RECONCILIATION & This is the first action every church, every Christian can do in a ministry of reconciliation. #TerenceLester #author #ISeeYou #GrowingThePostPandemicChurch

Check out @imterencelester

Thanks @thecharliemitchell, amen and amen.

SERMONS & Here’s the average length of sermons & keywords used according to Pew Research’s analysis of 50,000 sermons.

“The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons” by Pew Research, 12/16/19.

… This process produced a database containing the transcribed texts of 49,719 sermons shared online by 6,431 churches and delivered between April 7 and June 1, 2019, a period that included Easter.2 These churches are notrepresentative of all houses of worship or even of all Christian churches in the U.S.; they make up just a small percentage of the estimated350,000-plus religious congregations nationwide. Compared with U.S. congregations as a whole, the churches with sermons includein the dataset are more likely to be in urban areas and tend to have larger-than-average congregations (see the Methodologyfor full details).

The median sermon scraped from congregational websites is 37 minutes long. But there are striking differences in the typical length of a sermon in each of the four major Christian traditions analyzed in this report: Catholic, evangelical Protestant, mainline Protestant and historically black Protestant.3

Catholic sermons are the shortest, at a median of just 14 minutes, compared with 25 minutes for sermons in mainline Protestant congregations and 39 minutes in evangelical Protestant congregations. Historically black Protestant churches have the longest sermons by far: a median of 54 minutes, more than triple the length of the median Catholic homily posted online during the Easter study period.

Researchers also conducted a basic exploration of sermons’ vocabulary. Several words frequently appear in sermons at many different types of churches – for instance, words such as “know,” “God” and “Jesus” were used in sermons at 98% or more of churches in all four major Christian traditions included in this analysis.4

Christian traditions share common language, but also possess their own distinctive phrases

This computational text analysis also found many words and phrases that are used more frequently in the sermons of some Christian groups than others.

For instance, the distinctive words (or sequences of words) that often appear in sermons delivered at historically black Protestant congregations include “powerful hand” and “hallelujah … come.” The latter phrase (which appears online in actual sentences such as “Hallelujah! Come on … let your praises loose!”) appeared in some form in the sermons of 22% of all historically black Protestant churches across the study period. And these congregations were eight times more likely than others to hear that phrase or a close variant. Although the word “hallelujah” is by no means unique to historically black Protestant services, this analysis indicates that it is a hallmark of black Protestant churches.

Read more at … https://www.pewforum.org/2019/12/16/the-digital-pulpit-a-nationwide-analysis-of-online-sermons/

MISSIONAL COACHES & As part of the MissionalCoaches.network these 3 African-American church planters are shadowing me (pictured w/ client church pastor In the middle). It feels good to give back the tools I’ve discovered from 30+ years of coaching / consulting & 2 doctorates. www.Leadership.church

Learn about a opportunity to shadow me and learn my tools from two doctorates and 30+ years of consulting at … MissionalCoaches.network

POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Why Everyone Is So Rude Right Now: Our “Fight” Instincts Are Triggered. #Time

“Half the people fear COVID,” says Golden. “Half the people fear being controlled.”

Bernard Golden, psychologist

BY BELINDA LUSCOMBE  Time Magazine, 10/15/21/

September 2021 was a bad month for manners. On the 21st, a woman pulled a gun on servers at a Philadelphia fast food restaurant when they asked her to order online. On the 16th, several women from Texas pummeled a hostess at a New York City family-style restaurant. A few days prior to that a Connecticut mother was investigated for slapping an elementary school bus driver and that same week, a California woman was charged with felony assaultfor attacking a SouthWest airlines flight attendant and dislodging some of her teeth.

Re-entry into polite society is proving to be a little bumpy…

Our ‘fight’ instincts are triggered

“We’re going through a time where physiologically, people’s threat system is at a heightened level,” says Bernard Golden, a psychologist and the author of Overcoming Destructive Anger. This period of threat has been so long that it may have had a damaging effect on people’s mental health, which for many has then been further debilitated by isolation, loss of resources, the death of loved ones and reduced social support. “During COVID there has been an increase in anxiety, a reported increase in depression, and an increased demand for mental health services,” he adds. Lots of people, in other words, are on their very last nerve. This is true, he adds, whether they believe the virus is an existential threat or not. “Half the people fear COVID,” says Golden. “Half the people fear being controlled.”

