MUSIC & Jesus, Country Music, and the Spiritual Classics.

by Tom Crenshaw, Presbyterian & Vineyard pastor, Certified Missional Coach, 1/25/22.

What am I going to write about? Each morning I wake up early with the goal of writing something worth reading, something that will encourage you, challenge you, and hopefully point you to Jesus. Sometimes words come easy, and I know right off what I want to say. Sometimes, however, I struggle, and I am not sure what to write or where to begin.

This morning was one of those days. I lay in bed wondering what to share and the thought of music came to mind. Not just any music, but country music and specifically the spiritual side of country music.
Those who know me, are aware that I am passionate enthusiast of classic country music. I’ve attended concerts of Reba McEntire, Don Williams, Randy Travis, Merle Haggard, Travis Tritt, Brooks and Dunn, and my favorite concert of all, George Strait’s Farewell Tour. There is something about country music that speaks to me. I suspect it’s the stories in the music that moves my heart.

I have been rewatching Ken Burns 8 part documentary on Country Music, and if you haven’t seen it, it is must watching. I promise you that whether you enjoy country music or not, watching this documentary will give you a new appreciation for this music genre. I bet by the time you finish watching it, some of you will be up and dancing to Boot ‘Scootin’ Boogie by Brooks and Dunn.

But as I lay awake this morning, I started reflecting on country songs that carry a spiritual message, ones that have drawn people closer to Jesus. I scrolled through a number of songs, listened to a few of them- and while I knew most of them, there were a few that were new to me. Having done so, I came up with “Crenshaw’s Country Spiritual Classics,” songs that I thought you would enjoy, but more importantly that would point you to Jesus.

They include Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus Take the Wheel,” recently voted the 4th best country song of the decade and the song that kicked off her career as a country music super star. Also on the list is one of my favorites, “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis whose music career was sadly cut short by a stroke. Included on my list is Brooks and Dunn’s , powerful rendition of “Believe,” and Alabama’s “Angels Among Us.” On that list is Steve Wariner’s “Holes in the Floor of Heaven,” one of my all-time favorites. And who could forget the gospel classics, “The Old Rugged Cross” and “The Family Bible” by two of country’s greatest singers, the late Johnny Cash and George Jones?

I can guarantee listening to Vince Gill sing “Go Rest High on That Mountain” will bring tears to your eyes. It was written for the funeral of the late Keith Whitely who died far too young, and it was sung at the funeral of George Jones by Vince and Patty Loveless (bring the tissues). Josh Turner, a strong believer, has two of my favorites on the list, “The Long Black Train” and “Me and God.” George Strait has a powerful rendition of “I Saw God Today,” and included on my list is “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts
I listened to a few songs that I had never heard before that are worth listening to: Brad Paisley’s “When I Get Where I’m Going,” John Michael Montgomery’s “The Little Girl,” “New Again” by Sara Evans and Brad Paisely, “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott and the Scott family, “Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood and one I especially loved, “When I Get Where I am Going,” by Brad Paisely and Dolly Parton.

And when you have listened to all of them, I suggest the following: Garth Brooks, “Unanswered Prayer,” Merle Haggard, “Pray”, Tammy Wynette, “Precious Memories,” Willie Nelson, “Uncloudy Days,” The Carter Family, “Can the Circle be Unbroken,” Dolly Parton, “He’s Alive,” Kris Kristofferson, “Why Me Lord,” Hank Williams, “I Saw the Light,” and the all-time country classic, “The Great Speckled Bird” by Roy Acuff.

That’s enough to get your day started with a little “singspiration.” Let me know what you think about my choices, and be sure and include your all time spiritual country classics.

MERGERS & If you do not sell you church buildings & start over by building new; within five years, your total attendance will be less than the larger of the two merging congregations.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. I have facilitated many mergers in my three+ decade career of coaching churches. And I’ve come to a conclusion that:

In a merger if you do not sell you church buildings & start over by building new; within five years, your total attendance drop to less than the larger of the two merging congregations.

