GUESTS & Ideas for churches based upon the #Disney “5 Principles of Hospitality” explained by former #Disney executive to #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork #GCRN18

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by Rich Taylor, former head of Disney Entertainment speaking to the Great Commission Research Network, Oct. 18, 2018 (commentary in italics by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D.)

Disney has 5-rules of hospitality.

 

 

  1. Anticipate – Look ahead to anticipate what will your guests need.
    • Walk the venue beforehand.
    • What will be the guests’ needs: childcare, restrooms, open seating?
  2. Arrival – What they experience on arrival.
    • What is the experience in the first five minutes?
  3. Great Experience – the Disney Experience.
    • What is the cumulative experience of the guest.
    • What will they feel after the first 15 minutes?  
    • What will they focus upon?
    • What will they remember?
    • Technology:
      • Don’t over-rely on technology. Be prepared for technology to fail and to have a Plan B.
      • Don’t rely on the latest technology, because the latests technology still has the bugs being worked out.  Adopt proven technology.  This would mean we should be “advanced incumbents” rather than “early adopters.” See this chart for a comparison.  
    • Selection:  Use people that are “naturally friendly” in Taylor’s terminology, which we might define as those with the “gift of hospitality.”
    • Training is another key.  Give them regular training at regular times for which they can plan.
  4. Departure – This is your last opportunity to make a guest feel great. When I went to theatre the other night, everyone welcomed us and said goodbye.  It was well done. But the valets were disinterested and unconcerned. What did I remember from the evening? The valets!
    • Have a departing gift, acknowledgment,
    • Have a banner that says “Thank you for visiting – we hope you encountered God.” of something like that that can be seen as they leave.
  5. Savor – If it has been a good experience they will savor the visit and the most important thing for Disney is that they will come back.
    • Visit growing churches to see what they are doing that is working.  You can’t do everything but you may be able to replicate something they are doing.
    • Follow up with them, right after they leave.  Send visitors an email that arrives on their way home.
    • Get feedback.
      • If they are a repeat visitor, ask them what you did well (and they will tell you what they enjoyed).
      • Have anonymous “ideas cards” that guests can fill out.

WILD CHURCH & What is it and where is it going? A look inside more #OrganicChurches

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 7/6/18.

For over two decades I’ve been researching innovative new churches and helping church leaders understand if they are heretical, orthodox, mainstream and/or part of an emerging evangelical movement. My book “Inside the Organic Church” (Abingdon Press) looked at so-called emerging churches.

In this article, I’ll look at what is being called the “Wild Church.” These are people who gather among nature, often hosting church services in natural outdoor venues such as parks, forests, old barns, etc. And, they come in various denominational and theological persuasions. Some Wild Church worship services are hosted by liberal congregations and may embrace some aspects of nature worship. But others are more evangelical in theology, who see worshipping amid God’s creation an opportunity to behold his power and majesty. A simple Google search will turn up many more examples.

To learn about this phenomena, I urge the reader to not focus on just those examples that run counter to their own theological persuasion. Instead the unbiased reader may find the Wild Church an innovative opportunity to draw near to God. As King David would say, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).

Check out my four principles for understanding the Wild Church, with takeaways and cautions.

A working definition: The wild church is a congregation that gathers among nature (i.e. in the wild) to appreciate what God has revealed through his creation.

Principle 1: Wild Churches come in many theological persuasions. Some are evangelical and view having church out among nature as a way to share God’s good news with nature enthusiasts such as hikers, campers and the outdoors type. Other Wild Churches embrace a liberal theology.

Take away: You don’t have to be of a certain theological persuasion to enjoy a Wild Church. Yes, there will be liberal churches that will worship in the wild. But evangelical congregations shouldn’t concede natural venues to their liberal brethern.

Caution: Being out among God’s nature can draw a person near to God as it did David. But be careful that when we are saturated in God’s creation we do not began to worship the creation rather than the Creator. Paul warned the Romans, “(some) exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1:25 NIV).

Principle 2: Wild churches are a method of taking a message out to where people recreate, reflect and have needs. Going outside of the religious walls of the synagogue was a hallmark of Jesus’ ministry, for example He reached out to:

Take away: There are many biblically examples of Jesus reaching out to where people are doing business or recreating. Churches that are seeking to share the good news with non-churchgoers may find in the Wild Chruch a magnificent, natural venue in which to do so.

Caution: Sometimes the excitement of doing church in a new manner can make the method more the focus, than the message. Don’t get so excited about a change in venue that the venue becomes the focus of your time and energy. The message should always be central in expression and preparation.  And it should point people to the Creator Christ Jesus (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16).

Principle 3: Don’t judge or criticize because a congregation is doing something differently or because they are affiliated with a denomination you don’t support. I’ve found that many times churches resist newness because they enjoy the style of worship they already have. But, because you have found the style and venue of worship you enjoy, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have other worship styles and venues where He intends His good news to travel.

