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.

CREATIVITY & Why Creative People Say No: Because Saying “No” Has More Creative Power

“Creative People Say No” is an extract from Kevin Ashton’s book, “How to Fly a Horse  —  The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery,” available here.

A Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing.

One of the most interesting things about his project was how many people said “no.”

Management writer Peter Drucker: “One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours — productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well…”

The professor contacted 275 creative people. A third of them said “no.” Their reason was lack of time. A third said nothing. We can assume their reason for not even saying “no” was also lack of time and possibly lack of a secretary.

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.

Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time.

No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.

We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.

Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?”

Read more at …

ARTS & A Leadership Exercise Comparing Excellence vs. Perfectionism

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/8/16.

This is a leadership exercise for clients, students and colleagues regarding how to foster more innovation and authenticity in our churches.  Let’s start this exercise with a quote from Rory Noland (1999:106):

“I think the best artist pursue excellence, not perfection.  In fact, I’d like to propose that perfectionism is more or less the evil twin of excellence. While perfectionism is destructive and man-centered, pursuing excellence is constructive and God-honoring.  Instead of pursuing perfection, we need to pursue excellence.”

A Leadership Exercise

Brainstorm regarding how to tell the difference between “excellence” and “perfectionism.” I will begin by suggesting several categories.

  1. Add at least one more category.
  2. Then share an example of “excellence” and of “perfectionism” in at least two categories.

So tell us, what would “excellence” and “perfectionism” look like in various ministry categories.  Copy what others have said to create a mega-list.

Category   > Solo song on Sunday morning (sometimes called “special music”):



Category   >  Call to worship:



Category   >  Ushering



Category   >  _____________



Category   >  _____________



Remember: add at least one (1) category and add at least two (2) examples. Your examples do not need to be under the same category.

Lessons Learned

Compare and comment upon the results. You will find that by looking at many examples you can begin to see even slight differences between “excellence” and “perfectionism.” Then you must decide which you will pursue.

Reference:  Rory Noland, The Heart of the Artist (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999).

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & An Exercise to Recapture the Dual Emphasis of Wesley’s “Method”

What was behind the Wesleyan revival’s rapid spread around the world?  A dual emphasis on two “methods” are key (and need to be recaptured today). To help discover these two “methods,” undertake this quick exercise.

A Leadership Exercise:

Search online (search on too) for four (4) key words: John Wesley, poor, conversion.

Then share a few sentences about the following three things:

Firstly, share something that you learned that is new for you.

Secondly tell about something you could do in your ministry to better reflect the Wesley “method” of meeting the needs of the poor.

And thirdly, explain what you will do in your ministry to better reflect Wesley’s method of encouraging everyone to have a conversion experience.

In other words, the “method” behind “Methodism” has two important components (see below).  What will you do in your ministry to ensure you include and balance both

1) meeting the needs of the poor

2) and explaining to everyone their need for a spiritual/life transformation through the power of Jesus Christ.

This exercise will help you internalize the “methods” that led to the fastest growing revival movement since Biblical times.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

STUDENT SUCCESS & How to Send, Title and Format End-of-week Assignments in My Courses,

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/8/15.

In an effort to make it easy for students to submit their weekly homework, I have put in their syllabus guidelines for homework submissions.  Here below are those guidelines restated and expanded.

These are (required) protocols for students who are submitting their end-of-week, i.e. “dropbox” assignments:

LATE ASSIGNMENTS, 2% a day reduction:

–  If you turn in a posting or an assignment late, you must tell me with the post or in the message box (I trust you) how many days the paper was late and if any late penalty waiver/reduction (see below) was granted.

–  Late penalty waiver/reduction: I utilize a very minimal 2% a day tardiness penalty (official seminary policy is 10% a day). But if you think you deserve a late penalty waiver (extenuating or an emergency circumstances beyond your control) or a partial reduction of only 1% a day (circumstances partially out of your control) you must:

a) contact me 24 hours before the assignment is due (per the Wesley Seminary official guidelines),

b) note the days late and agreed late penalty in the posting or in the message box when you submit an assignment,

c) AND, be aware that because of the accelerated format of our courses I cannot give feedback on postings/papers submitted after the deadline, regardless of a waiver.


