Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. I have facilitated many mergers in my three+ decade career of coaching churches. And I’ve come to a conclusion that:
In a merger if you do not sell you church buildings & start over by building new; within five years, your total attendance drop to less than the larger of the two merging congregations.Bob Whitesel PhD
I was encouraged the other day when one of my former clients sent me this note. He said,
“I’ll close with a statement from somebody I found to be my friend when he told two merging congregations; ‘(In a merger) if you do not sell you church buildings & then build new; within five years, your total attendance will be less than todays larger congregation.’ FYI = True words. Came true ☹! Today, the Pastor’s bible study has about three people & the attendance on Sunday’s averages 15 to 20 people in a sanctuary/balcony with seating for 300!” Chuck Miller, church board member.
By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service, 1/7/21
…LA City Baptist Church is what’s known as a “replant,” an attempt to restore an older, dying congregation to health using some of the lessons gleaned from startup congregations known as church plants. Replanting often involves adding a new pastor who has been trained in how to do outreach, as well as funding and sometimes an influx of volunteers. The idea is to provide resources and new energy to an old congregation, rather than shutting the church down and starting over.
Although not widespread, church replanting is growing in popularity and the approach has been adopted by denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention, whose North American Mission Board is supporting Lee’s work to replant LA City Baptist. In 2020, NAMB helped fund 50 such replants, according to the latest data available. The agency hopes to work eventually with about 200 replants a year, said Mike Ebert, a spokesman for NAMB.
According to data from the Faith Communities Today 2020 survey, there are lots of churches in the same boat as LA City. The median worship attendance for congregations is 65, down from twice that number in 2000 — leaving many congregations wondering what their future will look like.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, 7/1/19.
Younger people today are discovering churches best grow when focused upon creating community.
So rather than trying to be as good a preacher as a famous mega-pastor, spend your time developing community and commonality within the church. Create church-wide unity building events. And create a vision that all segments of your church can embrace and get behind. Research has found (Bruno Dyck and Fredricks Stark, Administrative Science Quarterly) that pastors who held unity events that united church around a common purpose, created a “community” that was attractive rather than a program or a pastor. So work on finding that mission that everybody in the church can get behind. And, spend as much time working on it as you do your sermons.
I can’t turn around a church because I’ve never done it before.
This may be the second most common negative mindset. And, this stands to reason, because we are always intimated by what we have not yet experienced. But Paul, who had his own series of challenges, states, “And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there.” (1 Corinthians 7:17 MSG).
Today there is a growing number of good resources that can equip the pastor to turn around a church, so that prior experience, while helpful, is not mandatory.
Magazines like “Church Revitalizer” magazine and resources like Renovate Conferences offer church leaders the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by successful church turnaround leaders.
I allow each year a handful of potential turnaround coaches to shadow me and learn the turnaround coaching insights I’ve gained from doing this for 30 years and earning two doctorates on the subject (Fuller Theological Seminary). The shadowing program is called MissionalCoaches.com and dozens have graduated from this program and gone on to help turn around churches.
So while prior experience is helpful, the proliferation of good resources like this magazine and other sources means that having experience turning around a church is not a requisite to doing an effective job.
I can’t turn around a church because I don’t like the traditional way of doing things; and I want to do things in a new way.
There is nothing wrong with innovative and contemporary forms of worship and ministry. But traditional forms of worship and ministry are also valid for the people who connect through those aesthetic forms. Because you don’t like their styles doesn’t mean God doesn’t use their traditional liturgical aesthetics to connect them to God.
I learned this firsthand, growing up in a mega-church with traditional Gospel Quartet music. The Bill Gaither Trio were often guests at our church meetings. I grew up to associate their country-influenced Gospel music with my parents’ church. But that wasn’t my style. My parents loved it. And I love my parents and the Good News they instilled in me. But I yearned for a younger musical style, to which I and my friends could relate. African-American rhythm and blues and the resultant rock ‘n’ roll music resonated with me. But it also led me to see the church as culturally different from the aesthetics I enjoyed. Subsequently, I found little relevance in the church and into the world of rock ‘n’ roll I journeyed. Yet in that world, I found other young people who loved rock ‘n’ roll and also loved Jesus even more. As a result of their culturally relevant presentation of the Good News to me, I gave my life to Jesus and set upon a path of writing and leading contemporary worship.
However, because I saw the church as captive to traditional and Gospel music, I developed an unhealthy aversion for older forms of music. That was until I met a beautiful Lutheran girl, who was much more spiritual than me. Yet to her the Lutheran hymns of her church had provided a spiritual strength and wisdom during her youth. She showed me that her music was just a different style than mine, but which for her was still relevant. She gave me an appreciation and love for classical music to this day. Subsequently I became a connoisseur of Charles Wesley and his great hymns.
Our family appreciates a healthy mix of both traditional music and contemporary music. My wife’s loving example of aesthetic flexibility led me to a more holistic life and allowed me to write several books on how to have both traditional and contemporary music in the same church.
Turnaround church leaders learn how to bring unity out of diversity.
Often a dying church will have one form of music and worship aesthetic. It may be a traditional form, it could be a gospel music form, or it could even be a contemporary form. What happens is a church offers only one liturgical aesthetic. And because people have come to connect with God through that particular style, they strongly resist any changes. Change means interfering with their communication with God.
But usually another generation or demographic will emerge that has a different musical appreciation and aesthetic style. And, they will usually go to a new church down the street that offers their liturgical aesthetic. The problem is that this new church down the street usually winds up being as homogeneous as the church that was left behind. What results is that our churches tend to focus on one liturgical aesthetic. Then they rise and die with that aesthetic.
