VISION & Creating a Balanced Vision for Your Church by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 12/14/18.

IMG_2087In an attempt to describe organizations involved both locally and globally, a new term was championed by British sociologist Rolland Robertson: glocalwhich combines glo-bal with lo-cal. A host of Christian books have followed suit, using glocal as a descriptor for a congregation that is engaged in local and global ministry.

Therefore, a term more inclusive than glocal is needed. A term is required which reminds us that meeting the needs of non-churchgoers locally and globally also requires sustaining and assisting the health of a congregation of believers. A conglocal church is a congregation that has a balanced three-fold heart for foreign missions, for local missions and for congregants.

The designation conglocal reminds a congregation that it must balance its ministry to those inside the congregation, those nearby who are outside of it and those far away as well. In my consulting work, I have noticed that too many churches today spend the majority of their time looking after and meeting the needs of those within the congregation. This arises because the needs of those inside the congregation are heard the loudest and most frequent, due to social proximity.

However, the needs of those who are outside of the congregation pale in comparison with those with the church. One writer starkly reminded us that, “When a person dies without hearing that ‘God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16, RSV), it is too late. The best thing that could possibly happen to that person has been denied.”

Conglocalbalance in your financial expenditures

A key element of balanced conglocal ministry is balancing your fiscal expenditures in each category. In one client church, the pastor stood up and boldly proclaimed that the church was now giving 20 percent of its income to local (10 percent) and global (10 percent) ministry. While this is a step in the right direction, the church’s lavish marble atrium reminded visitors that 80 percent of this congregation’s income was still spent upon itself.

If churches are to foster authentic reconciliation between haves and have-nots as well as across physical chasms, then churches must start balancing their spending. The conglocal model provides a visual cue to churches of a church’s three-fold fiscal obligations. In a church with a growing conglocal heart you will find an increasing balance in expenditures toward meeting the needs of not just congregants, but also the local and global communities.

Conglocalbalance in your church life

More than balancing need-meeting in financial expenditures, it is important to balance your fellowship congregationally, locally and globally. Most churches spend a great deal of their time getting to know the needs of those within the congregation. Though there is nothing wrong with this, it can often be out of balance. A congregation must also regularly share life and interaction with those who don’t attend their church as well as those who don’t live nearby.

Research shows that face-to-face encounters help people from different cultures and socio-economic levels accept and support one another. Such face-to-face encounters with local and global people who don’t attend your church is an important tactic to maintain a conglocal balance.

Still, some readers may say that they work 40-plus hours per week with non-churchgoers and shouldn’t this be sufficient? Regrettably, in most of those workplace interactions, there is little sharing of spiritual values. Plus, in many workplaces discussing spiritual beliefs is discouraged. Thus, the conglocal church intentionally creates opportunities for local and global non-churchgoers to graciously discuss their faith journeys.

For example, one church cancelled its Sunday morning service, telling its congregants to go into the community to “find a need and fill it.” The pastor’s intention was to get the congregants out into the community seeking to understand and meet the needs of non-churchgoers. That Sunday hundreds of congregants spread out across the city to meet needs in Jesus’ name.

While sharing this story at a seminar, I noticed the assembled Wesleyan pastors looked uncomfortable. The General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon was actually seated behind me as I spoke (which if you didn’t know Dr. Lyon, could be a disquieting prospect).

At the end of my seminar, she took the podium and addressed my puzzlement over the reaction of the pastors. “I know why some of you were uncomfortable with the idea of canceling church and going out to serve the community,” Dr. Lyon began. “I know it is because if you did, you couldn’t count those people in your monthly attendance totals. Now, I don’t know if I have the authority to do this. But, I’m going to go ahead and say that if you send your people out to serve non-churchgoers on a Sunday, then you can count every person they touch has having been in Jesus’ presence that day.”

Kindhearted smiles swept across the seminar participants, as they recognized that this general superintendent would not let tradition stand in the way of reaching out to those in need.

How will your church find a conglocal vision? Meeting congregational needs will create a foundation of health so the church community can reach others locally and globally. This creates a large and balanced vision for the church—a conglocal vision.

Excerpted from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heartby Bob Whitesel (Wesleyan Publishing 2013)

Photo source: istock

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/4-attitudes-to-cultivate-in-a-small-group/

 

VIDEO & Millennials tell me that sermon “video introductions” seem #inauthentic & undercut relational nature of an #OrganicChurch. (#LiveDrama #Testimonies instead = More #SundayChurchHacks )

VITUAL CHURCH & Weaknesses/Strengths of Going to Church in Virtual Reality by @BobWhitesel via @BiblicalLeader #BiblicalLeadershipMagazine

https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality/

SCREENSHOT Whitesel Going to Church in Virtual Reality.png

3. Accountability eclipsed by entertainment

4. Technology drives expenditures

5. Disenfranchised continue to be marginalized/ignored

6. Reconciliation takes more effort

7. Spiritual transformation is downplayed

Recently I had the opportunity to pull together speakers for the annual conference of the Great Commission Research Network. These were speakers who had experience leading online churches. You can find more information from the conference at these links:

SOCIAL MEDIA & Questions to stimulate discussion on how churches can more effectively utilize social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA & #NathanClark the leader of one of the nation’s first online communities tells the best thing a small church can do to connect & minister online

In addition one of my students from Kingswood University in Canada has started a church with her husband that includes an online service. Find more info about their multiplication strategy here: SOCIAL MEDIA & How a Toronto church plant uses gaming site Twitch to create online bible studies & community

Finally, here is a good video from CNN that gives a introduction to online churches.//fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod

You can also view the CNN video here: https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme

VISION & Salesforce founder/co-CEO Marc Benioff explains how clarity + alignment in the word “V2MOM” is the key to Salesforce’s success.

by Robert Glazer, Inc. Magazine, 11/5/18.

 vision and values (V2) combined with methods, obstacles, and measures (MOM). It’s shorthand for some fundamental business processes:

Vision: Defines what you want to do or achieve.