– All papers (but not postings) must be in APA format and include: a title page (with the IWU plagiarism statement at the bottom of the title page – the statement is copied below), an abstract and a reference page. (These pages do not count towards your page total, so it gives you more room to write.)

– Use appendices to for any charts, bulleted sections and additional information. (These pages also do not count towards your page total.)


All papers submitted via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) should be in .doc or .docx  If you are not using Microsoft software it is also acceptable to submit papers in PDF format. Brochures and scanned documents may only be submitted in PDF formats.

Always begin filenames with your name, then the title of the assignment.  Examples: [firstinitial.lastname – assignment title] = “B.Hancock-AP1.doc” or S.Fosua – Theology of baptism.docx


– Be sure to submit your paper in MS Word,

– Unless you and I agree on an alternative word processing program beforehand.

THAT’S IT!  These guidelines will make it easier for you to keep track of your assignments and for me to compare them.  As always, I look forward to a great learning journey with my students.

IWU PLAGIARISM STATEMENT (be sure to put this at the bottom of your title page)

I have read and understand the plagiarism policy as outlined in the syllabus and in the sections relating to the Wesley Seminary Honesty/Cheating Policy.  By affixing this statement to the title page of my paper, I certify that I have not cheated or plagiarized in the process of completing this assignment.  I also certify that the work submitted is original work for this specific course and to the MDIV program.  If it is found that cheating and/or plagiarism did take place in the writing of this paper, I understand the possible consequences of the act(s) which could include expulsion from Wesley Seminary.

STUDENT SUCCESS & The Use of Personal Pronouns in APA Format

Commentary from Dr. Whitesel: Students often ask about the use of APA and when to use personal pronouns. Here is an excerpt from the APA style blog. When students have such questions, I encourage them to feel free to access the official APA sides or to do a quick Google search.

(Retrieved from

General Use of I or We

It is totally acceptable to write in the first person in an APA Style paper. If you did something, say, “I did it”—there’s no reason to hide your own agency by saying “the author [meaning you] did X” or to convolute things by using the passive “X was done [meaning done by you].” If you’re writing a paper alone, use I as your pronoun. If you have coauthors, use we.

However, avoid using we to refer to broader sets of people—researchers, students, psychologists, Americans, people in general, or even all of humanity—without specifying who you mean (a practice called using the editorial “we”). This can introduce ambiguity into your writing.

For example, if you are writing about the history of attachment theory, write “Researchers have studied attachment since the 1970s” rather than “We have studied attachment since the 1970s.” The latter may allow the reader to erroneously believe that you have personally studied attachment for the last 40 years (which may be difficult for those dear readers under 40).

If you want to refer to yourself as well as a broader group, specify to whom we refers. Write “As young adults in college, we are tasked with learning to live independent lives” not “We are tasked with learning to live independent lives.” By stating that we refers here to young adults in college, readers understand the context (which could otherwise be any number of groups tasked with the same, such as individuals with developmental disabilities or infants)…


It’s less hard than you might think to write about yourself in APA Style. Own your opinions by using the appropriate pronouns.

More examples at …

WEAKNESSES & A Team Exercise to Help Mitigate Your Leadership Weaknesses

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 1/27/16.

Here is an leadership exercise to help you mitigate your weaknesses as you develop your strengths.  This is how you conduct this exercise.

1) Share what you perceive as one of your weaknesses.

> Pick a weakness that you think others could help you overcome.
> If the weaknesses to personal choose a different weakness.
> Each person should choose at least one thing in their leadership they want to improve.

2) Then comment on at least two weaknesses of others in your group.  At least two others will comment upon your weakness.

3) Give advice about how you have overcome this weakness and how you think they can overcome it.

This is an exercise that opens leaders up to helping one another overcome leadership weaknesses. But this discussion can also be personal. So here are the guidelines:

a)  When you share in a prescription for someone else’s weakness, use a weakness that you have also seen in yourself, but you have overcome.

b) Share the process you underwent to overcame that weakness.

c) Share how you knew that the weakness was finally overcome.

Just a sentence or two about each will help you develop your leadership strengths by mitigating your weaknesses too.

EVALUATION & Who Should Evaluate Your Leadership in a 360 Degree Assessment

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 1/25/15.

I often tell students, clients and mentees that they will gain remarkable insights from a “360 degree assessment” of their leadership.  But sometimes those with unique ministry situations wonder whom they should poll in their “360 Assessment of their Leadership.”

