FAITH SHARING & 5 Habits of What Makes Evangelism Good. #ScotMcKnight

Good evangelism has five common elements by SCOT MCKNIGHT, Christianity Today, 12/9/20.

Priscilla Pope-Levison’s new book she provides and discusses (chapter-length discussions) eight models, and here they are:

  1. Personal: one on one
  2. Small group: 8-12 for a focused study on the gospel
  3. Visitation: knocking on doors, neighbors, initiating conversations
  4. Liturgical: church calendar as opportunity to integrate gospeling
  5. Church growth: new ports of entry
  6. Prophetic: challenging to pursue gospel in word and deed and public
  7. Revival: organized crowd with music and evangelism and invitation and follow-up
  8. Media: using various media

Which is your most preferred model?

I will not on this blog go through each of these because I’m encouraging you to get ahold of this book, read it, and devour it. It could make a fantastic 6-8 week adult Bible class or Sunday School class. 

She treats each model with kind hands and careful definitions and fair evaluations. This is no book griping about #1 and #5 and #7 and instead suggesting we should all be part of #4 and knock it all off. No, she knows there’s good in each and God has used each. (Think of our posts now on missional theology: If God is the God of mission then God is at work in all the models.)

But what I thought was also fantastic about Priscilla’s book is how she ties it altogether into five major practices and habits of those who engage well in evangelism.

She uses the term “good” and so I add that the Hebrew is “tov” and this is what tov evangelism and tov evangelists look like. They practice five qualities. They are the “gold standard of an evangelistic endeavor.”

Thus, they…

  1. Practice hospitality
  2. Form relationships
  3. Live with integrity
  4. Bear the Christian message
  5. Root it all in a local Christian church.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/december/five-habits-of-what-makes-evangelism-good.html

FACILITIES & right-size sanctuaries: converting part into classrooms, welcome centers & prayer spaces can create intimacy in the once larger space. Look for ways to earn income from facilities… lease out portions of your facilities, create local business hubs, develop shared working spaces, etc.

What Kinds of Churches Will Survive the Pandemic?

Which churches will thrive, which will struggle, and what is the way forward?

… Look at ways to right-size sanctuaries. Converting part of the sanctuary into classrooms, welcome centers and prayer spaces can create intimacy in the once larger space. And look for ways to monetize facilities. My co-author Mark DeYmaz suggests ways churches can lease out portions of their facilities, create local business hubs, develop shared working spaces, etc. to increase income from aging buildings. – @BobWhitesel via @OutreachMag

Read the full article here … https://outreachmagazine.com/resources/54174-what-kinds-of-churches-will-survive-the-pandemic.html

FRIENDSHIP & Why Every Leader Needs a Barnabas Friend by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 10/10/19.

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Proverbs 18:24 depicts two types of friends:

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,

    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

The first type are those the NIV calls “unreliable friends.” In the Hebrew, rea`,it is defined more like a “companion” (ESV, HNB) that journeys with you because they benefit from your companionship.

Leaders will always encounter these type of people. These are the ones that partner with your leadership because of what they derive from the relationship. They get more than they give. And they are probably the majority of our partners in leadership.

The second type of friend, in Hebrew ahab, is one who “loves you as family.” Leaders will also encounter these people. They may be fewer and farther between, but they are evident because it is their nature to give to another rather than to take. Hang onto these relationships. They will be there with you through good times and more importantly bad times.

This proverb also suggests many of the first types of friends (companions) lead “to ruin.”

The second type of friends will “cling to you” (Hebrew dabeq) like family.

To help visualize (and identify) those friends who love you like family and will cling to you through difficult situations, we have only to look to the friendship exemplified by the New Testament disciple: Barnabas. His very name means son of encouragement. And, he was the one who encouraged skeptical disciples to accept the redeemed Saul, now named Paul.

In my life these people who have clung to me and stayed with me like family have been the greatest source of encouragement. They don’t seem to be the majority, maybe only 10 percent of the friends I know. However, I love them and value them.

The author of Proverbs reminds us to deepen our relationship with the “Barnabas friends” who will last forever.

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/why-every-leader-needs-a-friend-like-this/

FIGUREHEADS & When Americans think about a specific religion, here are some of the first people who come to mind. #PewResearch

BY ALEKSANDRA SANDSTROM AND BECKA A. ALPER, 3/17/20, Pew Research.

