BIBLE & 3 misbeliefs about God’s role as you lead #BiblicalLeadershipMagazine

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How do you view God’s part as you live out of a leadership position? Here are three perils to modern leadership and the flaws within these misbeliefs.

1. God makes the work easier for the leader. 

A viewpoint has risen within Christianity that believes if God is pleased with our efforts, he will make the work easier. Sometimes this is signified by a theology of abundance where a faithful leader should expect God to make the leader’s path more affluent and unproblematic.3 There are several flaws with this thinking.

Flaw 1: Blessings can overshadow buffetings.Often, churches are more familiar with the promises of blessings than they are with the warnings of buffeting. While there are scriptural promises that God will bless us, there are also warnings of difficulties that lie in following Jesus. Since prosperity writers often cite passages from 2 Corinthians,4 let’s look at a brief comparison of Paul’s thoughts in this book.

Flaw 2: Modern leaders can come to expect privilege, with a right to ease and com- fort. King David’s temptation with Bathsheba occurred after he dodged his king- ly duty of leading his men into battle, staying behind because of feelings that he deserved this luxury. Theologian Joyce Baldwin observes, “While others spent themselves and risked their lives, he was ‘killing time,’ acting like one of the kings of the nations round about, and exercising a kind of ‘right of a lord’ ” (to do whatever he pleased).8 As we see from David’s story, if leaders expect God to always make their work easier, a false sense of privilege and entitlement can blind leaders to their duty and even to temptation.

Flaw 3: Modern leaders can question God’s participation if the work does not get easier.Prosperity thinking can thwart perseverance and persistence because a leader might conclude that if the route is not easy, God must not be in it. This thinking can leave leaders like Joan unprepared and confused by the onset of hardships. Criticizing his generation, Thomas à Kempis wrote,

Jesus hath . . . many desirous of comfort, but few of tribulation. . . . All desire to rejoice with him, few are willing to endure anything for him. Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread; but few to the drinking of the cup of his passion. . . . Many love Jesus so long as adversities do not happen. Many praise and bless him, so long as they receive comforts from him.9

All three flaws remind us that although God promises to bless his people (2 Cor. 4:18; 8:9; 9:10-11), there are also buffetings that accompany the mission (2 Cor. 4:17-18; 11:23-28). The modern inclination that God principally makes the work easier for the leader is not only unbiblical but also potentially debilitating.

2. God’s presence is a sign of leadership.

Another peril is that modern leaders will allude to the presence of God as a sign of validation for their ministry and/or vision. This manifests itself in several ways.

Flaw 1:Modern leaders may believe visions and dreams validate their leadership and will inspire followers. Supernatural revelation is a way that God can and does reveal his
will (John 16:13), but many modern leaders overly apply and misapply this to
buttress personal vision. Oral Roberts infamously declared that unless $8 million was raised, God would “call him home.”10 Whether Roberts felt God’s warning would validate his plea for funds, inspire more giving, or was just a personal warning, to state it so publicly became self-serving. Modern leadership sometimes mutates into a view that because God has blessed and set apart the leader, followers should follow her or him (and by extension bless the leader too). Henri Nouwen warns pastors this is leadership based on “the temptation to be spectacular,” a temptation the devil offered Jesus when he bid him to throw himself from the temple.11

Flaw 2: Modern leaders can believe that because God’s presence is so pervasive in their lives, God excuses them from corporate worship and prayer.Modern leaders will often feel that because they have so much personal time with God, they do not need congregational times of prayer, worship, and fasting. In a large and thriving church, leaders who were once actively involved in public worship will often be found backstage chatting during worship and prayer.12

God’s presence is certainly needed for church leadership. But when leaders rely primarily on status and not fruit, they ignore Paul’s advice:

If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. (1 Tim. 3:1-3 THE MESSAGE)

Excerpted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, by Bob Whitesel (Abingdon Press). Used with permission. 

3 For an overview of the prosperity movement and its influence on modern church leadership see Simon Coleman, The Globalization of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). And, for an interesting examination of prosperity in African-American congregations see Stephanie Y. Mitchem, Name It and Claim It? Prosperity Preaching in the Black Church (Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 2007).

4 C.f. Kenneth Hagin, Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity (Tulsa, OK: Faith Library Publications, 2009), Gloria Copeland, God’s Will is Prosperity (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1996), Frederick K. C. Price, Prosperity (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 2007).

5 The Amplified Bible is customarily cited by the prosperity movement because its amplifications emphasize the eminence of the blessing, c.f. Joyce Meyer, Prepare to Prosper: Moving from the Land of Lack to the Land of Plenty (New York: FaithWords, 2003), p. 10. Meyer rightly notes that when God bestows his bounty it is usually accompanied by a responsibility to help the needy (p. 23). But, charitable opportunities and tactics are not addressed to any great degree in this book.

6 For a comparison of blessings and buffetings in 2 Corinthians see Alan Redpath’s Blessings our of Buffetings: Studies in II Corinthians (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1985).

7 Whether buffetings are sent by God, allowed by God or autonomous work of the devil is beyond the score of this book. Readers who want to study this topic further may wish to start with: C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Harper One, 2001), Philip Yancy, Where is God When It Hurts (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002) and Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Boston, MA: Dutton Adult, 2008).

8 Joyce G. Baldwin, 1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998), p. 231. Baldwin describes David’s actions with the French term droit de seigneur, a feudal right that allowed a lord to justify doing whatever he pleased.

9 Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Chicago: Moody Publishing, 1980), pp. 114-115.

10 Richard N. Ostling, Barbara Dolan and Michael P. Harris, “Religion: Raising Eyebrows and the Dead,” Time Magazine (New York: Time Inc.), July 13, 1987.

11 Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1989), p. 51-53

BEYOND HOLIDAY CHARITY & How to be a good-doer, not a do-gooder #YearAroundService

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 6/12/10.

A church that brings food a couple times a year to a needy family does little to minister to their long-term physiological needs or safety needs. Such churches in Dan’s mind were comprised of “do-gooders.”

Action C: Be a Good-doer, not a Do-gooder.

The difference between a do-gooder and a good-doer was revealed to me ten years ago. Dan was auditioning to be the drummer in a worship team I led. Though he was more than suitable for the task, I was confused because he looked familiar. “You visited me last Christmas,” Dan responded noticing my bewilderment. “Brought a lot of nice things for the kids.” Each year our church visited needy residents, giving them gifts and singing carols. “You were nice enough to come,” Dan would say to me later. Dan and I had become friends, and now our team was planning to visit needy households. “You go, I won’t,” Dan stated. “I want to be a good-doer, not a do-gooder.” Further conversations revealed with Dan saw a difference between “do-gooders” and “good-doers.” On the one hand, Dan saw do-gooders as people who go around doing limited and inconsistent good deeds. He perceived that they were doing good on a limited scale to relieve their conscience. Thus their good deeds were perceived as self-serving, insincere and limited. A church that brings food a couple times a year to a needy family does little to minister to their long-term physiological needs or safety needs. On the other hand, Dan saw “good-doers” as those who do good in a meaningful, relevant and ongoing manner. And, he was right. In hindsight I had been striving to do good, not trying to do good better. Therefore, a church should connect with its community by offering ongoing ministry and not just holiday help.

Excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2019), pp. 48-49.

CHURCH SIZE & The average church in American is 75 attendees #Cure4TheCommonChurch

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan for Church Health (Indianapolis, IN: 2012), p. 14.

CureForCommonChurch

The average church in North America is only 75 attendees,[i]

[i] Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2008 (Hartford, CT: Program on Public Values, 2009) and Duke University, National Congregations Study, http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/index.html

NEW IDEAS & 7 Lessons for Avoiding A Church Split When You Introduce a New Idea

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2009.

For 20+ years I have studied how to successfully employ intervention events (i.e. introducing “new ideas” such as new programs, new pastor, etc. to intervene in a church’s decline).  Below are my top 7 tips for successfully doing so.

These insights are needed today, because a growing literature in church management and group exit suggests that without an understanding of some of the following lessons, most attempts to introduce an intervention event will not start the church on a new life-cycle, but rather split it into two smaller groups of which neither will survive.

However, seven (7) lessons are introduced (below) to make the change agent aware that before she or he creates an intervention event, they must also be prepared to study and manage the process that follows that intervention.

Lesson 1: Usually, intervention events will produce a church exit. Arn (2009) is correct that life-cycles play an important role in managing organization behavior. Management researchers Dyke and Starke (1999:810-811) concur with Arn that new life-cycles can be fostered by, in Arn’s words, “beginning something new … an intervention event” (2009:9). However, group studies literature warns that introducing an intervention event, with proper knowledge of the six-stage process model involved, will in all likelihood produce a group exit (Dyke and Starke, 1996, 1999).

Lesson 2: Usually, intervention events produce a group exit, because intervention events usually polarize the church into competing groups. Pondy (1967) discovered that introducing an idea which conflicts with a organization’s status quo, usually produces enough conflict for opposing sub-groups to form. Dyke and Starke label one group (the group proposing change) “change proponents” and the resistant group the “status quo” (1999:805-806)

Lesson 3: Most people aren’t polarized from each other, until an intervention event. Dyke and Starke concur with Pondy’s conclusion that “felt conflict follows manifest conflict” (1967). This means that most people won’t get upset until after they witness some visible or “manifest” intervention (e.g. see Arn’s list of “intervention events,” 2009:9) over which they disagree with others.[1] Thus, when an interventionist (Schaller 1997) uncritically introduces or supports an intervention, a visible (i.e. manifest) conflict event often ensues which then gets previously non-conflicted people riled up. The intervention event creates such deep internal felt conflict in individuals, that the result is a deep-seated conflict that usually spins out of control (Dyke and Starke 1996). Some may wonder if the conflict that results from intervention events is unavoidable, but Dyke and Starke have demonstrated that it is not (ibid). This leads us to the lesson 4.

Lesson 4: If the reaction to the intervention event is not managed, the change proponents will leave as a group, create a new organization that will compete with the mother congregation, and usually both groups will die. Dyke and Starke (1996:159-174) discovered that typically such intervention events propel Pondy’s sub-group into a trajectory that leads to a “spin-off” or “unplanned birth” of a competitive organization. Lau and Murnigham (1998) observe that the ensuing “we-they” competition creates two unstable organizations. Case study research has supported the grounded theory of Lau and Murningham, and Dyke and Starke (Whitesel 2004, 2009:151-169). An ecclesial organization will usually not have sufficient economy of scale to survive this exit behavior, especially if the sub-group that exits the organization is comprised of change proponents (as it usually is, according to Dyke and Starke 1999:810-811).

Lesson 5: To manage the results of an Intervention Event, ecclesial leaders must understand the “Process Model for Group Exit and Retention.” If an ecclesial leader wishes to retain her or his change proponents, an intervention event should not be undertaken without a preparation to manage the ensuing process model of group exit (an organizational model has been put forth by Dyke and Starke, 1999; and a simpler model has been put forth by Whitesel 2007, 2009:151-169, 177).

