GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & The meaning of life, death and the afterlife will increasingly be on people’s minds and must be addressed in church teachings. #eReformation. #GrowingThePostPandemicChurchBook

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., excerpted from Growing the Post-Pandemic Church, 8/9/20.

Eschatology, the study of one’s final destiny, will be of increasing interest as the world grows smaller and waves of illnesses travel the globe at increasing speeds. 

The problem:

In recent years the church shifted away from eschatology, to topics of how to live a better life here and now. And while that may be important, it is eternal questions that will begin to dominate people’s interest as catastrophes circle the globe. 

The solution:  

Start preparing now: churches need to be prepared with orthodoxy and in clarity to address the issues of life, death and the afterlife.  

Remember …

Jesus told us, “Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. And so, it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door. Don’t take this lightly” (Mark 13:28-29, MSG).

Christ knew today’s catastrophes would happen. He is not surprised (John 16:30, Rev. 2:23). So, as knowledge of a fig tree tells an orchardist about the coming season, so too must Christian leaders discern the season we are in. It is time for church leaders to carefully adapt electronic tools, the way it once did the printing press, to better communicate the Good News.

Click to learn about the “9 other marks of the eReformation” in Growing the Post-Pandemic Church.

GUEST SERVICES & Your window to connect is 6 minutes according to this research.

I am writing a new ChurchLeadership.university course (hosted by uDemy) titled: “Church Guests 101.” It explains four (4) pivots churches must undertake to make guest services more effective. Check out those crucial pivots on ChurchLeadership.university.

Improving guest services begins my knowing your window to connect is very small. Here is a paragraph by Mark Collins, Certified Missional Coach, 10/1/19.

Mark Collins (right) at dinner with Bob Whitesel (left) and another Missional Coach in training (middle) Jeremy Schell.
We had an exciting day of discussing church growth and health with a client church.

Mark writes:

Your window to connect is 6 minutes. 

Research indicates that guests decide whether or not to come back within the first 6 minutes of arriving on campus (“Secrets of a Secret Shopper: Reaching and Keeping Church Guests” by Greg Atkinson).

This means that parking lot and pre-service experiences are crucial. 

Is the signage clear?

Do they feel safe leaving their kids?

Do your guest services volunteers seek to know the needs of the visitor?

STREAMING & #SundayChurchHacks: Check your streaming webpages early every Sunday to ensure they are ready to stream. This church’s streaming page was empty, up to & through the beginning of the service. Plus, add links on your streaming page to FaceBook and YouTube streams of your live worship (though their menu was truncated).

Even this client church, that has done remarkably well hosting online services, left many viewers without a worship opportunity.

Thankfully, the links to their FaceBook and YouTube streaming (in the top menu) added work around options for the technologically inclined.

HYBRID CONSULTATING & Hybrid workshops mean more people can participate. One lady shared how her housebound mother feels like a full participant when online. The future is not only a #HybridChurch but also #HybridMissionalCoaching #ConsultingLife

While consulting a megachurch, a leader came forward and told me the story about how online options had made her mother feel like a full participant in the church again. She told how her mother was able to go online and not only go to church services but also participate in a Bible study with other seniors. Because of health issues her mother was not able to attend church even before the pandemic began. For this woman and her mother a hybrid strategy had provided another venue for a subcongregation to develop and for congregants’ needs to be met.

CONSULTING & We are not a one-size-fits-all consulting practice. My 30+ years of coaching has taught me how to customize each & every consultation.

For over 30 years I’ve used my experiences, my education and my passion to coach leaders toward more kingdom impact.  

I customize every consultation.

So if you (or someone you know) needs help … contact me today: bob@ChurchHealth.net

BOB WHITESEL, DMIN, PHD
COACH, CONSULTANT, SPEAKER & AWARD-WINNING WRITER/SCHOLAR

MASKS & #SundayMorningHacks: In trouble if you do, in trouble if you don’t. How about this alternative?

I have clients that are being cautious and encouraging masks. And I have other clients that are almost anti-mask. What are best practices?

Because mask wearing has become a personal (and political) issue, two different cultures have emerged. And to reach multicultural congregations you must have leaders that relate to both cultures.

Therefore today, all other factors being equal, a Sunday Morning Hack is to have leaders and greeters equally balanced between mask-wearers and non-wearers. Make your worship experiences environments that make multiple cultures feel welcome and at home.

