CHURCH PLANTING & “Multiplying Church,” “Reproducing Church” and “Planted Church” defined & compared. #Stetzer #Bird #Bennardo

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/30/19.

Terms describing “church multiplication” are tossed around with such frequency, that leaders are often confused about how to differentiate a planted church, a reproducing church and a multiplying church.

The best definition for a “multiplying church” comes from my friends Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird in their book “Viral Churches.”

A “multiplying church:”

A church multiplication movement is a rapid reproduction rate of 50% through the third generation of churches, with new churches having 50% new converts. To achieve such momentum, churches would need to plant, on average, a new church every two years with each church reaching at least half its attendees from the unchurched community.”

Stetzer and Bird, Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (San Franscisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010), p. 116.

A “reproducing church” would be, by definition and comparison, a congregation that is planting daughter congregations, but not with the frequency of a “multiplying church.”

A “planted church” would, by definition, be a church that has been nurtured by a mother congregation.

A “venue/campus church” shares some commonalities and dissimilarities with a “planted church” and you can read a comparison here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/multiplication-5-reasons-churches-should-balance-their-internal-external-church-planting/

Tom Bennardo in his excellent book, “The Honest Guide to Church Planting (Zondervan, 2019, p. 119) sums up the differences:

Good      Planting a Church

Better    Planting a Reproducing Church

Best       Planting a Multiplying Church

I’ve listed further resources for church planting here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/church-planting-cost-effective-alternatives-to-the-customary-planting-strategies/

And this is how my colleague C. Peter Wagner is often misquoted about church planting (and what he really meant): https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/church-planting-why-an-emphasis-upon-conversion-is-the-best-way-to-grow-the-church-petewagner/

MULTIPLICATION & “3700 U.S. churches closed in the most recent year studied (2017), and over 4000 were started. More churches started than closed… all the while the culture grew more secular. We live in interesting (and challenging) times”

Ed Stetzer, Twitter, 12/10/19.  
3700 U.S. churches closed in the most recent year studied (2017), and over 4000 were started. More churches started than closed… all the while the culture grew more secular. We live in interesting (and challenging) times.  
You can follow Ed Stetzer on Twitter: @edstetzer

TRANSFOR•MISSION & #EdStetzer overview regarding how #CraigOtt describes a transformational church.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I teach my students that to understand transformational leadership they must first understand the transformational aspects of that which they lead, the Church (because of its supernatural, directional and eternal synergies). Here is a thoughtful analysis by a friend on Craig Ott’s important new book on mission and the church.

“20 Truths from ‘The Church on Mission”

by Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today, 9/28/19.

Below are 20 Truths from Dr. Craig Ott’s new book, The Church on Mission: A Biblical Vision for Transformation among All People. Craig is Professor of Mission and Intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, where he occupies the ReachGlobal Chair of Mission

2. “Transformation always has to do with change from something to something else, whereby the change is substantive and affecting the very essence or nature of the object” (Page 5).

3. “A transformational church is a church that becomes God’s instrument of such personal transformation through evangelism and discipleship” (Page 13).

4. “If transformation is the dynamic of our mission, and God’s glory is both the source and goal of our mission, then the church in the power of the Spirit is God’s primary instrument of mission in this age. The church is the only institution on earth entrusted with the message of transformation—the gospel—and the only community that is a living demonstration of that transformation” (Page 19).

5. “Without the gospel there is no forgiveness, no new creation, no church, no transformation” (Page 23)...

7. “A missional ecclesiology emphasizes that the church does not merely send missionaries (as important as that is), but the church itself is God’s missionary, sent into the world as Jesus was sent into the world (John 20:21). In this sense the mission of the church is not merely a task or project that the church is to carry out, but rather is participation in God’s own mission in the world, the missio Dei” (Page 35).

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/september/20-truths-from-church-on-mission.html

MISSIONARY & So, what is the modern missionary to do? In today’s world, the missionary mind-set itself is a modern-day heresy. However, it is still the teaching of Jesus and cannot be erased from the pages of the Bible. – #EdStetzer

by Ed Stetzer, The Washington Post, 11/28/18.

For some, the very idea of trying to convert others to a certain faith and taking any risk to do so is simply abhorrent. But Christians worldwide genuinely believe that people who hear and respond to the gospel are better off when they do.

…Propagating one’s religious beliefs through missionary activity is practiced by segments of the world’s largest religious groups, including Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. Even the United Nations affirms missionary activity as a legitimate expression of religion or belief.

A missionary named Saint Patrick came to the tribal people of ancient Ireland and converted my ancestors from Celtic polytheism. This is not a new idea. Christianity has been a missionary movement since its beginning. As I noted above, Jesus, in his final address to his followers, commanded them to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). And, speaking to Christians everywhere and in all eras, the apostle Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Many Christians would say we deny the missionary call if we neglect the hard and difficult places in the world. We are truly called to go to “the ends of the earth” with the gospel (Acts 13:47).

