KINGDOM & McKnight + Stroope on “Why Do Christians Speak of ‘Mission’?”

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 4/7/17.

Michael Stroope has a full scale analysis of the Christian usage of the term “mission” and terms associated with it, like “missionary” and now today the very happy, fuzzy term “missional.”

His study is called Transcending Mission... The big book has three essential points:

(1) to figure out why the Bible has so little use of the language of mission, and never does “mission” occur,  and then,

(2) to examine where we picked up this term “mission.” 

(3) His third point? Get rid of mission language and reframe our calling with kingdom language.

He contends the term enters the Christian vocabulary through pilgrimage traditions that soon become colonialism and imperialism and territorial conquests. He locates some of it in the Jesuits and esp in the 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference.

Instead of mission language, Stroope proposes “kingdom” language. Ah, kingdom, but what does kingdom mean? (That’s what I’m asking as I’m reading him. I have my Kingdom Conspiracy in mind of course.)

Mission is contested language that requires continual promotion, defense, and revision, as this vocabulary is supplied language to the Christian tradition. When mission ascends to the status of sacred language, it can eclipse the kingdom and thus limit our view of Gods reign and muddle our ability to participate in his kingdom. The language of the reign of God, on the other hand, expresses an abiding theme throughout the Bible that culminates in the message of Jesus. When discovered and embraced, God’s reign forms us into pilgrim witnesses, who, though weak and afflicted, are liberated to live alongside and love those we encounter along the way. 358

He contends “kingdom” reorients us to be witnesses and pilgrims of the kingdom. His view of kingdom is largely that of GE Ladd with some NT Wright.

As language enters vocabulary, integrates with thought, and becomes the content of communication, it changes the way one sees God, it shapes identity, and it determines actions. Kingdom language prompts those who follow Christ to live as pilgrims who give witness to the coming reign of God. They are not called missionaries, and their life purpose is not named as mission. To supplant the structures of thought expressed in Scripture with the language of a modern tradition is to underestimate the power of God’s kingdom to change the world through witnesses and pilgrims. 376

Kingdom language is the better choice of language, because it is rooted in revelation, includes all types of believers, prioritizes formation of life, expands possibilities, underscores the place of the church, liberates from Christendom assumptions, and points to the Spirit’s work. 376

What of the church?

Kingdom language recognizes the place of the community of faith in the activity of God. Some view the church as the problem or an impediment, so they advocate a “kingdom orientation” rather than a “church orientation,” as if we must choose between the two. For sure, the church is not the kingdom of God, but the church, as the body of Christ, exists in the world to speak and embody kingdom values. As a community of people being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the church is able to witness to Christ’s teaching, life, and death. By the very fact that people surrender personal desires and their agenda to live alongside others, they offer a counterwitness to the pervasive individualism of modern life.

The themes of my Kingdom Conspiracy are God/Jesus as king, the king’s rule by way of redemption and governing, the people of Israel and the church who are the redeemed/governed people, the king’s instructions/law and the king’s location and sacred space. The above paragraph could have been expanded to see even more vitality to the relationship of kingdom and church and actually support most of what he is saying.

As for replacing “mission” with “kingdom”? I’m for far more stringent and rigorous biblical theology, which Stroope is doing. He’s right on the history of the term “mission” being something that has taken over, though some of what is meant by “mission” surely is involved in “kingdom” so that I’m not sure I’d make as big a difference. However, he’s right when speaks to the framing issue: which term we use matters immensely, and kingdom is the term to use.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/04/07/christians-speak-mission/

STUDENT SUCCESS & My Grading Policies w/ More Examples of Outstanding Work

(from one of my recent syllabi)

Grading Policies

Your grading policy for your course is dependent on your school and program.  Your grading policies can be found in the IWU Catalog.