Values: Principles and beliefs that help you pursue the vision.

Methods: Actions and steps to take to get the job done.

Obstacles: The challenges and issues you have to overcome to achieve the vision.

Measures: The ways in which you measure achievement.

V2MOM was the brainchild of Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff, who has said that it is “the biggest secret of Salesforce.com’scess.”

In a column explaining the origin of V2MOM, Benioff wrote, “When I was at Oracle, I struggled with the fact that there was no written business plan or formal communication process during our growth phase. In fact, I remember asking Larry Ellison during my new-hire orientation, ‘What is Oracle’s five-year plan?” His response was simple: ‘We don’t have a five-year plan, we barely have a six-month plan. It was our job to figure it out what Larry wanted on our own.”

This led Benioff down the path to examining what great companies do differently. He found that the discussions kept coming back to the themes of clarity and alignment. 

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/robert-glazer/marc-benioff-says-these-4-principles-are-key-to-salesforces-success-heres-how-to-use-them.html

VISION & This Christmas … give your “vision statement” 3 elements that make it whole: how to meet congregational, local & global needs simultaneously

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/17/18.
In my article published last week in Biblical Leadership Magazine, I’ve found that helpful vision statements must include 3 phrases …
  1. helping non-churchgoers,
  2. emphasizing conversion
  3. and organizing disciple-making.
Many mission statements focus on one aspect of the Good News, rather than all three.
Learn below how to create a “comprehensive” vision statement that won’t leave out any of the Good News.  And find more in a practical and holistic theology of evangelism in my hardcover book Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (published by Wesleyan Publishing House) which was Outreach Magazine Runner-up for Resource of the Year.  It is available on sale at these links:

And read more of the book from which this article is excerpted, titled: The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart available below:

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 10.21.10 AM.png

But the needs of those who are outside of the congregation pale in comparison with those with the church. One writer starkly reminded us that, “when a person dies without hearing that ‘God so loved the words that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, RSV), it is too late. The best thing that could possibly happen to that person has been denied.”

To help visualize this three-fold heart for congregational needs, local need and global needs, the church can be pictured as a three-chambered heart in Figure 7.4.

Figure 7.4 Picturing the Conglocal Heart of a Congregation

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 10.39.18 AM.png

In Figure 7.4 congregational needs create a foundation, depicted in the lower section of the heart. Such placement is not to suggest primacy, but only to remind us that a foundation of health can better help a congregation minister to others locally and globally.

Conglocal Balance In Your Financial Expenditures

  A key element of balanced conglocal ministry is balancing your fiscal expenditures in each category. In one client church the pastor stood up and boldly proclaimed that the church was now giving 20% of its income to local (10%) and global (10%) ministry. While this is a step in the right direction, the church’s lavish marble atrium reminded visitors that 80% of this congregation’s income was still spent upon itself.

If churches are to foster authentic reconciliation between haves and have-nots as well as across physical chiasms, then churches must start balancing their spending. The conglocal model provides a visual cue to churches of a church’s three-fold fiscal obligations. In a church with a growing conglocal heart you will find an increasing balance in expenditures toward meeting the needs of not just congregants, but also the local and global communities.

Conglocal Balance In Your Church Life

More than balancing need-meeting in financial expenditures, it is important to balance your fellowship congregationally, locally and globally. Most churches spend a great deal of their time getting to know the needs of those within the congregation. Though there is nothing wrong with this, it can often be out of balance. A congregation must also regularly share life and interaction with those who don’t attend their church as well as those who don’t live nearby.  

Research shows that face-to-face encounters help people from different cultures and socio-economic levels accept and support one another. Such face-to-face encounters with local and global people who don’t attend your church is an important tactic to maintain a conglocal balance. Still, some readers may say that they work 40+ hours a week with non-churchgoers and shouldn’t this be sufficient? But regrettably, in most of those workplace interactions there is very little sharing of spiritual values. Plus, in many workplaces discussing spiritual beliefs is discouraged. Thus, the conglocal church intentionally creates opportunities for local and global non-churchgoers to graciously discuss their faith journeys.

For example, one church cancelled its Sunday morning service, telling its congregants to go into the community to “find a need and fill it.” The pastor’s intention was to get the congregants out into the community seeking the understand and meet the needs of non-churchgoers. That Sunday hundreds of congregants spread out across the city to meet needs in Jesus’ name. 

While sharing this story at a seminar, I noticed the assembled Wesleyan pastors looked uncomfortable. The General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon was actually seated behind me as I spoke (which if you didn’t know Dr. Lyon, could be a disquieting prospect). At the end my seminar she took the podium and addressed my puzzlement over the reaction of the pastors. “I know why some of you were uncomfortable with the idea of canceling church and going out to serve the community,” Dr. Lyon began. “I know it is because if you did, you couldn’t count those people in your monthly attendance totals. Now, I don’t know if I have authority to do this. But, I’m going to go ahead and say that if you send your people out to serve non-churchgoers on a Sunday, then you can count every person they touch has having been in Jesus’ presence that day.” Kindhearted smiles swept across the seminar participants, as they recognized that this general superintendent would not let customs stand in the way of reaching out to those in need.

Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/creating-a-balanced-vision-for-your-church/

VOLUNTEERS & Research reveals 41% started because someone already involved invited them to join. #NationalSurveyOfCongregations

by Helen Gibson, LifeWay, 7/27/18

(According to) the 2015 National Survey of Congregations …, released in 2016, the most recent year such data is available, shows around 1 in 4 Americans, or 24.9 percent, said they volunteered at least once over the course of the year.

Women tend to volunteer more than men, at a rate of 27.8 percent to 21.8 percent…

Americans 35 to 44 years old and those 45 to 54 years old were most likely to volunteer, at rates of 28.9 and 28 percent, respectively. On the other hand, people 20 to 24 years old were least likely to volunteer, at a rate of 18.4 percent.

Those with higher education levels are also more likely to volunteer. Among respondents 25 years old or older, 38.8 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher said they volunteered, while 26.5 percent of those with some college or an associate degree, 15.6 percent of those with a high school diploma only, and 8.1 percent of those without a high school diploma said the same.

Whether or not someone is married with children may also affect the likelihood that they volunteer. Around 1 in 3 married people (29.9 percent) said they volunteer, while about 1 in 5 of those who’ve never married (19.9 percent), and 1 in 5 of those with other marital statuses (20.2 percent) said the same. Parents with children under the age of 18 were also more likely to volunteer (31.3 percent) than people without kids (22.6 percent).

(Some takeaways:)

(Make it easy to volunteer)  Around 4 in 10 volunteers said they got involved with a particular organization by approaching that organization themselves, so make it easy for your church’s members to figure out how they can get connected to certain ministries.

(Current volunteers should be encouraged to recruit more volunteers) Another 4 in 10 volunteers said they started volunteering after being asked by someone else — and most often, that was someone who was already involved in that organization. Encourage those who are currently serving in a particular ministry area not only to keep serving, but to invite others to join with them….

(Serving = discipleship)  Daniel Im, LifeWay’s director of church multiplication, described it as a way to grow spiritually on a recent volunteer recruitment episode of the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast.

“When you serve, that’s actually how you become more like Christ — because that’s what Jesus came to do,” Im said. “So why don’t you do what Jesus did, and why don’t you grow and become more like Him?’”

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/07/26/data-paints-a-picture-of-volunteerism-across-the-nation/

VISION & A review by missional coach Jim H. of “Church Unique” by Will Mancini.

Review of Church Unique (Will Mancini) by Jim H. 2018 Missional Coach candidate, 4/2/18.

Over the last month, I not only read this book, I studied it.  My Life Coach recommended the book last summer and when I had the chance to read it for “credit” I took it.  Since I’m moving closer to working with churches in need of revitalizing I’ve been looking for philosophical positions and practices on the best way to reverse churches.  Although this book is not really a philosophical book, it does begin with the idea that every church has a unique role or character that makes it different from every other congregation.  

The book has four sections of which I will identify bullet points that made an impression.  The sections are:

  1. Recasting Vision
  2. Clarifying Vision
  3. Articulating Vision
  4. Advancing Vision

Recasting Vision:  The idea behind this section is to redeem the visioning process for churches.  We made it too much into a “canned” process.  Leadership can restrict vision which is the lifeline to any church.  

  • Every church is a unique, but they’re not valuing their uniqueness.  Discovering their uniqueness can be hard work and humbling.  They may have to be realistic of their uniqueness, but they need to be comfortable in their own skin.
  • Church culture is defined by a list of qualities from its people.  The uniqueness of a church is equal to its culture.  This is not defined by a church service as much as the interacting thoughts, actions, attitudes and beliefs.  The sociological impact of a church is greatly underestimated.
  • Strategic Planning can kill a church!  Things I learned:
    • Too much information can kill vision!
    • Silos in the church are killing the team atmosphere.  Finding ways to break down the competitive nature within ministries and people is critical.
    • Leadership blinders greatly hampers a churches capacity!  My big take away on this is focusing on preparation and not planning.  Also, leaders and churches can be arthritic or adaptive.  
  • Space often times defines a church and its vision which should be combated.  Four walls don’t define us, so learning to resource those four walls to serve vision is important.

Clarifying Vision:  Once we discover that unique vision, how do we communicate it and keep people attune to it.  

It will take too long to go through all these clarifying characteristics, but it does seem to match other discovery techniques.  

  • Clarifying vision is about looking to the past as much as the future.
  • Clarifying vision requires careful consideration of strengths and limitations.
  • Clarifying vision is as much about identity as it is methodology.
  • Clarifying vision is always about what God is already doing.
  • Clarity makes leadership credible

Articulating Vision:  

  • Vision Frame:  The way Will Mancini broke this portion of the book down was helpful.  I will be studying this further to possibly integrate it into my own processes.  It does help to “frame” vision since it can be all encompassing. 
  • Mountain Top + Milestones:  this was also a helpful concept to process.  It is understandable that people need to see the big picture, but to create successes along the way to keep people motivated and moral up.

Advancing Vision:  Once the vision has been clarified and articulated, the messiest part is advancing it.  Life happens and people get distracted.  

  • My job as a leader is to constantly align, attune, and integrate the vision into the minds and hearts, actions and passions, and roles and organization charts of the Church Unique.
  • This is the part that scares me the most.  My strengths lie in the previous parts and not as much in this area.  I know I need to develop these skills.  God may put me in this role again to do just that.

VISION STATEMENTS & How I have seen them underused, overemphasized & mostly ineffective. Here is the alternative…

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/13/18.

Yearly a handful of missional coach candidates shadow me on my consultations (more info here if you are interested in being considered for next year’s cohort).

