MULTIPLICATION & Instead of planting an independent new church, what about planting a new venue instead? Pros & cons considered.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/19/17.

A student once asked, “I am picturing a situation where a large church wants to plant an (independent) daughter church because they have a growing sub-congregation in the church that is mostly Hispanic, or Gen Y.  Is that a better way to help them, by launching them as an independent church plant?  Or can we help them better by offering to share the church with them as a venue or sub-congregation in the mother church?”

I replied …

What we often do when we launch a typical church “plant” is to create an “external” sub-congregation.  And, this is okay. But, I think it is usually not the best way to proceed.  Rather, the “internal planting” of a sub-congregation (fostering the growth of a sub-congregation that remains part of the church) is a better strategy.

This is because external plants have the following PLUSES (strengths) and NEGATIVES (weaknesses):

Short/long-term growth?

Pluses: External plants (in my consulting practice) grow quicker than Internal Plants (developing a sub-congregation and a venue), because they are homogeneous (i.e. largely attracting one culture).

Negatives: External plants (in my consulting practice) die quicker. They are smaller and often don’t reach critical mass for long-term sustainability.

Leadership?

Pluses: External plants have experienced leadership, because the leader has been trained in the mother church.

Negatives: External plants often lack good accountability and thus succumb to leadership/ethical weaknesses.

Attraction?

Pluses: External plants attract people who do not have a church home and/or who are dissatisfied with the church they attend.

Negatives: External plants often attract disgruntled people:

  1. Who don’t like the church they attend
  2. And/ or who do not want to rub shoulders with another culture (generational, ethnic, affinity, etc.). Thus, reconciliation does not take place.

More churches?

Pluses: External plants create more churches, though they may be smaller and not healthy for many years.

Negatives: External plants often kill existing churches, when the people who are attracted to the external plant leave the mother church, and other churches, weakening the churches they left.  This is the main reason pastors of established churches don’t like external plants, it cannibalizes the people they need to survive.

Diversity?

Pluses: External plants cater to a specific cultural market.  This creates a like-minded community that grows because of the things it holds in common.

Negatives: External plants don’t promote inter-cultural understanding.  This would be like the second-generation Koreans wanting their own church. The first-generation Koreans would feel abandoned and disconnected. And the externally planted 2nd-gen congregation might develop distain (due to distance) for the 1st-gen culture.

This illustration highlights the differences between first and second generational cultures.  But it happens in even a more damaging fashion between ethnic cultures.

The result of a good work, like church planting, can be that the cultures are distance organizationally and physically from one another by the planting of a separate congregation.

But it often makes the mother church feel good, because it can say, “We planted another church.” But in reality they often push them away because of their differences.  This creates distance between them and us. In my consulting work, no matter how much churches protest they … “Will stay connected to our daughter church,” they never stay as close as they would if they were sharing the church as fellow sub-congregations.

Thus, if a church is really committed to reconciliation and multi-culturalism (as I am) then Internal Planting is the better choice. Thus, with Internal Planting the church becomes in a community the main avenue for building multi-cultural understanding and tolerance, e.g. unity building and changing biases.

A name for this type of church is The Multicultural Alliance Model.

See all five models here: MULTICULTURAL CHURCHES & 5 Models: A New Paradigm Evaluated and Differentiated #AICR #AcademyForInterculturalChurchResearch

CULTURAL ADAPTERS & 3-Types: Consonant, Selective & Dissonant

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 5/12/16.

To understand 3-types of “cultural 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).

“People from emerging cultures usually adapt to the dominant culture in one of three ways.

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

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

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

(1) Alejandro Portes and Ruben G. Rumbaut in Immigrant American: A Portrait (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996). They suggest that organizations comprised of selective adapters will be a more harmonious organization.

(2) Ruben G. Rumbaut, “Acculturation, Discrimination, and Ethnic Identity Among Children of Immigrants,” in Discovering Successful Pathways in Children’s Development: Mixed Methods in the Study of Childhood and Family Life, Thomas S. Weisner ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

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.

DISSONANT ADAPTERS & Reasons Why Churches Must Understand Ethnic Consciousness

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/24/16.

