TRANSFER GROWTH & Growing churches are growing largely by transfer growth. Most of them are not reaching people with the gospel. They are growing at the expense of other churches.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Donald McGavran, the founder of the church growth movement, emphasized that tracking transfer growth is not healthy and mostly misleading. That’s because, it makes the church feel it is healthy because it’s attracting people at the expense of other churches.

As a student of Donald McGavern I’ve always enjoyed Thom Rainer’s research, a fellow McGavran Award recipient. H

Below is what he points out his research has discovered about transfer a growth.

In his analysis only about 5% of the people in our churches are coming because of conversion growth. And even in growing churches that percentage is that only about 6% of the people are there because of a conversion experience.

This is a wake up call.

by Thom Rainer …

Growing churches are growing largely by transfer growth. Most of them are not reaching people with the gospel. They are growing at the expense of other churches. The conversion ratio of all 1,000 churches is 19:1. Growing churches are only slightly better at 17:1. Their growth comes largely from other churches.

Read more at … https://www.christiantoday.com/article/heres-the-bad-news-about-churches-that-are-actually-growing/110797.htm

TECHNOLOGY & Why the secret is accessibility, not control. #MinistryMattersMagazine @BobWhitesel #ORGANIXbook #GenZ

Whitesel Ministry Matters page full

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Modern Miscue: Seek to control networks.

The modern leader has lived most of life in a realm of “command and control.”  Command and control is necessary in crisis situations, such as warfare or firefighting.  For Baby Boomers born after World War II, the command and control way of leadership became a popular leadership style in business and the church.

Modern leaders of this generation believe the way to succeed is to control through power, rewards, and punishments.  Slow cycles that grew out of an agricultural economy began to affect business principles, where the agricultural approach of “command and control” began to be applied to the business world. Like breaking a horse, “The worker must be trimmed to fit the job,” Frederick Taylor famously intoned. Subsequently, modern leaders bristle at the thought of losing control.  When wrestling with the freedom found in emerging networks, the modern leader tends to try to exert control through ownership. In the ever democratizing world of electronic communication, control through ownership is increasingly difficult.

Modern leaders attempt to take possession of networks that shape them.  In business, this often means controlling access by charging a fee and thus reinforcing a modern notion of ownership. In the church, we may do this by restricting access to those times and places the modern leader deems fitting.  Former Silicon Valley executive Rusty Rueff noted, “Movie theatres have long tried to control mobile phone signal in their movie theatres. They say it is because it disturbs people.  Really, they don’t want teens text-messaging their friends that the movie is dreadful.” From the days of passing notes in church, to text-messaging a friend far removed from the church sanctuary, church leaders have also tried to limit the location and occasion of electronic communication.

Millennial leaders who have grown up in the expanding world of communication networks, view these networks as public property.  And, to restrict access or monopolize them seems tyrannical.  Modern leaders may recall similar unfair restrictions.  At one time, restaurants and businesses charged a fee to use the restrooms. Charging a fee or otherwise restricting network access should seem just as illogical to leaders today.

Millennial Attitude: Networks should be accessible

Rueff, who serves as an advisor to the president at Purdue University, recently showed a picture of a classroom at that university.  Of the almost 100 students assembled, every one was sitting behind a laptop computer.  “Think of when this will happen in your church,” Rusty Rueff, the former Silicon Valley executive, said.  “What do you do in church?  Is there a place for those who want to communicate with laptops?  Or would an usher ask them to put their computer away?”

Immediate, Even Critical Feedback.  In a millennial world where unfettered networking is routine, millennial church leaders are starting to accommodate instant feedback.  Some young churches have an “ask assertive environment” where those who disagree are encouraged to state their differences of opinion, even during the sermon.  Millennial congregations such as Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis regularly invite questions or challenges from the audience during the sermon. Even millennial megachurches such as Mars Hill Church in Granville, Michigan, sometimes welcome a congregant on the stage to ask the preacher questions during the sermon (since the audience is too vast for everyone to shout out a query). Leo Safko, author of the Social Media Bible calls this “a fundamental shift in power … no longer does the consumer trust corporate messages … they want to be educated by, hear their news from, and get their product reviews by people they know and trust.”