Lesson 6: At Trigger 2, go slow … build consensus … and succeed. Church leaders that keep their congregations unified and thwart group exit, undertake two (2) of the “trigger events” differently (Dyke and Starke 1999: 811-815). Trigger 1 (a legitimating event) occurs when change proponents bring a new idea to a leader, and the leader enthusiastically “blesses” or “inadvertently legitimates” the new idea. Dyke and Starke found that if the leader does so, change proponents will run too fast with the new idea. While the status quo will be initially tolerant, they will later resent the fact that they were not consulted. The result is a church split (and group exit). Instead, leaders that kept their church unified went slow … built consensus … and succeeded. When new ideas were brought to a church leader, the uniting leader slowed down the change proponents, encouraged them to go through proper channels (creating compromise and consensus), and even had them dialogue with people who the church leader knew would be suspicious, apprehensive and/or contrary.

Lesson 7: At Trigger 4 the effective leader plans for conflict, uses conflict-resolution skills and emphasizes the power of unity. Dyke and Starke found that even when Trigger 2 was handled correctly, conflict will still occur. However, the unifying leader plans for conflict, and when it arises, he or she brings the different sides together to stress that they can do more together than apart. Therefore, instead of a “polarizing event” on the route to group exit, Trigger 4 becomes a “harmonizing event” on the route to group retention and “dissonant harmony” (Dyke and Starke1999:811-815). Thus, a uniting leader plans for conflict, learns conflict resolution skills, and is adept at inspiring a church to see it can do more together, than apart.

If a leader wishes to assist the church in embarking upon a new lifecycle which Arn laudably suggests (rather than fostering more typical group exit behavior) then he or she should familiarize themselves with the process model of group exit (Dyke and Starke 1999:813, Whitesel 2003:177).

[1] This initial repression may be due to Christians typically eschewing conflict (Whitesel 2003:85-93).

FIGURE Staying Power Process Model p. 177

Citations:

Charles Arn, “Where is Your Church in Its Missional Lifecycle?” (Marion, Ind.: Indiana Wesleyan University, 2009).

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 792-822.

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits,” Review of Religious Research 38 (NY: Religious Research Association, 1996), 159-174.

Louis R. Pondy, “Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models,” Administrative Science Quarterly 12 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 296-320

Dora Lau and J. Keith Murnigham, “Demographic Diversity and Faultlines: The Compositional Dynamics of Organizational Groups,” Academy of Management Review 23, 325-340)

Lyle Schaller, The Interventionist (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997).

Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004).

Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

 

HIRING FROM WITHIN & My Top 3 Things to Avoid If You Are Hired from Within the Organization

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

A student once shared that he was hired from within the organization to fill the lead pastor role.  I have written (Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT to Kill a Growing Congregation, pp. 109-120) about why this is often a strategically wise practice.  And, research confirms this.

However, hiring from within also brings caveats.  Following the student’s comments, are my top three things you must avoid.

Joshua D. (a student) wrote, “This article is very encouraging.  I have been at KSM for 15 years as music pastor and Administrator and just found out Monday, as of January 1st I will be taking the Senior Pastor position.  This class could not have come at a better time.  Thank you for investing in us.”

My response about Top Three Things to Avoid:

Congratulations Joshua, I have a couple suggestions I make students:

RULE #1:  Even though you’ve been at the church a while, a “listening tour” is the first thing I would do. Tell the people that though you have been around for a long time, you want to have fresh eyes and fresh ears to hear what they haven’t told you before. This is because in this new position you have a new relationship! So don’t get defensive or answer them yet. Just go to them privately and ask them, “What do I need to hear from you?”

RULE #2:  Secondly tell them you’re going to go slow before you make any changes. Remember going slow and building consensus is the secret to making change happening in a unifying manner (see research and examples in the chapter, “Go Slowly, Build Consensus and Succeed” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church, pp. 151-169 which you can download here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow. Also, you will find even more extensive examples in Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About ItAbingdon Press.)  Even though you have been at the church for some time, some people may have felt that the previous later wasn’t open to their ideas. And, they will immediately start to politic you. You do not want to be perceived as taking sides. So listen to them and explain to them their ideas must go through proper channels (baords, vetting by people affected, etc.). Get them working with others who they’ve been at odds with in the past to move the idea forward.  Do not becomes the champion of the new idea or you will be perceived as taking sides. Taking sides on methodology (not theology) is one of the most dangerous positions a new pastor can find her or himself in.

RULE #3:  And this brings us to the third point: don’t get in between people with different opinions – but rather get them working together to solve their differences. As you remember in my book Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It(Abingdon Press) that when a new leader comes into a position (even if they been a leader in the church for many years) there will arise a new activity of politicking to get the new leader to support their side. You must remember … don’t get in the middle. Research shows the best thing is to get them working out their differences between each other without you in the middle (again download this chapter for the research footnotes: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow.) So don’t, repeat don’t, let them put you in the middle as a go-between between them. Do not be a mediator or negotiator. Force them to meet with one another and to come up between them with a third option. The secret is not for you to be the negotiator, but for them to conduct negotiations face-to-face. That way there is no communication filter or opportunity for them to blame you for miscommunicating their position. So don’t be a go-between – be someone that gets people to talk out their differences with each other (and without you there 🙂  Of course they must still bring it back to you for affirmation. But don’t affirm a compromise, until they work it out themselves.

HOLARCHY & Why Wesley Used This Leadership-style That is Popular Again #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: While studying churches that grow in times of crises, I’ve noticed that at these times leaders put authority into their small groups to do most of the ministry work. Such an example is St. Thomas’ Church in Sheffield, England when as England’s largest megachurch they lost their auditorium with three weeks notice. Read about this in the chapter I contributed to Eddie Gibbs’ festschrift titled “Gospel after Christendom” (Baker Academic, 2012). Basically what St. Thomas did was allow all the small groups to do the social-action ministries and even require them to do so. Therefore, instead of top-down organization of social action programs designed by the executive team of the church, they required each small group to look around it’s community and weekly do something to help non-churchgoers. This democratized the organizations outreach through a leadership-style called “holarchy.” storyality-theory-2014-uws-pg-conference-jt-velikovsky-61-638This is exactly what John Wesley required of the small group meetings: they were each required to go out and serve the needy. This became known as Wesley’s “method” and adherents the “Methodists.” Read this article in Inc. Magazine to become acquainted with “holarchy” and how it is much better than top-down autocratic management when managing today’s post modern young adults.

Read more about “holarchies” at … http://www.inc.com/elle-kaplan/want-to-improve-your-company-let-every-person-on-your-team-be-a-chief.html

And read more about Wesley’s holarchy leadership-style here (including a downloadable section on this from my book Cure for the Common Church …https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/small-groups-3-facets-of-well-rounded-small-groups/

Embedded is a chart (click it to enlarge) that depicts a holarchy and was retrieved from http://image.slidesharecdn.com/storyalitytheory-2014uwspgc-jtvelikovskyv2-140715075956-phpapp02/95/storyality-theory-2014-uws-pg-conference-jt-velikovsky-61-638.jpg?cb=1405411334

ARTICLES & A List of My Writings Which Were Published by Church Central

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Church Central” is a resource ministry started by Thom Rainer and headed currently by Tom Harper, that offers many resources on church leadership. I am honored that they often publish videos of my conferences as well as articles and excerpts from my books. Click here for a list of the articles excerpted from my books: http://www.churchcentral.com/editors/bob-whitesel

POSTMODERN LEADERSHIP & Pastor Gordon pleads to not be fired

by Bob Whitesel, excerpted with permission by ChurchCentral.com from ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon, 2011).

At the weekend retreat, an elder of Clarkston Church drew me aside.

“We’ve decided to call for Pastor Gordon’s removal.  This weekend has been one long sales job.  He’s trying to get us to buy his vision for a new building.” As I thought back to my two years working as a consultant with this church, I marveled how quickly things had changed.

Two years ago Gordon was fresh out of seminary and tapped to lead this growing congregation.  He was formerly a successful businessman, and I remember the passion he brought to his new pastoral vocation.

Two years later the enthusiasm was gone, replaced by a spirit of pessimism.  “They wanted me to change things,” recalled Gordon. “But, they’ve got their own unrealistic ideas about how things should be done.  They don’t have the training.  I do!”

Later a board member told me, “We feel that Gordon won’t support our ideas to help townspeople.  We’re the poorest area in the county, and Gordon just wants to build a new sanctuary. He’s afraid the new building won’t be built if we spend our money to help the needy here in Clarkston.  He doesn’t listen to our input.  But, we are more familiar with what people need around here, because we live here.  And he still doesn’t.”

The next day Gordon confided to me, “Look Bob, I’ve got three years until I can retire with some denominational benefits.  No one wants to hire a pastor my age.  So help me convince my board to do things my way for just three more years.  Then I can retire.  The church can hire someone else to beat up, and everyone will be happy.”

Gordon didn’t have three years.  He barely had three months.

What Gordon didn’t realize was his leadership style, while valid for his generation, was alienating younger generations.

As I began studying churches that were growing with young people, I noticed how the leaders acted in healthy churches with people under 35 years of age.  I characterize them by seven symbols, where each represents a leadership change needed to lead a healthy church today:

  • O   (the Greek symbol theta) – the first letter of the Greek word theos stresses that God is the source of the burden for others and provides the power to help them.
  • Rx (the medical prescription symbol) – an emphasis on addressing the spiritual and physical health of leaders.
  • (a stylized “G” for “graffiti”)– the edgy, colorful, and artful collages that help define contemporary organizations.
  • (inspired by the recycle symbol) – the idea of recycling places, experiences and people rather than discarding them.
  • – emerging networks that connect people more quickly, efficiently, precisely and continuously.
  • – an emphasis on “incarnation”, a going “in the flesh” to serve others rather than sending surrogates.
  • (the Jerusalem cross with a number in each quadrant) – four types of measurement observed in Jerusalem (Acts 2:42-47), which at their core point to Christ’s work on the cross.

Read the original article at … http://www.churchcentral.com/blogs/staying-power-pastor-gordon-pleads-to-not-be-fired/

MULTICULTURAL & 5 Types of Multicultural Churches Evaluated Through John Perkins’ 3 Rs #HealthyChurchBook

by Bob Whitesel PhD, 8/3/15.

There are various models to describe churches that are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, etc.  To evaluate which is best for you, I have created a ‘grid’ that looks at each model through a dozen factors, including evangelism potential and John Perkins’ ‘3Rs.

Attached is the ‘grid” and analysis of the “BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – HEALTHY CHURCH Multicultural Models” from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, (2013, pp. 55-79).

Here is the quote that begins the chapter followed by a selection from that chapter.  Download the chapter and the evaluation ‘grid’ by clicking the link at the end.”

5 TYPES OF MULTI-CULTURAL (MOSAIC) CHURCHES

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]

To picture the wonderful variety of multicultural congregations I have suggested the following five categories. In each categories I have codified examples from many authors, along with my own case-study research to present a clearer picture of the multicultural options and the plusses and minuses of each approach.

Download the charts depicting the “Five Types of Multi-cultural Churches” here: BOOK EXCERPT MULTICULTURAL MODELS from Whitesel’s Healthy Church

[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.

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.

MEASUREMENT & A Reliable, Valid Tool to Measure Church Growth/Health #HouseDividedBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 6/12/15.

Church leaders usually want to apply quantitative evaluation of growth … that means using verifiable numbers and not anecdotal observations.  But most don’t know where to start.

