NEED-MEETING & How The MIX ministry is meeting Maslow’s Safety Needs for an urban community

Commentary by Dr Whitesel: Abraham Maslow said one of the most critical, yet overlooked, tasks is meeting “safety needs:” the need people have for a safe and secure environment. Read this article to see how one church, in a dangerous neighborhood, weekly opens its doors for a potluck and free courses to provide a safe and popular environment for local residents. Thanks to Great Commission Research Network president James Cho for passing this along.

After 2014 tragedy, why the MIX in Santa Ana is thriving as a free source of classes, meals and love

by Theresa Walker, The Orange County Register, 12/28/16.

It’s a Wednesday night at Newsong Church in Santa Ana, and the gathering known as The MIX is in full swing…

Pop into different rooms on the church’s 17th Street campus, and classes for children and adults are underway, including art, baking, martial arts, crochet, piano and guitar, robotics, and PiYo, a mix of Pilates and yoga.

There are classes in English as a second language for adults and homework help for students.

The MIX is meant to create a safe place for families that live in overcrowded and risky neighborhoods, where it’s unsafe to go out at night. It gives them a place to relax, let the children run around in the open air, connect with one another and improve their lives.

It’s all free, with classes taught by volunteers who include church congregants and members of the wider community. They range from white-collar professionals to someone like Hilda Colin, a mom who heard about The MIX from neighbors.

The meals are typically potluck…

The MIX, formally called The MIX Academy, is Lo’s ministry, and he sums up its purpose in one word: Love.

There’s no preaching, but Lo views what happens at The MIX in spiritual terms.

People might come at first for the free food but find other nourishment when they break bread together and share their stories, their dreams and their talents, he said.

“To me, that’s community transformation, when you can equip the community to teach the community,” Lo said, adding that most of the people who attend The MIX are from impoverished and underserved areas, such as the Willard Intermediate School neighborhood around the corner from the church.

He hopes to train others to start their own version of The MIX at a second location in the city, if a place becomes available.

Lo talks about children who spend so much of their lives indoors – most of the day in a classroom at school and then all evening cooped up inside at home – an overcrowded apartment or maybe just one room in a house, because their parents fear what might happen to them on the streets. Or there is no place for them to play outside. Or there is no money to pay for after-school activities…

On routine nights, the free meal is served from 6 to 7 p.m. Then two hour-long sessions of classes take place, one starting at 7 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m. The classes are listed on a big screen inside the dining hall.

The MIX is supported by a host of donors, local and national, that include Wells Fargo, Nike, Adobe software, Trader Joe’s, Dave & Busters, Obey Clothing and Bracken’s Kitchen…

Read more at … http://www.ocregister.com/2016/12/28/after-2014-tragedy-why-the-mix-in-santa-ana-is-thriving-as-a-free-source-of-classes-meals-and-love/

CHANGE & Practical Steps 12Stone Church Undertook to Change

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: My colleague Kevin Myers is a studious and well-read pastor. I’m not surprised that when undertaking structural and branding changes at 12Stone church that he intuitively embraced many of the principles of effective change. Read this case study about the change that took place and notice the following important PreparingChange_Reaction_Mdelements for effective change. 1) They built consensus before they moved forward. 2) They retained what was working in the past and built upon it. 3) They looked at things that weren’t working in the past and then carefully and thoughtfully changed them. 4) They carefully built a consensus to select the best new ideas. And 5) God gave Kevin a Biblical metaphor that helped people visualize and internalize the missional nature of the change. For more on these and other “steps of change” see the book that came out of my PhD research on change titled, “Preparing for Change Reaction.” And then read this article for a good introduction regarding how one church did it well.

KEVIN MYERS: THE INTERNAL CHALLENGE OF CHANGE

By Kevin Myers • February 27, 2014

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“We often talk about ‘change’ as if it’s easy. But leading change is often dealing with our own resistance as well as others’.”

Kevin Myers Senior Pastor
12Stone ChurchLawrenceville, Ga.

TURNING POINTS

When 12Stone was 20 years old, nobody called us 12Stone. Our founding name was Crossroads Community Church. We birthed and built with that name. It was supernaturally given and sacred. We started with a name and eight people in a living room. It took seven years to break 200 and 15 years to break 1,500. At 20 years, we were more than 3,000. Yet we sensed a new era was before us as we were making changes for a new campus with 2,500 seats and becoming a multicampus church. So I introduced a turning point for our leadership team:

Since we have so many “changes” in front of us, let’s make the change that will affect everyone, and let’s change our name! Let’s face it, there are already so many “Crossroads” churches that we cannot maintain our distinction as we expand campuses. For that reason and more, let’s teach our church how to “change”!

