CHURCH HISTORY & The Rise & Fall of Roman Civilization: Every Year Shown in a Timelapse Map Video Animation (753 BC -1479 AD)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: it’s important to understand when Jesus was born in relationship to world events. You can see a divine purpose behind the timing of his birth. This short, animated video is helpful in depicting the spread and growth of the Roman Empire and how the Good News traveled across across the Roman roads.

More time lapse maps available at … https://m.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=277&v=w5zYpWcz1-E&embeds_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.openculture.com%2F&source_ve_path=Mjg2NjIsMjg2NjMsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMjg2NjMsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDI&feature=emb_logo

CHRISTMAS & The Story Behind “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” per today’s article in Biblical Leadership Magazine.

Charles Wesley had an important leadership principle in mind when he penned this Christmas classic.

As Rebecca’s and my Christmas blessing to you, below is the story about an important “lesson” behind the Christmas hymn: Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Your Partners in the missio Dei.
Rebecca and Bob
REBECCA AND BOB WHITESEL

CHRISTMAS & Fun questions to share with family and friends (even virtually) to discover the real meaning of Christmas.

If you are like Rebecca and me, you’re probably spending time with some family members via Zoom.

Here is our gift.  A Christmas trivia game (scroll below) that I edited together for our extended family. It can be shared in person or online. And, it leads to the real meaning of this season.

Trivia Rules (can be played online or in person)

Requirements  
  – 12 pieces of notebook paper
  – Dark marker pen
  – Divide into teams (family or other)

Host will ask you a question …
  – Mute your microphones (if online) or deliberate quitetly
  – Deliberate 30 seconds
  – Write down your answer and show it when asked.

——— Family (part 1) ——— 

Question: How many ghosts show up in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: Four

Question: In Home Alone, where are the McCallisters going on vacation when they leave Kevin behind?
Answer: Paris

Question: Three of Santa’s reindeer’s names begin with the letter “D.” What are those names?
Answer: Dancer, Dasher, and Donner

Question: In which modern-day country was St. Nicholas born?
Answer: Turkey (in the ancient area of Lycia)

——— Kids only (part 2) ——— 

Question: What did the other reindeer not let Rudolph do because of his shiny red nose?
Answer: Join in any reindeer games

Question: In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, what was the first name of Scrooge?
Answer: Ebenezer

Question: Which one of Santa’s reindeer has the same name as another holiday mascot?
Answer: Cupid

Question: What words follow “Silent Night” in the song?
Answer: Holy night

——— Family (part 3) ——— 

Question: What is Ralphie’s little brother’s name in the movie A Christmas Story?
Answer: Randy

Question: According to the song, what did my true love give to me on the eighth day of Christmas?
Answer: Eight maids a-milking

Question: In the movie Elf, what was the first rule of The Code of Elves?
Answer: Treat every day like Christmas

Question: The movie Miracle on 34th Street is based on a real-life department store. What is it?
Answer:Macy’s

——— Kids only (part 4) ——— 

Question: What gift did the Little Drummer Boy give to the newborn Christ?
Answer: He played a song for him on his drums

Question: Which fairy tale were the first gingerbread houses inspired by?
Answer: Hansel and Gretel

Question: What was Frosty the Snowman’s nose made out?
Answer: A button

Question: Visions of which food danced in children’s heads as they slept in the poem “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas?”
Answer: Sugar plums

——— Family (part 5) ——— 

Question: What is the name of the last ghost that visits Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

Question: How many gifts in total were given in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song?
Answer: 364

Question: What is the first and last name of George Bailey’s guardian angel in It’s A Wonderful Life?
Answer: Clarence Odbody

Question: In the song “Winter Wonderland,” what do we call the snowman?
Answer: Parson Brown

——— Kids (part 6) ——— 

Question: In what town was baby Jesus born?
Answer: In Bethlehem

Question: What stopped over the town of Bethlehem and led the wise men to Jesus?
Answer: The star

Question: Why was Jesus born in a stable?
Answer: There was no room in the inn

Question: What did the angels sing to the shepherds?
Answer: Glory to God, in the highest. 

Mike, it is our prayer that this simple trivia quiz will be a springboard to sharing the story of our Savior’s birth with your family and friends.  