In four of my books I have updated and modified a church measurement tool.  You will find a chapter on measurement in each of these books:

Cure for the Common Church, (Wesleyan Publishing House), chapter “Chapter 6: How Does a Church Grow Learners,” pp. 101-123.
> ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 8: Measure 4 Types of Church Growth,” pp. 139-159.
> Growth By Accident, Death By Planning (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 7: Missteps with Evaluation,” pp. 97-108/
> A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps In Your Church (Abingdon Press), “Chaper 10: Evaluate Your Success,” pp. 202-221.

I explain that church growth involves four types of congregational growth.  It is a seriously incorrect assumption to assume church growth is all about numbers.  It is only 1/4 about numbers and 3/4 about the other types of growth mentioned in Acts 2:42-47.  In the New Testament we find…

> Maturation Growth, i.e. growth in maturity, Acts 2:42-43.
> Growth in Unity: Acts 2:44-46.
> Growth in Favor, i.e. among non-Christians, Acts 2:47a.
> Growth in number of salvations, i.e. which God does according to this verse, Acts 2:47b.

To become more acquainted with these “church metrics” start by focusing on the first “Maturation Growth.”

In my first book, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps In Your Church (Abingdon Press) I created a chart for computing a “Composite Maturation Number (CMN).

CLICK HERE >> BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – HOUSE DIVIDED Chpt.10 Evaluation << to download the chapter from that book (not for public distribution). Then apply Figure 10.1 titled “How to Compute Your Composite Maturation Number (CMN)” to your organization.

You will be surprised how easy and helpful it is to start tracking your church’s progress in Christ-like maturity.  And, this exercise will give you another tool to measure growth and maturation in your congregation.

Remember, if you are only measuring growth in numbers, you may be missing growth (or lack thereof) in the other three (3) critical areas of growth that God desires for His church.

HD_Sm_PixGBA_Med1Organix_final.aiCureForCommonChurch

Speaking Hashtags: #BreakForth16 MDIV500

SUB-CONGREGATIONS & How To Use Them to Grow a Small Church in Just 6-Steps

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 2/5/15.

Are you the leader of a small church who doesn’t feel you have enough people to launch a new worship service?  Well actually you probably already have the “seeds” of a new worship service within your church.  These “seeds” are “sub-congregations” and they can be multiplied into an additional worship service by following just 6-steps.

Let me explain, leaders in very small churches may feel they do not have a sub-congregation that is large enough to have its own worship celebrations.  I noted in my chapter on “Organizational Behavior” (Foundations of Church Administration, 2010) that “sub-congregations naturally develop as a church passes 100 attendees.”  This however does not mean that you do not need to worry about them until you near 100 attendees.

Foundations COVERIn fact, to get to 100 attendees you usually will need to identify and grow your emerging sub-congregations. Let me explain.

An emerging sub-congregation is usually a group in the church around the size of a large small group (30+ attendees, though in large churches they can number in the 100s).  They are often departments (such as the music department, youth department, etc.), Sunday school classes (with 30+ attendees), or a cultural group.

Sub-congregations will have their own cultural distinctives such as behaviors, ideas and ways they serve and celebrate.  They enjoy one another’s company and they usually see themselves like his (as one person told me): “We are larger than a small group but we’re not the whole church. We are more like a ‘small church’ within the bigger church.”

The temptation is to just ignore such sub-congregations, but they are your building block to growing the church. The key is to identify these emerging sub-congregations and then find out which ones have the most likelihood of growing.  Usually their potential for growth will have to do with the demographics in the community.

Once you identify an emerging sub-congregation that has a potential to grow, you then put more energy and resources into mentoring a leader of this group, expanding it into multiple small groups (rather than the one large small group it usually is already) and giving them their own worship service (once you have 50 people in this sub-congregation).

Here is how these emerging sub-congregations were taking place in one student’s church.  The student wrote;

“We are a church that is averaging 70 people (roughly) this conference year, we do not have an abundance of sub-congregations. There is one definite sub-congregation, and is the women’s Bible study group. They meet every Tuesday morning at the church, and that is only because they became too large for the home they were meeting in. Each week, they have up to 15 women meeting. They are mostly older, with the youngest women in the group being in their fifties…. This group has met for more than the last decade… This group also connects somewhat with the unchurched community … they have been able to reach out to people in their generation that were unchurched…. As far as other sub-congregations, I really do not see any. I thought of one more – those who are in small groups. I hesitate to do this because it takes away from the women’s group, but the other two small groups also have leaders, have a pulse on those outside the church, and are generational.”

To me it looks like there is an emerging sub-congregation comprised of the two small groups that are generationally orientated.  If there are generations like these in the community, then the strategy would be the following:

1) Find out which emerging sub-congregational culture is also growing in the community.  In the example above, it might be that one of these small groups is Boomer and another Postmodern Xers.  If this was the case, then the strategic intention of this church should be to develop one of these small groups into a full-fledged sub-congregation.  The next steps are how you go about doing this.

2)  Mentor an indigenous leader from the culture you identified in Step 1 who will bring together a small group of this indigenous culture.  This will be the spiritual leader and figure-head of this emerging sub-congregation. They should be a mature Christian leader (c.f. 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9) who can submit to the lead pastor of the congregation. This is very important, for the church must become a united “multi-cultural” congregation. Thus, the leaders of each cultural sub-congregation must be bridge-builders across cultural gaps.

3) Get the existing small group to plant another group like themselves. This is where the real work takes place.  Often people don’t like to split up their group, so don’t try to force them to divide. Rather, encourage them to reach more people by starting another group like themselves at another time or place. Show them how this will help them reach out to more people of their culture (e.g. generation, ethnicity, etc.) through offering a new small group that newcomers of their culture can fit into.  The best way to start a new small group is to ask the existing small group to be its sponsor, and for anyone who feels led (usually two apprentices from the existing small group) to form the new group. This is called “seeding” a new small group, where a couple leaders and a few people volunteer to start this new small group.

4)  Cluster or network your small groups at least once a quarter. By this I mean get your small groups from the same emerging sub-congregation together at least once every three months for unity building.  Help them build identity, sometimes with a name.  The leader (of Step 2) must be a unifier between the various small groups of the emerging sub-congregation.

5)  Create more small groups as new ones approach 12 in attendance.  Use the small group “seeding” strategy of Step 3 above.  And, use Step 4 to keep these new small groups “clustering” once a quarter with other small groups of their cultural sub-congregation.

6)  Once you have a total of 50 people in your small group network, or cluster, create a new and regular worship encounter for them. This then becomes the new worship encounter for this emerging sub-congregation.  (Notice that like John Wesley, small groups [class meetings] are created before big worship gatherings [society meetings].)

Once COVER Gospel After Christendomyou have reached Step 6, your emerging sub-congregation has officially emerged 🙂

This can be done over and over again, with as many sub-congregations as needed.  I have analyzed some congregations of only 1,000 attendees and found they are comprised up of 7+ sub-congregations (see my chapter “From Gathered to Scattered: Saint Thomas Church of Sheffield” in The Gospel After Christendom, ed. Ryan Bolger (2012).  The key to growing a church, is to strategically spot and develop these emerging sub-congregations. That is how you manage organizational behavior in a church … by growing and leading sub-congregations.

WORSHIP SERVICES & How Many Worship Services Should You Offer & When?

by Bob Whitesel, 2/4/15.

Often when considering a multiplication strategy, leaders wonder how many worship services a church should attempt.  Most leaders understand the strategic advantages of offering as many celebration options and styles as feasible.

But how many is too many, and how many are too few?  6 Answers…

The question of type, time, and format of worship celebrations is a very delicate issue.  And, without a complete understanding of each reader’s scenario I would be remiss to state here definitively. But, I can give you some general guidelines.

1.  Have your services on the weekends if at all possible.  These always prove to be better attended (for all generations: builder to organic) than weeknights.  And, in my personal survey of client congregations:

  • Saturday evenings only have 20% of the attendance you can expect on Sunday mornings.
  • 10:30 am on Sunday seems to be the optimum time (for my clients at least) to draw people in.
  • Therefore, try to have as many services at 10:30 am on Sunday.  This might therefore mean multiple venues, sites, etc. for maximum connection with non-churchgoers.

2.  Do not let an occasional teenage service suffice for your adding an emerging/organic church worship celebration.  Emerging/organic ministries are more college-level and 30-something in target and draw.  Keep high school and college-aged gatherings separate from one another.
PreparingChange_Reaction_Md

3.  Analyze your community (I show how to do this in my book “A House Divided,” and to even a greater extent in “CURE for the Common Church”).  It is from your community that you will find unreached age and/or people groups and thus whom the worship celebration should be reaching out to.

4.  Try to offer as many options as you can, given your person power.  In “A House Divided” (Abingdon Press, 2000) I explain how to start a new service:

  • By getting a committed core of (a minimum) 50 individuals who will commit one year to this new celebration and then replace themselves.
  • If you are offering a modern service and it is 80% full, I would reduplicate that.  Or if you have the person power to reduplicate it (even though you are not 80% full) I would duplicate it to reach more people.
  • The more options you offer, proportionally more of the community you will attract to the Good News. 
  • However, if your modern service is less than 80% full and you have another generational or sub-cultural group in the area, you could start a new expression aimed at this new sub-cultural group.  In most communities today, a church should offer a traditional celebration, a modern celebration, and an organic/emergent celebration.  Then reduplicate these as needed.  Times for each should be ascertained from people of these age groups “outside” of the church.

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5.  Go slow.  As you will learn in my book “Staying Power” (Abingdon Press, 2002) or “Preparing for Change Reaction” (Abingdon Press, 2006, chapter 8) research indicates that if you move too fast with new ideas (such as launching a new worship celebration), then you will not get all of your reticent members on board.  Feeling left out, or at least circumvented, the reticent members will coalesce into a sub-group someday and you will have two factions.  So remember, though you are enthusiastic about offering more worship options after reading this chapter, go slow and get reticent members on board to ensure success.

6.  Finally, there is a very good book that goes into this and is one of your recommended readings for this course.  It is “How to Start a New Service” by Charles (Chip) Arn.  Professor Arn goes into great detail, and to ensure success if you are planning on starting a new celebration, you should get this book.  And, Chip Arn is also a faculty for our  Wesley Seminary at IWU M.Div. program, teaching for us full time as Professor of Christian Ministry and Outreach.

MULTIPLICATION & Why Unity Celebrations Are a Critical in a Good Multiplication Strategy

The more we talk about multiple worship options (multi-site, -venue and -campus) the more important unity services become. In fact, I have found that unity services can be an important tool in every size of church, but in the largeer church hosting them becomes exponentially challenging.

Finding a facility for a unity celebration is the first big hurdle. For a large church one idea is that perhaps a city auditorium or even a tent is the answer.  I know Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa CA grew to over 10,000 in a tent (in sunny So. Cal. 🙂  For medium to smaller churches, it might be a local theatre, community room, or school auditorium.

The second issue might be timing.  St. Thomas’ Church in Sheffield England had nine different Sunday worship encounters, each focused on reaching a different culture (Connect = a sub-congregation for young adults, Encompass = several sub-congregations for specific neighborhoods,  Expression = a sub-congregation for college students, Radiate = a sub-congregation for young professional adults, Forge = a sub-congregation for inner city poor, etc. – see Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, 2006, p.6).  But, to unite these nine different worship celebrations, St. Tom’s has a united worship expression each Sunday evening at 7 PM.  And, each week a different sub-congregation leads the unity service.

