WALKING w/ WESLEY & Planting the First Official Church in Georgia

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 2/7/16. Excerpted from the upcoming 40-day devlotional guide: Walking w/ Wesley: The 40-day METHOD for Turning Trials into Triumphs.

Week 2, Day 1…………………………………… Planting the First Official Church in Georgia

Turning trials into triumphs created a degree of fame for the Wesleys. John, who was now a teaching fellow at Lincoln College in Oxford, came to the attention of James Oglethorpe. We encountered Oglethorpe earlier, when his efforts for prison reform had opened up the Oxford prison to the ministry of the Wesleys and their friends.

But now Oglethorpe had a bigger vision. He was a founder of the colony of Georgia, covering roughly the northern half of today’s State of Georgia. It was there that he envisioned a haven for people who had been imprisoned in debtor prisons. In this vast area there was no official Church of England or a designated pastor. In 1735, John Wesley became Oglethorpe’s choice to plant the first church in the colony.

To Wesley, this was an opportunity to experience Christ more deeply by preaching to others in the unpretentious, natural environs of the new world.[1] Little did he realize, it was going to be one of his greatest trials.

This church launch was well organized. Financial support was secured in advance and a meetinghouse in Savannah was designed. As they embarked from Gravesend, England, John felt everything was in order. Physically everything was in order, but in hindsight John would recall that spiritually, his house was not in order.

Accompanying them on the voyage were German Christians, called Moravians after the area from which they came. They believed that humility coupled with quiet, reflection upon scriptures and Christ were helpful methods to strengthen faith. Wesley had the opportunity to observe their method firsthand when the ship encountered several unusually destructive storms. As one relentless storm de-masted the ship, hardened sailors abandoned their posts and cried out to God for mercy.

John had a similar fear of death, which had developed prior to Oxford when he attended Charterhouse School in London. In the same building as the schoolhouse was a hospital where daily he watched individuals die, some in comfort, others in fear. Yet, as the ship appeared to be sinking with all hands doomed to death, the Moravians showed not fear, but trust. They sang and praised God with a confidence and calm that moved John to declare this was one of most glorious things he had ever seen.[2]

Still, John’s reaction in the doomed ship soon showed him he was no different from the fainthearted sailors. He too was “unwilling to die” and shaking with fright crying out to God to save him.[3] This was not the example he wanted to show those that traveled with him. Nonetheless, it was who Wesley was at this stage of his life.[4]

A similar experience loomed before the prophet Ezekiel.

Exiled into Babylon as a young man of twenty, like Wesley he had been trained to be a priest like his father. However now Ezekiel found himself in a new land with a new role. At age thirty, about the age of Wesley, God revealed his all-seeing and all-knowing power in a vision (Ezekiel 1:4-3:15). This made Ezekiel realize the inevitability of judgment upon each person’s sins and how Jerusalem’s fall was God’s punishment. But in Ezekiel 37 God shows another vision, that though his people felt as good as dead, God can take dry, sun-bleached skeletons and create a living, healthy humans again:

He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again.  I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:4-6)

Wesley must have felt the same way. Though he had early success, when the threat of death came near he found himself empty and unprepared. He would later call this fair-weather faith, stating:

I went to America, to convert the Indians; but O! Who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near, but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled.[5]

From these stories emerge at least two lessons.

First, early successes can propel one to think too much of oneself and of one’s own ability. Most people may encounter early successes, which they may never again be able to replicate. It’s important not to live in the past or on past glory. The lesson for Wesley and for every enthusiast is that God may give you early triumphs – to be later followed by many trials. God does promises to bring about triumphs again, if we allow our faith to mature. During this week, you will see Wesley wrestle several more times with fair-weather faith. Though he will feel like his life and career are dried up, fair-weather faith can be reinvigorated again if God does the reinvigoration.

Secondly, we are reminded that the fear of death can be a test of Christian experience. The Scriptures abound with reminders that death is not an end, but a gateway (see the verses below). Take from these stories the lesson that a fair-weather faith must be replaced by “a mind calmed by the love of God.”[6]

Lessons 1 & 2

For personal devotion, read the questions and meditate upon each and write down your responses. For group discussion, share as appropriate your answers with your group and then discuss the application.