Bob
BOB WHITESEL, DMIN, PHD
COACH, CONSULTANT, SPEAKER & AWARD-WINNING WRITER/SCHOLAR

Extra  Questions:

Question: Whose eyes are all aglow in “The Christmas Song?”
Answer: Tiny tots

Question: In the movie Elf, how does Buddy get to the North Pole?
Answer: He hides in Santa’s sack

Question: Who wrote, “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more?”
Answer:Dr. Seuss

Question: Where did there arise such a clatter?
Answer: On the lawn

Question: Elvis isn’t going to have a white Christmas, he’s going to have a….
Answer: Blue Christmas

Question: In the movie A Christmas Story, what was the name of the neighbors whose dog ate the Christmas turkey?
Answer: The Bumpuses

Adapted with additions from Parade Magazine, https://parade.com/943457/parade/christmas-trivia/


Requirements  
  – 12 pieces of notebook paper
  – Dark marker pen
  – Divide into teams (family or other)

Host will ask you a question …
  – Mute your microphones (if online) or deliberate quitetly
  – Deliberate 30 seconds
  – Write down your answer and show it when asked.

——— Family (part 1) ——— 

Question: How many ghosts show up in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: Four

Question: In Home Alone, where are the McCallisters going on vacation when they leave Kevin behind?
Answer: Paris

Question: Three of Santa’s reindeer’s names begin with the letter “D.” What are those names?
Answer: Dancer, Dasher, and Donner

Question: In which modern-day country was St. Nicholas born?
Answer: Turkey (in the ancient area of Lycia)

——— Kids only (part 2) ——— 

Question: What did the other reindeer not let Rudolph do because of his shiny red nose?
Answer: Join in any reindeer games

Question: In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, what was the first name of Scrooge?
Answer: Ebenezer

Question: Which one of Santa’s reindeer has the same name as another holiday mascot?
Answer: Cupid

Question: What words follow “Silent Night” in the song?
Answer: Holy night

——— Family (part 3) ——— 

Question: What is Ralphie’s little brother’s name in the movie A Christmas Story?
Answer: Randy

Question: According to the song, what did my true love give to me on the eighth day of Christmas?
Answer: Eight maids a-milking

Question: In the movie Elf, what was the first rule of The Code of Elves?
Answer: Treat every day like Christmas

Question: The movie Miracle on 34th Street is based on a real-life department store. What is it?
Answer:Macy’s

——— Kids only (part 4) ——— 

Question: What gift did the Little Drummer Boy give to the newborn Christ?
Answer: He played a song for him on his drums

Question: Which fairy tale were the first gingerbread houses inspired by?
Answer: Hansel and Gretel

Question: What was Frosty the Snowman’s nose made out?
Answer: A button

Question: Visions of which food danced in children’s heads as they slept in the poem “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas?”
Answer: Sugar plums

——— Family (part 5) ——— 

Question: What is the name of the last ghost that visits Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

Question: How many gifts in total were given in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song?
Answer: 364

Question: What is the first and last name of George Bailey’s guardian angel in It’s A Wonderful Life?
Answer: Clarence Odbody

Question: In the song “Winter Wonderland,” what do we call the snowman?
Answer: Parson Brown

——— Kids (part 6) ——— 

Question: In what town was baby Jesus born?
Answer: In Bethlehem

Question: What stopped over the town of Bethlehem and led the wise men to Jesus?
Answer: The star

Question: Why was Jesus born in a stable?
Answer: There was no room in the inn

Question: What did the angels sing to the shepherds?
Answer: Glory to God, in the highest. 

Mike, it is our prayer that this simple trivia quiz will be a springboard to sharing the story of our Savior’s birth with your family and friends.  

Bob
BOB WHITESEL, DMIN, PHD
COACH, CONSULTANT, SPEAKER & AWARD-WINNING WRITER/SCHOLAR

Extra  Questions:

Question: Whose eyes are all aglow in “The Christmas Song?”
Answer: Tiny tots

Question: In the movie Elf, how does Buddy get to the North Pole?
Answer: He hides in Santa’s sack

Question: Who wrote, “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more?”
Answer:Dr. Seuss

Question: Where did there arise such a clatter?
Answer: On the lawn

Question: Elvis isn’t going to have a white Christmas, he’s going to have a….
Answer: Blue Christmas

Question: In the movie A Christmas Story, what was the name of the neighbors whose dog ate the Christmas turkey?
Answer: The Bumpuses

Adapted with additions from Parade Magazine, https://parade.com/943457/parade/christmas-trivia/

CONFLICT & How to disagree without making someone defensive.

by Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company Magazine, 11/22/22.

…according to Shelby Scarbrough, former international and U.S. Department of State Protocol Officer and author of Civility Rules! Creating a Purposeful Practice of Civility.

Watch your language

First, avoid using accusatory terminology, such as “you should,” or shaming or blaming the other person.

“It’s a surefire way for them to come back with a response that’s defensive or angry if they are sensitive at all about their position on something,” says Scarbrough. “Somebody who’s extremely comfortable and confident in their own position often is not defensive because they don’t need to be. They can have a conversation about any topic and not worry about it’s not a personal slight.”

