MERGERS & How to utilize mergers to grow multicultural congregations (& reconciliation too) #HealthyChurchBook #reMIXbook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I created a new typology for understanding multicultural churches: The 5 Types of Multicultural Churches and ranked each based on how well they create reconciliation (to God) and reconciliation (to one another). See my address to academics and popular articles on this here:

MULTICULTURAL & 8 Steps to Transitioning to 1 of 5 Models of a Multicultural Church #GCRNJournal by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., The Great Commission Research Journal, Biola University, 3/1/17.

UNITY & 5 ways church unity creates a powerful influence in your city by Bob Whitesel, chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity” in

re;MIX Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press, 2017).

The Church as a Mosaic: Exercises for Cultural Diversity, A Guest Post by Dr. Bob Whitesel (Dr. Bob Whitesel explores what it would look like for the church to be variety of ethnicities and culturesoverview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, Christianity Today, 2/10/14.

If Reconcilation are the goals, then one of the best strategies is to integrate a church rather than just plant or support an autonomous congregation (and in the push both congregations apart).

In the chapter I contributed to the book, Gospel after Christendom: New voices, New cultures, New expressions (ed. Bolger, Baker Academic Books, 2012), that before St. Thomas’s Church in Sheffield, England became England’s largest multicultural congregation … it was first a multicultural merger between a small Baptist church and a small Church of England congregation.

The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.

And, with so many small struggling mono-cultural congregations, the idea of merging two homogeneous congregations to create a multicultural congregation needs to be the strategy of more churches and denominations.

The power of mergers has been under estimated and underutilized in creating multicultural churches.

See my book The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013) for ideas and the chapter “The Church as a Mosiax: Exercise for Cultural Diversity.” You can read an overview courtesy of Ed Stetzer on The Exchange, in Christianity Today.

Also, read this article for more ideas:

Integrating Sunday Morning Church Service — A Prayer Answered

by Sandhya Dirks, National Public Radio, Weekend Edition, 8/11/18.

… Which brings us to Pastor Kyle Brooks and Pastor Bernard Emerson. They knew creating an inter-racial church was not going to be easy, but they kept kicking the idea around. They would take long walks through Oakland’s Dimond District and dream about it out loud. Maybe at some point in the future, they thought.

Then a year ago, Neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and they felt like they could no longer wait.

First, they had to break it to their congregations.

“I saw it on facebook, and instantly I typed back, ‘oh my god, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for,'” said LaSonya Brown, who had been attending Emerson’s church, The Way, for about a year. “I’ll be the first one to join,” she said.

Brown was raised in a black church with only two white people in it. One was her godfather, who had married into the black community, the other was a white woman who would “speak in tongues, and then translate the tongue.”

“I never knew her name, but I’ll never forget her,” Brown said. Despite it being different than what she had known before, Brown welcomed the idea of an inclusive congregregation. “I think it was something that I wanted, but I didn’t realize that I wanted it until I saw his post,” she said.

At first she thought it was going to happen instantly, just everyone showing up to church together. But it is not that easy to flip the switch on hundreds of years of segregated worship.

“It’s much more complicated than that,” Brown said. “You don’t think that your life is different than somebody else,” but it can be. In an ideal world, she said, people want to think about what they have in common and not their differences.

But we do not live in that ideal world of race relations. “There’s a lot of things that we don’t do in common,” she said. “But we do want to know how to be together.”

Each church individually went through months of workshops and classes, owning up to their own fears about what merging would mean.

Many people in Pastor Brooks’ white congregation were afraid of being uncomfortable. There was a feeling of discomfort around everything from different hymns, to the service being in a different neighborhood, to different styles of worship. There was also discomfort in having to face up to their responsibility, as white people, in ongoing American racism. Everyone in the church was excited about the merger, but that did not make it easy.

Pastor Emerson’s congregation was also supportive, and not just because they are largely family. The black congregants of The Way had different fears, fears that they might not be welcomed. Emerson said some of them asked, “will they accept us for who we are?”