At recent conferences I keynoted, participants were given a keypad so they could rate the presentation and/or their understanding of the content in real time. Even now increasingly smaller smartphones allow electronic feedback as presentations unfold.  Though modern leaders might initially resist such quick and honest feedback in the church, the day is not far off when immediate, even critical feedback will be visually displayed in our churches in much the same manner that words are displayed to a song.

Fact checking and further research.  Allowing laptops and smart-phones into churches may at first seem disruptive, but it will enhance understanding as it allows checking of facts and further research on a topic. I remember sitting in college classes, balancing a three-inch (or so it seemed) textbook on one knee, while holding in my left hand a large diagram of the human organs.  Amid this balancing act, I tried desperately to write what the professor was stating. Today, multiple items sit neatly on computer desktops where only a flick of a mouse pad is required to separate sources or conduct further research.

Nurturing Accessibility

The accessible church describes a church that is accessible via as many social networks as possible.

The accessible church creates networks that reach out to those in need.  Meeting the needs of the disenfranchised is a priority among millennial leaders. Expanding network access should not be limited to just Christians who attend a church, but to those outside as well. One congregation in Edmonton, Alberta started a church plant in an Internet café. Unexpectedly, the free Internet access they offered met the needs of a large Asian-American community in the neighborhood that did not have computer access.  As a result this accessible church in an Internet café created an ongoing network with a growing Asian-American community.

The accessible church fosters instantaneous research and feedback at teaching venues, including during the sermon.Because Christianity is an experience- and knowledge-based faith, access to information can foster a better understanding about God. The accessible church can offer Internet access at teaching times such as during sermons, Sunday school, committee meetings, etc.  Many modern leaders bristle at the thought of laptops and Smartphones being used during church, but so did professors several years ago (only to lose the battle).  At one time sound systems, video projectors, guitars and even pipe-organs were banned from many churches. Though uncomfortable at first, new ways of communication and exploration will emerge, first among these cutting-edge millennial congregations, and eventually among everyone else.   When speaker Stan Toler speaks to younger audiences he often uses instant messaging so attendees can ask their questions via a Smartphone while he is still speaking.  He then displays their questions on the screen and answers them during his lecture.

The accessible church provides on-line communities to augment its off-line fellowship. Online communities “felt the connection and affinity they experienced in these groups fully justified their designations as a form of community.”  Online communities often enhance off-line friendships. A church offering a 12-step program can create an online group in which participants can dialogue between meetings. Groups, committees, Sunday School classes and small groups can create, share and edit documents via Web-based word processors, such as Google Docs.  These online documents allow collaborative work (such as designing a Bible study) prior to face-to-face meetings. Online communities can allow those who have special needs or limited time/resources to still feel like full participants in the community.  In the same way that Robert Schuller continued a life-long ministry to drive-in worshippers because a physically-challenged lady’s husband requested it, online communities can engage people who might be challenged in their ability to physically connect with a church.

Leaders having little experience with online communities may wonder about their cohesiveness, value and permanency, but those who have seen them in action know that increasing accessibility to the church community only enhances the faith experience.

This article is excerpted and adapted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, Chapter 6, “Networks.” Used by permission and it can also be found in Ministry Matters magazine.

#GCRN2018

TRADITION & Humorous examples of the differences between the rule of the law and the spirit of the law.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In Jesus’ discussions about the Pharisees, he often pointed out that they were meticulous in obeying law, but they did not practice the purpose or spirit behind it (Mark 2:3–28, 3:1–6; 2 Corinthians 3:6).

A humorous example comes from a recent New York City law that permitted on the subway only those dogs that could fit in a bag. Now that’s the letter of the law. But the spirit of the law was to keep large dogs, and they’re leavings 😉 away from the subways.

However, enjoy below some of the ways that creative New Yorkers obeyed the letter of the law, and not the spirit.

Frames Etc. Facebook, 9/24/21

THEOLOGY & Original biblical languages suggest forgiveness is something akin to waiving one’s rights.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In our fractured and litigious modern world, people often wonder what forgiveness means. Does it mean forgetting? Does it mean ignoring? The word used by the Bible authors tells us that, “forgiveness is something akin to waiving one’s rights.” Read on to find out more.

“What the Lord’s Prayer really says about forgiveness” by Daniel Esparza, Aleteia, 7/7/21.

