RECONCILIATION & The Power Struggle Involved in Transitioning to a Multiethnic Church

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Reconciliation is not about acculturation or blending, but about “giving up power.” That’s what Mark and I tried to say in our book: re;MIX Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press, 2017). Read this article below for a good corollary.

“Transitioning to a Multiethnic Church” By Eric Nykamp, Global Christian Worship, 8/25/17.

Many urban white churches realize that their congregation doesn’t reflect the diversity of the cities they reside in, and many of these churches desire to become multi-ethnic communities. However, moving from this desire to developing into an actual multi-ethnic community can be challenging, especially for churches with a track-record of being a “whites only” worship space in their city. Since most white people have little awareness of their white cultural norms, they mistakenly assume that what is normal for them is also the norm for all people … and are puzzled when their “outreach” or “welcome and enfolding” efforts fall flat with people of color. Due to this cultural blindspot, they are unable to recognize that some of their white cultural norms send the message that people of color with different norms of worship are not welcomed, unless the person of color is willing to assimilate.

Some majority-white churches realize that changing their worship norms will help them develop into the multi-ethnic space they desire to become … but find that they are stuck in making this happen. This talk, given at one such church, addresses how white Christians need to recognize and understand how white norms about worship may operate within their church. The presentation asks questions about what it would mean for white people to change their ways and give up power in order to become a multiethnic community. He concludes with a challenge to white Christians in multiethnic churches to love their brothers and sisters of color with Christ self-sacrificial love for the church, especially when it comes to issues of power and control in multiethnic churches.

Read more at …

Hear it at:

and go here for more:

DIVERSIFIED MULTIPLICATION & Why Church Leaders Are Missing the Healthiest Growth Strategy

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: General Electric, probably one of the most siloed companies in America, is restructuring to create a “horizontal organization” that better shares its assets. This is the “diversified multiplication” model that I’ve been advocating for years (along with organizational scientists). It means rather than launching competitive organizations (such as independent church plants) or siloing departments within an organization (as we do with multiple campuses), it requires diversifying – while sharing as many assets as possible. To understand more of the diversified multiplication model and how even small churches can grow quickly by implementing it, see my books ORGANIX and The Healthy Church. Then read this article to see how the business world does it successfully.

GE is undergoing the most radical transformation in its 124-year history, by Robert Stephens, Business Insider, 1/13/15.

…A key reason for this potential is GE’s focus on breaking down the walls between its different divisions, which, in the past, have generally operated on a nearly mutually exclusive basis.

Through the adoption and focus on the GE Store, the company is intent on developing its horizontal capabilities through shared innovation, with technological advancements, ideas, and support from one part of the business being made available across all parts of the business.

Undoubtedly, such a scheme has little value when the different divisions have limited common ground. For example, GE’s consumer credit arm, Synchrony, had little to share with GE’s healthcare department, and vice versa.

However, with the company disposing of multiple financial assets, including Synchrony, as it seeks to become an industrial company that is enhanced rather than dominated by its capital arm, scope for a more collaborative, value-added approach is likely to enhance innovation, productivity, and, most important, profitability.

GE is well on the road to generating its targeted 75% of profit from its industrials division, with the remainder to be derived from its capital division.

This split makes good sense, since GE envisions a world in which financial volatility, geopolitical uncertainty, and development opportunities in the developing world are emphasized in future years.

To take advantage of those factors, GE must innovate, become more productive, and tap into the $70 trillion that is forecast to be spent on global infrastructure between 2014 and 2030…

Read more at …

LEAD 558

ALLIANCE MODEL & An Example of This Type of Multicultural Church in Singapore

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I advocate multi-venue and multi-campus churches as a way to reach out to multiple cultures (e.g. ethnicities) while running the church together with integrated councils and committees (what I call the “alliance model of multicultural church.”)  This is because I have seen reconciliation take place more by integrating committees and leadership teams than by simply having integrating worship services (were you simply sit next to each other).  One of my Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry students, Melt van der Spuy, found this example of how, in the increasingly multicultural urban world, the alliance model I propose makes sense for sharing assets and creating reconciliation. Take a look at this venue menu from this Singapore church.

Retrieved from …

imageSaint Andrew’s Cathedral is owned by the Synod of the Diocese of Singapore, and is the main centre for Singapore’s Anglican Mission. The Church has a rich evangelical heritage and launched the first ever Anglican evangelical outreach in Singapore in 1856. Continuing in its evangelical tradition, and with strong links to ‘New Wine’ in the UK, St Andrews offers a variety of services on Sundays and throughout the week in different languages, styles and traditions catering for visitors, as well as the diverse Christian population of Singapore.