The third issue is what is the “goal” or “purpose” of a unity service.  Too often unity celebrations seem self-serving, i.e. “Hey, look at our size!”  Rather, they should be opportunities for you to accomplish a goal (one church held a unity service to “pray” for 9/11, when it would have been easier to just meet at their various venues).  If you can establish a goal that a combined group can address better than smaller individual ones (such as taking a stand on a social issue, etc) then a unity service will make more sense and be better attended.

Next, publicity has to be handled right.  The attendees should understand upfront that great hassles will be encountered in a unity gathering due to the combined size factor, the convenience factor (non-convenient times), and the locale factor (not the usual venue).

And finally, a unity service must have success in developing unity among the attendees. Thus this is the time to:

  • give your strategic long-term plans,
  • to celebrate the mosaic of cultures you have in your church
  • and to give people a glimpse of the future.

Usually in such scenarios unity results (after all that’s why we call it a unity service).  Remember, as we prepare to measure four types of church growth, one of those types has to do with “growing in unity” (Acts 2:45). The unity service may not be feasible nor desirable everywhere, and it is certainly a challenge to bring off; but if you are measuring your Unity Growth and it is not increasing, then a unity service may be a missing part of your church health puzzle.

IHealthy Church Cover smn fact, in my book The Healthy Church (2013) I dedicated a whole chapter on ways to turn yearly events into “unity building” events. In fact some of the examples were given by my colleagues and students from around the nation.

In fact, here is that chapter (not for public distribution, so if it helps then consider buying the book).  Take a look at some ideas in the attachment.
BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – HEALTHY CHURCH Unity Events

DISSONANT ADAPTERS & The Tanning of America. Is a New Blended Culture Emerging?

by Bob Whitesel, Feb. 1, 2015.

Author Steve Stoute in his book The Tanning of America (2011) points out a new culture is emerging in America where “brown, black and white mixed together makes tan” (quote by Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, “Steve Stoute’s New World Order.” Ebony Magazine, Dec. 2011 – Jan. 2012, p. 87 – attached below).  Stoute argues (see the attached article in Ebony Magazine for an overview) that there is arising a mixed Tan Culture among the Millennial Generation that does not see divisions based upon skin color.

I ask my students to read the article and tell me if you agree with Stoute, that a new culture is emerging.  And then I ask students to …

1) Suggest what the church should do about this.

2) Discuss briefly why they think everyone will become part of this tan culture or if some people will remain “dissonant adapters.”

To understand “dissonant adapters” read the paragraph below excerpted from Bob Whitesel (The healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013, pp. 69-70).

Healthy Church Cover sm“People from emerging cultures usually adapt to the dominant culture in one of three ways.”

Consonant adapters are people from an emerging culture who adapt almost entirely to the dominant culture. Over time they will mirror the dominant culture in behavior, ideas and products. Thus, they will usually be drawn to a church that reflects the dominant culture.

Selective adapters adapt to some parts of a dominant culture, but reject other aspects. They want to preserve their cultural heritage, but will compromise in most areas to preserve harmony.(1) They can be drawn to the Blended Model because it still celebrates to a degree their culture.

Dissonant adapters fight to preserve their culture in the face of a dominant culture’s influence. (2) Dissonant adapters may find the blended format of the Blended Church as too inauthentic and disingenuous to their strongly held cultural traditions.”

(1) Alejandro Portes and Ruben G. Rumbaut in Immigrant American: A Portrait (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996). They suggest that organizations comprised of selective adapters will be a more harmonious organization.
(2) Ruben G. Rumbaut, “Acculturation, Discrimination, and Ethnic Identity Among Children of Immigrants,” in Discovering Successful Pathways in Children’s Development: Mixed Methods in the Study of Childhood and Family Life, Thomas S. Weisner ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

ARTICLE Steve Stoute Tanning of America

See also on ChurchHealth.wiki info on the related study of “ethnic consciousness” by Tetsunao Yamamori, who created an “Ethnic Consciousness Scale” to measure the degree to which a person identifies with a specific culture. Tetsunao Yamamori’s article on ethnic consciousness and titled, “How to reach a new culture in your community” can be found online and in Win Arn et al., The Pastor’s Church Growth Handbook (1979), pp. 171-181.

CHRIST & 6 Steps To Keep Him Central As a Ministry Grows #GrowthByAccidentBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 4/20/2004.

Here is a six-step prescription for keeping Christ central in the lives and ministries of both congregants and leaders.

  • Stay rooted in … the Word. Daily and generous doses of Bible reading and reflection are a beginning point for being grounded in servant leadership. God’s word should serve as our strategic guide (Psalm 119:105), because as Proverbs 16:17 reminds us, “the highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.” But, allotting time for study only when preparing for sermons may rob Scripture of this meditative and regenerative power. Thus, make time for the Word in your daily schedule, your informal pursuits, your pastimes…and your plans.
  • Stay rooted in … prayer. Prayer should be as pervasive as study of the Word, i.e. a part of your daily schedule, your informal pursuits, etc.. Eddie Gibbs calls this “respiratory prayer” for it is “the kind of regular, habitual praying that is the spiritual equivalent of breathing to sustain life.”[i]
  • Stay rooted in … ministry. Regular participation in hands-on ministry can help thwart a misalignment of priorities. A leader who is repeatedly involved in addressing people’s most basic needs, and doing so in the uncertain climate of human imperfections and sins, will by necessity need to maintain a close link to his or her power source, God’s Holy Spirit.
  • Stay rooted in … accountability. Some denominations utilize “staff-parish committees,” or “human resource teams” to provide an accountability link between the congregation and the pastor. Other churches have denominational oversight that provides this function. However, often these groups only address skill development, overlooking spiritual development. If they do so, they abdicate half of their responsibility. And, in some situations these groups may have evolved into an committee that cannot, or will not, do this. In all scenarios an accountability group is in order. However, the discomfort of such groups often causes Christians to avoid them. Researchers Dotlich and Cairo point out “discomfort signals that different viewpoints are being aired … that teams are grappling with difficult problems in the most open ways possible.”[ii] Proverbs confirms this, reminding us “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). A final excuse is that participation in an accountability group might damaging a valuable personal relationship. Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Temptations of a CEO, warns that “ironically, this only causes the relationship to deteriorate as team members begin to resent one another for not living up to expectations.”[iii]
  • Stay rooted in … your mortality. Every leader should be preparing for the day he or she passes the baton to one’s successor. Though you bear the baton for a while, God’s picture is bigger, and one day (maybe sooner that you think) you will pass that baton. Researcher Jim Collins calls this “setting up successors for success.”[iv]
  • Stay rooted in your priorities. Following the above steps can help a leader keep his or her priorities aligned correctly: God, family, and ministry.

Excerpted from Growth by Accident – Death by Planning: How NOT to Kill a Growing Congregation by Bob Whitesel.  Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004, pp. 153-161.

  • Though not for public distribution –  if you like this chapter consider supporting the publisher and author by purchasing a copy.

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[i] Eddie Gibbs, Church Next: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 135.

[ii] Dotlich and Cairo, Unnatural Leadership: Going Against Intuition and Experience to Develop Ten New Leadership Instincts, op. cit., pp. 141-142.

[iii] Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002), p. 213.

[iv] Jim Collins, Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, op. cit., pp. 25-27.

INNOVATION & How To REFOCUS a Ministry That Has Outlived Its Usefulness #ChurchCureBook

CURxE T = Tackle Needs by Refocusing or Creating Ministry Programs.

Article by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from CURE FOR THE COMMON CHURCH: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (2012), pp. 42-56 (download the chapter below):

Cure T stands for “tackle needs by refocusing, creating or ending ministry” and the term “tackle” is fitting for this may require the most energy of the three cures in this chapter. As we saw earlier long histories and good fellowship often cause a church to focus on congregational needs in lieu of non-churchgoer needs. Thus, churchgoers often focus on ministries they enjoy doing even when these programs are no longer meeting the needs of non-churchgoers. As a result, Cure T is absolutely critical for church health. Therefore, be aware that three tactics will be needed:

  • Refocusing: Some of a church’s programs will need to be refocused to better meet the needs of non-churchgoers.
  • Creating: Some programs will need to be created to meet the needs of non-churchgoers.

Refocusing & Creating Ministries: The A-B-C-D Approach

The key to refocusing or creating ministry is to:

  1. Assemble both canvassers and ministry leaders.
  • The goal is to compile a master list of needs and draw connections to existing ministries or create new ministries that could meet those needs.
  • A convener (i.e. chairperson) should be selected. This will usually be a staff person or the leader of the canvassers. She or he will oversee the A-B-C-D steps.
  • Convene both canvassers and church ministry leaders as soon as possible after the canvassing. Some churches will conduct their canvass on Sunday or Saturday morning and then meet that afternoon. This can allow leaders to consider the results while the conversations are fresh in their minds
  1. Brainstorm a master list of needs.
  • When the canvassers convene after their canvass, everyone shares the needs jotted down.
  • From these lists they create a master list of needs (i.e. those that reoccur with the most frequency on the canvassers’ personal lists).
  • Combine similar needs into categories.
  • Column 2 of Figure 2.8 illustrates how a master list of needs might be categorized from the sample in Figure 2.7.
  1. Correlate needs to ministries the church offers or can start.
  • Just as you brainstormed a master list of categories, now it is time to brainstorm a list of ministries you can refocus or launch to meet needs in each category.
  • Put these ministry ideas in Column 3 of Figure 2.8.
  1. Distribute your list of refocused or created ministries (Figure 2.8) to church leaders.
  • Send this list to all department heads and ministry leaders.
  • Ask them to look over your suggestions in the right column of Figure 2.8 and add their own.
  • Ask them to report back in 30 days with their responses of how their ministry can be refocused to better meet community needs.
  • The report will be received by the staff person or convener who oversees the canvass.

To see the Figures and read the rest of the chapter, download the chapter (not for public distribution) by clicking here:  BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT

(And, if you enjoyed this chapter, please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy. Thank you.)

MEASUREMENT & Is Counting Biblical? A Quick Overview #HouseDividedBook

by Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, excerpted from A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church, (Abingdon Press, 2000, p. 206).

HDsmallFew principles have garnered as much controversy as the principle of measuring numerical growth.  However, missiologist and dean of the Church Growth Movement Donald McGavran states that “the Church is made up of countable people and there is nothing particularly spiritual in not counting them.  Men use the numerical approach in all worthwhile human endeavor.” [1]

But some have argued that there is something spiritual about “not counting.”  They would point to God’s displeasure with King David for ordering a census of the people in 1 Chronicles 21:1 – 30.  However, 1 Chronicles 21:1 reveals that it was Satan who inspired David to conduct this counting of his troops.  Even against the counsel of his commander Joab, who discerned David’s inappropriate motivation, David conducts the census.  David’s motivation for the census was to revel in the strength of his army.  But God wanted David to put his trust in God’s protection, rather than the size of his forces.  Hence, wrong motivation and wrong instigation led to an inappropriate counting.

Elsewhere in the Bible, numberings are conducted for meaningful reasons with helpful results.  In Numbers 1:2 and 26:2 God commands numberings of all Israel along with every segment of each tribe before and after the desert wanderings.  In the Gospel accounts we witness accurate countings of Jesus’ team of disciples, and in Luke 10:1 – 24 we see a company of 72 disciples sent out two by two.  In the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3 – 7, only by counting the sheep does the shepherd become aware that one is missing from the fold.  If counting those we are entrusted were odious to Jesus, certainly he would eliminate such imagery from his teaching.  And in Acts 1:15; 2:41; 4:4; Luke records the growth of the church by a careful record of its numerical increase.  McGavran concludes “on biblical grounds one has to affirm that devout use of the numerical approach is in accord with God’s wishes.  On the practical grounds, it is as necessary in congregations and denominations as honest financial dealing.” [2]

—-

[1] Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, op. cit., p. 93.