Many turnaround church pastors undertake a strategy I call “1+1 +1 = 1” (“A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church” Abingdon Press). This means allowing traditional congregants to keep their historical way of worship while adding a new worship opportunity. This can be done by hosting a 20-minute pre-glow (pre-service) with a different style of music. Or it can be accomplished by hosting a post-glow (post-service) with 20 minutes of a different style of music. Eventually this can emerge into two worship opportunities. I’ve helped churches do this even when they were small, just a couple dozen people.
The key is to move toward offering two or more liturgical expressions that can relate to both the existing church culture and the emerging culture of a neighborhood or community. Yet people often say, “You’re spitting the church part.” But you’re only allowing them to self-select the cultural expression of worship that they enjoy. And, the running of the church (e.g. its administration, mission, focus and health) should still be conducted by committees and boards made up of people from different cultures. I’ve often said, you learn more about a different culture by working on a committee with them, than by warming a pew next to them. It has been my experience as a missiologist that you gain more cultural understanding by strategizing, compromising, sharing and dialoguing in a committee setting than you do by simply sitting adjacent to them in chruch.
So though a turnaround church leader will usually prefer their own worship style, they must be careful to not inadvertently prioritize their preferences over those of others. Instead, multiple worship expressions can be valid means to connect the different cultures in a church to God. Even if you don’t enjoy their music, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it, understand it and help others connect with God through it. Subsequently, alongside a traditional worship expression you can create a second culturally distinct liturgical expression, that another generation or culture can connect with as well. Though everyone has their own preferred style of worship, a church turnaround leader will usually be the principle connector between the the different cultures God is sending to a church.
Download the entire article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel Church Revitalizer Magazine July:Aug 2019 Overcome a Negative Mindset
You will find more about Church Revitalizer Magazine and how to subscribe here: http://renovateconference.org/magazine
BIO: Bob Whitesel DMIN PhD teaches “Church Revitalization” for Fuller Theo. Seminary’s DMin, which can be audited this fall (see the ad in this issue). Bob is an award-winning author/consultant on church health and growth. He been called “the key spokesperson on change theory in the church today” by a national magazine, co-founded an accredited seminary and leads one of the nation’s most respected church health consulting/coaching firms: www.ChurchHealth.net
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: One of my recent DMin students at Fuller Seminary, Rev. Sharon Koh, shared an amazing “domino effect” video that uses OT metaphors to teach “It is not who you are, but whose you are.” Watch this intriguing video (I guarantee you won’t stop it once it starts).
Here is the link to the video: https://vimeo.com/123465875
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/8/15.
This week I’m teaching a DMin course at Fuller Seminary in Calif. I am also teaching an online course for Wesley Seminary. In both I received a similar question about how to create a “start-up plan” for a new service.
A young female Presbyterian pastor asked about reaching out to the urban poor in her church neighborhood. And the African-American Pastor asked about reaching out to Hispanics. The latter summarized stated well the question that I often receive.
Larry said, “In the past we have thought about starting an all Hispanic service once a month and bring in a Hispanic speaker to help connect us to this community.”
I think you have some good ideas about reaching out to the Hispanic community. However you may be getting the cart before the horse.
By starting with a worship service and bringing in an outside speaker, you coils be beginning an attractional model for which you don’t have any Spanish-speaking persons in the church to support.
Rather if you search on churchhealth.wiki about “person of peace” I describe a more indigenous approach.
Here Is the plan briefly:
1) You look for an emerging culture to which you can reach out.
That would be the Hispanic culture.
2) You begin looking for a “person of peace” in that culture.
This is someone similar to whim Jesus told the disciples to look for in Luke 10:1-12. This is a person of “shalom” (the Hebrew equivalent term) that is well regarded in the community and an influencer. They also are a person who builds compromise and peace among people with different viewpoints. You reach out to that person and begin to disciple them.
The Seventy Sent Out
10 Now after this the Lord appointed [a]seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. 2 And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no money belt, no [b]bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ 6 If a [c]man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in [d]that house, eating and drinking [e]what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. 8 Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet [f]be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.
3) Then when they are ready, you help The person of peace start a small group Bible study (and which you help them launch)
4) Once you have a small group (up to about eight or 10 people) you explain to them their purpose is to take a few people from the existing group and start another small group. This creates a second small group of this emerging culture.
5) Finally once you have two small groups of about 8 to 10 people each (of this new culture), you offer to them the church building in which to launch and lead their indigenous worship service. They then come together and organize the worship service themselves (under your leadership, but with their aesthetics and speakers).
This way Larry you create an indigenous and organic new worship option that is based upon:
Find an emerging culture,
Connect and discipling a person of peace,
Create a small group the person of peace leads,
Start a second small group from members of the first small group,
Then let them launch a worship service.
Speaking Hashtags: #Renovate16
by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 1/29/15, excerpted from my books with page numbers and footnotes.
