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 …

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.


By Kevin Myers • February 27, 2014


“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.


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.


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 …

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. 

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.

EVALUATION & How a Vision Statement Can Help You Evaluate Your Plans #CaseStudy

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

A former student who was a district leader once remarked that they had a very precise vision statement and that “this vision is now used as a template in (evaluating) our budgeting process…”  He went on to say, “this vision is now used as a template in our budgeting process in that every income and expense line item is assigned to columns under the headings of leadership development, church development, church multiplication and administration.”

Such evaluation of activities through a vision statement is also an important tactic within the field of business management.  The vision statement is thus utilized as a grid or lens through which organizations decide if a certain endeavor agrees and supports their vision.

Here is a real-life case study I advised as their consultant.

A non-profit Christian organization sent college-age sport teams to Europe to reach out with the Good News.  Another organization sent out medical personnel to similar countries.  This later organization suggested a merger with the sport organization.  Now on the surface, there would seem like there would be little argument against this.  But, the vision statement helped the sport organization decide that this new direction did not line up with their vision.  You see, if a vision is too broad too much extraneous activities will creep in.

I think we all see that this has been a problem in churches.

Thus ask yourself, are their ministries under your auspices that evaluate their programming ministry through their vision grid?  And if not, perhaps you conjecture what such a recommendation might look like?

MULTIPLICATION CASE STUDY & A Multi-site “Alliance” Model … That Creates Unity in Diversity!

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  One of my students found an excellent example of a church that employs:

1)   multiple worship venues for evangelistic diversity in worship,

2)   while at the same time offering a common foyer area that promotes intercultural interaction before and after worship.

Multi Venue One Foyer 2This floor plan is an example of a “one type” of multicultural church called the “Multicultural Alliance Church” (see “Five Models of Multicultural Churches” in Whitesel, The Healthy Church, pp. 62-76).  It is an “alliance” of several culturally different congregations (Builder Generation, Boomer Generation, Gen. X-Millennial Generation, etc.) that worship differently but share the same building to pool their assets.

Because the purpose of worship is to draw close to God, not a time for fellowship between humans … such floor plans make theological and evangelistic sense.  According to the Hebrew word shachah, worship is “a close encounter with a king which fosters in reverence, respect and praise” (Whitesel, ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011., p. 96).

This is from their website: “At the Little Rock campus, we have three venues from which you can choose – Worship Center, the Warehouse or Chapel. Each of these venues offers a different worship style but has the same teaching. The Worship Center is our largest venue and provides a rich blend of hymns and contemporary worship and most often hosts the live teaching. The Warehouse worship experience incorporates many contemporary elements and takes place in our Warehouse. The Chapel is our most traditional worship experience, which has hymns, communion and other elements that engage the more traditional worshipper.” Fellowship Bible Church, Little Rock, AR (  You can download a copy here: Campus Overview.2333917034_463d798f2d

Take a look at these floor plans. They can inspire you to create multiple venues in one congregation or location that will not only multiply evangelistic relevance … but unity among diversity too.

CHANGE & A Case Study of a Change That Divided a Church

by Bob Whitesel, 3/25/15.

I study how churches become divided over a change … and what can be done instead. Research shows that change often goes awry because a person in leadership inadvertently gives the “green light” to someone pushing for change (i.e. the change proponent). The change proponent then pushes ahead too fast, eventually alienating the “status quo” who blame the leader for giving the “green light.”

The leader’s action is called a “negative legitimizing event” because they inadvertently “legitimized” the new idea.  And, the result was “negative” because the change proponent ran too fast with the new idea.

However, research shows that division can be avoided if the leader:

  1. Slows down the change proponent (the person pushing for change)
  2. And helps the change proponent build consensus before moving forward.

Read about this research in my books: Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It (Abingdon Press, 2003) or in my book, Preparing for Change Reaction: How To Introduce Change in Your Church (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007).

Often I ask my students for “case studies” that depict a “negative legitimizing event.”  And I get some painfully humorous examples.  Here is one from my student, shared anonymously and by permission:

Negative Legitimizing Event:  A few years ago, we decided it was time to take the organ off of the stage.  The start of the conversation happened within the context of the worship team, who felt like they needed more space on the platform for musicians.  The organ was sizable and took up a chunk of stage real estate, and we had no organist in the church.  At most, the organ was used one time a year.  I was probably guilty of legitimizing this and launching into a situation where change happened too soon.

The next body involved was the administrative board.  We talked at length about this at one board meeting before it was decided to remove the organ and begin to seek how we could donate the instrument to another church.  Within two weeks of that meeting, the organ had been taken down.