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

PREACHING & #SundayChurchHacks – Don’t bring up homiletical rabbit holes unless you are going to go down them. In the middle of a good sermon, the preacher got off track and started talking about “all the theological implications of that” but w/o elaborating.

Lesson – if you are going to bring up a topic then be ready to explain it at least for the uninitiated. If you don’t, you can inadvertently undermine your credibility and expertise. (This example that brought this to mind came from a non-client church.)

POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & Passing the plate may disappear as churches alter giving practices for safety and health.

Commentary by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D, 2/9/21.

There are new “best practices” emerging in the new normal. And, I’ve been describing them in my 14th book, Growing the Post-pandemic Church: A Leadership.church Guide.

How the offering is received is changing from passing a plate, to online giving and receptacles mounted around the church facility. While I know of no research that has compared the financial efficacy of the new approaches, there is research that shows that offering plates and the money within them carry bacteria and fungi.

For our older parishioners who are taking steps to limit their exposure to viruses, the church that practices safety and health may wish to move its giving to safer and healthier options.

Take a look at this article published by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health titled: Dirty Money on Holy Ground: Isolation of Potentially Pathogenic Bacteria and Fungi on Money Collected from Church Offerings

WORSHIP & #SundayChurch Hacks: Don’t move music stands, microphones, etc. during prayer. It distracts the live audience and often more so online attenders who are watching through a narrow camera angle.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Distractions bother leaders, sometimes more than they bother attendees. If a microphone gives feedback, a music stand falls over or a child cries out, the church leader is often especially annoyed. But when stagehands and technicians are moving equipment behind the leader while she or he prays, that leader may be unaware of the distractions going on behind them. Because I evaluate online services for the clients I coach, I find there is generally movement behind the pastor during the prayer that follows the music. The fix is for the leader to review the recorded online services each week, take notes for improvement and address recurring distractions delicately but directly.

The story of Mary and Martha, as translated in The Message Bible, gives insight and this phrase sums it up nicely: “One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Read the rest of the passage to discover what this “main course” is …

38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42 MSG

WORSHIP & Thank You Hezekiah Walker for the inspiration we needed for 2021 … through your song (and video) of “BETTER.”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As I look forward to 2021 (and in hindsight to a challenging 2020) I am inspired by Pastor Hezekiah Walker and his video from four years ago (below).

Little do I think Rev. Walker realized how poignant this song would be for 2021. I urge you to listen and be inspired:

WORSHIP TEMPO & Today’s #SundayChurchHacks & The happiest tunes are slightly faster than your average song (the happiest tunes are between 140 – 150 beats per minute on average).

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/27/20.

I’ve written an article for Biblical Leadership Magazine about tempos of worship songs that inspire and foster celebration. And though research has confirmed that personal style of music is subjective, researchers have also found that it is songs in the tempos between 140 and 150 BPM (beats per minute) that are best for inspiring celebration and happiness.

Yet, Anglo churches that I have analyzed usually have one or none of their worship songs in these happy, celebratory tempos: tempos between 140 and 150 BPM (beats per minute)

So, look at your worship song list. And while contemplative, meditative and solemn songs are needed … so are songs in tempos between 140 and 150 BPM (beats per minute) that create a celebratory happiness in worship. Consider these Biblical admonitions:

Shout your praises to God, everybody!

Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,

Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,

Fill the air with praises to King God.

Psalm 98:4-6 MSG

On your feet now—applaud God!

    Bring a gift of laughter,

    sing yourselves into his presence.

Psalm 100: 1-2 MSG

So, how do you evaluate tempo if you are not a musician?

  • Simple online and smartphone applications will let you see tempo of any song.
  • If you find your worship team is trending toward slower, mostly stately songs (I have noticed this trend in my case-study research) then suggest songs of higher, happier tempos.
  • Don’t focus solely on uptempo songs, but be wary of musical sets that miss the celebration and happiness that comes from an encounter (Hebrew: worship) with God.

Here is a helpful chart of the most common tempo markings (with bpm) and definitions from the previous article:

    • Prestissimo (> 200 bpm) very very fast
    • Presto (168 – 200 bpm) very fast
    • Allegro (120 – 168 bpm) fast
    • Moderato (108 – 120 bpm) moderately
    • Andante (76 – 108 bpm) walking pace
    • Adagio (66 – 76 bpm) slow and stately
    • Lento/Largo (40 – 60 bpm) very slow
    • Grave (20-40 bpm) slow and solemn

For more details, see my full article for Biblical Leadership Magazine.

