DIVERSITY & How Meatpacking Work & Faith Intersect as Immigrants Diversify Congregations in the Heartland.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell in my “Growing the post-pandemic church” seminars about a congregation I coached in Illinois. While the town was decreasing in size among its historical Anglo inhabitants, this rural town was growing with people from Africa who were coming to work in the meatpacking plant.

The pastor I coached followed my advice to reach out to the immigrants in the community and a new congregation developed within the aging Presbyterian Church. The pastor later became the Presbyter of the southern region of a nearby state. This was in part because of her success in reaching out to a new demographic in her community and helping these immigrant meatpacking families save this aging church and continue its missional legacy.

In this article you will find a reminder that growth is happening in some of the more unlikely places. Churches must open their eyes and see that the fields are ripe.

How Meatpacking Work and Faith Intersect in the Heartland by Eric C. Miller, Religion & Politics, 11/16/21.

In the Heartland, things are changing. Over the past century, the expansion of the meatpacking industry in rural areas has created high demand for workers willing to perform difficult and dangerous jobs. In recent years, these positions have been filled mostly by migrants, asylees, and refugees seeking some measure of stability and security in the United States. As they have arrived, the longtime residents have also had to adapt, resulting in a story of survival, change, resistance, and religion. In her new book, Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work, and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland, Kristy Nabhan-Warren documents this transformation. It is driven, she writes, by “the conjoined passions of religious faith and desire to work hard for one’s children and grandchildren in order to achieve a slice of heaven on earth.”

… (the following is an interview with the author)

R&P: What goes on in these plants, and who does the work?

 KNW: When I started this project, the working title was Cornbelt Catholicism. I was really focused on parishes in rural Iowa and how these places are changing with the arrival of migrants from Africa, Asia, and Central America. When folks think about Iowa, they probably imagine a population of White farmers. But what’s really fascinating—and what ultimately changed the course of my project—is that meatpacking plants, specifically, have become an engine of diversification in the Midwest and on the Plains. When you walk into one of them, you hear a variety of languages being spoken. The first time I walked into the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction, the first thing I saw was an enormous sign stating “welcome” in fifteen languages. It is obvious, right away, that White folks are a minority in that building. The majority are Brown and Black folks from Central America and Africa.

… I learned in the course of my research that the rural Midwest is much more complicated than most people assume. When we put in the time and do the work—and I should note that I did my fieldwork over more than six years—we can see that these are dynamic places where refugees, migrants, and asylees from all over the world are coming together to find work and provide for their families. Their presence is changing the face of the Heartland.

R&P: How have the Protestant and Catholic descendants of past European immigrants reacted to the influx of religiously and racially diverse immigrants in the present?

KNW: In many ways, they’re vexed. They’re pleased that their formerly crumbling downtowns are being revitalized, but they’re not necessarily happy that the revitalization is driven by Latinos, Africans, and Burmese people. I start the book with a deep dive into the biography of Corinne Hargrafen, who is now in her 90s, of Irish-German Catholic ancestry, has lived in Iowa all of her life, and is typical of a lot of older, White Iowans in that she is pretty fearful of going downtown now that so much of the population is Brown and Black. And yet, she tries hard to engage in some intercultural dialogue at her parish. With her story, I try to paint a portrait of the White Midwesterner who goes to church, who tries her best, but who no longer really feels at home in the new Midwest. I also offer portraits, through the stories of several recent refugees, of the immigrant who comes to America to escape poverty or violence, is grateful for safety and opportunity in Iowa, but who doesn’t quite feel at home either, because the locals seem so suspicious and unwelcoming. Those refugees coming from Latin America, especially, have become a dominant presence in Catholic parishes, but they are constantly being reminded by White parishioners that the Whites are in charge.

Again, it’s easy to portray the Midwest simply as an overwhelmingly White, unrepentantly racist, overtly Trumpy place, and that is certainly part of the story. But when you take the time to sit and talk with these White folks—the descendants of migrants from Germany, Ireland, Czechoslovakia—you come to understand that they really do appreciate what the more recent migrants have done for their towns, even as they continue to struggle with the scale of the change. I try to draw out the flawed, complicated humanity of that story.

Read more at … https://religionandpolitics.org/2021/11/16/how-meatpacking-work-and-faith-intersect-in-the-heartland/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=How%20meatpacking%20work%20and%20faith%20intersect%20in%20the%20heartland&utm_campaign=ni_newsletter

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/?

DRIVE TIMES & Baylor University researchers discover most churchgoers will only drive less than 15 minutes to a church. #BaylorUniversity #GrowingThePostPandemicChurch #Seminar

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Previously geography dictated a church’s size and potential for growth as per this research on face-to-face churchgoers.  

Not any more.

Now churches everywhere can overcome the “geographic wall” to attendance by developing their online ministry. In my book Growing the Post-pandemic Church I list tools and plans to accomplish this.

Drive times to church for face-to-face attendees are:

5 min or less = 21 %

6 – 15 min = 47 %. 

16 – 30 min = 22% 

30+ min = 9 %.