Read more at … https://www.npr.org/2018/08/11/637552132/integrating-sunday-morning-church-service-a-prayer-answered

UNITY & 5 ways church unity creates a powerful influence in your city

There are many ways to describe the church: a fellowship, a congregation and a community. But, I’ve noticed a refreshing alternative among those who lead young churches. They often find the terms fellowship, community, etc. as too associated with a complex organizational structure. Instead, they often use a word borrowed from the developing world: tribe.

At a church called “The Tribe of Los Angeles,” a young attendee described it this way, “Tribe tells people we are doing something different at church. It means we are close, like a family. And, it also says we are in this together in this, (that) we are small but mobile, that we have a closely held, common task. It’s just like a tribe in the developing world that must work together to survive.”  

I find something refreshing in terms that sum up for younger people a family-like dependence. Now, I am not recommending that churches adopt such terminology to be voguish or appear relevant. But I find that using the term on occasion reminds us all that the church is on a mission and the accomplishment of that mission depends upon the church being a mutually supportive team.

The power of unity

In John 17:20-23 Jesus prayed that all believers, throughout all time, would demonstrate a supernatural unity. And, He stressed that this unity would amaze the world:

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us….
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me. (MSG)

Such a passionate desire from the Son of God cannot easily be dismissed. But this was more than just a longing. Jesus emphasized a purpose in this unity when He stated, “Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them” (v. 23, MSG). Let’s look at a few practical ways that a church can give evidence that God is working through it.

1. Unity supports God’s mission

God’s mission (sometimes called the missio Dei) is that He wants to reunite with His wayward offspring. Jesus made it clear that only through His sacrifice was this reconciliation possible (John 14:6-7, Romans 3:23-24, 5:8, 6:23). And through the Church supports this mission in many ways, there are at least three important ways church unity contributes to reconnecting people with their heavenly Father.

2. Unity influence the community.

Jesus wanted His church to be so loving, forgiving and united that the secular world would take notice. He desired the evidence of this amazement to not be theatrics, but to “give the godless world evidence that You’ve sent me and loved them” (John 17:23 MSG).  And so, when a church is uncommonly united, this contrasts with the disunity found in most worldly organizations. It reminds the watching world that something supernatural is at work in our churches, and it models to the world the undivided nature of God.

3. Unity can impact cross-denominational influence.

I’ve noticed that church leaders often influence other congregations by packaging innovative programs and selling them as growth inducers to other congregations.  But, too often these are only tactical programs, that may work only for a short time. Churches who latch onto such tactical programs often adopt tactical names, such as Seeker-friendly Churches, Cell Churches, Missional Churches, Body-life Churches or Samaritan Churches. But, as seen in Jesus’ prayer, it might be more fitting for networks of churches to be known for their unity more than their innovations.  Congregations that are united can model important attributes of forgiveness, harmony and agreement that the secular world finds hard to muster.

4. Unity influences a congregation.

A united congregation provides an environment where congregants can spend more time and energy focusing on the needs of those outside of the organization, rather than scrutinizing the differences of those within. I have often observed churches so focused on their internal squabbles that they miss (and usually repel) visitors and seekers who God is sending their way. But when churches become more united, they recycle more time and energy into the dire problems of those not yet reunited with their heavenly Father.

5. Unity influences non-churchgoers.

The secular realm can be a bastion of antagonism, rancor and factions. Little wonder that weary souls worn down by this often search for an environment where divisiveness is minimal. Many hope to find in Christ’s Church this harbor. If they instead encounter false-compassion and hypocritical jockeying for influence, they can easily conclude that the church is hypocritical: promising solace but offering rancor. As Paul noted, a united, loving and forgiving church means “no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd” (Ephesians 4:17 MSG).

The church should strive, with God’s help, to be increasingly united. The goal is not perfectunity, but more unity. Two colleagues of mine label this “dissonant harmony.” By this, they mean that a church can never attain perfect harmony, but it can attain a degree of harmony (though not perfect) that is increasingly harmonious but acknowledges some dissonance and dissension.