For example, when Jesus sent his disciples, he instructed them to pray and then go, while showing them how to honor the dignity and humanity of others’ choices. He also sent his disciples out two by two. The Bible has much to say about the importance of teams and community. Teams bring collective discernment and provide a safeguard against unwise attempts at missionary endeavors. According to Ho, there was a team willing to go with Chau, but he chose to go alone.

Also, in regard to people’s choices, Jesus makes it quite clear in Mark 6:11, saying, “And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place.” It appears that Chau returned to North Sentinel even after being shot at with arrows, one of which, according to his journal, stuck in his Bible.

Read more of Ed’s article “Slain missionary John Chau prepared much more than we thought, but are missionaries still fools?at https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2018/11/28/slain-missionary-john-chau-prepared-much-more-than-we-thought-his-case-is-still-quandary-us-missionaries/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5788b40ca09c

CHURCH EXIT & New Research: Churchgoers Stick Around for Theology, Not Music or Preachers #LifeWay

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my consulting on church change and church revitalization, I sometimes encounter a judicatory leader or a parent church that will want to change another church’s theology. But, research indicates that you must be very careful in doing so.

I have observed that churches many times grow around a specific theological viewpoint. Sometimes that theological view is in error, unorthodox, schismatic or heretical. In those circumstances it must be changed.

But in my experience I have also seen churches that, while they may have primarily orthodox beliefs, have a unique view on (what John Wesley would call) nonessential theological points. These might include issues such as charismatic gifts, healing, modes of baptism, etc.

In such latter circumstances, the research cited below indicates that we should move cautiously when changing a theological perspective if it is not an essential orthodox belief … or church exit might occur.

Churchgoers Stick Around for Theology, Not Music or Preachers

Don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

New Research: Churchgoers Stick Around for Theology, Not Music or Preachers
Image: via LifeWay Research

… Most churchgoers will put up with a change in music style or a different preacher.

But don’t mess with a church’s beliefs or there may be an exodus, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

The study of Protestant churchgoers found most are committed to staying at their church over the long haul. But more than half say they would strongly consider leaving if the church’s beliefs changed.

Pastors often worry about changing church music and setting off a “worship war,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. But few say they would leave over music.

Churchgoers are much more concerned about their church’s beliefs.

“Mess with the music and people may grumble,” he said. “Mess with theology and they’re out the door.”

Churchgoers stay put

LifeWay Research surveyed 1,010 Protestant churchgoers—those who attend services at least once a month—to see how strongly they are tied to their local congregations.

Researchers found most churchgoers stay put.

Thirty-five percent have been at their church between 10 and 24 years. Twenty-seven percent have been there for 25 years or more. Twenty-one percent have been there less than five years, while 17 percent have been at the same church for between five and nine years.

Lutherans (52 percent), Methodists (40 percent) and Baptists (31 percent) are most likely to have been at their church for 25 years or more. Fewer nondenominational (11 percent) or Assemblies of God/Pentecostal churchgoers (13 percent) have such long tenure.

“Most church members have been at their church longer than their pastor,” said McConnell.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/july/churchgoers-stick-around-for-theology-not-music-or-preacher

RURAL CHURCH HEALTH & @EdStetzer on challenges in rural contexts, talks research, opioids, economics & why Christians should care.

by Ed Stetzer, Twitter, 3/10/18

Glad to get a copy the @TheInfluenceMag today. In this issue, Tena Stone and I write about challenges in rural contexts, talk research, opioids, economics, and explain why Christians should care. Be sure to check out the magazine. https://t.co/DgaGaLjoOz

TV & “Living Biblically” Sitcom Raises Serious Questions. But also opportunities for the Church to address them. Here is how to do it…

by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/4/18.

Chip Curry was in trouble. His best friend died. His wife found out she was pregnant. And Chip had lost his way and become “an overall disaster of a person”—completely unprepared to bring a child into the world.

Then he picked up a Bible and everything changed. At least that’s the premise of a new CBS television series called Living Biblically, which premieres this week.

Based on A.J. Jacobs’ best-selling book, The Year of Living Biblically, the show depicts Chip’s attempts to live out all the Bible’s commandments, big and small…

Jacobs, a secular Jew, has said in the past that he grew up with no religion. His year of living biblically, he said in a TED Talk, was profound and life-changing.

He told Christianity Today that the experience gave him a better appreciation of evangelical Christians.

And, he wrote, living by the Bible’s rules helped him better understand himself.