AMERICAN VALUES, MENTAL HEALTH, AND USING TECHNOLOGY IN THE AGE OF TRUMP, Findings from “Church Commuting” by Kevin D. Dougherty, Baylor Religion Survey, Wave 5 , 9/2017 (https://www.baylor.edu/baylorreligionsurvey/doc.php/292546.pdf)

Find more ideas in the book Growing the Post-pandemic Church available in paperback and Kindle …

https://www.amazon.com/Growing-Post-pandemic-Church-Leadership-church-Guides/dp/B08FK8VMWS

#GPPCseminar

#GPPC

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

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/?

DEMOGRAPHICS & The Proportion Of White Christians In The U.S. Has Stopped Shrinking, New Study Finds

by Becky Sullivan, NPR, 7/8/21.

Two dramatic trends that for years have defined the shifting landscape of religion in America — a shrinking white Christian majority, alongside the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans — have stabilized, according to a new, massive survey of American religious practice. 

What was once a supermajority of white Christians — more than 80% of Americans identified as such in 1976, and two-thirds in 1996 — has now plateaued at about 44%, according to the new survey, which was conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. That number first dipped below 50% in 2012. 

They have largely been replaced by Americans who do not list any religious affiliation, a group that has tripled in proportion since the 1990s. Today, the unaffiliated make up roughly a quarter of Americans. Young adults are most likely to identify this way with more than a third saying they are atheist, agnostic or otherwise secular, the study found.

Read more at … https://www.npr.org/2021/07/08/1014047885/americas-white-christian-plurality-has-stopped-shrinking-a-new-study-finds?

DESERTION & Don’t Let What Happened to Demas, Happen to You.

Guest article by Missional Coach in training, Rev. Tom Crenshaw, 5/26/21.

I wonder what happened to Demas? For those who are unfamiliar with this thrice mentioned biblical character, Demas at one time had been a companion of Paul (Philemon 1:24). He was in Rome during Paul’s first imprisonment (Col. 4:14). But something happened. Demas forsook Paul, abandoned the ministry and skipped town.

Paul writes of this sad situation in 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.” One of the saddest things in ministry is to see a brother or sister abandon the faith and choose the world over Jesus.

Scholars suggest that the Greek world for desert seems to suggest that Demas had not only abandoned his faith but in doing so had left Paul in a time of great need. How hard it must have been for Paul to see this situation unfold. Perhaps you have experienced a similar situation when you have lost a good friend in whom you had placed your faith and trust, and you had helplessly watched him/her set sail for the world’s treasures.

We don’t know how it happened, but one of my favorite bible teachers, John Courson in his New Testament Commentary suggests that his decision wasn’t birthed overnight. Courson writes, “The Christian life is like a steam locomotive. When you’re first saved and on fire, you stoke the boiler with the Word. You come to church; you are involved in ministry; and you’re moving along in your faith. But then you come a time when you start to think, ‘Hey, I’m cruising along fine. I don’t need to feed the fire so fervently. I don’t need to study scriptures so consistently. I don’t need to have devotions daily. I don’t need to go to church regularly because, look, I’m really moving!’”

“But once the fire stops being fed, the engine starts slowing down imperceptibly. Yes, the train keeps moving down the tracks for a time, and everything appears to be going fine, but little by little the engine goes slower and slower until finally it stops dead in its tracks. You might be able to go weeks, months, even years on the momentum you gained in the early days-but if you don’t continue to feed the fire, eventually you’ll stop altogether. And, like Demas, you will say, ‘What happened? How did I end up here’”? John Courson Applicaton Commentary, p 1328

The Greek verb used in the original text implies that Demas had not merely left Paul but had left him “in the lurch”; that is, Demas had abandoned Paul in a time of need. The apostle was in prison, facing a death sentence, and that’s when Demas chose to set sail. Undoubtedly, Paul was deeply let down by Demas. It’s never easy to see a friend and associate in whom you’ve placed your trust, forsake you in the midst of hardship. Sadly Demas chose to accept what Satan had to offer in this world over what God had to offer in the next.

1 John 2: 15 makes it clear regarding the spiritual state of those who love the world: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”

Sadly, nowhere in the Bible do we read of the restoration of Demas.

The tragedy of Demas is being lived out again and again in our world whenever we see those who would choose temporary benefits over eternal possessions. “Past service is no guarantee for future faithfulness,” so keep stoking the boiler with the Word, and you’ll keep heading toward heaven and your eternal destination.

Yours in faith and friendship, Tom.

DIVERSITY & Your church may need to become multicultural. But there’s a wrong way & there’s an “organic” way. Here’s a video of how I do it differently. (I earned my PhD at Fuller Seminary in the School of Intercultural Studies where I researched the best ways to diversity. If you’re interested in really integrating – contact me.)

Interested in finding out more about a consultation? And if you are in certain regions of the country where I am already coaching churches you can have a consultation very inexpensively.