Recently, the missional coach candidates and I were discussing the use, misuse and impact of mission and vision statements.  First, I will share my personal conclusions from having worked with hundreds of churches on their mission and vision statements.  Then (below my comments) you will find the discussion that inaugurated these conclusions.

I wrote:

If you have read my books, you probably know I am not a fan of Vision Statements (though I discuss them and the differences with Mission Statements in most of my books).

Here is why.
I agree with everything said (below, by the missional coach candidates I am training).
  • Vision Statements help visualize a preferred future,
  • create metrics for goal attainment,
  • etc.
But, I have seen them generate little use in these areas, despite pleas and pushing from the leaders.
They often consume too much time, because I suspect, Christians like philosophizing and theologizing more than practicing something.

So, I have come to conclude that John Kotter has the answers.  He states that visions (created by a collation) are temporary and elastic things.  In other words, they are tied to a project.

  • Now, I’m not saying that vision statements aren’t needed.
  • They are, but they should be more flexible, temporal and more quickly created.
 Yet, mission statements are different. They deal with unchangeable values (and for Christians, our theology).  They shouldn’t change.  But, the local church usually doesn’t need to craft them, because the denomination or network has usually done that for them.
So, my recommendations to clients based upon my experiences over 25+ years.
  1. Have a Mission Statement that defines your theology, history and polity.
  2. Create multiple Vision Statements as time and projects dictate.

(Below is the conversation among my 2018 Missional Coaches candidates on this issue):

On Apr 13, 2018, at 11:10 AM, Tim W. wrote:

I did my graduate degree in business in the days when the competitive edge of Corporation, Inc. rested in these kinds of organizational tools. The church world then adopted the language and approach. My bias is still towards using these. I see them as critical pieces in organizational design BUT I also do not want to spend copious amounts of time/energy/money generating these statements. More to the point, if a congregation does have them, then they need to embed them deeply into the heart of the church. AND, if they are not authentic and missionally-driven statements, then it’s pointless anyway. :))

On Apr 13, 2018, at 9:01 AM, Mark C. wrote:

I would agree on many of your points. The fact that what the local church does is actually their vision is truer that what we or they want to believe.
In most cases the Great Commission Vision has been neglected in place of a Great Coffee Dream.
Here to surV
Mark
 
On Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:19 AM, Tim W wrote:
Hi all … I want to chime in on some of the mission/vision statement comments in this string from my experience as a denominational exec.
I agree that churches can spend too much time on massaging vision and mission statement(if they even understand the difference/function of these two tools), but I also thinkmany churches spend too LITTLE time on them as well. There must be a balance. When properly formed and used, these statements provide a great deal of agenda harmony, synergy in the organizational system, clarity of priority in budgeting, effectiveness in staffing right, and a host of other things. Most importantly, it removes the fuzziness in the minds of the congregation as to congregational direction. In fact, when done well, the very process of drafting a statement together reveals gaps, relational deficiencies (both personal and organizational), and then creates energy, excitement, optimism, and makes strategic planning more robust. Of course, these statements in themselves can’t do anything for the church; it’s all in the way they are employed into the organizational system.
The truth be told, though, most churches already operate from vision, but it’s usually informal, imprecise, and carried by a few power brokers in the church. A couple of great questions to ask when conducting a first consult with the congregation is this: if your church was at its very best, what would this look like? where would she spend her time and resources? These questions do not directly address the vision question because if you ask “what is your vision?” most people will either recite what they read on the bulletin cover or will look dumbfounded. When asked outcome oriented questions, however, a picture emerges and this picture is the imperfectly constructed vision.
Ultimately, the vision statement is a tool to help organize for mission—no more and no less. It’s power is in its simplicity to direct and excite and it’s contribution to the real-world ministry of the church.
Just my thoughts…
Tim
 Read more of the ideas about mission and vision statements that I’ve come to embrace after seeing them in practice here.

VOLUNTEERS & What’s the prescription for your church’s role-to-task ratio? #CharlesArn – why your church community has too many tasks & not enough leaders to implement them.

There may be many factors involved in why your church community has too many tasks and not enough leaders to implement them. Dr. Charles Arn dives into this question and offers solutions for how to create a better role-to-task ratio for your congregation. (Excerpted from the Society For Church Consulting’s Church Staffing Summit 2015.)

Video: What’s the prescription for your church’s role-to-task ratio?

by Charles Arn
There may be many factors involved in why your church community has too many tasks and not enough leaders to implement them.

Watch more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/videos/whats-the-prescription-for-your-churchs-role-to-task-ratio

VISION & How to improve clarity and impact: a video introduction #LEAD600

In my courses, my students evaluate existing vision and mission statements with a goal of improving clarity and impact. To assist them in the evaluation, I’ve recorded a video introduction to their homework on evaluating vision and mission statements (LEAD 600: Strategic Leadership and Management).

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

 

VISION & Video Introduction to Praxis Assignments of Week 4 of LEAD 600

I record video introductions to weekly assignments for my students.  Here is an introduction to the topic “Evaluating Mission & Vision” from LEAD 600: Missional Leadership (typically week 4, but may vary due to student needs).

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

VISION & Good/Bad Vision Statements Compared

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 3/15/16.

Clients, students and seminar attendees often ask about what a good vision statement looks like. First let’s define what a vision statement is and then look at good (and bad) examples.

Here is a concise comparison between mission and vision statements.

