MULTICULTURAL & Observations by Daniel Im, teaching pastor of The Fellowship, Nashville

Daniel Im, a teaching pastor at The Fellowship a multisite church in Nashville, shared some interesting observations at the Mosiax Pre-conference at Exponential East today. Here are some of the take-aways.

Cultural comfort develops in our childhood.  “If your parents had a dog when you were young, you probably want a dog when you enter adulthood. The same is mostly true for cats.”

Is there a place in America for a mono-ethnic Asian church? “There is a lot of grey area around this for immigrant groups.  If it is language-based, then probably yes. But, maybe not for second-generation churches… So, what if we partnered and shared our facilities with immigrant churches and helped disciple the second generation?”  This would be what I have described as a Multicultural Alliance Model where the church assets are shared.  Read more about this here … http://intercultural.church/five-types-of-multicultural-churches/

An Example of a Multicultural Alliance Model:  “We had a first generation Arabic congregation in our church.  They didn’t have much finances, so with our support of giving them their space free, they could concentrate on reaching their culture.  They told us, ‘We don’t want to be an independent church.  We would rather not do the organizational piece’.”

For more on Daniel and his ministry, see … https://www.danielim.com

 

HUMOR & Super Bowl Commercials That Have Captured The Spirit Of The Culture

1984 The Rise of Customer-friendly Technology

2006 Incompetency at Work

2012 A Hunger for Nostalgia

2012 Living in a Dangerous World

2014 Living in a Mosiac World

2015 Men Can Care Too

Read more at … http://www.forbes.com/sites/marymeehan/2017/01/16/watch-past-super-bowl-commercials-that-have-captured-the-spirit-of-the-culture/#6110a8782302

CULTURE & An Overview of Richard Niebuhr & Charles Kraft’s 4 Views of “Christ & Culture”

by Bob Whitesel, excerpted with permission from Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations (Abingdon Press, 2006, pp. 55-57).

Since modern culture is constantly adjusting and metamorphosing, the task of translating the Good News without surrendering its truth or disfiguring it is paramount and ongoing. This arduous task begins with thorough and careful examination of a culture. Anthropologist Paul Hiebert described culture as, “an integrated system of learned patterns of behavior, ideas and products characteristic of a society.”(1) Scrutiny of such an elaborate system is not for an immature Christian, since it requires investigating and evaluating a culture without being tainted by its more sordid elements.

There is a tension between Christ and culture that must be examined. Richard Niebuhr in his classic treatise Christ and Culture suggested that there are several ways to look at Christ’s interaction with culture.(3)

Christ … Against culture.

One is “Christ against culture” a view embraced by the early church father Tertullian. In this view culture is seen as evil, thus requiring Christians to withdraw and insulate themselves, resulting in a monastic response. Charles Kraft exposes three fallacies in this view, demonstrating it is not in keeping Paul’s view that “nothing is unclean of itself” (Romans 14:14).(4)

Christ … Above Culture (in Synthesis or in Paradox)

Another view Niebuhr called “Christ Above Culture” which he divided into sub-categories.(5)

  • Christ Above Culture in Synthesis” was held by Thomas Aquinas and views Jesus as the restorer of institutions of true society. This view believes that Christianity will one day totally transform culture, perhaps into a millennial peace. In another sub-category,
  • Christ Above Culture in Paradox,” Christ is seen above but in such tension with culture that a messy, muddled relationship results. Martin Luther grappled with this perspective, as did modern writer Mike Yaconelli who called this “messy spirituality.”(6)

Christ … Above but Transformer of Culture

However, a more valid sub-category may be “Christ Above but Transformer of Culture.” Embraced by Augustine, John Calvin, and John Wesley this view sees culture as corrupt but convertible.(7)

Christ … Above but Working Through Culture

Kraft built upon this his position called “Christ above but working through culture,” explaining that “God chooses the cultural milieu in which humans are immersed as the arena of his interaction with people.”(8) Eddie Gibbs further elaborates 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.”(9)

If the “Christ above but working through culture” truly defines the tension and nexus between Christ and culture, then the job of the Christian communicator becomes challenging if not precarious. Therefore, our strategy must not conclude simply with step 1, investigating and examining culture, but also must continue through step 2, sifting and judging its elements. Here the prudent communicator must make qualitative judgments based upon Scripture, ethics, personal belief and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

…The end result of this examination or sifting, must be a rejection of elements in conflict with Christ, but also an affirmation of those elements that are not so. I found that leaders of the organic church usually sift carefully through the movies, television shows, music, games, online resources and literature of young people. And they routinely explain in their sermons how God judges some aspects of postmodern culture, accepts other elements such as an emphasis on helping the needy, and has as a goal the transformation of the whole.(10)

The Christian communicator wishing to make the Good News relevant today must carefully examine the media barrage engulfing young people, understand its messages, while at the same time sifting elements that are opposed to Christ and identifying touchstones that can make connections with unchurched peopled.

Footnotes:

1. Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1983), p. 25.
2. Bob Whitesel, Growth By Accident, Death By Planning, op. cit., p. 26.
3. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (New York: Harper & Row, 1951). A second view is beyond the scope of our discussion. Labeled by Niebuhr “Christ of culture,” it was embraced by early Gnostic heretics. They interpreted Christ through cultural trends, rejecting any claims of Christ that conflicted with their culture. Counter to this, Isaiah 55:8 reminds us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, or our ways his ways.
4. Charles H. Kraft, Christianity in Culture, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1979), pp. 105-106.
5. Kraft, ibid., pp. 108-115 sees five subdivisions of the “Christ Above Culture” position. However, for this discussion only three are required. The reader seeking more exhaustive insights will benefit from a careful exploration of Kraft’s work.
6. Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002). Yaconelli’s viewpoint has been popular among postmodern Christians, And, before his untimely death, Yaconelli was in demand as a lecturer. Young people often saw in his perspective one more in keeping with their untidy journey towards discipleship. To understand the angst and anxiety many young people sense today between their Christian understanding and their vacillating demeanor, see Yaconelli’s insightful volume.
7. Charles H. Kraft, Christianity in Culture, p. 113.
8. ibid., p. 114.
9. Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, (Grand Rapids, Mich,: Eerdmans, 1981), p. 92.
10. In my travels through the organic church, I found it’s leaders usually approached the rejection or affirmation of cultural elements in a circumspect and serious manner. Whether it was the “discothèque clubbers” of England who had to decide at what point youthful fashions became lewd, or the film clips that Freeway employed to illustrate a point; young organic leaders typically see the rejection of base elements of culture as not only required, but judicious.