What is it that we do when we forgive? Are we forgetting, disregarding, overlooking, ignoring wrongdoing? Are we giving up on our desire to pursuit revenge, retribution, even justice? How can I tell if I have really forgiven someone? The fact that we have a hard time answering these questions makes it evident forgiveness is multi-faceted and difficult to explore. It has oftentimes been historically (and tragically) confused with a vague understanding of reconciliation as the submissive acceptance of rather unacceptable states of affairs.

This is probably because forgiveness was not entirely considered a philosophical problem until the interwar and postwar periods of the 20th century, when genocidal war ushered in the question of the unforgivable — Can humanity forgive Auschwitz, the Gulag, the Bomb, the Apartheid? Who forgives? Who is forgiven? What are the limits of forgiveness? What constitutes an unforgivable fact? Is there such thing as “the unforgivable”? In more ways than one, forgiveness is a relatively new intellectual concern. And even if the topic became somewhat relevant in the second half of the past century, it is not exactly a modish preoccupation among most scholars today. Chances are it has never really been — perhaps not even among noted Christian thinkers.

…The original Greek text of the Gospels uses a number of different expressions for the concept of forgiveness, rather than one single word. What we do find in biblical texts, the Our Father included, are different expressions that can be translated as the waiving of one’s right over a debt, or to being unburdened. In that sense, Augustine’s understanding of forgiveness as almsgiving is thoroughly biblical: forgiveness as almsgiving and the scriptural understanding of sin as debt go hand in hand, as the former covers the latter: “for almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin” (Tobit 12, 9).

Read more at … https://aleteia.org/2021/07/07/what-the-lords-prayer-really-says-about-forgiveness/

reMIX & People of color are actually preventing a more precipitous drop in overall church participation. The Assemblies of God, one of the few denominations showing growth, saw its white membership decrease in the 10 years between 2004 and 2014, but nonwhite members increased by 43%.

… What’s dramatically declining in the U.S. is white Christianity. People of color are actually preventing a more precipitous drop in overall church participation. The Assemblies of God, one of the few denominations showing growth, saw its white membership decrease in the 10 years between 2004 and 2014, but nonwhite members increased by 43%, reflecting trends continuing today. One-third of U.S. Catholics are now Hispanic. Without its growing nonwhite members, the Catholic Church would be in free fall instead of remaining at about 22% of the U.S. population.

The nones who enjoy lattes at downtown coffee shops on Sunday mornings instead of singing in church are largely young, hip and white. But the country’s demographic future as a whole is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and this will impact the religious landscape.

March 31, 2021 by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/03/31/behind-gallups-portrait-of-church-decline/?

MINISTERIAL TRANSITIONS & Utilizing a simple graphic, such as this one by a client church, helps congregants visually track the ministerial transition process.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., April 11, 2021.

While designing a course to help pastors and churches successfully navigate pastoral transitions for Fuller Theological Seminary, I became aware of how much church communication must be a priority during pastoral transitions. But often too much or too little information is shared, leading to confusion at best or suspicion at the worst.

This client congregation overcame this problem and communicated its process well through three simple charts.

CHART 1 (behind the word “prayer”) depicts the 5 stage process with a time for each stage. Attendees can quickly see where they are in the process and which steps are still ahead.

CHART 2 depicts how the selection process “narrows” to the selection of a candidate. It is important for attendees to see that the eventual selection has emerged from a significant pool of candidates.

CHART 3 (with the word “prayer” superimposed) reminds that the overriding consideration is that this is a spiritual exercise and prayer is how each stakeholder participates.

The above is CHART 1 (without the word “prayer” superimposed)
& CHART 3 (with the word “prayer” superimposed)
The above is CHART 2

TRENDS & The primary challenge facing pastors … is how to invite nonmembers into an authentic experience of God rather than persuade them to join or rejoin a religious organization.

… The decline of membership in churches, synagogues and mosques cannot be equated with decline in religious curiosity or practice. When nones are asked why they have disaffiliated from any religious organization, only 22% say it is because they do not believe in God. The primary challenge facing pastors, rabbis and imams is how to invite nonmembers into an authentic experience of God rather than persuade them to join or rejoin a religious organization.

March 31, 2021 by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson. Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/03/31/behind-gallups-portrait-of-church-decline/?

COMMUNICATION & Today’s #SundayChurchHacks: When you’ve been away (but still watching online) don’t say ‘It is good to be back’ from the stage when you return in person. It makes the online congregation feel second class. Instead say, “It is good to be with you again this week.”