But contact me now: bob@churchhealth.expert

DECISION MAKING & 5 tips for identifying—and avoiding—cognitive bias during a crisis. (And discover more ideas in the #GrowingThePostPandemicChurch book.)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. While writing my 14th book, “Growing the Post-pandemic Church” I sought to help church leaders discover their unconscious biases that impact their decision-making. Here is a helpful article that defines the major cognitive biases and how you can prevent them from distorting your decisions.

5 tips for identifying—and avoiding—cognitive bias during a crisis: When facing the unknown, you might not even know everything you think you know… by Julie Wright, Public Relations Daily, Sept. 8, 2020.

It’s important for leaders to recognize their biases and take steps to minimize or eliminate them, individually and across their teams…

2. Acknowledge that cognitive bias exists.

Another important step to minimize your cognitive bias is to acknowledge that it exists.

For instance, normalcy bias has compelled many leaders to minimize the threat of the coronavirus with statements like “it’s business as usual” or “it’s important to get students back to the classroom this fall.” Normalcy bias minimizes threat warnings and downplays disaster and its impacts…

Along the same lines, familiarity bias drives people to categorize new experiences or situations along the lines of the familiar rather than evaluating them more deeply. This is what led some leaders to compare COVID-19 to influenza saying, “it’s no worse or different than the seasonal flu.”

Both of these biases indicate a certain level of denial, which is a common first reaction to terrible news.  Avoiding or minimizing biases is critically important during periods of crisis when we are mentally taxed, juggling multiple issues and just plain tired. This is when biases are most likely to color decisions.

3. Equip yourself with tools.

Tools like a crisis plan, evaluation criteria, scoring matrices and even the tried and true checklist can enforce the discipline needed to ensure objective and reasoned decisions and avoid cognitive traps, particularly in a crisis.

Airline pilots and surgeons rely on checklists to ensure bias is kept out of their decision making….

4. Surround yourself with multiple viewpoints.

A diversity of insights and information sources helps to reduce bias.

When you are surrounded by people with different life experiences, professional expertise and beliefs or world views, your decision making will be based on more inputs and become more immune to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is our tendency to cherry pick information or viewpoints that match our own expectations or experiences…

Sometimes a leader must make a judgment call without the benefit of other viewpoints. In those moments, it’s important not to exhibit overconfidence bias. Overconfidence bias leads to a false sense of skill, talent or self-belief. For leaders, it can be a side-effect to their power and influence. Overconfidence bias shows up in illusions of control, timing optimism, and the desirability effect (i.e. thinking if you desire something, you can make it happen).

5. Learn to spot common cognitive biases…

Anchoring bias. Anchoring refers to using previous information as a reference point for all subsequent information, which can skew a decision-making process. Putting the original full price next to the markdown anchors our original perception of value as being the full price. Against that first piece of information, the sale price looks like a steal. But what if the wholesale cost of the item was first shown? The sale priced wouldn’t look so appealing.

Self-serving bias. Self-serving cognitive bias helps soften the blow to the ego when we make a poor decision by attributing it to poor luck. When things turn out well, though, we attribute it to skill or something else that was directly under our control. The downside to this bias in organizations, teams and leaders is that it does not produce a culture of accountability.

Herd mentality. As social creatures, it is hard to fight herd mentality. When there is consensus or a growing trend or fad, our gut is to move in the same direction as the herd. While this may feel like the path of least resistance or safer, it is a decision behavior based on emotion and not logic.

Loss aversionThis is one of my favorite principles: Avoiding a loss is a greater motivator than gaining a reward. This can lead to missed opportunities driven by risk aversion. You see it on game shows when contestants settle for the cash they’ve earned rather risking it for a much higher reward. Or in organizational cultures where the mentality of “keeping one’s head down” and analyzing things to death before an eventual decision by a committee is the safer route than the perceived riskier route of decisiveness and efficiency.

Reactance bias. While you might think that members of the public who defy face-covering recommendations or requirements are exhibiting overconfidence bias, they are more likely showing reactance bias, which leads to a fear that complying with one request will end in the restriction of future choices or freedoms.

Dunning-Kruger effect. This effect describes poor performers who greatly overestimate their abilities. Put another way, it applies to people who lack the competence to evaluate their own abilities. To overcome the Dunning-Kruger effect, your reports need to recognize their own shortcomings. If you can grow their competence, they will be able to make more realistic self-evaluations.

Narrative fallacy. Like the framing bias, the narrative fallacy bias appeals to our love of a good story. When the story is too good to resist, we get drawn in. Or, when faced with a series of unconnected events, we force them into a cause and effect narrative. It’s something we’ve been doing since before the ancient Greeks explained the sunrise and sunset as the god Helios pulling the sun across the sky in his golden chariot. Fight the urge to impose narratives where no real connection exists and look instead at what the data says.

Hindsight bias. Statements like “I knew it all along” indicate hindsight bias. It’s easy to feel and claim this after the fact, but the danger is that hindsight bias distorts our memories. We were unlikely to have been as confident of the prediction before the event as we appear to be after it. This can lead to overconfidence and a belief that a person can predict the outcomes of future events.

