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Interested in finding out more about a consultation? And if you are in certain regions of the country where I am already coaching churches you can have a consultation very inexpensively.
But contact me now: firstname.lastname@example.org
A pre-pandemic, national survey of megachurches from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research found the median megachurch draws about 4,100 attenders to its worship services, up from about 3,700 in 2015.
The average megachurch budget is $5.3 million, up from $4.7 million in 2015. Seven out of 10 have more than one location. Six out of 10 (58%) say they have a multiracial congregation.
Despite the decline among Christian groups overall, most megachurches seem to be doing well, said Scott Thumma, professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary and director of Hartford Institute.
“They continue to do things that other congregations should be doing,” Thumma said.
Thumma said the use of contemporary worship — along with a focus on small groups and international diversity — has helped megachurches continue to grow. Megachurches, in general, he said, also tend to steer clear of controversy, staying away from culture wars or political battles.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As my clients know, I’ve spent 20 years helping churches grow into multiethnic congregations. In fact I wrote a book about how to do it with my friend Mark DeYmaz called reMIX: Transitioning your church to living color (Abingdon Press).
An important part of that transition is to stop doing certain practices that segment your congregation.
Here is a recent interview in the Harvard Business Review with Gardiner Morse on her book “What Works.”
The takeaway can be summed up in these thoughts:
simple changes—from eliminating the practice of sharing self-evaluations to rewarding office volunteerism—can reduce the biased behaviors that undermine organizational performance.”
Here is a portion of the interview …
“Designing a Bias-free Organization” an interview with Gardiner Morse, Harvard Business Review, 7/16.
Do whatever you can to take instinct out of consideration and rely on hard data. That means, for instance, basing promotions on someone’s objectively measured performance rather than the boss’s feeling about them. That seems obvious, but it’s still surprisingly rare.Be careful about the data you use, however. Using the wrong data can be as bad as using no data. Let me give you an example. Many managers ask their reports to do self-evaluations, which they then use as part of their performance appraisal. But if employees differ in how self-confident they are—in how comfortable they are with bragging—this will bias the manager’s evaluations. The more self-promoting ones will give themselves better ratings. There’s a lot of research on the anchoring effect, which shows that we can’t help but be influenced by numbers thrown at us, whether in negotiations or performance appraisals. So if managers see inflated ratings on a self-evaluation, they tend to unconsciously adjust their appraisal up a bit. Likewise, poorer self-appraisals, even if they’re inaccurate, skew managers’ ratings downward. This is a real problem, because there are clear gender (and also cross-cultural) differences in self-confidence. To put it bluntly, men tend to be more overconfident than women—more likely to sing their own praises. One meta-analysis involving nearly 100 independent samples found that men perceived themselves as significantly more effective leaders than women did when, actually, they were rated by others as significantly less effective. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to underestimate their capabilities. For example, in studies, they underestimate how good they are at math and think they need to be better than they are to succeed in higher-level math courses. And female students are more likely than male students to drop courses in which their grades don’t meet their own expectations. The point is, do not share self-evaluations with managers before they have made up their minds. They’re likely to be skewed, and I don’t know of any evidence that having people share self-ratings yields any benefits for employees or their organizations.
But it’s probably not possible to just eliminate all managerial activities that allow biased thinking.
Right. But you can change how managers do these things.
Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/designing-a-bias-free-organization?
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve written extensively about the biblical importance of the church becoming the community that breaks down ethnic and cultural walls and fosters reconciliation. To understand the varying cultures in your community look at these maps. They can provide a helpful introduction.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 7/12/20. Pictured below is the pastor of a Spanish-speaking congregation preaching to the entire congregation. This reminds the church of its diversity, plus gives it a opportunity to experience the anointing of diverse leaders within the church.
Yet too often leaders of smaller sub-congregations and venues are afforded the opportunity to preach only on special occasions or during low attendance periods (such as the middle of the summer).
Relegating them to preach sparingly and at low attendance times sends a subtle message of inferiority. This works against reconciliation.
To create reconciliation in a church begins with affording all cultures equal status and affirming their ministry beyond equal opportunity.
“Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore.
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!
All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.