The survey, conducted Feb. 4 to 19, 2019, asked respondents to name the first person who comes to mind when they think about Catholicism, Buddhism, evangelical Protestantism, Islam, Judaism and atheism.

For three of the religions, Americans are most likely to name a figure from long ago: for Buddhism, Buddha; for Islam, the Prophet Muhammad; and for Judaism, Jesus. For the two Christian groups asked about, people are most likely to name a modern religious leader – for evangelical Protestantism, Billy Graham; and for Catholicism, the pope…

Asked about evangelical Protestantism, nearly half of Americans (46%) say “no one” or “don’t know” or do not answer the question. An additional 21% name Billy Graham, 5% each name Jesus and Martin Luther, and 9% name other religious leaders…

About half of respondents asked about Judaism name a person who appears in religious scripture, including Jesus (21%), Moses (13%) and Abraham (8%). And 7% name either a well-known historical figure, such as Anne Frank or Albert Einstein, or a celebrity such as Jerry Seinfeld. An additional 5% name someone they are personally acquainted with, and 4% say God.

Note: Here are the full responses and the survey’s methodology. Read more at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/17/when-americans-think-about-a-specific-religion-here-are-some-of-the-first-people-who-come-to-mind/

FAILURE & Researchers find that failing 15% of the time is the “sweet spot” for learning. #UnivOfArizona #Princeton #BrownUniv #UCLA

by Eric Mack, Inc. Magazine, 11/6/19.

…it turns out, there may be a sweet spot for failing, according to new research out from a team led by the University of Arizona with help from researchers at Brown University, Princeton, and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Their new study, out in the journal Nature Communications and titled “The Eighty Five Percent Rule for Optimal Learning,” makes the case that getting it wrong 15 percent of the time is actually the “sweet spot” for learning.

“These ideas that were out there in the education field–that there is this ‘zone of proximal difficulty,’ in which you ought to be maximizing your learning–we’ve put that on a mathematical footing,” said lead author and Arizona professor of psychology and cognitive science Robert Wilson, in a release.

“If you have an error rate of 15 percent or accuracy of 85 percent, you are always maximizing your rate of learning in these two-choice tasks,” Wilson said, adding that the 85 percent rule was also seen to hold in previous studies of animal learning.

…If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. 

“If you are taking classes that are too easy and acing them all the time, then you probably aren’t getting as much out of a class as someone who’s struggling but managing to keep up,” Wilson said.

Learning comes from challenges and challenges come with a risk of failure. What’s new is that we now know that risk should be at about 15 percent. 

FAILURE & Researchers find that failing 15% of the time is the “sweet spot” for learning. #UnivOfArizona #Princeton #BrownUniv #UCLA

by Eric Mack, Inc. Magazine, 11/6/19.

…it turns out, there may be a sweet spot for failing, according to new research out from a team led by the University of Arizona with help from researchers at Brown University, Princeton, and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Their new study, out in the journal Nature Communications and titled “The Eighty Five Percent Rule for Optimal Learning,” makes the case that getting it wrong 15 percent of the time is actually the “sweet spot” for learning.

“These ideas that were out there in the education field–that there is this ‘zone of proximal difficulty,’ in which you ought to be maximizing your learning–we’ve put that on a mathematical footing,” said lead author and Arizona professor of psychology and cognitive science Robert Wilson, in a release.

“If you have an error rate of 15 percent or accuracy of 85 percent, you are always maximizing your rate of learning in these two-choice tasks,” Wilson said, adding that the 85 percent rule was also seen to hold in previous studies of animal learning.

…If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. 

“If you are taking classes that are too easy and acing them all the time, then you probably aren’t getting as much out of a class as someone who’s struggling but managing to keep up,” Wilson said.

Learning comes from challenges and challenges come with a risk of failure. What’s new is that we now know that risk should be at about 15 percent. 

FEEDBACK & Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It? Research Says Do These 4 Things Instead.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell my church growth and health clients that I will be brutally honest with them and they must be prepared for direct and non-sugarcoated feedback. If they’re not willing to receive such feedback, then I can’t take them as a client. That is because I’ve learned over the years that without clear and honest feedback clients will misinterpret the severity of the situation. Below is research that explains the illusion of transparency bias.

Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It?

by Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab, Harvard Business Review, 10/8/19.

… Managers tend to inflate the feedback they give to their direct reports, particularly when giving bad news. And by presenting subpar performance more positively than they should, managers make it impossible for employees to learn, damaging their careers and, often, the company.

Previous research into this kind of feedback inflation has centered on the idea that managers deliberately sugarcoat tough messages for fear of retaliation, or to protect their employees from feeling bad about themselves. But our research shows that many managers deliver inflated feedback unintentionally, and in fact think they’ve been much more clear than is the case. These findings point to some simple ways to improve how managers impart criticism.

We believe that managers’ assumption that their direct reports understand what they mean is due to a common cognitive bias called the illusion of transparency, in which people are so focused on their own intense feelings and intentions that they overestimate the extent to which their inner worlds come across to others. As a result their words may be too vague to convey their true intent. The illusion of transparency is one of the most commoncauses of misunderstandings when we communicate with others…

What to Do About It

While it can be helpful to become aware of unintentional behaviors, overcoming them is notoriously difficult. Our research points to several ways to combat the illusion of transparency.

First, increase the frequency of feedback. As a manager, you can augment your annual appraisals with continuous reminders, ongoing training, and structured weekly or monthly “pulse checks” to break the discomfort that may be preventing you from communicating more clearly. Research has found that giving feedback more frequently makes feedback more accurate. This repetition will also help reinforce your message.

Firms should also promote a culture that encourages employees to request more candid feedback from their managers prior to appraisals. Failing that, firms can institute a formal process obligating them to do so.

… Ultimately, clarity and specificity of language are managers’ best tools. Use clear language and avoid phrases that could obscure your meaning. One phrase to avoid, for example, is “a real possibility,” which people interpret as conveying a likelihood of anywhere from 20%–80%. Also, ask your employee to paraphrase what you’ve told them to make sure they fully understand your message. Managers also need to actively encourage employees to tell them how they see their own performance. As a manager, ask open-ended questions like, “What am I not seeing here? What may I be overlooking?”

Employees themselves can dispel many incorrect assumptions by asking questions, or by requesting that managers use precise, explicit terms when delivering feedback. If your manager doesn’t ask you to rearticulate what they’ve told you, try using statements that begin, “So if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying…”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2019/10/are-you-sugarcoating-your-feedback-without-realizing-it?

FEEDBACK & Harvard Research Says If You Want to Improve Your Performance Don’t Ask for Feedback, Ask For Advice

by Scott Mautz, Inc. Magazine, 8/17/19.

The normal line of thinking goes that if you want to improve at something– let’s say it’s a key sales presentation you’ve just given– that you should ask the people you just gave it to for feedback. Seems reasonable.

But the Harvard researchers discovered that there’s a real problem with this approach. Feedback is often too vague to even be helpful. And in my experience, when you frame it as asking for feedback, people often default to being nice and not wanting to say what they really think. It’s human nature. But human nature doesn’t nurture in this case, it just glosses over.

The researchers say there’s a far better alternative if you want to get better at something–ask for advice.

Why asking for advice is better than asking for feedback.

In one study, the researchers asked 200 people to give input on a job application, asking some to give feedback on the application and others to give advice. Those who gave feedback were vague and glossed over flaws in the application, giving only praise.

Those who were asked to give advice gave more critical and actionable input. In fact, advice-givers gave comments on a whopping 34 percent more areas of improvement and gave 56 percent more ways to improve. Three more studies by the researchers produced similar conclusions.

The studies also highlighted another problem with asking for advice–it’s associated with evaluations.

Imagine you just got off stage from giving that sales presentation I mentioned earlier. You then pick out an audience member to give you feedback. What happens? They immediately go into evaluation mode rather than picturing how you could do that presentation better in the future. So their comments migrate to observations of how well you did something (or not), in their minds articulating a mental letter grade they’re giving you.