Read about innovative strategies in Growing the Post-pandemic Church.

TIME MANAGEMENT & Nehemiah’s reply to needless meetings & heedless critics.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In 30+ years of church consulting excessive meetings and insufficient action is a major misstep that stops churches from moving forward and growing. Too many meetings often drain volunteers and leaders of their enthusiasm, energy and progress.

The Old Testament business leader Nehemiah provides a helpful example of what to do when you are badgered by people who want to slow you down with endless meetings … when action and effort is required. Take this take a look at the way Rick Warren explains this in the following article.

You Don’t Need to Fight Critics by Rick Warren — 04/07/2021

God uniquely created you for an important assignment on Earth that only you can accomplish.

But you will face naysayers along the way. They’ll tell you: “You’re the wrong person. You’ve got the wrong idea. You’re doing it the wrong way.”

Take the Old Testament story of Nehemiah, for example. Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a priest. He was a businessman. Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians. The Israelites had been in exile for 70 years—and then the Babylonians let them go home.

Jerusalem had been destroyed and was defenseless. But Nehemiah got a big idea to change that. “I’ll rebuild my city,” he thought. “And I’ll start by rebuilding the wall to protect it.”

Nehemiah’s story teaches that every opportunity comes with opposition.

For Nehemiah, the opposition was instant. Israel’s enemies didn’t want to see Jerusalem defended. They tried all sorts of things to stop him from rebuilding the wall. They tried ridicule, rumors, and threats. When none of that worked, they tried to slow him down by involving him in bunch of meetings.

Your critics—the naysayers who want to prevent you from doing what the Lord has called you to do—will use the same bag of tricks. They’ll ridicule you, spread rumors about you, and even threaten you to get you to stop doing what God wants you to do.

But instead of listening to them, respond the way that Nehemiah did: “So I replied by sending this message to them: ‘I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?’ Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply”(Nehemiah 6:3-4 NLT).

You don’t need to fight with naysayers. It’s not worth it. If you try to take on people who have a negative opinion about God’s plans for you, you’ll just waste your time.

Nehemiah didn’t defend his work. You don’t need to defend yourself either. Just let the naysayers’ criticisms go.

One day God’s work through your life will be proven correct. Have enough faith to wait for that day to come.PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

TRENDS & U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time Due to Millennials, Gen. Z., Less Emphasis Upon Membership & Those With “No Religious Preference.” #Gallup

by Jeffrey M Jones, Gallup, 4/29/21.

… Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

Line graph. U.S. church membership was 73% in 1937 when Gallup first measured it. It stayed near 70% through 2000 before beginning to decline, to 61% in 2010 and 47% in 2020.

U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21stcentury.

As many Americans celebrate Easter and Passover this week, Gallup updates a 2019 analysis that examined the decline in church membership over the past 20 years…

Decline in Membership Tied to Increase in Lack of Religious Affiliation

The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.

As would be expected, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, although a small proportion — 4% in the 2018-2020 data — say they do. That figure is down from 10% between 1998 and 2000.

Given the nearly perfect alignment between not having a religious preference and not belonging to a church, the 13-percentage-point increase in no religious affiliation since 1998-2000 appears to account for more than half of the 20-point decline in church membership over the same time.

Most of the rest of the drop can be attributed to a decline in formal church membership among Americans who dohave a religious preference. Between 1998 and 2000, an average of 73% of religious Americans belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Over the past three years, the average has fallen to 60%.

Line graph. Changes in church membership among Americans who express a religious preference or affiliation. Between 1998 and 2000, 73% of religious Americans were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. That dipped to 70% between 2008 and 2010, and it fell to 60% between 2018 and 2020.

Generational Differences Linked to Change in Church Membership

Church membership is strongly correlated with age, as 66% of traditionalists — U.S. adults born before 1946 — belong to a church, compared with 58% of baby boomers, 50% of those in Generation X and 36% of millennials. The limited data Gallup has on church membership among the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood are so far showing church membership rates similar to those for millennials.

The decline in church membership, then, appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong. The change has become increasingly apparent in recent decades because millennials and Gen Z are further apart from traditionalists in their church membership rates (about 30 points lower) than baby boomers and Generation X are (eight and 16 points, respectively). Also, each year the younger generations are making up an increasingly larger part of the entire U.S. adult population.