Bob Whitesel PhD

I was encouraged the other day when one of my former clients sent me this note. He said,

“I’ll close with a statement from somebody I found to be my friend when he told two merging congregations; ‘(In a merger) if you do not sell you church buildings & then build new; within five years, your total attendance will be less than todays larger congregation.’ FYI = True words. Came true ☹! Today, the Pastor’s bible study has about three people & the attendance on Sunday’s averages 15 to 20 people in a sanctuary/balcony with seating for 300!” Chuck Miller, church board member.

MINISTERIAL CAREERS & Archbishop of Canterbury says pastors are ‘hard-working, normal people’ rather than ‘depressing’ depictions seen in TV dramas.

Rogues or idiots’: Justin Welby condemns TV portrayal of clergy.

by Harriet Sherwood, The UK Guardian Newspaper, 11/21.

… fictional depictions of vicars were “depressing”, Justin Welby told the National Farmers’ Union. Departing from the text of his speech, Welby said he had “got into” watching Clarkson’s Farm on television during the pandemic.

He told the audience: “Maybe for you watching Jeremy Clarkson feels a bit like for me watching anything with a vicar in it. Either you can’t stand it or you get completely addicted. I generally find depictions of vicars on TV to be depressing – they are portrayed as rogues or idiots … the reality is very different – it is actually of hard-working normal people, caring deeply about what they do and working all the hours there are to do it.”

Welby has said that being a parish priest, for seven years in rural Warwickshire, was the most stressful job he had done. He was ordained as a priest after 11 years working in the oil industry. “The hardest work I’ve ever done, and the most stressful, was as a parish priest – mainly because it was isolated, insatiably demanding and I was on the whole working without close colleagues – and that wears people down,” he told the Church of England’s General Synod in 2017

Read more at … https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/24/rogues-or-idiots-justin-welby-condemns-tv-portrayal-of-clergy?

MINISTERIAL CAREERS & Archbishop of Canterbury says pastors are ‘hard-working, normal people’ rather than ‘depressing’ depictions seen in TV dramas.

Rogues or idiots’: Justin Welby condemns TV portrayal of clergy.

by Harriet Sherwood, The UK Guardian Newspaper, 11/21.

… fictional depictions of vicars were “depressing”, Justin Welby told the National Farmers’ Union. Departing from the text of his speech, Welby said he had “got into” watching Clarkson’s Farm on television during the pandemic.

He told the audience: “Maybe for you watching Jeremy Clarkson feels a bit like for me watching anything with a vicar in it. Either you can’t stand it or you get completely addicted. I generally find depictions of vicars on TV to be depressing – they are portrayed as rogues or idiots … the reality is very different – it is actually of hard-working normal people, caring deeply about what they do and working all the hours there are to do it.”

Welby has said that being a parish priest, for seven years in rural Warwickshire, was the most stressful job he had done. He was ordained as a priest after 11 years working in the oil industry. “The hardest work I’ve ever done, and the most stressful, was as a parish priest – mainly because it was isolated, insatiably demanding and I was on the whole working without close colleagues – and that wears people down,” he told the Church of England’s General Synod in 2017

Read more at … https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/24/rogues-or-idiots-justin-welby-condemns-tv-portrayal-of-clergy?

MULTICULTURAL & Steps to grow multicultural congregations (& reconciliation too) #HealthyChurchBook #reMIXbook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I created a new typology for understanding multicultural churches: The 5 Types of Multicultural Churches and ranked each based on how well they create reconciliation (to God) and reconciliation (to one another). See my address to academics and popular articles on this here:

MULTICULTURAL & 8 Steps to Transitioning to 1 of 5 Models of a Multicultural Church #GCRNJournal by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., The Great Commission Research Journal, Biola University, 3/1/17.

UNITY & 5 ways church unity creates a powerful influence in your city by Bob Whitesel, chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity” in

re;MIX Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press, 2017).

