See more ideas in the chapter: “Best practices in streaming services” in Growing the Post-pandemic Church.
Today I have been engaged to analyze a traditional worship service. And, it is an exceptionally anointed and well organized worship expression. However, when leaders of the contemporary service participated in the traditional service they wore clothes representing their culture.
There is nothing wrong with this, but it can distance you from your listeners. This is because each culture has what Paul Hiebert (Cultural Anthropology) describes as aesthetic “products” or expressions of dress that show reverence for their culture.
While many leaders want to stretch congregants’ acceptance of other cultural norms, during worship is not usually the place. The word “worship” means to intimately draw close to God. A worship service is not the place to create cultural acceptance (though laudable), but a place to create minimize cultural differences and increase focus heavenward.
Forced-perspective will make objects in the background look closer. To avoid distractions, be aware of this phenomenon as you film your worship services. Below is an example about how making objects in the background look closer is used routinely in movies.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: God‘s principles are logical … and they work. So I’m not surprised to find that leadership experts often come to the same conclusions that God stated in his Word so many years ago. Take a look at Jessica Stillman’s excellent analysis of Neil Pasricha’s article: “The happiness factor.” Then note in parentheses a few Scriptures I’ve inserted that form the corollary for Neal’s conclusions.
by Jessica Stillman, Inc. Magazine, 12/27/21.
… A recent HBR post by The Happiness Equation author Neil Pasricha delivers just such a nugget of self-improvement gold. The post tells the story of how Pasricha clawed his way out of depressed workaholism, but the actionable takeaway from this tale is a simple addition to your daily routine. Both Pasricha and science attest it can improve both your mental health and your productivity in mere minutes a day. It boils down to completing just three sentences.
1. “I will focus on…”
…”The practice began providing ballast to my days because it blew away the endless fog of ‘what should I do next?’ and helped break giant projects down into simple tasks,” he reports. “A looming book deadline became ‘write 500 words,’ an all-hands meeting about a major redesign became ‘send invite to three execs for feedback,’ and my nonexistent exercise regime became ‘go for a ten-minute walk at lunch.'”
(“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV)
2. “I am grateful for…”
Science is very clear on the antidote to this tendency — gratitude. Just like going to the gym builds your muscles, nudging yourself to notice the positive trains your brain to get better at optimism and serenity…
“The key is that they really need to be specific. Writing down things like ‘my apartment, my mom, and my job’ over and over doesn’t do anything. I had to write down things like, ‘the way the sunset looks over the hostel across the street,’ or ‘when my mom dropped off leftover matter paneer,'” Pasricha advises.
(16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)
3. “I will let go of…”
Breaking down your to-do list is one proven way to beat anxiety and procrastination. Being nice to yourself is another. Counterintuitively, studies find that the more we forgive ourselves our lapses and failings, the more likely we are to move forward with positive action. Science also shows that being open about your flaws doesn’t just make you happier and more productive. It can also make you a stronger, more creative, and even more competent-seeming leader.
(“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him” Psalm 103:10-11 NIV)
(“Brothers, I do not count myself to have attained, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…” Philippians 3:15 NIV)
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: It is important to poll your congregants to find out which portions of your service are connecting them to God (the Hebrew word for “worship” means to “connect with God” face-to-foot). Also poll attendees to discover which part of the service are not connecting them to God.
Here are four principles for measuring which elements are connecting congregants with God during worship.
- Use a Likert scale and ask them anonymously to respond using either a “frequency” or “quality” Likert scale.
- Ask congregants to measure each segment of the worship service.
- Evaluate services separately … don’t try to compare between different services. This is because each service has a different culture.
- You will discover a numerical measurement for different elements.
Don’t discard elements immediately. Many only need tweaking or rearranging. Make adjustments and re-poll the attendees in 3-4 months.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:
I evaluated a client’s traditional service, but the pre-recorded exit music was techno rock. Status quo members feel at least an inconsistency, if not an insensitivity.
Technicians often choose the music played as people exit or when streaming the music played after the service concludes. But, technicians need to be on the same page as the worship leaders tasked with connecting with different cultures.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Dec. 17, 2020.
This five minute video was created for a group of secular Vietnamese business leaders. Though they are very interested in Christmas, they want to know more about the stories behind Christmas icons, such as Santa. I explain that …
Every time we see Santa Claus … we should think about
the real St. Nicholas and how he became famous
because he exemplified God’s character of giving.
Click on the download button to watch.
Below is a downloadable questionnaire to find your Strategic Leaders (visionaries), Tactical Leaders (organizers) and Relational Leaders (team leaders):
For a brief introduction …
A) Look at these introductory videos:
B) Read this short explanation of the three traits of leaders: Strategic-Tactical-Relational here:
C) Read about the different names authors have used interchangeably with Strategic-Tactical-Relational here:
D) Then read the “Questions and Answers at 3-STRand Leadership” at this link:
E) Finally, take the questionnaire yourself to find which is your dominant and sub-dominant leadership traits. The questionnaire is available FREE here:
Christianity Today, 8/24/20.