More #ChristmasChurchHacks & How to Preach the Lessons of the Wise Women (Mary, Elizabeth & Anna) in addition to those of the wise men.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve found that congregations enjoy the equally numerous stories of women in the Bible. But unfortunately, at Christmas time the three wise women (Mary, Elizabeth and Anna) are often discussed little in favor of the shepherds and Wise Men.

Rick Warren conducted an excellent series on these women. He emphasized overcoming fear (Mary), overcoming disappointments (Anna) and overcoming bitterness (Elizabeth).

Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Prophetess Anna”, 1639 (photo: Public Domain)
Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Visitation,” 1640 (photo: Public Domain)

Check out Rick’s series here: https://pastorrick.com/player/?id=20903

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

Can you find Gary McIntosh’s famous relative in the ATL airport? I did. And, his life is a lesson on “cultural adapters.” #2MinVideo

Here is a short (under 2 minute) lesson on “cultural adapters” inspired by a picture of Dr. McIntosh’s famous progenitor located in the Atlanta airport pedestrian tunnel between Concourses B & C.

Have you seen Chief McIntosh in Atlanta?

For more on “selective adapters,” “consonant adapters” and “dissonant adapters” see the chart here ,.. https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/?s=Dissonant&submit=Search

Excited to facilitate 36 Vietnamese business leaders as they take my 3-STRand Leadership questionnaire to create more unity in their teams. #ChurchLeadership101 www.ChurchLeadership.university

http://www.ChurchLeadership.University

CLICK to view (and find your discount) >> Church Leadership 101

https://www.udemy.com/course/church-leadership-101-bob-whitesel-phd-leadershipchurch/?referralCode=77BB843FC2957B1CCD42

POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & An overview of Rainer & Whitesel’s advice on growing the post-pandemic church.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. In this article, a colleague described how much Thom and I agree on the future of the church. And though I purposely don’t read Rainer’s (or other Christian leaders’) writings on a topic when writing my own analysis, I am always happy to see so much agreement. I admire Thom’s intellect and influence. We go way back, to when I was the president of the Great Commission Research Network and Thom received the McGavran Award from that association at its annual conference held that year at Indiana Wesleyan University. When someone you admire so much agrees with you, you feel blessed and bolstered.

Leadership Thought: What the Post-Pandemic Church May Look Like

Dear Friends,

The church has changed more in the last year than at any time in the past 100 years, and it will continue to change according to those who study church trends. The Covid 19 pandemic has radically transformed the way we do church, and some of the change that has been wrought within the church may be more than just  temporary  interruptions; they may become permanent in naturel. In reading and listening to those who make a study of the church, there are a some changes that many of them agree on, and this morning I would like to share some of them.

Church change will happen faster than ever before. Our world is in a time of rapid change, and because of this  people are more open to change than ever before. If the church has been considering making major changes in its ministry, including staffing or  facilities, now is the time to do it as there will be less resistance to change than ever before.
“The core of the church will grow stronger and the fringe of the church will become looser,” was a statement I heard expressed on a recent pod cast. In plain terms, there will be a winnowing of the church. Some who have been attendees will not be coming back. It has been suggested that one third of the church will return, one third is still evaluating their return and one third may never return.

The church will simplify. There will be a concentration on doing a few things well rather than offering a lot of varied programs and services.
There will be a greater focus on training the laity to do ministry and the result will be more trained laymen  filling key leadership roles in the church. This certainly is a good thing for it is in keeping with the equipping mandate given the church in Eph. 4:11-12.

There will be an increase in bi vocational pastors who will split their time between secular work and church responsibilities.There will be a major shift in staff alignments as some  pastors will be leaving the ministry as a result of what has been called “decision and opinion fatigue.” This is a stretching time for pastors and with many of them being taken out of their comfort zones,  some may choose to explore other vocations.

There will be less of an emphasis on academic degrees and more emphasis placed on online certification. This has already been happening and seminaries are presently being forced to change their traditional ways of doing education. Those looking for pastors will be more interested in past certification and personal experience than in a seminary degree.