The Church as a Mosaic: Exercises for Cultural Diversity, A Guest Post by Dr. Bob Whitesel (Dr. Bob Whitesel explores what it would look like for the church to be variety of ethnicities and culturesoverview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, Christianity Today, 2/10/14.

If Reconcilation are the goals, then one of the best strategies is to integrate a church rather than just plant or support an autonomous congregation (and in the push both congregations apart).

In the chapter I contributed to the book, Gospel after Christendom: New voices, New cultures, New expressions (ed. Bolger, Baker Academic Books, 2012), that before St. Thomas’s Church in Sheffield, England became England’s largest multicultural congregation … it was first a multicultural merger between a small Baptist church and a small Church of England congregation.

The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.

And, with so many small struggling mono-cultural congregations, the idea of merging two homogeneous congregations to create a multicultural congregation needs to be the strategy of more churches and denominations.

The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.

See my book The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013) for ideas and the chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity.” You can read an overview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, in Christianity Today.

Also, read this article for more ideas:

Integrating Sunday Morning Church Service — A Prayer Answered

by Sandhya Dirks, National Public Radio, Weekend Edition, 8/11/18.

… Which brings us to Pastor Kyle Brooks and Pastor Bernard Emerson. They knew creating an inter-racial church was not going to be easy, but they kept kicking the idea around. They would take long walks through Oakland’s Dimond District and dream about it out loud. Maybe at some point in the future, they thought.

Then a year ago, Neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and they felt like they could no longer wait.

First, they had to break it to their congregations.

“I saw it on facebook, and instantly I typed back, ‘oh my god, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for,’” said LaSonya Brown, who had been attending Emerson’s church, The Way, for about a year. “I’ll be the first one to join,” she said.

Brown was raised in a black church with only two white people in it. One was her godfather, who had married into the black community, the other was a white woman who would “speak in tongues, and then translate the tongue.”

“I never knew her name, but I’ll never forget her,” Brown said. Despite it being different than what she had known before, Brown welcomed the idea of an inclusive congregregation. “I think it was something that I wanted, but I didn’t realize that I wanted it until I saw his post,” she said.

At first she thought it was going to happen instantly, just everyone showing up to church together. But it is not that easy to flip the switch on hundreds of years of segregated worship.

“It’s much more complicated than that,” Brown said. “You don’t think that your life is different than somebody else,” but it can be. In an ideal world, she said, people want to think about what they have in common and not their differences.

But we do not live in that ideal world of race relations. “There’s a lot of things that we don’t do in common,” she said. “But we do want to know how to be together.”

Each church individually went through months of workshops and classes, owning up to their own fears about what merging would mean.

Many people in Pastor Brooks’ white congregation were afraid of being uncomfortable. There was a feeling of discomfort around everything from different hymns, to the service being in a different neighborhood, to different styles of worship. There was also discomfort in having to face up to their responsibility, as white people, in ongoing American racism. Everyone in the church was excited about the merger, but that did not make it easy.

Pastor Emerson’s congregation was also supportive, and not just because they are largely family. The black congregants of The Way had different fears, fears that they might not be welcomed. Emerson said some of them asked, “will they accept us for who we are?”

Read more at … https://www.npr.org/2018/08/11/637552132/integrating-sunday-morning-church-service-a-prayer-answered

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

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

MUSIC & The impact of the faith & music of DMX

by T.C. Moore, Religion News Service, 4/14/21

The Gospel of John tells the story of the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist, describing him as “the voice crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord,’” paving the way for Jesus the Nazarene.

Hence, his other, lesser-known title: John the Forerunner. John’s fearlessness and bold announcement of the coming of the Messiah tilled the soil of hardened hearts and planted the seeds Jesus would cultivate into his world-changing kingdom of God movement.

Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, was my John the Forerunner.