“I didn’t expect to confront just how absurdly flawed I am,” he said. “I didn’t expect to discover such strangeness in the Bible. And I didn’t expect to, as the psalmist says, take refuge in the Bible and rejoice in it.”

Spending time engaged with the Bible is one of the keys to spiritual growth, according to the Transformational Discipleship study from LifeWay Research.

“God’s Word is truth, so it should come as no surprise that reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most impact on spiritual growth and maturity,” wrote Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, who helped design the study.

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/02/26/living-biblically-sitcom-raises-serious-questions/

STO LEADERSHIP & How differentiating between Strategic-Tactical-Operation styles helped #EdStetzer break the 200 barrier in church growth.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Operational leaders lead by employing a tightknit group of people to assist them. However tactical and strategic leaders systematically delegate to others while empowering emerging leaders. Such a transition in leadership style appears to have contributed to Ed Stetzer‘s case study about how and why the church he pastored broke the 200 barrier.

“Break Church-Growth Barriers: Build a Bigger Leadership Table” by Ed Stetzer, EdStetzer.com, 3/28/17

…The Systems Connection

The typical church in the United States has fewer than 100 people in weekly attendance. One of the reasons is that in order to go beyond that number, we must move from relational connection to systems connection. When we are under 100, discipleship influence is exerted through direct relationships. When we pass the 100 mark, if we don’t transition to a discipleship system that can be successful without a direct relationship to the senior leader, it’ll ultimately fail.

The unfortunate reality is that most pastors don’t know how to construct congregational systems and effective structures because they lead only relationally. Sure, this is a wonderful way to lead, but it’s simply not sustainable as the church grows. As we make the transition from leading relationally to leading systemically, there is a loss of control and a loss of intimacy, which can be tremendously challenging for pastors. However, it is one of the most valuable lessons leaders of growing churches can learn.

When one of the churches I pastored made this change, we did some ongoing messaging to persuade people to participate in the process with us as leaders. But remember: not everyone who has been a part of the church will continue to stay as the church grows numerically. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

After our congregation made this all-important transition, it almost doubled in size in a year. Of the people who stayed, every one of them had gone through our process of assimilation into congregational life and every one of them was now serving in some capacity. The pastor was no longer seen as the sole provider, but as occupying an important function within the church where the body of Christ ministered.

This transition became key in the life of our church. If we hadn’t made that change, we would have shrunk back to 75 in attendance because that would have been all that the relationally oriented leadership could absorb.

Read more at … https://edstetzer.com/2018/02/break-church-growth-barriers-build-a-bigger-leadership-table/

SMALL CHURCHES & How to increase community impact by making your facility available to emerging cultures in your community. #EdStetzer #TheExchange #CT

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, 2/27/18.

… Typically, small churches use their facilities no more than six hours per week. The other 162 hours of the week buildings sit empty and woefully underused. Open your property to a church plant in need of a place to worship. Invite the local addiction recovery chapter to meet in your building for as long as they want. Offer to provide coffee and cookies baked by a different member each week.

Neighborhood association meetings are often looking for a place to hold gatherings. These take place no more than once a month (usually much less frequently) and are a wonderful way to get people to come to your building. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops are always looking for places to hold weekly meetings. Let your building(s) be a blessing to your community. Value relationships with your neighbors more than you value the cleanliness of the carpet in your sanctuary.

Serving people is more important than a pristine fellowship hall. Your community will soon take note of which churches care about them and which churches care only about themselves. Be the former, not the latter.

One of the most successful ways of serving your community is to offer a free night of babysitting so parents can have a date night. Sometimes this is structured around Christmas so parents can shop together without having to bring their kids and hide purchases.

Often it is simply a random Friday or Saturday evening where parents can spend an evening strengthening their marriage without shelling out $20–$40 on a babysitter. The kids are served a meal, presented a Bible lesson, and allowed to play together.

At pickup, church members tell parents about one unique thing their child(ren) did that night, showing that each child was valued. It is also a time where families can be invited to attend worship the following Sunday. Something as simple as taking down their name, address, or email for the promise of inviting them to future ‘Date Night’ babysitting events produces a ready-made list of prospects for future contact and evangelism.

In any way that you use your building(s) to serve your community, make sure you have members at each meeting to unlock the facilities and to welcome all who enter. They are there to assist, not to eavesdrop on the meetings.

A warm welcome goes a long way towards showing them you really care about them, not simply that you’re begrudgingly providing a community service. And it should go without saying, but just so no one misunderstands, all of these opportunities should be rent-free for the users. Don’t try to make a buck off of your community. Don’t even justify it as covering your costs.