Focus on your experience

Next, avoid telling someone what to do and giving advice.

“If we want to engage with somebody in a deeper, meaningful level, it’s not about us getting out our views,” she says. “That’s where we kind of go wrong in society these days. We’re so hell bent on getting our own opinion out there and putting it out there as truth or fact rather than realizing that it is a perspective and that there are other perspectives.”

Instead, share your experience…

Sharing your experience illustrates how you’ve come to your view. Start your sentence with, “This has been my experience.” Be willing to be vulnerable and open to push back, says Scarbrough.

“The person might say, ‘Yeah, but’ and that’s okay,” she says. “That doesn’t mean you have to get defensive, too. You can say, ‘I can see this is hitting a nerve and that’s not my purpose. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I would I’d really like to have a conversation about this. And if it’s uncomfortable for you, we don’t have to talk about it.’ That can help calm the situation, so the other person feels safe.”

Check your motive

Ask yourself, do you want to have a conversation about something or do you just want an opportunity to push your position. If it’s the latter, it’s usually a good way to cause someone to get defensive, which creates a dead-end conversation.

If you want to have a conversation, enter it with open-ended curiosity. Scarbrough suggests saying, “Tell me more about that. I’d like to understand your views.”

Read more at … https://www.fastcompany.com/90810773/how-to-disagree-without-making-someone-defensive?

RELIGIOUS SWITCHING & Beginning in the late teen years 31% of Christians become unaffiliated, while 21% of unaffiliated Americans become Christian. This it has resulted in a net flow of millions of Americans from Christianity to unaffiliated. #PewResearch

by Alan Cooperman, Pew Research, 8/29/22.

Earlier this month, Pew Research Center released a study exploring how the religious composition of the United States might change by 2070. One of the conclusions of the study that drew widespread attentionis that Christians – who constituted 64% of the nation’s population in 2020 – may no longer be the majority five decades from now.

But the future course of Christianity in the U.S. is not set in stone. Whether the U.S. will continue to have a Christian majority in 2070 will depend on many factors, including one that was a key focus of the Center’s new study: religious “switching” – that is, voluntary changes in religious affiliation.

Religious switching goes in all directions. It might be a switch from one kind of Christianity to another, from Christianity to another religion, or from Christianity to no religion at all.

Religious switching goes in all directions. It might be a switch from one kind of Christianity to another, from Christianity to another religion, or from Christianity to no religion at all.

Research has shown that religious switching tends to occur when people are younger, typically starting in their late teens. We estimate that between the ages of 15 and 29, 31% of Americans who were raised as Christians become religiously unaffiliated – a group that includes atheists, agnostics or those who describe their faith as “nothing in particular.” (This doesn’t necessarily mean they give up all religious beliefs. Many of these so-called “nones” believe in God or a universal spirit. But by a wide variety of measures of religion and spirituality, they tend to be less religious and less spiritual than Americans who identify with Christianity and other faiths.)

We also estimate that before turning 30, 21% of Americans who were raised with no religious affiliation convert, formally or informally, to Christianity.

The difference between those two percentages – 31% of Christians become unaffiliated, while 21% of unaffiliated Americans become Christian – might not seem large. But the difference actually is huge because of the imbalance in the size of the two groups: Many more Americans are raised as Christians than as “nones.”

The bottom line is that although Christianity is by far the majority faith in the U.S., religious switching – beginning in the late teen years – has resulted in a net flow of millions of Americans from Christianity to unaffiliated.

Read more at … https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/09/29/religious-switching-patterns-will-help-determine-christianitys-course-in-u-s/?

CHURCH CHANGE & Churches must consider how to respond to permanent transition, historian Dr. Bill Leonard stresses. 8Steps4Change.church

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: People ask why I earned a second doctorate. It’s not because I had the time, or the money. It was because I had a passion to understand “church change.”

When I began my research I found there was a little research on how to change a church without losing its orthodoxy or its status quo members. This article about Bill Leonard, one of the main historians of the church today, warns that change is something we can no longer ignore. Change is upon everything – including the church. And, we must understand how to undertake it without compromising our theology or our traditional members.

I explain how to do that on the website http://www.8steps4change.church. But before you go there, read this overview of Bill Leonard.

Churches must learn to adapt to ‘permanent transition,’ Leonard stresses

by MARV KNOX, Baptist News, 6/30/22.

A documented change

Leonard cited research documenting the transition. For example, 29% of Americans are “nones,” claiming no religious affiliation, an increase from 16% in 2007. Conversely, the percentage of Americans who claim to be Christians declined from 78% to 63% across the past 15 years.