In the wilderness of my gang-involved teens, DMX was a voice unlike any other, piercing my defenses and opening me up to the work of God that would eventually convert me into a devoted follower of Jesus.

DMX burst onto the hip-hop scene in 1998 with an utterly unique debut album, “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot.” It was at once a raw testament to DMX’s story of suffering and survival while also sounding a faith-filled and hopeful note.

It wasn’t as if God was a stranger to hip-hop lyrics: Tupac Shakur, whose posthumous 1996 album “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory” depicted the rapper on a cross on its cover, had often invoked God and heaven, to say nothing of the “Five Percent” theology that pervaded so much of East Coast rap.

But what “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” had that no other could claim was a distinct and overt Christian — maybe even charismatic — spirituality. DMX spoke directly with God in “The Convo,” in a lament worthy of Job (“Why you chose the hood for me?”) and wrestled with satanic temptation in “Damien” as Jesus did in the wilderness. “The Snake, the Rat, the Cat, the Dog / how you gonna see him if you livin’ in a fog?”

DMX wrote hauntingly about death, summoning the anguish of Jesus praying passionately in the Garden of Gethsemane. “You give me the Word / and only ask that I interpret / and give me the eyes / that I may recognize the Serpent.”

The only child of a schizophrenic single mother, I’d experienced more than my fair share of abuse and neglect. For a teenager wrestling with his own inner demons, DMX opened up a way out of the game through faith. If he could loft his questions about the problem of evil directly at God and rebuke the devil who tempted him to sin, maybe I could too. “Somebody’s knocking / should I let him in? / Lord, we’re just starting / but where will it end?”

Later that year, DMX dropped “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood,” which, like “Hell Is Hot,” topped the charts. When the criminal community to which I’d fled for safety began to unravel and my own choices landed me in one too many potentially deadly situations, the lyrics of “Slippin’” hit me like prophecy: “See, to live is to suffer. But to survive, well, that’s to find meaning in the suffering.”

About this time, my childhood friend Nate invited me to his baptism at a Pentecostal church. I heard God’s voice through the pastor. It called me like the voice of God in DMX’s music. After I was baptized, I encountered a new version of myself. On repeat on my Sony Discman, meanwhile, DMX was telling the story of a prodigal come home: “My child, I’m here as I’ve always been / it is you who went away and are back again,” he said on “Ready to Meet Him.” I tagged my first Bible with a sketch of myself drenched in blood like the cover of that album.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/04/14/dmx-was-my-john-the-forerunner/?utm_source=

MINDSET & 7 questions that rewire your brain for success.

by Debbie King, Inc. Magazine, 2/4/21.

…start by noticing how you feel. When you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, ask yourself these questions:

1. Why am I choosing to feel this way?

This question makes clear that how you feel is a choice. It creates an opening for change…

2. How do I want to feel?

Asking how you want to feel can jolt you into awareness that you have a choice. If you’re frustrated because you or someone else missed a deadline, you may feel justified because you’re thinking, “This will damage our relationship with the manager or client.” But it’s this thought that creates the feeling of frustration, not the person…

3. What am I making this mean?

This question helps you see that you’re the one assigning meaning to every situation and it’s up to you to decide what that meaning is. For example, if an employee quits, you could make it mean “I’m not a good leader.” But does it serve you to think that?..

4. What else could this mean?

The primitive part of the brain is quick to imagine the worst-case scenario in order to keep you safe, but its judgment is often wrong. This question helps you imagine other possibilities…

5. What if I did know what to do?

Asking this is especially useful when you feel overwhelmed, uncertain, or worried. For example, you lost a client, and need to make up the revenue to reach your goals…

6. Where else does this happen in my life?

This question will help you find patterns in your instruction manual. The brain develops patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that lead to similar results and point to core beliefs, like “I’m not good enough,” or “Leaders must always be right.”..

7. What would the best version of me do?

This question is a great reminder that you have a choice in how you show up…

Bestselling author and mindset expert Debbie King is the founder of Loving Your Business and now teaches her proven approach to other business owners.