Excerpted from “Getting Small Churches on Mission (Part 3).” Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/february/getting-small-churches-on-mission-part-3.html

HISTORY & A Brief Historical Analysis/Definition of the Church Growth Movement by #EdStetzer

What’s the Deal with the Church Growth Movement? (part one)

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, Christianity Today, 10/1/12.

Today, I begin a blog series that takes a closer look at the Church Growth Movement. Our approach to church today has been shaped by this movement whether we are conscious of it or not. Good and bad have evolved from the early days. By taking a closer look at the movement I hope we can learn and become more focused on lostness issues in America. So where were the thoughts and dreams of the early voices in the Church Growth Movement?

Now, church growth (as attendance) is not the same as Church Growth (as a movement). Most people would be in favor of growing a church, but Church Growth has become controversial (see the Google search on the movement to see how many links are to critiques).

So, what is Church Growth (when using capital letters). The American Society of Church Growth (now the Great Commission Research Network) defines it as:

Church growth is that discipline which investigates the nature, function, and health of Christian churches, as they relate to the effective implementation of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all peoples (Mt. 28:19-20). It is a spiritual conviction, yet it is practical, combining the eternal principles of God’s Word with the practical insights of social and behavioral sciences.

Over the next few weeks, I want to talk a look at the movement, starting with the person widely seen as the founder of the movement.

Donald McGavran, was a missiologist and third generation missionary born in India. He is universally considered the father of the Church Growth Movement. He was, interestingly, a missiologist and that was related to his emphasis.

As a missiolgist, when he suggested the need to transition our strategy from “people” to “peoples” in his work Bridges of God in 1954, it impacted his views (and the Church Growth Movement) in big ways. His study of groups (or peoples) on how they respond, undergirded the movement’s emphasis on statistics, sociology, analysis, and more.

Let me say that I am a fan of Donald McGavran. We may learn more by understanding what McGavran was not saying, particularly from the beginning. For example, McGavran took on the most popular, long standing approach to international missions and evangelism. He declared the “mission station approach,” that had existed for over 150 years, was ineffective for reaching the masses. He determined that by measurement– he analyzed and came to statistical conclusions that undergirded his missiological decisions that led to the Church Growth Movement.

For background, the mission station approach encouraged new converts to leave their tribe and isolate themselves. They took advantage of Western churches, hospitals, and schools (goods and services) established on international mission fields. He did not deny the positive outcomes through this approach but called for a “new pattern” when it comes to results (peoples being converted to Christ):

A new pattern is at hand, which, while new, is as old as the Church itself. It is a God-designed pattern by which not ones but thousands will acknowledge Christ as Lord, and grow into full discipleship as people after people, clan after clan, tribe after tribe and community after community are claimed for and nurtured in the Christian faith.(Bridges of God 331,332)

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/october/whats-deal-with-church-growth-movement-part-one.html

MULTIPLICATION & The Next Iteration of the Black Church

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, 11/22/16.

…In recent interviews with several African-American church planters, three core themes arose that can give us some insight into the characteristics of what successful Black pastoral leadership will look like in our racially awakening America:

The ability to be “culturally bilingual.” Now more than ever Black pastors have to be able to speak both the language of the surrounding (urban) community and the language of their often suburban members. A high cultural IQ is critical. Successful Black pastors must be able to walk and talk in both worlds, often simultaneously.

Unusually thick skin. Because of the deeply stressed state of race relations in America, Black pastors need to be able to bring a sense of calm when necessary and be prepared to field some very, very inappropriate (and even hurtful) questions. People of all races have been wrestling silently with how they feel about race for years—even decades. Many are now experiencing a renewed sense of freedom and courage to ask previously “stuffed” questions. Black pastors need to be a safe place for curious people to ask these questions without being penalized.

A systematic theology of race and justice. In essence, the Black pastor needs to be able to differentiate between social justice (defined by society, ever changing) and biblical justice (defined by God’s word, thus unchanging). America needs pastors that can articulate a clear case for mobilizing their local churches to be God’s change agents in the area of racial justice. Unfortunately, we may once again need more feet in the streets and in places of power, and those feet have to be connected to a theological rationale for why they are there…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/november/next-iteration-of-black-church.html

SEMINARIES & Is Wesley Seminary the Seminary of the Future? #EdStetzer #DanielIm

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As a fast growing, young seminary (now ranking in the top 6% of seminaries by size) we have many things in common with church plants. We literally are a seminary plant, e.g. we created a fully-accredited (ATS) seminary from scratch. In doing so we designed our model to better integrate practice with theory, than did the seminaries we all attend.

The key is integrating what is learning in the classroom with what they are doing during the week.

Hence, the homework in my courses gives the student assignments then can apply to their local ministry each week.  Students tell me they love this approach for it allows them “to take seminary to work.”