Basically there are three types of colleagues to whom all of you should be networked and who you can poll regarding your leadership style.

1)  Managers.  These are people that you report to. They have higher authority than you, but oftentimes this may be only one person. Still, for some students this might be a board of a dozen people.  Since you will want to poll only 8-12 people, don’t use up all of your selections from the board if you have one.  Just get two to four people from the board.  If you have only one person you report to, then that one manager is enough.

2)  Peers.  These are people working at the same level as you and who have parallel insights into your leadership “traits, abilities, skills and behaviors” (Northouse 2009:2-3).  If they work on the same level as you, but have little contact with you, then they probably won’t be helpful so don’t poll them.  Basically you are looking for people who observe how you lead and who lead in similar scenarios.  This is sometimes called horizontal polling.

3)  Direct Reports. These are people that report to you.  If you don’t have such people, you need them. Everyone should be discipling others.  These are the people you are discipling in both spiritual and leadership areas. Plus, they are the recipients of your delegations.  This would be analogous to the disciples, whom Jesus discipled over a period of three years.  If you led a volunteer group even for a short period of time, these volunteers are your direct reports even if they did so for only a limited time.  The key is to find those that have experienced your delegation, direction and encouragement and get their input on how you did.

I think you can see that most people should have three readily available groups of people which they can poll.

LEADERSHIP TRAITS & Research Offers Alternative List of the 12 Qualities of Effective Leaders

Proven management surveys yield new list of 12 keys to ministerial effectiveness.

by Bob Whitesel, Strategies for Today’s Leader Magazine.

Recently there has been a proliferation of books purporting to help distinguish between highly effective church leaders from those who are less effective. However, most of these books are based on anecdotal observations. In other words, one, two or even a dozen illustrative examples are given to support a certain list of effective leadership skills. While this type of research is helpful, the reader may wonder if it stands up to quantitative verification.

A study by Robert Herman, professor of organizational behavior at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and Martin Butler, professor at Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, looks at the qualities that characterize effective religious leaders (Butler and Herman 1999). Working with leaders, pastors and laypersons within the Church of the Nazarene, Herman and Butler’s research exposed twelve (12) characteristics of effective church leaders.

The study employed two popular leadership questionnaires and a lesser known ministry orientated version. The Managerial Practices Survey (MPS) is well known with strong reliability and validity (Yukl 1990). A second survey, the Leader Behavior Questionnaire (LBQ) is likewise broadly utilized and reliable (Sashkin and Burke 1990). The third is a lesser known survey titled the Ministerial Effectiveness Inventory (MEI) (Malony and Majovsky 1986). It is fairly short adaptation of the “Profiles in Ministry” survey developed by the Association of Theological Schools.

Their research revealed that effective leaders are:

(1) Managers. Sample question: “This minister checks work progress against plans to see if it works.”

(2) Problem solvers. Sample question: “This minister handles church-related problems and crises in a confident and decisive manner.”

(3) Planner. Sample question: “This minister plans in detail how to accomplish a task or project.”

(4) Delegator. Sample question: “The minister presents a policy or strategy in general terms and then asks you to determine specific action steps for implementing it.”

(5) Inspirer. Sample question: “This minister develops enthusiasm for a task or project by appealing to your pride in accomplishing a challenging task or doing something never before done.”

(6) Change agent. Sample question: “This person has been able to help this church adapt to changing conditions.”

(7) Shepherd. Sample question: “This persons shows that he/she really cares about people.”

(8) Communicator. Sample question covers the ability of the leader to clearly state directions and views.

(9) Multi-tasker. Sample question: “This minister uses a style of leadership that is flexible and responsible.”

(10) Student. Sample question: “The minister demonstrates a style of lifelong learning through continual education, research, and study.”

(11) Servant. Sample question: “The minister does not frighten people off with his/her dominating, superior attitude.

(12) A person of integrity. Sample question: “The minister’s lifestyle does not involve illicit sexual activity and/or gambling.”

REALITY IN ACTION: Ministers can be taught to be better planners, delegators, change agents, multitaskers and problem solves. Thus, lay leaders will want to encourage their clergy to read books, attend seminars and peruse periodicals that deal with strengthening these characteristics.