Christ’s prayer is not that churches fabricate mindless slaves to corporate vision. Rather Jesus emphasized that Church unity was to be a earthly reflection of the miraculous oneness amid diversity of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And so, striving to be more unified has benefits and caveats that still make the effort worth it.

Excerpted from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, by Bob Whitesel (Wesleyan Publishing 2013).

Photo source: istock 

Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/5-ways-church-unity-creates-a-powerful-influence/

CULTURAL ADAPTERS & A exercise to help you identify consonant, selective and dissonant adapters.

Commentary by Prof. B.: Recently a student shared a case study which is not too dissimilar to what many of my students and colleagues have experienced. This student created an informal fallacy by equating generational age to culture. Here is the LEAD 600 student’s case study followed by an exercise  the reader can utilize to identify the consonant, selective and dissonant adapters in the story.

Student: You’ve presented a particularly intriguing ethical dilemma. You (another student) said, “Based upon research from Barna, more than ¾ of Christians come to faith before they are 21 years old.” However, you also stated, “The older worship leader should have equal opportunity to a worship position.” Therein lies the dilemma. Equality has forever been a problem in society. In his classic book on poverty and racism, Howard Thurmon closed a chapter with the following words: “Instead of relation between the weak and the strong there is merely a relationship between human beings. A man is a man, no more, no less. The awareness of this fact marks the supreme moment of human dignity.” In a conversation about church strategy and demographics, the desire to hire a younger person makes complete sense. However, in a conversation about equality and human dignity, the reduction of possibility for an older candidate is an offense. Of course, Thurmon is referring to serious issues like the racism of the 40’s and 50’s. However, from a broad ethical perspective, his statement remains true and useful.”

I responded:  I appreciate that you stated, “In a conversation about church strategy and demographics, the desire to hire a younger person makes complete sense.  However, in a conversation about equality and human dignity, the reduction of possibility for an older candidate is an offense.”

I think the key is to not always equate age with culture. Doing su could be an informal fallacy. By that I mean, your point seems to be that the worship leader should relate to the age of those people who make a decision for Christ. However as we know, being part of an age demarcation, i.e. generation, does not necessarily mean they are part of that culture. There are many people who live and assimilate into a dissimilar culture from which they’ve been raised. The culture in which most people have been raised is age specific. But we all know people who have been raised in one culture and yet relate to another… even assimilate into it.

To understand this phenomena is to understand the difference between “consonant, selective and dissonant adapters.” Charles Kraft gives an introduction to this phenomena in his classic, “Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective” (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

Kraft points out there are three types of adapters:

1) Dissonant adapters adapt very little to another culture because they’re very proud of their existing culture. They can become xenophobic and can usually only be reached by indigenous art forms such as music, liturgy and language.

2) Selective adapters adapting some areas but like to preserve the traditions of their culture. in my experience, they are often found in churches that offer blended services. They enjoy multiple cultures but sometimes are disingenuous: seeking to push other dissonant adapters to adapt beyond the comfort level of the dissonant adapters. This has been called the “creator complex,” e.g. to make over others in the image of our culture or the dominant culture. Wagner describes this as “Deep in the heart of man (sic), even in missionaries, lurks that ‘creator complex’ by which he (sic) delights in making other people over in his (sic) own image.” Wagner, C. P. (1979). “Our kind of people: The ethical dimensions of church growth in America,” John Knox Press, p. 76.

3) Consonant adapters adapt to a different culture previous culture and hold on very little to their previous culture.

There is a further an explanation of this in “The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart,” The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013, pp. 69-70) https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/cultural-adapters-3-types-consonant-selective-dissonant/

Now, knowing those missiological terms, how would you analyze the players in this example? The purpose of this exercise is to increase your awareness to anthropological in sociological dynamics in our staffing, volunteerism and leadership.

BLENDED WORSHIP & Sharing our homes & lives creates more unity than sharing a pew #BiblicalTheology

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/26/17.

A biblical theology of worship.