Takeaway: Creating new styles of worship can be a way to reach people who enjoy different expressions of worship. As an avid hiker and surfer, I have found that talking to God amid His creation can help me reflect upon His power, His goodness and His love as seen in what He created for us.

Caution: Don’t try to create a Wild Church unless God has given you a call, a compassion and a camaraderie with those who care for and appreciate natural environs.  While most everyone can appreciate nature, there are those who find their spiritual peace when in natural milieus.  I am one such person, finding peace when mountain biking or surfing alone, with God as my companion.  If you are like me and feel His presence strongly in such places, maybe He is calling you to reach out to others who feel the same way … and introduce them to the Savior behind a marvelous creation.

JAMES 4:13-14 & Today I was scheduled to speak in Austin, TX & Corpus Christi, TX. But thanks to Hurricane Florence, I’m enjoying fellowship w/ my friends @LoveChapelHill, North Carolina.

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“And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, ‘Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.’ You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, ‘If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.’”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:13-15‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Ha. So true.

MULTICULTURAL CHURCHES & Strategizing recently w/ colleague & friend Jimmy Mc re. speaking at one of his national gatherings. I am a big fan of his multicultural boot camps.

Jimmy & Bob in ATL

For info on our combined speaking conferences or to attend one of Jimmy’s life-changing multicultural boot camps, email: bob@ChurchHealth.net

MERGERS & How to utilize mergers 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

CHRISTIAN & New book looks at the many varied ways the label has been applied in the last 150 years.

“What Does It Mean to Be Christian in America?” by Eric Miller, Washington Univeristy is St. Louis, 6/19/18

…In his new book, Christian: The Politics of a Word in America, historian Matthew Bowman documents a few of the many forms that Christianity has assumed over the past 150 years. Beginning just after the Civil War and working forward to the rise of Donald Trump, Bowman demonstrates how the faith has been claimed and counter-claimed by a wide variety of American actors, lending itself to a fascinating array of campaigns and causes, and always revising itself along the way.

Bowman is associate professor of history at Henderson State University. His previous books include The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith and The Urban Pulpit: New York City and the Fate of Liberal Evangelicalism. Eric C. Miller spoke with Bowman about the project over the phone. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.

R&P: What is a Christian in America?

MB: I argue that there is no single definition of that word. Instead, Christianity can be understood as an essentially contested concept—an abstract notion like justice or art that is by its very nature disputed because there is no single authority to render a definitive judgment.

Throughout American history, Christianity has been endlessly disputed and, by virtue of that disputation, has injected a great deal of dynamism into American politics and society. Paradoxically, by lending itself to so much appropriation and contestation, it has helped inspire religious, social, and political pluralism in the United States—which is not the way Americans are accustomed to thinking about the role of Christianity in their society.

R&P: What is Christian republicanism?

MB: Christian republicanism refers to one way in which Americans have defined what Christianity is and what implications it has for American politics and society. It derives from American Protestantism and associates Christianity with two essential elements.

The first of these elements is individual liberty. Protestants have long stressed individual autonomy and the importance of an individual encounter with God and Jesus Christ for salvation. In the American context particularly, that notion has influenced Americans’ political emphasis on autonomy and personal liberty.

It’s tempered, though, by the second element, which is the emphasis on virtue. This is owed in part to the traditional Protestant understanding of what it means to be a Christian, but it’s also derived from the early American admiration for classical societies like the Greeks and the Romans. The Roman writers that the American founders were reading emphasized that a self-governing society requires a virtuous citizenry. Christianity provided an effective means for promoting civic virtue because of its particularly Protestant emphasis on character and moral behavior.

This way of thinking about Christianity has been common—though not uncontested—throughout American history. It has taken different forms at different times in different places and been spoken of in a variety of different ways, but the presumed relationship between Christianity and American democratic government has been widely present since the founding.

R&P: The Christian republicanism that you document is very white and very Western—it arises in Europe and culminates in the triumph of “Western Civilization.” How have African American Christians responded to this standard Christian story?

MB: At points, many African Americans have seized upon Christian republican ideology, asserted their faith in it, and then used it to attack white Americans’ complicity in and complacency with slavery, segregation, and racism. These African Americans have argued that, for Americans to live up to the ideals of Christian republicanism—including liberty, autonomy, and virtue—slavery and racism and injustice must be rejected.

Read more at …http://religionandpolitics.org/2018/06/19/what-does-it-mean-to-be-christian-in-america/

ETHICS & The ethical character of a church leader: What is “ethical character” and how should a turnaround leader use it?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, 4/26/18.

What exactly makes a decision ethical? 

It is best to think of ethical decisions as those that honor the “the spirit behind the law.” 

Definition: “Ethics” means operating in the “spirit behind the law” and not just the letter of the law.  Example:  Something can be lawful (a loophole for instance) but not ethical and thus does not honor the “spirit” behind the law. 