What we did not realize (and would have if we had taken more time) is that our oldest member of the church (104 years old at the time this happened – she’s still alive at 108!) had donated money to purchase the first organ the church ever owned… and the money came from her deceased husband’s memorial money.  Even though that organ was long gone, this member felt deeply attached to whatever organ was on the stage.  Soon, the pushback began to happen quickly.

We ended up losing about six people as a result of this decision and created some distrust with a few remaining members who are still extremely cautious about change today.”

MULTIPLICATION CASE STUDY & 12Stone to open five new campuses Sunday

by Keith Farner, Gwinnett Daily Post, Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

LAWRENCEVILLE — In the days leading up to Sunday, Kevin Myers has the same kind of feeling he had 27 years ago when the 12Stone ministry began.

The senior pastor at 12Stone church said Wednesday he feels “all kinds of excitement” and “great expectations” because the church is about to do something not done in its history, and only sparingly seen in churches across the country.

12Stone on Sunday will launch five new campuses across Gwinnett and Barrow counties that will more than double its destinations for worship. The church, which averages about 16,000 people each Sunday, will open the new campuses at schools where they expect to welcome about 300 people each.

The expansion brings 12Stone’s total worship offering to 27 opportunities across nine campuses…

The locations will be called Bethlehem at Yargo Elementary in Winder, Braselton at Duncan Creek Elementary in Hoschton, Buford at Lanier High, Grayson at Covenant Christian Academy in Loganville and Pharr Elementary in Snellville.

It’s existing campuses are in Lawrenceville, Hamilton Mill, Flowery Branch and Duluth.

It’s not the first time 12Stone has partnered with schools. Before it opened the Sugarloaf campus in Duluth, it held services for two years at Peachtree Ridge High.

Each campus will have a full-time campus pastor, full-time worship leader/youth pastor, part-time administrative assistant and part-time children’s ministry director. The church also plans to add three to five positions to its central support staff because of the expansion. Plans for the expansion began about 20 months ago, Myers said.

The new locations were chosen because Myers said that’s where the church has the most people and most influence. In a preliminary list, the church looked into other cities such as Gainesville, Jefferson and Athens, and Myers said the church could still reach those areas or eventually add a location there.

“So part of what this does is actually opens up the door to future opportunities as well,” he said…

All of the new locations will have services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sundays, and Buford and Braselton will also have 1 p.m. services.

“The convenience factor is significant, but so is the connection, which is the most important thing,” Myers said. “People are connected in communities. If we’re going to see people come to faith and find God’s better life, we’ve got to be closer to their community. Community and connection are really important to us and why we would even bother to bring the church into another community…”

Read more at …

CASE STUDY & The Necessity of Evidence-Based Leadership

“If doctors practiced medicine like many churches practice management, there would be more unnecessarily sick or dead patients and many more doctors in jail or suffering other penalties for malpractice.”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Sometimes people ask why I continue to do church health/growth consulting almost every weekend, when I have a full-time position as professor of missional leadership at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. The reason is because when consulting I discover emerging and effective leadership practices. This is called “evidence – based knowledge.” This HBR article points out why it is critical for all leaders (and academics) to experience this. Here is my paraphrase of a paragraph from the article: “The same behavior holds true for pastors looking to cure their organizational ills. Indeed, we would argue, pastors are actually much more ignorant than doctors about which prescriptions are reliable—and they’re less eager to find out. If doctors practiced medicine like many churches practice management, there would be more unnecessarily sick or dead patients and many more doctors in jail or suffering other penalties for malpractice.”

Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, Harvard Business Review, January 2006.

A bold new way of thinking has taken the medical establishment by storm in the past decade: the idea that decisions in medical care should be based on the latest and best knowledge of what actually works. Dr. David Sackett, the individual most associated with evidence-based medicine, defines it as “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.” Sackett, his colleagues at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and the growing number of physicians joining the movement are committed to identifying, disseminating, and, most importantly, applying research that is soundly conducted and clinically relevant.

If all this sounds laughable to you—after all, what else besides evidence would guide medical decisions?—then you are woefully naive about how doctors have traditionally plied their trade. Yes, the research is out there—thousands of studies are conducted on medical practices and products every year. Unfortunately, physicians don’t use much of it. Recent studies show that only about 15% of their decisions are evidence based. For the most part, here’s what doctors rely on instead: obsolete knowledge gained in school, long-standing but never proven traditions, patterns gleaned from experience, the methods they believe in and are most skilled in applying, and information from hordes of vendors with products and services to sell.

The same behavior holds true for managers looking to cure their organizational ills. Indeed, we would argue, managers are actually much more ignorant than doctors about which prescriptions are reliable—and they’re less eager to find out. If doctors practiced medicine like many companies practice management, there would be more unnecessarily sick or dead patients and many more doctors in jail or suffering other penalties for malpractice.