ALLIANCE MODEL & How to Share Your Church Without Losing Your Friends

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I have updated and modernized Daniel Sanchez’s “types of multicultural and multiethnic churches” in this journal article and the books The Healthy Church and re:MIX. Comparing the different models through John Perkins’ 3-Rs of reconciliation, it becomes clear the best model is the Alliance Model. Here one church is comprised of multiple cultural sub-congregations.

Dr. Ralph Wilson ideas has good ideas about how to accommodate different cultures within the same organization.  These ideas were developed for his presentation titled “How to Share Your Buildings without Losing Your Church,” at a conference sponsored by the Los Angeles City Mission Society.

Check out his good ideas about the tactical elements that go into sharing a building:

SIZES of CHURCHES & Why the Decentralized Alliance Model Makes the Most of the 5 Sizes put forth by McIntosh

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/25/15.

Gary McIntosh is a good friend and I appreciate what he writes (and he must feel the same, for he has endorsed my books). But, that doesn’t mean we don’t at times see things differently.

Below is a dialogue with a student regarding Gary’s five sizes (typology) of churches.  I agree they are good types, but not Gary’s “types” are confined to the size limits that he suggests.  This has important ramifications for church health.

A student said:

After attending a conference with Gary McIntosh we read his book, “Taking Your Church to the Next Level: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”  In the book and conference he outlined Church levels as such:
The Relational Church: 15-200 worshippers
The Managerial Church: 200-400 worshippers
The Organizational Church: 400-800 worshippers
The Centralized Church: 800-1,500 worshippers
The Decentralized Church: 1,500-plus worshippers

I replied.

You’re right Gary McIntosh has helped by delineating different types of churches. But he knows that I disagree with him on one aspect. And that is that you don’t have to have that number of worshipers to be that type of church. In other words, some of us have seen churches that are overly organized in the 150 range. And we have seen churches that exhibit all the hallmarks of the centralized church in the 300 range.

What I think is a key is that churches can be “decentralized” much before they’re up to 1500 worshipers. What Gary is saying is that churches typically are decentralized once they get over 1,500 worshipers.

But, I have seen many churches that are over 1,500 worshipers which really are structured like an organizational church. Gary knows I disagree with him and that is because I tend to work with more different varieties and sizes of churches. But I think the personalities of these five churches are valid … but just not that these personalities are limited to these size ranges.

Now, why is this important?  It is important because the “decentralized church” is for McIntosh the goal of churches.  And, I agree.  I just think you can be “decentralized” for health and growth much earlier … even around 100 attendees.

The advantages of the Alliance Model.

You can have a decentralized church with even less than a hundred if you have a traditional worship service or even a blended worship service on Sunday morning and a youth meeting on Sunday night … you’re technically got (according to the Gary’s terminology) a decentralized church.

Defined:  The Alliance Model is a decentralized church where multiple cultures partner together to be stronger as one nonprofit organization.

This is the Holy Grail of church ministry. For a church to truly be healthy it needs to have as many different cultures partnering together to run one church. It creates a lot of dissonant harmony and it does mean that you have to reconcile people from different cultures. But this is part of the ministry of reconciliation. We are first and foremost supposed to assist in reconciling people to their heavenly Father. But secondly as Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us: we in the church must also be reconciling people of different cultures. For example,

  • the youth learn how to get along with the older people by being in the same church together.
  • And the older people learn about the youth by being in the same church together.
  • And both groups can learn about Spanish speaking neighbors by being in the same church together.

Also, McIntosh’s “relational church” is really the “sub-congregation” or “cluster” model we are talking about. And the relational church’s size (less than 200 according to Gary) is really defined by the Dunbar number and is usually unhealthy above 125.

McIntosh’s “managerial,” “organizational” and “centralized church” models are various ways to manage organizational behavior that are organizationally centric. These are usually unhealthy ways to try and grow an organization because the organization takes dominance over the importance of people.

Thus, I agree with Gary that the “decentralized church” is the goal.  But, I disagree with Gary’s implication that you have to grow to 1,500 to become this.

I have seen that you can do it even with a small church. Many of us know small churches that may only have 60 or 75 in the morning worship the 30 or 40 youth coming on Sunday evening. According to McIntosh’s definition that would be a “decentralized church” … but it doesn’t have 1,500 worshipers and it may not even have 150.

