MULTIPLICATION & Not 1 homogeneous unit but rather a heterogeneous organization w/ many indigenous cultural channels to communicate the Good News & through which to celebrate it.

“A key to respecting indigenous art forms is to connect the Good News via the most appropriate communication modality for the people we are reaching…

Biblically speaking, it thus seems best to see a worship gathering as a time of indigenous artistic expressions that draw people from an indigenous background into connection with God. This would suggest the more worship services we can offer, the more opportunities we can offer for people to connect with God.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/8/18.

I found that all church organizations, regardless of size, grow the quickest by multiplying their sub-congregations. So in other words, they see themselves not as one homogeneous unit but rather as a heterogeneous organization with many indigenous cultural channels to communicate the Good News and through which to celebrate it.

For example, a multiple sub-congregational model blooms when even a small church  adds a youth program. The youth program has its own leader, it’s own style, its own music and its own outreach. It is a sub-congregation, of a different culture. Then, as the church grows over 100 attendees it can often begin to reach out to a different culture  by offering a different service with a slightly modified culturally aesthetic.

Of course working against this is the concept that people want to be united. And when they say that, they usually mean they want to be united in the worship gathering. However the Hebrew word for worship means to come close to God as if to kiss His feet. It doesn’t mean fellowship.

So biblically speaking, it seems best to see a worship gathering as a time of indigenous artistic expressions that draw people from an indigenous background into connection with God. This would suggest the more worship services we can offer, the more opportunities we can offer for people to connect with God.

If we want to call them “fellowship services” instead of worship services, then we could see unity as an objective. But it’s hard to create unity in a sanctuary.

One young lady I interviewed for a book said it was hard to create fellowship in the sanctuary because, “The seats all face the wrong direction.”

So therefore, I see “sub-congregation multiplication” as a key to respecting indigenous art forms and to connecting the Good News via the most appropriate communication modality for the people we are reaching.

I’ve expanded upon some of the research in this area in an interview by LifeWay. Here is the link to that article: hey sweetie how you doing

HOMOGENEOUS & John Perkins on the Need for Heterogeneity

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This week I’m at the Exponential Conference teaching a course to seminary students about missional multiplication. One of the topics we are discussing is how churches think they can grow faster by being mono-cultural (i.e. homogeneous). When in reality they may grow faster with homogeneity, they better fulfill the missio Dei (and probably last probably longer if they’re heterogeneous).

Take a look at Mark DeYmaz’s explanation of the difference between homogeneous and heterogeneous churches at the link below. DeYmaz also explains why Donald McGavran warned that churches should be heterogeneous and not homogeneous:

Then take a look at this video by John Perkins who powerfully emphasizes the same thing:

Retrieved from

HUP & Mark DeYmaz on Why McGavran Recommended Heterogeneous Churches

by Mark DeYmaz, Mosiax Conference at Exponential East, 4/25/17.

Donald McGavran suggested that the healthy church was heterogeneous, but with homogeneous cells (or sub congregations).  But the homogeneous unit principle (HUP) which is defined that people “like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic or class barriers,” gave the majority church in America a theological rationale to create churches monocultural churches.  Donald McGavran didn’t support this and even warned that focusing on one culture can make the church racist.

(On his website, Mark continues)

What may surprise you, however, is what Donald McGavran himself had to say about the HUP: “It is primarily a missionary and an evangelistic principle.” And in an apparently prophetic admonition, McGavran also warned that with any misunderstanding or application of the HUP, “there is a danger that congregations…become exclusive, arrogant, and racist. That danger must be resolutely combated.” Such quotes from within the context of his life and ministry clearly reveal McGavran’s understanding of the HUP: what it is and what it is not. More importantly, McGavran’s words reveal his expectation that a healthy local church will reflect God’s heart for all people in ways that go beyond mere mission statements and the race and class distinctions of this world that so often and otherwise divide.

In my new highly innovative eBook, Should Pastors Accept or Reject the Homogeneous Unit Principle?you will learn that the HUP was never intended by McGavran as a strategy for drawing more believers into church or for growing a church in the sense of how most are taught to think of it today. Rather, the HUP was originally mined and refined as “a strategy to reach unbelievers—a missionary principle” according to Donald McGavran, himself. Yet from its introduction in the United States, the HUP has played right into our natural, all-too-American, desire to become real big, real fast: and it works. In other words, to grow a big church, you simply target a specific people group: give them the music they want, the facilities they desire, in the neighborhoods where they live, and “they” will come…whoever “they” are.

77D60D40-6B02-408E-9AB1-0A662C12F3B2-1-2048x1536-orientedHere is Mark’s diagram.  The “umbrella” at the top represents the heterogeneous church as an organization.  The lines and circles represent “cells” (or I would call larger cells = sub-congregations) of different cultures that are part of the same church.

Read more about DeYmaz’s rediscovery of the original intent of the HUP here:

HIRING & Why People Like to Hire People Like Themselves

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  A student once asked about why I require students to utilize 3-5 outside scholarly sources to support their statements.  I do this for two reasons.  First, a graduate school is based upon research, so students must not just conjecture but actually support their ideas from the words of juried scholarly sources. Secondly I require 3-5 sources (per week only) because scholarly sources are so easy to find today.  Let me give an example before we delve into the issue of hiring.

First, here is a student’s statement (with thesis) and my response regarding how (in less than 3 seconds) I found a juried (i.e. scholarly) source to support their thesis.

The student said:

Thank you (name) for your resource and thoughts on my post. I think that is a hard thing to do for a few reasons. First people want those that are less confrontational and sub-consciously pick those that are like them.

I responded:

Good comment (name).  I agree. But, to earn even more points, be sure to a cite a scholarly source for the following thesis you stated, “First people want those that are less confrontational and sub-consciously pick those that are like them (source __________).”