Read more at … https://www.prdaily.com/5-tips-for-identifying-and-avoiding-cognitive-bias-during-a-crisis/

DIVERSITY & Designing a Bias-Free Organization

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As my clients know, I’ve spent 20 years helping churches grow into multiethnic congregations. In fact I wrote a book about how to do it with my friend Mark DeYmaz called reMIX: Transitioning your church to living color (Abingdon Press).

An important part of that transition is to stop doing certain practices that segment your congregation.

Here is a recent interview in the Harvard Business Review with Gardiner Morse on her book “What Works.”

The takeaway can be summed up in these thoughts:

simple changes—from eliminating the practice of sharing self-evaluations to rewarding office volunteerism—can reduce the biased behaviors that undermine organizational performance.”

Here is a portion of the interview …

“Designing a Bias-free Organization” an interview with Gardiner Morse, Harvard Business Review, 7/16.

Do whatever you can to take instinct out of consideration and rely on hard data. That means, for instance, basing promotions on someone’s objectively measured performance rather than the boss’s feeling about them. That seems obvious, but it’s still surprisingly rare.Be careful about the data you use, however. Using the wrong data can be as bad as using no data. Let me give you an example. Many managers ask their reports to do self-evaluations, which they then use as part of their performance appraisal. But if employees differ in how self-confident they are—in how comfortable they are with bragging—this will bias the manager’s evaluations. The more self-promoting ones will give themselves better ratings. There’s a lot of research on the anchoring effect, which shows that we can’t help but be influenced by numbers thrown at us, whether in negotiations or performance appraisals. So if managers see inflated ratings on a self-evaluation, they tend to unconsciously adjust their appraisal up a bit. Likewise, poorer self-appraisals, even if they’re inaccurate, skew managers’ ratings downward. This is a real problem, because there are clear gender (and also cross-cultural) differences in self-confidence. To put it bluntly, men tend to be more overconfident than women—more likely to sing their own praises. One meta-analysis involving nearly 100 independent samples found that men perceived themselves as significantly more effective leaders than women did when, actually, they were rated by others as significantly less effective. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to underestimate their capabilities. For example, in studies, they underestimate how good they are at math and think they need to be better than they are to succeed in higher-level math courses. And female students are more likely than male students to drop courses in which their grades don’t meet their own expectations. The point is, do not share self-evaluations with managers before they have made up their minds. They’re likely to be skewed, and I don’t know of any evidence that having people share self-ratings yields any benefits for employees or their organizations.

But it’s probably not possible to just eliminate all managerial activities that allow biased thinking.


Right. But you can change how managers do these things.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/designing-a-bias-free-organization?

DIVERSITY & 41 Maps Of America That Will Surprise You.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve written extensively about the biblical importance of the church becoming the community that breaks down ethnic and cultural walls and fosters reconciliation. To understand the varying cultures in your community look at these maps. They can provide a helpful introduction.

by Denis Tymulis and Rokas LaurinavičI, Bored Panda, 6/25/20.

Most Commonly Spoken Language In The Us After English And Spanish

Most Commonly Spoken Language In The Us After English And Spanish

Its Very Interesting

Its Very Interesting

States With A Smaller Population Than Los Angeles County

States With A Smaller Population Than Los Angeles County

Red And Orange Areas Have Equal Populations

Red And Orange Areas Have Equal Populations

US Watersheds

US Watersheds

Percentage Of People Born Outside The U.S. In Each State

Percentage Of People Born Outside The U.S. In Each State

How America Utilizes Its Land

How America Utilizes Its Land

Use Of The Word “Dang” Across The Continental US

Use Of The Word "Dang" Across The Continental US

U.S. Education Spending Map

U.S. Education Spending Map

Read more at … https://www.boredpanda.com/amazing-usa-maps-facts/

DIVERSITY & Do Your Congregants Know Why You Believe in Diversity?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Having researched, written and coached churches on diversity for almost 20 years, I find that sometimes those I coach are challenged to explain the “why” and the “history” behind their beliefs. Ruchika Tulshyan, writing in the Harvard Business Review gives practical steps to embrace when explaining about your beliefs (excerpted below).

Do Your Employees Know Why You Believe in Diversity?

Ruchika Tulshyan, Harvard Business Review, 6/30/20.

… Here are some suggestions for how your team can meaningfully communicate and execute your commitment to anti-bias and dismantling racism:

Do not send communication on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts without explicitly calling out the reasoning for it…

Understand the history of bias and discrimination — which explains how these initiatives and programs are righting past wrongs. While many of us theoretically believe discrimination of an employee because of their race, gender, ability, or other identity is wrong and even illegal, in practice, bias is present in many key decisions made in the workplace. A small but eye-opening example; a 2003 Harvard study found that employers preferred white candidates with a criminal record over Black employees who didn’t have a criminal history. Professional women of color face a number of impediments to hiring and advancement that white women do not…

Invite buy-in and advice from people of color…and listen with humility.