(Lesson 1) Have you found yourself thinking back to past successes, maybe even more than dreaming about future opportunities?

  • Recall a time in the past when you had a spiritual breakthrough. How did it make you feel? What lessons did you learn? Write a one paragraph summary.
  • Now picture in you mind a future success that could make you feel the same way. Write a one paragraph description of what this might look like.
  • Compare the two paragraphs. Use this rule of thumb: in the future for each minute that you spend thinking about past successes, spend two minutes dreaming about what God can do.

(Lesson 2) Ask yourself, “When have I been near death and how did I feel about standing before God?” Were you timid? Were you fearful? Were you happy? Wesley would write years later to a friend, “A Christian is not afraid to die. Are you? Do you desire to depart and to be with Christ?”[7]

Write a paragraph about how you feel about Wesley’s questions. Then meditate on the verses below. Repeat them, memorize them and read them in context. Then write another paragraph describing how these verses make you feel.

Psalm 23:4

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no danger because you are with me.

Your rod and your staff—

they protect me.

Matthew 10:28

28 Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

John 5:24

24 “I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life.

John 14:1-6

“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.” Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Hebrews 2:14-15

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he also shared the same things in the same way. He did this to destroy the one who holds the power over death—the devil—by dying. 15 He set free those who were held in slavery their entire lives by their fear of death.

Revelation 21:4

           4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Footnotes:

[1] Frank Baker, The Works of John Wesley, Bicentennial ed., vol. 25, Letters (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1980), p. 439.

[2] Reginald Ward and Richard P. Heitzenrater, ed.s The Works of John Wesley, Bicentennial ed., vol. 18, Journals and Dairies (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1988), p. 143.

[3] Ibid. p. 140.

[4] John experienced similar terrifying storms on the voyage, as well as in America; all resulting in the same fright that lead him to declare regarding himself, “How is it that thou hadst no faith?” Ibid., p. 169

[5] John Wesley, The Heart of John Wesley’s Journal (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008), p. 51.

[6] Ibid., p. 165.

[7] John Telford, ed., The Letters of John Wesley, A.M., 8 vols. (London: Epworth Press, 1931), 6:30-31.

Speaking hashtags: #TheologicalReflectionSeminar

MULTIPLICATION & The Problematic ‘Creative Class’: When a Generation of Church Planters Only Reach White People

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my book “The Healthy Church” I describe five models of multicultural churches and show how two of the models are better than all others at breaking down racial walls and creating physical, as well as spiritual reconciliation. Readers often ask me if this is really necessary. And, I believe it is based upon the reasons cited in this important article.

The Problematic ‘Creative Class’: When a Generation of Church Planters Only Reach White People

Written by Doug Paul, Missio Alliance, on January 26, 2016

So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Scholar Stephen Hayes has long noted that Sunday mornings are the most segregated time in America. There are many reasons for this, most of which I will not delve into in this post. Instead, I want to explore one, perhaps hidden force that may be perpetuating this trend.

Closing in on 10 years ago, my wife and I, along with some close friends and a few pie-in-the-sky ideas, started the process of planting a church.

Around this time, a book came out of nowhere, capturing the imagination of America and finding a spot on the New York Times best seller list: The Rise of the Creative Class (by Richard Florida).

In a nutshell:

This book quickly achieved classic status for its identification of forces then only beginning to reshape our economy, geography, and workplace. Weaving story-telling with original research, Richard Florida identified a fundamental shift linking a host of seemingly unrelated changes in American society: the growing importance of creativity in people’s work lives and the emergence of a class of people unified by their engagement in creative work. Millions of us were beginning to work and live much as creative types like artists and scientists always had, Florida observed, and this Creative Class was determining how the workplace was organized, what companies would prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities would thrive. –Description of the newly revised and expanded The Rise of the Creative Class

Not only was this book a best seller, but it changed the way people started talking about vocational desire. This was injected straight into church planting conversations in ways that went something like this: “What if we had churches that reached the creative class? After all, these will be the people who are shaping culture!”