The Alliance Church is an effective goal, for it creates growth through culturally contextualized partnerships.

So I would say, “follow Gary’s five models,” only “don’t wait until you are near 1,500 to start becoming what George Hunter calls “a congregation of congregations” (George Hunter, 1979, p. 23).

You also might want to Google the “Dunbar number” and then “Mike Breen” and what he says about “mid-sized missional communities” or “clusters.” Also, check out my postings on the equivalent term I prefer: sub-congregations. This will throw light up upon the importance of becoming a decentralized church.

MULTICULTURAL & 5 Models of Multicultural/Multiethnic Churches: A New Paradigm Evaluated & Differentiated

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D.

Published by The Great Commission Research Journal (La Mirada, Calif: Talbot School of Theology, Biola University), vol. 6, issue 1, 2014, pp. 22-35.


This article puts forth a comprehensive and reconciliation-based paradigm through which to view multicultural congregations as one of five models or types. It updates the historical categories of Sanchez, adds contemporary models and then evaluates each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation. The five models are: 1) the asset sharing Multicultural Alliance, 2) the collaborative Multicultural Partnership, 3) the asymmetrical Mother-Daughter model, 4) the popular Blended approach and 5) the Cultural Assimilation model. The result is a comprehensive five-model paradigm that includes an assessment of each model’s potential for spiritual and intercultural reconciliation.


This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of different multicultural[1] church models. Daniel Sanchez offered some of the earliest depictions of such models,[2] but 35 years later they beg to be updated. And despite the proliferation of books on the topic, no significant updating or additions to Sanchez’s categories have been offered other than the Sider et. al. partnership model.[3]

In addition, there is a vibrant discussion today regarding how John Perkins’ intercultural goals of redistribution, relocation and reconciliation are being addressed by churches.[4] Therefore, it can be helpful to assess how well different models of multicultural congregations are addressing each of Perkins’ intercultural reconciliation goals.

The following five models of multicultural congregations suggest a new and contemporized paradigm. I will analyze each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation…

Download the full article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – GCRJ-Published Multicultural MODELS

[1] Though the term multiethnic church is often used today, I will use the broader term multicultural, since culture is a more accurate way to describe people who share similar behaviors, ideas, fashion, literature, music, etc. [c.f. Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1976), p. 25]. Ethnicity is a type of culture often based on biological connections to a geographic area of origin, such as Sri Lankans (from the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka), Yemenis (from the Republic of Yemen) or Chinese (from the People’s Republic of China). But the term ethnicity is very imprecise, because there may be dozens of different ethnic groups that hail from the same area of origin. Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture will be utilized in this article.

[2] Daniel Sanchez, “Viable Models for Churches in Communities Experiencing Ethnic Transition.” (paper, Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1976).

[3] Ronald J. Sider, John M. Perkins, Wayne L. Gordon, and F. Albert Tizon, Linking Arms, Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008).

[4] John M. Perkins, A Quiet Revolution: The Christian Response to Human Need, a Strategy for Today (Pasadena, CA: Urban Family Publications, 1976), p. 220.

This article is excerpted and reedited from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013).

ALLIANCE MULTICULTURAL CASE STUDY & The Orchard Evangelical Free Church

Fast Facts: The Orchard Evangelical Free Church was founded in 1953 and has been growing ever since. It is now one congregation worshiping in four communities in the greater Chicagoland area; each of which stays true to the Gospel-centered mission while also tailoring their ministries to their unique congregations. The Orchard – Arlington Heights Campus would like specific prayer as they build teams to invite everyone who lives and works in Arlington Heights to our church. Pray that the Lord would raise up gifted and passionate leaders to bring Gospel-engagement to every neighborhood, school and people group. Pray that the Holy Spirit would soften the hearts of their neighbors, friends and family members and open their eyes to their need for a Savior.


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ATTENDANCE & How to Count Attendance in Multisite or Multicampus models

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Warren Bird is a friend, but also one of the most accurate number-crunchers (i.e. tacticians) regarding church growth. Here he suggests how and when multiple campuses, multiple venues and/or multiple sites are counted as part of the same church.”

“…Multisite churches are counted as part of one congregation (1) if they are all under the same leader and governance, (2) adhere to the same doctrine, (3) identify together under a similar name or association, and (4) share finances at some level.”

Read more at … (you can also download here his very reliable list of the largest churches in the world).