Read more at … https://www.fastcompany.com/90601076/7-questions-that-rewire-your-brain-for-success

MINISTERIAL TRANSITIONS & Setting the Record Straight on Switching Jobs

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’m writing a Doctor of Ministry course for a nationally known seminary on pastoral transitions. The average pastor will go through 4 to 5 translations in his or her ministerial career.

Yet leadership developmemt departments of denominations typically don’t prepare us for these transitions. However, my very first consultation over 30 years ago was to coach a ministry transition. And to my surprise it went very well. And, it cemented in my heart the confirmation that I was to go into consulting.

Therefore, I’ve put together a course on best practices. To give you a preview, here’s one of the research based articles I’ll be utilizing from Harvard Business Review.

“Setting the Record Straight on Switching Jobs” by Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review, 10/15.

… experts have described the current labor market as “candidate-driven.” Job seekers hold more power than employers, a trend that seems to be deepening.

So does this mean when switching jobs, you’re in the driver’s seat? Not necessarily. But it does mean that you can’t rely on “age-old” guidance.

2. “Stay at a job for at least a year or two — moving around too much looks bad on a resume.” 

“This is a popular piece of conventional wisdom,” says Sullivan, and it’s simply not true anymore. First of all, it’s not always realistic. “There are many times when you really need to leave your job without anything else,” says Fernández-Aráoz. You may need to relocate because of your spouse’s job or quit to take care of a family member.

Second, short stints no longer hurt a resume…

3. “Don’t quit your job before allowing your current employer to make a counter offer.”

If you’re a valuable employee, Sullivan says that smart companies will make an attempt to convince you to stay. “If you’re on their priority list, it would be considered ‘regrettable turnover’ for them and they’ll do what they can to keep you.” Counteroffers have become much more common… “They usually come with some form of flattery, promises, and even better conditions,” he says.

But be careful, he warns: “In my three decades of experience, I’m genuinely convinced that most counteroffers are bad for all parties.” He gives two reasons you shouldn’t accept a counteroffer. First, there was a reason you started to look for another job and that’s unlikely to change despite your employer’s promises. “The rule of thumb among recruiters used to be that 80% of those accepting counteroffers leave, or are terminated, within six to 12 months, and that half of those who accept them re-initiate their job searches within 90 days.” Even if your manager is able to make good on the promises in a counteroffer, there is the issue of broken trust. “They may still consider you less loyal and therefore offer you lower chances of future development.” Second, Fernández-Aráoz says, “you’ve made a commitment to the new company and you should honor it.”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/07/setting-the-record-straight-on-switching-jobs?

MULTICULTURAL LEADERSHIP & When I designed a doctor of ministry program on leadership, the first thing I wanted to emphasize is that church leadership varies by culture. Here’s why …

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: My PhD from the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary immersed me in the tensions and bridges of cultural differences.

So, when I designed a doctor of ministry program on leadership, the first thing I wanted to emphasize is that church leadership varies by culture. I also have a sensitivity to this because many of my students and Missional Coach mentees are African-American. For over 25 years they have taught me much about how leadership differs between cultures.

Toward that end, two of the first leaders that I had address my DMin students were African-American leaders: Dr. Dewey Smith of Greater Travelers’ Rest Church and Dr. Raphael Warnock of Ebeneezer Baptist Church.

Regardless of where your politics lie, it’s important for today’s leader to have a multicultural understanding about the different ways to lead. I hope you will read this article and begin to learn more about the ways different cultures lead so as a result that we can complement and coach one another.

Senate race thrusts ‘Black America’s church’ into spotlight.

by Aaron Morrison, Associated Press News, 1/3/21.

For decades, the red-bricked Gothic Revival church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached has been a monument to the history of Black Americans’ fight for civil rights and the legacy of an activist icon…

For King’s former church, the intense spotlight isn’t new. Its 6,000 members are accustomed to standing-room only Sunday services, due in large part to the out-of-town visitors who flocked to the church. Still, Loeffler’s criticisms have renewed attention on a pillar of Black life in Atlanta and a tradition of political activism it represents.