The missiological question that came to dominate these conversations was essentially, “What if church (in structure, in practice and in ethos), was built to reach this cooler-than-thou group of culture makers that so many suburbanites aspirational?”

Seemingly overnight, church plant after church plant after church plant popped up…all looking somewhat similar taking their cues from the concept of reaching the”creative class.” It would be difficult to describe the impact of this book on church planting in the last decade. Not just the church planting world…but our country as a whole.

In fact…it’s gone mainstream. Today, the core principles planted with these concepts have born the fruit that is lovingly, ironically, and sardonically called Hipster Church (a purposeful over-generalization). And Hipster Church? Well…it’s everywhere in church plants. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve visited such a church. You might even be part of one.

But there was one thing that always seemed to be missing in the description of this creative class. Yes, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Yes, they like flexibility in workspace and dress. Yes, they want to tap into and blend all of the various creative avenues in their life. (I could go on with these descriptions.)

But the one unspoken?

The creative class is disproportionately WHITE.

Because of the racialization of America, the vast majority of people who have access to the experiences one would need to become a part of this class means that most of these people are:

Disproportionately affluent
-1 in 3 earn over $100,000 per year, 9% earn over $150,000
-48% are members of what is called “the Investor Class”

Disproportionately educated
-Over half have college degrees (compared to 30% nationally)

And disproportionately white
-65%, according to Forbes, but I think this is significantly off (but is still 2/3rds!)

Just so I am 100% clear, I’m not saying that there aren’t loads of creative voices who are minority voices. Rather – and this is how race and class come together in a subtle way – the sociological distinction known as the “creative class” means things that include economic realities and educational realities. And study after study shows that white people have more access to these opportunities than anyone else.

So it’s not, “Who is creative?” It’s about who fits the sociological description of “creative class.”

Now, I’m not going to spend lots of time proving the point above. Chances are, if you don’t believe the creative class is mostly white, and the ability to access the creative class is far easier if you’re white, even if I try to prove the point, I doubt you’ll agree with what I’m saying. So no need to take up any more space. 😉

So herein lies the problem: What happens when a generation of church planters buy into a core concept that, almost by nature, is seeking to reach one group of people? White people.

If you’re not white and you walk into one of these churches, even though they are trying to reach the “creative class,” my sneaking suspicion is that it still feels distinctly white. And if you’re a minority voice in America, something that feels white doesn’t tend to feel safe.

Read more at … http://www.missioalliance.org/the-problematic-creative-class-when-a-generation-of-church-planters-only-reached-white-people/

CHRUCH PLANTING & When the Mother/Daughter Church Becomes Cultural Apartheid?

by Bob  Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/3/16.

The following is excerpted from my upcoming keynote at The Great Commission Research Network Conference (Southern Baptist Theo. Sem., Ft. Worth, TX) and my article for The Great Commission Research Journal (Biola University, La Mirada, CA).

The Multicultural Mother/Daughter Church: Cultural Apartheid?

A multicultural mother daughter church often arises when a subculture becomes polarized from the dominant culture of the church. The dominant church often decides it’s best for the subculture to “start their own church.” And, in the name of “planting” a church, cultural apartheid occurs. While this does offer a community more church options, as mentioned above they are often too small to survive. And, this model does little to reconcile cultural differences, because the subculture is often seen as second class and as a result has little influence upon the mother church.

SEMINARIES & Is Wesley Seminary the Seminary of the Future? #EdStetzer #DanielIm

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As a fast growing, young seminary (now ranking in the top 6% of seminaries by size) we have many things in common with church plants. We literally are a seminary plant, e.g. we created a fully-accredited (ATS) seminary from scratch. In doing so we designed our model to better integrate practice with theory, than did the seminaries we all attend.

The key is integrating what is learning in the classroom with what they are doing during the week.

Hence, the homework in my courses gives the student assignments then can apply to their local ministry each week.  Students tell me they love this approach for it allows them “to take seminary to work.”

Now, as you know I have argued that in addition to planting churches we need to be revitalizing churches too (preserving the social capital and assets of these dear communities of saints). Similarly, we also need to revitalize existing seminaries. In fact, I have spoken at many seminaries on this.