Now, as you know I have argued that in addition to planting churches we need to be revitalizing churches too (preserving the social capital and assets of these dear communities of saints). Similarly, we also need to revitalize existing seminaries. In fact, I have spoken at many seminaries on this.

Recently a board member of my alma mater (Fuller Seminary) was co-leading a national conference with me.  He asked me, “Bob, what is the secret sauce to Wesley Seminary’s success.”  I told him, “We are unashamedly willing to integrate practice and theory into every assignment.”

Check out this excerpt on “seminaries of the future” by Daniel Im from his updated book with Ed Stetzer: Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply and ask yourself, “Is there something more I should be doing to integrate practice and theory in ministerial education?”

By Daniel Im, 4/16, the post Tomorrow’s Church Planting appeared first on Daniel Im.

… these trends were the focus of Ed Stetzer’s and my writing in the newly updated edition of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply... I want to focus on three of the major trends …

Trend #3: Residencies and Theological Education

When it comes to theological education, the pendulum has swung back-and-forth a few times over the last couple of centuries. From theological education being birthed out of the church, to it then being handed over to educational institutions, then back to the church and so-forth, we are at a time in history where the two sides are beginning to move towards an equilibrium. Seminaries are realizing that ministerial training happens best in the context of a local church, while churches are discovering that training someone theologically is completely different than training someone for practical ministry. Both seminaries and churches are looking to one another for help and for partnerships because both sides realize they cannot take on the task of theologically educating and pastorally forming an individual by themselves. The bridge that is being formed between churches and seminaries is called, “residencies.” While there are many different ways that churches and seminaries are approaching residencies, they all seem to share a common goal – to do a better job at integrating theology with praxis. Where they all differ in their model is their starting point. Let me share three out of five of them. You can learn more in the new edition of Planting Missional Churches.

Starting Point: Multiplication

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the knowledge, skills, and ability to infuse multiplication at every level of their church. They will be developed with the gradual release of responsibility model, so that their development is personal and hands on. By the end of this residency program, they will have developed a plan, not just to multiply the leaders and groups within their church, but also their church as whole.

Starting Point: Sustainable Ministry

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the five characteristics of a healthy sustainable pastor,.. They will grow in spiritual formation, self-care, emotional and cultural intelligence, marriage and family, and leadership and management.

Starting Point: Leadership

In this residency model, tomorrow’s church planter will develop the leadership skills required to successfully plant and lead a church. These leadership skills include vision casting, hiring practices, team ministry, strategic development, and conflict management…

*This was originally published in March-April 2016 issue of The Net Results magazine.  The post Tomorrow’s Church Planting appeared first on Daniel Im.

SIZE & 4 Ways to Break the Church Attendance Barrier #EdStetzer

by Ed Stetzer, Outreach Magazine, 7/12/16.

When it comes to church growth, some barriers or size plateaus prove to be difficult to overcome, churches feel stuck at a certain size…

For example, a lot of churches get stuck at 35 members. These kinds of churches are typically comprised of a family or two and some of their friends. Another barrier exists at 75 members. The church consists of a pastor, who may not be full time, and a congregation in which everybody knows each other. The 125-person barrier is one of the hardest for churches to break through because progress involves restructuring and thinking differently…

There are four shifts that must take place to ensure continued growth past the traditional attendance barriers.

1. Pro-Growth Shift

First, church members and leadership must shift their mindset from anti-growth to pro-growth. I once received some pushback from an occasional attendee at our church. During an outreach emphasis, he asked why we were wasting our time emphasizing church growth. He said we were behaving like a business and that we should be happy with the people we already had…

2. Relational Shift

…In Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations, Thom Rainer and I outline relational intentionality as one of seven elements … Because proximity to other people does not automatically lead to community with other people, the shift must move people from sitting in rows to sitting in circles. Having a 30-second meet and greet on Sunday mornings will not help visitors connect, but helping them to make friends through small groups will. A small group environment provides opportunities for authentic community and connection to the church at large.

3. Staff Shift

In order to break attendance barriers, a church must experience a staff shift. It’s not necessarily that churches need to hire more staff members—though that could be the case—but rather they must help their staff undergo mindset shifts regarding the functions and purposes of their ministries. They must intentionally spend time with two specific groups of people—leaders and the lost…

4. Ownership Shift

The fourth and final shift must take place in the lay leaders within the church. They must take responsibility for their respective ministries. They must own the goals, plans and strategies for implementing and improving their ministries.