God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”
2 Corinthians 5:16-20 MSG
Therefore a Sunday Church Hack can be to let the leaders of various venues and sub-congregations preach on a more regular and desirable basis. If not, cultural chasms develop, not bridges.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Having researched, written and coached churches on diversity for almost 20 years, I find that sometimes those I coach are challenged to explain the “why” and the “history” behind their beliefs. Ruchika Tulshyan, writing in the Harvard Business Review gives practical steps to embrace when explaining about your beliefs (excerpted below).
Ruchika Tulshyan, Harvard Business Review, 6/30/20.
… Here are some suggestions for how your team can meaningfully communicate and execute your commitment to anti-bias and dismantling racism:
Do not send communication on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts without explicitly calling out the reasoning for it…
Understand the history of bias and discrimination — which explains how these initiatives and programs are righting past wrongs. While many of us theoretically believe discrimination of an employee because of their race, gender, ability, or other identity is wrong and even illegal, in practice, bias is present in many key decisions made in the workplace. A small but eye-opening example; a 2003 Harvard study found that employers preferred white candidates with a criminal record over Black employees who didn’t have a criminal history. Professional women of color face a number of impediments to hiring and advancement that white women do not…
Invite buy-in and advice from people of color…and listen with humility.
Prioritize anti-racism efforts in-house. Leaders must do the tough work of identifying where bias shows up in their organizations right now — hiring, retention, or advancement of employees of color — and fix those issues before moving to grand gestures that could be misinterpreted as PR stunts…
Show up personally … I do wish more leaders were present and engaged in conversations already taking place right in their backyards… When those in charge don’t engage in the work personally, it gives others in the organization to also take a back seat in this important work.
by Rebecca McLaughlin, Christianity Today, 6/14/20.
It is a common misconception that Christianity first came to Africa via white missionaries in the colonial era. In the New Testament, we meet a highly educated African man who became a follower of Jesus centuries before Christianity penetrated Britain or America. In Acts 8, God directs the apostle Philip to the chariot of an Ethiopian eunuch. The man was “a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure” (Acts 8:27, ESV). Philip hears the Ethiopian reading from the Book of Isaiah and explains that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus. The Ethiopian immediately embraces Christ and asks to be baptized (Acts 8:26–40).
We don’t know how people responded when the Ethiopian eunuch took the gospel home. But we do know that in the fourth century, two slave brothers precipitated the Christianization of Ethiopia and Eritrea, which led to the founding of the second officially Christian state in the world. We also know that Christianity took root in Egypt in the first century and spread by the second century to Tunisia, the Sudan, and other parts of Africa.
Furthermore, Africa spawned several of the early church fathers, including one of the most influential theologians in Christian history: the fourth-century scholar Augustine of Hippo. Likewise, until they were all but decimated by persecution, Iraq was home to one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world. And returning to Sengmei’s homeland, far from only being reached in the colonial era, the church in India claims a lineage going back to the first century. While this is impossible to verify, leading scholar Robert Eric Frykenberg concludes, “It seems certain that there were well-established communities of Christians in South India no later than the third and fourth centuries, and perhaps much earlier.” Thus, Christianity likely took root in India centuries before the Christianization of Britain.
Many of us associate Christianity with white, Western imperialism. There are reasons for this—some quite ugly, regrettable reasons. But most of the world’s Christians are neither white nor Western, and Christianity is getting less white and less Western by the day.
Today, Christianity is the largest and most diverse belief system in the world, representing the most even racial and cultural spread, with roughly equal numbers of self-identifying Christians living in Europe, North America, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 60 percent of Christians live in the Global South, and the center of gravity for Christianity in the coming decades will likely be increasingly non-Western.
According to Pew Reseach Center, by 2060, sub-Saharan Africa could be home to 40 percent of the world’s self-identifying Christians. And while China is currently the global center of atheism, Christianity is spreading there so quickly that China could have the largest Christian population in the world by 2025 and could be a majority-Christian country by 2050, according to Purdue University sociologist Fenggang Yang.
To be clear: The fact that Christianity has been a multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic movement since its inception does not excuse the ways in which Westerners have abused Christian identity to crush other cultures. After the conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century, Western Christianity went from being the faith of a persecuted minority to being linked with the political power of an empire—and power is perhaps humanity’s most dangerous drug.