CULTURE WARS & How Stravinsky’s composition “Rite of Spring” sparked a musical and physical clash between Russian cultures

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Worship wars over styles of music are nothing new. And, if you look at musical history you will see they are often a cultural clash between different cultural preferences. Understanding that cultures (including age, ethnic and affinity cultures) prefer different styles of music is part of understanding other cultures. Read this interesting article by the classical music critic of the BBC to understand a classic (pun intended) example of cultural and musical clashes that accompanied the debut of Stravinsky’s landmark composition “Rite of Spring.”

Did The Rite of Spring really spark a riot?

by Ivan Hewett, BBC Classical music critic, 5/29/13.

Of all the scandals of the history of art, none is so scandalous as the one that took place on the evening of 29 May 1913 in Paris at the premiere of Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring.

The Rite descended into a riot, the story goes. Magnified in the retelling, it has acquired the unquestionable certainty that only legend can have. Everyone simply “knows” that there was a riot.

But is it possible to separate fact from fiction?

Was there violence?

Dozens of witnesses left accounts of the evening, but they tend to say different things. According to some, blows were exchanged, objects were thrown at the stage, and at least one person was challenged to a duel…

There had been some noise two weeks earlier at the premiere of Debussy’s ballet, Jeux, and critics had heaped abuse on Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreography. Now Nijinsky had choreographed the Rite of Spring – rumoured to be the last word in Russian primitivism or modernist chic, depending who you believed. So part of the audience may well have been predisposed to be outraged.

“There was an existing tremor in the air against Nijinsky before any curtain went up,” says Stephen Walsh, professor of music at Cardiff University. Others say the trouble began with the start of the overture and its strangled bassoon melody, and other strange sounds never before conjured from an orchestra.

Igor Stravinsky, for his part, said the storm only really broke after the overture, “when the curtain opened on the group of knock-kneed and long-braided Lolitas jumping up and down”…

The brand new Theatre of the Champs Elysees was “awash with diamonds and furs” according to one contemporary report. It seems that the beau monde really did turn out for this premiere – and some will have been keener than others on the avant-garde performance. Jean Cocteau wrote that “the aesthetic crowd… would applaud novelty simply to show their contempt for the people in the boxes”.

But were they divided by class? Buch says there are unlikely to have been any poor or even middle class people in the auditorium.

“My reading of the evidence is that actually the divisions went inside social groups – you have people who are very much alike and they have different opinions on the piece.” One barrier to understanding the quarrel, Buch adds, is that none of those who protested ever left a record explaining the reason for their anger…

The young Stravinsky had taken Paris by storm in previous seasons. His Petrushka, the year before, had been a massive hit. “There is no question at all, he was a star,” says Walsh. But compared with the Rite of Spring, “Petrushka was not such a forbidding score, by any means.”

Stravinsky himself said that when he first played the beginning of the Rite, with its dissonant chords and pulsating rhythm, to Serge Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, Diaghilev asked him a “very offending” question: “Will it last a very long time this way?” (Stravinsky replied: “To the end, my dear.”)

So the music was as startling as the strange jerky movements of the choreography. Esteban Buch argues that you cannot separate the impact of one from the other. What upset people, he thinks, was “the very notion of primitive society being shown on stage”.

1913 production of The Rite of Spring

(Dancers portraying Russian primitives)

Fast forward to the last 30 minutes of this BBC2 video for an idea about the commotion this historic composition created

Read more at … http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22691267

MOSIAX & Thoughts From the #Exponential Pre-Conference #reMIXbook #DisruptionBook

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

As a member of the Mosiax Network (I would encourage you to join too) I learned a great deal from the dialogue of leading thinkers at the 2016 Exponential pre-conference. We are also launching an academic society (info here) to study best practices.  Here are some gleanings from the pre-conference.

Mark DeYmaz:

Transformation is three things: “spiritual transformation, financial transformation and social transformation.” These three must be undertaken in balance or the organizational becomes silo-ed and unable to holistically transform the community. “We are preaching an isolated, narrow view of theology and practice.}

Strategies are lacking. “You ask people about diversity and people often say, ‘It’s just happening on Sunday morning’ or ‘We’re just letting it happen.’ But if you ask a growing church about evangelism or discipleship, they probably wouldn’t say ‘It’s just happening on Sunday morning’ or ‘We’re just letting it happen.’ We don’t ignore planning in other important areas.”

“What is the first question church planters get?  ‘Who are you targeting?’  That is an nonbiblical and illogical question.”

“It’s not about a melting pot.  As Soong-Cha Rah says it is a ‘salad bowl.’  You’ve just got to stop smothering everything in Ranch sauce.”

 

CONTEXT & Martinez and Branson Quote on Sleuthing the Movement of the Holy spirit

“What is God already doing in our context and how do we participate?”[1]

[1] Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martinez, Churches, Cultures & Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities (Carol Stream, IL: IVP Academic, 2011), 66.

HEGEMONY & An Explanation of Antonio Gramsci’s Concept

Carl A. Grant and Stefan Brueck offer a good explanation of Antonio Gramsci’s concept of “hegemony” in their chapter, “A Global Invitation” in Intercultural and Multicultural Education: Enhancing Global Connectedness, ed.s Carl A. Grant and Agostino Portera (New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 10-11:

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MULTICULTURALISM & A Consice Definition w/ a Preference for Intercultural

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D., 1/15/16.

