MULTIPLICATION & Why Culturally Diverse Worship Options Increases Evangelism

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/5/15.

A student made some good points when he stated, “I still don’t buy that it’s (the Multiple Generational Approach) the best approach, or always necessary to have multiple generations present in a church. In the end, the church comes down to relationships. We grow because of our relationships and our activity in them. We don’t have true/deep growth because we have the hip program that people want to come to. Because if that’s the case, we die if we ever stop it! That’s not the church, that’s business.”

He made many good points, but it was also evident he was not reading my books. If he had, he would know that I agree with him. But, I also needed to point out that his unfamiliarly with my writings has led to some false assumptions on his behalf.

Let me share my response.

Hello;

You are right when you stated, “I still don’t buy that it’s… always necessary to have multiple generations present in a church…. We don’t have true/deep growth because we have the hip program that people want to come to. Because if that’s the case, we die if we ever stop it! That’s not the church, that’s business. At SOME point in this model, we have to address knocking down individualized services based on preferences and move towards true connectivity/mutuality/UNITY in our community as a whole.”

Some churches don’t need multiple generations, especially in areas which are growing with one primary cultural generation. And, I list such examples in the book.

Also, I agree that if a church is performance driven it is not an organism, but a mechanization (see what I said about professionalism verses improvisation in “Inside the Organic Church”).

And, you are right that “At SOME point in this model, we have to address knocking down individualized services based on preferences and move towards true connectivity/mutuality/UNITY in our community as a whole.” This is the GOAL! 🙂

But, for a church to reach the unchurched, who are not yet ready for “true connectivity/mutuality/UNITY” we must offer entry level (i.e. evangelistic) conduits that are individualized based upon cultures. But, for people to mature in Christ, we must have processes to bring them into unity, connectiveness, and mutuality.

Thus, individuality in cultural aesthetics is for evangelism. And creating “one out of many” (see my writings on this in Preparing for Change Reaction) is the second part of a two part process. Both are needed, and a church fails without both.

UNITY & How to Maintain A Church’s Unity as It Multiplies & Diversifies

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10-24/15.

A student once shared a very common dilemma.  I’ve attached my response to help students, colleagues and clients struggling with diversifying a church while maintaining unity (and to explain how unity does not trump multiplication).

Here is what the student wrote:

As I helped the church see the need for change to reach younger generations we began to reach a younger crowd. Young people who had left the church were returning. At first it was just my presence of being a younger person myself. As we grew we had to make some difficult decisions about were we were intentionally headed. We didn’t want to neglect the older folks nor the younger folks either. We ended up making a decision to have two services that would meet each of their needs but some of the older more established people didn’t like the idea. Some comments were, “we’re dividing the flock” and “shouldn’t the young people (new people or unchurched) come at 8:00 a.m. instead of the traditional people.” We were running 135 people and could only sit 150 while our parking lot held less. Unfortunately 30 people left the church. I was crushed that so called mature Christians couldn’t sacrifice to see more people reached for Christ and grow in Him. We already had Wed. nights that was traditional, and Sunday nights that was traditional, and Sunday morning was traditional. I guess for some giving the younger folks 1/4 of the ministry focus was asking too much.

Here is my response:

Thanks for sharing a powerful, but unfortunately all too typical story when you said, “as we grew we had to make some difficult decisions about were we were intentionally headed. We didn’t want to neglect the older folks nor the younger folks either. We ended up making a decision to have two services that would meet each of their needs but some of the older more established people didn’t like the idea. Some comments were, “we’re dividing the flock” and “shouldn’t the young people (new people or unchurched) come at 8:00 a.m. instead of the traditional people.” “We were running 135 people and could only sit 150 while our parking lot held less. Unfortunately 30 people left the church. I was crushed that so called mature Christians couldn’t sacrifice to see more people reached for Christ and grow in Him. We already had Wed. nights that was traditional, and Sunday nights that was traditional, and Sunday morning was traditional. I guess for some giving the younger folks 1/4 of the ministry focus was asking too much.”

I don’t think the entire fault lies with those who left, but in the way we “grew” these older generations to understand today’s cultural differences.  Many of these older Builder Generation people grew up in a less diverse, more uni-cultural world.  Thus, they feel like their way of life is ending (it is) by this generational diversity.  We must show them that the message of Christ is, as Charles Kraft says, “supra-cultural,” meaning Christ’s message is not a culture, but is above culture (Christianity in Culture, 1979).

The key to keeping the older generation is to help them see they are a “culture” and that young people are a “culture” too (e.g. the “youth culture,” “counter-culture,” etc.).  Too often Builder-aged people can’t see why young people need things differently, unless we help them see that it is like learning a foreign culture.  If you don’t learn about the foreign uncomfortable for them.

Thus, step one is creating mutual respect.  But, you have to explain it to them in terms of a “culture,” or else they won’t get it.

And, then you just do like a missionary does.  A missionary comes to our churches, shows pictures of the people and their customs, and shares testimonies from these people.  This helps those of alien cultures (USA for example) to understand better the culture of the Two-thirds World.  So, have regular testimonials etc. from the youth culture at your Builder service (you must begin to do this, or risk losing even more).