A Lifeway study found 4,800 U.S. churches closed in 2019, he said. And the median U.S. church attendance fell from 137 to 65 by 2021.

… This is doing what we used to call evangelization,” he continued. “How do we live it and how do we give it out — not only by our words, but by our actions?”

In addition to understanding their congregational and gospel identities, churches must grapple with their ministry, asking, “What is our calling in Christ in our community and beyond?” he said.

This involves assessing current ministries, but also evaluating ministry changes that need to be made, adjusted or even discarded, he asserted. Churches must ask, “How do we understand, engage and incarnate that ministry in our congregation and beyond?”

… In that that regard, they can take cues from 19th century Methodists and Baptists, whose membership exploded, especially in the American West, the historian said.

“Leaders ‘back East” worried not about secularism but about barbarism,” he recalled. They wanted to bring a Christian presence and moral identity to the Western frontier, and they (adapted) their evangelistic methods to match the needs and ethos of western pioneers.

They succeeded wildly and carried the methods into the 20th century, when those approaches became “less and less effective in communicating the gospel,” he said.

The challenge for the church today is to relinquish old methods of sharing the gospel that are declining in effectiveness and to think creatively about how to adapt its presentation of the gospel to the culture, he stressed.

Considering how the church will adapt to permanent transition, Leonard affirmed that God is ahead of the church and prepared for what is new. He quoted New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan: “God is ready. It is not that we are waiting for God; God is waiting for us. The present kingdom is a (joint project) between the human and divine worlds.”

Read more at … https://baptistnews.com/article/churches-must-learn-to-adapt-to-permanent-transition-leonard-stresses/

CHURCH GUESTS 101 & “God loves autistic people the way we are,” says Chloe Specht of Sojourners Magazine. “Churches can too.”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: reaching out to different cultures, including the physically challenged culture, is an important element of every hospitality ministry. However it’s been my observation that it is usually not done well. This is not because of lack of desire, but because of lack of strategies.

In a new course I’m writing for uDemy, titled Church Guests 101, I delve into how to meet the needs of those that visit our churches. Here is a good insight in this from Chloe Specht.

By Chloe Specht, Sojourners Magazine, 5/16/22.

Do you know the autistic folks in your church? Perhaps you’ve assumed that you don’t know anyone on the autism spectrum, but according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 5 million autistic people in the U.S. — just over 2 percent of the adult population. If this seems like an insignificant portion of the population, consider these similar demographics: The U.S. has around 4.7 million people with doctoral degrees and just under 2 percent of the population has a B negative blood type. Autistic folks are more common than you realize!

Despite the undeniable presence of autistic people like myself, the church often fails to make meaningful efforts to accommodate us. In my experience, congregations tend to project a message that everyone should bypass their own needs and conform to every congregation’s preferences, schedules, and means of access. For example, pastors in my life have told me that I should commit to attending every church function in person, even when my social battery is running dangerously low and I’m nearing burnout. Instead of understanding my need to replenish my energy, I’m told to “put God first” and ignore my body’s signals to rest. This is problematic because conversations around accessibility should center the folks who need it, not further marginalize us.

Autism is a spectrum — a marvelous color wheel of uniquely radiant and vivid expressions! Each autistic person has their own preferences and relationships to the language associated with the autistic community and the larger Disabled community. I identify as Disabled, and I capitalize the word to highlight the solidarity of our community and our ongoing movement to create equity and justice. I also exclusively use identity-first language (i.e., “autistic person” instead of “person with autism”) because autism isn’t something I have; it’s who I am.

For Disabled folks, accessibility is not a matter of convenience; it’s a basic requirement to honor our human dignity. Thus, the church cannot view accessibility as optional. Jesus didn’t treat Disabled folks like an inconvenience. Jesus didn’t warn people suffering with leprosy to keep their distance from him or scold the bleeding woman for touching him; far from it! Jesus drew near to those who wanted him. The church should work to meet the needs of the community just as Jesus did during his life and ministry.

…But how can congregations create accessibility for autistic folks?

Stop asking autistic folks to engage in the church in allistic (i.e., non-autistic) ways.Allowing autistic folks to engage in the life of the community however they feel comfortable and without judgment is the most important thing your church can do…

Learn the language of the autistic community and sit at the feet of autistic educators. In the age of the internet, it’s easy to discover autistic creators online and learn from them…

Make virtual services and events a permanent option at your church. Autistic folks tend to run out of social energy more quickly than allistic folks, which makes it difficult to consistently be present for in-person services and events…

Listen to autistic folks, and always defer to the wisdom of their voices. The church has a lot to learn from autistic Christians, so the community of faith needs to recognize that we are whole, creative, capable people. Keep in mind that these tips offer ways to begin creating accessibility, and you will need to explore the fullness of this work in your congregation’s unique context…

Read more here … https://sojo.net/articles/god-loves-autistic-people-way-we-are-churches-can-too?