So we entered into a redefining season and led the entire church into a teaching series that peaked with introducing our name change. In one weekend, we changed our 20-year name to the re-imagined 12Stone Church. I reminded everyone that, No.1, our mission is to keep God, his word and salvation sacred, but our methods and even our name can change, and No. 2, while we appreciate and celebrate our past, we will re-imagine and change for our future.

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Through that process of change, something shifted in me as a leader, and something shifted in our church. We often talk about “change” as if it’s easy. But leading change is often dealing with our own resistance as well as others’.

So we settled it. If we were going to take new territory for the kingdom, we would have to let go of things that were familiar, much like David before he became king. What got him noticed was taking down Goliath with a sling. But what made him famous was taking down tens of thousands with a sword. Sometimes you have to trade your familiar slingfor an unfamiliar sword as part of “becoming and conquering.”

stone-stack-sign-1500x430Changing our name was not the primary reason we grew from 3,500 to some 14,000 over these last five years. But the spirit of making leadership changes for the sake of the mission ignited a new era and a fresh freedom—the freedom to lead “change.” So where do you need to trade in your sling for a sword? (The Bible never records David using the sling again.)…

Read more at … http://www.outreachmagazine.com/interviews/5417-embracing-change.html

WORSHIP & A Leadership Exercise That Untangles Worship Controversies

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/6/15.

Worship can be a controversial area. This is in part because it deals with the intersection of Christ and culture.

Cultural anthropologist Charles Kraft, building on foundational concepts by Richard Niebuhr in the book “Christ and Culture,” argues that the most theologically defensible approach is what Kraft calls: Christ above but working through culture.  Eddie Gibbs explains that “such an approach represents a deliberate self-limiting on the part of God in order to speak in understandable terms and with perceived relevance on the part of the hearer. He acts redemptively with regard to culture, which includes judgment on some elements, but also affirmation in other areas, and a transformation of the whole.”

A Leadership Exercise:  

Describe in one to two paragraphs a Worship Controversy Case Study.  This is an example of some worship practice, liturgy, observance, act and/or event that was controversial.  Give the details in a paragraph.

Then wait for another leader to add to it.  You do this by reading another leader’s case study (that hasn’t been answered yet) and answer the following question:

Missiologists tell us that we must evaluate, sift, and either affirm or judge cultural practices.  This is what leaders must do as budding North American missiologists: analyze someone else’s case study by evaluating/sifting it, and then either judge it or affirm it.

End your remarks by giving your rationale for your conclusions.  This will probably take one to two paragraphs.

The Results:

Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can often see things that we are too close to the scenario to notice.  Thus, this leadership exercise allows your colleagues to assist you with cultural sifting and critiquing

Notes on the instructions: Additional thoughts in blue are embedded [below] in the earlier instructions:

Describe in one to two paragraphs a Worship Controversy Case Study.  This is an example of some worship practice, liturgy, observance, act and/or event that was controversial.  Give the details in a paragraph.

Describe some personal cast study. Something you have witnessed.  Tell about it in one paragraph.

Then wait for another leader to add to it.  You do this by reading another leader’s case study (that hasn’t been answered yet) and answer the following question:

Missiologists tell us that we must evaluate, sift, and either affirm or judge cultural practices.  This is what leaders must do as budding North American missiologists: analyze someone else’s case study by evaluating/sifting it, and then either judge it or affirm it.

Look at another leader’s case study by “evaluating/sifting it, and then either judge it or affirm it.

End your remarks by giving your rationale for your conclusions.  This will probably take one to two paragraphs.

Basically explain why the other person’s case study you decided to address was controversial. Also explain what behaviors, ideas or products run counter to the principles of Christ (i.e. sift or differentiate between the elements that run counter to the Good News and those that support it). Finally, tell if you agree or disagree with the participants. 

WORSHIP & Case Study of Multicultural Praise at Kentwood MI #WesleyanChurch via #CurtisThompson

Hope to see more #WesleyanChurch singing this way: #KentwoodChurch via #CurtisThompson #reMIXbook

GROUP EXIT & Examples with Prescriptions That Prevent Groups Leaving During Change

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min, Ph.D., 10/28/15.

I have explained the 6-stages & 5-triggers that lead to groups exiting a church in two books and at these links: GROUP EXIT & Preventing Group Exit During Change and Group Exit Articles. To visualize the critical misstep to which leaders fall prey when they create a “negative legitimizing event,” I have posted below several case-study examples.

These are real stories that demonstrate real situations where the pastor made a misstep and created a “negative legitimizing event.”  Though the names are changed, it was because of the conflict that ensued that these churches wound up hiring me to consult for them.  They are among many others who have said they were helped immeasurably by seeing the stages and triggers that lead people to exit their churches in groups.