Secondly, we must have quarterly unity services.  Not services where services are combined because of a low-attendance Sunday, but where we join together to celebrate our diversity.  These unity services must happen at least once a quarter.  Again, pattern this after a missionary service, where the missionary may bring a youth choir to sing in the cultural language and dress.  Remind the Builder Generation that to expect this culture to become like them is analogous to Colonialism, where empires tried to make people like themselves.  We fought wars against Colonialism, including the Revolutionary War and World War II (against Japanese and German Colonialism).

With these two steps, cultural-acclimation and unity-gatherings, you can keep a church diverse, yet united.  If we don’t we will wind up with a church divided and uni-cultural.

HOLACRACY & You Don’t Need to Adopt Holacracy to Get Some of Its Benefits

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Holacracy explains the long-term cohesiveness created by emphasizing small teams or small groups within an organization. But this article also explains why diversity (silos) and cohesiveness (silos remaining under one organizational umbrella) creates a healthier organization. Read this important article on the organizational behavior of holacracy with diversity amid unity.


by Greg Satell, Harvard Business Review, AUGUST 28, 2015.

When Alfred Sloan conceived the modern corporation at General Motors, he based it on hierarchical military organizations. Companies were split into divisions, each with their own leadership. Authority flowed downwards and your rank determined your responsibility.

Today, a few organizations – like Medium, David Allen Consultants, and Zappos – are adopting a radically different, approach to management: holacracy. Even as someone who has studied alternative management movements, I’ve been skeptical about holacracy, which eschews the standard “org chart” for a system of interlocking “circles.” To understand it better, I recently sat down with Brian Robertson, author of the new book Holacracy, to figure out how he’s gotten hundreds of firms to sign on.

For all of the sturm und drang surrounding the idea, as we talked I realized a lot of holacracy is just codifying many of the informal elements of good management. By getting beyond the particulars of adopting holacracy and taking a deeper look at the issues it addresses, we can see that problem isn’t that hierarchies have somehow become illegitimate, but that they are slow and the world has become fast. Instead of making the leap to an entirely new form of organization — a radical change not without its pitfalls — perhaps we should think more seriously about the problem of agility itself…

How do you balance cohesion and diversity? It’s become fashionable in management circles to talk about “breaking down silos” in order to improve how information flows around the enterprise. Yet we need silos, which are cohesive units that are optimized for specific tasks. What’s more, the reorganization efforts that are supposed to break down silos invariably recreate them in different places.

What’s really important is to balance cohesion and diversity. Without cohesion, there is no common purpose, but without diversity groupthink will set in and eventually that purpose will lose relevance. So you need a healthy amount of both in order to be able to both operate efficiently and adapt to new information in the marketplace.

A study of Broadway plays shows this in action. Researchers found that if no one in the cast or crew had worked together before, then results were poor. However, if there were too many existing relationships, then performance suffered as well. Traditional organizations often inspire far too much conformity — but I suspect holacracy and models like it will only exacerbate the problem because, ironically, its reliance on informal ties rather than dictates make conformity that much more insidious.. In hierarchical organizations — whatever their failings — leaders can change direction and combat groupthink. It’s not clear to me how that kind of change would happen in holacracy, which is driven by informal relationships to a much greater extent…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/08/you-dont-need-to-adopt-holacracy-to-get-some-of-its-benefits

COMMUNICATION & 7 Biblical Ways to Increase a Church’s Visibility – from my interview w/ Outreach Magazine

by Bob Whitesel, 2/25/15.  The following is from my interview with Outreach MagazineI was asked, “What you would want to convey to the church that says, ‘We aspire to be better known in our community’.”  Below are my thoughts about how to organically and biblically increase a church’s visibility.  (It is probably not what you anticipated.)

——————-

ELEVATE: Raise Your Visibility Before a Skeptical World

Today in an increasingly skeptical world, the church must move beyond branding and build a new, more powerful reputation.

15-MJ_BobWhitesel-300x225Here are 5 steps to elevating your visibility in a community.

1. Elevate the visibility of your need-meeting. Churches should be known as the place in a community where people go when they have a crisis. Churches that offer divorce recovery programs, grief support groups, 12-step programs, etc. increase their visibility as the primary place where needs are met in their community.

2.  Elevate the visibility of spiritual-change. People are looking for ways to change their lives and often psychologists or self-help programs are their first choice. While these can offer the physical change that people need, I believe only Christ can offer the spiritual change that people long for deep inside. So in the name of helping people better their physical lives, do not neglect their higher needs for a supernatural transformation that only comes through Christ.

3. Elevate the visibility of your openness and honesty. Churches often promote that they have the best program or the most exciting worship. But non-churchgoers sense that this is not the real purpose of the church. Acknowledge that your church doesn’t do everything well and sometimes you get fixated on your organizational needs. Then remind them that your church is a spiritual community, seeking to work together to draw closer to Christ.