Churches often want blended worship services because they seek to create cross-cultural understanding and unity. But, while earning my PhD in intercultural studies at Fuller Sem., I came to believe a Biblical theology of worship does not include creating unity.

Do we try to make worship do too much?

Because we feel we only have people for 1 hour on Sunday morning, we cram too much into that one hour.  That one hour becomes announcement time, unity-building time and worship time.  If that is the case we should call it the “Communication – Unity– Worship Hour” 😉

My goal is to get back to a biblical theology of worship which includes encounter, more than unity.  Theologically I think that unity and encounter are mutually exclusive (see the excerpt from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (2013, below).

Sharing our homes & lives creates more unity

If you’re there to encounter God, you’re not going to spend time encountering your neighbor. Jesus created unity usually over meals.

Thus, I would suggest that sharing our homes and our lives creates more unity than sharing a pew.

Here are some thoughts I’ve written with more detail in The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (2013).

“… the Hebrew word for “worship” implies God-directed, not neighbor-directed reconciliation.(Footnote 1)”  p. 64

(Footnote 1) The Hebrew word for “worship” means to come close to God’s majesty and adore Him. It carries the idea of reverence, respect and praise that results from a close encounter with a king, see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament Based Upon the Lexicon of William Gesenius (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1974), p. 1005. Thus, worship should not be about fellowship (the New Testament Christians had meals for that), but rather worship was to be about personal communing with God. This reminds us that worship should be about connecting with God and not about creating friendships among people (we have time before and after “worship” for getting to know one another in “fellowship” halls and in common areas). Making worship into a fellowship among humans, robs its place as the supernatural intersection between humans with their heavenly Father. We shall discuss the Multicultural Blended Model shortly, but I have noticed in most blended models I have attended, that supernatural connection is not the focus or their aim, but rather unity is the objective. While the later goal (unity) is needed, it should not be attained at the expense of worship which is primarily intended as a environment in which to connect with God.  p. 158

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
  • Generation Z, b. 2003-2021

(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/

CULTURAL ADAPTION & Among multiracial adults, racial identity can be fluid #PewResearch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “It’s important that we don’t see culture as concrete or fixed, but something that is fluid and morphing. This Pew Research highlights that fact. I have explained in my book, “The Healthy Church” how healthy congregations see culture the way that anthropologists do, in three broad categories of cultural adaption. ‘Constant adapters’ are those people who adapt and enjoy taking on the cultural behaviors, ideas and products of another culture. ‘Selective adapters’ are those who adapt to some behaviors ideas and products of another culture but still want to retain parts of their historical culture. ‘Dissonant adapters’ adapt very little and are very proud of their historical culture celebrating the behaviors, ideas and products of it. For more about how people move in and out of these categories and the importance of the church to not view people as concrete cultural silos, read this Pew Research article.”

BY RICH MORIN, Pew Research, 6/16/15.

Is race purely about the races in your family tree? A new Pew Research Center survey of multiracial adults suggests there’s more to racial identity that goes beyond one’s ancestry.

Attempts to Change How Others See Their RaceThe survey of 1,555 multiracial adults found that three-in-ten multiracial adults say they have changed how they viewed their racial identity over the course of their lifetimes.

About one-in-five multiracial Americans, including about a third of all black mixed-race adults, have dressed or behaved in a certain way in an attempt to influence how others see their race.

Taken together, these findings suggest that, for many multiracial Americans, racial identity can change over the life course. It is a mix of biology, family upbringing and the perceptions that others have about them.

According to our survey, fully 21% of mixed-race adults have attempted to influence how others saw their race. About one-in-ten multiracial adults have talked (12%), dressed (11%) or worn their hair (11%) in a certain way in order to affect how others saw their race. A similar share (11%) says they associated with certain people to alter how others saw their racial background. (The survey did not ask respondents to identify which race or races they sought to resemble.)

These efforts to change or clarify how others saw their race varied widely across the largest multiracial groups. Among black multiracial groups, fully 32% have looked or acted in ways to influence how others perceived their racial background. That includes 42% of black and American Indian biracial adults, 33% of those with a white, black and American Indian background and 20% of white and black biracial adults.