But, ironically, our habit of equating Christianity with Western culture is itself an act of Western bias. The last book of the Bible paints a picture of the end of time, when “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” will worship Jesus (Rev. 7:9). This was the multicultural vision of Christianity in the beginning. For all the wrong turns made by Western Christians in the last 2,000 years, when we look at church growth globally today, it is not crazy to think that this vision could ultimately be realized. So let’s attend to biblical theology, church history, and contemporary sociology of religion and, as my friend Kanato Chopi put it, let’s abandon this absurd idea that Christianity is a Western religion.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Since Mark DeYmaz and I wrote our book about how homogeneous congregations can transition to churches of living color (book is called ReMIX from Abingdon Press) there has been an increase in multicultural churches.
This latest research from my friend and colleague Dr. Kevin Daughtery at Baylor University, indicates that almost 20% of churches are transitioning to multicultural congregations.
Learn about this exciting new trend in the article below and then pick up a copy of ReMIX: Transitioning your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press) to find out how almost any church can do it.
By Terry Goodrich, Baylor Univ. communications, 6/20/18
The percentage of multiracial congregations in the United States nearly doubled from 1998 to 2012, with about one in five American congregants attending a place of worship that is racially mixed, according to a Baylor University study.
While Catholic churches remain more likely to be multiracial — about one in four — a growing number of Protestant churches are multiracial, the study found. The percentage of Protestant churches that are multiracial tripled, from 4 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available.
In addition, more African-Americans are in the pulpits and pews of U.S. multiracial churches than in the past, according to the study.
Multiracial congregations are places of worship in which less than 80 percent of participants are of the same race or ethnicity.
“Congregations are looking more like their neighborhoods racially and ethnically, but they still lag behind,” said lead author Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “The average congregation was eight times less diverse racially than its neighborhood in 1998 and four times less diverse in 2012.”
“More congregations seem to be growing more attentive to the changing demographics outside their doors, and as U.S. society continues to diversify by race and ethnicity, congregations’ ability to adapt to those changes will grow in importance,” said co-author Michael O. Emerson, Ph.D., provost of North Park University in Chicago.
For the study, Dougherty and Emerson analyzed data from the National Congregations Study, a nationally representative survey conducted in 1998, 2006-2007 and 2012, with a cumulative sample of 4,071 congregations. The study by Dougherty and Emerson — “The Changing Complexion of American Congregations” — is published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
The study found that:
Read more at … https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=199850
Commentary by Prof. B.: It is easy to be put off by the complex and intertwined history of diversity in America. Recognizing this, the Association for Religion Data Archives (ARDA) has created an online and interactive “timeline” here: http://www.thearda.com/timeline/tlTheme1.asp (screen shot below).
Easy to navigate, quick to read with reliable research, this should be your first stop to understand and explain the complex history of diversity in the No. American Church.
Commentary by Professor B. In my books I advocate that growing and healthy churches will participate in the “3Rs of reconciliation” as put forth by John Perkins:
See my chapters/articles/interviews on this:
Still, I have grown tired and cynical at watching churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new sound and lighting systems to approximate a rock concert and “attract” a crowd when similar churches just a few miles away are struggling to stay open in lower social economic communities.
This article from The Washington Post highlights the research by Robert Putman which should be a warning to growing and healthy churches that Jesus admonition still holds today: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much…” Luke 12:48.
By W. Bradford Wilcox, The Washington Post, 3/26/15.
One of the tragic tales told by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” is that America’s churches have grown weakest in some of the communities that need them most: poor and working-class communities across the country. The way he puts it, our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques give children a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose — in a word, hope — that allows them to steer clear of trouble, from drugs to delinquency, and toward a bright and better future, warmer family relationships and significantly higher odds of attending college.
The tragedy is that even though religious involvement “makes a bigger difference in the lives of poor kids than rich kids,” Putnam writes, involvement is dropping off fastest among children from the least privileged background, as the figure below indicates.
Courtesy of Robert Putnam, “Our Kids.”
In “Our Kids,” Putnam assigns much of the blame for the unraveling of America’s religious, communal and familial fabric to shift from an industrial to an information economy. The 1970s saw declines in employment for less-educated men, divergent incomes for college-educated and less-educated men, and a “breathtaking increase in inequality” — all of which left college-educated families and their communities with more financial resources, and poor and working-class communities with fewer resources. The figure below, taken from Nicholas Eberstadt’s essay on men’s employment, shows that work dropped precipitously for men in the 1970s.
(Courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor)
A key reason that working-class men are now less likely to attend church is that they cannot access the kind of stable, good-paying jobs that sustain a “decent” lifestyle and stable, married family life — two key ingredients associated with churchgoing in America.
Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018
Commentary by Prof. B: The following is an powerful excerpt from Reggie Williams’ powerful book Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus (Baylor Univ. Press., 2014). I hosted Dr. Williams when he visited IWU and was still conducting research on Bonheoffer. He found prior to the time Bonhoeffer spent in NYC among the Black community, that he considered himself a theologian … but in hindsight not converted (in a similar fashion as did John Wesley).
The following excerpts (quoted at the bottom of the first page and top of the second) show how villainous Nazi ideology had crept into Bonhoeffer’s thinking prior to his experiences in African American churches. Soon after, Bonhoeffer would be converted in a Harlem, African American church. The African American community impacted this theologian so deeply (my students are encouraged to read the book to understand more) that Bonhoeffer became a brilliant and sensitive theologian who gave us among others, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community and The Cost of Discipleship . To better understand how Christians can reconcile in a polarized world, read Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus and then Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community and The Cost of Discipleship . You will find the call to reconciliation is difficult, but a cost Bonhoeffer reminds us that maturing Christians are prepared to bear.
“(Bob) Whitesel agrees that diverse leadership is a crucial point,
‘Oftentimes, the dominant culture will have a tendency to try and run a multicultural church,’ he said. ‘We teach in this book about shared leadership. It’s almost impossible to grow a multiethnic church without having multiethnic leadership in place first. You have to include these people and their voices in the decision-making process before you make structural change’.”
From “Move to multiethnicity is not easy, but worth it” by Emily Snell, United Methodist Interpreter Magazine (n.d.), retrieved from http://www.interpretermagazine.org/topics/move-to-multiethnicity-is-not-easy-but-worth-it
In the early stages of its renewed emphasis on diversity, Lee said Cokesbury hosted small groups, which intentionally met outside of the church building, to discuss The Multi-Ethnic Christian Life Primer (Mosaix) by DeYmaz, who is a pastor, author and leader on multiethnic ministry.
This was important in “challenging our preconceived notions about race and pushing us to the higher level of cross-cultural competence,” Lee said.
Change consultants often cite Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church in Cleveland as an example of a successful multicultural body. The Rev. Chip Freed said the church views its multiethnicity as “a faithful commitment to the great commission, to go and make disciples of all nations, not just some nations.
“We’re really serious about reaching non-church people. Non-church people live in diverse environments. It’s only church people who live in segregated environments.”
For Freed, the church’s multiethnic identity is about “presenting a credible witness to the gospel.”
“If we want to be relevant, if we want to connect with a growing new generation of people, we need to commit to this, or people will write us off as irrelevant,” he said.
In 2011, the Rev. DeAndre Johnson began serving as pastor of music and worship at Westbury United Methodist Church in Houston — another congregation focused on reaching diverse people.
As Westbury saw its neighborhood demographics change, Johnson said, the congregation began asking, “How do we let our multicultural identity shape everything about us?”
The church envisioned being “a church for all people with more than enough love to go around.”
“We are committed to maintaining and living out what it means to come from different places but have a common vision and life together,” Johnson said.
The church’s first core value is “multicultural inclusivity.”
The Rev. Bob Whitesel, author, professor and national church change consultant, said multiethnic ministry is about reconciliation.
“We are given the ministry of reconciliation. Reconciliation is more than just reconciliation to God. That’s the most important, but it also means reconciliation of people from different cultures,” he said.
In his latest book, re:MIX: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press), written with DeYmaz, Whitesel said multicultural identity is a crucial aspect of the church’s mission on earth.
“We’re never going to reconcile people unless we get the established church today to embrace this, to embrace a church of living color,” he said.
Moving toward multiculturalism, Cokesbury decided that listening sessions would allow groups within the church to learn.
“We’ve realized, not only in different ethnic groups but across the economic divide, there are so many classes and groups that are divided from one another,” Lee said. “They all act out of preconceived notions, assumptions, prejudices. So we are intentionally breaking those barriers between us by reaching out and listening to one another.”
Cheryl LaTanya Walker, director of African-American ministries at Discipleship Ministries, said her goal is to “demystify” differences and break down “assumptions based on race or class.”