4. Elevate the visibility of your unity in diversity. In an increasingly diverse world, people want to go to a church that mirror’s the diversity of God’s creation. But such diversity must not be only symbolic, but also heartfelt. It is important for people of diverse cultures to run the church together, to worship together and to learn from one another about cultural background and baggage. The church should be visible in the community as a place that not only promotes spiritual reconciliation to God, but also physical reconciliation between cultures.

5.  Elevate your visibility as a place to learn. People today have a conceptions of the church as a place that lectures and criticizes, rather than a place that promotes learning. Jesus gave us a Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) to “make learners.” Thus our goal must be to acquaint them with His words, while we exemplify how these words are lived out in community.

6.  Elevate your visibility as a place where everybody can find a place to fit. Emphasize smaller fellowship groupings within the larger whole. Most people today are not only looking for a large event, but also a smaller group where they can ask spiritual questions and receive support on their spiritual journey.

7. Elevate your visibility as a community that promotes and seeks God’s wisdom. The church should be known as a place of Bible-study and prayer. Thus it should be a place where people who are estranged from God or even just struggling in their relationship, will find people and prayer environments that will assist them in connecting to their heavenly Father. If a person in the community needs prayer, the first place they should think of is your church.

If you can’t elevate one or more of these areas, because they don’t yet exist in your church, then start with the easiest but don’t stop until you develop these seven ways to elevate an organically spiritual and Biblical visibility.

CLICK HERE to download the entire article with contributions by my colleagues Len Sweet, Will Mancini, Tony Morgan and Tom Bandy: ARTICLE ©Whitesel Beyond Branding OUTREACH Mag

And HERE IS A LINK to the online version: http://www.outreachmagazine.com/features/11582-raise-your-visibility-before-a-skeptical-world.html

WORSHIP SERVICES & My 7 Steps To Launching a New Worship Service (& avoiding the attractional trap)

by Bob Whitesel, Ph.D., 11/13/14

Adding a new worship encounter has its caveats. After helping churches for 20+ years add new worship services, below is my “short list” that I use to help clients see the basic “7-steps” of launching a new worship encounter.

(Note: I distinguish between “launching a new service” and “starting a new worship service.” Starting a worship service first begins indigenously with creating small groups among an emerging culture. See my other post on “Five steps to starting a new service” for information on starting a new service  But once you’ve decided to start one, then this post will tell you how to “launch” it.)

First, you must launch with two important goals:

GOAL 1:  The first goal is the Great Commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Thus, getting new attendees into small groups where they can grow along with others is the major objective.  This is even more important than adding a new service.  So, if you can’t undertake a new service, than at least add more small discipleship groups.

GOAL 2: The second goal of a new worship service is to create a culturally relevant worship encounter.  It is not a performance, nor a time to create mini-celebrities.  It is a time to foster an encounter with God.

Everything should revolve around these two goals.  If it does, then go onto this short list of things you must do to create a new worship encounter for an existing church.

Here are the key principles for starting a new service:

1.    The people who design a new worship encounter should demonstrate that they are missionaries to that culture, or that they are from the culture you are reaching out to.
2.    Ensure you can financially sustain a new service for 18 months, before you launch it.
3.    Make sure you have duplicate leadership too (start training them now, telling them that soon we will launch a new service and they will lead it).
4.    Pick a venue that will be at around 35% full with your projected attendance.
5.    Start small groups (Sunday Schools, Life Groups, etc.) of the culture you are reaching out to, three months before you launch your worship encounters.  Ensure that these small groups are between 5 and 8 people (i.e. they have room to grow) and that they know they are the new discipleship venues for new people who attend the worship encounter.
6.    Keep the worship encounters to 50 minutes total (with 15-20 minutes between other worship services) if you can 😉
7.    Also, make sure your overall attendance is at least 100 before you start a new service.

•    Then ask 50 people to agree to come to the new service for one year (make a covenant to do this, usually written 🙂
•    At the end of that time, they must either recruit someone to take their place, or re-up for another year.  The idea is to create the minimum number of attendees necessary for worship to break out in a larger gathering: usually 35+ people.
•    Thus, with 50 committed, you will usually have 35 in attendance and your new service can grow.

If you follow these principles, you can avoid what these video portray, i.e. the temptation to succumb to a largely attractional tactic (ugh!):

DIVERSITY & Immigrant religion in Pittsburgh #CaseStudies #ReMIXbook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at … http://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/longform/stories/immigration_religion/

ALLIANCE MULTICULTURAL CASE STUDY & The Orchard Evangelical Free Church

Fast Facts: The Orchard Evangelical Free Church was founded in 1953 and has been growing ever since. It is now one congregation worshiping in four communities in the greater Chicagoland area; each of which stays true to the Gospel-centered mission while also tailoring their ministries to their unique congregations. The Orchard – Arlington Heights Campus would like specific prayer as they build teams to invite everyone who lives and works in Arlington Heights to our church. Pray that the Lord would raise up gifted and passionate leaders to bring Gospel-engagement to every neighborhood, school and people group. Pray that the Holy Spirit would soften the hearts of their neighbors, friends and family members and open their eyes to their need for a Savior.

Website: TheOrchardEFC.org

Retrieved from … http://thomrainer.com/2014/11/09/pray-orchard/