Recently a board member of my alma mater (Fuller Seminary) was co-leading a national conference with me.  He asked me, “Bob, what is the secret sauce to Wesley Seminary’s success.”  I told him, “We are unashamedly willing to integrate practice and theory into every assignment.”

Check out this excerpt on “seminaries of the future” by Daniel Im from his updated book with Ed Stetzer: Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply and ask yourself, “Is there something more I should be doing to integrate practice and theory in ministerial education?”

By Daniel Im, 4/16, the post Tomorrow’s Church Planting appeared first on Daniel Im.

… these trends were the focus of Ed Stetzer’s and my writing in the newly updated edition of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply... I want to focus on three of the major trends …

Trend #3: Residencies and Theological Education

When it comes to theological education, the pendulum has swung back-and-forth a few times over the last couple of centuries. From theological education being birthed out of the church, to it then being handed over to educational institutions, then back to the church and so-forth, we are at a time in history where the two sides are beginning to move towards an equilibrium. Seminaries are realizing that ministerial training happens best in the context of a local church, while churches are discovering that training someone theologically is completely different than training someone for practical ministry. Both seminaries and churches are looking to one another for help and for partnerships because both sides realize they cannot take on the task of theologically educating and pastorally forming an individual by themselves. The bridge that is being formed between churches and seminaries is called, “residencies.” While there are many different ways that churches and seminaries are approaching residencies, they all seem to share a common goal – to do a better job at integrating theology with praxis. Where they all differ in their model is their starting point. Let me share three out of five of them. You can learn more in the new edition of Planting Missional Churches.

Starting Point: Multiplication

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the knowledge, skills, and ability to infuse multiplication at every level of their church. They will be developed with the gradual release of responsibility model, so that their development is personal and hands on. By the end of this residency program, they will have developed a plan, not just to multiply the leaders and groups within their church, but also their church as whole.

Starting Point: Sustainable Ministry

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the five characteristics of a healthy sustainable pastor,.. They will grow in spiritual formation, self-care, emotional and cultural intelligence, marriage and family, and leadership and management.

Starting Point: Leadership

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the leadership skills required to successfully plant and lead a church. These leadership skills include vision casting, hiring practices, team ministry, strategic development, and conflict management…

*This was originally published in March-April 2016 issue of The Net Results magazine.  The post Tomorrow’s Church Planting appeared first on Daniel Im.

PLANTING & Tomorrow’s Church Planting by #DanielIm w/ #EdStetzer

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Daniel Im and Ed Stetzer have updated their book which I use in my courses titled,  Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply. Read this overview of the updates in Daniel Im’s posting.

By Daniel Im, the post Tomorrow’s Church Planting appeared first on Daniel Im.

Church planting today is not what it used to be.

Before, church planters were the ones who couldn’t get a “real ministry position” at a church, so they started their own. Albeit, there were those entrepreneurial few who defied all odds and started churches on their own, by and large, being a church planter wasn’t what it was today.

Now, being a church planter is the thing to do.

Church planting is getting the attention of the masses. In fact, many church planting conferences are now larger than typical pastoral conferences…

…There are a few trends … these trends were the focus of Ed Stetzer’s and my writing in the newly updated edition of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply. ..For this article though, I want to focus on three of the major trends …

Trend #1: Kingdom Collaboration

Together we can accomplish more than we can ever do alone.

This is the buzz phrase of the new generation of church planters. Tomorrow’s church planter will be less focused on building their kingdom and more focused on seeing Jesus build God’s kingdom. They will be less focused on denominational lines and rules, and more focused on reaching their city. They will be less focused on the superman model of leadership, and more focused on team leadership.

A Focus on God’s Kingdom.

Tomorrow’s church planter will have a strong foundation in missiology. They will understand that their mission in life is not to plant a church and grow it by sheep stealing, but rather, their mission is to join God on his mission, and do whatever God wants them to do to reach and disciple the nations. As a result, instead of turning to church growth books, they will read missiological books like, The Mission of God by Christopher Wright, Transforming Mission by David Bosch, and The New Global Mission by Samuel Escobar. For tomorrow’s church planter, when someone mentions the name Ralph Winter, they will think of the missiologist, rather than the X-Men movie producer…

A Focus on Reaching Their City.