Some Mixed-Race Groups More Likely than Others to Try to Change How People See ThemA quarter of white and Asian biracial adults say that, at some point, they have tried to look or behave a certain way to influence how people thought about their race. Among the largest biracial subgroup—white and American Indian adults—only about one-in-ten (11%) say they have done this. A third (34%) of Hispanics who report two or more races also say they have made an effort to change the way people saw their race…

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/16/among-multiracial-adults-racial-identity-can-be-fluid/

CHURCH PLANTING INTERNALLY & A Student Responds: If They Invested Church Planting Money In Us … We’d Be Growing Too!

by Bob Whitesel, 5/19/15.

A student once shared how he felt offended by the cold shoulder he received from pastors of nearby churches of the same denomination, when he went to raise money for a church plant.  He said, “When I visited with local church pastors to introduce myself and share my vision, almost immediately I sensed these pastor’s turn their focus on (their)self by their behaviors (the cold shoulder kind of treatment)…We heard statements like, ‘If they invested that kind of money in our established churches we would be growing too’.”

I responded with the following:

Healthy Church Cover smLet me explain what I see from the other side of the fence 🙂  And, please hear me on this, I do not feel this is often the fault of these pastors.  They are laboring for years in the field, and they need help. Then the denomination plants a church of the same denomination nearby.  This can overnight, decimate the older church’s long hard work.  That is what they fear.  They fear the sense of abandonment they see in the eyes of dear long-suffering and long-working saints, who are now eclipsed by a denomination that gives up on them.

I have worked with hundreds of these aging congregations, and many, many have life in them.  They just need the right leader to revise them.  One of my friends took a dying church in Tipp City Ohio with 40 people and grew it to a mega-church.

So, I do not doubt they have said these hurting things to you and others.  But, I don’t feel the problem is them … but the problem is our strategy.  In the business world we would never start a competing organization when we already have a product in that market that is on life-support.  It takes more money (and work) to start a new product line (or church plant) that to revitalize an aging one (aging churches have experienced leaders, assets, facilities, social capital, etc.).

But, granted planting a church is faster, for you don’t have baggage to deal with.  But in the process we jettison many senior saints who have labored for years in the field, robbing them of some steadfastness in their latter years.

I know you are a sharp student, and a gifted leader.  And, I ask you to look beyond those who have hurt you to those senior saints in these congregations that are finding their churches undercut and left behind.  They have great resident power, if only we will work with them too.

Now, I’m not suggesting we don’t do external plants.  I think we should!  But, we also must do internal plants.  Both are needed for healthy ministry.  Resentment only comes when one receives emphasis more than the other.

CHURCH HEALTH & A Review of “The Healthy Church” book from @WPHbooks

Book: The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, Author: Bob Whitesel (2013) reviewed by John (Jack) PladdysHealthy Church Cover sm, 4/14/15.

What section of the book (pages and/or chapter) impacted you the most and why?

Chapter 4: The Church as a Mosaic provided a great look into how a congregation moves from segregation to diversity. I believe most congregations want to be culturally diverse, but they do not know what that means or how to carry out the idea of diversity. I struggled to understand this concept before learning about the difference between diversity and tolerance – assimilation and acculturalizaton – and I am someone with a high CQ. Whitesel’s description of the Creator Complex shows how well-meaning people do the wrong thing when it comes to diversity.

Whitesel gives a good reason as to why diversity is important. We shouldn’t be diverse for the sake of diversity. Whitesel says, “To bring about both spiritual and cultural reconciliation, we need churches where people of differing cultures are not only reconnecting with their heavenly Father, but also who are reconnecting with one another” (Kindle Locations 813-815). All attempts at being a diverse congregation should be a result of wanting to connect people to God and each other.

Of the five types of multicultural congregations, I am most drawn to the Multicultural Alliance Church model. I believe this is the most ideal model of the five Whitesel presents. It may not be the easiest to accomplish, but easy should not be our concern when we are attempting to diversify.