“We can worship together, be vital together if we break down the assumptions on what we see with the physical eye but look to God’s spirit,” she said. “We will see that we are more the same than we are different.”
To that end, Walker suggests that historically black churches begin by “doing pulpit exchanges” with congregations that seem different.
“Take your congregation, confirmation class and other ministry groups to churches that have different worship styles and persons who are outside of the African descent family,” she said. “Tour the facilities. Observe what is on their bulletin boards. Listen to the announcements. What are they doing in the community? Listen and observe what they are doing that may be the same or different.”
At Garfield Memorial, “empowering diverse leaders was a very important strategy,” Freed said. “We don’t want the people on stage to be all one race. We try to represent diversity from top to bottom in our staff.”
Whitesel agrees that diverse leadership is a crucial point,
“Oftentimes, the dominant culture will have a tendency to try and run a multicultural church,” he said. “We teach in this book about shared leadership. It’s almost impossible to grow a multiethnic church without having multiethnic leadership in place first. You have to include these people and their voices in the decision-making process before you make structural change.”
Walker observes, “Bishops are assigning black pastors to historically Anglo churches that were in downtown with a specific mission of moving that pretty much Anglo congregation with some black members, to a more diverse, more multiethnic congregation,” she said.
Westbury shifted from a “traditional, middle class, Anglo worship service” to something “in the language and style of peoples worldwide.”
“We started singing in languages other than English — some represented in our congregation and some not,” Johnson said. “We did this to nurture this sense of multicultural inclusivity within us and to challenge us to go further.”
Another key for all of the churches was a renewed vision for ministry in the community.
Walker pushes congregations to be creative in their outreach.
“What mission things are you doing for the neighborhood?” she asks. “What is your piece to get them in the congregation? Once they’re in the congregation, you begin the disciple process and inviting them to be involved.”
That involvement is not limited to Bible study or even to something in the church building, she adds.
“Particularly for our young folks, they are the ‘do’ generation. Sitting in a service for two to three hours doesn’t make a lot of sense to them, unless they see some output from doing that,” she said, “but they will go volunteer.”
In July, Garfield Memorial hosted “freedom week,” similar to vacation Bible school, at its South Euclid campus.
“It’s focused around teaching some of the Civil Rights movement,” Freed said. “As part of that, we have police officers come in and talk to the youth. They played a whiffle ball game.”
Cokesbury and other churches are working to “do even more for the school” in their neighborhood. “Every time we meet and talk, we sense that it is not we who are doing this, but God is guiding us,” Lee said.
Garfield Memorial hosts an annual back-to-school event to assist low-income families by providing health screenings, haircuts, backpacks and supplies. “We’re trying to meet a need,” Freed said. “We’re bringing joy to the city. We want to make Cleveland a better place.”
Westbury also created the Fondren Apartment Ministry (FAM), a ministry at a nearby apartment complex, which houses many refugee families.
The ministry has led the congregation to be “tremendously blessed” as people from all over the world join in Westbury’s worship services.
“Many of these dear friends of ours have also become part of our worship life,” Johnson said, adding that they “faithfully participate” in worship despite some language struggles. “You can watch them begin to feel comfortable in the space and to take ownership of their own place here.”
“A person who doesn’t know the love of Christ, they’re our VIPs,” Freed said. The mentality is, “I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll set aside my personal preferences to reach those who are unchurched. When you do that, diversity will walk through your door.”
As churches embrace new cultures, Whitesel said, it’s important to create short-term wins. “Demonstrate to the congregation that this is going to work, that this is a worthwhile way to go.”
DeYmaz emphasizes that, if a congregation tries to grow into a multiethnic church, “there is a 100 percent chance to offend each other.”
“Humility is the only way to approach one another,” Lee said. “We will offend the others without meaning to, because we don’t know them well, but we will be willing to approach each other. If offense happens, (we apologize), and mutually we will learn better together.”
Moving toward diversity requires pastors to take risks — and not worry about themselves.
“When you venture out to something new, there is a big possibility of failure,” Lee said. “Only when you are ready for failure can you do something.
“Those of us, when we are trying to grow in diversity, we need patience, persistence and perseverance. It’ll turn out to be a blessing to your local church, to your community and to yourself, so do some-thing!”
Emily Snell is a freelance writer living in Nashville, Tennessee. She writes frequently for Interpreter and other publications.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/22/17.