Augusto Portera offers a helpful yet concise definition of “multiculturalism” in his chapter, “Intercultural and Multicultural Education: Epistemological and Semantic Aspects” in Intercultural and Multicultural Education: Enhancing Global Connectedness, ed.s Carl A. Grant and Agostino Portera (New York: Routledge, 2013), p. 16:

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But, Portera argues that multiculturalism does not lead to intercultural understanding, for Portera states (p. 19-20):

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CULTURE & Why a Salad Bowl Metaphor Is More Accurate Than a Melting Pot

Augusto Portera describes the failure of cultural “fusion” and the so-called “melting pot” metaphor in lieu of the rise of the “salad bowl” metaphor:

EXCERPT Agostino Portera Intercultural 2010 p. 10-11 Metling Pot

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Agostino Portera, “Intercultural and Multicultural Education: Epistemological and Semantic Aspects” in Intercultural and Multicultural Education: Enhancing Global Connectedness, ed.s Carl A. Grant and Agostino Portera (New York: Routledge, 2013), p. 16

MULTICULTURAL & Multiethnic: Are They The Same Thing? Yes & No

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/11/15

A student once asked “Is multicultural and multigenerational the same thing?” Well in some ways they are, but in other important ways they are not.  Let me explain.

Multicultural is a broad term that can be an over-arching description for organizations with many varieties of culture within it (for more on this click here).

For instance, both multiethnic and multigenerational are sub-sets of a multicultural organization.  Thus …

  • An ethnicity can be a culture, but
    • Though an ethnicity also has many cultures within it.
    • Because ethnicity is usually tied to your historical geographic area, some ethnicities if they come from a small area can be cultures but those that come from large geographic areas are usually not cultures.
      • So a tribal group in Papua New Guinea might have a unique culture tied to their small geographic area from which they came.
      • But it is often not accurate to say there is any such thing as a Chinese culture.  Here is how I stated this in The Healthy Church: “For instance, China has 50+ recognized ethnic groups but they all originate from the same country.[iv] While all are Chinese, so too are all 50+ different cultures.[v] Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture is usually preferred.”
  • A generation can be a culture, but
    • A generation can have many cultures within it too.
      • You can call my generation the Boomer Generation and we have some generally common characteristics, e.g. we were born to parents that had endured two World Wars and a world-wide economic depression. That gave us generally and world-wide some similar cultural traits.
      • Within the Boomer culture you have cultures, such as
        • Yuppies, now the 2 percenters,
        • Eternal Hippies
        • Jesus Freaks (now Evangelicals)
        • Nostalgia “Old Guys Rule” Clan
        • Still-think-they-are-30 grandparents, etc.
    • Thus using the term “multicultural” can be a meta-term that creates a general picture but tries not to offend by becoming too specific.  (For ideas for when to use multicultural or another term, keep reading below).
  • And, an organization could even be multicultural and not be multigenerational.

The key is to describe as accurately as possible type of culture you are addressing.

To understand what a culture is and the differences see:

  • Cultures & A Cumulative List of Cultures from My Books, excerpted from my books with page numbers and footnotes.
  • And here are Exercises for Cultural Diversity from my book The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to strengthen a Church’s Heart, Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013.
  • Plus you will find a list of the variety of cultures just in No. America in “The No. American Cultural Mix” in Preparing for Change Reaction (2007, pp. 50-60).

So, let me give some examples of when to say multigenerational and multiethnic.

So, if your organization needs to be multigenerational, then use multigenerational terminology when writing/discussing your organization.

But, maybe your church (or for instance a church in a denominational district) might need to reach out to a growing Hispanic community. Then that church might need to become a multi-ethnic organization.

One student might refer to their denominational district as “becoming multicultural” because some churches are becoming multi-ethnic and others are becoming multi-generational.

But another student might refer to his ministry as becoming more multi-generational, because it needs to create a partnership between several generations

Thus, one student might use “multicultural” in their discussion (and title of a paper) if they were dealing with an organization of several different cultures, and another student might use “multigenerational” in their discussion (and title of a paper) because they are focusing on reaching out to one specific new culture.  Now, every church is made up of multiple cultures, so don’t try to get too specific.

Capture how your organization will reach out to another culture. Thus, use the terms that most precisely describe what you are doing to expand the evangelistic footprint of your ministry.

MUSIC & Comparing Troubadours from Different Cultures. A Leadership Exercise.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/10/15.

A friend of mine, Dan Kimball, encouraged me to listen to some of the lyrics of John Mayer. I first thought he said “John Mayall” a great blues-rock musician from England in the 1960s (http://www.johnmayall.com). But, he meant the more modern singer John Mayer.  As I listened to this latter day troubadour, I found a very poignant song by this young songwriter that juxtapositions generational predilections.

Here are the song lyrics from two representatives, each of a different generation (in fact I included this comparison in my book “Preparing for Change Reaction”). Weigh the lyrics of Boomer musicians Paul McCartney and his colleague John Lennon, against the Postmodern Xer lyrics of John Mayer:

Getting Better by Paul McCartney and John Lennon (The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (London: Parlophone Records, 1967).

Me used to be angry young man.
Me hiding me head in the sand.
You gave me the word I finally heard.
I’m doing the best that I can.
To admit it’s getting better, A little better all the time
To admit it’s getting better, It’s getting better since you’ve been mine.
Getting so much better all the time.

Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer (John Mayer, Continuum (New York: Sony Records, 2006).

Me and all my friends we’re all misunderstood.
They say we stand for nothing and there’s no way we ever could.
Now we see everything that’s going wrong with the world,
And those who lead it.
We just feel like we don’t have the means,
To rise above and beat it.
So we keep waiting, waiting on the world to change.
We keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change.

A Leadership Exercise:

What do you think these lyrics can tell us about each generation?  And, can the plaintive muse (of John Mayer) be Christian (can you cite Biblical support), or adapted as such?

Write down your thoughts and share with other leaders (or fellow students).

Note:  As you may remember, I’ve included these lyrical comparisons in my book, “Preparing for Change Reaction: How To Introduce Change To A Church” (The Wesleyan Publishing House, January 1, 2008).  If you are interested, you will find in that chapter questions for discussion to get your lay leaders discussing this topic.

CULTURE & A Leadership Exercise That Can Increase Bridge Building Over Cultural Chasms

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/23/15.