Read more at … https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx?

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP & Learn how Steve Jobs was a great leader because he let his subordinates change his mind. #HBR

“Persuading the Unpersuadable” by Adam Grant, Harvard Business Review Magazine (March–April 2021)

…The legend of Steve Jobs is that he transformed our lives with the strength of his convictions. The key to his greatness, the story goes, was his ability to bend the world to his vision. The reality is that much of Apple’s success came from his team’s pushing him to rethink his positions. If Jobs hadn’t surrounded himself with people who knew how to change his mind, he might not have changed the world.

For years Jobs insisted he would never make a phone. After his team finally persuaded him to reconsider, he banned outside apps; it took another year to get him to reverse that stance. Within nine months the App Store had a billion downloads, and a decade later the iPhone had generated more than $1 trillion in revenue.

Almost every leader has studied the genius of Jobs, but surprisingly few have studied the genius of those who managed to influence him. As an organizational psychologist, I’ve spent time with a number of people who succeeded in motivating him to think again, and I’ve analyzed the science behind their techniques. The bad news is that plenty of leaders are so sure of themselves that they reject worthy opinions and ideas from others and refuse to abandon their own bad ones. The good news is that it is possible to get even the most overconfident, stubborn, narcissistic, and disagreeable people to open their minds.

… Here are some approaches that can help you encourage a know-it-all to recognize when there’s something to be learned, a stubborn colleague to make a U-turn, a narcissist to show humility, and a disagreeable boss to agree with you.

Ask a Know-It-All to Explain How Things Work

The first barrier to changing someone’s view is arrogance. We’ve all encountered leaders who are overconfident: They don’t know what they don’t know. If you call out their ignorance directly, they may get defensive. A better approach is to let them recognize the gaps in their own understanding…

Let a Stubborn Person Seize the Reins

A second obstacle to changing people’s opinions is stubbornness. Intractable people see consistency and certainty as virtues. Once made up, their minds seem to be set in stone. But their views become more pliable if you hand them a chisel…

A solution to this problem comes from a study of Hollywood screenwriters. Those who pitched fully formed concepts to executives right out of the gate struggled to get their ideas accepted. Successful screenwriters, by contrast, understood that Hollywood executives like to shape stories. Those writers treated the pitch more like a game of catch, tossing an idea over to the suits, who would build on it and throw it back…

Find the Right Way to Praise a Narcissist

A third hurdle in the way of changing minds is narcissism. Narcissistic leaders believe they’re superior and special, and they don’t take kindly to being told they’re wrong. But with careful framing, you can coax them toward acknowledging that they’re flawed and fallible.

It’s often said that bullies and narcissists have low self-esteem. But research paints a different picture: Narcissists actually have high but unstable self-esteem. They crave status and approval and become hostile when their fragile egos are threatened—when they’re insulted, rejected, or shamed. By appealing to their desire to be admired, you can counteract their knee-jerk tendency to reject a difference of opinion as criticism. Indeed, studies in both the United States and China have shown that narcissistic leaders are capable of demonstrating humility: They can believe they’re gifted while acknowledging their imperfections. To nudge them in that direction, affirm your respect for them.

In 1997, not long after returning to Apple as CEO, Jobs was discussing a new suite of technology at the company’s global developer conference. During the audience Q&A, one man harshly criticized the software and Jobs himself. “It’s sad and clear that on several counts you’ve discussed, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. (Ouch.)

You might assume that Jobs went on the attack, got defensive, or maybe even threw the man out of the room. Instead he showed humility: “One of the hardest things when you’re trying to effect change is that people like this gentleman are right in some areas,” he exclaimed, adding: “I readily admit there are many things in life that I don’t have the faintest idea what I’m talking about. So I apologize for that….We’ll find the mistakes; we’ll fix them.” The crowd erupted into applause.

How did the critic elicit such a calm reaction? He kicked his comments off with a compliment: “Mr. Jobs, you’re a bright and influential man.” As the audience laughed, Jobs replied, “Here it comes.”

As this story shows, a dash of acclaim can be a powerful antidote to a narcissist’s insecurity.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2021/03/persuading-the-unpersuadable?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=twitter&tpcc=orgsocial_edit

TRENDS & Among older and younger Americans, men tend to trend more atheist than women. But between the ages of 35 and 45 the genders converge. See the graph.

