was “taking risks as a contrast community.” This is a church that is learning to take risk for the sake of the gospel. It understands itself as different from the world because of its participation in the life, death and resurrection of its Lord. It is raising questions, often threatening ones, about the church’s cultural captivity and it is grappling with the ethical and structural implications of its missional vocation.

A moving example of risk-taking comes from the story of John Perkins, a black man who left Mississippi after his brother was shot by a policeman. After an encounter with Christ he retuned to Mississippi to work with children during the turbulent civic rights struggles of the 1950s.  Eventually, Perkins founded a Christian ministry that included student tutoring, co-ops to share food, child care, nutrition programs, medical facilities and Bible studies. This was risky behavior in 1950s Mississippi.

The millennial leader understands such risk because as Lewis Drummond observes, “In postmodern terms, we might say that Jesus came to bring equal access and opportunity to this in substandard living condition, to give voice and identity to those other than the dominant elite and to alleviate the ravages of capitalistic imperialism and colonialist economic aggression.”

Lois Barrett concluded, “These congregations seem to be living by a set of rules different from that of dominant culture. Their priorities are different. They act against ‘common sense.’  They are trying to conform to Jesus Christ rather than to the surrounding society.”

Such risk-taking for the sake of the missio Dei is akin to the risks a graffiti artist takes for one’s craft.

Excerpted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, by Bob Whitesel (Abingdon Press). Used with permission.

Photo source: istock 

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/understanding-graffiti-leadership/

#SundayMorningHacks – Worship leaders should minimize their talking before or between songs. These interjections often become mini-sermons & detract from the primary preaching of the Word.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  I love the passion, wisdom and commitment of our worship leaders. But, in analyzing worship services as well as polling congregants, I have found that speaking between worship songs can have three unintended consequences.

  1. It can interrupt the flow between the songs.
  2. These mini-sermons often head in a different direction that the eventual sermon.
  3. The mini-sermons can make listeners weary of listening to a speaker before the sermon begins.

TRENDS & Watch this music video to see fresh expressions of the Church (and be blessed by the singing too).

From the UK, a praise video of the diverse young people choosing to follow Jesus.

MOSIAC CHURCHES & How Millennial leadership grows mosaic churches by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 3/20/19.

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Millennial leadership recognizes the need for cultural sensitivity, awareness and autonomy.  Though there is a healthy respect for different traditions, there is also a concern that the body of Christ not be splintered into smaller and less holistic factions. Millennial leaders see two types of church planting and increasingly utilize internal instead of external church plants.

External church plants

When modern leaders think of church planting, they usually think about launching a new and autonomous congregation to reach a new culture. However, many millennial leaders have seen their parents’ churches use a “church planting excuse” to push out a different culture. Whether it be a generational culture or an ethnic culture, these ”forced plants” often don’t survive. The millennial leader often wonders, why can’t the church just get along and stay together as a spiritual network?

Internal church plants (or network churches)

This is an increasingly popular strategy that plants new sub-congregations, but keeps them part of one inclusive and multicultural congregation. Called “network churches,” these can be multiple-site and multiple-venue churches, and as such, they are examples of internal church planting.

Advantages of internal church plants

Sharing finances: In the business world this is called an “economy of scale,” which means that a network of sub-congregations will have more financial resources together than if each were independent organizations. For example, if emergency funds are needed by one sub-congregation, the network can provide those funds more readily and smoothly because they are all part of one organizational system.

Sharing facilities: Internal church plants that employ a multi-site approach foster a sharing of facilities, technology and physical resources. This can help fulfill John M. Perkins’ goal of “redistribution.”

Sharing staff:  Network churches benefit from sharing support staff, allowing sub-congregations to avoid duplicating their workforces.

Culture sharing:  This is a strategic advantage. More cultural sharing will take place if multiple ethnicities are meeting in the same building and sharing the same budget, etc. than will take place if an emerging culture is forced to move down the street to an independent church plant.

Disadvantages of internalchurch plants 

They can become divisive:This is often cited as a main concern.  But, if they exit the church, it is divided anyway.  Division can be addressed by having different preachers at different venues/times share the same message and by holding regular unity events.

Marginalized cultures:Often the largest cultures will try, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes intentionally, to dominate the smaller culture.  Yet, this should not deter a congregation from practicing a ministry that reconciles different cultures in the same church.

One way to address this is to require proportional representation on decision-making committees.

If these caveats can be addressed, the end result is the mosaic church, where the glue of being one united organization unites different cultural expressions. A true image of a “mosaic” is created, where different colors and shades create a unified picture when viewed from a distance, but up close reveals a collage of different cultures working in unity and harmony.

This Millennial “graffiti” leadership is full of colorful layering and icons that when combined produce a new multifaceted, yet integrated image. This is the church.

Excerpted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, by Bob Whitesel (Abingdon Press). Used with permission.

Photo source: istock 

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/how-millennial-leadership-grows-mosaic-churches/

RECONCILIATION & How Billy Graham stood up against racism and modeled reconciliation, as told by someone who was there: Amos C. Brown.

by Amos C. Brown, Sojourners Magazine, 6/16/29.

… In July 1952, when I was 11 years old, some of my relatives took me to witness the Billy Graham Crusade in Jackson, Miss. Ropes were strung across the athletic field and stands where more than 300,000 people would gather to hear him preach during those hot summer nights. The ropes had one purpose: to keep the crowd segregated by the color of their skin.