What were the two most helpful tools, insights or practices that you gained and why?

  1. “The primary purpose of worship is for us to communicate with God, not communicate with each other” (Kindle Location 1418). Worship is not the place to reconcile cultures together. This truth is resounding in our time of trying to blend worship styles together in order to make everyone happy. This is also a powerful reason as to why congregations need to start new worship gatherings of different styles if they are going to reach different people.
  2. Whitesel updated definition of conversion was extremely helpful. (Although, I’m not sure this is as much of an updated version as it is the actually version that we lost throughout the years.) When trying to describe the necessity of salvation to others, many times we give them the simplest answer in order to not scare them away. This could be why congregations are not doing a very good job of reaching people outside of their cultural group. People are not being transformed when we include them in our congregations.

What will you change about yourself and your tactics as a result of this reading?

I am starting to insist that unity is holding back congregations from moving forward. For the sake of unity, congregations are not able to be cultural diverse. We try to build in unity in everything we do, and that is only making everything we do mediocre. I think we need to start celebrating our diversity and invite others into the celebration. Worship gatherings should be a place where God communicates to us through our heart language. I should not force someone to connect with God in my heart language. If we start thinking harmony instead of unity, I believe we will be the diverse church God calls us to be.

PLANTING & Soong-Chan Rah Challenges Urban Church Planters to Find a Non-white Mentor

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel,: “Soong-Chan Rah is a friend and colleague, who has important advice for church planters. Citing Walter Brueggemann, he points out that churches which sponsor planting often operate under the context of ‘celebration (those who already have good things)’ as opposed to those in urban areas who who ‘have little and operate under a context of suffering.’ To demonstrate ways to offset cultural myopia I describe a new model in my book The Healthy Church” called ‘The Multicultural Alliance Church’.”

By Richmond Williams, 07/13/11

Soong-Chan RahSoong-Chan Rah challenged a General Assembly audience to break free from stagnation and captivity and recognize the “changing face of Christianity” in Tuesday’s “Be The Change” lecture at the General Assembly.

Rah, a professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, pointed to dramatic demographic shifts and changes in American culture over the past 50 years to demonstrate that diversity is no longer a matter of choice. In 1950, Rah said, the “typical face of a Christian” was a white male from an affluent metropolitan suburb, but today’s Christian is likely to be a peasant in Nigeria, a teenager in Mexico City or a woman in South Korea.

Rah cited statistics illustrating a change from 1900, when more than 80% of Christians in the world were in Europe and North America, to a projected 29% on those same continents in 2050. America has seen similar shifts, Rah said, since the 1965 passage of the Immigration Reform Act. These trends are accelerated in the church, marking “one of the first times church is ahead of society.”

Christianity has an advantage over other large religions like Islam, he said, because of its adaptability to new cultural contexts, including language translations of sacred texts.

At the same time, mainline Christian denominations that are historically European and predominately white – such as the Lutheran and Episcopal traditions — are the ones facing sharp declines. Baptists and Pentecostals, by contrast, have been able to ride waves of the new multi-ethnic reality.

Energized, Rah painted a picture of a church at a crossroads – one that faces the “danger of becoming imprisoned by white Western culture, which has been more influential than the Bible itself,” citing historical individualism, materialism and racism.

Outlining Walter Brueggemann’s work, Rah contrasted those who operate under a context of celebration (typically those who already have good things) as opposed to those who have little and operate under a context of suffering.

Congregations who celebrate tend to focus on stewardship and being thankful to God, Rah said. They also prefer the status quo and think heaven is “more of the good things they already have.” Those who operate under the lens of suffering talk about survival and injustice, and hope heaven will be the opposite of their lives on earth.

Rather than operating under one of these distinct contexts, Rah went on, the church should find a way to learn from each context. He warned against exceptionalism and tokenism, which does not allow room to learn from those operating under the context of suffering.

“If you give someone a seat at the table and then expect them to act white,” Rah said, “that’s tokenism. If you give me a seat at the table, you’d better be ready to change your ways. Can you learn as much from me as I’ve had to learn from you?”