Prioritize anti-racism efforts in-house. Leaders must do the tough work of identifying where bias shows up in their organizations right now — hiring, retention, or advancement of employees of color — and fix those issues before moving to grand gestures that could be misinterpreted as PR stunts…

Show up personally … I do wish more leaders were present and engaged in conversations already taking place right in their backyards… When those in charge don’t engage in the work personally, it gives others in the organization to also take a back seat in this important work.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2020/06/do-your-employees-know-why-you-believe-in-diversity

DECLINE & How dying churches abuse pastors. A review of researcher #GeneFowler’s examination of why traumatized congregations so often attack their leaders.

by April 23, 2020, Christian Century.

… Church abuse of clergy is quite different. It’s a pattern driven by the congregation’s social unconscious reaction to traumatization. Fowler skillfully builds on the work of Wilfred R. Bion (who helped develop the theory behind psychoanalytic group psychology—including the power of the herd instinct) in explaining how this trauma plays out in congregations.

The motivation for church abuse is usually fear, Fowler explains, and this fear can be especially acute in times of palpable decline. As members of a congregation consider the annihilation of the church they’ve long known and revered, they experience a collective trauma. No longer able to maintain an idealistic image of themselves, they fall into denial and then fear. Abuse may also stem from ancestral trauma that’s passed on to a congregation from a previous generation.

Fowler tells the story of decline across several generations, beginning with Robert Wuthnow’s premise that the 1950s were marked by “a spirituality of dwelling.” After the chaos of World War II and the Korean War, people needed to view the church as a safe space, a sacred place in which to be nurtured, a spiritual home where they did not have to think too much. This was the heyday of the popular children’s rhyme, “Here is the church; here is the steeple. Open the doors; see all the people.”

The 1960s, Fowler explains, “constituted the initial period in the story of Protestantism’s trauma-producing membership decline in the United States.” The spirituality of dwelling was replaced by a “spirituality of seeking.” “Sacred moments of experiencing the divine and a continuing spiritual journey replaced sacred space and the need to know the sacred territory.” This major cultural and ecclesiastical shift stretched across subsequent decades, even as it went largely unnamed.

Christians who see their image of the steeple church shattered are often traumatized by this shift. The shattering of a beloved image is a loss that many congregants find unbearable. They realize that they cannot depend on the church’s culture—including its clergy—to remedy the shocking sense of annihilation that comes with the displacement they’re experiencing.

“When congregations must defend themselves against confronting their fear of congregational annihilation at all costs, their effort is at the expense of the pastor and the pastor’s loved ones,” Fowler explains. In their pain, the congregation begins the movement to get rid of their pastor—even when there is no reason justifying such a move. Common tactics include defamation of character, casting of shame, forced termination, and unemployment.

Read more at … https://www.christiancentury.org/review/books/how-dying-churches-abuse-pastors

DELEGATION & How to Delegate Using a Simple Questionnaire & a 7-Step Process

The Best Managers Share Authority. Now It Teaches Them to Delegate Using This 7-Step Process by Michael Schneider, Inc. Magazine, 7/22/19.

The best Google managers empower their teams and do not micromanage.

This idea came in at number two on Google’s top 10 list of effective manager traits. If you haven’t heard the story, Google in an effort to prove that bosses weren’t necessary, ended up finding the exact opposite — managers not only matter, but they can significantly influence the performance of their teams. But, they didn’t stop there. After realizing that managers were important, they embarked on a quest to uncover all the behaviors that made some more effective than others. The initiative became known as Project Oxygen

To help its managers determine the work that they should delegate, Google asks leaders to:

  • Look at the goals. What is the end-game and what does the team need to do to achieve its goals. Break down the work and identify parts that can be delegated.
  • Look at yourself. In which areas do you have strengths and responsibilities, and what should you delegate?
  • Recognize the right person for the work. Take a look at your team’s skills and ask yourself who has clear strengths in the areas you want to delegate. Use your employees like “chess pieces” and strategically assign work that plays to their abilities. In the process, you’ll not only empower but also increase the overall productivity of the team.

…Google has broken down the process into these seven steps:

1. Give an overview of the work.

Discuss the scope and significance of the project. Tell your employee why you selected them and the impact that the work has on the business.

2. Describe the details of the new reasonability.

Discuss your desired outcome and clarify expectations. Tell the employee what you expect, but not how to do it. It’s essential to give them the autonomy and freedom to learn and grow from the experience — not just follow orders.

3. Solicit questions, reactions, and suggestions.

The conversation should be a two-way street. Remember, the ultimate goal is to put your employee in the driver seat. Make sure they have all the information they need to assume ownership, accountability, and meet expectations.

4. Listen to the delegatee’s comments and respond empathetically.

This is new and uncharted territory for your employee. Ease their anxiety and create a psychologically safe environment where the employee feels comfortable voicing concerns, discussing hesitations, and coming to you for help.

5. Share how this impacts the team.

So employees understand the importance of their work and prioritize accordingly, make sure that you connect the dots and explain how the task supports other team initiatives.

6. Be encouraging.

Employees won’t take full responsibility until you encourage them to. Make sure they understand that you’re trusting them to deliver results.