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I still remember, nearly 70 years later, watching as Rev. Graham walked down off the podium where he was to preach and pulled down those ropes. That was the day that he declared he would never again preach to a segregated congregation, because the gospel of Jesus Christ welcomes all equally. It was a courageous act for which he was heavily criticized, notoriously so in the segregated South. Nonetheless, in pulling down those ropes he demonstrated his belief in the words of the gospel, and over the rest of life stood with other religious leaders who were working to bring down the barriers of racism.

From the article “BILLY GRAHAM RAISED HIS VOICE AGAINST RACISM. SO SHOULD HIS SON.” Read the full article here … https://sojo.net/articles/billy-graham-raised-his-voice-against-racism-so-should-his-son

And watch a video here …https://billygraham.org/video/taking-ropes-segregation-part-4/

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Image: LancasterOnline.com

LEADERSHIP & Why Relational Leaders Are the Glue to Hold a Team Together by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 9/13/19.

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In the military, relational leaders are the men and women who lead skilled teams on critical assignments. They have an immediate, urgent and vital task to perform. They may not see where their efforts fit into the bigger picture, but they are the masters of relational leadership. They lead an intentional and personal effort to build a team of interdependent soldiers. While the key to strategic leadership is forecasting and theorizing, and the contribution of tacticians is precision and allocation, the skill of the relational leader is his or her connection with their team and the ability to think creatively, improvise, adapt and be successful.

In architecture

These are the skilled craftsmen that build a house and give it the working components. They are often knowledgeable in a certain predefined field such as electrical, heating/cooling, framing, etc., because of the complexity of the task. And, they like to see the immediate results of their hands. One relational leader told me, “I like to see immediate results from what I am doing. I do not have the patience to wait for an outcome. That is why I am a painter. I like to see the results right now from what I am doing.”

In contrast, the strategic leader may wait years to witness the culmination of a project, and thus may leap to a new idea before the first has come to fruition. The tactical leader is also patient in waiting for the project to be completed, but the tactical leader finds it rewarding to see that progress is being made and the end goal is getting nearer. However, for relational leaders, seeing immediate results in even small steps is one of the most rewarding parts of the process.

In the Church

My dad was a sergeant in the military, and initially a relational leader who led his small team of second service ushers successfully for four years. Like many relational leaders in our churches, Dad enjoyed getting the job done. I often remember how fulfilled and satisfied he was after church, where he had faithfully discharged his duties with his team.

In the change process

During the change process these are the church leaders who get things done. They often see things from the viewpoint of their task. If they are an usher, then as my dad, ushering seemed like the most important job in the church. Still my dad, like many relational leaders today, knew that the church was an organic organism of many functions and ministries (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:11-13). But Dad so enjoyed the task at hand, that at least for him and his giftings this was the most important job imaginable. As a result, he discharged his duties with speediness, precision, care and results.

Characteristics

Relational leaders have the knowledge, skill, relational abilities and dedication to get a job done. Once the parameters are defined and they see how their task fits into the bigger picture (they are helped in this by the tactical leader), the relational leader can accomplish almost anything. Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” [xxvii]. And, thus the contribution of the relational leader is critical to the change process.

Relational leaders often love their job so much that they do not see themselves “moving out” of this role in the foreseeable future [xxviii].

But, if the relational leader does not have the go-between of a tactical leader, the strategic leader’s vision may be too imprecise to motivate the relational leader. Thus, we see once again while all three types of leadership are needed, it is the glue the go-between tactical leader provides that helps the relational leader move the strategic leader’s vision forward.

This is the fourth article in a series of articles on 3-STRand Leadership. Check out the third, “What is tactical leadership?” by Bob Whitesel. Click here for footnotes.

Excerpted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007).

Photo source: istock 

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/why-relational-leaders-are-the-glue-to-hold-a-team-together/

STRATEGY & Setting priorities is not the same as setting strategy via #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Church leaders have improved greatly in establishing Biblical values and mission statements. But strategy, real strategy which is actionable plans, is less clear to most congregants. http://www.LEADERSHIP.church has for 30+ years been helping churches create doable and successful plans for church health and growth. And, this includes bottom-up input from frontline leaders. Read this Harvard Business Review article to learn why.

Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Actually Strategies

One major reason for the lack of action is that “new strategies” are often not strategies at all. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what the firm is going to do and what it’s not going to do. Many strategies fail to get implemented, despite the ample efforts of hard-working people, because they do not represent a set of clear choices.

Many so-called strategies are in fact goals…

Others may represent a couple of the firm’s priorities and choices, but they do not form a coherent strategy when considered in conjunction. …

It’s not just a top-down process. Another reason many implementation efforts fail is that executives see it as a pure top-down, two-step process: “The strategy is made; now we implement it.” That’s unlikely to work. A successful strategy execution process is seldom a one-way trickle-down cascade of decisions…

Stanford professor Robert Burgelman said, “Successful firms are characterized by maintaining bottom-up internal experimentation and selection processes while simultaneously maintaining top-driven strategic intent.” This is quite a mouthful, but what Burgelman meant is that you indeed need a clear, top-down strategic direction (such as Hornby’s set of choices). But this will only be effective if, at the same time, you enable your employees to create bottom-up initiatives that fall within the boundaries set by that strategic intent.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2017/11/many-strategies-fail-because-theyre-not-actually-strategies?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=hbr

CHURCH HISTORY & Christianity has been a multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic movement since its inception. #CT #RebeccaMcLaughlin

The Most Diverse Movement in History

Christianity has been a multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic movement since its inception.

by Rebecca McLaughlin, Christianity Today, 6/14/20.