It’s time to start an evidence-based movement in the ranks of managers. Admittedly, in some ways, the challenge is greater here than in medicine. (See the sidebar “What Makes It Hard to Be Evidence Based?”) The evidence is weaker; almost anyone can (and often does) claim to be a management expert; and a bewildering array of sources—Shakespeare, Billy Graham, Jack Welch, Tony Soprano, fighter pilots, Santa Claus, Attila the Hun—are used to generate management advice. Managers seeking the best evidence also face a more vexing problem than physicians do: Because companies vary so wildly in size, form, and age, compared with human beings, it is far more risky in business to presume that a proven “cure” developed in one place will be effective elsewhere…

Read more at …

DIVERSITY & Immigrant religion in Pittsburgh #CaseStudies #ReMIXbook

by Julia Rendleman, The Pittsburg Post Gazette, 11/9/14

Churches have absorbed immigrants from the fast-growing, youthful Christian populations of Latin America, Africa and Asia, and synagogues have received Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union.

Congregations serve as both spiritual filling stations and all-purpose social networks for those seeking referrals for jobs and human services or just the experience of familiar languages and foods.

“This is my spiritual home, also my home away from home,” said Jane Chan of Pittsburgh Chinese Church in McCandless, where the Bethel Park resident has been a longtime member and volunteer. The independent Protestant church, with roots in 1930s Chinatown, has weekly services and classes in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, followed by a communal meal.

Ahmed Arafat of Brookline, an information technology worker who came here from Gaza in 1999 to study at the University of Pittsburgh, got involved at the Islamic Community of Pittsburgh in Oakland, soon after his arrival. “It’s been my center for the last 15 years,” he said…

Pittsburgh’s changing religious landscape has been evident in visits by the Post-Gazette to more than 20 congregations, worship services and faith-based service organizations serving immigrant populations:

  • At a historic St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in the Strip District, amid displays of Polish icons and prayer cards reflecting its immigrant founders, a bride and groom pray at a side altar to the Virgin Mary after a bilingual wedding — in English and Vietnamese.
  • In a carpeted former Presbyterian sanctuary in downtown Carnegie, rows of Muslims from many nationalities kneel and prostrate amid Arabic prayers at a Friday service.
  • At a Pentecostal church in a former auto parts warehouse in Wilkinsburg, immigrants from West Africa and a few Americans bob and sway, raise their arms and sing exuberant worship choruses: “I’ve never seen your kind-oh, this kind God- oh!”
  • At a makeshift temple in the storage room of a Carrick grocery store, refugee priests from Bhutan chant in Sanskrit and prepare a small fire offering in honor of the Hindu goddess Durga.
  • At a modest Greenfield storefront, a dozen mostly American-born participants recite an ancient Buddhist chant, sit silently on meditation cushions and hear a teaching from a Tibetan lama.
  • On the streets of Oakland, Spanish-speaking Catholics process with a painting of the crucified Christ, re-enacting a centuries-old Peruvian tradition in honor of Senor de los Milagros, “Lord of the Miracles.”

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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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ADVERSITY & How to Bounce Back from Repeated Setbacks. #Messiah #Handel

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/20/14.

This is the story of another famous artist, whose masterpiece was titled simply Messiah, but which almost did not come about … if but for the intervention of God and the men he sent along George Frederick Handel’s path.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to tear down and a time to build.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 selected

His father was a no-nonsense, practical man. And though his young son showed a stunning talent for music, his father refused to permit him to take musical lessons. In 1693 a duke heard the eight- or nine-year-old playing an organ postlude in a worship service and demanded his father provide formal music training. By the time he was twelve, George Frederic Handel had written his first composition and often substituted for his music teacher. When his father died, he discontinued his law studies and devoted himself full time to the study of music.

Handel’s life continued to be fraught with setbacks, disappointments, financial woes, and illnesses. His music would fall in and out of favor with changing monarchs. And one musical success would often be followed by a financial disaster. Ill and swimming in debt, in 1741 he gave what he considered to be his farewell concert before retiring, perhaps to the debtor’s prison. Unexpectedly a wealthy friend gave Handel a libretto based on the life of Christ taken entirely from the Bible. Then again unexpectedly a Dublin charity commissioned him to compose a work for a benefit performance. Handel set to work composing and in 24 days he had filled 260 pages of manuscript with what he titled simply Messiah. When composer Franz Joseph Haydn heard its Hallelujah Chorus he wept like a child and exclaimed, “He is the master of us all!”

George Frederic Handel was blessed with an amazing ability to bounce back from repeated adversity. He seemed to understand the lesson of The Book of Ecclesiastes, that life not only includes times of setbacks and woes, but also times of progress and success. He refused to be discouraged by misfortune. Once when his friends gathered to console him about the extremely sparse attendance at one of his performances, he good-naturedly joked, “Never mind. The music will sound better” with the improved acoustics of an empty concert hall.