“Envisioning begins by asking ourselves ‘what do we do?’ (our mission statement) and continues by uncovering, ‘where to we believe God is calling our church to go in the future’ (our vision statement).” 1

Here is a fuller explanation. 2

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107 copy

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107.b

Here are some good and some better examples: 3

The following are sample vision statements that have been generationally shaped to promote a Tri-Gen. format (italics are added here for emphasis):

  • “We want to turn pre-Christian people of all generations into fully devoted followers of Christ, through relevant teaching and up-to-date worship.
  • “To build a caring and compassionate congregation that loves people of all ages into a relationship with Jesus Christ through acts of kindness.”
  • Our vision is to reach all generations within the tri-state area with the Good News through culture-current forms of evangelism, worship, teaching and nurture, and to work with other congregations to accomplish these goals.
  • To provide for (city) a Christian fellowship offering teaching and worship opportunities geared to each generation, while respecting our differences and exalting our Lord.
  • The vision of (church name) is to present Christ to the people of (city) in a caring and creative way, that will make disciples of all ages; while offering them a forgiving and open-hearted environment.
  • To simultaneously meet the needs of all generations of people in our community, through biblical teachings and personal lifestyle that will create social action, conscience and responsibility.
  • Our ministry goal is to build relationships to all generations through Christ-centered teaching, quality worship, heartfelt care, personal discipleship and credible leadership.
  • Our church vision is to become a lighthouse to the greater metropolitan area, by addressing the needs of all generations though parallel worship, teaching, and care ministries; which will exalt and honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

And here is a (humorous) example of a bad vision statement:

“First Covenant Church exists for the passion and purpose of inspiring, discipling, equipping and sending out Christ followers with the destiny of transforming the world to the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and fostering a graceful yet convicting church environment in which people of all faith experiences and backgrounds are molded into the image and reflection of Christ, together creating a God-honoring community of authentic worshipers deliberately focused on reaching their community, the nation, the next generation of believers and the world through missions works, innovative programs and prayer.”  And that’s just the first sentence… Read More

You can download below a chapter on the difference between mission, vision and value statements from my book A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church.  If this helps you consider supporting the publisher and the author by purchasing the book: House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel

ENDNOTES:

  1. Bob Whitesel, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2000), p. 240.
  2. ibid., p. 107.
  3. ibid., p. 108.

VISION & Should Out-group Members Help Shape Vision?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/5/15.

A pastor of a mid-sized church (300-450 attendance) wondered to what degree the vision should be generated by the pastor and staff (the in-group) and to what degree should the vision be co-generated with laity who may include out-groups. This is what he said:

“What do you think about the viewpoints that ‘it is not the Elders’ role to come up with the vision,’ but (their) work is to follow the lead pastor’s vision and ensure that he/she has time, resources, and tools to cultivate a clear vision of the body.” The student went on to emphasize that in many large churches it is the pastor and staff who are an in-group that drives the vision. And the laypersons and out-groups are those who bring it about. Thus vision should be in-group created but out-group undertaken.

But, I wonder with such a scenario about two things. First, perhaps God has sent those out-group members to your church and He wants you to reach out to them and build a shared vision.

Secondly, the in-group/out-group division could have been caused by cultural differences (see my posting on “Does Race Matter When It Comes to Out-group Members?”) Therefore, should we break down the organizational silos and unite a congregation by creating a shared vision, rather than a vision created by the dominant culture in the church.

And finally, what will happen when a new leader (e.g. pastor) comes into such a situation?  Does each new pastor bring their own new vision to the church?  Regrettably, I have observed that this is often the case. The end result it that with each successive pastor the church often gets a new vision and then goes in a new direction, thwarting long term strength and health.

In fact, in the business word the new leader rarely comes up with a brand new vision, but instead allows input from the in-groups and out-groups to set a shared vision.  But there is a caveat. And that is that some churches may have a wrong vision (and/or mission) and therefore they must be gently but tenaciously drawn back to the missio Dei.  However, I’m not talking about these churches.

Rather, I sense that if most churches foster a vision that is cultivated in community that vision will be is more balanced, broad, shared and long-term.

VISION & Mission, Core-values, Core-competencies … what is the difference?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/15/15.

A student once shared he was trying to distinguish between these four types of statements: core-values, core-competencies, mission and vision.  I tried to simplify them (perhaps overly so), but I wanted to share that synopsis in case you were in a similar scenario.

Here is my response.

———

Hello ___student_name____,

I don’t blame anyone for getting bogged down today in word-smithing, for there are many writers writing on the same thing, and they often mix their terms.   But, I like most of you believe that a vision statement is important for answering the “why” of an organization.

Thus, here is how I would succinctly explain the difference between a mission statement, a vision statement, core values and core competencies.

Mission: Tells us the what.

Core-values: Tell us the why.

Core-competencies: Tell us the best how (based in part upon how the world thinks we can do it).

Vision: Pictures the future goal of the how.

———

in addition, here is a chapter from my book A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church on the difference between mission, vision and value statements.  As customary, if this helps you consider supporting the publisher and the author by purchasing the book: House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel

VALUES & How to find (and state) a church’s Biblical core values

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/11/15.

A student once stated,” …our church is one of the many churches that David Wilson alludes to in his book Foundations of Church Administration ….. For example, the previous mission statement had to deal with reaching out to the world around the church. It was a great mission, but it was never accomplished. It was never close to being accomplished. The church did not focus outward, instead it catered to whatever ministries the most influential people sought to build. That is why I believe we must answer the question of what core beliefs we have of what the church should be. If we answer those questions well, that in and of itself will impact who we are as believers. It will not be about just what we do; it will be about who we are. It will not be just about our behaviors; it will be about changing our DNA as a church.”

That is the value of “value statements,” for without them a mission and a vision for a church’s participation in the missio Dei is impossible.