Anglo (Change, 68)
Hispanic (Change, 68)
Latin American (Change, 51; Cure 34)
Hispanic American (Change, 51; Cure 34)
African American (Change, 51; Cure 34)
African American (Change, 51; Cure 34)
Native American (Change, 51; Cure 34)
Anglo American (Change, 51; Cure 34)
Generation Y (Change, 52; Cure 34)
Postmodern Generation X (Change, 63; Cure 34)
Leading Edge Generation X (Change, 53; Cure 34)
Builder (silent) generation (Change, 63,68; Cure 34)
Boomers (Change, 68; Cure 34)
Builders (Change, 52; Cure 34)
Urban/poor (Cure 34)
Working class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)
Middle class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)
Capitalist (upper) class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)
Motorcycle riders (Change, 56; Cure 34)
NASCAR Nation (Change, 56; Cure 34)
Goths (Change, 57)
Cowboy churches (Cure, 34)
Emerging postmodern churches (Cure, 34)
Café Churches (Cure, 34)
Art churches (Cure, 34)
College Churches (Cure, 34)
Ingrown and outgrown churches (Cure, 23)
General and demographic churches (Cure, 31-33)
Worship styles are varied (Change, 67)
Cure for the Common Church
Types of Cultures: Figure 2.2 pp. 34
Footnotes: Online in PDF Cure for Common Church http://www.wesleyan.org/cure
Preparing for Change Reaction
Chapter 3 (p. 49-57)
- Here and throughout the book, I will use the customary congregational size designation as codified by Gary McIntosh in One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Bringing Out the Best in Any Size Church (Grand Rapids, Mich,: Revell, 1999), 17-19.
- The 2001 census in the United Kingdom created controversy when it listed the following ethnicities. These categories are reprinted there again, not to offend, but to demonstrate the broad range of possible designations and the difficulty in creating acceptable lists. Thus, the purpose of this list is simply to acquaint the reader with the immense variety (and potential controversy) of ethnic groupings.
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; Other
- The World Factbook: CIA Edition (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books; rev. ed., 2006, CIA 2005 ed.).
- For the reader looking for a more in-depth analysis of socio-economic levels and their influence on behavior, consult David Jaffee’s books: Levels of Socioeconomic Development Theory (New York, Praeger, 1998) and Organization Theory (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001)
- Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, Studies in Social Discontinuity (Burlington, Mass.: Academic Press, 1980).
- Joseph V. Hickey and William E. Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology, 5th (Boston, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
- See Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001).
- For an extensive analysis on the distinguishing characteristics of each generation see Whitesel and Hunter, A House Divided and Gary McIntosh One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2002).
- Bob Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations ( Nashville, Abingdon, 2006), x-xii.
- Mike Yankoski, Under the Overapass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America ( Colorado Springs, Multnomah, 2005)
- Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, x-xii, xxvii-xxxiii. For a detailed look at the postmodern Xer; fresh ideas for the church, as well as the differences between modernism and postmodernism, see Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations. x-xii, xxviii-xxxiii.
- Anonymous, Thunder Roads Magazine, vol. 5, no. 2 (2007): 5.
- For more on this innovative, growing evangelical church with the unlikely name, see the chapter dedicated to the church and what every church can learn in Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, (76-87).
Does not have an explicit list of cultures (especially like the ones in Change an Cure). However, it does discuss “mosaic churches” on pp. 71-72 (footnote 39- 41 – see below) and 77-81 (footnotes 59-63, also see below).
- For more on these types of churches, see “Types of Multiracial Churches” in George Yancey’s One Body, One spirit: Principles of Successful Multiracial Churches.
- See Whitesel, “The New Network Approach”
- Bob Whitesel, “Communicating the Good News Across Cultural Divides” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008), 62-68.
60.Brian Schrag and Paul Neeley, eds., All the World Will Worship: Helps for Developing Indigenous Hymns (Duncanville, Tex.: EthnoDology Publications, 2007).
- C. Peter Wagner traces such blending through history as an “assimilationist model” that seeks “Anglo-conformity” in Our Kind of People: The Ethical Dimensions of Church Growth in America (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), 45-49.
- Such committees might include trustees, financial, staff-parish (HR), and so on.
- Sociologists, however, refer to this as the “new pluralism” or “structural pluralism.” See Milton Gordon, “Assimilation in America,” Daedalus 90, no. 2 (1961): 263-85.
64.George G. Hunter III, The Contagious Congregation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1979), 63.
- Mosaic is a term that has been applied to multiethnic churches largely due to the popularity of some megachurch models. See Erwin Raphael McManus, An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind (Colorado Springs: Group Publishing, 2001).
- The melting pot imagery can be traced to Israel Zangwill’s popular play The Melting-Pot (1908) where the protagonist cries, “Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians – into the crucible with you all! God is making the American.” Quoted in Winthrop S. Hudson, ed., Nationalism and Religion in America: Concepts of American Identity and Mission (New York: Harper and Row 1970), 127. C. Peter Wagner, who wrote his dissertation on models of assimilation and pluralism, defined new pluralism as “a model in which America is seen as a nation that maintains group diversity within national unity.” Our Kind of People, 50.
- Nathan Moynihan and Daniel Patrick Glazer, Beyond the melting Pot (Boston: MIT Press, 1984).
- Indiana University scholar Gerardo Marti has written extensively on Mosaic Church in Southern California (led by Erwin McManus) and believes that its multi-ethnicity is produced in part by “playing down” ethnic differences and uniting around evangelicalism. For more on Marti’s analysis, see A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).
- Wagner, Our Kind of People, 51.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min, Ph.D., 1/4/08. Adapted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007.
- CLICK on the following link for a short, self-scoring questionnaire to discover your 3-STRand leadership mix: https://churchhealthwiki.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/3-strand-leadership-questionnaire-c2a9bobwhitesel-fillable.pdf
- DOWNLOAD the entire chapter here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel
Typically in our churches we have (three types of 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.
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. They are the key go-betweens among the strategic and relational leaders. Tactical leaders have the requisite skills of analysis, step-by-step planning, numbercrunching, and detail management to bring a change to fruition. This is the contribution of the tactical leaders.