Discussions

In most workshops, there are discussion forums.  These discussions focus on either a special topic or general material from the workshop.  You will be given instructions on which discussion forums apply to the current workshop.  Complete discussions individually or in study groups as instructed. Well-thought-out postings that add something intellectually to the discussion are required for a good grade. Your initial postings should fully answer the questions posed in the course interface.  Additionally, you must reply to at least two of your classmate’s postings. Postings of the “I agree” or “Me too” variety will not suffice.

In these weekly discussions conduct some outside reading in a minimum of two to three books to support your observations. This might include a Bible commentary, other books on this topic, etc.  Customarily the graduate school student is expected to be skimming a minimum of several outside books each week and bring them into, when helpful, the online conversation.  Also bring into the conversation relevant ideas from your other course textbooks.  Thus, each week the student should be bringing into the online conversation one to two textbooks and two to three outside references as a minimum.

Also be sure to reply to any followup questions posted by your instructor. These are designed to help you dig deeper into application and theory.

End-of-week Papers

Most weeks an end-of-week paper will be due by Thursday 11:59pm. Like your discussions these end-of-week papers should cite relevant outside readings which support your observations. Similar to the discussion parameters, the graduate school student is expected at a minimum to be skimming several outside books each week and bringing them to bear upon their weekly papers (with citations).  Also, don’t forget to bring into your papers relevant ideas from other course textbooks.

And, unless specified differently by your professor, your end-of-week papers should comply with APA formatting rules and include an abstract.

An Expectation of Outside Scholarship

Therefore for B level work, the student should each week be utilizing and citing in their weekly papers and discussion forums, one to two textbooks and two to three outside references.  Remember however, this is for B level work.  A person seeking a higher grade would be expected to do better.

Letter Grade Equivalencies

Grade
Description of Work

A
Clearly stands out as excellent performance. Has unusually sharp insights into material and initiates thoughtful questions. Sees many sides of an issue. Articulates well and writes logically and clearly. Integrates ideas previously learned from this and other disciplines. Anticipates next steps in progression of ideas. Example “A” work should be of such nature that it could be put on reserve for all cohort members to review and emulate. The “A” cohort member is, in fact, an example for others to follow. Typical interaction will be 3+ times in each forum.

B
Demonstrates a solid comprehension of the subject matter and always accomplishes all course requirements. Serves as an active participant and listener. Communicates orally and in writing at an acceptable level for the degree program. Work shows intuition and creativity. Example “B” work indicates good quality of performance and is given in recognition for solid work; a “B” should be considered a good grade and awarded to those who submit assignments of quality less than the exemplary work described above. Typical interaction will be 3+ times in each forum.

C
Quality and quantity of work in and out of class is average. Has marginal comprehension, communication skills, or initiative. Requirements of the assignments are addressed at least minimally. Typical interaction will be 3 or fewer times in each forum.

D
Quality and quantity of work is below average. Has minimal comprehension, communication skills, or initiative. Requirements of the assignments are addressed at below acceptable levels. Typical interaction will be two or fewer times in each forum.

F
Quality and quantity of work is unacceptable and does not qualify the student to progress to a more advanced level of work.

STUDENT SUCCESS & Helping Other Students Not Only Aids Them, But Increases Your Score Too

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 4/19/17

Students often ask how to score well in an online discussion posting. And though the parameters for each letter grade are spelled out in great detail in the syllabus (and I’ve posted them again below) students often want examples.

Here are examples: one is a student’s posting about a “worship disaster” followed by two examples of responses. The first is a poor example of a response and the second is a good example.

Situation of Student X:

…My pastor decided to add a service on Wednesdays at 6:30pm.  I would not call it a disaster, but definitely a failure. We had already added a third service on Sunday mornings and we just did not have enough room to accommodate all the worshippers. The solution that leadership tried to implement was to add a Wednesday evening service which would allow for more newcomers. The service was from 7pm to 8:30 pm.

The mistake was adding the Wednesday evening service. The reason it was a failure is because adding the Wednesday service did not do what was it was supposed to do. Most of the people who attended to Wednesday service were people who already normally attended church on Sunday. I believe it is important that we deal with our mistakes as individuals and as the church…

Response of Student 1 (a poor example)

_____StudentName____, that certainly is a difficult situation. I know that Charles Arn has some good insights in his book about how to start a new service. You might want to take a look there and see what which of his ideas might be helpful.