This is my video introduction to the assignments on how to create both diversity and unity in LEAD 545: Strategic Leadership and Management. Be sure to read the syllabus and weekly instructions before watching my additional video introduction.
©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Subtle practices in language, hiring, promotion and programming in an organization can unintentionally lead to unintended and unexpected biases. Read this seminal interview with Iris Bohnet, director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, cochair of the Behavioral Insights Group and author of the book, What Works, about how researchers have discovered how to foster a more bias-free organization.
by Gardiner Moorse, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2016.
Iris Bohnet thinks firms are wasting their money on diversity training. The problem is, most programs just don’t work. Rather than run more workshops or try to eradicate the biases that cause discrimination, she says, companies need to redesign their processes to prevent biased choices in the first place.
Bohnet directs the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School and cochairs its Behavioral Insights Group. Her new book, What Works, describes how simple changes—from eliminating the practice of sharing self-evaluations to rewarding office volunteerism—can reduce the biased behaviors that undermine organizational performance. In this edited interview with HBR senior editor Gardiner Morse, Bohnet describes how behavioral design can neutralize our biases and unleash untapped talent…
HBR: Organizations put a huge amount of effort into improving diversity and equality but are still falling short. Are they doing the wrong things, not trying hard enough, or both?
Bohnet: There is some of each going on. Frankly, right now I am most concerned with companies that want to do the right thing but don’t know how to get there, or worse, throw money at the problem without its making much of a difference. Many U.S. corporations, for example, conduct diversity training programs without ever measuring whether they work. My colleague Frank Dobbin at Harvard and many others have done excellent research on the effectiveness of these programs, and unfortunately it looks like they largely don’t change attitudes, let alone behavior. (See “Why Diversity Programs Fail” by Frank Dobbin.)
I encourage anyone who thinks they have a program that works to actually evaluate and document its impact. This would be a huge service. I’m a bit on a mission to convince corporations, NGOs, and government agencies to bring the same rigor they apply to their financial decision making and marketing strategies to their people management. Marketers have been running A/B tests for a long time, measuring what works and what doesn’t. HR departments should be doing the same.
What does behavioral science tell us about what to do, aside from measuring success?
Start by accepting that our minds are stubborn beasts. It’s very hard to eliminate our biases, but we can design organizations to make it easier for our biased minds to get things right. HBR readers may know the story about how orchestras began using blind auditions in the 1970s. It’s a great example of behavioral design that makes it easier to do the unbiased thing. The issue was that fewer than 10% of players in major U.S. orchestras were women. Why was that? Not because women are worse musicians than men but because they were perceived that way by auditioners. So orchestras started having musicians audition behind a curtain, making gender invisible. My Harvard colleague Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse of Princeton showed that this simple change played an important role in increasing the fraction of women in orchestras to almost 40% today. Note that this didn’t result from changing mindsets. In fact, some of the most famous orchestra directors at the time were convinced that they didn’t need curtains because they, of all people, certainly focused on the quality of the music and not whether somebody looked the part. The evidence told a different story…
What are examples of good behavioral design in organizations?
Well, let’s look at recruitment and talent management, where biases are rampant. You can’t easily put job candidates behind a curtain, but you can do a version of that with software. I am a big fan of tools such as Applied, GapJumpers, and Unitive that allow employers to blind themselves to applicants’ demographic characteristics. The software allows hiring managers to strip age, gender, educational and socioeconomic background, and other information out of résumés so they can focus on talent only.
There’s also a robust literature on how to take bias out of the interview process, which boils down to this: Stop going with your gut. Those unstructured interviews where managers think they’re getting a feel for a candidate’s fit or potential are basically a waste of time. Use structured interviews where every candidate gets the same questions in the same order, and score their answers in order in real time.
You should also be thinking about how your recruitment approach can skew who even applies. For instance, you should scrutinize your job ads for language that unconsciously discourages either men or women from applying. A school interested in attracting the best teachers, for instance, should avoid characterizing the ideal candidate as “nurturing” or “supportive” in the ad copy, because research shows that can discourage men from applying. Likewise, a firm that wants to attract men and women equally should avoid describing the preferred candidate as “competitive” or “assertive,” as research finds that those characterizations can discourage female applicants. The point is that if you want to attract the best candidates and access 100% of the talent pool, start by being conscious about the recruitment language you use.
