GENERATIONS & The Power of Grandparents to Pass Down Values #NationalPublicRadio

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/22/15.

The following is an experience I had while listening to National Public Radio (NPR).  Prior to having satellite radio, I would listen to the national news on NPR during my long trips.  One day they were interviewing a sociologist that had written a book about anthropologist’s Margaret Mead’s discovery that grandparents most efficaciously transfer values down to grandchildren, and do so better than parents (A House Divided, 2001, p. 51).

The interviewer wondered if there was an institution in our communities that could foster this inter-generational communication.  The author replied that he knew of no such local organization, and the interviewer suggested that perhaps the government could sponsor inter-generational Senior-Child Centers and these could be set up across America.

It totally flabbergasted me that they did not see the Church as a conduit (as I believe God intended) for inter-generational values transmission.

I was busy dialing and redialing, trying to call in and tell them the answer was “the Church, the Church!” when the segment ended.

I sat there alongside of the road in my car thinking that we must do a better job of promoting that our churches are the God-intended environments for intergenerational dialogue and communication.

So, I challenge my students and my clients to spread the news that the best place for inter-ministry dialogue is the conduit God intended:  His called-out ones 🙂

Here are some online articles (from National Public Radio and Autism Speaks) that exemplify how grandparents are making a difference in the lives of their grandchildren. and

MEASUREMENT & Is Counting Biblical? A Quick Overview #HouseDividedBook

by Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, excerpted from A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church, (Abingdon Press, 2000, p. 206).

HDsmallFew principles have garnered as much controversy as the principle of measuring numerical growth.  However, missiologist and dean of the Church Growth Movement Donald McGavran states that “the Church is made up of countable people and there is nothing particularly spiritual in not counting them.  Men use the numerical approach in all worthwhile human endeavor.” [1]

But some have argued that there is something spiritual about “not counting.”  They would point to God’s displeasure with King David for ordering a census of the people in 1 Chronicles 21:1 – 30.  However, 1 Chronicles 21:1 reveals that it was Satan who inspired David to conduct this counting of his troops.  Even against the counsel of his commander Joab, who discerned David’s inappropriate motivation, David conducts the census.  David’s motivation for the census was to revel in the strength of his army.  But God wanted David to put his trust in God’s protection, rather than the size of his forces.  Hence, wrong motivation and wrong instigation led to an inappropriate counting.

Elsewhere in the Bible, numberings are conducted for meaningful reasons with helpful results.  In Numbers 1:2 and 26:2 God commands numberings of all Israel along with every segment of each tribe before and after the desert wanderings.  In the Gospel accounts we witness accurate countings of Jesus’ team of disciples, and in Luke 10:1 – 24 we see a company of 72 disciples sent out two by two.  In the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3 – 7, only by counting the sheep does the shepherd become aware that one is missing from the fold.  If counting those we are entrusted were odious to Jesus, certainly he would eliminate such imagery from his teaching.  And in Acts 1:15; 2:41; 4:4; Luke records the growth of the church by a careful record of its numerical increase.  McGavran concludes “on biblical grounds one has to affirm that devout use of the numerical approach is in accord with God’s wishes.  On the practical grounds, it is as necessary in congregations and denominations as honest financial dealing.” [2]


[1] Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, op. cit., p. 93.

[2] Ibid., p. 94.

MULTIPLICATION & @WesleySeminary Students Have Articles Published via CONG-520 Course

Students Publish Articles as an Alternative Assignment for CONG-520: Building a Multi-generational Church

As an alternative assignment for CONG-520, Dr. Whitesel encourages students to write two articles for publication based upon what they have learned about multiplying cross cultural sub-congregations (venues, sites, campuses) in his course.

Below is an abbreviated list of students who have had the articles they wrote for this course published.

Command Magazine, a resource for Christian leaders in the military, published Shawn Cossin’s article titled Restoring Order: How To Manage the Unmanageable and is available at  Or the entire magazine can be downloaded at (just go to pages 6-8 to read Shawn’s article).

The Ooze Webzine,

Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox  

Hoosier United Methodist Magazine, titled Together, published Mike Morley’s article, Bridging the Multi-generational Gap.  The online version of this magazine has the article posted at

The Salvation Army Magazine called The Officer is published internationally to 111 countries, ran an article by Robyn Bridgeo titled “Third Space.” The article was birthed out of ideas discussed in this course.

Laurie Turnow had her article title “All Ages, Please Apply” about generationally staffing a crisis pregnancy center printed in At The Center magazine:

Dr. Whitesel stated, “This is a great way for students to share insights from their Building a Multi-generational Church course with other church leaders.  And, as I recall, none of the above students expected to be published.”

WORSHIP SERVICES & How to Settle Worship Wars: For Churches Both Under (& Over) 100 Attendees #HouseDividedBook

by Bob Whitesel, 10/13/14

Many of our conflict-orientated forces arise from differences over worship. And, though differences over worship have their genesis in cultural differences (and thus life-cycles too) it may be important here for me to describe some of the tools you can use to settle worship conflict.

First of all, conflict over worship has to do with cultural preferences. There is nothing wrong with that. Each generational culture has been brought up in a different milieu.