In my latest book (re:MIX – Transitioning Your Church to Living Color) my co-author Mark DeYmaz and I show why it is important for all churches to understand “ethnic consciousness.”  Let me share a story that explains why this is necessary.

A student once shared that her church was utilizing (in her words) “bridge events … designed to bring people onto your campus for a non-church related event to have fun and to experience the people in your congregation and to demonstrate to your community what it is your congregation cares about.”

Bridge events have been highly popular, but often with less than expected results.  Let me explain why.

Usually bridge strategies do not work well across large cultural gaps.  That is because you are inviting them to experience your congregation, and unless they are interested in assimilating they will not likely join your congregation.

Instead Look at Different Levels of Ethnic Consciousness   

Ethnic consciousness means a person has a high degree of loyalty and identity with a culture and they do not want to lose that strong affiliation. Tetsunao Yamamori 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).

Yamamori said those with a high degree of loyalty to a culture, have a high degree of “consciousness” of their ethnicity.  There is nothing wrong with this of course. But, churches and other organizations need to be sensitive to this, because if a person has a high degree of ethnic consciousness, they will usually prefer ministry in their ethnic style and pattern.

And, a high degree of ethnic consciousness will often lead to individuals resisting adapting to the dominant culture.  Those who resist strongly are called “dissonant adapters” and those that resist to a moderate degree are called “selective adapters.” And, “consonant adapters” adapt almost completely to another culture.

Now, this is not just relevant to ethnicities, because all cultures have different degrees of preference for their cultural way of doing things.  So, it would be best to call this: “cultural consciousness.”

An Example: Harley Motorcycle Riders

Yamamori suggests that all people within all different cultures, for many different reasons, have different degrees of loyalty to that culture.  For instance, a die-hard Harley-Davidson motorcycle rider would probably never be found riding a Honda.  This person who rides only Harleys might be said to have a high degree of “cultural consciousness.”  But, a motorcycle rider such as myself, who enjoys riding all bikes rather than a certain brand (or culture), might have ridden and owned Hondas, Yamahas, Kawasakis and even a Vespa 😉

The idea, and there is nothing wrong with this, is that some people like to identify strongly with a certain culture while others might identify less strongly.  Those with strong identity to a culture might be best served by a congregation that has a ministry to which that culture can relate.

Another Example: Youth Programs

Everyone knows that youth in a church want their own room, music, program, etc.  There is nothing wrong with this, unless morals and Biblical principles are compromised.  The key to remember is, that we understand youth have a strong loyalty to their “youth culture” and so we try to have ministry that is culturally relevant for them.

Check for Cultural Consciousness Before You Undertake Bridge Events

The same assessment needs to be done by a church before it hosts “bridge events” and simply invites other cultural groups (Latino/Latina, Asian, African-American, etc.) to its events.  Our events are usually too specific to our culture, and when we tell these people “Hey, come to my church.  You will like it” and our church is culturally specific, they wonder how can we be so out of touch with the differences in their culture. Simply because we like it, does not mean others from other cultures will like it too.

So, when planning to reach out to other cultures it helps to gauge the degree of a community’s identification with a culture, or what Tetsunao Yamamori calls the “Ethnic Consciousness Scale.”

Thus, when ministering to cultural groups that have a strong identity to that culture (i.e. a strong cultural consciousness), the best method is to find the most basic “needs” of the that ethnicity (or culture) and begin to meet those.  Do this in the name of our Heavenly Father (and His mission).  Then as you meet their needs, look for a local leader from their culture that can grow a co-congregation within your church that has ministries which are relevant to that culture. Then they will encounter your faith community first as people interested in meeting their needs, rather than simply attracting them to your culturally-different church.

See also the discussion on ChurchHealth.wiki regarding selective adapters, consonant adapters and dissonant adapters.

Download Tetsunao Yamamori’s “How to reach a new culture in your community” here: ARTICLE Yamamori How to Reach Cross-Culturally – Win Arn, ed. Church Growth Handbook

WORSHIP & Reasons Why Blending Worship May Not Be An Effective Evangelistic Strategy

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/24/15.

A student once tendered the following query.