But if you asked for advice instead, it puts the audience member in a different frame of mind. Now, implicit in the fact that you’re asking for advice, is the fact that you’re open to getting better.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/harvard-research-says-if-you-want-to-improve-your-performance-dont-ask-for-feedback-ask-for-advice.html

FACILITIES & Megachurch Expands Reach by Downsizing Main Facility

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  I’ve written a chapter in one of my books about how “over building” usually stunts church growth (you can read that chapter, the “The 7 Don’ts & 7 Do’s of Building” here).  Below is a recent story about how over building has thwarted one church’s missional flexibility.

(Download the chapter from my book by clicking on this link > BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – GROWTH BY ACCIDENT Missteps with New Facilities 2. If you like the insights please support publisher and author by buying a copy here. Excerpted from Growth by Accident – Death by Planning: How Not to Kill a Growing Church, Abingdon Press, 2004, pp. 76-80.)

“Southern Baptist megachurch to downsize its campus by 90 percent.”

by Bob Allen, Baptist News Service, 9/10/19.

First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, once one of America’s most influential megachurches, determined Sept. 8 to downsize its downtown property footprint by 90 percent in a cost-cutting move the senior pastor described as necessary for the church’s long-term survival.

Under the leadership of pastors and co-pastors Homer Lindsay Sr., Homer Lindsay Jr. and Jerry Vines, First Baptist Church earned the nickname Miracle of Downtown Jacksonville after buying up real estate left behind when department stores and smaller retailers started relocating into suburban malls in the 1970s.

Today the church covers 10 city blocks with buildings including a sanctuary built to seat nearly 10,000 people that was dedicated in 1993.

image.pngHeath Lambert, named last year as sole senior pastor of First Baptist, said once a blessing, the congregation’s central location has become a curse as the city continues to expand farther away from its urban core.

“If you want to get people to come to First Baptist Church on Sunday morning, you have to get them to do two things they never do,” Lambert said during his Sunday morning sermon. “You have to get them to come to church, and you have to get them to come downtown.”

Lambert said that after 20 years of declining membership, the downtown church needs about one-tenth of its current space. Plans approved by the congregation on Sunday call for consolidating all operations into one city block.

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“What we can’t do on one block, we won’t do,” the pastor said.

The plan includes borrowing $30 million to renovate Hobson Auditorium, the original 1,500-seat worship space built after a fire destroyed much of downtown Jacksonville in 1901, and to replace other buildings now used for offices with state-of-the-art construction.

Lambert said the church will eventually sell off downtown property and move toward a multi-site church model. The church currently has a south campus in Nocatee, which moved into its own building after meeting at Ponte Vedra High School for a decade in 2019.

“Instead of being the big church downtown that we ask everybody from all over to come to, we want to be a church for the whole city,” Lambert said. “Instead of asking our city to come to our church, we’re going to take our church to the city.”

Read more here … https://baptistnews.com/article/southern-baptist-megachurch-to-downsize-its-campus-by-90-percent/#.XXkddC3MywQ

FAITH & C.S. Lewis’ observation that it is: “Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” 

[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

Read more at … https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/articles/why-cs-lewis-mere-christianity-still-speaks-today.aspx?utm_content=bufferb7f0d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=CSLewis

FALLING AWAY & Did C.S. Lewis mean to imply that Susan did not reach Aslan’s Kingdom? Or did he suggest there was more to her story?

“A Plea to Narnia Fans” by Jeremy Lott, November 18, 2013.

… Susan is one of the four children, including brothers Peter and Edmund and sister Lucy, who find their way through a dimensional portal in the back of a wardrobe into the world of Narnia. Their discovery kicks off the seven-book bestselling children’s series.

She becomes Queen Susan the Gentle, one of four kings and queens of that land on the other side of the wardrobe, ruling it for a very long time. Yet when it comes time to defend Narnia in The Last Battle, Lewis’s take on the apocalypse, Queen Susan is unexpectedly AWOL.

Peter explains “shortly and gravely” that “my sister Susan is no longer a friend of Narnia.” Other Narnia kids pillory Susan in her absence for a number of things, including denying the reality of Narnia itself and embracing a permanent adolescence which excludes everything “except nylons and lipstick and invitations.”

…You see, children in the 1950s and 1960s read The Last Battle and were concerned about Queen Susan’s absence. They wrote directly to professor Lewis and he wrote them back.