By , The Conversation, 2/17/21.

Faith in numbers: Behind the gender difference of nonreligious Americans

… According to data from the Nationscape survey, which polled over 6,000 respondents every week for 18 months in the runup to the 2020 election, men are in general more likely than women to describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. The survey, conducted by the independent Democracy Fund in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, was touted as one of the largest such opinion polls ever conducted.

However, tracking the gender gap by age reveals that at one point the gap between men and women narrows. Between the ages of 30 and 45, men are no more likely to be religiously unaffliated than women of the same age. 

But the gap appears again among older Americans. Over the age of 60, men are 5 to 8 percentage points more likely to express no religious affiliation.

Read more at … https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/VjOvW/2/

THEOLOGY & Missional theology must examine our practices to see if they are consistent with the gospel. Thus, it is critical but also constructive: it seeks to make sense of the gospel in each cultural context. #ScotMcKnight

“How Missional Theology De-Stabilizes – Missional theology de-stabilizes what many think is transnormative theology” by Scot McKnight, Christianity Today, 12/22/29.

… One way of doing theology is to frame theology by the Creed. So one takes the Apostles’ Creed or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (the official name for the Nicene Creed) and fills in the lines and blanks with more theological reflection. Thus, Calvin’s Institutes.

Another way of doing theology is to frame theology by Topics. So one lists the major topics in some order: God, Humans, Christ, Sin, Salvation, Ecclesiology, Eschatology. Then one maps each of these topics.

Another way of doing theology is “nothing but Bible, baby, nothing but the Bible.” The Bible is our only Creed kind of people. No one actually does this, so I’ll drop it. Why? Because everyone’s theology is shaped by one’s past, one’s community, one’s previous learnings.

Which is why many are attracted to the newest kid on the block, missional theology. Here are the major ideas of missional theology as theology, as outlined by John Franke in his new book Missional Theology: An Introduction.

The nature of missional theology: an ongoing, second-order, contextual discipline

The first order of theology is the Scripture’s narrative. First order theology is Bible. Second order theology is constructions more or less rooted in Scripture.

But missional theology then is always contextually located. It is local, it is not universal. It is temporal, not eternal.

The aim is to be open to the culture to see how the gospel speaks in that culture. As Paul challenged Peter’s practice of the faith in Galatians 2, so missional theology must examine our practices to see if they are consistent with the gospel. Thus, it is critical but also constructive: it seeks to make sense of the gospel in each cultural context.

The purpose of missional theology: assisting the community of Christ’s followers in their missional vocation to live as the people of God in the particular social-historical context in which they are situated.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/december/how-missional-theology-de-stabilizes.html

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP & Research shows tough macho leaders put their teams and followers at risk. Vulnerable leaders who don’t hide their weaknesses make their teams and followers stronger. #FastCompanyMagazine

by AMY EDMONDSON AND TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC, Fast Company Magazine, 10/30/20.

… The big lesson, if you are interested in being a leader, or perhaps in being a better leader, is to move away from the traditional macho behaviors and embrace a more vulnerable leadership style. Paradoxically, tough macho leaders put their teams and followers at risk. Vulnerable leaders who don’t hide their weaknesses make their teams and followers stronger. Ironically, although many refer to the macho-type leader as an “alpha male,” the term is a misnomer. As primatologist Frans de Waal finds, in the wild, “alpha males actually possess leadership traits like generosity, peacekeeping, and empathy.”

A discernible shift from celebrating macho leaders to celebrating vulnerable leaders is underway. In an uncertain, complex, interdependent world where one tiny virus can wreak havoc everywhere, leadership characterized by overconfidence, defensiveness, and rule by fear fails spectacularly. The health results across nations bear this out. We do not claim that these differences are because of female leadership, but rather because of their effectiveness. Any leader, whether of a nation or a corporation, who is more focused on gaining fans and seeking praise than on building others’ capabilities and embracing constructive criticism is at extreme risk when agile responses are needed to cope with novel challenges.