The “character” of an ethical leader requires a 3-pronged approach, as popularized by former president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and ethics professor Alexander Hill (“Just Business: Christian Ethics for the Marketplace [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997].)

Ethical leaders have a “character that embraces” three principles…

1. Right actions

2. Just actions 

3. Acting in love

Let’s briefly explore each.

RIGHT ACTIONS are actions in harmony with God’s Word, sometimes described as “holiness” or Biblical godliness. Here are two examples:

a. Being physically and emotionally separate from impure or or ungodly principles, practices and actions. Peter reminds us that as Christians we are to “be Holy without blemish” 2 Peter 3:11-12. EXAMPLE: the ethical leader spends time in Bible study, theology and history to be able to distinguish between actions that go against Christ and His Word.

b. Right actions are rooted in humbly serving others as exemplified in the servant leadership of Jesus. EXAMPLE: “If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.” 1 John 2: 4-6.

JUST ACTIONS characterize leaders who practice equal procedures, fair reward for merit, and protection of rights.

a. Equal procedures mean that regardless of where the person is in the company hierarchy or their cultural background, they are treated equally. EXAMPLE: The apostle Paul living in a highly bigoted and hierarchical culture said that in Christ said that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ” Galatians 3:28. Ponder for a second how revolutionary this was in Paul’s day. Embracing equal procedures means treating people the same regardless of gender, ethnicity and/or socioeconomic culture.

b. Fair reward means that a person is paid fairly based upon their performance (merit) when balanced with what the congregation can afford. EXAMPLE: Exorbitant salaries for church leaders cannot be justified by saying that: “We’ve always paid this much for that position.” Sometimes in church turnarounds, the pastoral salary was set at a time when the chruch could afford a larger salary. Fair reward means negotiating salaries that are equally fair to the organization and the individual. 

c. Probably the most important aspect is to protect the inalienable rights that God has bestowed upon his creation, including bodily safety, freedom from harassment.

ACTING IN LOVE is what sets apart the character of a Christian, because it means our ethical framework demonstrates supernatural love. Here are two areas where Christians often fail in their ethical behavior.

a. Shouldering others pain: This means when one person in the organization suffers, we all suffer and therefore everyone does something to address their pain. Luke tells us in Acts 2:42-45 that in reaction to Peter’s Pentecost sermon, “They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.” EXAMPLE: When a church is undertaking a turnaround, one of the most powerful examples occurs when leaders give up something to help others. A notable secular example occurred when Malden Mills, a textile factory was destroyed by fire. Their CEO refused to lay off his workers. Instead he paid the worker’s salaries out of his own pocket. He told the news media that the workers were, “part of the enterprise, not a cost center to be cut. They’ve been with me for a long time.  We’ve been good to each other, and there’s a deep realization of that.” (Manuel G. Velasquez, Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases, 5th ed. [Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Publishers, 2003], p. 122-124, 491-92.)

b. Taking action on others behalf: This means working and coaching others to help them improve rather than firing them to find someone else. EXAMPLE: In many churches in need of revitalization, there is often an unhealthy and historical “Burn and Churn” style of leadership. “Burn and Churn” means that leaders “burnout” the volunteers/staff and then  leaders recruit more volunteers/staff to replace them, creating an endless “churning” cycle of: recruitment-leavings-recruitment-leavings-recruitment-leavings-etc. However, “taking actions on others behalf” means noticing when people are struggling and coaching them to improve, rather than dismissing them. By taking more time to mentor volunteers/staff rather than firing them, builds upon the strengths of the volunteers’ experience, the volunteers network of friends and the volunteer’s feelings of self worth.

Below is an example case study. Can you spot what could have been done differently utilizing “right actions, just actions and acting in love?”

Sarah doesn’t know very much about her new job as the Director of Discipleship. The previous director suddenly left because of burn out. And though he had no more prior experience than Sarah, the church paid him more because he was a man and was perceived to be the sole provider for his family.

A little more than year into the job Sarah felt she was starting to understand her responsibilities. For most of that year Sarah was on the verge of burning out because she felt the mission of the church was so important that she often worked 60 to 70 hour weeks taking time away from her two young children. 

Her boss the administrative pastor came in to her office and explained to her that she wasn’t developing into what the church needed. Sarah felt blindsided, because the administrator had not worked with her to help her learn her job or improve on doing it better.

The end result was that in this church turnaround situation Sarah was fired with little consideration for her financial and emotional fallout. In the 18 months she had developed many friends among the staff and they empathized with Sarah, perceiving the leaders’ actions to have had failed to exemplify Christlike actions. The end result was that the church went into further decline. Instead of a turnaround church … the lack of ethical character in the leader resulted in at downward church.

Download the article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – Ethical Character of Planter (Church Revitalizer) and here: https://issuu.com/renovate-conference/docs/2018_april_may_cr_magazine_final_adb6f267542cdb