Read more at … https://apnews.com/article/race-and-ethnicity-georgia-senate-2563753b703f7a46af9a0e75565b84db

MEGACHURCH & Read the latest report by Hartford Seminary = multiple venues let you have multiple cultural expressions & smaller groups foster friendship & discipleship.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: ever since I studied one of the first megachurches that grew exponentially by moving in to multiple smaller venues, St. Thomas’ Church of Sheffield England, in the 1990s I’ve been a big advocate of multiple sites and smaller groups for almost any church.

(See the chapter I wrote on St. Thomas’ Church of Sheffield, England in Ryan Bolger’s The Gospel After Christendom: New Voices, New Cultures, New Expressions)

That’s because I’ve seen in the churches I’ve coached that multiple venues let you have multiple cultural expressions and smaller groups foster friendships and discipleship.

More research has continued to support this, including the latest exhaustive research from Hartford Seminary. 

Read the latest research here (there are valuable church health and growth insights for any size church): hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/2020_Megachurch_Report.pdf

MEGACHURCHES & Report discovers they continue to grow as they emphasize small groups, embrace modern worship and diversify, but steer clear of politics.

by Bob Smietana, Relcion News Service.

A pre-pandemic, national survey of megachurches from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research found the median megachurch draws about 4,100 attenders to its worship services, up from about 3,700 in 2015. 

The average megachurch budget is $5.3 million, up from $4.7 million in 2015. Seven out of 10 have more than one location. Six out of 10 (58%) say they have a multiracial congregation.  

Despite the decline among Christian groups overall, most megachurches seem to be doing well, said Scott Thumma, professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary and director of Hartford Institute.

“They continue to do things that other congregations should be doing,” Thumma said.

Thumma said the use of contemporary worship — along with a focus on small groups and international diversity — has helped megachurches continue to grow. Megachurches, in general, he said, also tend to steer clear of controversy, staying away from culture wars or political battles…

Thumma said the growing diversity in megachurches reflects the changing demographics of the United States. Megachurches, he said, also attract younger worshippers than other kinds of churches.

“Megachurches are one of the few groups of churches that have a wide representation of people under 45,” he said. People in that age group, he said, tend to be more demographically diverse and more open to diversity. More than three-quarters of the churches (78%) in the survey said they were intentionally trying to become more diverse.

Still, Thumma pointed out, megachurch pastors themselves are not a diverse group. The average megachurch pastor is a 53-year-old white man who has been in place for 15 years. And many are in danger of losing effectiveness as leaders, he said.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/10/29/report-megachurches-continue-to-grow-and-diversity-steer-clear-of-politics/

MULTICULTURAL & In multiracial churches, pastors of color hitting ‘the same white wall.’ #AmericanReligiousDataArchives #ARDA

by David Briggs, ARDA, 7/20/20.

… New findings from the Religious Leadership and Diversity Project suggest white pastors of multiracial churches receive disproportionate resources, have greater authority and are valued more by their congregations than clergy of color.

In their own words, many black and Asian pastors in multiracial churches say they are denied a seat at the table in predominantly white denominations, while they are also alienated from their spiritual homes in Asian American and African American churches.

“The stories of the African American pastors and Asian American pastors are ones of people standing on the doorsteps of assimilation only to be ultimately denied entrance through the door of whiteness and access to the privileges enjoyed by the white majority,” reported researchers Korie Edwards of Ohio State University and Rebecca Kim of Pepperdine University.

… A good deal of ethnographic research has indicated people of color pay “the lion’s share” of the personal costs associated with attending multiracial churches, Edwards and Kim noted.

These costs include feeling isolated, not having their religious and cultural preferences met and having only symbolic influence in their congregations.