Ministers should also look for mentors who exemplify the above stated characteristics. A good question for a minister to ask him or herself is “who do I know with the following characteristics…?” and then ask oneself the questions stated above. Remember, care for individuals (the shepherding skill), the servant motif, and personal integrity are usually not learned in seminars or books, but by observation and tutorship.

Seminary and ministerial training programs will also want to take into consideration how they are fostering the above skills. And pastoral search committees may also wish to ask some of the above questions to their prospective candidates, or better yet the candidate’s former lay leaders.

Butler and Herman have done the church a great service by clearly delineating some of the key attributes of ministerial effectiveness. By considering these research generated skills we can better asses our leadership development and sharpen our ministerial skills.

Quotes from the above article:

“Often one, two or even a dozen illustrative examples are given to support a certain list of effective leadership skills. While this type of research is helpful, the reader may wonder if it stands up to quantitative verification.”

“Working with leaders, pastors and laypersons within the Church of the Nazarene, Herman and Butler’s research exposed twelve (12) characteristics of effective church leaders.”

“A good question for a minister to ask him or herself is ‘who do I know with the following characteristics…?’ and then ask oneself some of these representative questions.”

D. Martin Butler and Robert D. Herman, “Effective Ministerial Leadership,” Journal of Nonprofit Management and Leadership (1999), 9:229-239.

Download the article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel STRATEGIES Research Offers Alternative List of the 12 Traits of Effective Leaders

©Bob Whitesel, “Research to Reality: Research Offers Alternative List of the 12 Traits of Effective Leaders,” Strategies for Today’s Leader Magazine (Corunna, IN: The Church Growth Center, 2001), p. 38.


STUDENT SUCCESS & Writing Down Your Notes Leads to Better Retention With E-Books

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: When I begin my research for my upcoming book on the leadership of John Wesley, I relied heavily on e-books. However because of research that says you will remember more if you write down your thoughts, I continued to write down notes from these e-books in my notepads. This is a learning technique rhat has served me well through my graduate degrees. I have found that having handwritten notes, for me, helps internalize the information and create systems in my mind of how the information connects. Not just for myself, research indicates for most people taking written notes is the best way to learn especially when utilizing e-books.

So in other words, using tablets, e-books and computers makes knowledge accessible. But to retain that knowledge most people will do what I have learned to do, to write it down in order to internalize and systematize it.

Read this helpful overview in TIME Magazine…

Do E-Books Make It Harder to Remember What You Just Read? Digital books are lighter and more convenient to tote around than paper books, but there may be advantages to old technology” by Maia Szalavitz, Time Magazine, 3/14/15.

… I discovered that Google’s Larry Page himself had concerns about research showing that on-screen reading is measurably slower than reading on paper.

This seems like a particularly troubling trend for academia, where digital books are slowly overtaking the heavy tomes I used to lug around. On many levels, e-books seem like better alternatives to textbooks — they can be easily updated and many formats allow readers to interact with the material more, with quizzes, video, audio and other multimedia to reinforce lessons. But some studies suggest that there may be significant advantages in printed books if your goal is to remember what you read long-term…

Context and landmarks may actually be important to going from “remembering” to “knowing.” The more associations a particular memory can trigger, the more easily it tends to be recalled. Consequently, seemingly irrelevant factors like remembering whether you read something at the top or the bottom of page — or whether it was on the right or left hand side of a two-page spread or near a graphic — can help cement material in mind…

This seems irrelevant at first, but spatial context may be particularly important because evolution may have shaped the mind to easily recall location cues so we can find our way around. That’s why great memorizers since antiquity have used a trick called the “method of loci” to associate facts they want to remember with places in spaces they already know, like rooms in their childhood home. They then visualize themselves wandering sequentially through the rooms, recalling the items as they go…

E-books, however, provide fewer spatial landmarks than print, especially pared-down versions like the early Kindles, which simply scroll through text and don’t even show page numbers, just the percentage already read. In a sense, the page is infinite and limitless, which can be dizzying. Printed books on the other hand, give us a physical reference point, and part of our recall includes how far along in the book we are, something that’s more challenging to assess on an e-book…

Read more at …

STUDENT SUCCESS & Research Confirms the Importance of “Interval Studying” Rather Than Cramming