In closing, he challenged all Disciples to find at least one non-white mentor by the end of 2011, even if they started with just a book by a non-white author.

“If you are a missionary preparing to go overseas and you’ve never had a non-white mentor,” Rah said, “you are not a missionary, you are a colonialist.”

Read more at … http://disciples.org/general-assembly/soong-chan-rah-challenges-disciples-to-learn-from-the-changing-face-of-christianity/

MULTICULTURAL & 5 Models of Multicultural/Multiethnic Churches: A New Paradigm Evaluated & Differentiated

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.

Abstract

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.

Article

This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of different multicultural[1] church models. Daniel Sanchez offered some of the earliest depictions of such models,[2] 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.[3]

In addition, there is a vibrant discussion today regarding how John Perkins’ intercultural goals of redistribution, relocation and reconciliation are being addressed by churches.[4] 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

[1] 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.

[2] Daniel Sanchez, “Viable Models for Churches in Communities Experiencing Ethnic Transition.” (paper, Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1976).

[3] 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).

[4] 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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHANGE & The Difference Between Change and Transformation

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Transformation and change are two different things. Change involves adjusting programs, people and tactics. While transformation involves reinventing the entire organization. Therefore transformation involves guiding an organizational culture into a new and healthier culture. Many leaders fail because they don’t recognize the difference and the different tools (below) required for each.

Change involves, ‘making the business case, building a coalition of leaders, getting early results, engaging stakeholders, executing with discipline’ and monitoring/adjusting results’ (p. 2-3)…

‘Transformation is another animal altogether. Unlike change management, it doesn’t focus on a few discrete, well-defined shifts, but rather on a portfolio of initiatives, which are interdependent or intersecting. More importantly the overall goal of transformation is not just executed to find change but to reinvent the organization and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future. It’s much more unpredictable, iterative, and experimental. It entails much higher risk. And even if successful change management leads to the execution of certain initiatives within a transformation portfolio, the overall transformation could still fail’ (p. 3).

Transformation therefore involves, ‘flexible and dynamic coordination of resources, stronger collaboration across boundaries, and communication in the midst of uncertainty’ (p. 4).

I have made the case in the ‘Strategic Management’ chapter of the Wright and Smith (eds.) book, The Church Leaders’ MBA’ (Ohio Christian Univ. Press, 2009) that transforming churches means:

  1. Getting multiple cultures to work together
  2. In one church
  3. To reach and unite multiple community cultures.

This creates a healthy church with multiple sub-congregations respecting one another and working together for greater impact (steps to this can be found in Whitesel, ‘The Healthy Church,’ Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012).

Thus church transformation brings the Good News to a larger segment of the community – while also reconciling/uniting disparate community cultures.

For more on the important difference between change and transformation read this Harvard Business Review article.”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/01/we-still-dont-know-the-difference-between-change-and-transformation

OUTWARD FOCUS & outwardly focused churches are often the healthiest on the inside

“The most outwardly focused churches are many times the healthiest on the inside. The people of the church must make a conscious decision to stop looking inwardly and begin to reach outwardly.”

Rainer III, Sam S. (2008-09-01). Essential Church (p. 26). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

ALLIANCE MULTICULTURAL CASE STUDY & The Orchard Evangelical Free Church

Fast Facts: The Orchard Evangelical Free Church was founded in 1953 and has been growing ever since. It is now one congregation worshiping in four communities in the greater Chicagoland area; each of which stays true to the Gospel-centered mission while also tailoring their ministries to their unique congregations. The Orchard – Arlington Heights Campus would like specific prayer as they build teams to invite everyone who lives and works in Arlington Heights to our church. Pray that the Lord would raise up gifted and passionate leaders to bring Gospel-engagement to every neighborhood, school and people group. Pray that the Holy Spirit would soften the hearts of their neighbors, friends and family members and open their eyes to their need for a Savior.

Website: TheOrchardEFC.org

Retrieved from … http://thomrainer.com/2014/11/09/pray-orchard/