This concept must spread to the church as a whole. Beyond merely those in a leadership position, every church member must see the church as his or her own. They should not think of it in terms of being the lead pastor’s church or the elders’ church. Every church member must take ownership and work toward the church’s growth and health…

Read more at … http://www.outreachmagazine.com/features/18394-break-the-attendance-barrier.html

THEOLOGY & The Dangerous Divide Between Theology and Practicality

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Ed Stetzer is arguably one of the best thinkers/writers on evangelism and leadership. As a friend, I have observed his commitment to the theology and practice of the Great Commission first hand. His admonition to wed theology and practice is one of the founding tenets of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. In fact, he was one of our first guest lecturers.

“An unnecessary divide between theology and methodology is unwise.”

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, Christianity Today, 6/15/16.

In many corners of the church today, there’s an unhelpful and unhealthy division between theology and practical ministry. This division is damaging to both the discipline of theology and the practice of ministry because one without the other causes an imbalance.

Part of the cause of this division is the large number of theologically-minded people who spurn practicality as pragmatism. This can be seen as an overreaction to the Church Growth Movement of the 1980s.

Such critics rigorously decried a methodological mania as devoid of theological foundation. They took aim at folks like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and John Maxwell, accusing them of having only a modicum of theology accompanied by mountains of methodology.

Unfortunately, those theologically-minded people concerned with too much practicality, strategy, and leadership, threw the baby out with the bath water. Rather than looking for the proper place of practicality, strategy, and leadership, they found no place for it.

There are theologically-minded people who are producing large bodies of literature attempting rebuff any emphasis on the practical. They are teaching a whole world of people—a whole generation of pastors—that practical ministry, leadership strategies, and coaching don’t matter. I feel like some think practicality in any degree is heretical. It’s ecclesiology that matters, they say. All that matters is theology, they say.

They are creating a division, where no necessary division exists.

Contrary to that line of thinking, you have to consider the effectiveness of your ministry as well. Effectiveness isn’t only measured by the straightness of the angles in your division of the word of truth. Resist the urge to cluck your tongue when the topic turns to statistics and best practices, even if you just want to rush straight to ecclesiology and soteriology.

Honestly, it seems in some instances the “love” for theology is an excuse for failed discipleship, failed attendance growth, or failed discipleship, failed attendance growth, or failed outreach efforts. And, of course, that’s not what they say—they say they are just being faithful. The problem is they are not working in such a way to also be fruitful.

Here’s the danger. If we raise up a generation of theologically-minded people who have no tools for applying it to practical ministry, then reproduction stops. If we become so theological to the neglect of the practical, then ministry will be hindered…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/june/dangerous-divide-between-theology-and-practicality.html

EVANGELISM & Colleague Stetzer Joins Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at #Wheaton #PerfectFit

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Below is an article about an exciting new role for my friend Ed. In this new capacity he will be spearheading a needed re-emphasis upon spiritual transformation.

It is good to see the word is getting out. I have been encouraging him for years to go into academia, because it is a strategic fit for Ed’s gifts. And, I encouraged him to take the job.  He and I will continue to work together. In fact, he recently invited me to join him as one of the first fellows of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.

Below is the press release followed by Ed’s story of what led to what I believe will be expanded ministry impact.

Dr. Ed Stetzer Named To New Billy Graham Chair and as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College (Ill.)

Ed Stetzer Wheaton College

Dr. Ed Stetzer has been appointed to a newly created chair, The Billy Graham Distinguished Endowed Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism. In this role, he has been named Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College (BGCE).

Stetzer will serve as chair of the Evangelism & Leadership Program in the Wheaton College Graduate School and as publisher of Evangelical Missions Quarterly. He will also provide vision-casting and leadership to existing BGCE initiatives, and will spearhead new initiatives that include the creation of a National Evangelism Leaders Fellowship.

“Ed Stetzer is a dynamic communicator and brilliant researcher who brings a genuine knowledge of the gospel and a deep understanding of contemporary culture to his new place of service,” says Wheaton College President Philip Ryken. “His work at Wheaton College will help raise up a new generation of passionate, generous-hearted evangelists who make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ. It will also help Wheaton build stronger networks with churches across America and around the world.”

Stetzer served most recently as Executive Director of LifeWay Research and Executive Editor of The Gospel Project and Facts & Trends Magazine. He is a prolific author and well-known conference and seminar leader. Stetzer has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; and held visiting professorships at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. During the 2015-2016 academic year, he was an Adjunct Professor of Evangelism for Wheaton College Graduate School and Senior Fellow of the BGCE.

Stetzer has also been serving as Teaching Pastor of Grace Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, a church he founded in 2011.

He is a contributing editor for Christianity Today magazine, a columnist for Outreach magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. In 2015, he became a co-host of the BreakPoint This Week radio program.

Stetzer holds a Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Beeson Divinity School.

“It is a distinct privilege to be part of the Wheaton team,” Stetzer says. “This newly created Billy Graham Chair, combined with the convening power of the Billy Graham Center, will provide us a unique opportunity to serve the Church, helping Christians know and engage their culture in the name of Christ. I look forward to being part of this family and serving the Church together.”