Relational (formerly designated Operational) 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 a 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 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 Discovering YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE mix:
1. What kind of tasks do you enjoy?
(Circle only those letters that correspond to tasks you greatly enjoy.)
a. Dreaming about the future.
b. Preparing a budget.
c. Getting to know a person you work with.
d. Graphing on paper a new plan.
e. Analyzing what when wrong with a past strategy.
f. Creating a visual map of the planning process.
g. Balancing your checkbook.
h. Sharing about your family history.
i. Reading books on new ideas.
j. Attending seminars on creativity.
k. Tackling a numerical problem.
l. Reading books on history.
m. Researching costs associated with a project.
n. Creating a survey.
o. Taking a survey.
p. Leading under 12 people on a project.
q. Recording the minutes of a meeting.
r. Loading and adjusting new software on your computer.
s. Designing ways to better communicate an idea.
t. Relaxing by sharing with friends about hobbies.
u. Relaxing by sharing with friends about what when wrong.
v. Relaxing by dreaming with friends about new ideas.
w. Working on a hobby with a few closer friends.
x. You share your personal feelings easily with others.
y. You share your new ideas easily with others.
z. You like to get a job done with a minimum of fuss.
TOTAL BELOW: For each letter you circled, put a check in the corresponding box below. You may be primarily comfortable with a leader style associated with the box that contains the most checkmarks.
Relational Leaders most likely checked boxes: C, H, P, T, W, X, Z,
Tactical Leaders: B, D, E, F, G, K, M, N, Q, R, S, U
Strategic Leaders: A, I, J, L, O, V, Y
Adapted from Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church by Bob Whitesel (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007. Download the entire chapter here >> BOOK BW EXCERPT CR Change Reaction Chpt.2 STO Leaders ©Dr.Whitesel
Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether #SalvationCenterTX #NewDirectionChurch STO STRand 3-STRand #STO 3-STRand STRand #ThinkTankOH #TTOH #3-STR #3-STRand. #TTIN
by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/23/15.
An integral part of John Wesley’s “method” was to encourage wealthy people to first-hand experience the needs of the poor. Here is his response to a wealthy woman who avoided the poor. Note the lessons (p. 782):
“I have found some of the uneducated poor who have exquisite taste and sentiment; and many, very many, of the rich who have scarcely any at all … the poorest of the poor, who, if they have not taste, have souls, which you may forward in their way to heaven. And they have (many of them) faith, and the love of God, in a larger measure than any persons I know.”
He then exhorts the rich gentlewoman:
“Creep in among these, in spite of the dirt, and a hundred disgusting circumstances, and thus put off the gentlewoman.”
Then he concludes:
“Do not confine your conversation to genteel and elegant people. I should like this well as you do: but I cannot discover a precedent of it in the life of our Lord, or any of his Apostles. My dear friend, let you and I walk as he walked.”
Wesley was a firm believer in authentically and indigenously experiencing the poor in their surroundings. He knew this would create a life-long solidarity with those in need.
1) If you are one of my students or leading a team, ask yourself (and them): when is the last time you experienced first-hand the living conditions and spiritual sensitivity of the abject poor?
2) If you have not done so in the last four weeks, then plan to do so today!
3) And make this fellowship with the poor in their environments, a part of your spiritual formation (it was for followers of Wesley’s methods, who became know as “Wesleyans”).
John Wesley, “The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M., New York: Emory and Wauch Publishers, 1831, p. 782
The full text of Wesley’s letter to Miss March, John Telford, ed., The Letters of John Wesley, A.M., 8 vols. (London: Epworth Press, 1931), 6:30-31 (retrieved from http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-letters-of-john-wesley/wesleys-letters-1776/)
Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether
To Miss March
LONDON, February 7, 1776.
I have found some of the uneducated poor who have exquisite taste and sentiment; and many, very many, of the rich who have scarcely any at all. But I do not speak of this: I want you to converse more, abundantly more, with the poorest of the people, who, if they have not taste, have souls, which you may forward in their way to heaven. And they have (many of them) faith and the love of God in a larger measure than any persons I know. Creep in among these in spite of dirt and an hundred disgusting circumstances, and thus put off the gentlewoman. Do not confine your conversation to genteel and elegant people. I should like this as well as you do; but I cannot discover a precedent for it in the life of our Lord or any of His Apostles. My dear friend, let you and I walk as He walked.
I now understand you with regard to the Perronets; but I fear in this you are too delicate. It is certain their preaching is attended with the power of God to the hearts of many; and why not to yours Is it not owing to a want of simplicity ‘Are you going to hear Mr. Wesley’ said a friend to Mr. Blackwell. ‘ No,’ he answered, ‘ I am going to hear God: I listen to Him, whoever preaches; otherwise I lose all my labor.’
‘You will only be content to convert worlds. You shall hew wood or carry brick and mortar; and when you do this in obedience to the order of Providence, it shall be more profitable to your own soul than the other.’ You may remember Mr. De Renty’s other remark: ‘ I then saw that a well-instructed Christian is never hindered by any person or thing. For whatever prevents his doing good works gives him a fresh opportunity of submitting his will to the will of God; which at that time is more pleasing to God and more profitable to his soul than anything else which he could possibly do.’
Never let your expenses exceed your income. To servants I would give full as much as others give for the same service, and not more. It is impossible to lay down any general rules, as to ‘ saving all we can’ and ‘ giving all we can.’ In this, it seems, we must needs be directed from time to time by the unction of the Holy One. Evil spirits have undoubtedly abundance of work to do in an evil world; frequently in concurrence with wicked men, and frequently without them.
Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018 #DMin
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This video was shared by one of my Wheaton College grad. students. (Don’t worry, I haven’t left Wesley Seminary at IWU. I’m often a guest professor for Wheaton College). This 4 minute video explains why having both separate and combined worship experiences is important. (For more on why both are necessary, download ‘Five Types of Multicultural Churches‘ from my book: The Healthy Church.