Building bridges over which the Good News can travel to other cultures is a strategic intention that requires sensitivity and understanding of other different- and inter-cultural milieus.  To train leaders in intercultural understandings and bridge building across cultural gaps, I use this exercise with my students.  In this exercise, you will be looking at the efforts, effects, and principles of inter-cultural ministry.

Begin by posting one (1) paragraph on each of the following questions.

1)  Share a story from the missionary field that demonstrates how a missionary had to acclimate him or herself to another culture. Then tell us what lesson this has for helping multi-cultural churches live in harmony.

2)  And secondly, tell about a church that is sharing its facilities with a congregation of another culture.  For instance, you may describe how a Caucasian church is sharing its facility with a Latino church, or an African-American church shares its facilities with a Laotian congregation.  You may be familiar with such examples or you may have to do some sleuthing.  If the later is the case, go online and find an example of a church sharing its facilities with Christians from another culture.  Or you could call your denominational office.  Then you may wish to call the church you locate and ask them a few questions over the phone.  Whatever you choose the result of your inquiry should be to answer this question: What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of a multi-cultural approach?

CULTURE & Entertaining Videos on Cultural Time-warps

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/22/15.

In a leadership exercise on this wiki (linked here) I posited the thesis that people may associate the cultural arts associated with the time they were saved, with the preferred artist expression to reach people today.  In other words, if a person was saved when gospel quartet music was played, will they associate that style of music with evangelism even today.  Thus, the leadership exercise asked, “Do people get stuck in a cultural ‘time-warp’ from the era in which they were saved?

One student pointed out that my question about “Cultural Time Warps” should really be about the time when a Christian experienced rapid spiritual growth and not necessarily when they were saved. That is because some people may have a salvation experience, and then enter a period of slow (or no 😦 growth. That is a good point.

But, the gist of the leadership exercise is that people can get stuck in a “cultural time-warp” at the period when they experienced new birth and/or rapid spiritual growth. The result is that people connect music, styles, etc. associated with the time of their salvation/growth with “spiritually powerful” songs, styles, etc..  They feel the songs that impacted them, will always impact others.

And, this is normal but not beneficial.  That is because the result can be that people will expect (and subtly require) others be touched by the same cultural songs, styles, etc. that they once enjoyed.

Here are some videos that can serve as an example.

Video A: The first was taken during the Jesus Movement of the late 60s and early 70s.  I got saved then. And, this was how the ideal worship happened back then:


Video B: This next video is how Jesus Movement morphed into:


Video C: Here now is an example of how worship can happen in the e-world of today:

Now here is followup Leadership Exercise.

Which is better?  How are they different?

Actually, A and C are very organic and much the same, only one eschewed technology (e.g. it is a cappella – which means “in the style of Medieval church music”) and the other relies on technology.  As a person who has researched and experienced both the Jesus Movement and the Emerging Movement, I have pointed out that they are both very organic and similar (Inside the Organic Church, 2006, pp. xxiii-xxxiii).

The middle example (Video B) is what many Jesus Movement boomers grew to prefer.  It is more event-orientated and resembles more of a concert format.  For many boomers this could be their idea Sunday morning worship expression.

I think you would agree that these worship expressions are sometimes dissimilar, and at other times similar.  And, that all three are valid, just for different people and different times.  Thus, churches that are seeking to reach out to multiple cultures will want to have multiple worship expressions, so 2+ cultures can be reached.  And, they may need to be at separate venues, for different cultures prefer different styles.  When a church accommodates different cultural styles, it makes the church more inclusive, diverse and long-lived.

CULTURES & An Emerging List of Cultures (and citations from my books)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 1/29/15, excerpted from my books with page numbers and footnotes.


Ethnicity

Anglo (Change, 68)

Hispanic (Change, 68)

Latin American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

Hispanic American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

African American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

African American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

Native American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

Anglo American (Change, 51; Cure 34)


Generation

Generation Y (Change, 52; Cure 34)

Postmodern Generation X (Change, 63; Cure 34)

Leading Edge Generation X (Change, 53; Cure 34)

Builder (silent) generation (Change, 63,68; Cure 34)

Boomers (Change, 68; Cure 34)

Builders (Change, 52; Cure 34)


Socio-economic

Urban/poor (Cure 34)

Working class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)

Middle class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)

Capitalist (upper) class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)


Affinity

Motorcycle riders (Change, 56; Cure 34)

NASCAR Nation (Change, 56; Cure 34)

Goths (Change, 57)

Cowboy churches (Cure, 34)

Emerging postmodern churches (Cure, 34)

Café Churches (Cure, 34)

Art churches (Cure, 34)

College Churches (Cure, 34)


Other

Ingrown and outgrown churches (Cure, 23)

General and demographic churches (Cure, 31-33)

Worship styles are varied (Change, 67)


Resources

Cure for the Common Church

Types of Cultures: Figure 2.2 pp. 34

Footnotes: Online in PDF Cure for Common Church http://www.wesleyan.org/cure

Preparing for Change Reaction

Chapter 3 (p. 49-57)

Footnotes: 1-13

  1. Here and throughout the book, I will use the customary congregational size designation as codified by Gary McIntosh in One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Bringing Out the Best in Any Size Church (Grand Rapids, Mich,: Revell, 1999), 17-19.
  2. The 2001 census in the United Kingdom created controversy when it listed the following ethnicities. These categories are reprinted there again, not to offend, but to demonstrate the broad range of possible designations and the difficulty in creating acceptable lists. Thus, the purpose of this list is simply to acquaint the reader with the immense variety (and potential controversy) of ethnic groupings.