Read more at … https://time.com/6099906/rude-customers-pandemic/

GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Downloadable Notes For My Seminar.

Whether you are attending live, online or watching at a later date, this is my PowerPoint presentation with downloadable notes. For more info, read Growing the Post-pandemic Church available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Growing-Post-pandemic-Church-Leadership-church-Guides/dp

Download my notes .pdf at this link:

#COGO

CHANGE & STEP 2: Understanding what exactly is a “person of peace.” #Greek #8Steps4Change.church

Read more at … https://biblehub.com/greek/1518.htm and https://biblehub.com/interlinear/luke/10-6.htm

SERMONS & Martin Luther King, Jr., preaches his last sermon, “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.”

SUNDAY CHURCH HACKS & On your onsite and online “communication card” start by asking for prayer requests (rather than asking the person for contact information). Contact info can follow, but show the person you are putting their needs first, rather than a need for information.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Hurting people who are seeking you out, may not yet be ready to share identifiable data. On your “connection card” (virtual or hard copy) do not require …

  • phone numbers
  • email addresses
  • physical addresses
  • even names

You can ask for this information, but do not make it required (usually identified by an asterisk “*” .

Click on the picture below to enlarge an example from a client. This example includes changes to make a communication card more focused on the needs of others.

#GuestServices101 #ChurchGuests101

eREFORMATION & 25 Post-Pandemic Church Statistics You Need to Know for 2021 #ReachRightStudios #GrowingThePostPandemicChurch

Table of contents

Read more at … https://reachrightstudios.com/25-church-statistics-for-2021/#h-1-non-practicing-christians-are-on-the-rise

DEMOGRAPHICS & White mainline Protestants now outnumber white evangelicals, while ‘nones’ shrink. #CensusOfAmericanReligion

by Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service, 7/8/21.

White Christian decline has slowed. Mainline Protestants now outnumber white evangelicals. New York is home to several of the most religiously diverse counties in the U.S.

These shifts and findings are among some of the notable revelations documented in a sweeping and exhaustive survey of the U.S. religious landscape by the Public Religion Research Institute.

The 2020 Census of American Religion, released on Thursday (July 8), is based on what researchers called an “unprecedented” dataset that includes hundreds of thousands of respondents surveyed between 2013 and 2019.

Clergy and other faith leaders will be perhaps most interested in PRRI’s finding that religiously unaffiliated Americans, or “nones” in religion demography parlance, have lost ground, making up just 23% of the country. The complex group — which includes atheists, agnostics and some people who say they pray daily but don’t claim a specific faith tradition — peaked at 25.5% of the population in 2018.

White Christians, meanwhile, have expanded their share of the population, particularly white mainline Protestants. That group sits at 16.4%, an increase from 13% in 2016, whereas white evangelicals — who PRRI delineated from white mainliners using a methodology researchers said is commonly utilized by major pollsters — now represent about 14.5% of the population, down from a peak of 23% in 2006. White Catholics now hover around 11.7%, up from a 2018 low of 10.9%.

Chart courtesy of PRRI Census of American Religion

Chart courtesy of PRRI Census of American Religion

The percentage of white Christians ticked up overall, rising from 42% in 2018 to 44% in 2020.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/07/08/survey-white-mainline-protestants-outnumber-white-evangelicals/?

AFTERLIFE & Billy Graham preaching the sermon: “Is There a Hell?”

APPRECIATION & The Day Some Valentines Changed the Course of My Ministry. A guest article by Tom Crenshaw.

by Rev. Tom Crenshaw, 10/11/21.

Dear Friends

This Sunday our pastors were surprised when we were called us up front during the service to receive special recognition. I guess October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I don’t know who first suggested this special day. Maybe it was some pastor who was going through a tough time and who himself was badly in need of some encouragement. In any event, I am grateful for the day for who doesn’t like to be appreciated?

The word appreciate means to raise in value, and this is just what encouragement does; it raises the value of the person receiving it. But it also has significant benefits for the person giving it. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that “He who is generous prospers, and whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Encouragement is oxygen to the soul. We can’t live very long without it. Someone remarked, encouragement is biodegradable; it has a short shelf life, for as soon as we receive it, we quickly need another dose.
Everyone loves an encourager. “Flatter me and I may not believe you. Criticize me and I may not like you. Ignore me and I may never forgive you. But encourage me, and I will never forget you.