COMMUNICATION & How to Write Email Subject Lines that Get a Response: If you want action, you need to tell your reader what you want.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: More and more communication is taking place online. The weekly or monthly printed bulletin mailed to congregants has become more expensive, too time-consuming and less effective. But in this new hybrid church world, people are increasingly bombarded with more communication due to the ease of email. Therefore, here are insights for helping congregants open your email amid today’s cluttered communication channels.

“How to Write Email Subject Lines that Get a ResponseIf you want action, you need to tell your reader what you want,” by Elizabeth Danzinger, Inc. Magazine, 5/16/22

… Here are three elements to include in your subject line to trigger a response from reluctant readers.

1. Tell the reader what to do.

⁃ Tell the Reader What to Do. By writing “Please Respond” or “Action Required” at the beginning of a subject line, clients tell me that their response rates soared.  In your subject line, write phrases like:

• Please Respond

• Response Required

• Immediate Action Required

• Please Approve

• Please Confirm

• Please Respond: Closing your file.

2. Tell the reader when you need it.  

People respond to deadlines. When everything seems urgent, how do people decide whom to respond to first? Often, the message with a credible deadline moves to the top of the pile.

So your subject line might say:

• Friday Approval Needed: Purchase of new scanner

• Respond by 5:00: Audit report review

• Please Confirm Now: Lunch Today at 1:00?

3. Tell the reader why it matters to them.

Adding a “hot button” spin to the subject line will generate more responses.  How will your reader benefit by opening your email? What will it cost him to ignore you? Don’t be manipulative or salesy when you touch hot buttons. For example, you wouldn’t write Act now while supplies last! because that sounds like spam. But you could write Send docs today to avoid late fee.

If you met a person and exchanged email addresses, remind them briefly in the subject line to remind them that you are a person they want to know.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/elizabeth-danziger/how-to-write-email-subject-lines-that-get-a-response.html

CHURCH HISTORY & The backstory and the purposes behind Paul‘s letter to “the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae” (1:2). #FullerDePreeCenter

by Mark D. Roberts, Fuller De Pree Center, 3/6/22.

… The New Testament book we call “Colossians” is a letter from the Apostle Paul to “the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae” (1:2). Paul was not the one who planted the church in this city in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Rather, it appears that a colleague of Paul named Epaphras did the church-planting honors in Colossae (Colossians 1:7), perhaps also in the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:12-13).

From what we read in Colossians, the Christians in that city were doing well overall. The gospel that came to them through Epaphras was “bearing fruit among [the Colossian believers] from the day [they] heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God” (Colossians 1:6). It does appear, however, that the Colossian Christians were being harassed by teachers who sought to “take [them] captive through philosophy and empty deceit” (2:8). These false teachers attempted to draw the Colossians away from focusing on the uniqueness, deity, and adequacy of Christ (2:4, 8-19, 2:-23). In particular, they were imposing upon Christians various Jewish ceremonial practices as well as other peculiar things, such as the “worship of angels” (2:18).

Paul responded to the false teaching in Colossae by underscoring the uniqueness and centrality of Christ, who alone is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Christ alone is the one through whom God “was pleased to reconcile to himself all things” (1:20). Thus, those who “ have received Christ Jesus the Lord” should “continue to live your lives in him” (2:6).

Living in Christ involves seeking the things of Christ (Colossians 3:1). When we do this, we “put to death” the earthly, sinful parts of ourselves and our behavior (3:5-8). When we received the grace of God through Christ, we “stripped off the old self with its practices” and “clothed [ourselves] with the new self which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” (3:9-10). It’s likely that the language of stripping off and putting on had its origin in the baptismal experience of the Christians in Colossae (and elsewhere; see 2:11-15). When people said “Yes” to the gospel, they took off their old identity and lifestyle so that they might clothe themselves with a new identity and way of living, one defined by their relationship with Christ.

This act of putting off and putting on happened decisively in the past when the Colossians first received God’s grace in Christ. But that wasn’t the end of the process of putting on. Those who believe in Jesus have more clothing to wear. Thus, Paul writes, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion. . . . Above all, clothe yourselves with love . . .” (Colossians 3:12, 14). What we find in Colossians 3:12-17 is our new wardrobe, which we are encouraged to put on as we seek to live with Christ as the center of our lives.