White: British, White; Irish, White; Other

Mixed: White and black Caribbean, mixed; white and black African, Mixed; White and Asian, Mixed; Other

Asian: Indian, Asian; Sri Lankan, Asian; Pakistani, Asian; Bangladeshi, Asian; Other

Black or Black British: Black Caribbean, Black or Black British; Black African, Black or Black British; Other

Chinese or Other: Chinese, Chinese or Other; Other

  1. The World Factbook: CIA Edition (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books; rev. ed., 2006, CIA 2005 ed.).
  2. For the reader looking for a more in-depth analysis of socio-economic levels and their influence on behavior, consult David Jaffee’s books: Levels of Socioeconomic Development Theory (New York, Praeger, 1998) and Organization Theory (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001)
  3. Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, Studies in Social Discontinuity (Burlington, Mass.: Academic Press, 1980).
  4. Joseph V. Hickey and William E. Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology, 5th (Boston, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  5. See Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001).
  6. For an extensive analysis on the distinguishing characteristics of each generation see Whitesel and Hunter, A House Divided and Gary McIntosh One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2002).
  7. Bob Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations ( Nashville, Abingdon, 2006), x-xii.
  8. Mike Yankoski, Under the Overapass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America ( Colorado Springs, Multnomah, 2005)
  9. Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, x-xii, xxvii-xxxiii. For a detailed look at the postmodern Xer; fresh ideas for the church, as well as the differences between modernism and postmodernism, see Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations. x-xii, xxviii-xxxiii.
  10. Anonymous, Thunder Roads Magazine, vol. 5, no. 2 (2007): 5.
  11. For more on this innovative, growing evangelical church with the unlikely name, see the chapter dedicated to the church and what every church can learn in Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, (76-87).

Organix

Does not have an explicit list of cultures (especially like the ones in Change an Cure). However, it does discuss “mosaic churches” on pp. 71-72 (footnote 39- 41 – see below) and 77-81 (footnotes 59-63, also see below).

Pages 71-72

  1. For more on these types of churches, see “Types of Multiracial Churches” in George Yancey’s One Body, One spirit: Principles of Successful Multiracial Churches.
  2. See Whitesel, “The New Network Approach”
  3. Ibid.

Pages 77-81

  1. Bob Whitesel, “Communicating the Good News Across Cultural Divides” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008), 62-68.

60.Brian Schrag and Paul Neeley, eds., All the World Will Worship: Helps for Developing Indigenous Hymns (Duncanville, Tex.: EthnoDology Publications, 2007).

  1. C. Peter Wagner traces such blending through history as an “assimilationist model” that seeks “Anglo-conformity” in Our Kind of People: The Ethical Dimensions of Church Growth in America (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), 45-49.
  2. Such committees might include trustees, financial, staff-parish (HR), and so on.
  3. Sociologists, however, refer to this as the “new pluralism” or “structural pluralism.” See Milton Gordon, “Assimilation in America,” Daedalus 90, no. 2 (1961): 263-85.

64.George G. Hunter III, The Contagious Congregation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1979), 63.

  1. Mosaic is a term that has been applied to multiethnic churches largely due to the popularity of some megachurch models. See Erwin Raphael McManus, An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind (Colorado Springs: Group Publishing, 2001).
  2. The melting pot imagery can be traced to Israel Zangwill’s popular play The Melting-Pot (1908) where the protagonist cries, “Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians – into the crucible with you all! God is making the American.” Quoted in Winthrop S. Hudson, ed., Nationalism and Religion in America: Concepts of American Identity and Mission (New York: Harper and Row 1970), 127. C. Peter Wagner, who wrote his dissertation on models of assimilation and pluralism, defined new pluralism as “a model in which America is seen as a nation that maintains group diversity within national unity.” Our Kind of People, 50.
  3. Nathan Moynihan and Daniel Patrick Glazer, Beyond the melting Pot (Boston: MIT Press, 1984).
  4. Indiana University scholar Gerardo Marti has written extensively on Mosaic Church in Southern California (led by Erwin McManus) and believes that its multi-ethnicity is produced in part by “playing down” ethnic differences and uniting around evangelicalism. For more on Marti’s analysis, see A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).
  5. Wagner, Our Kind of People, 51.

Hashtags DMin

CULTURES & A List of Cultures

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/30/15.

(Excerpted with permission from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013)

Below are examples of groups that have been identified as justifiable cultures:

Affinity cultures (these are cultures that are based upon a shared fondness or affinity):

  • Motorcycle riders
  • Country music fans
  • The NASCAR nation
  • Heavy metal music fans
  • Contemporary Christian music fans
  • Surfers

Ethnic cultures:

  • Latin American,
  • Hispanic American
  • African American,
  • Asian American
  • Native American, etc..

Socio-economic cultures[i]

  • Upper Socio-economic Level[ii]
  • Upper Middle socio-economic Level[iii]
  • Lower Middle Socio-economic Level[iv]
  • Lower Working Socio-economic Level[v]
  • Lower Socio-economic Level[vi]

Generational cultures:[vii]

  • Builder[viii] (or the Silent[ix] or Greatest[x]) Generation, b. 1945 and before
  • Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
  • Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
  • Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
  • Generation Y, b. 1984-2002
  • Generation Z, b. 2003-2021

(For where Gen. Y and the Millennials fit, see my post: GENERATIONS & The Emerging Agreement on Age Ranges.)

Therefore, to help our churches grow in the most ways possible while recognizing the broadest variety of cultures, it is good to speak of multicultural churches. These are churches where people from several cultures (e.g. ethnic, affinity, socio-economic, etc.) learn to work together in one church.

You can read more of this chapter here (remember, if you benefit from this excerpt please consider supporting the publisher and author by purchasing a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – HEALTHY CHURCH List of Cultures

[i] Joseph V. Hickey and William E. Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology (Boston, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon, 5th ed. 2004).

[ii] They are approximately 1-5% of the No. American population and are characterized by power over economic, business and political organizations and institutions.

[iii] They represent approximately 15% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers who hold graduate degrees, possessing a significant degree of flexibility and autonomy in their work.

[iv] They are approximately 33% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers with some college education. Subsequently, they have a degree of flexibility and autonomy at work, though not as much as those of the Upper Middle Socio-economic strata.

[v] They are approximately 30% of the North American population). Both white- and blue-collar workers, their jobs are characterized by minimum job security, inadequate pay and worries about losing health insurance.

[vi] They represent 15% of the North American population and often go through cycles of part-time and full-time jobs. Many times they must work more than one job to provide for their needs.

[vii] For a chart depicting the different age ranges for each generation see Bob Whitesel Preparing the Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), p 53.

[viii] Gary McIntosh, One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002] and Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000).

[ix] This generation has been labeled various ways, for instance as the “silent generation” by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of American’s Future, 1954-2069 (New York: Quill, 1992).