Therefore, if you come to lead a church that has become organizationally- and/or communally-focused, then the first step toward creating a mission and a vision, is to clarify (and embrace) new core-values.

FIGURE House Divided 5.2 Biblical Values via WimberThat is why in “A House Divided” (2000:112) I created a Scriptural grid for defining the Biblical basis (or core-values) for a church.  If a church is struggling with what it values at it’s core, then starting with the Scriptures is essential.  And, I created this chart (Figure 5.2, based upon ideas from John Wimber, Writing Your History in Advance, nd) to make the process a bit easier.  It is attached to help stir your thinking (as well as your creativity and impact).  Click to enlarge the chart.

Download the chapter here (but as always, if you enjoy the insights please support the publisher and author by buying a copy of the book):  House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel

VISIONARIES & An exercise for finding evangelists (but not the type you think ;-) 

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/8/15.

When we Christians use the word evangelist we think of someone effectively sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. But the secular world has observed the enthusiasm of an evangelist and has even borrowed the term to refer to non-profit leaders who are cheerleaders for new ideas.

These principles are put forth in a very helpful book (that all church leaders should read, especially those involved in nonprofit organizations): Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits. In the chapter “Inspire the evangelists” is this quote,

“Recent research suggests that people will help more if they are not seen merely as a means to an end, but as empowered equals … (thus high-impact nonprofits create) opportunities for people to actively participate and to experience what nonprofits do … those involved become integrated into a larger community with shared values and beliefs, and are motivated to participate more deeply as donors, volunteers, and activists… (So) give volunteers meaningful experiences … convert your volunteers into evangelists who will spread the word among their social networks” (Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, italics authors, pp. 106, 107, 121, 123).

A leadership exercise

I give my students a followup question (below) which is also a good exercise for leadership teams in both nonprofit and church organizations. If you were directed here from one of my courses then complete this exercise by posting your responses online. If not, then try this leadership exercise with your ministry leaders.

1. Read the definition of an evangelist in the book, Forces for Good.

2.  Share the story of someone who is in evangelist in the sense of the book, Forces for Good.

3.  What can you personally learn from their life?

4.  Finally, is there another name instead of evangelist, that the secular nonprofit world might label them?

VISITORS & Guest Retention Strategies by Charles Arn

by Charles “Chip” Arn, Wesley Seminary Connexion Online, 7/22/15.

A few years ago I was part of a research study on the topic of “visitor retention.” We asked participating churches to go back into their records 2 to 3 years and select a continuous six-week period (such as Sept. 1 – October 15 or January 1 – February 15). Then, they were asked to examine their data and identify all those people who had visited the church one time during that six-week period; next, identify those who had visited twice; finally, identify the people who had visited three times during those six weeks. The churches were then asked to jump forward one year and identify which of those visitors had become regular attenders. We divided the churches into two categories: those growing in worship attendance, and those not. Here are the percentages of visitors who were in the church one year later, compared with how many times they had visited in the six-week period…

Percentage of Visitors Who Stayed

Number of visits in six-weeks Non-growing Churches Growing Churches
One Visit 9% 21%
Two Visits 17% 38%
Three Visits 36% 57%

There are some important insights from this study:

  • The typical declining American church sees 1 in 10 first time visitors (9%) become part of their congregation.
  • The typical growing church see 2 of 10 first-time visitors (21%) become active.

KEY QUESTION: “Do you know your church’s visitor retention rate of first-time visitors?”

  • But, when visitors return a second time, the retention rate nearly doubles (in both growing and non-growing churches).
  • When people visit the same church 3 times in a six-week period, over 1/3 of them stay (36%) in declining churches. And over half (57%) stay in growing churches.

KEY QUESTION: “Do you know your church’s visitor retention rate of second- and third-time visitors?” To put this research, and the apparent facts, into a simple conclusion: The more often people visit, the more likely they will stay.

My Suggestions… Analysis of your weekly worship attendance will provide you with a wealth of insights. Just as the information from a barometer will help you forecast coming weather patterns, information from your worship attendance will help you forecast coming growth patterns. I’m talking about more than just counting heads on Sunday. You need to know that last week Mike and Denise McKay visited your church for the third time in the past two months. (And, as long as you’re tracking attendance, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that Patty Culver, a regular member in your church, has not been in worship for three Sundays now.) Unfortunately, most churches either don’t take regular attendance, or don’t capture the information they need, or don’t glean important patterns of their people flow.* Here are three “to-do’s” that will enhance your stewardship of the people God has put in your trust…

  1. Obtain attendance information
  2. Monitor attendance patterns
  3. Respond to attendance indicators

Obtain Attendance Information How do you know who was at your church last Sunday and who was not? There is not one “right” way. But, here are ideas from other churches…