The recent research involved 121 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with head clergy of multiracial churches as part of the religious diversity project, a nationwide study led by Edwards of leadership in multiracial religious organizations in the United States.

Three articles analyzing study data were recently published in the journal Sociology of Religion.

What the research revealed is that even in multiracial churches, “Neither African American nor Asian American pastors—regardless of their particular ethnicity, race, culture, or histories—are gaining entrée into the white majority. They are both hitting the same white wall,” Edwards and Kim wrote.

Read more here … http://blogs.thearda.com/trend/featured/in-multiracial-churches-pastors-of-color-hitting-the-same-white-wall/

MISSIONAL COACHES & 3 weeks until application opens again. Here are pictured our diverse team coaching a mega-client. Learn more at MissionalCoaches.net & get your copy of the book we are using on Amazon: “Growing the Post-pandemic Church”

Amazon Links

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MULTIRACIAL CHURCHES & How researchers found that a multiracial church won’t succeed unless it is more about reconciling cultures, than about reconciling styles. #reMIX #AbingdonPress

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: For over a decade I have coached hundreds of church leaders on how to become multiracial congregations. I’ve even written a book with my colleague Mark DeYmaz in how to do it, titled: reMIX: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press)

But churches only succeed at this when their goal is not to become multiracial. Instead they succeed when they step up and undertake the goal Paul gave us, which I call “a holistic ministry of reconciliation.”

Look at the scripture below from The Message Bible. Paul is not just talking about reconciliation between humans and God. He is also talking about how the Church is to be a community of reconciliation between prosecutors and the persecuted, Jews and Greeks, etc. and etc. Without a focus on reconciling our histories, fears and aspirations we won’t be partnering with God in a ministry of reconciliation.

I know, there are some people that say if we undertake a ministry of reconciliation between people, we will lose our emphasis upon a ministry of reconciliation heavenward. But churches do so many things at the same time! Certainly they should be able to embrace both these important aspects of reconciliation at the same time?

I am calling upon young pastors, planting pastors, church revitalization pastors and judicatory leaders to start showing how these dual aspects of reconciliation can be practiced at the same time in the local church!

If readers wonder about details of how this can be done, I just point them to my and Mark DeYmaz’s book on transitioning your church to living color..

And, don’t get me wrong, spiritual reconciliation is the fulcrum for eternal life.

But one of the ways we demonstrate it down here is by practicing physical reconciliation too, as did Paul who at one time lined up with the persecutors but eventually was the one to build bridges to them.

Here is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:16-20 about the synergetic nature of spiritual reconciliation and physical reconciliation.

“Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:16-20‬ ‭MSG‬‬

“Multiracial Congregations May Not Bridge Racial Divide” by Tom Gjelten, National Public Radio, 7/14/20.

…Integrated churches are tough things,” says Keith Moore, a Black pastor in Montgomery, Ala., who works closely with local white pastors. “When you see both African Americans and Caucasian Americans [in a church], it’s more than likely to have a Caucasian pastor,” he says. “I think it’s sometimes more difficult for whites to look at a black pastor and see him as their authority. That’s a tough call for many.”

… As a result, Moore says, African Americans ready to worship in a multiracial church are often forced to accept white leadership and a different worship style.

“You have to abandon some of your ethnic culture and become more palatable to the majority white culture,” Moore says, “give up some of the old traditional African American experience to fit in. So there is a sacrifice.”

Moore’s impressions, in fact, are supported by the research of Emerson and Dougherty.

“All the growth [in multiracial churches] has been people of color moving into white churches,” Emerson says. “We have seen zero change in the percentage of whites moving into churches of color.” Once a multiracial church becomes less than 50% white, Emerson says, the white members leave. Such findings have left Emerson discouraged.

“For the leaders of color who were trying to create the multiracial church movement,” Emerson says, “they’re basically saying, ‘It doesn’t work. The white brothers and sisters just won’t give up their privilege. And so we’ve been defeated, in a sense.'”

