Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Having coached many, many church plants, I’ve discovered their mistakes were often made due to a lack of basic business and management skills. This list of business books will provide the business foundation that ministry entrepreneurs need. Business News Daily put together this list of 40 books after asking management professionals what every entrepreneur should read. You will find many of these are recommended readings for my Doctor of Ministry cohorts.”
by Bob Whitesel, 5/19/15.
A student once shared how he felt offended by the cold shoulder he received from pastors of nearby churches of the same denomination, when he went to raise money for a church plant. He said, “When I visited with local church pastors to introduce myself and share my vision, almost immediately I sensed these pastor’s turn their focus on (their)self by their behaviors (the cold shoulder kind of treatment)…We heard statements like, ‘If they invested that kind of money in our established churches we would be growing too’.”
I responded with the following:
Let me explain what I see from the other side of the fence 🙂 And, please hear me on this, I do not feel this is often the fault of these pastors. They are laboring for years in the field, and they need help. Then the denomination plants a church of the same denomination nearby. This can overnight, decimate the older church’s long hard work. That is what they fear. They fear the sense of abandonment they see in the eyes of dear long-suffering and long-working saints, who are now eclipsed by a denomination that gives up on them.
I have worked with hundreds of these aging congregations, and many, many have life in them. They just need the right leader to revise them. One of my friends took a dying church in Tipp City Ohio with 40 people and grew it to a mega-church.
So, I do not doubt they have said these hurting things to you and others. But, I don’t feel the problem is them … but the problem is our strategy. In the business world we would never start a competing organization when we already have a product in that market that is on life-support. It takes more money (and work) to start a new product line (or church plant) that to revitalize an aging one (aging churches have experienced leaders, assets, facilities, social capital, etc.).
But, granted planting a church is faster, for you don’t have baggage to deal with. But in the process we jettison many senior saints who have labored for years in the field, robbing them of some steadfastness in their latter years.
I know you are a sharp student, and a gifted leader. And, I ask you to look beyond those who have hurt you to those senior saints in these congregations that are finding their churches undercut and left behind. They have great resident power, if only we will work with them too.
Now, I’m not suggesting we don’t do external plants. I think we should! But, we also must do internal plants. Both are needed for healthy ministry. Resentment only comes when one receives emphasis more than the other.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “While probably not the originator of the phrase “find a need and fill it,” this was the principle that built The Chrystal Cathedral (formerly Garden Grove Community Church) in its early stages before other (and less organic) building and media emphasizes became the foci. In his book, “Your Church Has A Fantastic Future” (1986) Robert Schuller tells of planting a church in Southern California on the principle of: “find a need and fill it.” This attention to “need-meeting of non-churchgoers” grew the church. One day their usual rented space was no longer available to them and they had to temporary use a outdoor movie theatre. The media soon latched on to this emerging church seeming to play to the California image of automotive worship. Though fame and notoriety ensued, this interview with Robert Schuller shows he still credits “find a need and fill it” as the reason for the church’s growth (not the attractional lure that most people associate with it). Read this interview to learn more.
Dr. Robert Schuller: A Legacy of ‘Power’
By Cheryl Wilcox and Michael Little
The 700 Club
CBN.com – He is known all over the world as a possibility thinker. Robert Schuller was ordained in 1950 by the Reformed Church of America. In 1955 he headed west at the urging of his pastor and mentor Norman Vincent Peale. Schuller set his sights on California.
He preached his first Sunday service to 100 people all sitting in their cars. With only $500 to begin his ministry, Schuller rented out the Orange Drive-in Theater to have Sunday services. The location was affordable, available, and unconventional. It was perfect – church at a drive-in under the canopy of the California sun. Heaven smiled on their inauspicious beginning.
Fifty years later the sun is still shining on the believers worshipping at the Crystal Cathedral. The future holds great promise as the ministry team of Schuller and Schuller, father and son, work towards an eventual leadership transition.
Michael Little (CBN President): What is the key to your success?
Robert Schuller, Sr.: Anybody who succeeds is helping people. The secret to success is find a need and fill it; find a hurt and heal it; find a problem and solve it.
Little: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in 50 years?
Schuller, Sr.: The hardest lesson is to continue to stay focused on the emotional needs of the non-believers…
Little: You’ve been the friend of many presidents of the United States along with heads of corporations? Has power been a temptation?
Schuller, Sr.: Oh no. Only if I need it to achieve my goal. Keep your eye on your goal and if you’re a Christian, as I am, then for God’s sake — literally, not profanely — you ask, ‘What is my calling?’ And then ‘What am I to do? What do I have to do?’ I want to build friendships. I want to come across as being a good illustration of what Jesus is like…
You can read more of this interview here by clicking: http://www.cbn.com/700club/Guests/Interviews/Robert_Schuller050505.aspx
by Bob Whitesel, 3/10/15.