Macho

  • seeks praise
  • craves fans and followers
  • overconfident
  • defensive
  • blames others when things go wrong
  • creates a culture of fear
  • self-deceived

Vulnerable

  • embraces criticism
  • builds others’ capabilities
  • humble
  • curious
  • takes responsibility when things go wrong
  • creates psychological safety
  • self-aware

To adopt a more vulnerable style, we recommend starting with a rational sense of humility about what lies ahead. This triggers a productive sense of curiosity that drives interest in others and in learning more about what they know and need. No leader can succeed over the long-term without that interest, precisely because they will then fail to leverage the capabilities of followers.

Read more at … https://www.fastcompany.com/90569983/tough-macho-leadership-is-over-heres-whats-taking-its-place

TRENDS & These countries will have the largest populations – by the end of the century. #WorldEconomicForum

by Iman Ghosh, World Economic Forum, 9/8/20.

  • By 2100, the global population could surpass 11 billion, according to predictions by the UN.
  • Currently China, India and the USA have the three largest populations in the world, but by 2100, this will have changed to India, Nigeria and China, respectively.
populations growth density change 2100 end of century  china india nigeria usa us united states
World population peak.Image: Visual Capitalist

Read more at … https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/the-world-population-in-2100-by-country/

TURNAROUND CHURCH & Don’t fall into these three newbie turnaround traps by @BobWhitesel published by @RenovateConf.

IMG_5150IMG_5151

Subscribe to Church Revitalizer Magazine here … http://renovateconference.org/magazine

Don’t fall for these 3 newbie turnaround traps … Do this instead (and start out strong).

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, May/June 2019.

As I prepare to teach my course titled “Turnaround Church” at Fuller Theological Seminary this fall, I thought it would be helpful to describe the most common traps into which inexperienced turnaround leaders fall (and ways to avoid each).

TRAP 1: Being hired to do the work of revitalization. 

Why this trap occurs:  

Hiring your way out of trouble is a standard practice in the for-profit world. However, because their business model operates on a for-profit basis, it allows them to plow profits into hiring their way out of adversity. Nonprofits run mostly on volunteers and small staffs. They have leaner budgets and usually cannot afford a hiring solution.

The lean-staff and “keep it simple” alternative has been immortalized in Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in Luke 9:1-6 (MSG): 

Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick. He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, leave town. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and move on.”

Commissioned, they left. They traveled from town to town telling the latest news of God, the Message, and curing people everywhere they went.

Do this instead: Mentor & delegate. 

This is may be hard for trained church leaders, because they feel they have been hired to be the experts. Thus, they customarily attempt to do most of the work themselves. However, this usually leads to burnout. Instead, church shepherds should model Jesus’ example of giving his disciples responsibilities and then sending them out to minister to others (Luke 9:1-2). 

Mentoring is characterized by a back-and-forth dialogue with the mentee regarding how the processes going. We see such examples in Jesus’ dialogues with his disciples, for instance Matt. 17:18-20 (MSG):

He (Jesus) ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well. When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?” “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”

Delegating is slightly different from mentoring. It means giving others something you could do yourself, but allowing them to learn as they fumble their way through. Jesus, as the omniscient Son of God, knew his disciples would be unable to cast out demons (Luke 17:19). But still he let them try. In His omniscience, Jesus knew an important lesson would be driven home if the disciples first had a chance to flounder and then learn from that experience.

TRAP 2: Giving (and requiring) 110% effort.

Why this trap occurs:  

People usually feel that if they overwork themselves (e.g. give 110%) they will succeed. This manifests when a leader works more hours during the week than for which one is paid. Such leaders may expect volunteers to increase their hours too. A trap occurs when burnout, neglected families and leadership turnover result. Billy Graham stated similar regrets:

“Although I have much to be grateful for as I look back over my life, I also have many regrets. I have failed many times, and I would do many things differently. For one thing, I would speak less and study more, and I would spend more time with my family.” (billygraham.org)

Do this instead: Adjust everyone’s duties

Remind them that the church is going to need to do different things and that there are two ways to do this. One way is to ask everybody to give extra, e.g. 110%. But, you recognize this only leads to burnout. Remind them you don’t want to see them or yourself burned-out or families neglected.

The second, and more rewarding way, is to ask them to purge from their duties 20% of what they are currently doing. Ask them to use that 20% to become involved in new activities, e.g. involved in a new service or a new community outreach. The principle is that this requires, for the sake of spiritual health, to pull back and reduce their current volunteer efforts by 20% to open up 20% involvement in new activities. 