A simple event sequence toward group exit:

  • First Church has many Sunday Schools, but nothing for congregants like Brad who work Sunday mornings (Stage 1: Relative Harmony).
  • Brad goes to a seminar at another church that explains an exciting new small group program that meets on Sunday evening (Trigger 1: Conflicting Ideas Event).
  • Brad goes to Pastor Jerry and explains this new program, and tells how he has recruited his friends and that they will help run it.  The pastor sees that this could help the church and responds, “this sounds like exactly what we need.” (Trigger 2: Negative Legitimizing Event, because the pastor has inadvertently given Brad and his team carte blanche and they will move too fast, alarming the status quo.)
  • Brad and his friends begin to organize and publicize how they will start this small group program at their church (Stage 3: Change).
  • Brad gets the pastor to throw his support behind the program, and the pastor pleads with the congregation from the pulpit to attend this program, saying “even if you have a Sunday School you go to, you need this group too!” (Trigger 3: Alarm Event, because most people already have a Sunday School, which is their small group, and now they are being urged to attend yet another small group.)

Here is how Pastor Jerry could have handled this differently, and create a “Positive Legitimizing Event:”

  • Trigger 2 on Route B – Group Retention: Pastor Jerry says, “Brad, this is very interesting.  I want you and I to talk to some of the opinion makers in our church about this.”  When they do, Pastor Jerry and Brad learn that some people are leery of this program, for they feel Brad and Pastor Jerry in their enthusiasm will make them attend Sunday evening small groups in addition to their Sunday School classes.  Pastor Jerry and Brad realize that Sunday Schools are a type of small group, and so they approach the Sunday School attendees by saying: “We want to start a new type of small group on Sunday evening, for people like Brad that can’t make a smaller intimate group like Sunday School in the morning.  In fact, we’re going to call them ‘Sunday Evening Sunday Schools.’  Would you help us get the word out and to pray for this?”
  • Group Retention:  This actually happened to a client church, and now the church has many “Sunday Evening Sunday Schools” and even a growing ministry they call “Wednesday Evening Sunday Schools.”

A more complex event sequence toward group exit:

  • Vintage Church has a Sunday morning church service that runs about 40 in attendance, and 15 in a choir.  It is a traditional service, with favorite hymns and a standard liturgical structure (Stage 1: Relative Harmony).
  • Pastor Mary’s job is to reach out to people under 35.  She attends a seminar on Ancient-Future Worship, where ancient elements like liturgy are added to modern elements such as rock music, to create a vintage, yet modern feel (Trigger 1: Conflicting Ideas Event).
  • Mary shares her excitement over such a program with the lead pastor, saying “young people like ancient elements wed with modern music.  If we can just get the older people at the first service to modify their service some, we can transition their traditional service into something that will attract more people.”  Pastor Mike responds, “sounds interesting.  Why don’t you go to them and work with them on implementing this idea?”  Now, on the surface this seems like a “Positive Legitimizing Event” because Pastor Mike is telling Mary to go to the status quo people and work with them.  But, the status quo are loyal to Pastor Mike, and Pastor Mary has never been their shepherd.  Thus, when Pastor Mike sent Mary to the status quo instead of himself, he didn’t create the broad support that is needed for a new idea to succeed.  (Thus, this was a Trigger 2: A Negative Legitimizing Event).
  • Mary tried to make some changes in the traditional service (Stage 3; Change),
  • But because Mary didn’t know the older people, she stepped on some toes (Trigger 3: Alarm Event)
  • The traditional service attendees began to slow down and even stop Mary’s changes (Stage 4: Resistance).
  • Mary got frustrated and shared her frustrations with Pastor Mike, who went to the older service and criticized them for making Mary feel bad.  The status quo tried working behind the scenes to get Mary moved back to overseeing just younger people.  But, Mary was so hurt in her failure that she resigned (Trigger 4: Polarization Event).
  • Both sides blamed the other for Mary’s departure (Stage 5: Intense Conflict).
  • Who is at fault?  The real person at fault was Pastor Mike, because he didn’t know about the key Trigger 2: the Legitimizing Event, and how to make it a positive event, rather than a negative event.

Here is what Pastor Mike might have said at Trigger 2: Legitimizing Event, to make it a “positive” and not a “negative” event:  

  • Trigger 2 on Route B – Group Retention: “Mary, I can tell you are excited about this idea.  And, I want to ensure it succeeds. Thus, we are going to need to take some time to help the traditional service attendees decide if this is for them.  And, even if they decide they want to go this route, there are some power-brokers that we will need to go to and listen to about their concerns.  In fact, I will need to go with you, not because I don’t trust you, but because I have been the pastor to these older members.  They will be more open to sharing their deepest concerns and opinions with me because of that history.”
  • Group Retention: The traditional service attendees decided they did not want to change, but they agreed to pray for and help the church launch a successful new service called: Vintage Faith.