Response of Student 2 (a better example)

_____StudentName____, I am sorry to hear about the failure of this mid-week service. It seems to me, though, by the way you described how normal Sunday service attenders would come on Wednesday nights that maybe there was not a specific group that the church was trying to reach with this service and it was seen by the congregants as an additional time for them, not for non-attenders.

It may have been more effective if the leadership would have placed an emphasis on the service being either for a select generational, or even spiritual group as discussed in Charles Arn’s book How to Start a New Service (1997). By focusing the service on a select group there could have been mitigation and buy-in from the regular attenders that the new service was to reach new people…

Arn, C. (1997). How to start a new service your church can reach new people. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.


My (Dr. Whitesel’s) response:

What Student 2 did right:

I agree with Student 2. I think the problem was that a specific outreach group wasn’t identified. And then as Student B simply stated, congregants felt it was just another requirement on their already busy volunteer schedule.

Student 2 helped Student X with the following suggestion, “Seems to me, though, by the way you described how normal Sunday service attenders would come on Wednesday nights that maybe there was not a specific group that the church was trying to reach with this service and it was seen by the congregants as an additional time for them, not for non-attenders. It may have been more effective if the leadership would have placed an emphasis on the service being either for a select generational, or even spiritual group as discussed in Charles Arn’s book How to Start a New Service (1997).”

This is the type of posting graduate students will want to utilize in their online conversations. Student 2 found reliable and valid scholarly insights on Student X’s situation and shared those with her.

The result was it not only helped the Student X, but it also helped me the professor see that Student A understood the principles of Dr. Arn’s book.

What Student 1 did wrong:

Student 1 didn’t share any ideas from Dr. Arn’s book, but rather just referred the student to it. Student 1 had probably read Dr. Arn’s book and knew it would be helpful. But as the professor, I have no evidence that Student 1 knew what was in the book.

So if a student simply points to a book for the solutions, it doesn’t earn many points. That is because it’s not clear to the professor if they have read more than the cover of the book. Now, I know that the vast majority of my students have read these books, but for fairness to all students I must see written proof that they know and can apply the principles in the books they cite. And the best way to do that is to help others.

So it’s a win-win. First, Student 2’s type of posting helps the person to whom the student is responding (Student X). And second, it demonstrates to the professor that the responder (Student 2) understands the scholarship on the subject at hand.


From one of my syllabi:

Grading Policies

Your grading policy for your course is dependent on your school and program.  Your grading policies can be found in the IWU Catalog.

Discussions

In most workshops, there are discussion forums.  These discussions focus on either a special topic or general material from the workshop.  You will be given instructions on which discussion forums apply to the current workshop.  Complete discussions individually or in study groups as instructed. Well-thought-out postings that add something intellectually to the discussion are required for a good grade. Your initial postings should fully answer the questions posed in the course interface.  Additionally, you must reply to at least two of your classmate’s postings. Postings of the “I agree” or “Me too” variety will not suffice.

In these weekly discussions conduct some outside reading in a minimum of two to three books to support your observations. This might include a Bible commentary, other books on this topic, etc.  Customarily the graduate school student is expected to be skimming a minimum of several outside books each week and bring them into, when helpful, the online conversation.  Also bring into the conversation relevant ideas from your other course textbooks.  Thus, each week the student should be bringing into the online conversation one to two textbooks and two to three outside references as a minimum.

Also be sure to reply to any followup questions posted by your instructor. These are designed to help you dig deeper into application and theory.

Initial posts are due by Tuesday 11:59pm.  Follow up posts are due by Thursday 11:59pm.

End-of-week Papers

Most weeks an end-of-week paper will be due by Thursday 11:59pm. Like your discussions these end-of-week papers should cite relevant outside readings which support your observations. Similar to the discussion parameters, the graduate school student is expected at a minimum to be skimming several outside books each week and bringing them to bear upon their weekly papers (with citations).  Also, don’t forget to bring into your papers relevant ideas from other course textbooks.