7. Establish checkpoints, results, deadlines, and ways to monitor progress.

Although they have the autonomy, make sure employees know the critical milestones they need to hit and what success look like to gauge progress.

Delegating isn’t the easiest thing to do. But, you have to look at it as an investment in your employees. They learn, and you pick up more bandwidth to tackle other things — everyone wins.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/michael-schneider/google-found-that-its-best-managers-share-authority-now-it-teaches-them-to-delegate-using-this-7-step-process.html

CHURCH HISTORY & A Timeline of the Association of Vineyard Churches via Virginia Commonwealth University

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: While earning my first doctorate, a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, one of my professors was the renowned practical theologian (and co-founder of the singing group “The Righteous Brothers“): John Wimber.

He gave me the opportunity to analyze the growth of a new denomination he was leading: The Association of Vineyard Churches. During my research, I noticed how the movement eventually lost some of the innovation and momentum from which it was born.

In an effort to avoid such missteps in church planting, venue launches and start-up ministries, I conducted Doctor of Ministry research. Here is a helpful introduction to the Vineyard denomination researched by the scholars at Virginia Commonwealth University.

ASSOCIATION OF VINEYARD CHURCHES TIMELINE  

by John C. Peterson, World Religions and Spirituality Project, 9/4/16.

1934 (February 25):  John Wimber was born in Kirksville, Missouri or Peoria, Illinois.

c1940:  Wimber received his first saxophone.

c1946:  Wimber and his mother moved to California.

1949:  Wimber made his first professional appearance.

1955:  Wimber met his future wife, Carol, a member of The Paramours, her prom band. The couple was married seven months later. The Paramours would work the Las Vegas circuit for the next five years. Wimber (as Johnny Wimber) played keyboards.

1960:  The Wimbers faced a marriage crisis and separated. The separation ended when each cried out to God for help. The couple remarried in the Roman Catholic Church. They also attended a Friends Meeting and Bible studies. Carol began Bible studies in their home.

1962:  The Wimbers recruited Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley for The Paramours. The group later became The Righteous Brothers, originally with Wimber on keyboards.

1962:  Through Paramours‘ drummer Dick Heyling, the Wimbers met Quaker lay evangelist Gunner Payne and began attending Payne’s Bible studies at Heyling’s home.

1963:  John and Carol Wimber had near-simultaneous conversion experiences at one of Payne’s Bible studies. The Wimbers continued leadership involvement with Bible study groups through the Friends Meeting, with Gunner Payne at the Heylings, and in their own home, beginning a period of intense evangelism.

c1967:  John Wimber felt called to leave the music business and enrolled in Azusa Pacific University to study the Bible for three years.

1970:  Upon graduation, Wimber was “registered” (ordained) by Society of Friends. He became assistant pastor of Yorba Linda Friends meeting and continued to lead a number of Bible studies which became increasingly intense and well attended. They came to the attention of the Southern California religious community.

1974:  John and Carol Wimber and forty of their Bible study students were asked to leave the Friends Meeting. John was invited by C. Peter Wagner to help found the new Fuller Institute for Church Growth.

1975-1978:  Wimber taught church growth and planting as an adjunct faculty at Fuller while continuing to lead growing Bible studies.

1977:  Bible studies grew and were incorporated as a congregation of Calvary Chapel.

1979:  Wimber met Ken Gullicksen, another member of the Calvary Chapel movement, at a retreat.

1980:  Lonnie Frisbee preached to Wimber’s congregation on Mother’s Day, triggering an outpouring of charismatic phenomena.

1982-1986:  Wimber and Wagner taught a Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth course at Fuller.

1982:  Wimber broke with Calvary Chapel over Wimber’s increasing emphasis on charismatic phenomena, and, with several other Calvary Chapel groups, joined with Gullicksen’s group of Vineyard churches. Gullicksen asked Wimber to take the lead.

1982:  Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim was incorporated.

1984:  Vineyard Ministries International was established.

1985:  The Association of Vineyard Churches incorporated. Mercy Music (later Vineyard Music) was established.

1986:  Wimber published his book Power Evangelism. 

1986:  Wimber suffered a heart attack.

1988:  Wimber established close relationships with prophetic figures of the Kansas City Fellowship (which was renamed The Kansas City Vineyard).

1991:  Wimber became disillusioned with the Kansas City “prophets” and broke off the relationship.

1994:  The “Toronto Blessing” revival broke out at Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. It drew international attention to extreme charismatic phenomena.

1993-1995:  Wimber received cancer diagnosis and suffered a stroke.

1995:  Wimber observed the “Toronto Blessing” revival and cuts ties with it.

1997 (July):  Wimber installed Todd Hunter as National Coordinator of The Association of Vineyard Churches.

1997 (November):  Wimber died of massive brain hemorrhage.

2000:  Hunter resigned his position. The board named Bert Waggoner of Sugarland, Texas, to succeed him.

2011:  Waggoner retired and was replaced by Phil Strout of Maine.