The following are notes gleaned from my consultative work, where I have found avoidance of conflict to be one of the main struggles among pastors of churches that are stalled in growth in the medium and large size ranges. Interviewing staff, key volunteers and board members I have noticed the following five (5) results often emerge when leaders avoid conflict.
Outcomes when senior leadership avoids conflict:
1.) Conflict avoidance often leads to burnout in the leader. This is because the repression of stress creates internal turmoil in the leader which does not get resolved. It usually simmers under the surface until an alarm event (Whitesel, 2002, p. 94ff) pushes it to the front. The leader has repressed it so long the leader will often overact and congregants/staff will wonder why the leader is so upset. The level of irritation is often so great that sides will be formed (Whitesel, 2002, p. 109ff).
2.) Conflict avoidance often leads to a great deal of external church planting (you will see shortly that because conflict avoidance is the rationale, these plants aren’t often given a healthy start). The senior leader avoids conflict for so long, that staff who are in conflict with him/her wind up leaving the church to plant another church. The planting of the church is actually a conflict avoidance behavior by the senior leader and planter, for in the name of multiplication this tactic distances discordant and innovative ideas from the mother church. The result is that churches become mono-cultural congregations, while at the same time feeling self-satisfied that they are planting churches (Whitesel, 2011, p. 61ff). But, often the plant becomes mono-cultural too because the avoidance of conflict is a behavior the planted pastor has seen modeled for her/him and often adopts as a coping mechanism as well (Whitesel, 2007).
3) Conflict avoidance often creates an uncomfortable staff relationship with the senior shepherd, because they don’t know how or when to address conflict. Often the senior leader will cancel or postpone meetings with staff, if the leader perceives it might involve conflict. Inside the leader may be thinking, “If I cancel this meeting the conflict will get resolved after the person has had time to think about it.” As a result, the staff will feel at the best disregarded and as the worst detached. The result is turnover among staff who are innovators and entrepreneurs.
4) Conflict avoidance results in the staff who remain in the conflict avoidance environment are often those who are accommodators, usually with a high degree of tactical or operational leadership style. The strategic leaders, who are usually those that help churches grow and help the church diversify by reaching out to varying cultures, will go elsewhere. The result is that churches have only a few strategic thinkers, are more mono-cultural and are not able to diversify by reaching multiple cultures at the same time.
5) Finally conflict avoidance often leads to a less innovative and cohesive personality for the organization. Outsiders get the impression that change proponents leave that church and entrepreneurs are stifled there.
But, in most of the circumstances above the senior leader is well liked. In my case study research, the more a leader is liked, the more apt that leader is to be a conflict-avoider. Subsequently, they may be popular among other leaders and asked to share their insights into church growth. Most of that insight will have to do with planting churches. But, if you talk to the pastors of many of those plants, as I have, you will find that they feel leaving the mother church was the best way to avoid an awkward situation where conflict was avoided.
> His/her avoidance of conflict creates an “uncomfortable” and “awkward” feeling among the staff when they are in conflict with the leader’s ideas.
> So, because the senior shepherd is well liked, the creative person will usually try to graciously distance themselves by going elsewhere.
> And, a new plant is launched – but with a wrong motivation and the wrong coping-mechanisms for handing conflict.
Thus, we can see from such case studies, that conflict avoidance can lead to a proliferation of small/weak daughter churches, less diverse mother churches and less satisfied work environments.
FOR FURTHER READING:
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel,: “Soong-Chan Rah is a friend and colleague, who has important advice for church planters. Citing Walter Brueggemann, he points out that churches which sponsor planting often operate under the context of ‘celebration (those who already have good things)’ as opposed to those in urban areas who who ‘have little and operate under a context of suffering.’ To demonstrate ways to offset cultural myopia I describe a new model in my book The Healthy Church” called ‘The Multicultural Alliance Church’.”
By Richmond Williams, 07/13/11
Soong-Chan Rah challenged a General Assembly audience to break free from stagnation and captivity and recognize the “changing face of Christianity” in Tuesday’s “Be The Change” lecture at the General Assembly.
Rah, a professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, pointed to dramatic demographic shifts and changes in American culture over the past 50 years to demonstrate that diversity is no longer a matter of choice. In 1950, Rah said, the “typical face of a Christian” was a white male from an affluent metropolitan suburb, but today’s Christian is likely to be a peasant in Nigeria, a teenager in Mexico City or a woman in South Korea.
Rah cited statistics illustrating a change from 1900, when more than 80% of Christians in the world were in Europe and North America, to a projected 29% on those same continents in 2050. America has seen similar shifts, Rah said, since the 1965 passage of the Immigration Reform Act. These trends are accelerated in the church, marking “one of the first times church is ahead of society.”
Christianity has an advantage over other large religions like Islam, he said, because of its adaptability to new cultural contexts, including language translations of sacred texts.
At the same time, mainline Christian denominations that are historically European and predominately white – such as the Lutheran and Episcopal traditions — are the ones facing sharp declines. Baptists and Pentecostals, by contrast, have been able to ride waves of the new multi-ethnic reality.