What Lewis said to his favorite readers was that he hadn’t meant to suggest Susan was damned, just that her story diverged from the one he was trying to tell.

Lewis wrote to one young reader that Susan was written out of the story not because “I have no hope of Susan’s ever getting into Aslan’s country” — that is, Heaven — “but because I have a feeling that the story of her journey would be longer and more like a grown-up novel than I wanted to write.”

Lewis admitted fallibility and issued a startling invitation: “But I may be mistaken. Why not try it yourself?”

Ford calls Susan’s story “one of the most important unfinished tales of the Chronicles.”

Read more at … https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2013/11/19/a_plea_to_narnia_fans.html

Jeremy Lott is editor-at-large of RealClearPolitics and author, most recently, of William F. Buckley.

FORGIVENESS & Catherine Marshall on the Aughts and the Anys of Matt. 18:18.

“I’ll Forgive You, If …” by Anne Ferrell Tata, CBN, 2017.

…Catherine Marshall in her 1974 book, Something More, wrote a chapter titled “Forgiveness: The Aughts and the Anys.” The Chapter references Matthew 18:18…

The chapter addresses our need as Christians to fulfill Christ’s expectation to forgive, period. Like many of us, Catherine Marshall admits to attaching conditions to her forgiveness. She says, “if the other person saw the error of his ways, was properly sorry, and admitted his guilt, then yes, as a Christian, I was obligated to forgive him.”

She soon discovered Jesus’ words in Mark 11 said something entirely different. Jesus said,

“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 (KJV)

“Any” meant anybody and everybody. Catherine Marshall’s commentary on this truth is fascinating as she unpacks the notion of our prayers being hindered by our un-forgiveness.

She references South African-born minister David du Plessis’ explanation of the Matthew 18 verse. He explains that when we hang on to judgment of another person, we bind that person to the very conditions we want to see changed. By our un-forgiveness, we stand between that person and the Holy Spirit’s work in convicting and ultimately helping him. 

Dr. du Plessis says, “By stepping out of the way through releasing somebody from our judgment, we’re not necessarily saying, ‘He’s right and I’m wrong.’ Forgiveness means, ‘He can be as wrong as wrong can be, but I’ll not be the judge.’ Forgiveness means that I’m no longer binding a certain person on earth. It means withholding judgment.”

A Biblical example is from Acts 7 when Stephen was being stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus stood watching, holding the garments of the witnesses. The Bible tells us Stephen’s response to his attack is one of forgiveness,

“Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Acts 7:60 (HCSV).

Just two chapters later, Saul is on his way to Damascus when he encounters Jesus, and his world is turned upside down. Stephen, by releasing the group from his judgment stepped out of the way, therefore allowing the Holy Spirit to work. 

Read more at …


FACILITIES & Minnesota church flipper gives empty religious buildings new life

FAITH & New research suggests people who see God as someone they can talk to, take the Bible literally, “because this is how the Bible presents God.” #BaylorUniv

by Sarah Watts, Forbes Magazine, 2/22/19.

A new study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion has some interesting findings about gender and God.

…Kent and co-author Christopher M. Pieper, PhD analyzed data from nearly 1400 respondents who participated in the Baylor Religion Survey. In addition to being asked about frequency of church attendance and frequency of prayer, respondents were also asked questions about attachment, such as whether they felt like God is loving and caring, or whether they felt He was distant and uninterested in their day-to-day life. Respondents were also asked questions about Biblical literalism, including whether they believed the Bible contained any human error, and whether it should be taken word-for-word on all subjects as a historical text.

more so than gender, researchers found that Biblical literalism is tied to a person’s attachment to God. In other words, the more personally attached to God a respondent was, male or female, the more likely he or she was to interpret the Bible literally.

People who take the Bible literally tend to percieve of God more as a person who can be interacted with,” says Kent. “You can talk to God, he hears you, he talks back. Our argument is essentially that in order to sustain a personal relationship with God as a person, one has to take the Bible literally because this is how the Bible presents God. He’s a being that talks to prophets and prophets talk back.”

Biblical literalism is also not exclusively tied to any religious group, Kent says.

“People who look at religion tend to associate literalism with evangelicals,” says Kent. “What we found is that if we break out each of these religious groups – Evangelicals, Protestants, Catholics – we found that you have literalists in each of these categories. There’s more of a relationship between literalism and close personal attachment to God than there is to denomination.”

Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahwatts/2019/02/22/new-research-tells-us-who-is-most-likely-to-take-the-bible-literally/#4f53662f7eab

SHARING FAITH & This can fix churchgoers ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith: #Waypoint5, #Waypoint6 & #Waypoint7 …

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Growing in faith for most is a journey. And, the important parts of that journey may be when a person begins to perceive the uniqueness and expectations of Jesus’ Good News.

Customarily it is His followers (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 2 Peter 3:9, Luke 8:39) who should be prepared to share His Good News with their friends, as Peter reminds us:

Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. 1 Peter 3:15-18

To help His followers understand each elements of faith, I dedicated three chapters in my book Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey.

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Spiritual Waypoints [104KB]

Those chapters can be accessed and read online here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/spritual-waypoints-how-to-help-people-at-waypoints-10-9-8-7-spiritual-transformation/

Or download the chapter here (and be sure to support the publisher and the author by purchasing a copy if you enjoy it): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 & 7

Below is an article that reminds us that being able to clearly and helpfully share our faith is critical.

Anglicans churchgoers have ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith

Christian Today staff writer

… The report from the Church’s Evangelism Task Group and Evangelism and Discipleship Team highlights research showing that while 70 per cent of churchgoers could think of someone they could invite to church, between 85 and 90 per cent of these said they had no intention of doing so.

‘The problem was not the worshipper’s local church but the main issue the research highlighted was a total lack of confidence in talking about faith at all and with anyone,’ the report says.

However, it says, ‘small behavioural changes’ from the 1 million Anglican churchgoers could make a huge difference.

‘If one additional person in 50 from our regular attenders invited someone to a church event and subsequently they started attending it would totally reverse our present decline. Nationally the church would grow by 16,000 people per year, offsetting the current net loss of 14,000,’ the report argues.

It commends the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative and calls for the development of a ‘culture of invitation’ across dioceses with a view to encouraging churchgoers to invite people to events. It also calls for 1,000 new evangelists to be engaged by 2025, saying: ‘we believe having more evangelists in dioceses and local churches encourages more of the million to do their part in witnessing confidently in their lives’.

Read more at … https://www.christiantoday.com/article/anglicans-churchgoers-have-total-lack-of-confidence-in-speaking-about-faith/131645.htm

BIBLE & What the Bible says about fear (and how we should react)

by Jay Lowder, Christian Broadcasting Company, 10/27/18.

… The Bible speaks quite a bit about fear – more than 700 times to be exact. 2 Timothy 1:7 says,

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)

… I believe fear is one of his enemy’s primary tools used against believers to create doubt and faithlessness. Even Jesus said in Matthew 10:28,

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (NKJV)

… In Judges 7, as Gideon is preparing to battle the Midianites, God makes it clear He wants the Israelites to credit Him for the victory. So, God decides to wean Gideon’s army. The first cut? Any man who is afraid (Judges 7:3). With that, 22,000 men packed their bags and went home out of fear.

… We all have fear. The enemy wants to paralyze us with it, but God wants us to walk by faith and instill courage in us to follow Him. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6,

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (NKJV)

Copyright © 2018 Jay Lowder. Read more at … http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/what-are-you-afraid-of

FAITH & Watch this video zoom all the way into the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Before you watch this short video recreation by the European Southern Observatory of a star system being sucked into the middle of a supermassive black hole that lies at the center of our galaxy, consider what Isaiah said, “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” Isaiah 40:26.

Then, just stop for a minute and wonder at the power of God before you finish reading how Isaiah ends this passage with a familiar and oft quoted verse of reassurance.

“O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:27-29

FREE WILL & How To Run an Organization With (Almost) No Rules & Avoid “Boarding School Aspects” of Leadership

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve analyzed/advised mega-churches to micro-churches.  Among the recurring themes in healthy churches is the leader’s ability to encourage the Holy Spirit to develop in volunteers, staff and congregants.  This doesn’t mean an organization devoid of rules, but rather an environment where the Holy Spirit is encouraged to direct Christians rather than the organization directing them.