Reflect

In what ways is your life based upon and centered in Christ?

Are you ever tempted by teachings that move Christ out of the center?

As you think back to when you first became a Christian, did you experience any “putting off” and/or “putting on”? (Depending on your own faith journey, this may not really have happened, and that’s okay. I first accepted God’s grace in Christ when I was six years old. My first experience of “putting off” and “putting on” was rather limited.)

What in Colossians 3:12-17 strikes you today?

Read more at … https://depree.org/?s=Live+who+you+are

COMMUNICATION & Leaders: This is exactly what ‘more communication’ should look like.

by Dustin York, Fast Company Magazine, 2/13/22.

The first thing to keep in mind is that a shotgun approach isn’t effective, and employees don’t want just more communication willy-nilly. It has to be directed with a specific purpose, and that purpose should be transparency. Transparency is going to have to be the defining theme for communication throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond, and I need to stress the word “beyond” because I assure you, we are never ever going back to the way things used to be in the workplace pre-pandemic with regards to leadership and communication.

What do employees want transparency about, exactly? Anything going on that affects them such as where they’re going to work, how they’re going to work, what they’re going to be working on, and so on.

… Three keys of good internal communication

Next, there are three keys to keep in mind with transparent communication: make it asynchronous, scheduled, and multimodal.

Synchronous communications can force employees to waste their most productive hours in Zoom meetings and are what often lead them to make grumbled comments like, “This could have been an email.” It’s not because they don’t want to know the contents of the communication; it’s because they want to be able to get to it according to their own rhythm. So make it asynchronous.

… The other problem with synchronous communication is that it tends to be limited to one format, but employees have their own preferences for how they best process information. That could mean a video for some, an audio recording or company podcast for others, and, yes, an email for perhaps others.

Read more at … https://www.fastcompany.com/90721047/exactly-what-more-communication-should-look-like?

CONFLICT & How to Show Grace in Disagreement

by Rick Warren, Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope, 2/15/21.

… Unity is not uniformity. When God says he wants his followers to be united, it doesn’t mean he wants us all to be alike. If he had wanted that, he would have created us all the same!

For unity’s sake, we must never let differences in the church divide us. We should celebrate those differences while staying focused on what matters most: learning to love each other as Christ has loved us and fulfilling God’s purposes for each of us in his church.

But what about all those differences in church members who annoy you? How can you be unified with someone who irritates you to no end?

“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently” (Romans 14:1 The Message).

In church—or anywhere—be quick to listen and slow to anger when you have a disagreement. Why? Because most people tend to look at how far a person has to go rather than recognizing how far they’ve already come.

If you knew how much someone had already overcome in life, you’d probably be rejoicing with them instead of criticizing them for where they are now.

When you have conflict with someone whose background you don’t know, don’t dismiss them or judge them for behavior that you don’t understand. Stop thinking, “What is wrong with this person?” Instead, ask, “What happened to them?”

Someone’s behavior might be shaped by trauma or crisis. Hurt people hurt people. When you find someone who’s hurting other people, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find that they also have been hurt.

Read more at … https://pastorrick.com/how-to-show-grace-in-disagreement/?

COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION & These innovative (and award winning) ministries that are transforming their communities in creative ways. #DukeDivinitySchool #TraditionedInnovationAwards

Duke Divinity School, 1/18/22.

Leadership Education at Duke Divinity grants Traditioned Innovation Awards to initiatives that engage in experiments to transform communities by living out the convictions of an ancient faith in the current challenging circumstances.

They are:

Green The Church in Oakland, California encourages African American congregations to commit to an environmental theology that promotes sustainable practices and helps build economic and political change.

The Learning Tree is an association of neighbors in Indianapolis, Indiana, who employ the practices of Asset Based Community Development to improve the quality of lives of people, communities, schools and businesses.

The Coalition for Spiritual & Public Leadership is a Chicago, Illinois-based not-for-profit, multi-racial, multi-ethnic grassroots-led coalition that includes parishes, institutions and communities to address racial, social, economic and environmental injustice by building community power that is rooted in the vision of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Industrial Commons in Morganton, North Carolina, founds and scales interconnected employee-owned enterprises and industrial cooperatives that solve industrial problems for businesses and workers, and manufacturers hope for the people of Western North Carolina.

Read more at … https://leadership.divinity.duke.edu/what-we-offer/grants/traditioned-innovation-awards/?

CRITICISM & Casey Stengel’s advice on what to do with the critics on your team.

by Tom Crenshaw, church leader, author and soon-to-be certified member of the http://www.MissionalCoaches.network, 1/18/22.

