creativity need-meeting needs safety needs
Commentary by Prof. B: Invocation usually results when people who have “hunches” collide with people who have other hunches. See this video for an entertaining explanation of the process.
Cognitive and brain aging is strongly influenced by everyday settings such as work demands. Long-term exposure to low job complexity, for instance, has detrimental effects on cognitive functioning and regional gray matter (GM) volume. Brain and cognition, however, are also characterized by plasticity. We postulate that the experience of novelty (at work) is one important trigger of plasticity. We investigated the cumulative effect of recurrent exposure to work-task changes (WTC) at low levels of job complexity on GM volume and cognitive functioning of middle-aged production workers across a time window of 17 years. In a case-control study, we found that amount of WTC was associated with better processing speed and working memory as well as with more GM volume in brain regions that have been associated with learning and that show pronounced age-related decline. Recurrent novelty at work may serve as an ‘in vivo’ intervention that helps counteracting debilitating long-term effects of low job complexity.
The continuing effects of substantively complex work on the intellectual functioning of older workers.
by C Schooler, MS Mulatu, G Oates – Psychology and aging, 1999 – psycnet.apa.org
Using a nationally representative sample of employed men and women in this longitudinal study, the authors extended for another 20 years findings based on 1964 and 1974 data (Kohn & Schooler, 1983) that substantively complex work improves intellectual functioning. This study provides evidence that intellectual functioning and substantive complexity of work continue to reciprocally affect each other. In addition, it shows that the …
Read more at … https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?title=The+continuing+effects+of+substantively+complex+work+on+the+intellectual+functioning+of+older+workers%2E&journal=Psychol%2E+Aging&author=Schooler+C.&author=Mulatu+M.+S.&author=and+Oates+G.&publication_year=1999&volume=14&pages=483-506
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:
-1 in 3 earn over $100,000 per year, 9% earn over $150,000
-48% are members of what is called “the Investor Class”
-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.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Dr. Charles Arn is one of the best tactical thinkers in the field of Church Growth and health. In this article he will help you plot your organization’s location in its lifecycle. A helpful byproduct of his article is that Dr. Arn will help you see when and how to introduce a new idea for maximum impact. For more on implementing new ideas (sometimes called “intervention events”) see an article I wrote to accompany Arn’s article, titled: NEW IDEAS & 7 Lessons for Avoiding A Church Split When You Introduce a New Idea. Additional insights on lifecycles can be found in Ichak Adizes’ classic lifecycle depiction of the Bell Curve of Organizational Change.
“Where is Your Church In Its Missional Lifecycle?”
by Charles Arn (nd).
Gravity exists. And, there’s not much we can do about it. As we grow up, we learn this by dropping things on our feet, falling out of trees, and slipping on icy sidewalks. So, the best thing to do is to learn to live with it, and… even make it our ally. We fill balloons with helium and rise above the earth. We build airfoil wings and propellers to fly with the birds.
Lifecycles also exist. And, there is not much we can do about that, either. Every living thing has them: plants … animals … people … churches. Lifecycles simply are. Life begins … it flourishes … then it ends. So, the best thing to do is to learn to live with it, and…even make it our ally.
To begin, it is important to realize that there is one amazing difference between the lifecycle of churches, and the lifecycle of all other living things. On the following pages I hope to help us 1) better understand church lifecycles, and then 2) consider how a church’s lifecycle can work for us (rather than against us) in accomplishing the mission of Christ’s church.
What is a Church Lifecycle?
First, it is important to realize that every church has a lifecycle. And every church—including yours—is somewhere on its lifecycle. The lifecycle describes a local church’s progression from infancy…to maturity…to death. Where you are on the lifecycle has a great deal to do with your church’s ability to reach new people for Christ and assimilate them into your church family. Churches well into their lifecycle find it increasingly difficult to mobilize people and programs in pursuit of their mission.
The easiest way to determine where you are on the lifecycle is to graph the worship attendance since your church’s birth. Your pattern will not be as simplified as the graph below. But this basic trend in attendance (and, to a lesser degree, membership) can be observed in most churches when averaged out over a period of years. The sobering fact is that at least 80% of churches in America today are on the flat or back-side of their lifecycles.