…This edition of 20 Truths examines what we can learn from Priscilla Pope-Levison’s book Models of Evangelism. Priscilla Pope-Levison is Associate Dean for External Programs and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Southern Methodist University. She has her MDiv from Duke Divinity School (1983) and her PhD from the University of St. Andrews (1989). Her interdisciplinary publications combine theology, gender studies, church history, and mission. She has a heart for the ancient yet contemporary Christian practice of evangelism…
- No matter which model you prefer, no matter which model you choose to implement, no matter whether you pick and choose an element here or there to create your own unique model of evangelism or merge several models together, these five qualities—hospitality, relationship, integrity, message bearing, and church rootedness—are the essential ingredients that gauge your evangelistic effort.
- As you become more conscious of these five qualities, as you practice them day by day, you will, perhaps even without realizing it, be preparing for good evangelism. Good evangelists do not sprout overnight; they mature as they cultivate these qualities. This sort of maturation and mellowing is necessary, especially for a practice that receives more than its share of bad press.
- Evangelism is not mechanical; evangelism is relational. Strangers to the faith are not targets; they are full-fledged human beings, with whom Christians are called to be in relationship.
Today’s conversation is with Dr. Bob Whitesel. He is a founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and current Professor of Missional Leadership. He has two earned doctorates (D.Min. and Ph.D.) from Fuller Theological Seminary where he was awarded the Donald McGavran Award for “Outstanding Scholarship in Church Growth” by the faculty. Dr. Whitesel is the author of 11 books, including the award-winning series on evangelism titled, “Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey” He is married to his college sweetheart Rebecca and they have four daughters and four grandchildren. Today, we talk with Dr. Whitesel about John Wesley’s view of conversion and discipleship. We would love your feedback by commenting on the blog, joining our Facebook group, or tweeting us @heathmullikin and @jeremysummers using the hashtag #groundswell. For more information on the Spiritual Formation Department of the Wesleyan Church click here.
Dr. Whitesel’s website at bobwhitesel.com.
Great church resources at churchhealthwiki.com.
Join Dr. Whitesel on wesleytours.com.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Some confuse “simple church” with organic forms of church that I and others call, “the organic church.” For examples and case-studies that emerge from “Inside the Organic Church” see my book by the same title. However, the “simple church missional structure” is a discipleship driven organizational approach created by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger and explained in their book by the same name. Here is a helpful book review and introduction.
Book Review: Simple Church, by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger
by Graham Shearer, 9Marks Journal, 3/3/10.
… WHAT’S A SIMPLE CHURCH?
What is a simple church? Here is Rainer and Geiger’s definition:
A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it. The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment). The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus). (pp. 67-68)
Rainer and Geiger explain that churches that are full of different programs and activities are not often growing churches, even if the individual programs are successful. This is because they don’t have a clearly defined process for discipling people. They don’t move people from one stage of spiritual growth to another, and their programs suffer from mediocrity because their energies are dissipated across so many programs.
Often these churches suffer because their staff, while good at running their particular program, doesn’t share the same ministry philosophy. This causes disunity and unnecessary replication in the church calendar as things like evangelism training are repeated by different programs in different ways.
Simple churches, meanwhile, have a clear process with a clear aim. The church and the leadership unite around one process and one aim as each member moves from one program to another, requiring a bigger commitment to discipleship at each stage. They remove the clutter of programs that don’t fit into the church’s strategy, even ones that may benefit the people involved…
CLARITY, MOVEMENT, ALIGNMENT, FOCUS
The bulk of the book is an explanation of what a simple church is, under the four headings clarity, movement, alignment, and focus. The book hammers home those four points, and, for me at least, it did it so effectively that I didn’t need to look at the book to type that list.
Clarity involves having a clear statement of how discipleship should work in the church. Examples given include “Loving God, Loving Others and Serving the World” or “Connecting, Growing, Serving.” The key is not the content of the statement; it’s the fact that the statement should be clear. This process should be able to be visualized and explained clearly to the whole church, who should commit to the process.
Movement means that the programs should be designed for each stage in the process and people should be able to move clearly from one program to another. For instance, the church whose statement was “Loving God, Loving Others and Serving the World” had weekend worship services for helping people love God, small groups for enabling people to love others, and ministry teams for serving others. And each stage challenges people to move to the next stage.
Alignment means placing all the church’s resources behind the process. This includes hiring staff who are behind the process and making sure that any new ministries fit into it.
And focus means eliminating programs that don’t fit into the process and limiting additional programs. Again, the ability to explain the process easily is emphasized.
Simple Church makes a number of good points. Surely a clear and uniform process for discipleship is more likely to succeed than crowded and conflicting programs with no clear vision or strategy. Rainer and Geiger are exactly right to say that churches shouldn’t just fill their calendars with programs that may or may not help the congregation grow spiritually. “Programs were made for man, not man made for programs,” they say. “If the goal is to keep certain things going, the church is in trouble. The end result must always be about people. Programs should only be tools” (p. 43).