The continuing power of race 

In Columbus, Ohio, Korie Little Edwards found a similar pattern in her own research. After her personal interest led her to join a multiracial church, her subsequent study left her skeptical that such churches were making the difference in promoting equality that she had hoped to see.

“I came to a point where I realized that, you know, these multiracial churches, just because they’re multiracial, doesn’t mean they have somehow escaped white supremacy,” she says. “Being diverse doesn’t mean that white people are not going to still be in charge and run things.”

In her book The Elusive Dream: The Power of Race in Interracial Churches, Little Edwards argued that people of color often lose out.

“The pain people experience is not feeling like they’re accepted for who they are,” she told NPR, “not being able to be themselves, not being able to worship how they want to worship, feeling like you have to fall in line with what white people expect you to do.”

Read more at … https://www.npr.org/2020/07/17/891600067/multiracial-congregations-may-not-bridge-racial-divide

MULTICULTURAL & #SundayChurchHacks: If you are reaching multiple cultures, then include in worship symbols/aesthetics from all cultures. Here a client church creates an “ancient-future” environment to make two cultures feel at home.

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Note the detail in the stained-glass windows above the minimalist depictions of buildings on the stage.

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Notice how the speaker dresses in a manner that can relate to multiple generations.  The older culture has expectations of dressing up to honor God, which usually in their culture includes a jacket.  Younger generations may synergize styles to create innovation, sometimes called aesthetic fashion.

MIRACLES & Why Doesn’t God Move the Same Everywhere? Guest post by Josh Howard.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. These are well written and engaging thoughts from the developing world and by my former graduate student at Wheaton College. I hope you are inspired (I was). And if you are, you may want to follow his musings. Click here to sign up for Josh’s email list!

Why Doesn’t God Move the Same Everywhere? by Josh Howard, 7/9/20.

In these 12 years, I have had a front row seat to some of the most amazing movements of God that I’ve ever seen. Churches multiplying like crazy…people getting radically saved…others getting radically healed. It’s like the Book of Acts: Episode II Return of the Jedi. (Apostles)

And almost every time I talk to a group of Americans, they always say something like, “Why doesn’t that happen in America, Josh?  Why does it only happen in India or Africa or China or (insert your favorite mission field here.)”

And I don’t really have an answer…

And then, a while back, I was listening to a message by the famous evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke … And his answer finally gave me an answer. This is what he said —

“If you want to see the power of God…go to where the Gospel has never been preached and His Power will meet you there!!!”

Wow.  Profound.  (Insert mindblown emoji here).  

I don’t know exactly what it is…and there is no special formula, but God’s power moves greatest when we are loving and serving those who don’t know Him.  He’s still leaving the 99 to go after the 1.  His heart is still breaking over the coin that rolled under the table.  He’s still on his front porch looking for the lost son to run home.  And his power is waiting for us to move.  His Hand always moves in the direction that His heart always longs…

You aren’t going to miraculously get the power of God sitting on your couch watching Netflix. His power will meet you at the places furthest from your comfort zone.  

P.S. For the past few years, we have been getting people together over zoom every month to talk about how they can begin to “get in the game” or get their church in the game. If you’re interested in being a part of a group like that, Read more at … https://ignite.mykajabi.com/eb/BAh7BjoWZW1haWxfZGVsaXZlcnlfaWRsKwfcVTdp–ff6a2222e884f89a28edcc9c51e706bf3ab53696

MULTIPLICATION & “3700 U.S. churches closed in the most recent year studied (2017), and over 4000 were started. More churches started than closed… all the while the culture grew more secular. We live in interesting (and challenging) times”

Ed Stetzer, Twitter, 12/10/19.  
3700 U.S. churches closed in the most recent year studied (2017), and over 4000 were started. More churches started than closed… all the while the culture grew more secular. We live in interesting (and challenging) times.  
You can follow Ed Stetzer on Twitter: @edstetzer