This video explains that asking ‘What is normal worship?’ is really the wrong question. Produced by InterVarsity’s Multiethnic Ministries this video ‘invites us into a journey of diverse worship by opening our eyes to our own worship home cooking.’
by Lighthouse: A Blog About Leadership & Management, 7/4/15.
…As your team grows, it becomes geometrically more complex to manage your team. As this image from StackOverflow below shows, every person you add to a team adds many more lines of communication, making everything harder for your team. And as a manager, you’re caught in the middle of this. As your team grows, there are more tasks to delegate and outcomes to manage, more communication issues to navigate, and more interests and motivations to consider. As those issues build up, it then becomes easy to have soft skills slip. Unfortunately, it’s exactly then, when you don’t give everyone the attention, feedback, and coaching they need, you all lose. Your team can easily slip into disorder or simply resentment for you as you break promises, forget what matters to them, and struggle under the growing stress.
The breaking point: 10-12 direct reports
We’ve had managers of all levels of experience and team size use Lighthouse to help them manage and motivate their teams and the common pattern we’ve seen is managers struggle most with more than 10-12 reports. It’s at 10-12 people that the complexity and demands become too great for even a well-trained, experienced manager. Just look at the diagram above and how a team growing from 6 to 10 people causes the lines of communication to grow from 15 to 45 (and 66 by employee #12!). But don’t take my word for it, here’s what some experts have said:
- Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, has a “2 Pizza Rule” which really translates to ~8 people, since a pizza is normally cut into 8 slices and 2 slices per person is a reasonable amount.
- Michael Lopp, author of Rands in Repose, uses the formula 7 +/- 3, which crucially takes into account how much time you could be committed to in 1 on 1s with everyone on your team.
- Tomas Tunguz, VC at RedPoint Ventures deep dives into the concept from many sources to conclude “roughly 7″ and explores how “Span of Control” and “Span of Responsibility” impact it.
The consensus appears to be that double digit team sizes are generally a sign of trouble for a manager. So what do you do? Start developing leaders on your team.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This Pew research on Religion in Public Life find found that most young people leave their childhood religion sometime before the age of 24 … and most just drift away. The most commonly cited reason is that their “needs were not being met” or “likes and dislikes about practices and people” in the previous religious experience. This may indicate lack of need-meeting and/or cultural relevance leads to the majority of people who drift away. And, they do so in their youth and because of a lack of need-meeting and/or relevance in their childhood religious institutions.
by Pew Research, 4/27/09.
Americans change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives. Most people who change their religion leave their childhood faith before age 24, and many of those who change religion do so more than once. These are among the key findings of a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. The survey documents the fluidity of religious affiliation in the U.S. and describes in detail the patterns and reasons for change. Read the full report: Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S. (April 27, 2009)…
One of the most striking findings from the 2007 Landscape Survey was the large number of people who have left their childhood faith. The 2007 survey found that more than one-in-four American adults (28%) have changed their religious affiliation from that in which they were raised…
Combined with the 44% of the public that currently espouses a religion different than their childhood faith, this means that roughly half of the U.S. adult population has changed religion at some point in their life.3…
The survey finds that religious change begins early in life. Most of those who decided to leave their childhood faith say they did so before reaching age 24, and a large majority say they joined their current religion before reaching age 36. Very few report changing religions after reaching age 50…
The faith of most people who have changed religions was on the wane in the year or two prior to leaving their childhood religion, with few saying they had very strong faith during this time…
For instance, the most common reason for leaving Catholicism cited by former Catholics who have become Protestant is that their spiritual needs were not being met (71%). A similar number of former Catholics who have become Protestant say they left their former religion because they found another faith they liked more; nearly six-in-ten of those who changed denominational families within Protestantism also say this…
By contrast, those who have changed denominational families within Protestantism are much less likely to cite beliefs as the main reason for leaving their former religious group; the same is true for those who have become affiliated with a religion after having been raised unaffiliated. Instead, those changing within Protestantism tend to cite likes and dislikes about religious institutions, practices and people (32%) as the main reason for leaving their former faith. Life cycle changes also figure prominently for this group, with nearly three-in-ten mentioning marriage, family or other changes in their life as reasons for their departure from their childhood faith…
by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., Church Executive Magazine, March 2010, pp. 21-22.
(Download the original article here: ARTICLE_Four Forces-Whitesel (Church Executive Article)
As a writer and professor of church management and growth, I have found that managing change is a daunting task for church leaders. Regrettably, in most seminaries, managing change is not taught. I thus began to plumb the depths of the mysterious workings of change in churches, and surprisingly I discovered that the process is not so mysterious nor unexamined.
A primary culprit for the failure of church change is because there are more forces pushing for change than church leaders usually recognize. As a result most church change strategies are to narrow, because leaders usually address only one or two of the up to four forces that may be present.
Where did the Four Force Model come from?
Andrew Van de Ven and Marshall Poole are management researchers that have compiled an exhaustive study of organizational change (Poole and Van de Ven 2004). Based upon an analysis of hundreds of articles in prestigious management magazines and journals, they discovered that change theories revolve four forces that push or generate change (Poole and Van de Ven 1995).
These change forces are sometimes called “four basic motors of change” because they push an organization into change (Poole and Van de Ven 2004:6). Sometimes only one force is pushing for change, but often two, three or four forces combine to simultaneously push an organization through change. While Van de Ven and Poole noted the effect of the four forces upon theories of change, I have observed in my practice that these forces also give us clues to the tools that are necessary to help a church change.
Why are the four forces of change important?