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Research cited in The Journal of the Association for Psychological Science points out that it’s important to study at regular “intervals” during a course, rather than cram for a test or a paper right before it is due. Called “interval studying” this research confirms that this leads to better retention and a more satisfied student experience. Read this important research in this article:

Increasing Retention Without Increasing Study Time

by Doug Rohrer1 and Harold Pashler2 (1University of South Florida and 2University of California, San Diego)

ABSTRACT—Because people forget much of what they learn, students could benefit from learning strategies that yield long-lasting knowledge. Yet surprisingly little is known about how long-term retention is most efficiently achieved. Here we examine how retention is affected by two variables: the duration of a study session and the temporal distribution of study time across multiple sessions. Our results suggest that a single session devoted to the study of some material should continue long enough to ensure that mastery is achieved but that immediate further study of the same material is an inefficient use of time. Our data also show that the benefit of distributing a fixed amount of study time across two study sessions—the spacing effect—depends jointly on the interval between study sessions and the interval between study and test. We discuss the practical implications of both findings, especially in regard to mathematics learning.

Read the article here …

STUDENT SUCCESS & How Selecting Track A or B Will Customize LEAD 545 to Your Unique Context

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  I wrote the syllabus for my “LEAD 545 Strategic Leadership & Management” course to allow each student to customize the course to their unique context.  Therefore, the course has two “tracks” with different readings and assignments from which students can choose the track that best helps them in their ministry.  The following is from the LEAD 545 syllabus and explains “how to choose a track” (which will also help you choose which textbooks to purchase).

The two tracks (labeled Track A & Track B) are described below with examples to help you choose the best track for you.  Decide which track you will choose before you describe your organizational context (in workshop 1).

If you have questions about the appropriate track, you can ask for input from your classmates and professor in the Week 1 discussion forum.

Track A: Parachurch Leader Track

This is for leaders of a ministry that is not per se a church. Examples in the past have included:

  • a home for unwed mothers
  • a food kitchen
  • a clothing shelf
  • an educational program
  • a 12-step program
  • an established charitable organization, e.g. United Way, American Heart Association, etc.
  • a hospital
  • a chaplaincy
  • however sometimes this can be a department within a church, such as:
    • Christian education department
    • Children’s ministry department
    • Church programs
    • But, if that department behaves like a “church within the church” (i.e. a sub-congregation such as a youth group, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, music department, campus or venue) then it will have more in common with the church leader (Track B) below.

Track B: Church Leader Track

This is for a leaders of a church or a sub-congregation (e.g. a sub-congregation can be a department that behaves like a “church within the church”).  Examples in the past have included:

  • lead, senior or solo-pastor
  • assistant and associate pastors
  • discipleship pastors, small group pastors, outreach pastors
  • pastors of generational sub-congregations, such as
  • youth leader
  • young adult leader
  • generational leader
  • senior adults leader, etc.
  • leaders of sub-congregations, such as
    • music ministers (when the church has or is headed toward 35+ people involved in music)
    • venue or campus pastors, etc.
    • Ethnic and cultural ministries
    • Women’s, Men’s or Singles’ ministries
  • Most judicatory leaders would fall into this track, including:
    • district superintendents,
    • bishops,
    • directors of mission, outreach, social engagement, etc.

Each student will self-select one of two tracks and the appropriate textbooks

… and utilize the following readings relevant to the student-chosen track:

  • Track A for the parachurch leader:
    • Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.
    • And articles that will be referenced and/or provided.
  • Track B for the church leader: Whitesel, Bob. Growth by Accident,. Death by Planning: How NOT To Kill a Growing Congregation. Nashville: Abingdon, 2004.

All students will read the following textbooks…

Crutchfield, Leslie R., and Heather McLeod Grant. (2012). Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rath, Tom, and Barry Conchie. (2013). Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow. Omaha: Gallup Press.

Whitesel, Bob. (2011). Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

STUDENT SUCCESS & How to Complete an Incomplete

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 1/1/16.

If you have been granted an incomplete, follow these instructions to complete your incomplete.

First, know that as professors we always hope students will not have to take an incomplete in our courses. This is because though an incomplete grants a 10-week extension from the last day of the course, it will usually require a student to double-up and work on two courses at the same time. In this face-paced accelerated format of Wesley Seminary this is difficult to do.