…The Diversity of the Early Church

It is a common misconception that Christianity first came to Africa via white missionaries in the colonial era. In the New Testament, we meet a highly educated African man who became a follower of Jesus centuries before Christianity penetrated Britain or America. In Acts 8, God directs the apostle Philip to the chariot of an Ethiopian eunuch. The man was “a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure” (Acts 8:27, ESV). Philip hears the Ethiopian reading from the Book of Isaiah and explains that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus. The Ethiopian immediately embraces Christ and asks to be baptized (Acts 8:26–40).

We don’t know how people responded when the Ethiopian eunuch took the gospel home. But we do know that in the fourth century, two slave brothers precipitated the Christianization of Ethiopia and Eritrea, which led to the founding of the second officially Christian state in the world. We also know that Christianity took root in Egypt in the first century and spread by the second century to Tunisia, the Sudan, and other parts of Africa.

Furthermore, Africa spawned several of the early church fathers, including one of the most influential theologians in Christian history: the fourth-century scholar Augustine of Hippo. Likewise, until they were all but decimated by persecution, Iraq was home to one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world. And returning to Sengmei’s homeland, far from only being reached in the colonial era, the church in India claims a lineage going back to the first century. While this is impossible to verify, leading scholar Robert Eric Frykenberg concludes, “It seems certain that there were well-established communities of Christians in South India no later than the third and fourth centuries, and perhaps much earlier.” Thus, Christianity likely took root in India centuries before the Christianization of Britain.

Every Tribe, Tongue, and Nation

Many of us associate Christianity with white, Western imperialism. There are reasons for this—some quite ugly, regrettable reasons. But most of the world’s Christians are neither white nor Western, and Christianity is getting less white and less Western by the day.

Today, Christianity is the largest and most diverse belief system in the world, representing the most even racial and cultural spread, with roughly equal numbers of self-identifying Christians living in Europe, North America, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 60 percent of Christians live in the Global South, and the center of gravity for Christianity in the coming decades will likely be increasingly non-Western.

According to Pew Reseach Center, by 2060, sub-Saharan Africa could be home to 40 percent of the world’s self-identifying Christians. And while China is currently the global center of atheism, Christianity is spreading there so quickly that China could have the largest Christian population in the world by 2025 and could be a majority-Christian country by 2050, according to Purdue University sociologist Fenggang Yang.

To be clear: The fact that Christianity has been a multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic movement since its inception does not excuse the ways in which Westerners have abused Christian identity to crush other cultures. After the conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century, Western Christianity went from being the faith of a persecuted minority to being linked with the political power of an empire—and power is perhaps humanity’s most dangerous drug.

But, ironically, our habit of equating Christianity with Western culture is itself an act of Western bias. The last book of the Bible paints a picture of the end of time, when “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” will worship Jesus (Rev. 7:9). This was the multicultural vision of Christianity in the beginning. For all the wrong turns made by Western Christians in the last 2,000 years, when we look at church growth globally today, it is not crazy to think that this vision could ultimately be realized. So let’s attend to biblical theology, church history, and contemporary sociology of religion and, as my friend Kanato Chopi put it, let’s abandon this absurd idea that Christianity is a Western religion.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2019/october/most-diverse-movement-history-mclaughlin-confronting.html

PLANNING & How to Get People to Accept a Tough Decision. #HarvardBusinessReview

by David Maxfield, HBR, 4/19/18.

Every leader has to make tough decisions that have consequences for their organizations, their reputation, and their career. The first step to making these decisions is understanding what makes them so hard. Alexander George, who studied presidential decision-making, pointed to two features:

  • Uncertainty: Presidents never have the time or resources to fully understand all of the implications their decisions will have.
  • “Value Complexity”: This is George’s term to explain that even the “best” decisions will harm some people and undermine values leaders would prefer to support.

The decisions that senior leaders, middle managers, frontline employees, and parents have to make often have the same features. Uncertainty and value complexity cause us to dither, delay, and defer, when we need to act.

What steps can leaders take to deal with these factors when making decisions?

Overcoming Uncertainty

Our initial reactions to uncertainty often get us deeper into trouble. Watch out for the following four pitfalls.

  • Avoidance. It often feels like problems sneak up on us when, in reality, we’ve failed to recognize the emerging issue. Instead of dealing with problems when they begin to simmer, we avoid them — and even dismiss them — until they are at a full boil. For example, perhaps your plants have been running at near capacity for a while and there have been occasional hiccups in your supply chain. Instead of addressing these issues, you accept them as normal. Then, “suddenly,” you’re unable to fill orders.
  • Fixation. When a problem presents itself, adrenaline floods our body and we often fixate on the immediate threat. In this fight or flight mode, we’re not able to think strategically. But focusing exclusively on the obvious short-term threat often means you miss the broader context and longer-term ramifications.
  • Over-simplification. The fight-or-flight instinct also causes us to oversimplify the situation. We divide the world into “friends” and “foes” and see our options as “win” or “lose” or “option A” or “option B.” Making a successful decision often requires transcending simplifications and discovering new ways to solve the problem.
  • Isolation. At first, we may think that, if we contain the problem, it’ll be easier to solve. For example, it may feel safer to hide the problem from your boss, peers, and customers while you figure out what to do. But as a result, you may wait too long before sounding the alarm. And, by then, you’re in too deep.

To avoid these pitfalls — or to get out of them once you’ve fallen into them — it’s best to take incremental steps forward without committing to a decision too quickly. Below are five things you can do to reduce uncertainty as you evaluate your options.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/04/how-to-get-people-to-accept-a-tough-decision?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hbr

TRENDS & Discussing today w/ @ReclaimedLeader lasting effects of the pandemic & the fight for racial justice – and how pastors should be preparing for a new season of ministry. #podcast

Check out the podcast here … https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/rl-137-preparing-for-the-next-season-with-dr-bob-whitesel/id1288307808?i=1000477262340 

 

TURNAROUND CHURCH & 7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Revitalizing a Church by @BobWhitesel published by @RenovateConf #BestOfYear

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, 6/12/18.