For example, I worked for an organization that dictated (but eventually only strongly urged) its employees to dress up when at work. While the outside world saw a nicely dressed and united workforce, among the employees there was almost universal contempt and disconnection with the administration.  Semler points out such policies reflect “boarding schools aspects” of leadership rather than.  Watch this insightful TED talk to understand why and then consider a more Spirit-led alternative.

Ricardo Semler, “How To Run A Company With (Almost) No Rules” (by , Forbes Magazine, 6/30/18).

  • Brazilian CEO Ricardo Semler doesn’t believe in rules. At least, he doesn’t believe companies need to impose a host of strict guidelines in order to run efficiently. In fact, he thinks employees will work better if they don’t have to report their vacation days or be told what to wear. He wants to dissolve what he calls the “boarding school aspects” of business, just to see what happens. In his TED talk, Semler dives into what a company with fewer rules would look like, and how it would affect corporate and employee success.

Watch more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2018/06/30/7-ted-talks-that-will-inspire-you-to-be-a-better-leader

FOLLOWERSHIP & Why Managing Up Is A Skill Set You Need

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’m currently writing a course for a Doctor of Ministry program on interim ministry. An interim leader usually finds oneself in a unique position. They are accountable to stakeholders. But they also are accountable to long-serving informal leaders who they must influence by managing up. Here’s a helpful introduction to the principle via an interview witH Mary Abbajay’s author of the new book MANAGING UP: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.

By Roger Dean Duncan, Forbes Magazine, 5/27/18.

… as an alternative to the futile search for the perfect boss, you might consider working better with the boss you have.

That’s the premise of Mary Abbajay’s new book MANAGING UP: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.

Rodger Dean Duncan: There seem to be countless books, TED talks, workshops and YouTube videos on how to lead and manage downward. But your book provides one of the few treatments on how to manage upward. Why is there such an imbalance?

Mary Abbajay: The simple truth is that in America, nobody wants to think of himself as a “follower.” We are obsessed with leadership. It’s part of our cultural and sociological narrative and identity. We talk incessantly about leadership. We teach it, we preach it, we spend more than $14 billion a year on it. But we rarely spend much time discussing or validating the other (and equally important) side of the relationship: followership…

Duncan: Most every leader was once a follower. What are the two or three key things a follower should learn (and practice) in preparation for being an effective leader?

Abbajay: Leadership in the 21st century is much more about influence than authority, so learning to appreciate and adapt to people with different perspectives, priorities, and personalities is a key skill to develop. Managing up allows you to practice navigating and influencing people who approach work differently than you. Learn how to look beyond your own needs and perspectives and consider the needs and perspectives of others. If nothing else, by managing up, you will learn what kind of manager you want to be and what kind of manager you don’t want to be.

Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/rodgerdeanduncan/2018/05/26/why-managing-up-is-a-skillset-you-need/#57cadd9637fd

FAILURE & 2 life-changing lessons John Wesley learned from it. Article by @Bob Whitesel in #BiblicalLeadershipMagazine

Turning trials into triumphs created a degree of fame for the Wesleys. John, who had become a teaching fellow at Lincoln College in Oxford, came to the attention of James Oglethorpe, whose efforts for prison reform prompted the Oxford prison ministry of the Wesleys and their friends.

Now Oglethorpe had a bigger vision. He was a founder of the colony of Georgia, covering roughly the northern half of the modern-day state of Georgia. It was there Oglethorpe envisioned a haven for people who had been imprisoned in debtors’ prisons. In this vast colony, there was no official Church of England or designated pastor. In 1735 John Wesley became Oglethorpe’s choice to pastor the first church in the colony.

To Wesley, this was an opportunity to experience Christ more deeply by preaching to others in the unpretentious, natural environs of the New World.1 Little did he realize this experience would bring one of his greatest trials.

This church launch was well organized. Financial support was secured in advance and a meetinghouse in Savannah was designed. As they embarked from Gravesend, England, John felt everything was in order. Yet, in hindsight, John would recall his life was not in order spiritually.

Accompanying them on the voyage were German Christians called Moravians, after the region from which they came. They believed humility coupled with quiet reflection upon Scriptures and Christ was helpful in strengthening faith. John had the opportunity to observe their method firsthand when the ship encountered several unusually destructive storms. As one relentless storm dismasted the ship, hardened sailors abandoned their posts and cried out to God for mercy.