I often think back to one day when encouragement changed my life and my ministry. I had been pastoring in Greenville, Pa for four years, and suddenly I found myself looking discouragement square in the eye. I was tired, discouraged, and feeling like I had not accomplished all that I had set out to do. I began asking myself if I was really the one who was best prepared to lead the church, and I seriously began thinking it might be time to look for a new challenge.

I guess I wasn’t very good about hiding my feelings for somehow word got out to the congregation, and sensing my discouragement, they performed one of the greatest acts of encouragement I have ever received. It was shortly before Valentine’s Day when my mailbox began filling up. They were love letters from the congregation dressed up as Valentines. Someone had orchestrated a love letter writing campaign, and for the next few weeks my mailbox was brimming full of letters written by different members of the congregation. They were letters of encouragement. They were filled with gratitude and appreciation for me and my ministry. They screamed, “Tom, we love you.”

Those Valentine love letters, overflowing with gratitude and appreciation kept me in Greenville for another three years, a time that proved to be one of the most productive periods of any ministry I have enjoyed. And to this day those ‘love letters” continue to remain as some of my most valuable deposits in my bank account of memories.

I wonder how many people quit to soon because no one ever came along to encourage them.

Why not take some time today to write or call someone who might just need a little dose of encouragement? Like those loving Greenville folks, you just might change the course of someone’s life, and what could be more exciting ort more rewarding than that?

Yours in faith and friendship,Tom

COMMUNICATON & 9 Rules of Winning Arguments

by Bill Murphy Jr., Inc. Magazine, n.d.

… This is a story about emotional intelligenceand winning arguments. If you find it convincing, I hope you’ll check out my free ebook, Improving Emotional Intelligence 2021, which you can download here

Rule #1:     Before you start arguing, decide how you want it to end.

But like so many things in life, people often fail miserably here because they haven’t taken the time to think deeply about what success would look like. (Put differently: Follow the Z-Y-X Rule.)

Rule #2:    Think how you can make it end well for the other side.

Rule #3:    Control the circumstances.

When are you talking? How are you talking? Who’s initiating the call or traveling to the other person’s location? Is this all over email or text? Are other people listening in?

Rule #4:    Control the emotions.

But also, keep an eye on the other person’s emotions.

Rule #5:    Do not skip the small talk.

Your small talk might be brief, but it’s nevertheless important. It’s an early opportunity to find common ground.

Rule #6: Adjust (not react) in real time.

Rule #7:    Listen — and look as if you’re listening.

Perception is important. Even if you’re a pro at multitasking, think through what it looks like if you check your phone five times during the discussion, or if your assistant interrupts you twice to ask you questions.

Rule #8:    If you interrupt, do so strategically.

“Think about how you strategically interrupt,” suggested O’Shea Brown. “Maybe, ‘I hear you have a lot to say in regard to your feelings. We both want a solution, so let’s pivot toward solutions.’ Your tone is everything. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, they might not remember what you said, and they might not remember what you did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.”

Rule #9:    Seek to understand

Tactically speaking: Ask open-ended questions, and even repeat back to the other person some of what they say. You want to know where they’re coming from so that you can better articulate your own points, and improve the odds of emerging closer to your goals.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/why-emotionally-intelligent-leaders-use-9-secret-rules-of-winning-arguments.html

reMIX & Biblical understandings of race. @EdStetzer #USAtoday #MustRead

“When will Christians learn from the unending engagement cycle of evangelicalism and race?”

Evangelical culture is an unending story of engagement, retreat when pressures intensify, and regret at our failure to achieve any lasting change.

Ed Stetzer

by Ed Stetzer, Opinion contributor, USA Today, 10/7/21.

… Biblical understandings of race

A biblical understanding of race is not silent or neutral but celebratory. Where McDowell is correct, and where evangelicals can find unity, is in looking to Scripture as the lens for understanding race. As Christians, we believe God’s word is sufficient to teach us how to relate to one another, and our reconciliation with Christ is what opens the door for reconciliation with each other.

However, it is important to recognize that Scripture does not flatten race into a homogenized culture. It is an enduring exegetical mistake of many evangelicals to depict Scripture as reinforcing a “color-blind” approach to race. 