[x] They are labeled the “greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 2004).

CONTEXTUALIZATION & It is about empathy

By Jackson Wu, nd.

Contextualization is about empathy, being able to see the world from another person’s perspective.

Don’t believe me? Check out this video:

Read more at … http://jacksonwu.org/2015/07/23/contextualization-is-about-empathy/

CULTURE DEFINITION & Multicultural or Multiethnic – Why Understanding the Difference is Crucial (including a list of cultures)

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/16/15.

CHAPTER 4: The Church as a mosaic … Exercises for Cultural Diversity

We do not want the westernization of the universal Church. On the other hand we don’t want the ecumenical cooks to throw all the cultural traditions on which they can lay their hands into one bowl and stir them to a hash of indeterminate colour. – John V. Taylor, statesman, Africanist and Bishop of Winchester [i]

A Church of Many Colors (and Multiple Cultures)

Culture. Though the term multiethnic church is often used today, researchers prefer the term “multicultural,” because culture is a more accurate way to describe people who share similar behaviors, ideas, fashion, literature, music, etc. Christian anthropologist Paul Hiebert defined culture as people who join together because of “shared patterns of behavior, ideas and products.”[ii]

  • Behaviors are the way we act,
  • Ideas are the way we think, and
  • Products are the things we create such as fashion, literature, music, etc.

Therefore, people of a culture can tell who is in their group and who is out of their group by the way they talk, the way they think and the way they act.

Ethnicity. Ethnicity is a type of culture, often based on biological connections to a geographic area of origin, such as Sri Lankans (from the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka), Yemenis (from the Republic of Yemen) or Chinese (from the People’s Republic of China). But the term ethnicity is very imprecise, because there may be dozens of different ethnic groups that hail from the same area of origin (and thus the term ethnicity is not without controversy[iii]). For instance, China has 50+ recognized ethnic groups but they all originate from the same country.[iv] While all are Chinese, so too are all 50+ different cultures.[v] Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture is usually preferred.

Multicultural or Multiethnic Church? So, what should we call a church that reaches multiple groups of people? And what should we call a neighborhood that has Guatemalan Hispanics, Mexican Hispanics, aging Lutherans and a growing base of young Anglo professional? The accurate answer is a multicultural neighborhood. And, such a mosaic of cultures should give rise to a multicultural church.

Below are examples of groups that have been identified as justifiable cultures:

Affinity cultures (these are cultures that are based upon a shared fondness or affinity):

  • Motorcycle riders
  • Country music fans
  • The NASCAR nation
  • Heavy metal music fans
  • Contemporary Christian music fans
  • Surfers

Ethnic cultures:

  • Latin American,
  • Hispanic American
  • African American,
  • Asian American
  • Native American, etc..

Socio-economic cultures[vi]

  • Upper Socio-economic Level[vii]
  • Upper Middle socio-economic Level[viii]
  • Lower Middle Socio-economic Level[ix]
  • Lower Working Socio-economic Level[x]
  • Lower Socio-economic Level[xi]

Generational cultures:[xii]

  • Builder[xiii] (or the Silent[xiv] or Greatest[xv]) Generation, b. 1945 and before
  • Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
  • Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
  • Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
  • Generation Y, b. 1984-2002

Therefore, to help our churches grow in the most ways possible while recognizing the broadest variety of cultures, it is good to speak of multicultural churches. These are churches where people from several cultures (e.g. ethnic, affinity, socio-economic, etc.) learn to work together in one church.

Avoiding the Creator Complex

The Creator Complex. Sociologists have long known that people of a dominant culture will try, sometimes even subconsciously, to make over people from an emerging culture into their own image.[xvi] One missiologist called this the “creator complex” and said, “Deep in the heart of man, even in missionaries, lurks that ‘creator complex’ by which he delights in making other people over in his own image.”[xvii] And so, when humans encounter different customs, the creator complex in us wants us to view their customs as abnormal and change them to be more in keeping with our traditions.[xviii]

Cultural Filters and Firewalls. The creator complex arises because it seems easier and quicker to assimilate a culture and make it look like us, than to try and sift out any impurities that run counter to the message of Christ. But in the words of missiologist Charles Kraft, every culture is “corrupt, but convertible.”[xix] To convert any culture thus entails sifting out elements that run counter to Christ’s Good News while retaining elements that affirm it. Eddie Gibbs calls this “sifting a culture,” drawing from the image of a colander or strainer that sifts out impurities in food.[xx] But, purifying processes in factories instead of in the kitchen may today rob this metaphor of some familiarity. Thus, a more contemporary idiom may be helpful.

Terms such as “firewall” and “spam filter” are broadly used today to describe how computer networks sift out malicious computer viruses and unwelcomed (i.e. spam) email. A cultural filter and firewall may serve as a better image to depict a community of faith that is analyzing a culture, noting which elements run counter to the teachings of Christ, and openly filtering out perverse elements.

A Goal: Spiritual and Cultural Reconciliation

So what then is the goal for our filtering of cultures? Let us return to Charles Kraft’s reminder, that every culture is “corrupt, but convertible.” Our purpose thus becomes to assist God in His quest to convert or transform a culture. Such transformation begins by reconnecting people to their loving heavenly father. This has been called the ministry of reconciliation, which Paul described this way:

So we try to persuade people, since we know what it means to fear the Lord. … So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:11, 17-18)

But John Perkins suggested that today’s divided world needs churches that will foster both spiritual reconciliation and physical reconciliation. This would fulfill Jesus’ prayer that His children would be united as the Father and Son are united (John 17:20). To describe this goal, Perkins employed 3 Rs:

  • Redistribution (sharing money from wealthier cultures with struggling cultures),
  • Relocation (relocating ministry to needy areas) and
  • Reconciliation (physical and spiritual reconciliation, first between humans and their heavenly Father, and then between humans).