John, too, had a fear of death, which had developed prior to his Oxford years when he attended Charterhouse School in London. A hospital was housed in the same building as the school, and young John daily watched individuals die, some in comfort, others in fear.

As the ship appeared to be sinking with all hands doomed, the Moravians showed not fear but trust. They sang and praised God with a confidence and calm that moved John to declare it as one of most glorious things he had ever seen.2

At the same time, John’s reaction to the ship’s peril showed him he was no different from the fainthearted sailors. He too was “unwilling to die,” shaking with fright and crying out to God to save him.3 This was not the example he wanted to show to those who traveled with him. Nonetheless, that was his experience at this stage of his life.4

The prophet Ezekiel had a similar experience.

Exiled to Babylon as a young man of twenty, Ezekiel, like Wesley, had been trained to follow in his father’s footsteps as a priest. But in Babylon, Ezekiel found himself in a new land with a new role. When Ezekiel was thirty, about the same age as Wesley when he went to Georgia, God revealed His power to the prophet in a vision (Ezekiel 1:4—3:15). That vision made Ezekiel realize the inevitability of judgment upon each person for their sins. Later, God showed Ezekiel another vision, indicating that though His people felt as good as dead, God could recreate them as living, healthy people.

He said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.’ (Ezekiel 37:4–6)

John Wesley must have felt the same way. Though he had had early success in ministry, when the threat of death came near he found himself empty, discouraged, and unprepared.

This might have been how Ezekiel felt looking upon the disheartened Israelites who had been deported into Babylonian captivity. Yet just as God gave Ezekiel a vision of a revived nation, John would soon be revived too. In hindsight, John would describe these times of discouragement as the product of his fair-weather faith, stating:

I went to America to convert the Indians, but O! Who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near, but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled.5

From these stories emerge at least two lessons.

1. Early success can lead to overconfidence. 

Some people encounter early successes they are never able to replicate. It’s important not to live in the past or on past glory. The lesson for John, and for every enthusiast, is God may give you early triumphs only for them to be followed by trials. But as God reminded Ezekiel, God can again bring about triumphs in our ministries and in our souls if we allow our faith to mature.

During Wesley’s life, he wrestled several more times with fair-weather faith. Though he felt like his life and career had dried up, he discovered fair-weather faith could be reinvigorated by God.

2. Fear of death can test our readiness to be judged for our life. 

The Scriptures abound with reminders death is not the end but a gateway to eternal life (Psalm 39:1–7; John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

From the stories of John Wesley and Ezekiel, take the lesson that a fair-weather faith must be replaced by “a mind calmed by the love of God.”6

Consider what God’s Word says about this:

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff—they protect me. (Psalm 23:4)

Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life. (John 5:24)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

Consider these questions

Have you found yourself thinking back to past successes, maybe even more than you dream about future opportunities? Recall a time when you had a spiritual breakthrough. How did it make you feel? What lessons did you learn?

Now picture in your mind a future success that could make you feel the same way. In the future, use this rule of thumb: for each minute you spend thinking about past successes, spend two minutes dreaming about what God can do.

Ask yourself, “When have I been near death, and how did I feel about the prospect of standing before God?” Were you timid? Were you fearful? Were you happy? Wesley would write years later to a friend, “Do you sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus? Do you never shrink at death? Do you steadily desire to depart and to be with Christ?”7

Excerpted fromEnthusiast!: Finding a Faith That Fills,by Bob Whitesel (Wesleyan Publishing 2018). 

1. John Wesley, “Letter to Dr. Burton,” October 10, 1735, The Letters of John Wesley,The Wesley Center Online, http:// wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-letters-of-john-wesley/ wesleys-letters-1735/.

2. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, vol. 18, eds. W. Reginald Ward and Richard P. Heitzenrater (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1988), 143.

3. Ibid., 140.

4. Ibid., 169. John experienced other terrifying storms on the voyage, as well as in America, all resulting in the fright that led him to ask himself, “How is it that thou hadst no faith?”

5. John Wesley, The Heart of John Wesley’s Journal(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008), 29.

6. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley,vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 22.

7. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 499.

Photo source: istock

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