And, unless specified differently by your professor, your end-of-week papers should comply with APA formatting rules and include an abstract.

An Expectation of Outside Scholarship

Therefore for B level work, the student should each week be utilizing and citing in their weekly papers and discussion forums, one to two textbooks and two to three outside references.  Remember however, this is for B level work.  A person seeking a higher grade would be expected to do better.

Letter Grade Equivalencies

Grade
Description of Work

A
Clearly stands out as excellent performance. Has unusually sharp insights into material and initiates thoughtful questions. Sees many sides of an issue. Articulates well and writes logically and clearly. Integrates ideas previously learned from this and other disciplines. Anticipates next steps in progression of ideas. Example “A” work should be of such nature that it could be put on reserve for all cohort members to review and emulate. The “A” cohort member is, in fact, an example for others to follow. Typical interaction will be 3+ times in each forum.

B
Demonstrates a solid comprehension of the subject matter and always accomplishes all course requirements. Serves as an active participant and listener. Communicates orally and in writing at an acceptable level for the degree program. Work shows intuition and creativity. Example “B” work indicates good quality of performance and is given in recognition for solid work; a “B” should be considered a good grade and awarded to those who submit assignments of quality less than the exemplary work described above. Typical interaction will be 3+ times in each forum.

C
Quality and quantity of work in and out of class is average. Has marginal comprehension, communication skills, or initiative. Requirements of the assignments are addressed at least minimally. Typical interaction will be 3 or fewer times in each forum.

D
Quality and quantity of work is below average. Has minimal comprehension, communication skills, or initiative. Requirements of the assignments are addressed at below acceptable levels. Typical interaction will be two or fewer times in each forum.

F
Quality and quantity of work is unacceptable and does not qualify the student to progress to a more advanced level of work.

STUDENT SUCCESS & Why Asking Questions of Other Students is Not the Application Goal of a Seminary

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/30/17.

Seminaries are so-called “professional schools.” That puts them in the category with Business Schools which offer MBA degrees.  In seminaries we typically offer ecclesial-orientated, but similiar degrees: MDiv, MA and DMin. These are professional degrees, which means that the students are usually already engaged in their profession and are honing their skills.

Therefore, students are expected to weekly be “applying” what they are learning to their profession in professional schools, such as business schools and seminaries. For example, in a MBA Business School program a student might investigate how to apply an innovate financial model to their business and report back to their professor the applicability.

Papers should describe application plans.

Seminary is the same way.  Students are expected to:

  • Take what they are learning each week
  • “apply” it to their ministry,
  • Then report back to fellow students and their professor.

This is why our end-of-week papers are customarily called “Application Papers,” because they describe how the student would “apply” to their profession what they learned that week.

Discussions also should describe application ideas, not just ask questions.

For students to earn points in professional school discussions, they should do more than just ask questions of the other students. Often times students do this because they see the professor asking questions. However the professor’s role is different: she or he is there to probe the thinking and depth of understanding of the students. Other students can do this as well, but it doesn’t demonstrate to the professor that the student is understand the content. It only demonstrates that the other students can ask questions.

To earn points for discussions in a professional school,

  • Students look up research that can help the other students
  • Then “apply” that research to the other student’s context.

Here is an example:

A student stated that he thought small groups create intimacy in larger churches.  And, he asked a fellow student, who pastored a large church, if this was the case.  The large church pastor did not utilize small groups and thus did not reply.

However in a professional school, students do not earn points by asking questions, but by giving application solutions.

Let’s go back to our example.  The student’s thesis, that small groups create intimacy in larger churches, is easily supportable from research by various scholars. He could start with the “Reveal Study” that was conducted at Bill Hybel’s church.