Stetzer’s appointment begins July 1 (2016).

The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College exists to lead the conversation on evangelism by training, resourcing, and mobilizing followers of Jesus to share their faith; networking leaders; researching best practices; engaging thought leaders; and launching strategic ministry initiatives. More information about the BGCE is available at wheaton.edu/bgce.

Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.) is a coeducational Christian liberal arts college noted for its rigorous academics, integration of faith and learning, and consistent ranking among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. For more information, visit wheaton.edu.

Read Ed’s story of what led to this ministry change here … http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/57204-why-ed-stetzer-suddenly-quit-his-job-and-resigned-his-church

LEVEL 5 & An Overview of @EdStetzer ‘s Steps to a Level 5 Church #Exponential

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/26/16.

The following in an overview of my colleague Ed Stetzer’s keynote at Exponential 16.  He sees the need for churches to visualize moving beyond reproducing to multiplying congregations.  Parallel to Jim Collins’ insights on Level 5 Leadership (which is more collaborative and visionary, see Helen Lee’s interview with Collins), Stetzer sees Level 5 churches as developing out of six practices:

  1. Remind people we evangelize because we were evangelized.
  2. Teach people how normal evangelism should be.
  3. Utilize different approaches.
  4. Celebrate and share the stories of members who have met Christ.
  5. Make sure the leaders are cheerleaders for evangelism.
  6. Teach the gospel well and consistently.

These are churches that attain 50% conversion growth.  More more details see Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im’s book Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow: Practices, Barriers, and an Ecosystem (Nashville: LifeWay, 2016).

I came to the same conclusion in “Cure for the Common Church” seeing the “4th cure” as “N.E.W.” or a “Focus on Conversion” (you can download the chapter here).  In healthy churches the average congregant knows how to share their faith and steps to salvation with their friends and acquaintances.  I suggest healthy churches yearly have a 5-week sermon series on the “Four Spiritual Laws” with a fifth Sunday for a call to commitment.

Below is how I explained this in an article for Church Revitalizer Magazine, Oct. – Nov. 2015, pp. 44-45.  Read the entire article here.

Focus 4: NEW. By this I mean cultivating an environment in your church where people’s lives are changed into new lives. There’s an excitement in a church when people expect to be changed there. Today when people need to a changed from an abusive life, addiction, depraved habits and/or self-centeredness they usually go to a psychologist, self-help group or read a self-help book. All of these are helpful tools. But I believe the most helpful and God-ordained tool is the Church. The Church is the place in a community where people should know that you go if you need to be changed. This is because there is supernatural power to change people whenever two or three are gathered in His name (Matt. 18:20).

Tool 4 to focus on NEW: Everyone learns a GOSPEL presentation. Every attendee should be equipped with a tool to share the Good News. The Four Spiritual Laws, The Four Steps to Peace with God, The Romans Road or another plan of salvation are the most important tool with which you can equip each congregant. Attendees should be trained in their youth, in their Sunday schools and during a yearly preaching series. Then they will be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, (1 Peter 3:15). A good tool to encourage this is a five-week sermon series every year, where each week focuses on one of The Four Spiritual Laws or The Four Steps to Peace with God. Then on the fifth week extend a call to meet Christ. If a yearly part of your preaching calendar, this sermon series can equip, reinforce and remind congregants how to share the wonderful opportunity and blessing of a new life in Christ.

REFUGEES & Churches Twice as Likely to Fear Refugees Than Help Them

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This summer my Doctor of Ministry students will visit churches in Atlanta working with “Friends of Refugees,” hearing from the executive director of that organization. Working with refugees is not only a biblically mandated responsibility of the Church, but also relatively easy to undertake. According to this article most churches let their lack of knowledge and/or worries prevent them from undertaking this important task.”

By Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, 3/2/16.

When it comes to helping refugees, Protestant churches and their pastors are often separated by faith and fear, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research.

Most pastors say Christians should lend a hand to refugees and foreigners, and believe caring for refugees is a privilege.

Church fear refugees

But pastors say their churches are twice as likely to fear refugees as they are to help them.

“Pastors believe Scripture tells Christians to care for refugees and foreigners,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Yet many admit their church is not involved in such ministry.”

Among other findings:

  • Almost all pastors (98 percent) believe they are at least somewhat informed about the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • Many pastors have not discussed or heard about ways to help refugees locally (72 percent) or overseas (63 percent).
  • About 1 in 10 churches (9 percent) has decided not to help refugees locally. Seven percent have decided not to help refugees overseas.
  • Pastors are twice as likely to say their churches are helping refugees overseas (19 percent) as locally (8 percent.)
  • Pastors are four times more likely to say Christians should care for refugees (86 percent) than to say their church is helping refugees overseas (19 percent).
  • Churches are most likely to help refugees by giving money to relief organizations or praying (19 percent each). Fewer churches volunteer to help refugees locally (7 percent) or sponsor individual refugees (5 percent.)