And, among today’s emerging generations I am seeing young people more attune to this need for reconciliation between people of different cultures. Today’s young people have been born into a very divided world of politics, economics and cultural clashes. Yet, across the nation I have observed churches lead by these young leaders that refuse to limit themselves to just spiritual reconciliation, but also see maturity in Christ as advancing cultural reconciliation. I agree with Brenda Salter McNeil who sees the emergence of a reconciliation generation, who in addition to a spiritual reconciliation, sees “a host of people from various tribes, nations, and ethnicities who are Kingdom people called to do the work of racial reconciliation.”[xxi]

And so, to bring about both spiritual and cultural reconciliation, we need churches where people of differing cultures are not only reconnecting with their heavenly Father, but also who reconnecting with one another. A multicultural church may provide the best locale. Let’s look at five types of multicultural churches to discover which type might be right for your church.

(Excerpted with permission from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to strengthen a Church’s Heart, Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013).

Endnotes:

[i] John V. Taylor, “Cultural Ecumenism,” Church Missionary Society Newsletter, Nov. 1974, p. 3, see also John V. Taylor, The Theological Basis of Interfaith Dialogue, in Faith Meets Faith, ed. Gerald M. Anderson and Thomas F. Stansky, Mission Trends, no. 5 (New York: Paulist Press, 1981), pp. 93ff.

[ii] Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1976), p. 25.

[iii] The United Kingdom created controversy when its 2001 census divided ethnicity into the following; White: British, White: Irish, White: Other; Mixed: White and Black Caribbean, Mixed: White and Black African, Mixed: White and Asian, Mixed: Other; Asian: Indian, Asian: Sri Lankan, Asian: Pakistani, Asian: Bangladeshi, Asian: Other; Black or Black British: Black Caribbean, Black or Black British: Black African, Black or Black British: Other, Chinese or Other: Chinese, Chinese or Other: and Other. These designations were still too imprecise for many British residents.

[iv] The World Factbook: CIA Edition (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books; Rev Ed, 2006, CIA 2005 Edition).

[v] The term ethnicity, while unwieldy and imprecise, is still employed by church leadership writers to describe various cultural heritages, when the more precise term culture would be more appropriate, c.f. Kathleen Graces-Foley, Crossing the Ethnic Divide: The Multiethnic Church on a Mission (XXX), Mark DeYmaz, Building a Healthy Multiethnic Church (XXX), Gary McIntosh, Being the Church in a Multi-Ethnic Community: Why It Matters and How It Works (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012).

[vi] Joseph V. Hickey and William E. Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology (Boston, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon, 5th ed. 2004).

[vii] They are approximately 1-5% of the No. American population and are characterized by power over economic, business and political organizations and institutions.

[viii] They represent approximately 15% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers who hold graduate degrees, possessing a significant degree of flexibility and autonomy in their work.

[ix] They are approximately 33% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers with some college education. Subsequently, they have a degree of flexibility and autonomy at work, though not as much as those of the Upper Middle Socio-economic strata.

[x] They are approximately 30% of the North American population). Both white- and blue-collar workers, their jobs are characterized by minimum job security, inadequate pay and worries about losing health insurance.

[xi] They represent 15% of the North American population and often go through cycles of part-time and full-time jobs. Many times they must work more than one job to provide for their needs.

[xii] For a chart depicting the different age ranges for each generation see Bob Whitesel Preparing the Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), p 53.

[xiii] Gary McIntosh, One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002] and Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000).

[xiv] This generation has been labeled various ways, for instance as the “silent generation” by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of American’s Future, 1954-2069 (New York: Quill, 1992).

[xv] They are labeled the “greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 2004).

[xvi] Robert Jenson, “White Privilege Shapes the U.S.,” White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism (New York: Worth Publishers, 2002), p. 103-106

[xvii] C. Peter Wagner, Frontiers in Missionary Strategy, (XXX) p. 96

[xviii] Regardless of the label, this practice often comes from veiled if not subconscious, desires to make over people to look like us. Jesus faced a similar creator complex where he jousted with the Pharisees and Sadducees who tried to make people over in their particular dress, social laws, etc. Jesus criticized them for their creator complex by saying:

  • “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” ( 23:2-4)
  • “You do away with God’s word in favor of the rules handed down to you, which you pass on to others” (Mark 7:13).
  • Jesus said, “How terrible for you legal experts too! You load people down with impossible burdens and you refuse to lift a single finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)

[xix] Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

[xx] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, 120.

[xxi] Quoted by Kathleen Garces-Foley, Crossing the Ethnic Divide: The Multiethnic Church on a Mission (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 64.

CULTURE & How Different Cultures Can Make Us Feel Uncomfortable: A Picture

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/11/15.

Have you ever wondered how Jesus might look today, and what kind of disciples He might call?  Steel City Church in Pittsburgh has some ideas.  This is a picture they utilized depicting Jesus at an updated version of The Last Supper:

Steel City Last Supper

So tell me, what do you think?  One student replied this way:

Dr. Whitesel,  I like that they see themselves as a continuation of the book of Acts rather than a copy of something that was. They definitely have the feel of a group of people who are willing to “be all things to all people”. They see where the need is and do what they can to take the message to the streets. At least that’s the feel I get from the website. It makes me a little uncomfortable to be honest, which probably means it’s a good thing. – Student


I too felt some uncomfortable feelings, and thus I penned the following response.

Hello ___ student name ___

Some students have a real aversion to this picture. And, you, like me, have some uncomfortable with it.
 Let me probe deeper and tell why I think this may be.

First, some of these people look like they may have been just a few years prior: streetwalkers, petty criminals and troublemakers. Thus, if they were in my class I would feel uncomfortable with them. Not because I don’t like them, but because I feel I might say something to offend them, or show that I am ignorant of their lifestyle.  I guess, I don’t like feeling like I am in an culture that is not like mine (it makes me feel uncomfortable).

But, what I am trying to say is that we all prefer our own cultural surroundings, because it makes us feel more in control, more powerful, and less likely to be embarrassed. But, if we are called to follow Christ, then we must be willing to go into these uncomfortable realms and learn foreign (to us) cultures to share the Good  News in their culture.  Thus, the uncomfortable feeling that I felt (and this student too) is probably the result of my pride in wanting to feel in control and empowered.

But, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord’.”

Now, ask yourself.  How will you react the next time someone from a different culture invades your “personal space?”