So, to earn points for application:

  1. The student finds research on how large churches can maintain intimacy as they grow.  The student might discover that small groups help with this.
  2. Then the student shares his/her  research-supportable findings with fellow students.
  3. Finally, the student explains (and cites) some “tools” or mechanisms for fostering small groups in a large church environment. Results are …
    • The large church pastor would benefit from the application insights in the “tools” suggested.
    • And, the student would demonstrate to the professor that she/he was conversant in scholarly research and application on the topic at hand.

MISSION vs VISION & In One Short Sentence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Explained the Flaw w/ Bill Gates’ Original Mission

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D, 2/27/17.

Why are Apple fans more passionate than PC followers? Why are artists, who think abstractly, drawn to Apple more than Microsoft?

It has to do with one of their founder’s mixup of vision with mission.

Bill Gates equated mission with vision. As I teach my students, the two are distinctly different: mission never changes, but vision is temporal and may change, albeit carefully, over time and with strategic analysis.

Gates equated mission with vision as the current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Nadelle explained, “When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” said Nadella.

Nadella is right, “putting a PC in every home” is not a mission – because it is a vision. It is something that can be reached, can be pictured in your mind and is temporally bound. You can see a vision in your mind. You can envision every house having a PC computer. That is why every house today doesn’t, many have Macs.

A mission drives the company and its values, therefore shaping it’s decisions. It is much bigger and grander than a vision.

When Steve Jobs was luring Bill Scully from PepsiCo to become CEO of Apple, Jobs shared a mission, not a vision, saying: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” (Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future [1987] by John Sculley and John A. Byrne)

A mission is just like that. It is exciting, world-changing … but somewhat imprecise so it could be manifest in many different outcomes. It is also not temporally bound, like “putting a PC in every home.” A mission drives your values and decisions through many different projects.

But, people like visions because they can envision what the future looks like. For instance, they can picture every home having a PC.

In contrast, look at the loyal following and passionate followers of Apple. Steve Jobs had a mission to “change the world” by reinventing the way the world interacts. This change mission includes, but is not limited to, putting an Apple Computer in every home. But it also includes visions such as putting an Apple iPhone in every hand, perfecting the computer notepad, reinventing how we obtain/listen to music, etc.

A person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why it was much more fun and exciting to work for Jobs than for Gates. And a person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why people are more passionate about companies like Apple.

If you are trying to get people excited about the mission of the church and your vision, then you must begin by understanding the difference between vision and mission. Even mega-wealthy entrepreneurs like Gates didn’t get it and their legacy reminds us of this.

Read this article to discover why Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

In One Short Sentence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Explained the Flaw w/ Bill Gates’ Original Mission

by Justin Bariso, Inc. Magazine, 2/27/17.

I’ve been a fan of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for some time. From encouraging employees after an epic fail to the amazing autonomy he’s granted LinkedIn (after that company’s recent acquisition), Nadella has proven he’s the right leader to guide Microsoft into the future.

Of course, Nadella took over a position that was once held by the company’s founder and world’s wealthiest man Bill Gates. But in a recent interview with USA Today, Nadella showed that he’s not afraid to forge his own path–by sharing what he saw as a flaw in Gates’s original mission statement.

“When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” said Nadella.

He continues: “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Moving Forward

For his part, Nadella has tried to embrace a more forward-thinking philosophy.  Just a few examples:

  • Microsoft Azure (the company’s cloud computing service) is growing rapidly, and second in market share only to Amazon’s AWS…

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/in-one-short-sentence-microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-explained-the-flaw-with-bill-g.html

#LEAD600 #LEAD545

 

STUDENT SUCCESS & Are You a Degree-seeking Student or a Knowledge-seeking One?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/27/16.

Over the years I’ve noticed many students gravitating towards one of two academic cliques. Not all students will gravitate to one or the other, but many will. My observations have led me to believe connecting with one group in lieu of the other is more beneficial for long-term professional impact. I’m talking about the difference between those who seek a degree and those who seek knowledge. Let me explain a few differences.