How does one become wise? The answer is simple. He walks with wise people. The Bible reminds us that, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

… I love the old story told by the late Casey Stengel, who managed the New York Yankees to numerous World Championships. One day, Billy Martin, a former player and manager himself, asked Casey the secret of managing success.

Stengel’s response to this rookie manager was classic. He said,

“On any team you will have 15 players who love you and who will run through a wall for you. You will also have five players who will hate your guts and fight you every step of the way, and finally you will have five who are undecided about how they feel about you. The secret of success is to keep the five guys who hate your guts away from the five who are undecided. When you make out your rooming list, always room your losers together. Never room a good guy with a loser. Those losers who stay together will always blame the manager for everything, but it won’t spread if you keep them isolated.”

Casey Stengel, famed NY Yankee manager.

What was Stengel saying? Simply this, “Bad company corrupts good character,” or as one pastor friend of mine puts it, “Holy friends hinder bad behavior.”

The Bible teaches, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17) Putting ourselves in touch with wise, stimulating, faith building, positive thinking, moral living, people will help us move ahead in our own Christian life.

Thomas Fuller was right when he said, “it is best to be with those in time we hope to be with in eternity.”

If you enjoy this you may want to follow Tom Crenshaw’s articles on Biblicalleadership.com at https://www.biblicalleadership.com/contributors/tomcrenshaw/ Tom is a certified Missional Coach and part of the MissionalCoaches.network

CHANGE & My video introduction to “The 4 Forces that Control Change” 

Here is a video introduction to articles I have written (for anyone) and assignments (for students in LEAD 600, etc.) that deal with controlling change (which we call theories of changing). It introduces the viewer to “The Four Forces that Control Change” and how to manage each.

https://video.wordpress.com/embed/IXdD6Gvt?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=1&loop=0&preloadContent=metadata&muted=0&playsinline=0&controls=1&cover=1

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

Articles mentioned in the video as well as additional articles are available at the following links:

Download the Church Executive article by Bob Whitesel here:  ARTICLE_Four Forces-Whitesel (Church Executive Article)

Fownload the article in the Journal of the Great Commission Research Network here: article-whitesel-gcrn-toward-a-holistic-and-postmodernal-theory-of-change-in-cg-literature-gcrn . To subscribe and/or receive more information about The Great Commission Research Journal (the new name) click here: http://journals.biola.edu/gcr/

And find more “theories of changing” articles on ChurchLeadership.wiki here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/?s=four+forces

CHURCH REVITALIZATION & For dying congregations, a ‘replant’ can offer new life.

By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service, 1/7/21

…LA City Baptist Church is what’s known as a “replant,” an attempt to restore an older, dying congregation to health using some of the lessons gleaned from startup congregations known as church plants. Replanting often involves adding a new pastor who has been trained in how to do outreach, as well as funding and sometimes an influx of volunteers. The idea is to provide resources and new energy to an old congregation, rather than shutting the church down and starting over.

Although not widespread, church replanting is growing in popularity and the approach has been adopted by denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention, whose North American Mission Board is supporting Lee’s work to replant LA City Baptist. In 2020, NAMB helped fund 50 such replants, according to the latest data available. The agency hopes to work eventually with about 200 replants a year, said Mike Ebert, a spokesman for NAMB.

According to data from the Faith Communities Today 2020 survey, there are lots of churches in the same boat as LA City. The median worship attendance for congregations is 65, down from twice that number in 2000 — leaving many congregations wondering what their future will look like.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2022/01/05/for-dying-congregations-a-replant-can-offer-new-life/?

CONFLICT & A video intro to church conflict resolution & handling power-plays.

The video was recorded at the annual conference of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) which I was attending in Detroit. Dr. John Perkins (founder of the CCDA) has greatly influenced my thinking as evident from these excerpts that reflect Dr. Perkins’ influence on my articles and books.

©️Bob Whitesel used by permission only.

CREATIVITY & Are creative leaders more unethical? Researchers say “yes” for these 3 reasons.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Have you ever had a leader who creates a lot of innovative programs – but seems to bend the rules or even sometimes outright break them? This penchant for creativity coupled with unethical actions has actually been confirmed by researchers to be a sign of creativity (in a meta-study of 6,783 participants across 36 studies from 19 articles).

Unethical behavior in creative types may also be a sin of that creativity. And we as leaders need to help the creatives we know overcome it.

Read this article to understand the thinking of creative types.

More creative people tend to also be more unethical, according to a meta-analysis of 36 studies.

by Mane Kara-Yakoubian, PsyPost.org January 1, 2022.