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Though the church began to grow again on my first turnaround effort, knowing the following would have made the journey more pleasurable for both myself and the congregation.

I wish I had known #1. Church revitalization will take 2 to 3 times longer than you expect. 

As my first church revitalization effort, I asked and received a one year contract. The church and I felt this would be sufficient time to turn the church into a new direction. But, at the end of one year I had only gained enough social capital for the congregation to start trusting me. It took another year, which the church graciously offered to finance, before the first signs of change emerged. However, when small fruit emerged at the end of the second year it provided a foundation for revitalization to actually emerge in the third year.

Here is a timeline that works in many congregations, yet it’s slower than the church or the shepherd usually desires.

Year 1: Fact gathering and building up the social capital needed for the congregants to trust you.

Year 2: Implementing small change in the organization. Small victories can begin to convince reticent members of the church the validity of the new direction. More on this in “ Things I wish I had known # 2.”

Year 3: Church systems begin to change. Often times church leaders think if they change the system, then the congregants will change. But because the church is an organic institution (1 Cor. 12:12-27) changes in the system must bubble up from changes in people, not from top-down changes dictated from the top. A three year process gave this time to happen.

I wish I had known # 2: the power of small victories.

In year two, initial but small goals were attained. One of our small goals was to see in both the spring and fall a “Newcomers Sunday School class” emerge. We publicized the date for the beginning of the class even when we didn’t yet have any visitors. But once we published the date, suddenly members in the congregation started inviting their friends to church. The newcomers’ class provided a tangible target. Thus, small victories in the second year convinced the congregants we were headed in the right direction.

I wish I had known #3: Don’t speed up too fast just because you have some small victories.

The small victories got the church excited and soon they were ready to launch a worship service oriented towards younger people. At this time I came under a lot of pressure to begin the service immediately before it was thoroughly mapped out, staffed and prepared. Many of the leaders had read books that discussed how a church can grow up to 15% by adding a new service. And because the church had limped along not meeting it’s monthly budget for about 18 months, the pressure of an added revenue stream push the leaders to decide a new service was necessary sooner rather than later. 

I advised and eventually convinced the leaders a slowed down approach was warranted, so that the new service could be better planned and developed. I fact, this new service did not begin until almost 11 months after we began planning it. The slower paced allowed new and younger leaders to be recruited and prepared. The extra planning time seemed excessive to me at first, but in hindsight it was just about right. It allowed the turnaround church to develop indigenous leaders who reached out in a well prepared worship expression.

I wish I had known #4. Don’t expect new people to support the church financially or physically for some time.

The newcomers kept our church at arms length for almost a year or more before they decided to become part of our membership. They seem to thoroughly enjoy the newcomers class, but when membership was mentioned they often stiffened.

In response I used the metaphor of dating. 

The first date: I said when new people visit a church, it’s like being on a date: you aren’t ready to commit to a long relationship but rather want to get to know the other.

The second date: Going to the newcomers class was like a second date: it was a time to get to know about the hopes, aspirations and purposes of one another.

Engagement: After completing the newcomers class I said they may want to pray and consider becoming a member. I encouraged them to consider more carefully their level of involvement, their spiritual gifts and how they would fit in. I also stressed that the engagement could be as long as they needed.

Marriage: Finally I explained that when they agreed to be part of a membership class, this was like marriage. They were not marrying to just a local congregation church but also to the body of Christ as present in His people.

I wish I had known #5. You must spend more time in leadership development than you think.

As the church began to turnaround, there was an influx of people excited about the church’s direction. But this sometimes draws people who did not fit well in their previous church, because they were not mature enough to take on leadership responsibilities. I learned the hard way that sometimes people who come to a revitalized church are often people who need revitalization themselves – because their involvement in another church has not been a healthy one. Therefore I developed leadership courses and a mentor/mentee system so that new leaders could be vetted and trained before they were put into volunteer roles.

I wish I had known #6. There’s more power in spiritual transformation than most people realize.

People began to share testimonies about how their lives were being changed by the Holy Spirit. An emphasis upon salvation began to refocus the church. Older members recalled how in the early days the church, they had also emphasized conversion accompanied by powerful testimonies of change. Older members began to see that a turnaround in spiritual climate mirrored those times in the past when the church had been happy and healthy.

As a result I train turnaround pastors in the importance of understanding a church’s history and to pinpoint when they had been alive in the past. Usually a church had been alive in the past when the church was involved in evangelism and conversion. Reminding a church about this part of their history, made it more palatable for their present… the salvation of individuals. 

7. Last, but not least, is the power of a praying congregation. I set a goal for the prayer ministries to grow at the same rate as the church. If the church grew 10% in six months, we then expected 10% more people involved in prayer ministries. It has always seemed to me a spiritual principle that vibrant prayer life in a church would lead to a vibrant church.

You can subscribe to Church Revitalizer Magazine and access the original article here … https://issuu.com/renovate-conference/docs/cr_mag_final_3b02554e558e8a

NEED-MEETING & How to design outreach that is founded upon meeting the needs of those who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ.

Excerpted from Bob Whitesel, “Waypoint 16: No Awareness of a Supreme Being” Waypoint 15: Awareness of a Supreme Being, No knowledge of the Good News” and “Waypoint 14: Initial Awareness of the Good News” in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (2010).

Spiritual Waypoints [cropped top 1:3 65kb]

Waypoint 15

Action 15:1: Research Needs

… How can a church gather first-hand information on the needs of its community?  Let us look at three actions that can produce primary research.