So, the best tactic is to avoid an incomplete. Here are several brief ways to avoid an incomplete:

1) Do your work early each week. Unforeseen events will always occur and if you have completed your work early in the week you will have the flexibility to address these unanticipated events. It is important to develop a rhythm in your academic work week that includes doing your work early in the week.

2) Tell your professor immediately if there are extenuating circumstances.

3) Know the Wesley Seminary Official Policy on late work (repeated below). Adjunct professors cannot deviate from these policies.  But, as a full-time professor I have adjusted late penalties to be less severe. See my late penalties here.

4) Know the Wesley Seminary Official Policy on requesting incompletes (repeated below). I have written more about how to do this here.

5)  Do not violate the attendance policy. “The issuance of an incomplete cannot be given if the student fails to meet the attendance requirements.”

6) Following these rules allows professors to be fair to all students. Professors will be reluctant (justifiably so) to grant an extension if you do not follow the rules. It would be unfair to those students who did follow the stipulations.

Official Wesley Seminary Late Policy:

Late Policy:

  • No credit is available for postings of any kind made in the discussion forums after a given workshop ends.
  • If your instructor approves your submission of late assignments, each assignment score will be penalized 10% per day up to six days late. After the end of the sixth day, late assignments will not be accepted. An assignment is a paper, a project, a team presentation, etc., but not a discussion or quiz/test.
  • No late assignments will be accepted after the close of the final workshop.

Incomplete Policy:

Students are expected to complete the course requirements by the last class session. There may be instances when crisis circumstances or events prevent the student from completing the course requirements in a timely manner. However, the issuance of an incomplete cannot be given if the student fails to meet the attendance requirements. In these rare situations, a grade of “I” (incomplete) may be issued but only after completing the following process:

  • At least 65% of the work must be completed at the time of the request.
  • The student must request an “I” from the instructor at least one week prior to the end date of the course.
  • The instructor must obtain approval from the Dean of Wesley Seminary.

Because “incompletes” are granted only for extenuating circumstances, the student’s grade will not be penalized.

A student who receives an “incomplete” has 10 weeks from the final meeting date of the course to complete course requirements and turn them in to the instructor. If, at the end of the 10-week extension, the student has failed to complete the course requirements in order to receive a passing grade, the “incomplete” will become an “F.” A student with more than one incomplete on record is subject to academic suspension.

Therefore, students must meet the following criteria and follow the steps below:

1)  The withdrawal request or incomplete request must be submitted before 5 PM on the Thursday of week 14 for a 16-week course.  If you are in an 8 week course, then you must request an incomplete before 5 PM on the Thursday of week 7.

2)  A withdrawal request must be made to the IWU Registration Change Counselor in the Office of Student Services (email them at

3) Remember, “the issuance of an incomplete cannot be given if the student fails to meet the attendance requirements.”

4) An incomplete request must be made to your professor (

  • Again, the request must be made before 5 PM on the Thursday of week 14 or week 7 (for 16 week or 8 week courses respectively).
  • You must have at the time of the request have completed at least 65% of the coursework.

From the above policies you can see that typically,

  • No credit is allowed for postings in a workshop after a given workshop ends.
  • If a late posting is approved, it still will receive a 10% a day reduction due to tardiness and fairness.
  • No homework will be accepted after the last day of a course.
  • But, a withdrawal or incomplete can be requested
    • on the last day of week 14 in a 16-week course or the last day of week 7 in an 8-week course
    • if the student has 65% of their coursework completed (the student must demonstrate to the professor that they have completed this percentage.)

So, knowing the above how do you complete an incomplete?

TIMING:  First an incomplete allows you an extra 10-weeks after the last scheduled day of the course. No further extension can be granted.

CONTENT:  An incomplete is very similar to an “independent study course” which means:

  1. The student must present a plan to the professor of the assignments that they will redo or do (if they have not been completed).  Creating this plan counts as part of your 10-week extension.
  2. The professor cannot give feedback on assignments or feedback on the final grade. Feedback was given for assignments submitted on time during the course. Additionally detailed input was given in the instructions for each assignment. Because this is similar to an “independent study course” the student will not receive feedback from the professor, but must independently complete the assignments from the instructions and the feedback given during the course. This rule cannot be broken, since the professor will have moved on to instructing other students. It would unfair to them to take time away from them and allow a student’s tardiness to affect current students.
  3. The student must compute how many days each and every assignment is late (add up the total days each was overdue from the day it was due to the day the incomplete was requested). For my students, follow my lesser late penalties here.
  4. The student will submit the following in one (1) email before the end of 10-weeks (counting from the last day of the scheduled course):
    • One email with all forum postings, written assignments, etc.
    • Each completed assignment will have a “heading” that includes:
      1. title, number and student name,
      2. points possible,
      3. days late and total percentage each assignment is to be reduced,
      4. followed by the assignment (follow the syllabus instructions, e.g. forum postings do not need to be in APA format, but end-of-week papers do need to be in APA format).
    • The professor will submit your grade within six weeks after receiving your email with the above assignments.
  5. The above must be followed carefully or the homework cannot be accepted. Because an incomplete adds considerably to a professor’s workload after the course was completed, these rules ensure the professor’s current students are not penalized.
  6. Your professor will be praying for you.  We want all students to succeed and to increase their world-changing impact.

OPERATIONAL LEADERSHIP & A Quiz to Help Discover if You Are a Shepherd (a leadership exercise)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 12/15/15.

Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)? 

Here is a posting explaining the difference: STO LEADERSHIP & An Overview: Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)?

But what if you are primarily an operational-style of leader, the type we classify as “shepherd?”  Will you ever lead a large, growing ministry?

Yes you may, for I have seen many “shepherd leaders” who build leadership teams that lead large flocks. Read the excerpt from my book here to find out the difference (not for public distribution, so if you enjoy the chapter please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 2 STO Leaders.

A Questionnaire to Discover If You are Primarily a Shepherd Leader

If you feel you are an “operational leader” more than a “strategic leader,” that is fine.

As I said above, I’ve seen many leaders of large ministries that are primarily operational leaders. This is because they build together a great team to lead the organization.

So how do you know if you are an operational (shepherd) leader?  How do you tell?

A good place to start is Randall Neighbour’s self-exam called the “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”  It came from the Appendix of his book, The Naked Truth About Small Group Ministry.

You can complete Neighbour’s the “Pastor’s Relational Survey” self-exam in about 10 minutes here: “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”Take this short questionnaire and it may help you focus on your unique leadership gifts.

STUDENT SUCCESS & Posting Early in the Week Can Increase Your Grade

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/15/15.

Students often begin their coursework by posting late in the week. I understand why this happens, because they are undertaking a new academic element in their life. But, I also like to alert them to a potential problem that can affect their grade.

If you as a student post late in the week, you do not always give other students as well as your professor, sufficient time to probe more deeply your analysis.  This has the following results:

1.)  Your analysis may not be as helpful to your organizational context as it could be, if other students and your facilitator do not have sufficient time to further question you and help you more precisely define your analysis.

2.)  Other students may not have time to respond, and thus they may forfeit points for online interaction because there is not enough time left in the week for interaction among students.

3.)  And finally, I am not able to question you further to understand what is going on in that fertile mind of yours 🙂  As you know, my job is to assess how well you are grasping the concepts and strategic processes outlined in the reading and as applied to your organizational context (e.g. your case study).  Thus, I am unable to fully comprehend your thinking without, at times, positing follow-through questions.

Thus, I would like to tender a potential schedule that students have found works very well in the past.

Friday:  read each week’s readings of the first day of the week (Friday) and also post your answers to the questions in the downloadable weekly assignments on Friday too.

Saturday and Sunday: take two days off 🙂

Monday: get back online and interact with fellow students, asking them about what they are learning and giving them advice.

Tuesday through Thursday: work increasingly less on your online interaction and increasingly more on your paper (which is due Thursday at midnight).

This schedule is not mandatory, only an example of what I have seen work best for most students in our program.  This will not only help your grade, but will also help fine-tune your analysis and its benefits for your organizational context … as well as benefiting our goal of creating World-changers (Matthew 28:19ff).

SMALL GROUPS & Why A Growing Church Stays as Small As Possible #Video

QUOTE: “Small groups are one of the most important structures in the church for discipleship.” Bob Whitesel.

VIDEO of Bob Whitesel Ph.D., Oct. 2012 at the Conference, Nashville, TN. Published by For more info see Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (Wesleyan Publishing House).

Speaking hashtags: #PowellChurch #DWC

STUDENT SUCCESS & What to Do If You Must Withdraw or Request an Incomplete @WesleySeminary

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/4/15.