In the early stages of a church’s life there is a high sense of mission among all involved. The church is purpose-driven. Charter members, and often a bi-vocational pastor, volunteer their time to help the church reach people and grow. Buildings are less important; structure is less important. The motivation is mission. And the result is growth.
As the formative years give way to time, the church reaches a comfortable size and attendance begins to level off. Where this plateau occurs depends on the church’s growth in the first stage. Congregations typically plateau near 35, 75, 100, 250, 400, 750 or 1,000 in attendance. People who affiliate with the church in this stage come predominantly via transfer growth, while fewer and fewer people are added by conversion growth. An emerging pattern of “institutionalization” is reflected by the increase in committees, and the decrease in accomplishment.
The final stage of a church’s lifecycle—decline—often begins after a church’s 50th birthday. Few, if any, members reflect the mission priority of the founders. The community has usually changed, while the church has not. Decline in worship attendance during this stage may be gradual or abrupt. Few in the church, including the staff, believe the church’s best days are still ahead.
Here is the critical insight that has grown from the study of church lifecycles: The longer a church exists, the more concerned the leaders and members become with self-service, and the less concerned with the church’s original mission and reason for being.
Robert Orr has enlarged the three stages of growth, plateau, decline into a more detailed description of the changes that occur as a church moves from “initial structuring” toward “disintegration.” 
But, the good news is that, unlike other living organisms that face an inevitable end to their lifecycle, the local church CAN begin a new lifecycle. In fact, the study of church growth (to which I have devoted much of my professional life) is actually the study of how churches can break out of the gravitational pull toward attendance plateau or decline, and actually re-discover the visionary excitement and missional focus that occurs at the beginning of a new lifecycle.
And what about those churches that do not seem to be affected by this lifecycle pattern? The ones that are growing beyond the first 15 – 20 years. How do they do it?
First, here is a graph of what does not occur in growing churches:
Rather than a linear pattern of growth, churches that are growing when they shouldn’t be (based on lifecycle projections) show a “stair-step” pattern of growth, as illustrated below…
Here’s an important insight: Most churches that are growing at a time when they should be plateaued or declining have begun new lifecycles! Something has interrupted the church’s normal pattern—I call it an “intervention event”—and a new lifecycle has begun before the old lifecycle has pulled them into decline or death.
Beginning a New Lifecycle
The secret to beginning a new lifecycle is just that… beginning something new. An intervention event is an interruption in the status quo. These interruptions are sometimes “controllable,” sometimes not. Hopefully they are perceived as “good,” but sometimes the interruptions seem “bad.” Whatever their nature, intervention events “change the rules.” And, with a change in rules comes an opportunity to reconnect with the passion—the mission—which was the source of growth in the early stage of the church’s lifecycle.
Here are some intervention events I have seen ignite new enthusiasm and mission in a church that was on the flat or backside of its lifecycle:
- A change of pastors
- A crisis
- Planting a church
- Closing, then re-opening the church
- Renewal of the pastor
- Renewal of the laity
- Denominational intervention
- An outside consultant
- Relocation of the church facilities
- Beginning a new (style) worship service
There is no guarantee that an event which disrupts a church’s status quo will automatically begin a new lifecycle. An intervention event is simply a moment in a church’s life when “the time is right” for change. Intervention events provide open “doors of opportunity,” but not every church is either aware of this fateful moment, or chooses to walk through those open doors and begin a new lifecycle. (By the way, of all the “controlled” interventions I have seen, adding a new style worship service is consistently the most successful in beginning a new lifecycle.)
There are three places in a church’s lifecycle where the intervention event might occur—the growth stage, the plateau stage, or the decline stage. The results of the intervention in a church will vary depending on where it is in the lifecycle:
Critical Point “A”
Introducing an intervention strategy at this point in a church’s lifecycle is reasonably difficult. But it is ideally the best time and place to do so. The difficulty comes as lay leaders look at the present church attendance—higher each year than the year before—and wonder whether the benefit of significant change is worth the risk. Things seem to be going reasonably well in the church. Why fix it if it isn’t broken?
Despite the challenge of introducing significant change at this point, church leaders that successfully do so will add at least ten years of growth to the church’s present lifecycle. For such churches, the “new rules” serve as a booster to maintain the momentum of growth. Beginning a new lifecycle while the church is still growing continues the outreach priority before the gravity of the old lifecycle can pull the church out of its growth and missional mindset.