Action A: Live Among Them.  To ascertain community needs it helps to live among them, eating where they eat and shopping where they shop.  In fact, one of 10 major factors in halting church growth is when leaders become distanced from their constituency.   If this occurs church leaders will be only guessing at community needs.

Action B: Meet With Them in Group Settings.  Informal gatherings, focus groups and Town Hall meetings are ways to connect with community residents. Often when people are interviewed one-on-one, they hold back their feelings.  Research into group dynamics tells us that people will often expound more deeply … and expressively in groups.  If the purpose is to ascertain needs, then understanding can be enhanced by group intensity.  However, churches must be very careful to only solicit input and not to politic for the church’s viewpoint.  To do the later will result in immediate distancing and suspicion.  Guidelines for hosting effective focus groups are described in a previous book.

Action C: Don’t Clone Another Church’s Ministry.  Unless necessary, don’t merely reduplicate ministry that other churches are utilizing.  To do so will rob you of a locally developed and contextualized ministry.  However, if your church is too small it can partner to expand its ministry.  Look for other churches that are reaching out at adjacent waypoints and partner with them.  Success often depends upon doctrinal and historical factors.  But, if the needs of a community can be met by collaborating with another ministry, then pursue this option.

Action 15:2: Design Your Ministry from the Bottom Up

As a consultant with church clients of all sizes, I have found that the most helpful ministries are those that emerge from a collaborative effort between church leaders and needy residents.  There are two elements for designing a contextualized ministry.

Action A: Inclusion.  Include non-church goers in the planning and design of your ministry.  <any will reject this offer because they are not yet ready to volunteer, even advice. But those who are emerging out of lower need stages may be entering the Belongingness and Love level.  They will want thus to contribute, and at least give their thoughts.  Yet, a natural inclination of Christian leaders is to reject such offers, feeling that the emerging person needs more time to grow or to gain more secondary knowledge (e.g. book knowledge, theological knowledge or doctrinal knowledge).  But, once a traveler has had their physiological needs and safely needs met, they must be allowed to contribute, even minimally, to the ministry of a faith community.  Churches can help wayfarers by inviting them to participate in the ministry planning process, and this invitation must be extended much earlier and more earnestly that most churches realize.

Action B: Allocate Sufficient Money.  As noted in the first two chapters, churches customarily err on the side of either the Cultural Mandate (social action) or the Evangelistic Mandate. It was also shown that God’s intention for His church is a more holistic approach where a church ministers at many waypoints, rather than just in a narrow range.  Narrow ministry becomes entrenched because churches tend to budget based upon history, rather than forecasts.  A church that understands it should reach out at early waypoints will also understand that it must allocate sufficient funds to do so.  Churches must evaluate what percentages of its budgets are going to support the Evangelistic Mandate and the Cultural Mandate.  And, a plan can be brought about to create a balance, where roughly 50 percent of a church’s budget goes to support the Cultural Mandate and 50 percent goes to support the Evangelistic Mandate.  Regardless of intentions, these mandates will never be brought into parity until finances are allocated with equivalence.

Action 15:3: Connect Your Ministry to the Community.

For a community established to communicate good news, communication is one the weakest skills in most churches. Many congregations design fantastic ministries only to have them marginally attended because residents do not know they are available.  The following are three basic actions for successfully telling the community about ministries that can meet their needs.

Action A: Have a Trial-run. A church should initiate a trial-run with little initial fanfare. This will give the church an opportunity to try out the ministry without being deluged by community needs. To communicate that you are hosting a test-run, use word-of-mouth communication.

  Action B: Use Indigenous Communication Channels.  Church leaders often do not understand how community residents communicate.  In one church’s community, fliers in self-serve laundromats communicated better than online advertising (few needy residents had regular or easy access to the Internet).  Each community has developed different communication channels.  If a church invites residents to participate in the planning process, then residents can share the veiled yet influential ways that news travels in their community.

Action C: Be a Good-doer, not a Do-gooder.  The difference between a do-gooder and a good-doer was revealed to me ten years ago.  Dan was auditioning to be the drummer in a worship team I led.  Though he was more than suitable for the task, I was confused because he looked familiar.  “You visited me last Christmas,” Dan responded noticing my bewilderment.  “Brought a lot of nice things for the kids.”  Each year our church visited needy residents, giving them gifts and singing carols. “You were nice enough to come,” Dan would say to me later.  Dan and I had become friends, and now our team was planning to visit needy households.  “You go, I won’t,” Dan stated.  “I want to be a good-doer, not a do-gooder.”  Further conversations revealed with Dan saw a difference between “do-gooders” and “good-doers.”  On the one hand, Dan saw do-gooders as people who go around doing limited and inconsistent good deeds.  He perceived that they were doing good on a limited scale to relieve their conscience.  Thus their good deeds were perceived as self-serving, insincere and limited.  A church that brings food a couple times a year to a needy family does little to minister to their long-term physiological needs or safety needs.  On the other hand, Dan saw “good-doers” as those who do good in a meaningful, relevant and ongoing manner.  And, he was right.  In hindsight I had been striving to do good, not trying to do good better.  Therefore, a church should connect with its community by offering ongoing ministry and not just holiday help.

Action 15:4: Evaluate the Results

Donald McGavran called the church’s aversion to analysis the “universal fog” that blinds the church to her mission and effectiveness.  And, McGavran preferred the term “effective evangelism” as the best way to describe what we should be measuring.  The term “effective evangelism” has much to commend it.  Evangelism, as we noted in Chapter 1, means “Good News” or a heralding of “unexpected joy.” Thus, if we are embarking as fellow travelers and guides on this journey of Good News, shouldn’t we want to travel that route more effectively?  And if so, how do we measure progress?