If an organization, such as a church, is only addressing one or two forces pushing for change (the usual church strategy) and more forces are pushing for change (up to four), I believe that the change will be unsatisfying and incomplete. If not all of the forces pushing for change are addressed congregants can feel the change did not go far enough or address their concerns. Thus, church change is often inadvertently too narrow and rejected by congregants who feel there are other forces pushing for change. In my consulting practice, I have found that successful change strategies first discover how many forces are pushing your church toward change, and then use the appropriate tools to control each force that is present.
What are the four forces of change?
|If we are to bring about healthy and unifying church change then all the forces pushing for change must be addressed. – Bob Whitesel|
Van de Ven and Poole assigned technical names to these forces, which I have simplified for retention. I will first briefly describe each change force and then follow with examples of tools to control each.
Life Cycle Forces defined.
Life cycle forces are motors pushing for change because an organization is at a crisis point in its life cycle. This could be a church that has an aging congregation or a facility with a different ethnicity moving into the neighborhood. Churches that feel this force are often older congregants who are concerned that the church is not adequately reaching out to other cultures or generations. If a change strategy does not address their concerns about the longevity of the organization, they will not support the change for it does not address the force they feel pushing most robustly upon them.
Life Cycle Forces tools.
Tools to address life cycle forces usually involve crafting long-term plans for growth. This often begins with the “visioning” process. Subsequent tools include starting new services or ministries to reach new generations or cultures. This may require hiring staff from this new culture to help the church make the transformation into a new cultural life-cycle. Many church growth strategies address such life cycle forces.
Goal-oriented Forces defined.
Goal-orientated forces are powers that push for change because a goal has been created for the organization. This may be an attendance goal imposed upon the congregation by a denomination and/or the church leadership. BHAGS are management gurus Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ way of fostering change with “Big Harry Audacious Goals” (Collins and Porras 2004). Such goals often motivate leaders who see the bigger picture better than they see the mechanics of getting there. And, these forces may be generated by a personal vision or a biblical mandate (such as the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19). Goal-orientated forces are often associated with churches that are struggling to survive, mega churches or newly planted churches. While this force is often felt most acutely by top-level leadership, attendees often have trouble appreciating this force. This is because for many attendees there are other forces (such as life-cycle forces described above or dialectic forces below) that are more powerful.
Goal-oriented Forces tools.
Tools to address goal-orientated forces usually revolve around measurement and research. Donald McGavran, the father of the Church Growth Movement, said there is a “universal fog” in our churches that masks our appreciation for measurement (McGavran 1970). He also pointed out that there is no such reticence in the Bible. Thus, evaluation becomes an important tool for measuring goal-orientated progress and/or when a goal needs to be revamped. Though reaching goals is an important force pushing for change in churches, it is not the only force present. If leadership tries to motivate an entire congregation by goals alone, many congregants who are feeling the push of other change forces will deem the change insufficient and/or inauthentic.
Conflict-oriented Forces defined.
Conflict-orientated forces push a church toward change because there are opposing viewpoints in the congregation. Often this occurs when new concepts are introduced and they appear to conflict with previously held ideas. Needless to say many churches suffer from this. While churches comprehend that this is a widespread problem, my experience is that conflict resolution is poorly addressed in many congregations. My Ph.D. research revealed that conflict-resolution is even a weak area in church leadership writings. This omission may be because congregants feel that the church should be a peaceful place, and thus they often avoid conflict. But conflict is a powerful motor for those that feel conflicted or at odds with other attendees, and thus it too must be addressed.
Conflict-oriented Forces tools.
Tools to address conflict will be found in books and programs that foster conflict resolution. Compromise is the goal of these resources, but first each side must understand the other before they can find middle ground. Research has also shown that it is critical that church leaders go slow when introducing change until widespread clarity and some compromise has been accomplished (Starke and Dyck 1996; Dyck and Starke 1999). I have written an entire book on the six-steps of church compromise and how going too fast with new ideas usually dooms creative ideas (Whitesel 2003).
Trend-orientated Forces defined.
|The reader must remember that most change is being pushed along by multiple motors at the same time, and thus an effective change strategy must be a collage of the tools listed. – Bob Whitesel|
A final force often concurrently pushing for change is the trend-orientated force. This is a motor that drives change because some congregants want change because a new “trend” has evolved and appears to be working in other churches. Change proponents often push enthusiastically and unrelentingly for popular new ideas to be implemented. Often they do so without addressing the change forces pushing upon others (such as life-cycle or conflict-orientated forces). Thus, trend-orientated leaders are seen as dividing the congregation and/or not sensitive to the church’s unity and health.
Trend-orientated Forces tools.
The primary tools used to handle trend-orientated forces is to help all factions see that a popular program or strategy will only fix part of the problem, and that a successful approach must address all forces pushing for change.
Fashionable programs are usually beneficial, but are perceived by life-cycle and conflict-oriented leaders as incomplete or inauthentic. Another tool is to examine the trend carefully and adapt it to the local situation. Thus, leaders must slowly foster compromise, show how their strategy addresses the church life-cycle as well as demonstrates how a strategy can be measurable.
A collage of tools to address your four forces
There are three steps in holistic change. Step one is to determine which forces are pushing for change in your church. This inaugural steps means studying the above definitions with your leaders, reading appropriate books (see the endnotes) and using round-table discussions to create a list of the change forces evident in your church.
The second step is to list the change
Determine which of the four forces are pushing for change in your church.
List the change forces by their relative strength.
Create a collage of tools (from the lists in this article) to control all of the four forces pushing for change.
forces by their relative strength. Some forces will be pushing more forcefully, while others may be present but diminutive. The ranking is subjective, and thus it is important to get as many segments of the church involved as possible. Remember, some congregants may be ostracized or excluded from the leadership process, and yet they may be feeling the push of other forces. Thus, bring as many segments of the church as possible into this listing to ensure all forces pushing for change are identified and ranked.