Exemplify this yourself. Acknowledge that you are unable to continue to do everything the previous pastor did while at the same time reaching out to new generations and cultures. Remind them that you don’t want them, or you, to sacrifice family or spiritual well being. Show them you have too much respect for  your and their spiritual health.  

As you ask them to readjustment their volunteer activities, suggest they write this down and submit their “readjustment” to the person overseeing their work.  

TRAP 3: Promising big changes too soon.

Why this trap occurs:  

Plateaued and dying churches have been dreaming about health for so long, that they often expect it to take place too fast. In addition, models they see of healthy churches are usually many years in the making. My experience and research has let me to believe that healthy church change is slow, but deliberate. In fact, one of the most knowledgeable researchers on organizational change, Harvard University’s John Kotter (Leading Change, Harvard Press), found that “celebrating small-term wins” leads to more change, more quickly.

Do this instead: Plan for & celebrate short-term wins

Meet with the church leaders and discuss what the church should look like in five years. Then ask them to describe what would it should look like in 2.5 years, one year and six months. Map out several goals for the next six months, asking yourselves which are most likely to be attained. Write these six month goals down and begin to create tactics to reach them.

As soon as you reach any of your short-term goals, celebrate! The key is for people to see and celebrate progress. For effective change, people don’t have to see enormous changes, but they do need to see movement.

 

TRANSITION & 51% of incoming pastors said there was no plan in place when they arrived, and 33% said the lack of planning caused problems as they took the helm. Solution: #Apprenticeship Model

by Kenneth Young, Faith & Leadership, Duke Univeristy, 7/7/20.

… Can you imagine working alongside the leader who would eventually turn the controls over to you? What would our churches, nonprofits and other organizations be like if we created such a model?

I see the apprenticeship idea supported by 2019 Barna research,(link is external) which says that planned transitions “tend to produce positive outcomes” — yet reports that 51% of incoming pastors said there was no plan in place when they arrived, and 33% said the lack of planning caused problems as they took the helm.

An apprenticeship model would allow the established leader to shape and mold the new leader, or at least work with that leader before stepping down. Institutions are well served when such a model is put into action.

For example, Bishop Paul S. Morton, the legendary gospel singer and pastor who founded the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, stated publicly how he would transition the fellowship to new leadership — noting that he did not want to die in office — and then worked directly to apprentice now-presiding prelate Bishop Joseph Walker III, ensuring a smooth, successful transition.

Biblically, Moses trained Joshua to lead the Israelites into their next season. Elijah trained Elisha, and Jesus trained the 12 disciples for at least three years to spread the good news around the globe. If we take this model seriously, our churches, nonprofits and institutions will benefit.

Read more at … https://faithandleadership.com/kenneth-young-theres-better-way-manage-pastoral-transitions?

TRENDS & Is the Political Left Becoming More Religious? What sociologists found. #OxfordUniversity #AssociationForTheSociologyOfReligion

Is the Religious Left Resurgent?” by Joseph O Baker, Gerardo Martí, Sociology of Religion, Volume 81, Issue 2, Summer 2020, Pages 131–141, https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/sraa004 Published: 08 April 2020

Abstract:

Journalistic sources seem to suggest that there has been a resurgence of the American Religious Left (i.e., politically liberal Christians who support progressive agendas) in the wake of the strong support from the conservative Christian right in the 2016 presidential election of Donald J. Trump. Using quantitative analysis, we draw on survey data from the General Social Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute, and the National Congregations Study to assess the possibility of a resurgence among the Religious Left. In comparison with a speculated rise, our analysis indicates a notable decline in both the prevalence and engagement of Americans who self-identify as both religious and politically liberal. Not only is the constituency of the Religious Left shrinking, they have also been steadily disengaging from political activity in the last decade. Especially when looking at more recent elections, it has been those among the Secular Left who have been the most politically engaged. We summarize these empirical patterns in relation to the Religious Right and consider the potential for influence among the Religious Left aside from electoral politics. We also briefly consider other possibilities for their political impact and reflect on the inadequacy of the label “Religious Left” for capturing important dynamics. In the end, we urge greater attention to politics among sociologists of religion, providing a set of research questions to consider in light of the upcoming American 2020 national election.

Read more via … https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/81/2/131/5818067?redirectedFrom=fulltext