[2] Ibid., p. 94.

3-STRand LEADERSHIP & An In-depth Explanation of the 3 Leadership Types: Strategic, Tactical & Relational

PreparingChange_Reaction_Mdby Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., excerpted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007.  (Formerly I labeled this STO Leadership for strategic-tactical-operational, the terms used by military leaders. Most leadership colleagues/students find the concept of 3-STRand Leadership (Strategic-Tactical-Relational) even clearer).

Download the entire chapter here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel

Chapter 2: Why Is Change So Difficult To Manage? Strategic, Tactical and Relational Leadership

Change Reaction 1: “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change.” Congregations are cynical about church change … often because change is undertaken in an ineffective and disuniting manner.

How Church Change Drove a Family Away

It just happened one Sunday in 1962. My dad stopped going to church. Mother and I still attended, at least for the next year or so. But soon, our entire family no longer frequented the church my parents had attended since they were married.

Dad had been the head usher for the second of three Sunday services in this church of 1,500 attendees. In that role, he had organized 16-20 men each Sunday to receive the offering and help congregants find seats. Planning was minimal. Dad was supervised by Bill, the church’s Usher Supervisor who recruited, selected, trained and mentored ushers. Bill was an engineer for Delco-Remy, where he led an entire department in the burgeoning lighting division.

However, my father’s duties as head usher for the second service, were more straightforward. Dad had to ensure that each usher had enough bulletins, that ushers were at all entrances, and on occasion he had to conscript ushers from the audience is someone was missing. This was Dad’s close knit fellowship, and he often remarked that not since his World War II days had he enjoyed such camaraderie.

Dad also prayed over the offering. And because his prayer never changed, I can recall it to this day; for Gerald was an relational leader, and he liked consistency, uniformity and reliability. And because he exemplified these traits, he had been head usher of the second service for 4 years.

Why would a man of such consistency and reliability suddenly disconnect himself from his church? As a child I never understood, nor inquired. But, once grown I had occasion to ask my dad about his departure. Gerald’s disappearance was due to an honor. The faithful discharge of his duties as a head usher, had brought him to the attention of the church leaders. When Bill, the Usher Supervisor quit, Gerald was the natural choice to replace him. After all, my dad was head usher for the largest of three services. And he was faithful. Dad was honored, but also wary. None-the-less after some gentle prodding by the church leaders Dad was “rewarded” with a promotion to Usher Supervisor.

In this new capacity, Dad was now thrust into a leadership role that required oversight of 60 plus men. His duties now included scheduling and organizing on-going usher training, recruitment and oversight as well as replacing ineffective ushers. Dad had enjoyed his duties as head usher of one service, but now his responsibilities doubled if not tripled. And while his previous duties had been largely relational, now his tasks were increasingly organizational. Dad missed the interpersonal nature of his previous duties, and now saw himself increasingly isolated from the fellowship and camaraderie he had previously relished.

Additionally, the usher ministry suffered. Dad found it difficult to schedule pertinent and timely training, and Dad never felt comfortable with the recruitment and dismissal process. Dad was a man everyone liked, and he found it hard not to utilize a willing usher candidate, simply because of lack of skill, decorum or call.

The church leaders noticed this decline in the usher’s ministry. And, they subtly tried to work with Gerald. They tried to develop him into a director, who could oversee 60 plus men, and three different worship services. In the end, this was not Dad’s giftings or calling. Dad had been a successful sergeant during World War II, and he had successfully led a small team of men. But when it came to the oversight, tactical planning, recruitment and paperwork necessary to administrate a burgeoning ministry, Dad did not enjoy it, nor did he feel he had was called to do it.

The church leaders did not want to see Gerald quit, but the atmosphere of pressure and disappointment became too much. Without an avenue for retreat, one day Gerald simply called the church office and resigned. Dad was a gracious and loving man, the eldest child everyone seemed to like him. But, the feelings that he had let down his church and lost his camaraderie were too much. Dad couldn’t bear to see the looks of the other usher who he felt he had failed as their leader, and thus returning to church was too uncomfortable to bear. Dad simply faded away, and soon our family did as well.

In adulthood I began investigating leadership styles and in hindsight always wondered what happened to my Dad’s volunteerism. Dad had been so content and fulfilled as a sergeant in the military. But at church, his involvement had led to disappointment and failure. As I researched leadership abilities, I found that the military had an insightful understanding of leadership sectors, that might benefit the church. And, it has to do with three military leadership categories: strategic leaders, tactical leaders and relational leaders.[i]

Strategic Leaders

In History:

The word strategy come from the Greek word for a military general: strategoi. The generals of ancient Athens, led by the forward-thinking Pericles, undertook a grand building project to make Athens the cultural and political center of Greece. The Athenian generals’ strategy paid off, with beautiful buildings such as the Parthenon, making Athens the Greek capital.

Subsequently, in the military field the word strategic has come to refer to the bigger-picture planning that is done before a before a battle begins. Strategic leaders see the big picture, and envision outcomes before the battle commences. They intuitively know what the results should be, even though they are not experts in getting there. In the military, strategic leaders are generals, admirals, etc..

In Architecture:

An analogy from the world of art may be helpful. The strategic leader is akin to an artist. He or she seems the dim outline of the future, perhaps a gleaming office tower or an eye-catching museum. They can envision what it will look like once it is complete. But, they seek only general forms, shapes and appearances. They see the art and the results. We will develop this analogy more when we discuss shortly tactical leaders.

In the Military:

Strategic leaders are intentional, bigger-picture leaders who deal in theoretical, hypothetical concepts and strategies. For example, in World War II generals such as Dwight Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery strategically knew that France must be invaded and wrestled from the German occupiers. The decisions to invade North Africa, Sicily, Italy and eventually France were decided upon by the generals. But, once each of the invasions commenced, leadership was put into the hands of tactical leaders.

In the Church.

Let’s look at some typical characteristics that distinguish leaders in the church. And, in my consultative work I have routinely witnessed that pastors can be drawn into the ministry by two competing roles.[ii]

  1. The shepherd. Many pastors enter the ministry due to a desire to help fellow humankind with a hands-on, relational, personal and mentoring type of leadership style. This is analogous to the guidance of a shepherd, and is reflected in scriptures about nurture, care and cultivation such as in Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” And, this is exemplified by Jesus who is described as, “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20). Pastors drawn by this role often become relational leaders (more on this shortly).
  2. The visionary. Pastors in this category have an overriding desire to make a significant impact for Christ and His kingdom. They are impassioned by statements such as John 4:34-38, “’My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor’.” Visionaries have what Church Growth researcher Win Arn called “church growth eyes … a developed characteristic of individuals and churches who have achieved a sensitivity to seeing possibilities….”[iii] Pastors drawn by this leadership role usually become strategic leaders (more on this in a moment).
  3. A Mixture. Oftentimes pastors and church leaders have a mixture of the two above roles, and may fluctuate between one or the other at various times in their ministerial journey. However, it is important to note the dissimilar nature of these roles. One seeks to build interpersonal camaraderie and intimacy, the other seeks to attain a physical forward-looking goal. In the former, intimacy is the purpose, and in the later the future goal is the purpose. Which is needed? They both are, but the wise church leader will employ each as the circumstance warrants and as their abilities allow. Thus, let’s look a bit more at strategic leadership.

Pastors attracted to the ministry because of a vision to make a significant impact for Christ often exhibit strategic leadership. And, they are often passionate about their work, for they see the depravity of humankind and they perceive how Christ provides the necessary answer. Subsequently, they are often highly enthusiastic and energetic about reaching people for Christ. This passionate can sometimes be misconstrued as a fervor for growth, size or power. And, such negative attributes can sneak in. However, what customarily motivates these individuals is the picture they envision of many people coming to know Christ. As such, visual and revelatory scriptures hold great sway, and they can readily perceive the “great multitudes of Revelation 7:9-10 “… a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’.”

In the Change Process:

Strategic leaders are the first to notice that change is needed. This is because they are always looking ahead. To a degree, they live in the future better than the present. Thus, they can be frustrating to work with if not accompanied by the tactical leader. Strategic leaders thus see the need for change, and love discussing the rationale and theories of change.[iv] They know what the change should look like, but they have trouble seeing the individual steps to get there. Thus, they are critical for the change process, for they look ahead and see where the church is going and needs to go. But they are also frustrating for other leaders, because strategic leaders know what the results should look like, but they are weak at envisioning the step-by-step process.

Characteristics:

Strategic leadership is “future directed,”[v]” strategic leaders often want people to move forward, and thus they are the first to start moving in new directions. Historian Martin Marty said they “are extremely sensitive to where people are, but are not content to leave them there.”[vi]

Other names for strategic leaders are:

  1. Visionaries (George Barna,[vii] Leith Anderson[viii] and Phil Miglioratti[ix]).
  2. Role 1 Leaders (Phil Miglioratti[x]).
  3. “Top management” (John Wimber, Eddie Gibbs[xi]).
  4. “Strong, authoritative, directive pastoral leadership” (Wagner[xii]).
  5. Upper-level Management (John Kotter[xiii]).
  6. Sodality leadership, which is described as “vision setter, goal setter, strong leader, visionary, upper management” (Ralph Winter[xiv]).

Tactical Leaders

In History:

Tactical leaders compliment strategic leaders. Tactical leaders (from the Greek word taktike meaning organize) are those leaders skilled in the art of organizing, historically of an army. Such leaders are exact, accurate and specific. Tactical leaders lead the forces after the battle begins. They focus on allocation, analysis, planning, evaluation and adjustment once the strategic leaders set the direction. Tactical leaders in the military are customarily Colonels in rank on down.

In Architecture:

Returning for a moment to our architectural metaphor, the tactical leader is like a civil engineer.[xv] He or she may receive a general idea of the architectural form from the homeowner or architect. But, the tactical leader must compute the number of board-feet required, the utility needs and the component costs associated with every element of the endeavor. It is the engineer that puts together an infrastructure to undergird the artistic image the strategic leader has pictured.

In the Military:

In the World War II invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France it would have been a mistake to micro-manage the invasion by Generals far from the front. Instead, planning, adaptive tactics, evaluation, allocation, personnel deployment, and adjustments for winning the evasion are the responsibility of the tactical leaders once the battle had begun.

In the Church:

Tactical leaders receive their long-term goals from strategic leaders.[xvi] But tactical leaders contribute the critical and decisive tasks of planning, allocating, adjusting and analyzing that brings about the future envisioned by a strategic leader. And, tactical leadership fits these future plans into the ongoing life, tasks and rhythms of what church is doing presently. It has been said that tactical leadership “means fitting together of ongoing activities into a meaningful whole.”[xvii]   Tactical leadership makes the future, as seen by the strategic leader, happen in a unified manner. Management scholar Russell Ackoff’s definition describes the role of tactical leaders where “planning is the design of a desired future and of effective ways of bringing it about.”[xviii]

In the Change Process:

Thus a critical contribution that is often missing in our churches, is the tactical leader who makes change happen … in a unifying way. Here we see the answer to our initial change reaction, “our leaders are not good at bringing about change.” Our leaders do not succeed at change, because a critical link in making change happen is often missing: the tactical leader. Change does not succeed in its outcome, because the necessary tactically skilled leaders that can implement unifying change are not involved. We shall see at the end of this chapter, that we must integrate tactical leaders into the processes of change or changes we seek will not make things better … only less unified.