Finally in step 3 create a collage of tools from the above lists to control change. Organization theorist Mary Jo Hatch believes most effective theories are “collages” or a patchwork of tactics (Hatch 1997). This is required because each local church is unique and the most effective strategies will be those adapted to all the forces present on the local level.
The future of changing churches: four force models.
Many books today are focused on encouraging church change. But few actually address how to do it. Yet, in my consulting practice I have noticed that it is not a desire to change that is missing, buy that most church leaders just don’t know “how” to create positive change. Understanding that there are often four forces pushing for change simultaneously, discovering the relative strength of each, and then combining tools to create a collage tactic are the first steps toward long-term and effective church change.
(The above was reprinted with permission from Church Executive Magazine. Download the original article here: ARTICLE_Four Forces-Whitesel (Church Executive Article)
Collins, Jim, and Jerry I. Porras. 2004. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York, NY: Collins Business.
Dyck, Bruno, and Frederick A. Starke. 1999. The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model. Administrative Science Quarterly 44:792-822.
Hatch, Mary Jo. 1997. Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McGavran, Donald A. 1970. Understanding Church Growth. rev. ed., 1980 ed. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Poole, Marshall Scott, and Andrew H. Van de Ven. 1995. Explaining Development and Change in Organizations. Academy of Management Review (20):510-540.
———, eds. 2004. Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Starke, Frederick A., and Bruno Dyck. 1996. Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits. Review of Religious Research 38:159-174.
Whitesel, Bob. 2003. Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change (And What You Can Do About It). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
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).
Dr. Whitesel, I have seen that a sub-congregation in seed form already resides in nearly every U.S. nursing home – all 16,100 of them (CDC, 2013). Yes! Yes! Yes! Most churches should use nursing homes as a venue.
Nursing homes are prime locations for planting sub-congregations, especially low-income skilled nursing facilities financed primarily through Medicaid. These are going to be the most common type, to be certain, because of the anticipated tripling of the U.S. elderly population, and quadrupling of the population over age 90 we can expect over the next 25 years (He & Muenchrath, 2011). They are good places for “good deeds” but “good deeds” through occasional, intermittent entry into the facility are simply not enough to build relationships. One of the charges the Bishop made when I was ordained was to the priesthood was to gather the scattered sheep of Christ Jesus in the midst of this sinful world. I have been compelled by the Holy Spirit to search for them at a nursing home. We found out over the years that the deliberate presence of people in the lives of people living in nursing homes is of paramount importance (after prayer).
I can say with confidence that I am an expert in this particular type of ministry – and I have seen many churches come and go, flashes in the pan, providing worship services for a time, but eventually leaving. I think the reason could be that the leaders do not fully understand that the most important aspect of nursing home ministry is faithful presence through the whole process of arrival, orientation to the new culture, learning there is hope for the future and that life has not ended, and being invited to be part of the lives of fellow residents and the local expression of the Body of Christ in the place. A sacramental approach to life, including Holy Communion, is helpful. Clergy who rely upon oration alone are often frustrated because about half of the residents have dementia and are therefore unable to comprehend phrases longer than five words, let alone a whole sermon. I have seen pastors try to minister but leave because nobody complimented their sermons. Nursing homes need a different ministry emphasis, but any church can do this (Shamy, 2003).
A culture has to be established – the local Christians must unite, cross denominational lines, and impact the lives of others through loving God, one another, and their neighbors in the small world in which they live. This sort of ministry cannot be done well with merely having an occasional worship service. Those are not bad, but they are not what is really needed. It takes years to gain the trust of the management, the staff, and the residents. Most American churches are not willing to sacrifice for several years because it is not in our instant access cultural mindset to be faithful for long periods of time to build relationships in the community. The payoff is huge, though, if we are faithful for longer periods of time. I can go into the facility and go anywhere I desire, any time I want without any sort of escort, and anybody I endorse in that place is immediately given the same privileges because the management knows I have gone through the effort of checking peoples’ backgrounds, and I have vetted them carefully before endorsing their presence. This is because there is trust. Trust is like the oxygen in a relationship. Once a church has trust in a venue, that church is very effective. I know that more than half of the people who come into the facility we serve will either rededicate his or her life to Christ after as many as 70 years of estrangement, or seek to be baptized. I have seen it happen hundreds of times, even in a facility with an average total population of only 81.
The answer to your question is YES!! (I apologize for yelling, but I cannot stress this enough). Yes sub-congregations can be developed. I have seen it. We have done it…Well, God did it and let us help. Every church should adopt at least one nursing home, making it a venue. I would give anything, anything to help large churches adopt several! A nursing home is a prime venue for the Church of the 21st century if we can but see reality. I am not exaggerating – before the end of this Century there will be more than 400 Million people who live in nursing homes (Vincent & Velkoff, 2010). The Church is largely absent today. Nursing homes want the support of churches and they will welcome us if we will but be faithful.
Yes, Dr. Whitesel, nursing homes should be a venue for most churches.
If anyone wants help doing this, we will give it. We will support such endeavors with everything we have! In all truth, my ministry exists to help the Church do this!