  • A pew pad at the end of each row that is signed and passed from one end to the other. Most people sign a sheet that is handed to them, so it’s usually a good indicator of who’s in the service and who’s not. The downside is that it’s not very private and thus difficult to add more information (i.e., prayer requests, name/address, notes to staff, etc. ).
  • Registration cards in the seat back in front of the worshipper. A good approach is to ask each attendee to complete a card, not just the visitors. Newcomers don’t like to be publicly identified, so asking them to (awkwardly and obviously) reach forward and fill out a “Visitor Card” lowers the percentage of people who will do so. A Lutheran church of over 5,000 in Houston uses one card with two sides—the blue side for all members and regular attenders, and the green side for those who still consider themselves newcomers. Good idea.
  • A perforated flap inside your bulletin or printed program. Each attendee is asked to complete and then tear off the “communication note” and drop it in the offering plate when it comes by. This approach allows for more confidential information to be shared, gives members and visitors an opportunity to all participate, and provides an “easy out” for putting at least something in the offering plate. (Of course, some pastors prefer a different approach for that same reason. )
  • A church in southern California prints peel-off labels with the names of each member and regular attender on 4-across computer labels (each is approximately 1” x 2”). The continuous form labels are torn into 5’ lengths and taped to the wall in the lobby. Worshippers enter the building, find their nametag (listed in alphabetical order), peel it off and stick it on their shirt/blouse for the morning. It’s also a handy way to give people a reminder of “what’s his name” who they met last week. And, coincidentally, the nametags that are remaining on the 5’ sheets after the last service indicate who was not there. (Visitors/guests can get a similar nametag printed at the guest center, which also gives the church a record of visitor information. )
  • A smaller rural church in Kansas has appointed a woman to be their attendance checker. She sits in the choir at the front of the church and then, during the service, compares her membership roster against the people in the pews. Before you laugh at this idea, the same woman practices her spiritual gift of hospitality by introducing herself to those newcomers after the service.
  • Small groups and adult Bible classes can be asked to check worship attendance for the people in their group.
  • And, a few examples on the higher tech side…one large church in Atlanta has two video cameras mounted in the worship center that scan and record those in attendance using facial recognition software. (Other churches just use the video to later identify attendees.)
  • A church in Las Vegas issues electronically coded ID cards to members and regular attenders that are used for child-care check-in, financial contributions, member voting, etc. Sunday morning a scanner at each door records those who pass by…without even needing to remove the card from their wallet. (Members are aware of this process and think it’s great!)

Monitor Attendance Patterns Here, the computer is your best friend. Whether it’s a bells and whistles church software program, or a home-made spreadsheet, you’ll need a way to enter and evaluate the data. At the beginning of each week print a report that provides you with:

  • First-time visitors (names and address, if available).
  • Second-time visitors, plus the date of their first visit.
  • Third-time visitors, plus the dates of their first and second visits.
  • Number and percent of 1st, 2nd, and 3rdtime visitors to total attendance (5% or greater is healthy).
  • Members and regular attenders who were absent (totals and percentages).
  • Members and regular attenders who have missed three services in a row. (Half of these people will be gone within a year if their absence is ignored. )
  • You may want to include additional information in your report, such as a comparison of these same numbers with the report from a year ago.

Respond to Attendance Indicators To get started, I recommend you sit down and compose two follow-up letters, one to 2nd time guests, and one to 3rd time guests (assuming you already have one for 1st timers). Next, invite a group of 4-5 people together (including some new members) who would be willing to help design a system to identify, follow up, and track 2nd and 3rd time guests. The goal is to connect these newcomers with people in the church who share similar interests, marital and family status, age, gender, etc. Then do some “sanctified match-making” with newcomers and regular attenders. Research clearly shows that the more friends a newcomer makes in a church, the more likely he/she will become active and involved. And, of course, for those long-time members who have been gone the last few Sundays, let them know that “We missed you…you’re an important part of our family…we’re looking forward to seeing you next week.” Visitors represent 100% of your church’s growth potential. It’s a wise investment to give them the time, honor, and attention they deserve. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2)

Read more at … http://wesleyconnectonline.com/q-who-is-more-important-than-your-first-time-visitors-a-your-second-time-visitors/

VISION & The Abuse of Vision: What Did Bonhoeffer Mean?

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 6/18/15.

A student once brought up a very interesting quote by Bonhoeffer. I thought the quote and a brief look at the hyper-visionary culture amid which Bonhoeffer wrote (Nazi Germany) could throw some light on the power and potential for degradation of vision.

The student wrote: “I just was reading through Bonhoeffer’s Life Together and he talks about visionaries. He says, “God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges that brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself” (2009 ed., p. 27).

The student continued. “At first, this seemed a bit shocking to me and goes against what I believe to be true about dreaming, creativity, innovation, and being on the cutting edge. Bonhoeffer is one of the most brilliant Christian minds of the last century so I had to take that into account as well. I read a few articles and Northwest Church had this to say about it: “When we add fluff, entertainment, programs, and all kinds of things to ‘enhance’ Christian community we are often just providing superfluous distractions from what God intended. When somebody steps forward with some grand new vision of what the church should look like and be like they are often either watering down the community God intended or adding something unnecessary and perhaps even harmful.” (http://nwbible.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/1-thessalonians-2-god-hates-visionary-dreaming/)

The student concluded, “So I can get on board with that to a certain extent but then I had to take into account everything I just read in Growth by Accident. I think the first thing we need to start with is admitting that “We don’t know.” Socrates said that that admission was true wisdom. Several times throughout the chapter, Dr. Whitesel makes the point that we cannot compromise theologically. That’s incredibly important. And, also, we need to be culturally relevant or we won’t have any sort of impact on anyone. But there is a line between being “superfluous” and watering down the message of the gospel and being innovative to reach the un/dechurched. Christian pastor and author, Chip Ingram says in his blog, “So often we mistakenly believe that the power is in the messenger. But the Bible says the power is in the message and not in the messenger.” (http://livingontheedge.org/read-blog/blog/2012/12/24/why-we-don-t-share-our-faith-with-others).  Being creative, innovative, and dreaming big dreams have to come out of a place of true humility and prayer. We were created with great minds and the ability to be amazingly creative and I think it is true what Dr. Whitesel says in Growth by Accident, “Creativity is a reflection of a Creator who glories in the originality of his handiwork.” (Kindle Edition) But when it becomes about “us” and what we can do, that’s when it’s necessary to take a step back and make sure that the goal is still honoring and bringing glory to God.