Critical Point B
If your church’s worship attendance has been plateaued for the past ten to fifteen years (no more than a ±5% change), a successful intervention strategy will help to avoid the attendance decline that is soon to follow. Critical Point “B” is actually the easiest time to gain congregational support for a new way of doing things. An assessment of church attendance will confirm non-growth. But because these churches have experienced growth in the relatively recent past, and generally want to see an increase in attendance, a well-conceived intervention strategy is likely to receive a positive endorsement. The exception is when the following three ingredients come together: the church is able to easily meet its financial obligations (perhaps through an endowment), the sanctuary is at least 50% full on an average Sunday, and the congregation has little taste for involvement in outward-focused activities.
Critical Point “C”
If an intervention strategy is not introduced at this point, the church will slip into a coma beyond resuscitation. It is difficult to know exactly when a church reaches this point in its lifecycle. In reality, it is the point of no return. One of the intervention events noted earlier can be most successful at this point—closing the church, then beginning the process of planting a new church which opens the following year.
Most churches beyond Point C in the lifecycle do not have the energy, vision, or resources to live through a major change. The situation is not unlike a dying person so weak that further surgery would hasten the end rather than prolong it. However, if there is still an adamant desire for life in a church at this point, it is usually easy to get a “survival vote” supporting the intervention. Even then, however, more people are willing to vote for the change than to actively participate in its pursuit.
Time and space do not allow for a detailed discussion of every phase in a church’s lifecycle.  Indeed, re-missionalizing a church’s priorities involves many activities. Accounting for the lifecycle effect is just one of those concerns. But it is an important one, because an increased understanding of lifecycles will help you plan more strategically for how to recapture your church’s missional priorities.
To consider the lifecycle factor in your church, and how to make it your ally, I suggest that you …
- graph the attendance of your church since its inception, and discuss whether you can see the lifecycle pattern(s) in your history;
- discuss what events occurred that might have precipitated any new lifecycles that occurred in your church’s history;
- duplicate the chart on page 3 and ask church leaders to identify where they believe the church presently is on each item;
- ask whether your present location on the lifecycle has an influence in your ability to identify and pursue your church’s mission;
- discuss whether your church needs to consider an intervention strategy to begin a new lifecycle. And if so, what are the next steps.
 Robert Orr, “Is Your Church in a Mid-Life Crisis?” in The Growth Report, No. 4, Institute for American Church Growth, Pasadena, California.
 Because of this, I researched the process of starting a new service, and reported it in the book How to Start a New Service (Baker, 1997).
 Gary McIntosh has written an excellent new book (not yet published as of this writing) entitled Church Lifecycles. I strongly recommend his work for a much more comprehensive exploration of this important dynamic of church lifecycles.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2009.
For 20+ years I have studied how to successfully employ intervention events (i.e. introducing “new ideas” such as new programs, new pastor, etc. to intervene in a church’s decline). Below are my top 7 tips for successfully doing so.
These insights are needed today, because a growing literature in church management and group exit suggests that without an understanding of some of the following lessons, most attempts to introduce an intervention event will not start the church on a new life-cycle, but rather split it into two smaller groups of which neither will survive.
However, seven (7) lessons are introduced (below) to make the change agent aware that before she or he creates an intervention event, they must also be prepared to study and manage the process that follows that intervention.
Lesson 1: Usually, intervention events will produce a church exit. Arn (2009) is correct that life-cycles play an important role in managing organization behavior. Management researchers Dyke and Starke (1999:810-811) concur with Arn that new life-cycles can be fostered by, in Arn’s words, “beginning something new … an intervention event” (2009:9). However, group studies literature warns that introducing an intervention event, with proper knowledge of the six-stage process model involved, will in all likelihood produce a group exit (Dyke and Starke, 1996, 1999).