If Handel had given in to depression, attacks, illnesses, and financial woes a well loved work such as Messiah might never have been written. The Bible reminds us that setbacks, difficulties and challenges are part of life … along with happiness, success and achievement. Handel’s timeless Messiah stands as a testament to the graciousness of God amid the difficulties of life.

PRAISE & What SDG & J.J. Meant to Johann Sebastian Bach

by Bob Whitesel, 10/20/14

This man’s proficiency at balancing numerous tasks (much less performing them on the organ), makes him worthy of our scrutiny. Here is a scripture and a story that sums up the Christian faith that Johann Sebastian Bach embraced.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Johann Sebastian Bach is considered one of the greatest composers in history. The sheer number of his works is staggering, including cantatas for every Sunday and Church festival of the year. Bach was prolific in other areas of his life as well, often working a variety of jobs while parenting twenty children (probably the inducement for so many vocations). But it’s Bach’s skill at composition and creative arrangement that has secured his place in history. A generation later Ludwig von Beethoven observed that, “His name ought not to be Bach (Bach is the German word for brook), but ocean, because of his infinite and inexhaustible wealth of combinations and harmonies.”

At first glance it might seem that Johann Sebastian Bach easily penned his many sonatas, orchestral suites, choral works and fugues. But at many times Bach had difficulty summoning the creative energy and insight to compose. At those times, Bach found inspiration and illumination in the Bible and through prayer. His manuscripts were frequently peppered with the initials, “J. J.” Latin for Jesu Juva … Help me, Jesus.” And upon completion of his endeavors he routinely signed his works “S.D.G.” which stands for Soli Deo Gloria – “To God alone, the glory.”

To dwell on the pleasant things of life should not be limited to a creative device for composers. Oftentimes a short respite to dwell on what Philippians calls “whatever is true, … noble, …right, …pure, …etc.” can be a powerful tool for peace and composure. Can you recall a time when you were in need of some peace and serenity, and dwelling on the beauty of life might have helped?

The next time you’re facing difficulties and challenges why not spend a few minutes of reflection on the good things in your life? The Bible will often provide a wonderful point of departure. The wellspring from which Johann Sebastian Bach drew his solace and inspiration can be the fountainhead of your inner strength.

HUMILITY & How Felix Mendelssohn Championed the Music of a Rival

by Bob Whitesel 10/20/14

Here we uncover the story of a man whose selfless acts would ensure that his place in history would be downplayed, and that the memory of an earlier rival would be esteemed.

This Christian’s story is drawn from the annuals of musical history, a genre that some may deduce to be a rather unlikely arena for a course on church leadership. But this man’s aptitude toward honoring others makes him worthy of our scrutiny.

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in his mighty heavens…

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150. 1, 6 (NIV)

What kind of humility does it take to overlook your own emerging career and champion the artistic efforts of an earlier rival? Felix Mendelssohn was not only one of the most successful composers of his time, but also a champion of the all but forgotten works of Johann Sebastian Bach. By Mendelssohn’s time, Bach’s brilliant concertos, fugues and symphonies had suffered decades of obscurity. Mendelssohn, due in part to a strong religious faith he shared with Bach, sought to reintroduce the world to Bach’s genus and skill.

Mendelssohn’s letters reveal a deep and abiding faith in God. The Bible served as not only the cornerstone of his life, but also as the inspiration for his work, such as the celebrated oratorios Elijah and Saint Paul. Once when a librettist altered the Biblical text of his composition, Mendelssohn observed, “I have time after time had to restore the precise text of the Bible. It is the best in the end.”

Mendelssohn had been impressed since a youth with Bach’s The Passion According to Saint Matthew. From the time he first sung it as a young choirboy he had been touched. As a successful adult he set out to “recover” and champion Bach’s neglected music. He personified the admonition of Psalm 150 to “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” He sought to breath new life into the majestic compositions of Bach, reintroducing them to a new generation and assuring these majestic praises would be given a voice for posterity. So impressed was Mendelssohn by one of Bach’ choruses that he wrote, “If life had taken hope and faith from me, this single chorus would restore all.”

It required a great degree of humility and grace to champion the genus of an earlier rival. Today we recognize Bach as one of the greatest composers of all time chiefly because of Mendelssohn’s efforts. Mendelssohn’s labor might best be summed up in the verse “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.”

Sometimes it is necessary to acknowledge others in lieu of ourselves. Such modesty and humbleness allows others to share in our successes. When you feel envious or resentful of another’s talents, the best remedy may be to focus on the giver of those capabilities.