Here is how I replied.

Hello ___student_name___.  You certainly are right about Bonhoeffer. If you read his writings it becomes evident that he is speaking to a church that was bought into a vision that was opposite that of Christ. When I attended the German Church Days (Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag) in 1982 there were many posters that were plastered around the conference. The posters depicted a photo of a Lutheran Church with a large swastika that had replaced the cross above the altar. The caption said “We are headed this way again!”

The point that the Germans were reminding the conference attendees was that entertainment, attraction and drama do not replace what Rudolph Otto called the “experience of the numinous” (1950, p. 3-5). This means encountering God is why we come to church, not to encounter a movement or anything human derived … be it preaching, music or something else

Vision is important for helping people see what God is calling the church to be. But the way vision was used in Nazi Germany to direct churchgoing people to support a human movement shows vision can be corrupted. Thus popularity is not a good indicator of anointing. So when a vision is corrupt you will see it through pride, status and autocratic behavior … exactly the things Bonhoeffer warned about. This is I think the important lesson we take today from Bonhoeffer.

Now ask yourself, what do you think about this tension between vision and Christ-like authenticity?  And how do you think you can tell if someone is acting with vain, egocentric vision like Bonhoeffer described?  Maybe write down one or two revealing characteristics that might indicate a leader is casting a vision for personal rationale and not a missional one.

Reference:
Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy, trans John W. Harvey, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper and Row, 1954), p. 27.

VENUES & Are We Dividing the Church With Separate Celebrations? Maybe so, but for a mission.

by Bob Whitesel, 6/3/15.

Sometimes my students wonder if we are further dividing the church by offering separate worship celebrations based upon culture and/or aesthetics.  Let me answer this question.

Sociologists tell us that people naturally break into groups of 12-20 (the small group dynamic) and 20-150 (this latter is called the Dunbar number after the sociologist that discovered it – see this interesting article about how an analysis of Twitter even confirms this: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0022656 and you can also click here to search for Dunbar’s articles on this wiki: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/?s=dunbar).

It may be the same in the same church. Thus, we are not breaking up people further, but managing the groups that oftentimes already exist but we ignore or don’t see.

GBA_Sm2And in addition to unity events (picnics, unity services, outreach ministry, service ministry, etc. etc.) fellowship areas in the church facility are needed. That is why in the chapter, “Missteps With Facilities” in my book Growth By Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT To Kill a Growing Congregation (2004) I talk about having large gathering spaces (community rooms) where all worship celebrations could congregate together.

A problem arises when we don’t realize that church services are not about fellowship with each other (the seats face the wrong way for this), but about fellowship with God. We should be providing separate areas (and aesthetics) for fellowship with God, and unified spaces (community rooms, unity events, etc.) for fellowship with each other. The church has for too long equated the two, that we have stifled growth … and fellowship.

I ask my students if some of them can share ideas about how you keep the worship service focused on God (and not fellowship) and how you foster fellowship at other times.

Let me give an example to start you thinking.  One pastor I know in Iowa has a large foyer, two times bigger than the auditoriums, to foster fellowship after church.  He also doesn’t allow sharing of prayer requests or questions from the floor of the sanctuary, preferring to keep it a place of worship.  Thus, he encourages the fellowship in the foyer which they call the great room or community gathering room.

So think about this.  And, if you are a student in one of my courses reading this, can you share how you keep (or wish you had kept) fellowship separate from worship environments?

References

Modeling Users’ Activity on Twitter Networks: Validation of Dunbar’s Number, Bruno Gonçalves, Nicola Perra and Alessandro Vespignani, PLOS, August 3, 2011, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022656  Abstract:  Microblogging and mobile devices appear to augment human social capabilities, which raises the question whether they remove cognitive or biological constraints on human communication. In this paper we analyze a dataset of Twitter conversations collected across six months involving 1.7 million individuals and test the theoretical cognitive limit on the number of stable social relationships known as Dunbar’s number. We find that the data are in agreement with Dunbar’s result; users can entertain a maximum of 100–200 stable relationships. Thus, the ‘economy of attention’ is limited in the online world by cognitive and biological constraints as predicted by Dunbar’s theory. We propose a simple model for users’ behavior that includes finite priority queuing and time resources that reproduces the observed social behavior.

VISION & If I Read One More Platitude-Filled Mission Statement, I’ll Scream

“I advocate that executives develop a single 3-5 year strategic intent that is both aspirational and measureable.”
by Greg McKeown, 11/4/12, Harvard Business Review

mission-statement.jpg

How did you do? The largely indistinguishable statements make the task almost impossible. Such statements may still be considered “best practice” in some quarters but in so many cases they do not achieve what they were intended to achieve. Ironically, many “directional documents” are not fit for purpose: they do not provide direction.

At the risk of adding another consulting cliché to the mix, we can map the most common directional documents on a practical two by two to help us to make sense of them.

strategic-intent.jpg

On the one hand, we have vision, mission and values statements that sound inspirational, but are so general they are almost entirely ignored. On the other hand, we have quarterly objectives we pay attention to, but these shorter term tactics can lack inspiration.

What becomes clear is that we are missing a directional document that is both inspirational and concrete. We need — using the language from Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad in their HBR piece — Strategic Intent. Going beyond their original definition, I advocate that executives develop a single 3-5 year strategic intent that is both aspirational and measureable. This can sound simple, but getting it right is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage, insight and foresight to create such strategic clarity. Consider the following guidelines…

Read more at …https://hbr.org/2012/10/if-i-read-one-more-platitude-filled-mission-statement