Lesson 2: Usually, intervention events produce a group exit, because intervention events usually polarize the church into competing groups. Pondy (1967) discovered that introducing an idea which conflicts with a organization’s status quo, usually produces enough conflict for opposing sub-groups to form. Dyke and Starke label one group (the group proposing change) “change proponents” and the resistant group the “status quo” (1999:805-806)
Lesson 3: Most people aren’t polarized from each other, until an intervention event. Dyke and Starke concur with Pondy’s conclusion that “felt conflict follows manifest conflict” (1967). This means that most people won’t get upset until after they witness some visible or “manifest” intervention (e.g. see Arn’s list of “intervention events,” 2009:9) over which they disagree with others. Thus, when an interventionist (Schaller 1997) uncritically introduces or supports an intervention, a visible (i.e. manifest) conflict event often ensues which then gets previously non-conflicted people riled up. The intervention event creates such deep internal felt conflict in individuals, that the result is a deep-seated conflict that usually spins out of control (Dyke and Starke 1996). Some may wonder if the conflict that results from intervention events is unavoidable, but Dyke and Starke have demonstrated that it is not (ibid). This leads us to the lesson 4.
Lesson 4: If the reaction to the intervention event is not managed, the change proponents will leave as a group, create a new organization that will compete with the mother congregation, and usually both groups will die. Dyke and Starke (1996:159-174) discovered that typically such intervention events propel Pondy’s sub-group into a trajectory that leads to a “spin-off” or “unplanned birth” of a competitive organization. Lau and Murnigham (1998) observe that the ensuing “we-they” competition creates two unstable organizations. Case study research has supported the grounded theory of Lau and Murningham, and Dyke and Starke (Whitesel 2004, 2009:151-169). An ecclesial organization will usually not have sufficient economy of scale to survive this exit behavior, especially if the sub-group that exits the organization is comprised of change proponents (as it usually is, according to Dyke and Starke 1999:810-811).
Lesson 5: To manage the results of an Intervention Event, ecclesial leaders must understand the “Process Model for Group Exit and Retention.” If an ecclesial leader wishes to retain her or his change proponents, an intervention event should not be undertaken without a preparation to manage the ensuing process model of group exit (an organizational model has been put forth by Dyke and Starke, 1999; and a simpler model has been put forth by Whitesel 2007, 2009:151-169, 177).
Lesson 6: At Trigger 2, go slow … build consensus … and succeed. Church leaders that keep their congregations unified and thwart group exit, undertake two (2) of the “trigger events” differently (Dyke and Starke 1999: 811-815). Trigger 1 (a legitimating event) occurs when change proponents bring a new idea to a leader, and the leader enthusiastically “blesses” or “inadvertently legitimates” the new idea. Dyke and Starke found that if the leader does so, change proponents will run too fast with the new idea. While the status quo will be initially tolerant, they will later resent the fact that they were not consulted. The result is a church split (and group exit). Instead, leaders that kept their church unified went slow … built consensus … and succeeded. When new ideas were brought to a church leader, the uniting leader slowed down the change proponents, encouraged them to go through proper channels (creating compromise and consensus), and even had them dialogue with people who the church leader knew would be suspicious, apprehensive and/or contrary.
Lesson 7: At Trigger 4 the effective leader plans for conflict, uses conflict-resolution skills and emphasizes the power of unity. Dyke and Starke found that even when Trigger 2 was handled correctly, conflict will still occur. However, the unifying leader plans for conflict, and when it arises, he or she brings the different sides together to stress that they can do more together than apart. Therefore, instead of a “polarizing event” on the route to group exit, Trigger 4 becomes a “harmonizing event” on the route to group retention and “dissonant harmony” (Dyke and Starke1999:811-815). Thus, a uniting leader plans for conflict, learns conflict resolution skills, and is adept at inspiring a church to see it can do more together, than apart.
If a leader wishes to assist the church in embarking upon a new lifecycle which Arn laudably suggests (rather than fostering more typical group exit behavior) then he or she should familiarize themselves with the process model of group exit (Dyke and Starke 1999:813, Whitesel 2003:177).
 This initial repression may be due to Christians typically eschewing conflict (Whitesel 2003:85-93).
Charles Arn, “Where is Your Church in Its Missional Lifecycle?” (Marion, Ind.: Indiana Wesleyan University, 2009).
Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 792-822.
Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits,” Review of Religious Research 38 (NY: Religious Research Association, 1996), 159-174.
Louis R. Pondy, “Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models,” Administrative Science Quarterly 12 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 296-320
Dora Lau and J. Keith Murnigham, “Demographic Diversity and Faultlines: The Compositional Dynamics of Organizational Groups,” Academy of Management Review 23, 325-340)
Lyle Schaller, The Interventionist (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997).
Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004).
Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).