“You really believe that three services are necessary to reach the three different generations? I understand a little difference in order to reach a different group, but three seems a little over the top…. Our church currently has two services. One is praise and worship, and one is Traditional. These two services have come with pros and cons at our church. It has expanded the ministry and allowed us to reach some new people. It also has created some division among some who don’t like the other service or feel the two services are actually driving the two groups further apart instead of together.  Personally, I am a proponent of a well blended service. Ideally this brings generations together in the same service and teaches them both about compromise when it comes to music styles. I will say for this to work the musicians and music leaders must be good and do a good job of blending the music. Music hopefully is a tool to lead us to worship, that is why I don’t get hung up on styles. I have a problem with those that think only one style is the correct way to worship.”

These are good, and common questions.  And, here are my answers.

Hello ___student_name___;

You queried, “You really believe that three services are necessary to reach the three different generations?”  Yes, I do.  However, variations of this exist so let me give you some general parameters.

Some churches will have a traditional (reaching older adults who want stability in their increasingly unstable lives), blended (really a Christian variation that can seem culturally confusing to unchurched people), contemporary (upbeat with a backbeat) and modern (more engagement and improvisation, see my case-study book: Inside the Organic Church, 2006).

You noted that this has “allowed us to reach some new people.”  That is good news!  And, wait until you read Chip Arn’s book, How to Start New Service (a textbook for this course) and you will see that his research supports your conclusion: more variation in service styles has been proven numerically to reach more people for Christ!

But, I also think you can see that each of these worship expressions are stylistically different enough to require separate venues, or a sizable segment will not relate and not worship.  While your desire to mature people by “teaching them to compromise” is a laudable goal (and one with which I wholehearted agree), the worship service man not be the best venue for this.  You see, if you have only a blended service you will lose some of the babes-in-Christ because they may not be ready for adult food.   Romans 15:1ff is as good summation of the writer’s argument that for salvation sake, we must try not to put roadblocks (if they are culturally inspired and morally neutral) in the path of young believers.

Thus, if your goal is to reach the unchurched and introduce them to Christ, you will need to get them into an environment where they are not uncomfortable or perplexed by the culturally-derived aesthetics.  You won’t want to leave them there. But, you will want them to be able to start there, in a place where they are more culturally comfortable.  This is what a missionary does, they take the Good News and put it cultural aesthetics (and worship styles) of a society.

Since my purpose is to introduce them into an encounter with God, it makes sense to present the encounter in the most relevant (to them) way possible.

Many people note that this creates division.  And, it does.  But I am not sure that worship is the best venue for unity.  One young man I asked about this responded to me “you can’t create unity in worship, the seats face the wrong way.”

That is why I agree with you that we need to foster compromise.  I wrote two books about this: Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change to Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2010) and Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change What You Can Do About It (Abingdon Press, 2003).

But, to create this unity I am not sure worship is the best venue, for it is a place of spiritual encounter.  Thus, you will notice in my books that I strongly emphasize that we supplement varied worship venues with new community spaces where people can gather after church and talk about the same message they heard in the different culturally stylistic venues.  Therefore unity experiences and venues, where people can fellowship and get to know each other, must be created.  It means not trying to create this in worship, for there it can rob us of our heavenward focus.  But rather it means creating unity experiences and opportunities; and offer as many each week as we offer worship experiences.

MISSIO DEI & A Quote About Its Importance

“Unless the church participates in God’s mission to reconnect and reconcile with his wayward offspring, the greatest need of humanity has been deprived.”

– Bob Whitesel, The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen A Church’s Heart (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013), p. 44.

CULTURES & A List of Cultures

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/30/15.

(Excerpted with permission from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013)

Below are examples of groups that have been identified as justifiable cultures:

Affinity cultures (these are cultures that are based upon a shared fondness or affinity):

  • Motorcycle riders
  • Country music fans
  • The NASCAR nation
  • Heavy metal music fans
  • Contemporary Christian music fans
  • Surfers

Ethnic cultures:

  • Latin American,
  • Hispanic American
  • African American,
  • Asian American
  • Native American, etc..