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/02/29/churches-twice-as-likely-to-fear-refugees-than-help-them/#.VtbjlEU8KJI

REVITALIZATION & Revitalizing Church Through an Outward Focus #EdStetzer

When members are personally evangelistic, churches can be revitalized

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, 2/23/16.

Church revitalization is a very real and important topic to many today because statistics indicate that the majority of churches are plateaued or declining. So, since the majority of churches are not growing, if you’re a church leader, pastor, or Christian leader reading this you’re probably in a church that needs revitalization.

Thom Rainer says:

Nine out of ten churches in North America are declining, or they are growing slower than the community in which they are located. Nine out of ten churches need revitalization.

Because of the large number of struggling churches, many people think we should focus on church planting. Others think we should look for new ways to fulfill the mission, such as in missional incarnational communities.

Both of these expressions are good and vital. But there are many churches that are simply in need of revitalization. I am a big proponent of revitalization. I have been involved in such projects as a pastor, and have researched and written about the process as well.

Why outward focus?

Various factors contribute to a transformational church. You can find some of those in the book Transformational Church. One of the things you will find in churches that are growing disciples and growing numerically is an emphasis on outward focus. It is so integral that outward focus should be a part of revitalizing a church.

When a congregation is engaging in ministry and mission it causes people to live not for themselves, but, to quote 2 Corinthians 5:15b (HCSB), “for the One who died for them and was raised,” they become again who God designed them to be. When a group of such people are gathered as God’s “called out” ones, they can revitalize a church…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/february/revitalization-part-1-outward-focus.html

STEREOTYPING & Lessons from the Video: I’m Christian, But I’m Not

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: These videos are aimed at going against stereotyping and thus have an important message.  The import seems to be that individual Christians come in all varieties.  Let’s explore this deeper.

A Leadership Exercise. 

Watch these videos (including the parody of the first video with some poignant satire, both below) and answer the following questions.

  1. Is an aversion to stereotyping somewhat of a North American trait?
    • Pew Research Center surveyed people in 44 countries and found that that individualism is more prevalent and celebrated more in North America.
    • What are your thoughts?
  2. How does the “Cultural Christian / Congregational Christian / Convictional Christian” distinction apply to these videos?
    • Ed Stetzer defines the two as, “Cultural Christians … they call themselves Christian because of heritage or culture. Congregational Christians have some connection to a local church, but rarely attend. On the other hand, convictional Christians call themselves Christians like the other two categories, but they attend church services regularly and order their lives around their faith convictions.” (No, American Christianity is not dead,” CNN, 5/16/15, retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/16/living/christianity-american-dead/)
    • What are your thoughts?
  3. Does the latter (satirical) video make some points about the first video?
    • And if so, what are they?
    • What does the world need to know today to better understand these videos?

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTUGadddOq0&feature=youtu.be

WESLEY & A Comparison of His 3 Types of Existance

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/5/15.

John Wesley noted that people generally existed in a journey through three waypoints (or stages): natural existence, legal existence and evangelical existence.  Put forth most famously in Wesley’s “The Spirit of Bondage and the Spirit of Adoption” (1746), Thomas Oden’s helpful introduction prepares the reader to understand these important waypoints in spiritual discovery.

These categories are not too dissimilar to my friend and colleague Ed Stetzer’s categories of “cultural Christians” (somewhere between Wesley’s natural-legal continuum) and “conversion Christians.”  In Stetzer’s typology, Wesley’s conversion took place at Aldersgate. But since in Wesley’s day “evangelical” did not have today’s negative media connotation (and hence perhaps Stetzer’s aversion to its use), I believe that if Wesley lived today, due to his emphasis upon conversion, he would embrace Stetzer’s designation of “conversion Christian.” Wesley certainly after his Aldersgate experience places conversion as the fulcrum upon which his methodology and theology would emerge.

Here is a screenshot of Oden’s helpful introduction to the idea:

oden-on-wesley-on-conversion

Buy the book at … https://books.google.com/books?id=8qqtss5N6cYC&pg=PA277&dq=John+wesley+natural+legal+evangelical&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipxrLx_MTJAhUF6CYKHSUsDTYQ6AEIHTAA#v=onepage&q=John%20wesley%20natural%20legal%20evangelical&f=false

Hear more about John Wesley’s conversion and his experience of the interplay of these three existences at …http://livestre.am/5fQ0e