The purpose for going to school:

The degree-seeking student is often encouraged to go to school because of a family or professional expectation. Their goal is to get the degree, which they hope will open professional doors. Often times those doors don’t open because, while they possess the degree, their knowledge is weakly formed.

Knowledge-seeking students usually go to school because they have a propensity towards being a creative learner. They want to learn new concepts and apply them in new ways. They are innovative and in brace past knowledge as a foundation upon which to build new insights. They believe they can change the way their profession behaves.

Hanging out:

The degree-seeking student usually hangs out with other similarly oriented students with conversations about the benefits or lack of benefits of the degree. Similarly, they tend to be more critical of the process, because they want to hurry through the academic journey to get the goal towards which they strive: the degree. It is not uncommon to hear them complaining about due dates, level of depth expected by the professor and all sorts of seemingly unfair academic expectations that slow them in their progress to a degree.

Knowledge-seeking students see academia as a challenge and understand that extra work can result in extra knowledge. They don’t add citations to assignments simply because they want to pad the assignment. Instead they absorb knowledge from from a broad reading base, upon which to craft new ways to think about their homework topics. They look forward to input from the professor and often engage in dialogue about the topic with their professor at off hours.

Unlike the degree-seeking student that may engage their professor with complaints about why the process is not easier or quicker: the knowledge-seeking student usually engages the professor with questions and ideas about how the topic can be investigated and applied better.

The lure of the cliques:

Similar to the Jets and the Sharks in West Side Story, there’s a tendency for the nonaffiliated students to be pulled into one of these groups. It is evident from what I have written here, that I believe one of these groups better serves the student and the Academy. But many students do not affiliate with either, preferring to just get through the program with a modicum of knowledge.

Yet, I believe today we need more students who are dedicated to investigating, synthesizing and forming new understandings about our world. Our great Creator has given us many mysteries and applications to solve. And I believe He has provided the relationship of the mentor and mentee as one way to discover it.

CONFLICT & My List of Books on Conflict Resolution

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/17/16.

Colleagues and students often ask for recommended books for addressing church conflict. Below is a list in order of general usefulness. However, since each organizational context is different, the order should serve only as a guideline.

Van Deusen-Hunsinger, D., & Latini, T.F. (2013). Transforming church conflict: Compassionate leadership in action. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster John Knox Press.

Barthel, T. K., & Edling, D. V. (2012). Redeeming church conflicts: Turning crisis into compassion and care. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Whitesel, R.B. (2002). Staying Power: Why people leave the church over change (and what you do about it). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

_____. (2008). “Go slow, build consensus and succeed.” In Preparing for change reaction: How to introduce change in your church. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

Lyon, K.B., & Mosely, D.P. (2012). How to lead in church conflict: Healing ungrieved loss. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Malony, H.N. (1995). Win-win relationships: 9 strategies for settling personal conflicts without waging war. Nashville, TN: Broadman.

Leas, S. (1998). Discover your conflict management style. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute

_____. (1998). Moving your church through conflict. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute.

Becker, P.E. (1999). Congregations in conflict: Cultural models of local religious life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hybels, B. (1997). “Standing in the crossfire.” In Leading Your Church Through Conflict and Reconciliation: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry, 28-37. Marshall Shelley, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.

Gangel, K.O., & Canine, S.L. (1992). Communication and conflict management in churches and Christian organizations. Nashville, TN: Broadman.

Halverstadt, H.F. (1991). Managing church conflict. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox.

Palmer, D.C. (1990). Managing conflict creatively: A guide for missionaries & Christian workers. Pasadena, CA: William Carey.

Shawchuck, N., & Moeller, B. “Animal instincts.” (1997). In Leading Your Church Through Conflict and Reconciliation: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry, 176- 182. Marshall Shelley, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.

Dobson, E.G., Speed B.L., and Shelley, M. (1992). Mastering Conflict & Controversy. Portland, OR: Multnomah

Lewis, G.D. (1981). Resolving church conflicts: A case study approach for local congregations. New York, NY: Harper & Row.