I always hope none of my students will need this option, but if a student feels that they must withdraw or request an incomplete for a Wesley Seminary at IWU course, they must meet the following criteria and follow the steps below:

1)  The withdrawal request or incomplete request must be submitted before 5 PM on the Thursday of week 14 for a 16-week course.  If you are in an 8 week course, then you must request an incomplete before 5 PM on the Thursday of week 7.  In the Doctor of Ministry program you must follow the appropriate rules above or in a 20 week course, submit your request by week 18.

2)  A withdrawal request must be made to the IWU Registration Change Counselor in the Office of Student Services (email them at

3) An incomplete request must be made to your professor (

  • Again, the request must be made before 5 PM on the Thursday of week 14 or week 7 (for 16 week or 8 week courses respectively). A Doctor of Ministry student enrolled in a 20 week course should request this during week 20 at the latest.
  • You must have at the time of the request have completed at least 65% of the coursework.
  • If you do request an incomplete, you must still keep up with all postings, etc.  An incomplete gives you extra time to do your papers, but because of the synchronous nature of the live discussion, official seminary policy does not allow for making up discussion after a week has ended.

As I said, I hope no one needs to use these options. But, I want to make my students aware of the timeline and criteria, since they will not be able to withdraw or receive an incomplete after the due dates.

STUDENT SUCCESS & A Schedule to Pace Yourself for Maximum Online Learning

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/16/15.

It began about two decades ago, when a new friend (Russ Gunsalus) and I were trained to teach online IWU courses. And over that time the most important lesson I’ve learned has been to pace yourself.

If you are an online student you may initially get overwhelmed at the many postings and comments that keep appearing on the online interface.  But, don’t get overwhelmed.  No one is expecting you to respond to all postings.  Rather, as professors we are looking to see that you understand the concepts we are studying, and that you are helping each other apply them to your unique situation.

Thus, don’t try to comment on everything other students say.  But rather, add to the conversation with good ideas, further insights, or germane experiences.

Also, here is a typical schedule I see many students utilizing (you don’t have to use this if it does not work for you, but I have found it very beneficial to take two days off each week 🙂

Friday: read material, answer one question in each forum from the downloadable syllabus.

Saturday: off

Sunday: off

Monday: Read other posts and reply (bringing in 2-3 textbooks and 3-5 outside sources per forum for maximum points).

Tuesday: Read other posts and reply, begin working on your paper that is due Thursday at midnight.

Wednesday:  Less posting and more writing on your paper.

Thursday: Very little posting and mostly working on the paper that is due at midnight

Friday: start again.

I’ve used this schedule and I find it very helpful. In fact in the decades I’ve been teaching online I’ve discovered that I am a better teacher if I take off Saturday and Sunday to recharge (and that is also when I conduct a lot of my research). Thus, I will not be online on Saturdays and Sundays … but will be back with you Monday morning. If there is an emergency you can always email me on the weekend and I will respond.  But if not, just know that I will connect with you again on Monday.

And, very soon you too will get into the rhythm of online education  and what works best for you (just like you did in college).  Though you are in graduate school now, you will soon find that navigating this online interface will be easier, you will know how to organize your online comments/schedule and you will be whisked away to more fruitful ministry in the company of some very good online friends

STUDENT SUCCESS: What If Your Are Not in Charge of a Ministry?

by Bob Whitesel., D.Min., Ph.D., 10/16/15.

In Wesley Seminary courses students usually select a “ministry context” in which to apply the tools they are learning.

But, what if they (you?) aren’t involved in a ministry right now?

If you aren’t involved in a ministry right now, you can use the last ministry you worked with or with my approval do a hypothetical case.  Hypothetical cases aren’t as easy to do, so that is why I want you to talk to me first to see if this option is best for you.

What if you are not “in charge” of a ministry?

Also, sometimes students wonder what they should do if they are not actually “in charge” of a ministry.  Still you should apply the principles to that ministry.  Act as if you were in charge, so I can see the way that you would lead and help you better apply the principles in this course.  After all, one day you may be leading a ministry and this preliminary forecasting can come in handy.  But be careful not to say, “Oh, I’ll never be in charge.”  That is what Moses thought, and look at what God did through him (Exodus 3).