The Builder Generation (69+ in 2014) was raised upon great hymns of the faith sang in the sanctuary. Popular tunes with hand-clapping were only sung at camp meetings (but notice most of the Builders got saved at camp meetings 🙂

HDsmallThe Boomers (50-68 in 2014) and Leading Edge Gen. X (40-49) grew up in a media explosion, where small transistor radios and car radios meant they were exposed to rhythm/blues music (i.e. rock and roll) every where they went. They came to hear this music as the soundtrack of their lives. Not surprisingly it became the soundtrack for their worship too.

Post-modern Xers (31-39 in 2014) and Yers (12-30) have grown up in an increasingly distrustful world, and their music has a much more plaintive and lamentive feel. This often bothers the Boomers who are much more upbeat and positive in their music (see Whitesel, 2007, p. 59).

Which is useful? They all are, but in different circumstances.

And thus many of you have tried to start new services. Dr. Chip Arn has a great book on this called How To Start a New Service (1997) and it is required in my elective course MIN558: Building a Multi-Generational Church. And, I have addressed how to use his book and modified his steps to starting a new service in my book A House Divided, the chapter titled “Worship in a Multi-generational Format.” Here is a brief overview of what you can do to settle worship wars.

If you are running 100+ attendees.

1. Find a time to start a new service that is convenient for the cultural generation you are reaching out to (I have given four charts on when Builders, Boomers and Xers like to go to church in A House Divided, pp. 173-177).

2. You ask 50 people in the church to sign a “covenant agreement” to change their worship time, and come to this new service for one year. At the end of this year, they either replace themselves with someone they’ve invited, or they re-up for another year. The reason you need 50 is because worship does not usually break out in a worship encounter unless there are 35+ people there. This has to do with anonymity and community. To get 35+ each weekend, you need to have 50 people committed to this new worship encounter; and because some will be gone each week, a net 35+ usually results.

3. You develop small groups during this time from the 50 people. The small groups are the discipleship environments for this new worship encounter. Some groups may be Bible-studies, etc., but others will be worship teams, greeters, etc. (creating groups that you need to help you organize the new encounter, but always ensure they practice all three elements of a healthy small group: UP-IN-OUT, see Cure for the Common Church, 2011).

4. You have the small groups meet for 2-6 months, before you launch your worship encounter.

5. Have new small groups ready at the worship encounter launch, for newcomers. The number of new small groups available should be 1-2 small groups for each 50 people who have committed to the new encounter.

PreparingChange_Reaction_MdHowever, if you are running under 100 attendees, things change.

If you start a new worship encounter you will usually have too few people coming to it (after all, the people coming to your church already like the times you have, and they are not likely to attend a new time). The best thing to do of you have less than 100 regular attendees, is the following:

1. Do not have a blended service (where you blend throughout the encounter) but rather have a “compartmentalized worship encounter” where you put the traditional songs/liturgy/elements at the beginning, then the sermon next, and then modern music at the end. You tell the traditionalists that they can go after the sermon, and even have a benediction before they leave. You have thus compromised, giving any who prefer their traditional music a traditional service. But, those who want to can stay around for the contemporary music “After-Glow.” This is 15-20 minutes of contemporary worship. You have thus “compartmentalized” rather than “blended” your worship service. And, each generation can worship without being blind-sided by a change in cultural music. This gives the traditionalist who do not care for contemporary music a chance to leave. In addition, the contemporary people can come late to the service of they want and stay longer. In essence, two worship services are emerging, with a common sermon in between. (You can instead do a contemporary music “Pre-Glow” before the service if that suits your church better. But, then you may wind up with an early second service that is contemporary, and younger generations tend to prefer later morning encounters.)

2. You allow this After-Glow (or Pre-Glow) to develop until you have 30-40 people staying for After-Glow. Then, once you have a total of 100 at the whole worship encounter, your start with Step 2 above.

I have used this with dozens of churches and it allows compromise, and the eventual growth of a new cultural worship encounter in a unifying manner (this process is spelled out more in A House Divided, 2000).

GENERATIONS & How Boomers and Millennials Are Bridging the Generation Gap

by Paul Taylor, 4/5/14, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center and the author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown (PublicAffairs)

Economic insecurity is a thread that binds these two massive generations.

“The young—America’s so-called millennials—are our most diverse generation ever. More than four in 10 are nonwhite, many the children of the great wave of Hispanic and Asians immigrants who began arriving half a century ago. Compared with their elders, millennials are political liberals, they’re digital wizards, they’re not particularly religious, they’re slow to marry and have kids, and they’re broke.

They’re the biggest generation since the boomers, who came of age back in the 1960s and ’70s and are best remembered for the psychedelic social protests of that era. In truth, they were never as liberal as their reputation; more boomers voted for Nixon in the 1972 presidential election than for his antiwar challenger, George McGovern. Nowadays, boomers’ big obsession isn’t sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll—it’s having enough money for their golden years.

In fact, economic insecurity is a thread that binds these two massive generations. Many boomers haven’t saved enough for retirement; meanwhile, millennials have lower incomes, less wealth, higher unemployment, and ­greater debt than the boomers had at the same stage of life. They’re at risk of being the first generation in modern American history to have a lower standard of living than their parents enjoyed.”

Read more at …