Younger pastors will be leading churches, simply because many of them will have the technical experience to function more comfortably in our fast-changing digital  world.There will be a greater emphasis  on the development of small groups within the church which will meet for study, training and mutual support  and which will often align themselves around a particular mission or para church ministry.

There will be a more churches closing or being adopted by larger and healthier churches. The concept of “fostering churches” will become a reality, and stronger churches will support smaller churches by training and equipping its leaders.There will be fewer senior or lead pastors heading up churches as many of them will choose to lead smaller or “micro churches” of 30-40 people. The church “will grow horizontally” as different small groups or micro churches are formed, and it will “shrink vertically” as larger churches see  diminishing number of attenders. 
Denominations will continue to decline,  something that has been happening for many years, but with the pandemic, the decline will be accentuated.

Big attractional church events and major productions will diminish in significance unless churches are able to plan them to maximize opportunities for relationship building, something that today’s younger attenders are seeking. 

The church will find new ways to educate, train and nurture those families who choose to  insulate themselves from normal church activities by doing “church at home.”

There will be an emphasis on training church members to do ministry  in their respective neighborhoods. Small groups may coalesce around ministries specific  to their neighborhoods. For more information see The Art of Neighboring-Building Relationships by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.

Some larger churches with significant size facilities may be forced to rent out parts of their building to both church and or non-church  programs. Some churches will experience shrinking income with diminishing memberships, as government stimulus support is eliminated.
The church will discover new and innovative ways to reach out and better serve their communities. 

All of the above are not givens and the post pandemic church may turn out to be a lot more similar to the church as we know than some of the changes church experts are portending. Only God know what the church will look like, but one thing we know is that it is Christ who has built the church foundation and His promise is that “the gates of hell shall never prevail against .Whatever form or shape the church takes, it’s  goal will always remain the same as the goal of its Master-“to go into the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe everything I have commanded,…..’remembering,” I am with you always to the end of the world.”

For more information on the thoughts above you might with to check out Thom Ranier’s The Post Quarantine Church or Growing the Post-Pandemic Church by Bob Whitesel.

Yours in faith and friendship, Tom 

GIVING & Churches report giving boost months after pandemic started. More insights in “Growing the Post-pandemic Church” #NewBook

by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Services, 9/20.

… The new State of the Plate research finds that close to two-thirds (64%) of churches across the country reported in August that giving is either up (22%) or steady (42%). By contrast, in April, a similar share of churches (65%) said they had seen a drop in giving.

“This is encouraging news for churches across America,” said Brian Kluth, a former pastor who is now national spokesperson for the National Association of Evangelicals’ Financial Health initiative. “These new findings show that most churches and their families are figuring out ways to survive and even thrive in the midst of all the challenges that the pandemic has thrown their way.”

The findings are based on responses from 1,076 mainline, evangelical and independent Protestant churches. Seven in 10 of them had less than 200 attenders before the pandemic.

A third of the responding churches were in cities or suburbs, almost another third were from towns, about a quarter were from rural areas or small towns and 9% were from large cities.

“How have COVID-19 shutdowns impacted your church’s giving?” Graphic courtesy of State of the Plate

The vast majority of respondents — 87% — said their congregations are currently meeting for in-person worship services. But more than half (58%) said attendance in person is half or less compared with pre-pandemic times. Six percent said they had seen an increase in attendance.

A survey released in July by LifeWay Research found that 71% of Protestant churches met for in-person services in mid-July, with almost all taking some precautions to try to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Barna Group, in a similar survey at that time, found 49% of church leaders said they were meeting inside their buildings.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/09/15/churches-report-giving-boost-months-after-pandemic-started/

I get excited when the weekend approaches! That’s because I fly out to help churches attain their full potential. Prayers are appreciated as this weekend I help leaders grow a post-pandemic Texas megachurch. #PostPandemicChurchBook

“Growing the Post-pandemic Church: A Leadership.church Guide”

Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08F5L7S1T/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awdo_t1_DSDlFbA5FTSM5

Paperback

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B08FK8VMWS/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Want to overcome the pandemic #DisillusionmentPhase? Change something! Dozens of field-tested changes in “Growing the Post-pandemic Church.” Paperback & Kindle on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Whitesel/ #Post-PandemicChurchBook

Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08F5L7S1T/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awdo_t1_DSDlFbA5FTSM5

Paperback

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B08FK8VMWS/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=&sr=