Characteristics:

Tactical leadership is an integrated skill. The tactical leader weds the past, the present and the future to move the church ahead. The tactical leader grasps the strategic leader’s vision of the future, but the tactical leader enjoys integrating these future plans into the ongoing and present life of the church. Tactical leaders also relish the planning process. They set timelines and allocate duties. They are delgators in the truest sense of the word. They should not be confused with relational leaders who do the work themselves. The tactical leader delegates fully, but then carefully evaluates the results.

And thus, tactical leaders are often pen and pencil (or stylus and PDA) people, who make copious notes as strategic leader expounds upon the future. Tactical leaders create spreadsheets, flowcharts, diagrams and designate work teams. Tactical leaders know who to bring big long-term projects down into easy, doable steps.

Thus, tactical leaders are the needed go-between to connect strategic leaders who grasp the big-picture, and relational leaders who get things done. Everyone appreciates tactical leaders, but regrettably they are usually outnumbered in our churches by strategic leaders and relational leaders. Thus, the organization suffers.

Other names for tactical leaders are:

  1. Administrators (Phil Miglioratti[xix]).
  2. Role Two Leaders (Phil Miglioratti [xx]).
  3. Middle-level management (Martin Butler and Robert Herman[xxi]).
  4. “Middle management” (John Wimber/Eddie Gibbs[xxii] and John Kotter[xxiii]).
  5. “Enables others to achieve goals” (Richard Hutcheson[xxiv]).
  6. Problem solvers (Gary Yukl[xxv]).
  7. Modality leadership, which is described as “enabler, team builder, ally, implementer” (Ralph Winter).[xxvi]

Relational Leaders

In History:

In the military relational leaders are the men and women who lead skilled teams on critical assignments. They have an immediate, urgent and vital task to perform. They may not see where their efforts fit into the bigger picture, but they are the masters of relational leadership. They lead an intentional and personal effort to build a team of interdependent soldiers. While the key to strategic leadership is forecasting and theorizing, and the contribution of tacticians is precision and allocation, the skill of the relational leader is his or her connection with their team and the ability to think creatively, improvise, adapt and be successful.

In Architecture:

These are the skilled craftsmen that build a house and give it the working components. They are often knowledgeable in a certain predefined field such as electrical, hearting/cooling, framing, etc., because of the complexity of the task. And, they like to see the immediate results of their hands. One relational leader told me, “I like to see immediate results from what I am doing. I do not have patience to wait for an outcome. That is why I am a painter. I like to see the results right now from what I am doing.” In contrast, the strategic leader may wait years to witness the culmination of a project, and thus may leap to a new idea before the first has come to fruition. The tactical leader is also patient in waiting for the project to be completed, but the tactical leader finds it rewarding to see that progress is being made and the end goal is getting nearer. However, for relational leaders, seeing immediate results in even small steps is one of the most rewarding parts of the process.

In the Military:

In the military, the battle is usually won or lost because of relational leaders. It is the teamwork, interdependence, improvisation, creativity and unity toward a goal that the relational leader fosters. Relational leaders lead small groups (think of a platoon leader or a head usher) and only partially delegate responsibility. In the military these are the Lieutenants, Sergeants, etc..

In the Church.

My dad was a sergeant in the military, and initially an relational leader who led his small team of second service ushers successfully for four years. Like many relational leaders in our churches, Dad enjoyed getting the job done. I often remember how fulfilled and satisfied he was after church, where he had faithfully discharged his duties with his team.

In the Change Process:

During the change process these are the church leaders who get things done. They often see things from the viewpoint of their task. If they are an usher, then as my Dad, ushering seemed like the most important job in the church. Still my dad, like many relational leaders today, knew that the church was an organic organism of many functions and ministries (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:11-13). But Dad so enjoyed the task at hand, that at least for him and his giftings this was the most important job imaginable. As a result he discharged his duties with speediness, precision, care and results.

Characteristics:

Relational leaders have the knowledge, skill, relational abilities and dedication to get a job done. Once the parameters are defined and they see how their task fits into the bigger-picture (they are helped in this by the tactical leader), the relational leader can accomplish almost anything. Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” [xxvii] And, thus the contribution of the relational leader is critical to the change process.

Relational leaders often love their job so much, that they do not see themselves “moving out” of this role in the foreseeable future.[xxviii]

But, if the relational leader does not have the go-between of a tactical leader, the strategic leader’s vision may be too imprecise to motivate the relational leader. Thus, we see once again while all three types of leadership are needed, but it is the glue that the go-between tactical leader provides that helps the relational leader move the strategic leader’s vision forward.

Other names for tactical leaders are:

  1. Workers (Phil Miglioratti[xxix]).
  2. Role Three Leaders (Phil Miglioratti[xxx]).
  3. Foremen (John Wimber, Eddie Gibbs[xxxi]).

Relational – Tactical – Strategic Leaders: A Comparison

Let us return to our true story above. My father, Gerald, had been a successful sergeant in the military. He was known as loyal to his men, constantly looking out for their safely, but always leading them toward a visible goal within parameters that were provided to him. In such scenarios he excelled. And thus, as the head usher of the second service he flourished as a leader of a ministry team.

The disaster began when the church leadership, largely unaware of distinctives between strategic, tactical and relational leadership, “rewarded” my father with tactical leadership. Dad was an relational leader and he enjoyed leadership that was defined by relationships and connectedness. Phil Miglioratti, who describing strategic leadership as Role One leadership and tactical leadership as Role Two leadership, observed, “a mistake is made when these active dependable servants are ‘rewarded’ for their work my ‘promoting’ them to Role One or Two positions.”[xxxii]

Tactical leadership has more to do with allocation, analysis, creating tactical plans, and evaluation of effectiveness. Thus mechanical processes, of which as Gerald’s son I am more inclined, did not attract my Dad, nor where they aligned with his gifts. Dad was more personable than I will ever be, and he led a small team to success in World War II and at his church.

In Today’s Church, Tactical Leaders Are Missing

Today congregants often don’t know what to call a leader: a visionary, a realist, a planner, a strategist, a facilitator, a coach, or …? I’ve noticed that my students often lump church board leaders into two board categories: “board realists ” or “board visionaries.”

Actually my students have got two-thirds of the categories right. And, there may a better term for both groups. Who some students call realists should be called: tactical leaders. These are leaders who see the important nuts-and-bolts implication of a new idea. They see the cost involved, the human power needed and the steps that are required. They often appear not to be receptive to new ideas because they see the elaborate infrastructure and cost that will be required. Thus, they often butt heads with strategic leaders, because while strategic leaders see the future clearly, the tactical leaders sees the immediate expenses more acutely.

And the “board visionaries” are those strategic board leaders who see the bigger picture more sharply, than they see the route to get there.

Regrettably, in the past 25+ years I have seen a decline in the important tactical leaders, and instead a proliferation of strategic leaders in our churches.[xxxiii] Most church pastors have read books about visionary leadership, and our seminaries have done a better job at fostering bigger-picture leaders. But an unfortunate outcome is that tactical church leaders are often missing in our congregations. And thus, churches cannot bring about change because they are drowning under a deluge of strategic visionaries with big ideas and multiple strategies … but with little idea of how to get there. We need a return in our churches to the development and deployment of tactical leaders.

In Today’s Church, Strategic Leaders Are Abundant

And thus, congregants we label visionaries should probably better be called: strategic leaders. These are church leaders who see the bigger picture, though how to get there is cloudy. They capture a picture in their minds about what a new worship service can look like, but they are not as clear regarding the steps needed to attain it. While strategic leaders see the future, they often lack the analytical, precise and number-crunching nature to move the process forward. As noted earlier, I believe many pastors go into the ministry because they can see the strategic long term picture. They relate to Jesus’ admonition to “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). Strategic pastors can readily picture this image. They sermonize upon the importance of seeing the mission field, but when it comes to mounting a step-by-step strategy, analysis and evaluation … they are usually quiet.

The problem is exacerbated because strategic leaders tend to hire associate and assistant pastors like themselves: strategic leaders. Thus, a church can be full of bigger-picture people (and thus an explosion of new ideas) without having the missing tactical leaders needed to draft the budget, organize the training, recruit the volunteers and evaluate the results to make adjustments.

In Today’s Church, Relational Leaders Are Often Wrongly Promoted To Tactical Leadership

On the other end of the spectrum are the many relational leaders like my dad who keep a church humming. They enjoy the tasks they are given, often relational and thus relational in nature. But when these dear loyal saints are promoted to tactical leadership, they find their skill-set does not match expectations. And, rather than let the church leaders down (remember the relational leader’s skills are relational), the relational leader in a tactical job will stop doing their job (often by resigning, but not in person) and quietly disappearing (again to prevent further damage to relationships).

Again, the result is that our churches are missing tactical leaders. The tactical leader’s gift for analysis, number-crunching and in-depth planning is often seen as profane in comparison to the more pious duties of relationship building (relational leadership) or long-term envisioning (strategic leadership).[xxxiv] But all three are needed! We must promote both balance and holism in our management styles. We must discover, develop and deploy the important tacticians in our churches to create a link between strategic thinkers and relational leaders.

STOP! Don’t Go Any Further Without Tactical Leaders

It is permissible to read further, but please don’t attempt to bring about any of the change processes in this book (or any other book) before you get your tactical leaders in place. As we have seen from the above, these practical and precise leaders are often overlooked in a sea of strategic visionaries and hard-working relational workers.

My observation from client case studies, is that roughly 10% of a congregation are tactical leaders, another 10% are strategic (e.g. visionary) leaders, while the remaining 80% are relational leaders.

Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto is famed for saying that 80% of the value lies in 20% of the ingredients. And thus, his statement has been interpreted to infer that 20% of the people, do 80% of the work. Again, my experience with client case studies would tend to confirm percentages close to Pareto’s principle.

Thus, of that 20% that is doing the work I have observed that 8% are visionaries and 8% are workers, with 4% tactical leaders.

Now if my field observations are correct, then we are not getting 72% of our relational leaders involved. My hunch is that this is because we do not have enough tactical leaders to create suitable tactics and equip relational leaders for the task. Thus, congregational relational leaders will often lament that a church is too unorganized, when in reality they mean that the church is missing key tactical leaders to organize the strategic leaders’ visions.[xxxv]

How To Help Leaders Succeed “At Bringing About Change”

Here then is a primary reason why change is hard for churches to undertake, and congregants lament, “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change.” It is because we often do not have tactical leaders in place to successfully bring about change. It is tactical leaders who can orchestrate and oversee a step-by-step plan for change.

Church change is usually handled just by strategic leaders who make a case for seeing the bigger-picture, without giving clear insight about how to get there. The result is that church relational leaders sense a gap: between what the strategic leader pictures, and how to get it done. The result is that the relational leader resists change, because a clear route to get there has not been articulated.