Some mistakenly perceive that counting attendance is the best way to evaluate effectiveness. Yet, there are four types of church growth mentioned in the Bible, and growth in attendance is cited as God’s task (and not the job of the church).  In two previous books I have looked at measuring these in detail, but let’s briefly examine four types of church growth and a Church Growth Metric that can measure each.

The Context: Acts 2:42-47.  Here we find Luke’s description of the church’s growth that followed Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost.  Luke describes four types of growth.

Growth A: Growth in Maturity.  In verse 42 Luke notes that the followers were growing in a passion for the apostle’s teaching, fellowship and prayer.  Our first metric is to ascertain if, as a result of our need-based ministry, wayfarers are increasing in their participation in Bible study, fellowship and/or the practice of prayer.  One way to measure this is to measure if people are becoming increasingly involved in study groups, fellowship networks (i.e. informal small groups) and/or joining with others for prayer.  If these numbers are calculated as a percentage of overall attendance, growth in maturity may be estimated.

Growth B: Growth in Unity.  Verses 44-45 describe how the church grew in unity and trust.  This is much harder to measure, for it requires subjective evaluation. But, if people open up, much like Doug did about “do-gooders” then these and similar actions can indicate that ministry is creating deeper and more honest levels of communication.  Unity often results from deepening levels of communication.

Growth C: Growth in Favor in the Community.  Luke emphases that the church was increasingly “enjoying the favor of all the people.”  Here is a metric often overlooked, which asks: is the community increasingly appreciative of the ministry the church is offering?  Asking community residents for regular feedback is a way to accomplish this.  One church crafted an online survey and gave away coupons for free coffee at a coffee shop for those that completed the survey. This survey was not designed to augment the church database, but was used only to ascertain if community residents felt the church was doing-good better.  Another church regularly polled socially sensitive community residents such as school principals, public leaders, community organizers, business-people, etc. about how effective the church was in meeting community needs.  The results were that these churches could gauge effective ministry by observing changes in community appreciation.

Growth D: Growth in More Christians.  Luke concludes this paragraph about early church growth by reminding his readers that “…the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Luke was pointing out that because it was a supernatural intersection, it was God’s task to bring people to and through the experience of salvation.  But in the preceding verses Luke emphasized that it was the church’s role to grow people in the other three types of church growth: maturity, unity and favor in the community.

Church Growth Metrics remind us that we are engaged in a task that is not about large cadres of attendees, but about the inner growth of God’s creation into 1) a deepening relationship with Him, 2) more unity among His children, and 3) in such a way that a watching world rejoices…

Action 14:2: The Good News That God Cares

A church also must understand and articulate a theology regarding God’s concern for His creation, if its congregants are going to help people move beyond Waypoint 14.  Yet, a theology of creation must be a holistic theology and include not just God’s creative activity but also humankind’s woeful response. For in response to God’s gracious creation of a paradise on earth, humans chose a selfish route disobeying God’s directives and forfeiting paradise.  Thought there are many elements to a theology of creation, let us look at five points that bear upon our current conversation.

Point 1:  Injustice, poverty, etc. are the result of human activity, God does not desire it for his creation.  When Adam and Eve forfeited the paradise of Eden, they embarked upon a journey of selfish arrogance. The Scriptures tell us their journey led to self-centeredness, injustice and greed (Genesis 3-5). Ron Sider reminds us that this disappoints God, stating “the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that God is at work in history casting down the rich and exalting the poor because frequently the rich are wealthy precisely because then have oppressed the poor or have neglected to aid the needy.”

Point 2:  This injustice was not always so.  God provided Adam and Eve an Eden of goodness and wholeness in every aspect of their life.  Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann pointed out that the Hebrew word shalom comes closest to describing this “wholeness in every are of life, where God, creature, and creation enjoy harmonious relationships.”  God had warned that disobeying him would result in a  loss of this life of shalom (Genesis 2:15-17).  But, Adam and Eve picked selfish choices putting to an end this world of  balance, bless … shalom (Genesis 3).

Point 3:  Humankind was put in charge of caring (i.e. stewardship) for God’s creation.  Yet early on in the Genesis story, before the fall of humankind from the era of shalom, God had given humankind a task, to take care of the garden and to be a steward of it (Genesis 1:26-30).  This requires Christians, to be good stewards of God’s earth and life upon it.

Point 4:  Humankind was put in charge of caring (i.e. stewardship) for the needy, oppressed and disfranchised.  Proverbs 19:17 says “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Judah was punished in part because of her mistreatment of the poor, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.  What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? (Isaiah 10:1-3).  King David said, “I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (Psalm 140:12).    And, Howard Snyder reminds us that “God especially has compassion on the poor, and his acts in history confirm this.”

Point 5: God requires his people to sacrifice for this task.  Adam and Eve were put in charge of caring and cultivating the garden (Genesis 1:26-30), and this required sacrificing their own will to taste the forbidden fruit.  From this beginning, serving a loving, creative God required self-sacrifice.  At this sacrifice, Adam and Eve failed.  In doing so they condemned their children and their children’s children to laborious toil, hostility, repression and ultimately death (Genesis 3:16-24). Still God’s desire is that His children serve and sacrifice for others.  Jesus stated, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors…. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).   This sacrifice for others is exemplified in the sacrificial actions of Godly men and women in the Bible, ultimately culminating in the sacrifice of Jesus for humankind’s disobedience.