According to a meta-analysis published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, creativity and unethicality are positively related. The researchers argue that some studies have failed to find this association due to the use of self-report measures in assessing unethical behavior.

There are several theoretical explanations for the positive relation between creativity and unethicality. The first is that “creative individuals tend to have a strong sense of entitlement when anticipating the high value of their future realization, which makes them more willing to cross the lines to reach their goal.” When engaging in a creative task, they foresee the benefits of their product, prompting the legitimization of unethical behaviors that can facilitate attaining this goal. “In other words, creative individuals tend to think that the end justifies the means,” the authors write.

The second argument is that creativity helps generate justifications for unethical deeds, in turn, increasing the likelihood of engaging in such behaviors. Creative individuals tend to be more skilled in justifying unethicality given their greater cognitive flexibility, which allows them to approach problems from numerous perspectives.

The third case for this positive correlation is that both creativity and unethicality “involve rule breaking and nonconformist processes.” From this perspective, these constructs are positively associated because they involve the same cognitive processes.

Read more at … https://www.psypost.org/2022/01/more-creative-people-tend-to-also-be-more-unethical-according-to-a-meta-analysis-of-36-studies-62307

CLOSURE & ‘Go in peace’: US church founded in 1800 holds last service. #AP #GrowingThePostPandemicChurch

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) 12/26/21 — A Pennsylvania church with a 221-year history held its final service and is scheduled to close at the end of the year because of declining membership and attendance.

The First Presbyterian Church of Bellefonte, which is nearly as old as the borough itself, held the final scheduled service on Christmas Eve after having welcomed generations of families over the course of more than two centuries.

“There’s just such a love among this congregation. We’ve all known each other so long and we know each other’s foibles,” church elder Candace Dannaker told the Centre Daily Times. “I’ll miss our personality, our laughter and our joy in just being together. And, of course, the faith aspect of sharing that with other like-minded people.”

Dannaker estimated the church had about 40 members before the pandemic, a number that is down to about 25, and had no in-person worship from March 2020 until Easter Sunday. When Dannaker joined 34 years ago, she said, there were about 200 people in attendance then.

Pam Benson, 77, a member for 73 years, said that when she was born during World War II, many businesses were closed Sunday and few events were scheduled… Benson said. “It’s just change, it’s progression. It’s what happens. Not that I like it, but it is what it is.”

The 15,000-square-foot church is scheduled to close for the last time Dec. 31. Dannaker said the future of the building hasn’t been determined.

Video of the final service posted on the church’s Facebook site included references to “the pain of saying goodbye to one another” but a reminder that “challenges aren’t anything new to humanity” and saying the Christmas message of hope “is just as timely and essential today as it was 2,000 years ago.”

Before the final hymn, members lit and raised candles to these words: “And the light has splintered the darkness. And hope is ours once more. And this light does call us forward, remembering the past, and walking confidently into the future. And now go in the peace of Christ.”

Read more at … https://news.yahoo.com/peace-us-church-founded-1800-155717157.html

CONTEXT & How NOT to Exegete It (a humorous video).

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In a course I taught at Kingswood University in Sussex, NB, Canada we discussed cultural exegesis.

Kevin, a Presbyterian pastor and one of my students, provided a link to this video. It shows that even the movie industry has noticed that we often culturally exegete insufficiently and/or poorly.

Watch this video as a reminder of what not to do:

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AwROL7OBkc

GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Only 8 percent of young U.S. Catholics said their faith was weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, but nearly one-third expect to attend Mass less often after the pandemic than they had before.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This research by our Catholic colleagues supports previous research that people under the age of 55 say they are less likely to attend an on-site church in the future, preferring online church instead. Take note of this corroborating research. Then strengthen your online ministry – because that is where most of the younger generations are building relationships.

Survey: A third of young Catholics expect to attend Mass less often after the pandemic

by Robert David Sullivan, America: The Jesuit Review, November 10, 2021

Only 8 percent of young U.S. Catholics (ages 18 to 35) said their faith was weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a national survey released on Nov. 9 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, but nearly one-third expect to attend Mass less often after the pandemic than they had before. Perhaps of greater concern to the church, 73 percent agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” that they could be a good Catholic without going to Mass every Sunday. And only 39 percent agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” that they could never imagine themselves leaving the Catholic Church.

The survey indicated that 13 percent of Catholic young adults attended Mass at least once a week before the Covid-19 pandemic, and 6 percent of respondents said they had been “very” involved with parish activities other than attending Mass. The crisis of Catholic clergy sexually abusing minors was the most frequently given reason for not being more active in parish life.

Read more at … https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/11/10/cara-survey-young-american-catholics-241803?