Beyond this, the authors make a number of helpful comments about ministry, the need to move a church towards simplicity sensitively, the need to be ruthless about killing unnecessary programs, and more. I especially liked the commendation of new members interviews. The authors comment,
It seems that the commitment to buy contact lenses is greater than the commitment to join many churches. Most churches only require new members to fill out a card or a triplicate form. It happens so fast. Expectations are minimal. Signing up for a department store credit care takes more time. Simple churches, however, tend to require new members classes . . . great dialogue occurs, and people walk away with a deeper connection to your church. (158-59)
It’s good to hear some kind of membership advocated, even if it is on pragmatic grounds.
Read more at … https://www.9marks.org/review/simple-church/
This client congregation has a well conceived online presence. In fact, the software they use translates the time from their timezone to the watcher’s timezone. However, without the timezone designation (ET or CT for example) it is confusing when the service will start. Readers should emulate the well-conceived design of this client congregation, but add timezone designations to help remote watchers.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 7/12/20. Pictured below is the pastor of a Spanish-speaking congregation preaching to the entire congregation. This reminds the church of its diversity, plus gives it a opportunity to experience the anointing of diverse leaders within the church.
Yet too often leaders of smaller sub-congregations and venues are afforded the opportunity to preach only on special occasions or during low attendance periods (such as the middle of the summer).
Relegating them to preach sparingly and at low attendance times sends a subtle message of inferiority. This works against reconciliation.
To create reconciliation in a church begins with affording all cultures equal status and affirming their ministry beyond equal opportunity.
“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
Therefore a Sunday Church Hack can be to let the leaders of various venues and sub-congregations preach on a more regular and desirable basis. If not, cultural chasms develop, not bridges.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I love the passion, wisdom and commitment of our worship leaders. But, in analyzing worship services as well as polling congregants, I have found that speaking between worship songs can have three unintended consequences.
- It can interrupt the flow between the songs.
- These mini-sermons often head in a different direction that the eventual sermon.
- The mini-sermons can make listeners weary of listening to a speaker before the sermon begins.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Church leaders have improved greatly in establishing Biblical values and mission statements. But strategy, real strategy which is actionable plans, is less clear to most congregants. http://www.LEADERSHIP.church has for 30+ years been helping churches create doable and successful plans for church health and growth. And, this includes bottom-up input from frontline leaders. Read this Harvard Business Review article to learn why.
Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Actually Strategies
One major reason for the lack of action is that “new strategies” are often not strategies at all. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what the firm is going to do and what it’s not going to do. Many strategies fail to get implemented, despite the ample efforts of hard-working people, because they do not represent a set of clear choices.
Many so-called strategies are in fact goals…
Others may represent a couple of the firm’s priorities and choices, but they do not form a coherent strategy when considered in conjunction. …
It’s not just a top-down process. Another reason many implementation efforts fail is that executives see it as a pure top-down, two-step process: “The strategy is made; now we implement it.” That’s unlikely to work. A successful strategy execution process is seldom a one-way trickle-down cascade of decisions…
Stanford professor Robert Burgelman said, “Successful firms are characterized by maintaining bottom-up internal experimentation and selection processes while simultaneously maintaining top-driven strategic intent.” This is quite a mouthful, but what Burgelman meant is that you indeed need a clear, top-down strategic direction (such as Hornby’s set of choices). But this will only be effective if, at the same time, you enable your employees to create bottom-up initiatives that fall within the boundaries set by that strategic intent.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/2020.
Yet I have noticed that some churches regard online worship as a “stop-gap” measure required by a pandemic that prevents face-to-face encounter. But, as I noted in a recent article titled, St. Paul’s guide to leading remotely, Paul faced similar challenges of guiding and discipling the far-flung churches he led.
So, use this time of forced online worship as an opportunity to begin to offer both onsite and online worship that is anointed, powerful and life-changing.
Read the entire article by clicking on this title below:
For more ideas see another article I wrote for Biblical Leadership Magazine …
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/2020.
Today we are entering the “age of the eReformation,” an electronic re-formation of the way the Church shares the Good News.
But many churches wait to live-stream their worship at the customary Sunday hour (10:30 or 11 AM). This requires online attendees to wait around until you are ready to start.
But is holding it “live” with an audience always necessary? Aren’t you hoping that people who watch it later in the week will experience the same worship encounter and connection with the Holy Spirit as you did when you recorded it?
So, why not record and post your worship service early on Sunday morning (or even Saturday night) so more people can experience it when it is convenient for them? More people may watch it this way.
The eReformation coming upon the Church means the Good News can be more accessible through electronic means, just as it did in 1500s when the printing press allowed people to read the Word any day of the week.
For more ideas see the article I wrote for Biblical Leadership Magazine …