When a congregation grasps the five points above, wayfarers will understand that evil, oppression and the like are not God’s doing, but human doing.  And wayfarers such as James can see that God wants Christians to help the oppressed, disenfranchised and neglected.  The church must help travelers at Waypoint 14 see the Good News is that “…the sinfulness of the social order offends thoughtful Christians everywhere.”

Read more by downloading the chapter here (but remember, if you enjoy the input please purchase a copy to support the publisher and the author): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 16, 15, 14

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

THEOLOGY & Comparing two dominant theological views of racism as sin.

“Evangelical Christians grapple with racism as sin,” by Tom Gjelten, NPR, National Public Radio, 6/7/20.

… For evangelical Christian leaders, however, crafting a response to Floyd’s killing is complicated by their view of sin in individual, not societal, terms and their belief in the need for personal salvation above all. Evangelical theologians have long rejected the idea of a “social gospel,” which holds that the kingdom of God should be pursued by making life better here on earth.

Among African American evangelicals, one theologian who has vigorously challenged such views is Darrell Harrison, an ordained Baptist deacon and co-host of the Just Thinking podcast.

“One way to distinguish the biblical gospel from the ‘social gospel,’ ” Harrison tweeted last week, “is that the social gospel preaches structural transformation that works in society from the outside-in, whereas the biblical gospel preaches spiritual transformation that works in society from the inside-out.”

Racism, in Harrison’s view, is often misunderstood. “Biblically, ethnic prejudice is not an ‘ism,’ ” he argued in response to George Floyd’s killing. “It is hate —period. … You end hatred by repenting and believing the gospel.”

Other evangelicals take a more nuanced view of a Christian obligation to work for social justice.

“The way that we live and work in the world, how we care for our communities, how we care for our neighbors. Those are all things that the Bible speaks really clearly about,” says Alan Cross, a white Southern Baptist pastor now leading a congregation in northern California. “Somebody who is transformed from their relationship with Christ should have a transformed view of how they see their neighbor or how they perceive issues of life and justice. That’s the situation we’re in right now.”

For Cross, whose book When Heaven and Earth Collide: Racism, Southern Evangelicals, and the Better Way of Jesus is in part a memoir of his 15 years leading a Southern Baptist congregation in Montgomery, Ala., the opposition of biblical and social gospel is a “false dichotomy.”

“We don’t believe that people are saved by restructuring society,” Cross says. “But if you do know Christ, if you have a relationship with him, you should see the pain of people around you, and you should say, ‘What can I do?’ ”

Read more at … https://whyy.org/npr_story_post/evangelical-christians-grapple-with-racism-as-sin/

CHURCH HISTORY & Historian Marvin Olasky on the very different presidential leadership traditions of Woodrow Wilson & Grover Cleveland.

“Evangelicals engaging American History” an address by Marvin Olasky given to the Jonathan Edwards Institute, July 6, 1999.

…I’ll describe how Biblical history suggested to me some new avenues for exploring the American past.

The Bible has much to say about the relation between personal values and societal events. Noah’s faithfulness preserves mankind. Sodomy and other sins doom a city. So it goes up to the time of David, when his adultery has tragic consequences for the entire nation. Look at the capsule histories of monarchs and consequences found in the second book of Kings. In Chapter 17, King Jehoshaphat is faithful, so the kingdom prospers. In Chapter 24, King Joash and his officials worship the fertility goddess Asherah, which means they followed the church growth strategy of bringing in shrine prostitutes, and the country loses a war. In Chapter 26, as long as King Uzziah “sought the Lord, God gave him success”—but when his pride becomes ascendant, the nation descends. In Chapter 33, when King Manasseh practices sorcery and kills his own children, he and the entire country suffer—but in his distress, he turns to God, and life improves for himself and everyone.

This is not to say that the connection of actions and results is always quickly evident. Sometimes immorality deserves punishment but God holds off. Sometimes a nation is so close to the bottom of the slippery slope that a righteous king like Josiah only delays the crash for a little while. Overall, though, false ideas and actions have terrible consequences in ancient Israel.

It’s possible for some evangelicals to push aside that Biblical, historical evidence. Maybe those connections applied to God’s chosen people—chosen for trouble, most often—but are not universally applicable. Look, however, at the general wisdom of the book of Proverbs. Adultery has consequences in Chapter 6: “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? … So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.” Lies have consequences in Chapter 10: “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Private sins have public implications in Chapter 11: “Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.”

Let’s look at Woodrow Wilson.

Until 1908, when he was 50, Wilson was known as a Presbyterian preacher’s kid who had grown into an upright professor and a long-married university president. Then he had an adulterous affair that he covered up with financial payoffs that allowed him to be elected governor of New Jersey and then president of the United States in 1912, both times running as a candidate of private and public morality. Because Wilson did not want to see himself as a sinner, he developed a sophisticated public theology in which his adultery was excusable because he was comforting a lonely woman. He also learned to lie in public: He won reelection in 1916 with the slogan, “He kept us out of war,” while privately telling Cabinet members that the United States would go to war. One month after his second inauguration, Wilson led the United States into World War I and enjoyed its successful—for the United States—completion in 1918.

Temporary success bred arrogance. A million Parisians chanted “Wilson, Wilson” as he rode through the city. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau said there was no greater reception “in the history of the world.” Wilson began claiming direct divine inspiration for the League of Nations agreement he had put together: It came about “by no plan of our conceiving but by the hand of God who had led us into this way.” Wilson, however, was far from omniscient. He stitched together on maps countries like “Czechoslovakia” without having any understanding of ethnic divisions.