Here is a source that I found (in about 3 sec.) by searching for the words: “hire people like them:

You should use this system of searching for key words to easily find sources like this to score more points in graduate school.  Dr. Whitesel

Now, here is the article to answer the question in the title:

If You Want To Get Hired, Act Like Your Potential Boss

by , Business Insider Magazine, 5/29/14.

… Drawing from 120 interviews with employers, as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, Kellogg School of Management professor Lauren Rivera has found that hiring managers want recruits who have the potential to be friends.

“Hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting,” writes Rivera. “It is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but culturally similar to themselves.”

In other words, you have the same tastes, experiences, leisure pursuits, and social markers as the person across the table.

Rivera’s research found that companies might have notable levels of demographic diversity — it’s not only white dudes who work there — but still have deep-level homogeneity. Folks might have different skin colors, but they still grew up in the same handful of zip codes, attended the same elite colleges, and play the same sports…

Read more at …

SMALL GROUPS & Should They Be Homogeneous or Heterogeneous?

by Bob Whitesel, April 7, 2009.

The following are questions tendered by a previous student and my responses.  They reflect some of innovative ways we can expand our small group systems today.

  • The student said: “You mentioned when a group gets over 15 or 16 people that it may be getting too big.  Is there a size that is too small to function well?”

Usually a group can be as small as two or three. Wesley called these “band meetings” and they usually had 4-7 people, while the class meetings had 8-16.  The smaller group is really more of an accountability group, and it was here that Wesley suggested they ask some very personal questions, such as “What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?” (see Henderson, M. [1997] John Wesley’s class meetings: A model for making disciples. Springfield, MO: Evangel Publishing House, pp. 118-119)

  • The student said, “Is there a way to decide when a new group should be birthed?  Is it based on size or other factors – Spirit leading, change of interests, etc. “

The Holy Spirit’s leading is always critical, but size can confirm this.  Usually, people will start feeling the dynamics of the group have changed due to size and they just sort of “sense” it is time to birth another group.  To me it seems the Holy Spirit is leading this.

  • Student commented further: “What about diversity in a small group – often I heard people talk of how having a bunch of different unique individuals and different levels of Christian maturity are good for a group, but seems I’ve also heard that the group should be assembled based on similar ‘culture’?”

First, let us define two terms.  A small group of several cultures would be called a “heterogeneous.”  While a small group made up of multiple cultures would be called “homogenous.”  Churches too can be either heterogeneous or homogeneous. Using these terms, let me explain how I answered the student’s question.

Small groups create more intimacy if they are comprised of people who have much in common. Therefore, small groups develop more intimacy and accountability if they are homogenous (people of the same culture who have a lot in common and thus create more intimacy).

However, since I believe strongly that the church should be multi-cultural (or in other words heterogeneous) then a church should create many opportunities to bring together dissimilar groups.  These unity activities can happen by “linking” or “partnering” groups of different cultures to do common activities together, such as service to the needy.

But, there is a caveat here.  While intimacy and accountability are created within homogenous groups, prejudice can also inadvertently arise unless all groups “purposely and regularly” fellowship with different cultural groups.  This is why I am a big advocate of having a church made up of many different cultural sub-congregations.  It forces these different cultural sub-congregations to work together in running the church, learning how to forge partnerships, compromise as well as about the different cultures.  If you push out different cultures (e.g. youth cultures, Latino/Latina cultures, etc.) to go down the street and start their own church, there is going to be very little interacting between the cultures.  But, if you stay together with both cultures remaining in the same church building and running one non-profit organization together, you foster a lot of inter-cultural sharing, compromise and learning.

I call this the “alliance model” of a church, for it is an “alliance” of multiple sub-congregations who work together to run a church and by doing so break down cultural walls.  I devote a whole chapter to this model (and other models) of multicultural churches in The Healthy Church (2013, pp. 55-79).  I have a diagram in that chapter that shows why the “alliance model” is the best way for a church to get healthy and grow.

Plus, I can’t emphasize the reconciliation power of this “alliance model” enough.  Church leaders often think they have a healthy small group network because they have an expansive and robust small group ministry. But you must ALSO (not shouting, just for emphasis) have an expansive and robust “unity strategy” between your small groups.

This is because in our increasingly divided world we need more intercultural interaction to break down cultural walls.  Remember, for all of a small group’s power to create intimacy and discipleship, if you don’t have a strong unity strategy you will just have a hodge-podge of disconnected groups.  One of my mottoes is: “no small groups without regular partnerships between dissimilar groups!”

MULTIPLICATION & Why You Need a Resilience Strategy Now

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This article cites scholarly research that indicates that organizations which “diversify” are more likely to be resilient, i.e. to survive economic and societal cycles.

This is especially important for churches. Because churches are often homogeneous, congregations often grow and die because they are ministering to only one homogeneous group.

For example a church could be ministering to an aging Anglo-American constituency. But as a Hispanic community blossoms in the community, the church dies because it’s focusing upon one homogeneous group (and that group’s lifecycle is waning in the neighborhood). But, if the church reaches out to both Anglo Americans and Latino/Latina Americans at the same time it can through diversification. Then it would be growing into a new lifecycle. However most churches don’t think about diversification and wait until it’s too late. (Note: I am talking about cultural diversification and NOT theological diversification. I would advocate that all cultural diversification should be orthodox in theology.)

So, as churches diversify by offering different ministries and different worship options to reach different cultures – the church diversifies and becomes resilient.

Read this important article to be reminded that your critical strategic decision is to diversify your organization so that:

1) it has the strength of uniting people of different cultures
2) and can do so over an extended period of time.”

Following article by Andrew Winston, Harvard Business Review

Read more at …