CONTEXT & When Analyzing Context is a Hypothetical Case-study Preferable?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 8/24/15.

Students in most of my courses are asked to study their ministry context and suggest strategies and plans that are applicable.  That is why their papers are called “application papers.” And, I tell my students it will be a plus if their leadership is “amenable and receptive” to the suggestions they generate as a result of their course work.

But sometimes students have organizations where the leaders are not generally “amenable and receptive” to the student’s ideas.

What should the student to then?  Should they use a “hypothetical” case?

While it is preferable to utilize an amenable and receptive context, as noted this may not always be possible.  It may be in some students’ situations that their input may be regarded as unwelcome, too belated, too schismatic, or even overly hasty.  However, even if one or more of these circumstances may be the case, I still encourage students to consider this organization as their contextual laboratory if feasible instead of a hypothetical case for several reasons:

1)  The students know the real-life situation systematically and intimately. Subsequently, they may be better able to address in this scenario growth and management dynamics than if they choose one a hypothetical case.

2) A hypothetical case-study usually takes more time to create.  If students choose a hypothetical case, then they must work hard to ensure the hypothetical case resembles closely a real case.  In other words, the student must study similar cases and build a hypothetical case carefully. This usually requires more time.

3)  Leaders of a non-amenable organization can have a change of heart, and over time become receptive.  I’ve seen this happen many times.  Then, is a student has been studying an actual case, they have homework that is immediately helpful.

Now, it is not absolutely necessary for students to use their real-life situation. They can use a hypothetical case if they choose (and with the professor’s approval). But, in many scenarios it may be more productive not to do so.

Finally, if a student senses they do not at present have the social capital to effectively tender ideas generated in this course, their organization may be going through the Process Model for Group Exit (i.e. group polarization) that I describe in the book, “Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change, and What You Can Do About It” (Abingdon Press, 2003; ISBN 0-687-06680-8).  If any reader is encountering polarization over change, they may want to read this tome to understand the dynamics that may help them eventually implement their good recommendations.

LEADERSHIP CASE STUDY & C Student Becomes Successful CSI Detective: A True Story

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/21/15.

My leadership students study Northouse’s 5-elements of leadership.  If you would like to know more click on this article: LEADERSHIP & The 5 Recurring Elements in Leadership (according to Northouse.)

As a result of studying Northouse’s classic model of leadership inputs, my students sometimes remark that by looking at their traits, abilities, skills, behaviors, relationships and influence processes they have discovered their leadership is wonderfully more complex that it seemed at the onset.  One of my previous students got a smile out of me when he noticed this 😉

And so, I thought I would pass it along to you his comment and attach a short story about my childhood friend.  If you are one of my students reading this, there is need to respond in the discussion forum (unless you want to).  This is just my way to help sum up this week’s very good investigation into conceptualizing leadership.

The student said,

“When I skimmed this chapter I actually thought the trait approach was going to be explained differently. It lists certain traits that leaders have, and it describes these traits as innate. I think the idea of a ‘born’ or ‘natural’ leader came from this approach.”

The student was right, trait leadership explains inherited qualities that help us lead.  But as this student was noticing, people who say “she is a natural-born leader,” are really over simplifying the complexity of leadership.

In addition, many times people have traits that others do not recognize as leadership traits, when actually almost all traits can become leadership traits.  Since my students shared with me their traits, I thought I would share a short story about my leadership traits, and the opposite traits of one of my childhood friends.

I was born with a high energy level due to excessive blood sugar cycles. This makes me very productive, but also I have to be careful I don’t deplete these sugars.  Therefore, I have long periods of intense concentration (one is going on right now 🙂 but I also have to be careful to have an energy bar nearby or else I can become fatigued an hour or two before meals or bedtime.

My best friend growing up had a more constant level of blood sugar and thus often operated at a slow, yet dogged, pace to get things done.  He rarely made a deadline.  I was sometimes asked in school to help him get his assignments completed on time. But, it never worked out for he just operated at a slower (and for him natural) pace.  As an adult, I became a professor, where my energy could keep a class interested during three or four hours of lecture.

But he became a CSI investigator working for the federal government.  He is a successful crime investigator, heading a team that slowly analyzes the many pieces of the crime-scene puzzle.  I guess we both discovered jobs that worked well with our “natural-born” leadership traits.

Thanks Northouse for reminding us of this.
 Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.