Thank you for your question, Dr. Whitesel.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013). State of aging and health in America. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/features/agingandhealth/state_of_aging_and_health_in_america_2013.pdf
He, W., & Muenchrath, M. N. (November 2011). 90+ in the United States: 2006-2008 American community survey reports. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Shamy, E. (2003). A guide to the spiritual dimension of care for people with Alzheimer ’s disease and related dementia: More than body, brain and breath. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Vincent, G., & Velkoff, V. (May, 2010). The next four decades: The older population in the United States: 2010 to 2050. U.S. Census Bureau, Administration on Aging. Retrieved from http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/(S(2ch3qw55k1qylo45dbihar2u))/Aging_Statistics/future_growth/DOCS/p25-1138.pdf
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
by John Kotter, Harvard Business Review, 1/10/07.
8 Steps to Transforming Your Organization
1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency. Examining market and competitive realitiesIdentifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities.
2. Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition. Assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effortEncouraging the group to work together as a team.
3. Creating a Vision. Creating a vision to help direct the change effortDeveloping strategies for achieving that vision.
4. Communicating the Vision. Using every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies. Teaching new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition.
5. Empowering Others to Act on the Vision. Getting rid of obstacles to change. Changing systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision. Encouraging risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.
6. Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins. Planning for visible performance improvements. Creating those improvements. Recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements.
7. Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision. Hiring, promoting, and developing employees who can implement the vision. Reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.
8. Institutionalizing New Approaches. Articulating the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success. Developing the means to ensure leadership development and succession.
by Bob Whitesel, Ph.D., 11/13/14
Adding a new worship encounter has its caveats. After helping churches for 20+ years add new worship services, below is my “short list” that I use to help clients see the basic “7-steps” of launching a new worship encounter.
(Note: I distinguish between “launching a new service” and “starting a new worship service.” Starting a worship service first begins indigenously with creating small groups among an emerging culture. See my other post on “Five steps to starting a new service” for information on starting a new service But once you’ve decided to start one, then this post will tell you how to “launch” it.)
First, you must launch with two important goals:
GOAL 1: The first goal is the Great Commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Thus, getting new attendees into small groups where they can grow along with others is the major objective. This is even more important than adding a new service. So, if you can’t undertake a new service, than at least add more small discipleship groups.
GOAL 2: The second goal of a new worship service is to create a culturally relevant worship encounter. It is not a performance, nor a time to create mini-celebrities. It is a time to foster an encounter with God.
Everything should revolve around these two goals. If it does, then go onto this short list of things you must do to create a new worship encounter for an existing church.
Here are the key principles for starting a new service:
1. The people who design a new worship encounter should demonstrate that they are missionaries to that culture, or that they are from the culture you are reaching out to.
2. Ensure you can financially sustain a new service for 18 months, before you launch it.
3. Make sure you have duplicate leadership too (start training them now, telling them that soon we will launch a new service and they will lead it).
4. Pick a venue that will be at around 35% full with your projected attendance.
5. Start small groups (Sunday Schools, Life Groups, etc.) of the culture you are reaching out to, three months before you launch your worship encounters. Ensure that these small groups are between 5 and 8 people (i.e. they have room to grow) and that they know they are the new discipleship venues for new people who attend the worship encounter.
6. Keep the worship encounters to 50 minutes total (with 15-20 minutes between other worship services) if you can 😉
7. Also, make sure your overall attendance is at least 100 before you start a new service.
• Then ask 50 people to agree to come to the new service for one year (make a covenant to do this, usually written 🙂
• At the end of that time, they must either recruit someone to take their place, or re-up for another year. The idea is to create the minimum number of attendees necessary for worship to break out in a larger gathering: usually 35+ people.
• Thus, with 50 committed, you will usually have 35 in attendance and your new service can grow.
If you follow these principles, you can avoid what these video portray, i.e. the temptation to succumb to a largely attractional tactic (ugh!):
By National Public Radio, 6/5/11
Most of Dunbar’s research … is based on the idea that human beings can hold only about 150 meaningful relationships in their heads. Dunbar has researched the idea so deeply, the number 150 has been dubbed “Dunbar’s Number.”
Ironically, the term was coined on Facebook, where 150 friends may seem like precious few.
“There was a discussion by people saying ‘I’ve got too many friends — I don’t know who half these people are,'” Dunbar says. “Somebody apparently said, ‘Look, there’s this guy in England who says you can’t have more than 150.'”
Dunbar has found 150 to be the sweet spot for hunter-gatherer societies all over the world. From the Bushmen of Southern Africa to Native American tribes, a typical community is about 150 people. Amish and Hutterite communities — even most military companies around the world — seem to follow the same rule.
The reason 150 is the optimal number for a community comes from our primate ancestors, Dunbar says. In smaller groups, primates could work together to solve problems and evade predators. Today, 150 seems to be the number at which our brains just max out on memory…
…Dunbar says there are some neurological mechanisms in place to help us cope with the ever-growing amount of social connections life seems to require. Humans have the ability, for example, to facially recognize about 1,500 people. Now that would be an impressive number of Facebook friends.
Yet the problem with such a large number of “friends,” Dunbar says, is that “relationships involved across very big units then become very casual — and don’t have that deep meaning and sense of obligation and reciprocity that you have with your close friends.”
One solution to that problem, he adds, can be seen in the modern military. Even as they create “supergroups” — battalions, regiments, divisions — most militaries are nonetheless able to maintain the sense of community felt at the 150-person company level.
“The answer has to come out of that,” Dunbar says, “trying to create a greater sense of community.
“In a way, Americans are lucky in that respect,” he adds. “There’s this long tradition of commitment to ideals that binds Americans together. That isn’t always true elsewhere.”
While modern society does make it hard to hang on to friends who aren’t geographically close, Dunbar says, his research shows family is different.
“Friends, if you don’t see them, will gradually cease to be interested in you,” he says. “Family relationships seem to be very stable. No matter how far away you go, they love you when you come back.”
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