FOUNDER/GROUP HISTORY 

The Association of Vineyard Churches (or the Vineyard movement) grew out of the Jesus movement that developed within the “hippie” culture of Southern California in the 1960s. This movement was built more around gifted evangelists working mostly through home-based Bible study groups rather than through established churches. Many of these groups involved music scene figures, some of whom were fairly prominent.

Three of those evangelists who were exceptionally successful ended up involved in the creation of two new denominations: Chuck Smith turned his Bible study groups into the Calvary Chapel movement (Chapel on the Vine 2015), and Ken Gullicksen turned his groups into what would become the Vineyard Churches. The third, the very gifted Lonnie Frisbee, was a key figure in both movements, but he is rarely mentioned today because of his struggle with homosexuality (Randles n.d.). A fourth key figure in the Bible study phenomenon was John Wimber.

Read more at … https://wrldrels.org/2016/10/08/association-of-vineyard-churches/

DEMOGRAPHICS & In booming Austin, Texas, churches struggle to keep pace with the city’s growth.

by Eileen Flynn, Faith and Leadership Magazine, 3/19/19.

At a time when many churches in the United States are struggling, some even dying, a counternarrative is playing out in booming Austin, one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. Though not all of Austin’s congregations are thriving, some area churches are clearly being squeezed by the region’s population explosion over the last decade. And while packed pews are a cause for celebration, the rapid growth presents challenges, and perhaps even a few lessons — lessons about hospitality, welcome and community in an era of increasing isolation.

full sanctuary
A band leads contemporary worship in the fellowship hall at Covenant Presbyterian. 

 

The Austin metro area, a five-county region, has grown from 846,000 in 1990 to more than 2 million today. Since 2010, the area has absorbed more than 150 new people a day, counting births, according to a recent report. The city demographer predicts that Austin proper will likely hit the million mark by 2020. Newcomers gravitate to the area for tech jobs, the much-touted Austin lifestyle, and, for those coming from California and East Coast cities, more-affordable housing.

The boom has created big-city hassles: traffic jams and parking problems, a rising median home price, and seemingly endless construction. It’s also led to feelings of isolation and disconnection among residents, who seek community in the midst of massive change.

What are the causes of disconnection and isolation in your community? How can your church address them?

To accommodate the growth, church leaders have added more worship services and programs. They’ve expanded or built new sanctuaries. Some have gone multisite — often digitally streaming sermons from a main location to satellite campuses in the suburbs. They have planted churches like The Well that meet in school cafeterias. And they have created more small groups so members don’t feel overwhelmed.

Matter of arithmetic?

Church growth in Austin may be a simple matter of arithmetic, said Mark Chaves, a Duke University sociologist who studies religion. Population growth has always been an important driver of church growth; more people moving to an area means more people attending its churches. Indeed, some churches in other rapidly growing areas, such as Dallas and Nashville, have also experienced explosive growth.

Although church attendance is declining nationally, it’s impossible to say for sure whether anything exceptional is happening in Austin, barring a study of per capita attendance in the area, Chaves said.

“Whether there’s a higher percentage of Austin population attending church now than before — I suspect not,” he said.

Still, Austin’s rapid urbanization and transience seem to have stirred a longing for a spiritual family, church leaders say. As the city becomes more crowded, new transplants and longtime residents alike can feel lonely and unmoored. And that’s driving up attendance in some congregations.

At Covenant, a Presbyterian (U.S.A) congregation founded in the early 1960s, the four Sunday services draw more than 1,000 people every week, up from about 700 in 2013. The church recently paid off its 60,000-square-foot fellowship and education building. Annual giving is at an all-time high.

“We’re jumping right now,” said the Rev. Thomas Daniel, who has served as senior pastor since 2014. “I love it. This is what you want to be a part of.”

Read more at … https://www.faithandleadership.com/booming-austin-texas-churches-struggle-keep-pace-citys-growth?utm_source=FL_newsletter&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=FL_topstory

Speaking Hashtags: #StMarksTX

DIVERSITY & About 1 in 5 American congregants attends a racially mixed place of worship, Baylor University study finds. #ReMIXbook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Since Mark DeYmaz and I wrote our book about how homogeneous congregations can transition to churches of living color (book is called ReMIX from Abingdon Press) there has been an increase in multicultural churches.

remix cover

This latest research from my friend and colleague Dr. Kevin Daughtery at Baylor University, indicates that almost 20% of churches are transitioning to multicultural congregations.

Learn about this exciting new trend in the article below and then pick up a copy of ReMIX: Transitioning your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press) to find out how almost any church can do it.

Multiracial Congregations Have Nearly Doubled, But They Still Lag Behind the Makeup of Neighborhoods

By Terry Goodrich, Baylor Univ. communications, 6/20/18

The percentage of multiracial congregations in the United States nearly doubled from 1998 to 2012, with about one in five American congregants attending a place of worship that is racially mixed, according to a Baylor University study.

While Catholic churches remain more likely to be multiracial — about one in four — a growing number of Protestant churches are multiracial, the study found. The percentage of Protestant churches that are multiracial tripled, from 4 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available.

In addition, more African-Americans are in the pulpits and pews of U.S. multiracial churches than in the past, according to the study.