            Three (3) Things Must Happen To Get Tactical Leaders Involved:

  1. Tactical leaders must be recruited and involved in the change process. Look for people who have the following characteristics:
    • They are planners.
    • They analyze needs and appropriate funds.
    • They create budgets.
    • They help obtain goal ownership from relational leaders.
    • They are hesitant about new ideas, because they can see the barriers and roadblocks that must be surmounted.
    • They are frustrated when strategic leaders try to micro-mange the tactical process, by offering too many ideas, corrections, adjustments, etc.
  2. Tactical leaders must be allowed to drop their current responsibilities to tackle change.
    • Because there is so much precision in the tactical leader’s work, they cannot juggle as many projects as the strategic leader can envision. Remember, the strategic leader sees the bigger-picture but the actual mechanics are not as clear and require more effort to create.
    • Thus, the detail needed in tactical planning prevents the tactical leader from being able to do a good job if he or she is juggling too many responsibilities.
    • Therefore the tactical leader must be allowed to drop some of their current responsibilities if these tasks are not aligned with the tactical leaders tactical gifts, or if their duties are not as crucial to the future of the church as are the new changes.
  1. Tactical leaders need a rough plan.
    • They need a general plan which the tactical leader can follow, indigenize and improve upon.
    • In my book (Preparing for Change Reaction), the plan for change is laid out in Chapters 3 – 9.

A Recap of Change Reaction 1: “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change.”

To the change reaction, “Our leaders are not good at bringing about change,” we discover the reason is because the tactical leaders, key go-betweens among the strategic and relational leaders, are missing. While both strategic and relational leaders are still needed, neither have the requisite skills of analysis, step-by-step planning, number-crunching, and detail management to bring a change to fruition. This is the contribution of the tactical leaders. Thus, typically in our churches we have:

Strategic Leaders.

They see the need and the future. They have a limited idea of how to get there, but they have been exposed to various models to accomplish change. However, strategic leaders do not typically have the patience to analyze, fine-tune, crunch-the-numbers, tweak, perfect, evaluate and adjust a strategy. Subsequently, strategic leaders often try to just apply (e.g. franchise) a strategy that has worked elsewhere. The strategic leader may purchase step-by-step manuals for relational leaders. And while this is a good starting place, because tactical leaders who can adjust the methodology for the church’s own unique scenario are not involved, the canned strategy is often abandoned with people saying “that doesn’t work here.” Again, the problem is not the strategic leaders or the relational leaders. They are both doing their jobs. The problem is created because an important linking and planning element of leaders is missing: the tactical leaders and their organizational skills.

Tactical Leaders

They then become our crucial … and missing link in effective change. If they are missing, change strategies are not adapted to the local context and the process is unorganized.

Relational Leaders

In military jargon these are the “boots on the ground,” meaning the frontline workers who must adjust the tactics they are given. They are relational teams of workers, who derive much of their satisfaction from both their teammates and their visible accomplishments. Relational leaders may also volunteer to be tactical leaders, because relationships are so important to them they do not want to see the strategic leader in a quandary. They may say something like “Pastor, I know you are in a spot here. So I’ll help you out.” If an relational leader says this, interview that person and then if this relational leaders does not have the analytical, diagnostic and methodical skills to create and manage an elaborate plan, graciously decline their offer. To thrust relational leaders into tactical positions will frustrate them, and eventually due to their gracious and relational nature, they will quietly fade away from their failed tactical task.

Change is Difficult Because Tactical Leaders Are Missing

Why then does change so often fail in congregations? It has been my observation that it is because strategic leaders (often pastors) try to orchestrate the tactical process. Often if a strategic leader in the role of a pastor or a department head tries to move the church forward with some change, the congregants will become frustrated because of a lack of precision in the plan. The plan to them will appear too nebulous and imprecise.

At the same time the strategic leader will expect the relationally-orientated relational leaders to create a plan. And though the relational leaders are the key to the success of the process, their emphasis upon relationships usually trumps their interest in the administrative details, budgeting, volunteer recruitment and evaluation that is required.

The answer is that change needs the critical link between strategic leader and relational leaders: tactical leadership. Therefore, to succeed with change, it is important that at the outset of this book the pastor look around him or her develop those tactical leaders who can map-out the change processes outlined in this book, and who will enjoy doing so.

Questions for Group Study

  1. What kind of tasks do you enjoy? Circle only those letters that correspond to tasks you greatly
    1. Dreaming about the future.
    2. Preparing a budget.
    3. Getting to know a person you work with.
    4. Graphing on paper a new plan.
    5. Analyzing what when wrong with a past strategy.
    6. Creating a visual map of the planning process.
    7. Balancing your checkbook.
    8. Sharing about your family history.
    9. Reading books on new ideas.
    10. Attending seminars on creativity.
    11. Tackling a numerical problem.
    12. Reading books on history.
    13. Researching costs associated with a project.
    14. Creating a survey.
    15. Taking a survey.
    16. Leading under 12 people on a project.
    17. Recording the minutes of a meeting.
    18. Loading and adjusting new software on your computer.
    19. Designing ways to better communicate an idea.
    20. Relaxing by sharing with friends about hobbies.
    21. Relaxing by sharing with friends about what when wrong.
    22. Relaxing by dreaming with friends about new ideas.
    23. Working on a hobby with a few closer friends.
    24. You share your personal feelings easily with others.
    25. You share your new ideas easily with others.
    26. You like to get a job done with a minimum of fuss.

For each letter you circled, put a check in the corresponding box:

For each of the following letters you circled, put a check in this BOX: C, H, P, T, W, X, Z For each of the following letters you circled, put a check in this BOX: B, D, E, F, G, K, M, N, Q, R, S, U For each of the following letters you circled, put a check in this BOX: A, I, J, L, O, V, Y
Total up the check marks: Total up the check marks: Total up the check marks:
Relational Leader Tactical Leader Strategic Leader
You may be primarily comfortable with a leader style associated with the box that contains the most checkmarks.[xxxvi]
  1. Who are tactical leaders in your congregation? And what are they currently doing? Ask yourself the following questions.
    • How critical for the future of the organization are the current jobs that these tactical leaders are undertaking?
    • Could these tactical leaders be used more effectively in other areas, perhaps helping the church move forward with some change? (This is a question that will be quickly answered by strategic leaders.)
    • Are these tactical leaders overworked and in danger of burn-out? (This is a question that will be more promptly answered by relational leaders.)
  1. What does this statement from earlier in the chapter mean, “we must integrate tactical leaders into the processes of change that this book describes or changes we seek will not make things better … only less unified and more confusing?”
    • What will you do to see this does not happen?
    • List seven tactical leaders that you will recruit and engage in reading this book.

           Tactical Leader:            Contact Information:

  1. ______________________________ ________________
  2. ______________________________ ________________
  3. ______________________________ ________________
  4. ______________________________ ________________
  5. ______________________________ ________________
  6. ______________________________ ________________
  7. ______________________________ ________________

 

[i] Within military leadership theories there are many nuanced categories. However, to keep the present discussion from becoming too unwieldy, we will focus on the three broad categories of strategic leadership, tactical leadership and operational (i.e. relational) leadership. For a good overview of the historical importance and tensions of the top levels of military leadership see, Mark A. Stoler, Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II (Chapel Hill, No. Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

[ii] These are certainly not the only two forces that draw pastors into the ministry. However, in my consultative work I have seen these two categories appear with surprising regularity. In addition, these two categories provide a helpful framework for distinguishing how pastors with relational leadership skills vary from those with strategic leadership abilities.

[iii] Win Arn, “A Church Growth Look at … Here’s Life America,” The Pastors Church Growth Handbook (Pasadena, Calif.: Church Growth Press, 1987), p. 45.

[iv] There is an important difference in organization theory between theories of change and theories of changing (see Warren G. Bennis, Changing Organizations [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996]). Theories of change refer to how change occurs, while theories of changing investigate how to control or manipulate change. Subsequently, strategic leaders will customarily focus on theories of change, while tactical leaders will gravitate toward theories of changing. Unless this subtle, but important difference is noted, strategic leaders and tactical leaders may talking about two different things, but using the same term. Hence, confusion in our churches often results between our visionary leaders and the administrative tactical leaders who must bring these visions to fruition.

[v] H. Ozbekhan, “Toward a General Theory of Planning,” in E. Jantsch, ed., Perspective in Planning (Paris, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1969), p. 151.

[vi] Martin Marty, “Lutheran Scholar ‘Sprinkles Methodist Advice,” in The United Methodist Reporter (Dallas, Texas: 1986), March 28.

[vii] Christian pollster George Barna correctly emphasizes that for a strategic leader, a clear vision of the future is important. And, Barna in his popular book, The Power of Vision (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1992, p. 28, 38-39) describes a vision as “ a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God, and based on an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances.” Yet, the popularity of Barna’s definition may have clouded the picture, as strategically-orientated pastors latched on to this definition, which lacks the complimentary emphasis that it is tactical leadership that will get you there.

[viii] Leith Anderson, Dying for Change (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany Publishing House, 1990), pp. 177-178.

[ix] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” The Pastor’s Church Growth Handbook (Pasadena, Calif.: Church Growth Press, 1979), p. 146.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1981), pp. 380, 383-385.

[xii] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1984), p. 73-74.

[xiii] John Kotter, A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1990).

[xiv] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 141-165.

[xv] The architectural analogy is not meant to be wholly precise, but rather to serve as an approximate illustration. To be sure, many architects demonstrate not only strategic bigger-picture leadership, but also the tactical engineering skills to engineer a building. This is similar to how a church leader may function on several levels of leadership at the same time. Again, the purpose here is not to tender a inflexible illustration, but to give a general idea of the complimentary interplay of strategic, tactical and relational skills.

[xvi] Management scholar Russell Ackoff says of tactical leadership, “the principle complexity in planning derives from the interrelatedness of the decisions rather than from the decisions themselves” (Russell L. Ackoff, A Concept of Corporate Planning [New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1970] pp. 2-3). What Ackoff means is that tactical planning has to take into consideration the connectedness of all past, present and future decisions and work out a complex change strategy that considers all of these factors. The most frequent failure in the planning process is due to a lack of tactical leaders who can integrate and coordinate multiple concerns. Often plans for change are brought about by strategic leaders who are too concerned about the future (to consider fully the present and/or past), and relational leaders who are overly concerned about the needs of the present (and the relationships involved). While in this chapter I have argued that all three types of leaders are needed (strategic-tactical-relational), it is the absence of tactical leaders that often leaves the church with a feeling that change rarely produces good results.

[xvii] Herman R. Van Gunsteren, The Quest for Control: A Critique of the Rational Control Rule Approach in Public Affairs (New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1976), p. 2

[xviii] Russell L. Ackoff, A Concept of Corporate Planning, op. cit., p. 1.

[xix] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 146

[xx] ibid.

[xxi] D. Martin Butler and Robert D. Herman, “Effective Ministerial Leadership,” Nonprofit Management and Leadership (1999), 9:229-239.

[xxii] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, op. cit., pp. 380, 382-383.

[xxiii] John Kotter, A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, op. cit.. Kotter muddies the water a bit, by making a imprecise distinction between leadership and management. Kotter would agree with this author, that there are strategic leaders and tactical leaders. However, Kotter calls what strategic leaders do: “leadership.” And he labels what tactical leaders do as: “management.” While it is laudable that Kotter is trying to help distinguish between strategic and tactical leadership, the widespread use of the terms “leadership” and “management” probably mean they are too popular to now be more narrowly defined. Thus, Kotter’s goal is good, to distinguish between strategic and tactical leaders, but his terminology is probably too imprecise.