DYSFUNCTIONAL PEOPLE & Mystery People Revealed: A True Story of Microsoft’s Cultural Clash with IBM! (A leadership exercise continued)

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D.

In an earlier posting titled DYSFUNCTIONAL PEOPLE & Would Your Church Use These People? I shared a picture of the founders of the Microsoft Corporation in 1978. They were a unconventional, counterculture bunch … but they came to influenced modern culture greatly. I asked my students to tell me how young people from such an alternative culture might be welcomed as part of their ministry “team.” And most felt not very well.

Some of my students knew the answer, others were perplexed, and some appeared to wonder why we would want to grow so much hair in the ‘70s! 🙂

Here is a picture of them today:

http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-1978-photo-2011-1?op=1#ixzz2fBcUlcmm

Just think of how you might feel if these people actually came in and sat in the front pew of your church. I know all of us would want to be courteous and demonstrate the love of Christ to them. But really ask yourself … deep down, wouldn’t you be just a little tempted to dismiss any potential for your team from this seeming rabble?

One student asked her kids and what she found was insightful. Here is her primary research (yes, this qualifies as primary research 🙂 in her own words: “I decided to ask my 11 year old daughter and 13 year old son what they would do if this ‘family’ showed up in church.  The look they both gave was priceless.  I told them it was OK to be honest because I wanted to hear what they would say.  Our church is diverse- so we do see different ethnic groups but they both responded…‘They’re dressed funny- and we would be puzzled and wonder why they came to church.’ I said, ‘So people have to be dressed a certain way?’  Again, puzzled looks.  I said, ‘Would God accept them?’  Both- after hesitation: ‘Yes. He accepts all people.’  I said, ‘So if they came to church and I invited them to dinner?’  More puzzled looks……… I think personally if they walked through the doors of my church they’d be embraced. May get a few stares from people who just know no better- but we are used to diversity and many of the leaders would be embracing and welcoming.”

That’s the point I’m trying to make. Most of our ministries would probably welcome them, but because most of us are not prepared to reach across cultural gaps, we also can make them feel a bit uncomfortable.

In the 1970s a Jesus Movement swept across America, and many young people (erstwhile Hippies) started attending church. Much to the chagrin of some churchgoers they seemed culturally separated, and many received less than a warm welcome. But in some churches they were welcomed and incorporated into teams; even with bare feet, blue jeans and beards. And, as a result of these Christ-like actions of acceptance many became devoted followers of Christ (this professor included).

So the next time the disenfranchised, the poor, the unseemly, the indecorous enter our church or volunteer for our ministry team, let’s look deep down inside … not at them, but at ourselves.

And who are these mystery people? If you weren’t comfortable with them then, you would appreciate them now 😉 Some of my students correctly guessed that is the Microsoft Corporation in 1978.

Here is how the photo came about: “Early employee Bob Greenberg, pictured in the middle, won the free portrait after calling in a radio show and guessing the name of an assassinated president. The gang reluctantly gathered together in some of their finest attire, and American business legend was made.” (retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-1978-photo-2011-1?op=1#ixzz2fBcUlcmm)

Bill Gates is the “kid” at the bottom left, and the guy with the pocket protector and the beard is actually a fraternity brother of mine, and today one of the richest men in the world, Paul Allen.

They were a new culture of technocrats, and when the white-shirted and blue-tied employees at IBM got a look at them they dismissed them. IBM did not realize what was happening was not slothfulness, idiocy or insolence. It was simply another culture emerging. The leaders pictured wanted to join IBM’s team, and to bring their ideas to Big Blue! Unfortunately, Microsoft thought little of them and made them feel uncomfortable and unwanted. This new culture of technocrats then went out on their own to create the most powerful organization in the world.

Herein lies the lesson for Christians and our ministry leadership.

Many similarly-clad young Boomers came to our churches in the 1970s after conversions to Christ, and in our response we confused culture with theology. Thus, many of our churches either dismissed these young people and/or required them to adopt church culture (in dress style, language, etc. etc.). The result was that denominations that rejected these young Boomers faltered, but those that welcomed this culture grew (the Assemblies of God, some Nazarenes, Calvary Chapels and Vineyards). Today these denominations are stronger because of this because of their ability to distinguish between Christ and culture.

My students have heard me talk much in this class (and in my book, Inside the Organic Church) about the importance of knowing the dynamics between Christ and culture. Once we have been in the church culture so long, we cease to notice it and we unconsciously adhere to it. But, to those outside the church it is readily apparent, as was the rejection by IBM of the future leaders of Microsoft.

The lesson here is to help your leaders distinguish between culture and Christ, and as a missionary would, to sift through elements of a culture to separate the ungodly from the Godly. It is an arduous task, but necessary if the Church is to grow and impact the world in a united manner.

I hope you enjoyed participating in this little exercise. I hope it brought a smile to your face (e.g. the decoded picture and many of your humorous answers). It bought a grin (and a reminder) to me!

DYSFUNCTIONAL PEOPLE & Do You Use Them or Minister to Them? #GrowthByAccidentBook

by Bob Whitesel, Ph.D., 6/23/15.

In an earlier posting titled DYSFUNCTIONAL PEOPLE & Would Your Church Use These People? I posted a picture of a rather unkempt and dysfunctional-looking group of people … several of which later became some of the most influential people in the world.

I asked my students to identify them and tell me what kind of reception they would expect at their church. Many of our students say they would be kindly welcomed, but because of their disheveled look would probably be  subtly encouraged not to come back.

A student once figured out who there people were and he responded, “Unfortunately, if these people showed up at (name of church), most of my congregates would be foaming at the mouth trying to get free iPads.”

All kidding aside (for I am sure there was some truth in his observation), what would you do to help your church see such culturally-different yet powerful people have needs too?

Let’s say, for example, that you knew that Paul Allen (one of the co-founders if Microsoft) was coming to your church. You knew he was coming because he had a deep spiritual need that he felt he could find in your spiritual community.  But, most people in your church didn’t know what he looks like (most don’t today).  How would you help your church members be ready to minister to Paul rather than become obsequious, take advantage of him or ignore him?

Mystery_People_Revealed

(Photoshopped picture by one of my students, who humorously implied they might be my first online cohort 🙂