Multiracial congregations are places of worship in which less than 80 percent of participants are of the same race or ethnicity.

“Congregations are looking more like their neighborhoods racially and ethnically, but they still lag behind,” said lead author Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “The average congregation was eight times less diverse racially than its neighborhood in 1998 and four times less diverse in 2012.”

“More congregations seem to be growing more attentive to the changing demographics outside their doors, and as U.S. society continues to diversify by race and ethnicity, congregations’ ability to adapt to those changes will grow in importance,” said co-author Michael O. Emerson, Ph.D., provost of North Park University in Chicago.

For the study, Dougherty and Emerson analyzed data from the National Congregations Study, a nationally representative survey conducted in 1998, 2006-2007 and 2012, with a cumulative sample of 4,071 congregations. The study by Dougherty and Emerson — “The Changing Complexion of American Congregations” — is published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

The study found that:

  • One-third of U.S. congregations were composed entirely of one race in 2012, down from nearly half of U.S. congregations in 1998.
  • Multiracial congregations constituted 12 percent of all U.S. congregations in 2012, up from 6 percent in 1998.
  • The percentage of Americans worshipping in multiracial congregations climbed to 18 percent in 2012, up from 13 percent in 1998.
  • Mainline Protestant and Evangelical Protestant churches have become more common in the count of multiracial congregations, but Catholic churches continue to show higher percentages of multiracial congregations. One in four Catholic churches was multiracial in 2012.
  • While whites are the head ministers in more than two-thirds (70 percent) of multiracial congregations, the percentage of those led by black clergy has risen to 17 percent, up from fewer than 5 percent in 1998.
  • Blacks have replaced Latinos as the most likely group to worship with whites. In the typical multiracial congregation, the percentage of black members rose to nearly a quarter in 2012, up from 16 percent in 1998. Meanwhile, Latinos in multiracial congregations dropped from 22 percent in 1998 to 13 percent in 2012.
  • The percentage of immigrants in multiracial congregations decreased from over 5 percent in 1998 to under 3 percent in 2012.

Read more at … https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=199850

DMIN & Wesley Seminary cohort in Transformational Leadership began their educational journey visiting #MLK birthplace, Ebenezer Baptist Church & Greater Traveler’s Rest Church where #MLK pastored.

Commentary by Prof. B: Below are two pictures from the first course I taught to our DMin in Transformational Leadership students. The course (LEAD 711: Foundations of Urban, Rural and Suburban Leadership) included visits to important #MLK historical sites as well as hearing from a diverse group of pastors.

DMin 2016 ATL Speakers from Poster copy

The first is a picture of our #WesleySem #DMIN #Leadership cohort visiting #MLK birthplace and hearing from @Ebenezer_ATL Church pastor #RaphaelWarnock.

While pictured below are our students @WesleySeminary #DMin in Transformational Leadership students when we began our program in 2016 by attending Greater Traveler’s Rest Church formerly pastored by #MartinLutherKingJr. Current pastor Rev. Dr. Dewey Smith (pictured) hosted a day of learning. @HOHATL #WesleySem

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#DMin DMin cohort Wesley Seminary LEAD 711 712 713 714 715 716

DE-CONVERSION & Why ministers abandon the Christian faith #BGCE

by Michael Hakmin Lee Ph.D., Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, Fellows colloquium, 12/18/17.

25 pastors who had been in ministry for 2+ years and who mostly came from a fundamentalist background were interviewed. To agree on terminology Dr. Lee used Paul Hiebert’s definition: a Christian is a person seeking “to follow Christ to the extent they know him.” [Paul G.Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985] p. 127.)

Insights:

  • Most who reconverted saw their Christianity as a “half-way” house that was a viable solution at the time that dissolved some of their problems and angst.
  • They saw their deconversion as a pursuit of truth.
  • There was an accumulation of doubt.

Major themes:

  1. Loss of confidence in biblical authority, in order:
    • Bible criticism,
    • Ethics in the bible,
    • Theological and hermeneutical divergence.
  2. Dissent from Christian teaching and values:
    • Hell and Christianity exclusivity
    • Science and Faith
  3. Disappointment with God and the Christian Experience
    • Efficacy of prayer and spiritual resources
    • The problem of evil
    • Provoking life struggles
    • Christian behavior
  4. Personal predisposition with characteristics of “openness to experience:”
    • Imaginativeness,
    • Sensitivity to inner feelings,
    • Perusal of new experiences,
    • Intellectual curiosity and
    • Readiness to reevaluate values.

See Kenneth Daniels book, Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary.

Also see Lewis Ray Rambo,

LEE, M. H. (0ADAD). Assessment Of Paul Hiebert’s Centered-Set Approach To The Category ‘Christian’. https://doi.org/10.2986/TREN.001-1127

DIVERSITY & A video introduction to LEAD 545 assignments on diversity & unity

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/22/17.

This is my video introduction to the assignments on how to create both diversity and unity in LEAD 545: Strategic Leadership and Management.  Be sure to read the syllabus and weekly instructions before watching my additional video introduction.

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.