[xxiv] Richard Hutcheson, J., The Wheel Within the Wheel: Confronting the Management Crisis of the Pluralistic Church (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1979), p. 54.

[xxv] Gary Yukl, Managerial Practices Survey (Albany, New York: Gary Yukl and Man Associates, 1990).

[xxvi] C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 141-165.

[xxvii] Popular attestation, http://www.quoteworld.org/quotes/8891

[xxviii] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 146

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] ibid.

[xxxi] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, op. cit., pp. 380, 381.

[xxxii] Phil Miglioratti, “Putting Your Laymen When They Will Do the Most Good,” op. cit., p. 147.

[xxxiii] Though today tactical leaders are often missing in our churches, this was not always the case. In the early 1980s Peter Wagner and other leaders in the Church Growth Movement lamented that mostly tactical leaders were being trained in seminaries. Wagner would label strategic leadership as “strong leadership,” and tactical leadership he would call “enabler leadership.” Thus Wagner observed in 1984 with obvious Orwellian overtones (C. Peter Wagner, Leading Your Church to Growth, op. cit., pp. 73-75), “one reason why strong pastoral leadership is not characteristic of many of American’s churches is that in the recent past clergy have been taught just the opposite in the seminaries … They were taught to reject strong, authoritative, directive pastoral leadership….The alternative has been the model of pastor as an ‘enabler.”…What exactly is an enabler? Richard Hutcheson puts it this way: ‘An enabler or facilitator is a relatively uninvolved technician who understands the process by which things are accomplished and who enables other to achieve goals’ (Richard Hutcheson, J., The Wheel Within the Wheel: Confronting the Management Crisis of the Pluralistic Church, op. cit., p. 54).” What Wagner and Hutcheson are describing as enablers, I would define in organizational terms as tactical leaders. And I would disagree with Hutcheson on one point. I have found that tactical leaders are not “relatively uninvolved,” but only appear to be so because they enjoy the impersonal and technical tasks of planning, analysis, evaluation and adjustment.

[xxxiv] Richard Hutcheson, J. in The Wheel Within the Wheel: Confronting the Management Crisis of the Pluralistic Church, op. cit., p. 53 describes how the group dynamics movement within the Human Resource field emphasized interpersonal relationships in management. Thus, tactical leadership came to be viewed incorrectly as more profane in contrast to its strategic and relational counterparts. However, the reader of this chapter should be able to see that all three leadership skills, strategic-tactical-relational, are required for effective change to take place.

[xxxv] The 12% of the strategic leaders who are unengaged is probably due to the lack of tactical leaders as well. Church leaders often lament to me that there is no one in the church available to implement their new ideas, and thus they keep their ideas to themselves.

[xxxvi] This questionnaire is not designed to be a definitive categorization for these three types of leadership skills, but rather a general indicator. And, you may find you have scored differently than you anticipated. In such circumstances and if comfortable to do so, share with friends and coworkers your score, and ask for comment upon your leadership categorization. Remember, neither category is preferential to the others, for the proper and organic functioning of all three is required for change to take place. In addition, oftentimes leaders move from one leadership category to another based upon circumstance or time. For instance, sometimes congregants who have been tactical leaders in the past and know the great degree of energy and effort such leadership requires, may thus want a sabbatical from tactical duties. This is permissible and proper, as God Himself rested from His labors (Exodus 20:8) as well as required this of His servants (Leviticus 25:2, Mark 2:27).

Speaking hashtags: #STO.  3-STRand   STRand   #ThinkTankOH  #TTOH   #3-STR #3-STRand. #TTIN

FACILITIES & The 7 Don’ts & 7 Do’s of Building

by Bob Whitesel. (Download the chapter HERE: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – GROWTH BY ACCIDENT Missteps with New Facilities 2. If you like the insights please support publisher and author by buying a copy here. Excerpted from Growth by Accident – Death by Planning: How Not to Kill a Growing Church, Abingdon Press, 2004, pp. 76-80.)

1.  Don’t build too soon. Oftentimes a rented or paid-for facility will be less expensive to operate than a new facility. Though architects often laud cost savings of new facilities, they may require large unforeseen expenditures. Repairing a boiler in an existing facility might cost $8,000 to $10,000. But in a new facility, the same size of congregation might have to pay twice to three times that amount. And though a builder/architect may suggest that this would not happen for years, it happened with in the first five years at Mt Sinai. Thus, building cautiously and patiently can help generate a fiscal reserve.

2.  Don’t build too big. Under advice of their architect/builder, and based upon their own overly optimistic projections, the church leaders built a facility that was oversized for their congregation, and their budget. We saw in Chapter 2 how multiple weekend celebrations can give the church more options for attracting community residents. And the four Sunday services at Mt. Sinai provided this benefit. Yet naively, the leaders decided to hold one large combined church service in the new facility. Thus, robbing the Sunday services of their flexibility and convenience, they undermined their attendance. “We all agreed we wanted everyone together, and only one service was the way to do it,” recollected Tim. “But we didn’t expect such a drop-off in attendance.”

3. Don’t build without flexibility. Renovated and rented facilities had given Mt. Zion Church needed flexibility. If they needed to change their usage or space requirements, a different site could be rented. And due to the cramped facilities, multi-functional areas were mandated. But when the new facility was built, many ministries were segregated into activity-specific spaces. Immovable pews were installed in the auditorium, small classrooms were designed, separated by load-bearing cement walls. Since church members were tired of years of cramped and communal space, they tried to give everyone their own area in the new facility. “Everyone was going to have their own rooms at last,” mused Tim. But creating these private enclaves weakened the flexibility that had contributed to growth.

4. Don’t use a plateaued church for your model. Mt. Zion’s leaders had visited several seemingly successful churches in the region. Unfortunately, they did not ask if these churches were plateaued or declining. Of the five churches they visited, two were declining and two were plateaued. But their impressive facilities kept Mt. Zion’s leaders from looking closer. The architect/builder who had designed the lone growing church was rejected in Tim’s words as “too wild for us, it looks like a mall.”

5. Don’t build in a detached location. The building site was an area where many of the leaders would have liked to live and worship. But unlike their first facility (and the rented spaces downtown) it lacked visibility. “It was on a moderately traveled road,” suggested Tim. “But it was across town from the main highway. I really wish we had built adjacent to Route 20.” Visibility is one of the keys to outreach. But unfortunately, churches often link their destiny to a parcel of land that is convenient for current attendees, but in a detached location that slows or undercuts growth.

6. Don’t forget to get information from the right experts. Church leaders thought they were getting the best advice available when they hired the architect/builder of another large and prestigious church. In fact, he had built dozens of churches. But because most of the churches in America are declining or plateaued, the architect/builder was inadvertently experienced in building facilities that contributed to church plateaus and/or declinations.

7. Don’t expect new facilities to increase the church’s attendance. Related to errors two and six above, this must be mentioned again because it is so prevalent in the sales pitch of many architects/builders. As I noted earlier Christians are an optimistic lot. And in my experience architect/builders succumb to this malady just as easily. Together they can give overly aggressive projections. “The architect advised us on church growth projections. He said a new facility would increase our attendance by 10-15 percent,” recalled Tim. “He said they were based on his company’s history. But now I question his figures.” While architects and builders are experts in legal codes, and civil engineering; few are acquainted with the principles and strategies of church growth.

Seven Do’s When Building a Facility

Each of the above Seven Errors have a positive alternative. I have labeled these corrective steps the “Seven Dos When Building a Facility.”

Corrective Step 1. Do wait longer than you think you should before you build. This may require restraint, but waiting can help you further define your needs and objectives. Patience also allows fiscal swings to moderate and more precise financial projections to be created. More money can be set aside for savings as well. Finally, cautious and unhurried behavior allows you to plan your future more precisely.

Corrective Step 2.  Do build a smaller sized auditorium, leaving room for expansion. Creating spaces where everyone can worship simultaneously may not be needed (combined “unity” gatherings can be held in rented facilities[i]), nor wise (we saw in Chapter 2 that multiple celebration options allow us to reach a greater percentage of a community).

Corrective Step 3.  Do create flexibility in your facility, to compensate for the smaller size. Though a smaller facility can cause tension and minor friction, it can lead to creativity. And, sharing facilities forces an expanding congregation to interact and work out this conflict, thus creating interaction between potentially divisive groups.[ii] Designing flexible spaces also provides adaptability for future programming.

Corrective Step 4.  Do use a larger, but growing church as your model. Don’t let impressive facilities and/or reputations dissuade you from discovering if your model church is growing. Ask yourself, does the architect/builder build growing churches or plateaued/declining ones? In addition, ask the architect/builder for references and interview former clients. Ask the references if they feel the facilities have hindered growth to any degree.

Corrective Step 5.  Do build in a visible location. For unchurched and dechurched people accessibility is essential. Robert Schuller tells how fellow clergypersons extended to him their condolences when he could find no other facility to rent other than a drive-in theatre. “Don’t feel sorry for me,” Schuller replied. “The Orange Drive-In Theatre is right on the Santa Ana Freeway, and that’s the heaviest traveled road in the State of California. … Nobody has a better road leading up to their front door than I do! And you have to have a road leading up to your front door before you need a building.”[iii]

Corrective Step 6.  Do get advice from the right experts. Seek out architect/builders who build malls, theatres, and colleges rather than churches. Churches are often designed with a formulaic look and inadequate flexibility. Here I cannot fault architect/builders too much. Most of their church building experience revolves around aging congregations, who are building smaller facilities or merging. As such, these architects have little experience with facilities that foster connectedness and growth. Today, the architects of malls and shopping centers are becoming the designers of connectedness in America. Malls have replaced the streets of small town America as the venue for meeting people and relationship building. One young teenager confided, “It’s at the mall where I feel at home with my friends. There’s a coffee bar, comfortable couches, TVs, a fountain, and lots of people hanging out. It sure beats church.” Unfortunately, the church is being beat by the sense of community created by many of these retail environments. Where once it was said, “I met my spouse at church,” too often today it is heard, “I met my spouse at the mall.”

Corrective Step 7.  Do plan on the size of your church to plateau or even decline moderately after a building project. Change always brings about tension, and as a result polarization between the status quo and change proponents often erupts. In the second book of this series, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It [iv] I explained how you can avoid the polarization that often arises between these groups. But because change is unavoidable, tension will be encountered. Therefore the tension involved in moving into new facilities does not usually grow a church. And because some people find this change especially jarring, they look for a congregation more in keeping with their former church experience. Thus, a decline should be anticipated in budget and usage projections. Hiring an expert in church growth can be expeditious for realistic planning. The American Society for Church Growth (www.ascg.org) lists dozens of church growth consultants trained and skilled in helping churches navigate the precipitous waters of growth, change, and facility expansion.

Read more in Growth by Accident – Death by Planning: How Not to Kill a Growing Church

[i] For ideas on “unity celebrations” that can unify churches with multiple weekend worship options, see “Unity Building Exercises” in A House Divided, p. 187.

[ii] See the second book in this series, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It, to discover how to keep your people from coalescing into factions.

[iii] Robert H. Schuller, Your Church Has A Fantastic Future (Ventura, Calif.” Regal Books, 1986), p. 286.

[iv] Bob Whitesel, Staying Power, op. cit.