Socio-economic cultures[i]

  • Upper Socio-economic Level[ii]
  • Upper Middle socio-economic Level[iii]
  • Lower Middle Socio-economic Level[iv]
  • Lower Working Socio-economic Level[v]
  • Lower Socio-economic Level[vi]

Generational cultures:[vii]

  • Builder[viii] (or the Silent[ix] or Greatest[x]) Generation, b. 1945 and before
  • Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
  • Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
  • Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
  • Generation Y, b. 1984-2002

(For where Gen. Y and the Millennials fit, see my post: GENERATIONS & The Emerging Agreement on Age Ranges.)

Therefore, to help our churches grow in the most ways possible while recognizing the broadest variety of cultures, it is good to speak of multicultural churches. These are churches where people from several cultures (e.g. ethnic, affinity, socio-economic, etc.) learn to work together in one church.

You can read more of this chapter here (remember, if you benefit from this excerpt please consider supporting the publisher and author by purchasing a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – HEALTHY CHURCH List of Cultures

[i] Joseph V. Hickey and William E. Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology (Boston, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon, 5th ed. 2004).

[ii] They are approximately 1-5% of the No. American population and are characterized by power over economic, business and political organizations and institutions.

[iii] They represent approximately 15% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers who hold graduate degrees, possessing a significant degree of flexibility and autonomy in their work.

[iv] They are approximately 33% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers with some college education. Subsequently, they have a degree of flexibility and autonomy at work, though not as much as those of the Upper Middle Socio-economic strata.

[v] They are approximately 30% of the North American population). Both white- and blue-collar workers, their jobs are characterized by minimum job security, inadequate pay and worries about losing health insurance.

[vi] They represent 15% of the North American population and often go through cycles of part-time and full-time jobs. Many times they must work more than one job to provide for their needs.

[vii] For a chart depicting the different age ranges for each generation see Bob Whitesel Preparing the Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), p 53.

[viii] Gary McIntosh, One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002] and Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000).

[ix] This generation has been labeled various ways, for instance as the “silent generation” by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of American’s Future, 1954-2069 (New York: Quill, 1992).

[x] They are labeled the “greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 2004).

ATTRACTION or INCARNATION & An Introduction to Church Refugees #JohnHawthorne

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel; “In my book ‘ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church’ (Abingdon) one of the 8 signs is that Christians are rejecting the entertainment-emphasis of churches and instead preferring churches that create community through small groups, huddles, clusters and other sub-congregations. Test how you are doing, by asking yourself, ‘How much time this week have I spent preparing for the Sunday service and how much time have I spent creating community through small groups, clusters, huddles, etc?’ If you need ideas read this article and the book ‘Church Refugees.’ And then take a look at one of my three books that address this: ‘ORGANIX,’ ‘Cure for the Common Church,’ and especially the chapter on ‘small groups’ in ‘The Healthy Church’.”

An analysis of the book “Church Refugees” by John Hawthorne, Pathos, 6/15.

Amazon.comI was excited to receive this book by Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope. It is a sociological report on The Dones: people who have been active in church life but have removed themselves from the institutional church.

I first became aware of this phenomenon two years ago thanks to some blog posts by Michelle Van Loon reporting on church decline among those over 40. I returned to the topic the beginning of this year when I became aware of some preliminary data from Josh.

Using a combination of sampling methods, Josh and Ashley were able to collect detailed qualitative data on over 100 individuals. He told me in an e-mail that sometimes all he had to do was say “hello” and the stories would pour out.

The Dones shared a number of characteristics. They had all been heavily involved in church life, some in official staff positions. They loved the church enough to be committed to seeing it become all it had the potential of being. But the costs of keeping up that energy against institutional structures eventually become too high.

There are several shared characteristics that cut across their stories.

High on the list is a desire for community. The Dones (which they also call the Dechurched) wanted their churches to be places where people connected in meaningful ways. This was more than just small group programs with defined curriculum but was the place where people actually connected. That community was important is evidenced by the ways they tried to reconstruct community in non-church settings after they were Done…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/workcited/2015/06/how-to-really-understand-the-pewreport-church-refugees-by-josh-packard-and-ashleigh-hope/