Tomorrow’s church planter will be so focused on reaching their city, that they will not allow denominational lines to keep them from discerningly working together. In

A Focus on Team Leadership.

Tomorrow’s church planter will understand that their greatest contribution to the kingdom will be when they focus on their strengths, and manage their weaknesses. As a result, they will lead with their strengths, and staff to their weaknesses. They will build a team around them, and treat them as co-equals, rather than as hirelings…

Trend #2: Bivocational Ministry

A Missiological Strategy.

Tomorrow’s church planter sees bivocational ministry more as a missiological strategy, rather than as an alternative way to fund themselves…

First Resort, Not Last Resort and Reversed Tier Funding.

There will be church planters who will initially plant their church fully bivocationally, but then slowly transition to taking a salary as the church grows. I talk about this in Planting Missional Churches as an alternative way to approach church plant funding.//

Trend #3: Residencies and Theological Education

When it comes to theological education, the pendulum has swung back-and-forth a few times over the last couple of centuries. From theological education being birthed out of the church, to it then being handed over to educational institutions, then back to the church and so-forth, we are at a time in history where the two sides are beginning to move towards an equilibrium. Seminaries are realizing that ministerial training happens best in the context of a local church, while churches are discovering that training someone theologically is completely different than training someone for practical ministry. Both seminaries and churches are looking to one another for help and for partnerships because both sides realize they cannot take on the task of theologically educating and pastorally forming an individual by themselves. The bridge that is being formed between churches and seminaries is called, “residencies.” While there are many different ways that churches and seminaries are approaching residencies, they all seem to share a common goal – to do a better job at integrating theology with praxis. Where they all differ in their model is their starting point. Let me share three out of five of them. You can learn more in the new edition of Planting Missional Churches.

Starting Point: Multiplication

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the knowledge, skills, and ability to infuse multiplication at every level of their church. They will be developed with the gradual release of responsibility model, so that their development is personal and hands on. By the end of this residency program, they will have developed a plan, not just to multiply the leaders and groups within their church, but also their church as whole.

Starting Point: Sustainable Ministry

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the five characteristics of a healthy sustainable pastor,.. They will grow in spiritual formation, self-care, emotional and cultural intelligence, marriage and family, and leadership and management.

Starting Point: Leadership

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the leadership skills required to successfully plant and lead a church. These leadership skills include vision casting, hiring practices, team ministry, strategic development, and conflict management…

*This was originally published in March-April 2016 issue of The Net Results magazine

The post Tomorrow’s Church Planting appeared first on Daniel Im.

PLANTING & New Churches Outpace Dying Ones #LifeWayResearch

by LifeWay Research, 4/15/16.

America is launching new Protestant churches faster than it loses old ones, attracting many people who previously didn’t attend church anywhere, new LifeWay Research studies show.

insights-newchurches

More than 4,000 new churches opened their doors in 2014, outpacing the 3,700 that

closed, according to estimates from 34 denominational statisticians.

On average, 42 percent of those worshiping at churches launched since 2008 previously never attended church or hadn’t attended in many years, LifeWay Research finds in an analysis of 843 such churches from 17 denominations and church planting networks.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/04/15/new-churches-outpace-dying-ones/#.VySVSsj3aJI

 

CHURCH PLANTING & Thoughts from Alfredo Barreno at #WesleyanChurch “Ignite” Pre-conference #Exponential

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 4/25/16.

In partnership with the Exponential East conference, The Wesleyan Church holds an “Ignite” pre-conference sponsored by their Department of Church Multiplication and Discipleship.

alfredo-pi_focus.jpgAlfredo Barreno is a Hispanic American church planter. He discussed how he was thrust into church planting (selected by his pastor) and found “intentional discipleship” the most challenging. “I selected a group of 10, with core principles such as investigate the scriptures, pray together, sermon discussion, fellowship and reach out. Soon were were only five left. With those five I continued a small group with the goal that each would start their own group eventually. Several months later we opened five more small groups started by those five group leaders.”