What about once you’ve hired someone? How do you design around managers’ biases then
The same principle applies: Do whatever you can to take instinct out of consideration and rely on hard data. That means, for instance, basing promotions on someone’s objectively measured performance rather than the boss’s feeling about them. That seems obvious, but it’s still surprisingly rare…
How can firms get started?
Begin by collecting data. When I was academic dean at the Harvard Kennedy School, one day I came to the office to find a group of students camped out in front of my door. They were concerned about the lack of women on the faculty. Or so I thought. Much to my surprise, I realized that it was not primarily the number of female faculty that concerned them but the lack of role models for female students. They wanted to see more female leaders—in the classroom, on panels, behind the podium, teaching, researching, and advising. It turns out we had never paid attention to—or measured—the gender breakdown of the people visiting the Kennedy School.
So we did. And our findings resembled those of most organizations that collect such data for the first time: The numbers weren’t pretty.
Here’s the good news. Once you collect and study the data, you can make changes and measure progress…
Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/designing-a-bias-free-organization
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel; “The 2014 Religious Landscape Study reveals that Pentecostals and charismatics are only slightly less ethnically siloed than most other evangelical denominations. In my new book with Mark DeYmaz we offer a proven plan to change this. Check out your denomination’s integration level with this chart from Pew Research.”
by MICHAEL LIPKA, Pew Research Fact Tank, 7/27/15.
The nation’s population is growing more racially and ethnically diverse – and so are many of its religious groups, both at the congregational level and among broader Christian traditions. But a new analysis of data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study also finds that these levels of diversity vary widely within U.S. religious groups.
We looked at 29 groups – including Protestant denominations, other religious groups and three subsets of people who are religiously unaffiliated – based on a methodology used in our 2014 Pew Research Center report on global religious diversity. This analysis includes five racial and ethnic groups: Hispanics, as well as non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Asians and an umbrella category of other races and mixed-race Americans.
If a religious group had exactly equal shares of each of the five racial and ethnic groups (20% each), it would get a 10.0 on the index; a religious group made up entirely of one racial group would get a 0.0. By comparison, U.S. adults overall rate at 6.6 on the scale. And indeed, the purpose of this scale is to compare groups to each other, not to point to any ideal standard of diversity…
by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/16/15.
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]
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]
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):
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:
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…
Exercise Plan. Look at the history of your church (as far back as you can go, but not over 40 years). Describe times when your church has been one of the following models:
Based on this historical analysis and knowing what you know about your community, what will you do to help your church embrace a healthy model or hybrid model for the future?
Variations. Apply this exercise to a ministry. Ministry programs are often organized similar to a small church.
Principles. Looking at how your organization or ministry has experienced multiculturalism in the past can help you avoid missteps in the future.
Review the Bible’s Multi-cultural History (INTIMACY):
Exercise Plan. Conduct a study on the church in the Book of Acts and explain when and why it was one of the following types of churches:
Variations. Other books of the Bible lend themselves readily to this exercise, including Luke, Romans, James, 2 Corinthians, and even Revelation. Church history is another good source upon which to apply this exercise, including the Pre-Constantinian period, the Reformation, the rise of Holiness Movement, the Pentecostal awakening, the 1970s Jesus Movement and today’s rise of evangelical Christianity.
Principles. This biblical study imparts a sense of God’s joy in cultural variety. At the same time, it reminds us that though elements in every culture are corrupt, God sees all cultures as convertible.”[xxii]
Review Your Personal Multi-cultural History (INTIMACY):
Exercise Plan. Write down a paragraph about each of the following questions.
Variations. You can also:
Principles. This exercises helps people see how their personal cultural preferences affect what they want in a church experience and community. And, this exercise reminds us that with today’s blended society and families, a multicultural church not only creates intercultural understanding, but also brings together friends and families.
(Excerpted with permission from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013 … you can download the chapter here:
[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:
[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.
[xxii] Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective(Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.
by Bob Whitesel, 6/3/15.
Sometimes my students wonder if we are further dividing the church by offering separate worship celebrations based upon culture and/or aesthetics. Let me answer this question.
Sociologists tell us that people naturally break into groups of 12-20 (the small group dynamic) and 20-150 (this latter is called the Dunbar number after the sociologist that discovered it – see this interesting article about how an analysis of Twitter even confirms this: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0022656 and you can also click here to search for Dunbar’s articles on this wiki: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/?s=dunbar).