Energized, Rah painted a picture of a church at a crossroads – one that faces the “danger of becoming imprisoned by white Western culture, which has been more influential than the Bible itself,” citing historical individualism, materialism and racism.
Outlining Walter Brueggemann’s work, Rah contrasted those who operate under a context of celebration (typically those who already have good things) as opposed to those who have little and operate under a context of suffering.
Congregations who celebrate tend to focus on stewardship and being thankful to God, Rah said. They also prefer the status quo and think heaven is “more of the good things they already have.” Those who operate under the lens of suffering talk about survival and injustice, and hope heaven will be the opposite of their lives on earth.
Rather than operating under one of these distinct contexts, Rah went on, the church should find a way to learn from each context. He warned against exceptionalism and tokenism, which does not allow room to learn from those operating under the context of suffering.
“If you give someone a seat at the table and then expect them to act white,” Rah said, “that’s tokenism. If you give me a seat at the table, you’d better be ready to change your ways. Can you learn as much from me as I’ve had to learn from you?”
In closing, he challenged all Disciples to find at least one non-white mentor by the end of 2011, even if they started with just a book by a non-white author.
“If you are a missionary preparing to go overseas and you’ve never had a non-white mentor,” Rah said, “you are not a missionary, you are a colonialist.”
Urban Church P̶l̶a̶n̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ Plantations by Christen Cleveland.
If you are preparing to do [urban ministry] and you’ve never had a non-white mentor, you are not an [urban minister], you are a colonialist. – adapted from Soong-chan Rah[i]
Last week I had the honor of meeting with a group of urban pastors who’ve devoted their lives to serving Buffalo, NY. While discussing the challenges they encountered while doing urban ministry in a predominantly non-white, socio-economically oppressed[ii] city, the black, Hispanic and Asian pastors with whom I met raised a familiar issue, one that I’ve heard and witnessed all over the country. Same story, different city.
Buffalo, like many other urban centers, has faced a shrinking population and declining business interest for decades[iii].
But things rapidly changed in December 2013, when NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan in which he pledged to invest $1 billion in Buffalo, with the goal of transforming the beleaguered city into a high-tech center. Not surprisingly, suburban folks who’ve long abandoned the city are suddenly eager to return and participate in (cash in on?) the urban renaissance.
This doesn’t surprise me one bit. This is how capitalism works in the U.S. empire.
WHEN THE CHURCH WORKS LIKE THE EMPIRE
The urban pastors reported that, in the wake of Governor Cuomo’s announcement, many predominantly white, wealthy suburban churches in the area have expressed renewed interest in Buffalo’s urban center. But rather than connecting with the urban pastors who have been doing ministry among the oppressed in Buffalo for years, and looking for ways to support the indigenous leaders who are already in place, they have simply begun making plans to expand their suburban ministry empires into the urban center. In other words, they’re venturing out into the world of urban church planting…
by Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D.
Published by The Great Commission Research Journal (La Mirada, Calif: Talbot School of Theology, Biola University), vol. 6, issue 1, 2014, pp. 22-35.
This article puts forth a comprehensive and reconciliation-based paradigm through which to view multicultural congregations as one of five models or types. It updates the historical categories of Sanchez, adds contemporary models and then evaluates each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation. The five models are: 1) the asset sharing Multicultural Alliance, 2) the collaborative Multicultural Partnership, 3) the asymmetrical Mother-Daughter model, 4) the popular Blended approach and 5) the Cultural Assimilation model. The result is a comprehensive five-model paradigm that includes an assessment of each model’s potential for spiritual and intercultural reconciliation.
This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of different multicultural church models. Daniel Sanchez offered some of the earliest depictions of such models, but 35 years later they beg to be updated. And despite the proliferation of books on the topic, no significant updating or additions to Sanchez’s categories have been offered other than the Sider et. al. partnership model.
In addition, there is a vibrant discussion today regarding how John Perkins’ intercultural goals of redistribution, relocation and reconciliation are being addressed by churches. Therefore, it can be helpful to assess how well different models of multicultural congregations are addressing each of Perkins’ intercultural reconciliation goals.
The following five models of multicultural congregations suggest a new and contemporized paradigm. I will analyze each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation…
Download the full article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – GCRJ-Published Multicultural MODELS
 Though the term multiethnic church is often used today, I will use the broader term multicultural, since culture is a more accurate way to describe people who share similar behaviors, ideas, fashion, literature, music, etc. [c.f. Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1976), p. 25]. 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. Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture will be utilized in this article.
 Daniel Sanchez, “Viable Models for Churches in Communities Experiencing Ethnic Transition.” (paper, Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1976).
 Ronald J. Sider, John M. Perkins, Wayne L. Gordon, and F. Albert Tizon, Linking Arms, Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008).
 John M. Perkins, A Quiet Revolution: The Christian Response to Human Need, a Strategy for Today (Pasadena, CA: Urban Family Publications, 1976), p. 220.
This article is excerpted and reedited from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013).