Throughout Scripture, God consistently upends prejudice, particularly when it arises because of racial or ethnic biases. Yet beyond simply rejecting prejudice, Scripture presents a positive interpretation of race as holding a distinctive place within the kingdom of God. At Pentecost in Acts 2, the miraculous arrival of the Holy Spirit leads to understanding of diverse languages. This gathering then foreshadows Scriptures depiction of heaven where every tongue, tribe and nation make up the choir of eternal praise (Revelation 7:9). In both instances, God’s presence works through rather than collapses cultural diversity. Both our worship and our witness are made more perfect when we model Gospel-centered diversity.

Read more at … https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/09/28/bible-evangelicals-duty-fight-racism/5847173001/?

SMALL GROUPS & Researchers discover it’s better to feast on fried food with friends than to eat Brussels sprouts alone.

by Jason Williams, Saddleback Church, 9/30/21.

The Alameda County Study is one of the most thorough and groundbreaking studies on relationships ever conducted. A team of Harvard researchers tracked a group of 7,000 people over the course of a nine-year period, and their findings were fascinating. 

They discovered that people who had poor health habits (smoking, overeating, excessive drinking, etc.) but strong group ties lived significantly longer than people who took great care of their health but were relationally isolated.  To put it another way, it’s better to feast on fried food with friends than to eat Brussels sprouts alone. 

The research team had stumbled upon a truth we were reminded of over the past 18 months and that God made clear from the dawn of humanity: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). We were made for community.

Learn more at … https://saddleback.com/visit/locations/lake-forest

TRADITION & Humorous examples of the differences between the rule of the law and the spirit of the law.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In Jesus’ discussions about the Pharisees, he often pointed out that they were meticulous in obeying law, but they did not practice the purpose or spirit behind it (Mark 2:3–28, 3:1–6; 2 Corinthians 3:6).

A humorous example comes from a recent New York City law that permitted on the subway only those dogs that could fit in a bag. Now that’s the letter of the law. But the spirit of the law was to keep large dogs, and they’re leavings 😉 away from the subways.

However, enjoy below some of the ways that creative New Yorkers obeyed the letter of the law, and not the spirit.

Frames Etc. Facebook, 9/24/21

ATTENDANCE & Gen Z is keeping the faith. Just don’t expect to see them at worship. Young people’s trust in religious institutions is low, but trust in relationships with religious people is still extremely high.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’m delivering Sunday sermons on how to use the #RomansRoad to equip congregants to one-on-one share their faith. The following research indicates that that may be the best way to reach the next generation.

Religion News Service, September 23, 2021 by Josh Packard, Casper ter Kuile

Given the decline in attendance at houses of worship and the so-called rise of nones, it might come as a surprise that the majority of young people say they are spiritual and/or religious. According to those who participated in Springtide Research Institute’s State of Religion and Young People 2020, 78% of people ages 13-25 consider themselves at least slightly spiritual, including 60% of unaffiliated young people (atheists, agnostics and nones). And 71% say they are at least slightly religious, including 38% of the unaffiliated.

The coming generation may be investing more in faith because of stress and loss. After a year navigating the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020-2021), over a third of young people (35%) said their faith became stronger, while only 11% said their faith became weaker (half said their faith remained steady). Even more, 46% started new religious or spiritual practices during this time, far more than the 27% who stopped some religious or practices.

The caveat for anyone hoping to turn Gen Z into the generation that came back to church is that while today’s young people take what they find useful in faith traditions, this group has significant trust issues when it comes to formal religious institutions. Asked to rate their trust of organized religion on a 10-point scale, 63% of young people answered 5 or below, including 52% of those who say they’re affiliated with a religious tradition.

You read that right: Over half of young people who claim a religious affiliation have little trust in the very religious institutions with which they identify.

Where trust in religious institutions is low, however, trust in relationships with people in those institutions is extremely high.

Faith leaders who want to appeal to Gen Z need to focus on gaining trust through relationship rather than relying on their institutional authority — their title, role or accomplishments. To be sure, Gen Z members respect expertise, so long as it is combined with genuine care and concern for their well-being — an approach Springtide calls relational authority.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/09/23/gen-z-is-keeping-the-faith-just-dont-expect-to-see-them-at-worship/?

WOMEN IN MINISTRY & Reexamining 1 Corinthians 14, Context and Words Matter.

by Bill Rudd, CBE International, 9/29/21

For forty-five years I believed women should not be pastors. After changing my position, I wrote a book to describe my journey and to analyze every relevant Bible passage.1 Many of my friends refused to read it because they confidently asserted that “the Bible is unmistakably clear that women cannot be pastors.”