Wilson said he was “the personal instrument of God” in Paris, but after the 1918 congressional elections, when many of his supporters were voted out of office, he was barely the personal instrument of the United States. Still, he wanted to produce a newer testament: According to British Prime Minister Lloyd George, Wilson once said that “Jesus Christ so far [has] not succeeded in inducing the world to follow His teaching because He taught the ideal without devising any practical scheme to carry out his aims.” The League of Nations, according to Wilson, was the wise plan Christ had missed. Wilson, who had grown up with the Westminster catechism with its question about man’s chief purpose—“To glorify God and enjoy Him forever”—was working to glorify himself.

The Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919, represented the worst of both worlds. It was punitive enough to contribute to the German economic collapse that made possible the rise of Hitler. It was so high-minded that French and English leaders who put their hopes in it became lax about the military preparedness that could have forestalled the dictator’s early success. When the U.S. Senate refused to support the treaty, Wilson refused to examine his own arrogance, but instead traveled the country by train, hoping to rally voters to his side—only to find little trust in a man who had last stumped the country on a no-war pledge. Then came the crushing blow: Wilson suffered a paralyzing stroke, and his presidency effectively ended. Even then, the lying did not end. He refused to step down, and Wilson’s second wife was the real president during his last year and a half in office.

It’s a sad story of one who could have been great, brought low…

The personal history of a third Presbyterian president, Grover Cleveland, is different.

The knock on Biblical evangelicals is that we are looking for perfect people to become presidential candidates. Actually, however, we know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and Cleveland shows the process of sin and redemption. In 1874, 10 years before he ran for president, Cleveland fathered a son out of wedlock. He made some restitution, giving the child his last name, financially supporting the mother, and then arranging for adoption. But his past practice became an issue after he received the Democratic presidential nomination in 1884. Republicans chanted, “Ma, ma, where’s my pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.”

Cleveland made sure the facts got out, but he never attacked his critics as President Clinton did. Perhaps he showed awareness of a good journalistic rule, “Never spit when on a roller coaster.” Cleveland won the election, and during his presidency you see him minimizing his own importance. One journalist, Frank Carpenter, noted that “The hall and the stairs that brought us to the President’s office are covered with an old piece of carpet which was good once, but which has been patched, sewed, and resewed. It would not bring fifty cents at an auction.”

Cleveland worked hard to glorify the country by sticking by the Constitution and vetoing special interest bills. You also see him glorifying God in many ways. He showed his need to listen with his choice of churches. Washington residents expected Cleveland to attend the famed and fashionable New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Instead, he attended the First Presbyterian Church even though—no, because—its fiery old Pastor Sunderland had opposed Cleveland’s election, saying he was morally unfit for the White House. Cleveland knew that he needed to hear not preaching that would tickle his ears, but that would discipline him when he needed it.

Read more at … https://world.wng.org/content/evangelicals_engaging_american_history

LEADERSHIP vs MANAGEMENT & Why every leader needs to have a manager and Steve Jobs’ success at Apple was because he realized it.

by Chris Matyszczyk, Inc. Magazine, 5/26/20.

Being a manager… The very word conjures a sense of keeping things together, getting by and generally making a system work.

Being a leader, on the other hand, now that’s the apogee of rockstarism.

…I’ve been bathing in a commentary, published in the Academy of Management Journal, by INSEAD’s Associate Professor of Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Gianpiero Petriglieri.

…Petriglieri explains how research has clearly shown the diminished impression of management:

To be a manager is to be useful, but dispensable. It is no protection against anxiety in the workplace. In many such places, in fact, wanting to be a manager is a questionable aspiration if it is one at all. It is like wanting to be a dinosaur in an age where leaders have the disruptive impact of meteorites. 

This has caused a skewing that is surely evident in the way so many organizations are run today. Says Petriglieri: 

Preach passion above competence, influence above stewardship, and soon you will find much passion for influence and little competent stewardship at the top of corporations and countries.

Too often, leadership becomes a game of self-aggrandizement, power and stock options. More troubling is the fact that the obsession with leadership has led to a sense that you must act like a leader (whatever that means) to succeed or get funded.

Somehow, says Petriglieri, we pick leaders in a hurry and managers at our leisure. In each case, we’re asking the question What Can You Do For Me?

We’re human. We’re irrational. Or, as Petriglieri puts it: 

We want evidence and excitement, data and dreams.

Yet instead of trying to find all those things in one, we separate the more rational traits from the emotional ones.

Oh, he looks and feels like a leader. Let’s pick him.

Petriglieri worries that leaders and managers are now seen as antagonistic, rather than complementary: 

Splitting leadership from management and arguing for the superior value of one, in other words, is like asking whether the brain or the heart is most important. Which one would you rather give up?

The truth, says Petriglieri, is that a balance between leadership and management is simply harder to build.

He’d like to see a different sort of organization: 

Institutions where we can get along or argue well, passion is held, reasons are heard, and managing and leading abound instead of their caricatures — the managers and leaders.

How many times do so-called leaders breeze in, make everyone feel good — for a short while — and then disappear to their next exalted position? Which all leads me to Steve Jobs. One of the greatest leaders of our time, so we’re told. Surely, then, he’d appoint another great leader to replace him.Instead, he appointed the ultimate so-called manager, Tim Cook.Perhaps Jobs appreciated that as his company got bigger and ever more global, certain skills of absolute competence were essential.It’s a vital lesson for today’s exceptionally disturbed and fractured world. Fine words and a fine image are not enough.I’ve often thought it’s more possible for managers to grow into leaders than for leaders to embrace true consequential competence.How do you think Cook’s been as a leader? Remarkably good, as well as remarkably competent, if you ask m

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/leader-or-manager-steve-jobs-had-definitive-answer.html

ATTENDANCE & A map showing the number of #megachurches in each region of the US.

The Hartford Institute for Church Research, Hartford Seminary