It may be the same in the same church. Thus, we are not breaking up people further, but managing the groups that oftentimes already exist but we ignore or don’t see.
And in addition to unity events (picnics, unity services, outreach ministry, service ministry, etc. etc.) fellowship areas in the church facility are needed. That is why in the chapter, “Missteps With Facilities” in my book Growth By Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT To Kill a Growing Congregation (2004) I talk about having large gathering spaces (community rooms) where all worship celebrations could congregate together.
A problem arises when we don’t realize that church services are not about fellowship with each other (the seats face the wrong way for this), but about fellowship with God. We should be providing separate areas (and aesthetics) for fellowship with God, and unified spaces (community rooms, unity events, etc.) for fellowship with each other. The church has for too long equated the two, that we have stifled growth … and fellowship.
I ask my students if some of them can share ideas about how you keep the worship service focused on God (and not fellowship) and how you foster fellowship at other times.
Let me give an example to start you thinking. One pastor I know in Iowa has a large foyer, two times bigger than the auditoriums, to foster fellowship after church. He also doesn’t allow sharing of prayer requests or questions from the floor of the sanctuary, preferring to keep it a place of worship. Thus, he encourages the fellowship in the foyer which they call the great room or community gathering room.
So think about this. And, if you are a student in one of my courses reading this, can you share how you keep (or wish you had kept) fellowship separate from worship environments?
Modeling Users’ Activity on Twitter Networks: Validation of Dunbar’s Number, Bruno Gonçalves, Nicola Perra and Alessandro Vespignani, PLOS, August 3, 2011, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022656 Abstract: Microblogging and mobile devices appear to augment human social capabilities, which raises the question whether they remove cognitive or biological constraints on human communication. In this paper we analyze a dataset of Twitter conversations collected across six months involving 1.7 million individuals and test the theoretical cognitive limit on the number of stable social relationships known as Dunbar’s number. We find that the data are in agreement with Dunbar’s result; users can entertain a maximum of 100–200 stable relationships. Thus, the ‘economy of attention’ is limited in the online world by cognitive and biological constraints as predicted by Dunbar’s theory. We propose a simple model for users’ behavior that includes finite priority queuing and time resources that reproduces the observed social behavior.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: One of my students found an excellent example of a church that employs:
1) multiple worship venues for evangelistic diversity in worship,
2) while at the same time offering a common foyer area that promotes intercultural interaction before and after worship.
This floor plan is an example of a “one type” of multicultural church called the “Multicultural Alliance Church” (see “Five Models of Multicultural Churches” in Whitesel, The Healthy Church, pp. 62-76). It is an “alliance” of several culturally different congregations (Builder Generation, Boomer Generation, Gen. X-Millennial Generation, etc.) that worship differently but share the same building to pool their assets.
Because the purpose of worship is to draw close to God, not a time for fellowship between humans … such floor plans make theological and evangelistic sense. According to the Hebrew word shachah, worship is “a close encounter with a king which fosters in reverence, respect and praise” (Whitesel, ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011., p. 96).
This is from their website: “At the Little Rock campus, we have three venues from which you can choose – Worship Center, the Warehouse or Chapel. Each of these venues offers a different worship style but has the same teaching. The Worship Center is our largest venue and provides a rich blend of hymns and contemporary worship and most often hosts the live teaching. The Warehouse worship experience incorporates many contemporary elements and takes place in our Warehouse. The Chapel is our most traditional worship experience, which has hymns, communion and other elements that engage the more traditional worshipper.” Fellowship Bible Church, Little Rock, AR (http://www.fellowshiponline.com/get-connected/locations/detail/little-rock/). You can download a copy here: Campus Overview.
Take a look at these floor plans. They can inspire you to create multiple venues in one congregation or location that will not only multiply evangelistic relevance … but unity among diversity too.
LANSING — Templo Calvario, a Hispanic church which meets at First Lutheran Church, has outgrown its white host church and seized control of service times.
“We’re bigger, we’re more excited and we’re taking Sunday mornings,” said Fernando Gonzalez, the newly emboldened Hispanic pastor. “They can have 3 p.m. and see how they like it.”
The Templo crew also claimed the main church office, forcing First Lutheran’s staff into broom closets and back rooms which formerly housed Templo’s offices. Read more at http://www.larknews.com/archives/145