Their “unmistakably clear” evidence invariably included Paul’s stunning prohibition in 1 Corinthians 14:34–35: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak . . . for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” Obviously, if women must be silent in church where it is disgraceful for them to speak, they cannot be pastors.

While there are multiple challenges in this passage, this article will focus on two: the context of the passage and the meaning of key words.2

Context Matters: Three Parallel Groups

1 Corinthians 14 is part of Paul’s extended teaching about the distribution, use, and abuse of spiritual gifts in the church.

All of the gifts identified in chapter 12 are given by the Spirit to believers regardless of gender. When Paul envisioned a church gathering (14:26) in which “each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation,” he did not exclude women from any of those speaking gifts.

Then, because “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (14:40), Paul immediately addressed disorderly behavior in churches where a few monopolized the gatherings by their continuous talking.

This involved three groups: tongues-speakers without interpreters, prophets not giving others a turn, and women talking nonstop. By addressing these groups, Paul did not assume that every tongues-speaker, prophet, or woman was part of the problem. It is likely that these three parallel scenarios involved a few people who needed to stop speaking so others could participate.

Paul did not command that no man or woman should ever speak in tongues or prophesy (14:39).3 Rather, tongues-speakers could resume speaking when interpreters were present, and prophets could take another “turn” after others shared their revelation.

Why then, in the third scenario, do many interpreters insist that women must not speak in church at all, rather than, as the parallel structure requires, that women were also to temporarily stop talking until others had opportunity to participate?

This leads to the second consideration.

Read more at … https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/mutuality-blog-magazine/context-and-words-matter-reexamining-1-corinthians-14?

COMMUNICATION & SOCIAL MEDIA USE IN 2021: Facebook and YouTube are the two most used platforms among older populations, but here’s how the under 35 crowd is communicating. #eReformation

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: During the pandemic many churches have started to use Facebook and YouTube to stream their services and communicate with their congregants. And this is a good strategy to communicate with existing churchgoers.

Most of the younger generations are less frequent in their church going than their parents. And, they don’t communicate through Facebook or YouTube. They know that’s where the older generations are and they typically avoid them.

The under 30 crowd typically uses media forms such as Instagram, Snapchat and TickTock. Check out this article to find what they are listening to and then communicate through them.

Social Media Use in 2021

A majority of Americans say they use YouTube and Facebook, while use of Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok is especially common among adults under 30.

By BROOKE AUXIER and MONICA ANDERSON, Pew Research, April 7, 2021.

Despite a string of controversies and the public’s relatively negative sentiments about aspects of social media, roughly seven-in-ten Americans say they ever use any kind of social media site – a share that has remained relatively stable over the past five years, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults.

Growing share of Americans say they use YouTube; Facebook remains one of the most widely used online platforms among U.S. adults

Beyond the general question of overall social media use, the survey also covers use of individual sites and apps. YouTube and Facebook continue to dominate the online landscape, with 81% and 69%, respectively, reporting ever using these sites. And YouTube and Reddit were the only two platforms measured that saw statistically significant growth since 2019, when the Center last polled on this topic via a phone survey.

When it comes to the other platforms in the survey, 40% of adults say they ever use Instagram and about three-in-ten report using Pinterest or LinkedIn. One-quarter say they use Snapchat, and similar shares report being users of Twitter or WhatsApp. TikTok – an app for sharing short videos – is used by 21% of Americans, while 13% say they use the neighborhood-focused platform Nextdoor.

Even as other platforms do not nearly match the overall reach of YouTube or Facebook, there are certain sites or apps, most notably Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, that have an especially strong following among young adults. In fact, a majority of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram (71%) or Snapchat (65%), while roughly half say the same for TikTok.

Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2021/04/07/social-media-use-in-2021/

STREAMING & #SundayChurchHacks: Make sure links on your #streaming page open in another tab and do not stop the streaming. See this example …

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Watching a client’s streaming today, I noticed three nicely placed buttons that say …

Clicking on any of the three boxes above results in ending the streaming playback and exiting to another webpage. This would be analogous for someone in a face-to-face service taking a “connection card” and starting to fill it out; only to have the entire worship service stop, the preacher stop preaching and everything put on hold until the attendee has finished filling out the connection card.

The solution is to have:

  • A “feedback” button where people watching the streaming service can give you input.
  • Ask your staff and leaders to semi-regularly watch the service online to stop such missteps.

For more ideas about communicating in the new reality of the eReformation, see the book: