NEED-MEETING & How to design outreach that is founded upon meeting the needs of those who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ.

Excerpted from Bob Whitesel, “Waypoint 16: No Awareness of a Supreme Being” Waypoint 15: Awareness of a Supreme Being, No knowledge of the Good News” and “Waypoint 14: Initial Awareness of the Good News” in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (2010).

Spiritual Waypoints [cropped top 1:3 65kb]

Waypoint 15

Action 15:1: Research Needs

… How can a church gather first-hand information on the needs of its community?  Let us look at three actions that can produce primary research.

Action A: Live Among Them.  To ascertain community needs it helps to live among them, eating where they eat and shopping where they shop.  In fact, one of 10 major factors in halting church growth is when leaders become distanced from their constituency.   If this occurs church leaders will be only guessing at community needs.

Action B: Meet With Them in Group Settings.  Informal gatherings, focus groups and Town Hall meetings are ways to connect with community residents. Often when people are interviewed one-on-one, they hold back their feelings.  Research into group dynamics tells us that people will often expound more deeply … and expressively in groups.  If the purpose is to ascertain needs, then understanding can be enhanced by group intensity.  However, churches must be very careful to only solicit input and not to politic for the church’s viewpoint.  To do the later will result in immediate distancing and suspicion.  Guidelines for hosting effective focus groups are described in a previous book.

Action C: Don’t Clone Another Church’s Ministry.  Unless necessary, don’t merely reduplicate ministry that other churches are utilizing.  To do so will rob you of a locally developed and contextualized ministry.  However, if your church is too small it can partner to expand its ministry.  Look for other churches that are reaching out at adjacent waypoints and partner with them.  Success often depends upon doctrinal and historical factors.  But, if the needs of a community can be met by collaborating with another ministry, then pursue this option.

Action 15:2: Design Your Ministry from the Bottom Up

As a consultant with church clients of all sizes, I have found that the most helpful ministries are those that emerge from a collaborative effort between church leaders and needy residents.  There are two elements for designing a contextualized ministry.

Action A: Inclusion.  Include non-church goers in the planning and design of your ministry.  <any will reject this offer because they are not yet ready to volunteer, even advice. But those who are emerging out of lower need stages may be entering the Belongingness and Love level.  They will want thus to contribute, and at least give their thoughts.  Yet, a natural inclination of Christian leaders is to reject such offers, feeling that the emerging person needs more time to grow or to gain more secondary knowledge (e.g. book knowledge, theological knowledge or doctrinal knowledge).  But, once a traveler has had their physiological needs and safely needs met, they must be allowed to contribute, even minimally, to the ministry of a faith community.  Churches can help wayfarers by inviting them to participate in the ministry planning process, and this invitation must be extended much earlier and more earnestly that most churches realize.

Action B: Allocate Sufficient Money.  As noted in the first two chapters, churches customarily err on the side of either the Cultural Mandate (social action) or the Evangelistic Mandate. It was also shown that God’s intention for His church is a more holistic approach where a church ministers at many waypoints, rather than just in a narrow range.  Narrow ministry becomes entrenched because churches tend to budget based upon history, rather than forecasts.  A church that understands it should reach out at early waypoints will also understand that it must allocate sufficient funds to do so.  Churches must evaluate what percentages of its budgets are going to support the Evangelistic Mandate and the Cultural Mandate.  And, a plan can be brought about to create a balance, where roughly 50 percent of a church’s budget goes to support the Cultural Mandate and 50 percent goes to support the Evangelistic Mandate.  Regardless of intentions, these mandates will never be brought into parity until finances are allocated with equivalence.

Action 15:3: Connect Your Ministry to the Community.

For a community established to communicate good news, communication is one the weakest skills in most churches. Many congregations design fantastic ministries only to have them marginally attended because residents do not know they are available.  The following are three basic actions for successfully telling the community about ministries that can meet their needs.

Action A: Have a Trial-run. A church should initiate a trial-run with little initial fanfare. This will give the church an opportunity to try out the ministry without being deluged by community needs. To communicate that you are hosting a test-run, use word-of-mouth communication.

  Action B: Use Indigenous Communication Channels.  Church leaders often do not understand how community residents communicate.  In one church’s community, fliers in self-serve laundromats communicated better than online advertising (few needy residents had regular or easy access to the Internet).  Each community has developed different communication channels.  If a church invites residents to participate in the planning process, then residents can share the veiled yet influential ways that news travels in their community.

Action C: Be a Good-doer, not a Do-gooder.  The difference between a do-gooder and a good-doer was revealed to me ten years ago.  Dan was auditioning to be the drummer in a worship team I led.  Though he was more than suitable for the task, I was confused because he looked familiar.  “You visited me last Christmas,” Dan responded noticing my bewilderment.  “Brought a lot of nice things for the kids.”  Each year our church visited needy residents, giving them gifts and singing carols. “You were nice enough to come,” Dan would say to me later.  Dan and I had become friends, and now our team was planning to visit needy households.  “You go, I won’t,” Dan stated.  “I want to be a good-doer, not a do-gooder.”  Further conversations revealed with Dan saw a difference between “do-gooders” and “good-doers.”  On the one hand, Dan saw do-gooders as people who go around doing limited and inconsistent good deeds.  He perceived that they were doing good on a limited scale to relieve their conscience.  Thus their good deeds were perceived as self-serving, insincere and limited.  A church that brings food a couple times a year to a needy family does little to minister to their long-term physiological needs or safety needs.  On the other hand, Dan saw “good-doers” as those who do good in a meaningful, relevant and ongoing manner.  And, he was right.  In hindsight I had been striving to do good, not trying to do good better.  Therefore, a church should connect with its community by offering ongoing ministry and not just holiday help.

Action 15:4: Evaluate the Results

Donald McGavran called the church’s aversion to analysis the “universal fog” that blinds the church to her mission and effectiveness.  And, McGavran preferred the term “effective evangelism” as the best way to describe what we should be measuring.  The term “effective evangelism” has much to commend it.  Evangelism, as we noted in Chapter 1, means “Good News” or a heralding of “unexpected joy.” Thus, if we are embarking as fellow travelers and guides on this journey of Good News, shouldn’t we want to travel that route more effectively?  And if so, how do we measure progress?

Some mistakenly perceive that counting attendance is the best way to evaluate effectiveness. Yet, there are four types of church growth mentioned in the Bible, and growth in attendance is cited as God’s task (and not the job of the church).  In two previous books I have looked at measuring these in detail, but let’s briefly examine four types of church growth and a Church Growth Metric that can measure each.

The Context: Acts 2:42-47.  Here we find Luke’s description of the church’s growth that followed Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost.  Luke describes four types of growth.

Growth A: Growth in Maturity.  In verse 42 Luke notes that the followers were growing in a passion for the apostle’s teaching, fellowship and prayer.  Our first metric is to ascertain if, as a result of our need-based ministry, wayfarers are increasing in their participation in Bible study, fellowship and/or the practice of prayer.  One way to measure this is to measure if people are becoming increasingly involved in study groups, fellowship networks (i.e. informal small groups) and/or joining with others for prayer.  If these numbers are calculated as a percentage of overall attendance, growth in maturity may be estimated.

Growth B: Growth in Unity.  Verses 44-45 describe how the church grew in unity and trust.  This is much harder to measure, for it requires subjective evaluation. But, if people open up, much like Doug did about “do-gooders” then these and similar actions can indicate that ministry is creating deeper and more honest levels of communication.  Unity often results from deepening levels of communication.

Growth C: Growth in Favor in the Community.  Luke emphases that the church was increasingly “enjoying the favor of all the people.”  Here is a metric often overlooked, which asks: is the community increasingly appreciative of the ministry the church is offering?  Asking community residents for regular feedback is a way to accomplish this.  One church crafted an online survey and gave away coupons for free coffee at a coffee shop for those that completed the survey. This survey was not designed to augment the church database, but was used only to ascertain if community residents felt the church was doing-good better.  Another church regularly polled socially sensitive community residents such as school principals, public leaders, community organizers, business-people, etc. about how effective the church was in meeting community needs.  The results were that these churches could gauge effective ministry by observing changes in community appreciation.

Growth D: Growth in More Christians.  Luke concludes this paragraph about early church growth by reminding his readers that “…the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Luke was pointing out that because it was a supernatural intersection, it was God’s task to bring people to and through the experience of salvation.  But in the preceding verses Luke emphasized that it was the church’s role to grow people in the other three types of church growth: maturity, unity and favor in the community.

Church Growth Metrics remind us that we are engaged in a task that is not about large cadres of attendees, but about the inner growth of God’s creation into 1) a deepening relationship with Him, 2) more unity among His children, and 3) in such a way that a watching world rejoices…

Action 14:2: The Good News That God Cares

A church also must understand and articulate a theology regarding God’s concern for His creation, if its congregants are going to help people move beyond Waypoint 14.  Yet, a theology of creation must be a holistic theology and include not just God’s creative activity but also humankind’s woeful response. For in response to God’s gracious creation of a paradise on earth, humans chose a selfish route disobeying God’s directives and forfeiting paradise.  Thought there are many elements to a theology of creation, let us look at five points that bear upon our current conversation.

Point 1:  Injustice, poverty, etc. are the result of human activity, God does not desire it for his creation.  When Adam and Eve forfeited the paradise of Eden, they embarked upon a journey of selfish arrogance. The Scriptures tell us their journey led to self-centeredness, injustice and greed (Genesis 3-5). Ron Sider reminds us that this disappoints God, stating “the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that God is at work in history casting down the rich and exalting the poor because frequently the rich are wealthy precisely because then have oppressed the poor or have neglected to aid the needy.”

Point 2:  This injustice was not always so.  God provided Adam and Eve an Eden of goodness and wholeness in every aspect of their life.  Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann pointed out that the Hebrew word shalom comes closest to describing this “wholeness in every are of life, where God, creature, and creation enjoy harmonious relationships.”  God had warned that disobeying him would result in a  loss of this life of shalom (Genesis 2:15-17).  But, Adam and Eve picked selfish choices putting to an end this world of  balance, bless … shalom (Genesis 3).

Point 3:  Humankind was put in charge of caring (i.e. stewardship) for God’s creation.  Yet early on in the Genesis story, before the fall of humankind from the era of shalom, God had given humankind a task, to take care of the garden and to be a steward of it (Genesis 1:26-30).  This requires Christians, to be good stewards of God’s earth and life upon it.

Point 4:  Humankind was put in charge of caring (i.e. stewardship) for the needy, oppressed and disfranchised.  Proverbs 19:17 says “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Judah was punished in part because of her mistreatment of the poor, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.  What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? (Isaiah 10:1-3).  King David said, “I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (Psalm 140:12).    And, Howard Snyder reminds us that “God especially has compassion on the poor, and his acts in history confirm this.”

Point 5: God requires his people to sacrifice for this task.  Adam and Eve were put in charge of caring and cultivating the garden (Genesis 1:26-30), and this required sacrificing their own will to taste the forbidden fruit.  From this beginning, serving a loving, creative God required self-sacrifice.  At this sacrifice, Adam and Eve failed.  In doing so they condemned their children and their children’s children to laborious toil, hostility, repression and ultimately death (Genesis 3:16-24). Still God’s desire is that His children serve and sacrifice for others.  Jesus stated, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors…. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).   This sacrifice for others is exemplified in the sacrificial actions of Godly men and women in the Bible, ultimately culminating in the sacrifice of Jesus for humankind’s disobedience.

When a congregation grasps the five points above, wayfarers will understand that evil, oppression and the like are not God’s doing, but human doing.  And wayfarers such as James can see that God wants Christians to help the oppressed, disenfranchised and neglected.  The church must help travelers at Waypoint 14 see the Good News is that “…the sinfulness of the social order offends thoughtful Christians everywhere.”

Read more by downloading the chapter here (but remember, if you enjoy the input please purchase a copy to support the publisher and the author): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 16, 15, 14

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

NEED-BASED OUTREACH & Rick Warren on how understanding hurts led a skeptic named Ravi Zacharias to become “a passionate defender of the faith.”

by Rick Warren, Saddleback Lake Forest Campus Update, 5/21/20.

… This week, Saddleback Lake Forest lost a dear friend who many of you will remember speaking at our campus through the years: Ravi Zacharias. Ravi was a vocal skeptic turned passionate defender of the faith, when he found Jesus following a particularly difficult season of his life. He once said,

“You’ll never get to a person’s soul until you understand their hurts.”

… Saddleback Lake Forest has always been about being a big church that feels small – by getting to know everyone who calls our campus home, understanding the hurts that every one of us carries, and providing places to process those wounds in a Christlike way.

This week, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of those safe and healing spaces that are available to you, whether you’re struggling with mental illness, job loss; or hurts, habits, or hang-ups you could use a faith community to help overcome.  We also wanted to invite you to be a part of our first ever socially distant baptism celebration next Tuesday night, as we celebrate the hope and freedom that Jesus offers each of us in a visible and soul-stirring way.

Read more at … https://saddleback.com/visit/locations/lake-forest

TURNAROUND CHURCH & The starting point for church revitalization is not prayer… it is focusing in the needs of others. Here’s why…  

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, 3/1/20.8A3F2F62-0056-4157-8F4E-F7A52D034015.jpeg

The first inclination when writing on the starting place for church revitalization will be to focus on prayer. That is most likely (and rightly so) because we want to remind ourselves that we can’t do it without Christ’s help.

I’m not suggesting that prayer is not important for church growth or even that it should be postponed. It is!  But I’m suggesting we first must understand what we’re praying for. 

Therefore, the first question that must be asked before chruch revitalization is, “Whose needs is a revitalization effort intended to meet?” In fact, in church revitalizations there are three needs that often come into play. And after 30 years of consulting chruch revitalizations, I have come to believe if you pick one of them you’ll succeed. But, if you pick one of the others, you will usually experience failure.

Reason 1) Meeting the needs of a church’s congregation.

Often church revitalizations are launched because a church wants to survive. Members remember its illustrious history, the close bonds of friendships that were forged there and the many good things accomplished in their past. And they want to want to preserve these legacies for future generations. I’ve often heard leaders say, “We want to ensure this church lives on by younger generations coming to it.” And while this is laudable, this will be in adequate to successfully revitalize a church. That is because of two reasons. 

Reason A: Younger generations quickly pick up on a church’s desperation to survive. They’ve experienced and rejected churches that are not interested in meeting their needs, but rather interested in preserving the church’s aesthetics and culture, to which the younger generations may not relate.

Reason B: A church’s desire to retain a legacy, even a good legacy, can overshadowed the real purpose of revitalization: to introduce more people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Luke 10:1-16).

Reason 2) The second misguided, but common, starting point for church revitalization is to focus on meeting the needs of the revitalizer.

The revitalizer may feel that they want to start anew with a new type of church. This is similar to what motivates many church planters, i.e. the leader wants to grow an organization that they can form over in the vision they reimagine. They want an organization that they believe will be easier to lead, more like they want and filled with people like them. But this focus will also usually fail. That is because revitalizing a church, like church planting, is a missional effort that usually requires us to be challenged and uncomfortable.  James states, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (2:1-4 MSG).

We must expect and be satisfied with the pressures and pains that come from serving Christ in missional activities. Regrettably some people today don’t look upon leadership as a missionary might. Missionaries know that they are going to sacrifice what is comfortable and familiar, in order to bring the Good News to people in need of it. Missionaries I know are leading threadbare, uncomfortable lives in service. Yet, when it comes to a church revitalization, we often want the most comfortable and potentially successful neighborhood in which to revitalize a church or plant one. Rather we should be looking at those with the greatest needs, putting their needs first and putting ourself last.

Reason 3: Meeting the needs of non-churchgoers.

This is the reason that leads to successful revitalization.  A revitalization effort by its very name focuses on revitalizing an organization. But perhaps instead we call it re-focusing an organization. We all know that it doesn’t take long after a church is planted or even revitalized, that it begins to focus inward and mainly on its own needs. When that happens the church increasingly becomes focused on programming, staffing and churchgoer activities that make its congregational life more comfortable.

But, a church that is revitalized must first become refocused. That happens when the focus is to turn our eyes to the harvest and seeing its need.  My father grew up on a farm. He knew that when the harvest was ripe you stopped everything else you were doing, even going to school, and went into the field until the harvest was complete. Jesus talking to a similar agricultural society, prepared them to endure hardships in mission by utilizing an agricultural metaphor:

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’  But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,  ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:1-12, MSG).

Thus, I’ve found that a church revitalization starts by a profound and persistent refocus on whose needs are you called to meet. Then your prayers can be focused.

Read the original article here … https://issuu.com/renovate-conference/docs/cr_mag_march_april_2020IMG_3147.jpeg

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NEED-BASED OUTREACH & Researcher says … “The better questions we should ask instead of how to get the nones back is, where do we meet them and what do they need?”

by Jamie Manson, NCR Online, 10/19/19.

.., Kaya Oakes, the Oct. 15 event’s opening panelist and author of the 2015 book The Nones Are Alright: A New Generation of Seekers, Believers, and Those In Between. 

“The better questions we should ask instead of how to get the nones back is, where do we meet them and what do they need?” said Oakes.

…Oakes has been intentional about not using the term “nones,” preferring instead to call them the “religiously unaffiliated.”

“It’s a negation,” said Oakes, that is not reflective of their spiritual longings.

A second panelist, Tara Isabella Burton, also questioned whether the term “nones” should be used at all.

The author of the forthcoming book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, Burton says that the nones nomenclature is “profoundly incorrect.”

According to her research, “About 72% of the self-identified religiously unaffiliated say they believe in a higher power of some sort and about 20% say they believe in the Judeo-Christian God.”

“There is an enormous number of people,” Burton said, “who see themselves as spiritual persons, who have a spiritual hunger.”

Read more at … https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/grace-margins/us-nones-increase-we-must-start-asking-different-questions

EVENTS & How A Church Can Serve Their Community, Rather Than Just Entertain It (examples from July 4th)

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., July 8, 2019.

(Read it below or download the article here: https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/serve-your-community-rather-than-entertain-it/ )

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download the article here: https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/serve-your-community-rather-than-entertain-it/ )

OUTREACH & This is how a church of 400 serves 2,000 hungry people each week.

By Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D, 5/23/19.

Al & Pam Goracke are pictured with Rebecca and me in front of their church yesterday. It is a Thursday afternoon and behind us you can see people lining up two hours early for the food pantry at the Hope Church.

Al and Pam lead a Wesleyan church in Blaine, Minnesota that is ministering to over 2000 hungry people each week with a congregation of only 400.

Ministering to the needs of the community is how many churches today are finding they can best reach out and begin sharing the good news with people in a increasingly skeptical environment. “When these people go to the hospital they consider me their pastor. They ask me to visit,” said Al Goracke. “They attend our Thursday food pantry, and though they may not attend our worship services, they consider us their church family. It’s our way of beginning a relationship with them.”

“A lot of churches don’t like to have a food pantry, because so many people coming through their building tears up the carpeting. So we ripped up the carpeting,” said Al.

“And here we are a church that runs almost 400 in attendance, but we’re meeting the needs of thousands of lives each week.”

“But people often ask me, ‘Where do you get the volunteers to run it?’ At first we asked our congregants to do it. And they did. But over the years the people in the community who have been served by this come to appreciate it so much, that many volunteer. And they come to consider our church family, their family.”

Al is one of my students and a friend. To learn more about how they are building bridges to people in need, check out their website at https://everybodyneedshope.org/

And, if your church would like to launch such a ministry, Al can explain how even a small church can begin a ministry that will touch thousands of lives every week.

NEED-MEETING & Benjamin Franklin Says This Is the Noblest Question in the World (It’s Only 7 Words)

by Melanie Curtin, Inc. Magazine, 4/11/18.

In Benjamin Franklin’s words:

“The noblest question in the world is, ‘What good may I do in it?'”

But he is perhaps best known for his role as a politician and statesman in the early days of the United States of America. And it was in large part through that work that he came up with what he called the “noblest question in the world.”

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/according-to-benjamin-franklin-this-7-word-question-is-noblest-in-world.html

NEED-MEETING & Benjamin Franklin Says This Is the Noblest Question in the World (It’s Only 7 Words)

by Melanie Curtin, Inc. Magazine, 4/11/18.

In Benjamin Franklin’s words:

“The noblest question in the world is, ‘What good may I do in it?'”

But he is perhaps best known for his role as a politician and statesman in the early days of the United States of America. And it was in large part through that work that he came up with what he called the “noblest question in the world.”

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/according-to-benjamin-franklin-this-7-word-question-is-noblest-in-world.html

LEADERSHIP & “You must first look for the personal need, before you try to meet the organizational need.” 7Systems.church #Leadership #LeaderhipDevelopment

The 7Systems.church assessment and planning tool is based upon research of 32,000 churches combined with 29 years of consulting practice by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D.

Click here for more info: 7Systems.church

BELIEF & Less than half of Americans say religion can answer today’s problems. #LifeWay

by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 1/23/19.

As Americans grow accustomed to turning to Google for help, God no longer seems as relevant.

For the first time since Gallup began asking in 1957, less than half of Americans(46 percent) say religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. A growing number—up to 39 percent—see religion as largely old-fashioned and out of date.

Gallup religion answer today's questions old fashioned

Unsurprisingly, the more one attends church, the more likely they are to believe religion does have the answers.

Eight in 10 weekly church attenders (81 percent) say religion can answer today’s problems. More than half of nearly weekly and monthly attendees (58 percent) agree.

But 27 percent of those who attend less often see religion as having the answers, while 58 percent say it is old-fashioned and out of date.

Fewer than 1 in 10 religiously unaffiliated Americans (9 percent) believe religion has answers for today. Seventy-three percent see it as largely out of date.

“The public is now more closely divided than ever before in its views of religion as the answer to what ails society,” said Gallup’s report.

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2019/01/10/losing-our-religion-less-than-half-of-americans-say-religion-can-answer-todays-problems/

NEED-MEETING & 5 ways to determine community needs

by Michael Fries, LifeWay, 4/16/18.

… We’re partnering with a local church to plant an autonomous congregation in our city, and we’re also planting additional campuses of our own church. In doing so, we’ve had to develop ways to pinpoint where to plant in our city.

1. KNOW THE SOCIAL MAKEUP OF YOUR COMMUNITY.

Learning about your community is simple. While it’s possible to spend a fair amount of money for detailed demographic reports, you can also learn valuable information while spending next to nothing.

Begin with the U.S. Census Bureau website. Use its free tools to identify what is happening in the immediate areas around your church and in the larger area that makes up your community.

2. KNOW THE RELIGIOUS MAKEUP OF YOUR COMMUNITY.

TheARDA.com is a useful tool that allows you to research the religious affiliation of your area based on city name, zip code and other search parameters.

3. MAP THE MEMBERS OF YOUR CHURCH.

Missiologist Keelan Cook has made mapping a fairly simple process. His mapping tool uses Google Maps to let you quickly identify the geographic makeup of your congregation. You can access his tool at bit.ly/keelancook.

Once you have uploaded your membership database into the tool, it will produce a digital map that will allow you to identify your members’ areas of concentration.

4. MAP THE CHURCHES IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

It may require a bit more time to accomplish this task, as you will need to enter the addresses of every local church into a database. Then you can upload them into the tool mentioned above and produce a digital map pinpointing every church in your community.

Too often churches overlook this step. They simply look to identify pockets of need without carefully considering who else might already be working in those areas.

5. IDENTIFY GROWTH AREAS.

The final step is setting priorities based on growth projections.

Population movement is significant in evaluating the need for a church plant. Expanding areas need more churches, and congregations in those areas have greater potential to grow.

If migration patterns and growth areas are not easy to identify, this information can often be found by contacting your city manager or chamber of commerce.

These steps will help you develop a database of target areas and a methodology of church planting. But the value of studying your community goes beyond knowing where you should plant a church and what kind of church to plant.

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/04/16/church-planting-blueprint-5-ways-to-determine-the-needs-of-your-community/

NEED-MEETING & Quote: “Christianity… is a willingness to selflessly serve others, rather than an insistence on being served” www.Enthusiast.life p.42

“John (Wesley) saw most religion as self-seeking, designed to focus on the Christian’s needs, comfort, and pleasure. He began to realize the New Testament Christianity (which he sometimes called ‘primitive’ Christianity) was more about restoring purity in the church and a willingness to selflessly serve others, rather than an insistence on being served.”

Enthusiast! Finding a Faith That Fills (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2018), p. 42.

#TransformationalLeadershipConference

NEED-MEETING & A video intro to a “4-stage Need-based Outreach Strategy”

Commentary by Prof. B: I’ve created this video to not only introduce colleagues and clients to the efficacy of a “4-Stage Outreach Strategy,” but also to give my online students a sense of an introduction I would give in a live classroom. The viewer will find a concise intro to why most outreach efforts fail … because they are not holistically incorporating all “4-stages” of an outreach strategy. Plus, my LEAD-600 students will find this a helpful introduction to their classroom assignments on need-based outreach.

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

You can find more on this in videos and excerpts from my books/articles at the below links (or by just searching for the words “need-based” or “need-meeting” on ChurchHealth.wiki):

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/outreach-2/

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/need-meeting-a-video-introduction-to-lead-545-assignments-on-need-meeting-by-prof-b/

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/need-meeting-examples-of-need-based-church-programs-from-maslows-hierarchy/

https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/need-meeting-how-the-holmes-rahe-scale-gets-small-groups-involved-in-need-meeting/

OUTREACH & Need-meeting: A poignant fable by a Millennial

“I’m not particularly attracted to a religion where someone approaches me in the parking lot of a grocery store with a tract in hand, telling me I’m going to hell, without ever once considering the possibility that I might need help carrying my groceries.”

Commentary by Professor B: This was a short fable shared with me by a former student. It illustrates succinctly why we should utilize a need-based approach to outreach. Larry wrote:

Prof. Whitesel, I’m doing a response for Bible as Christian Scripture and recalled a quote from a friend of my son’s some years that reminded me of your book, Cure for the Common Church, and in particular, your prescription for growing O.U.T.

The response touched on how we want to world to see us, as a source of judgement or a source of the Good News. The quote I recalled from my son’s friend: “I’m not particularly attracted to a religion where someone approaches me in the parking lot of a grocery store with a tract in hand, telling me I’m going to hell, without ever once considering the possibility that I might need help carrying my groceries.”

Thought you might enjoy that. Larry

NEED-MEETING & Maddox shows Wesley did not have a “hole in the Gospel” #need-meeting

Wesley did not overlook the possible positive evangelistic impact resulting from Christian engagement in such open-ended works of mercy. But the specific potential effect that he highlighted was not the enticement of uncommitted persons to embrace the Christian faith by addressing their physical needs. Rather, he hoped to overcome the widespread crisis of credibility of Christian witness through the increased number of Christians who would model authentic loving care for others!” (Maddox, 2002)

Maddox, Randy L. (2002) “Visit the poor” John Wesley, The Poor and The Sanctification of Believers. Kingswood books Nashville, (pg 69).

Retrieved by Salvation Army officer Regina Shull as part of an assignment for LEAD 600.

social engagement action need-meeting

STRATEGY & Why churches need blue-ocean strategies

by Bob Whitesel D,Min., Ph.D, , Biblical Leadership Magazine, 9/18/17.

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne analyzed 150 years of strategic decision-making and concluded that every strategy could be described as either a “red ocean strategy” or a “blue ocean strategy.” A red ocean strategy is where you go after the same people as your competitors and try to meet the same needs that your competitors are meeting. Therefore you fight over the same fish and, as sharks feeding on the same fish, the water becomes red with blood.

preorder-boshift-ebook.jpg

A blue ocean strategy, however, finds new segments of the market that are not having their needs met and begins to meet those needs. Therefore you are not competing with your competitors, but rather you are meeting needs in a segment of the market that the other competitors have overlooked.

This is very important for the church. Most churches typically try to have a better children’s ministry, a more professional worship team or a more visible/attractive facility in hopes of attracting people to the church. Typically this attracts other Christians looking for a better experience.

And, my observation has been that over the past three decades more and more churches have tried to grow by focusing on attracting other Christians rather than meeting the needs of non-churchgoers.

A red ocean vs. blue ocean strategy for the church means reaching non-churchgoers [need-meeting] rather than just reaching church-goers [attraction]. Take a look at this comparison between the two strategies published by Sage Growth Partners.

Here is a helpful comparison:

 For more insights, see W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant (Boston: Harvard Business Review Books).

Photo source: istock

Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/why-churches-need-blue-ocean-rather-than-red-ocean-strategies/

NEED-MEETING & A video introduction to LEAD 545 assignments on “need-meeting” by Prof. B

Commentary by Prof. B: This is another of the video introductions I record for my students explaining the assignments and parameters of their weekly work.  This creates a feeling of a live course and students tell me that along with the audio analysis of their homework I send them, they appreciate these efforts.  This assignment is for LEAD 545, the week on “Need-meeting and World-changing.”

(note: this is for LEAD 545 even though I may have inadvertently said it is for LEAD 600)

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

NEED-MEETING & How The MIX ministry is meeting Maslow’s Safety Needs for an urban community

Commentary by Dr Whitesel: Abraham Maslow said one of the most critical, yet overlooked, tasks is meeting “safety needs:” the need people have for a safe and secure environment. Read this article to see how one church, in a dangerous neighborhood, weekly opens its doors for a potluck and free courses to provide a safe and popular environment for local residents. Thanks to Great Commission Research Network president James Cho for passing this along.

After 2014 tragedy, why the MIX in Santa Ana is thriving as a free source of classes, meals and love

by Theresa Walker, The Orange County Register, 12/28/16.

It’s a Wednesday night at Newsong Church in Santa Ana, and the gathering known as The MIX is in full swing…

Pop into different rooms on the church’s 17th Street campus, and classes for children and adults are underway, including art, baking, martial arts, crochet, piano and guitar, robotics, and PiYo, a mix of Pilates and yoga.

There are classes in English as a second language for adults and homework help for students.

The MIX is meant to create a safe place for families that live in overcrowded and risky neighborhoods, where it’s unsafe to go out at night. It gives them a place to relax, let the children run around in the open air, connect with one another and improve their lives.

It’s all free, with classes taught by volunteers who include church congregants and members of the wider community. They range from white-collar professionals to someone like Hilda Colin, a mom who heard about The MIX from neighbors.

The meals are typically potluck…

The MIX, formally called The MIX Academy, is Lo’s ministry, and he sums up its purpose in one word: Love.

There’s no preaching, but Lo views what happens at The MIX in spiritual terms.

People might come at first for the free food but find other nourishment when they break bread together and share their stories, their dreams and their talents, he said.

“To me, that’s community transformation, when you can equip the community to teach the community,” Lo said, adding that most of the people who attend The MIX are from impoverished and underserved areas, such as the Willard Intermediate School neighborhood around the corner from the church.

He hopes to train others to start their own version of The MIX at a second location in the city, if a place becomes available.

Lo talks about children who spend so much of their lives indoors – most of the day in a classroom at school and then all evening cooped up inside at home – an overcrowded apartment or maybe just one room in a house, because their parents fear what might happen to them on the streets. Or there is no place for them to play outside. Or there is no money to pay for after-school activities…

On routine nights, the free meal is served from 6 to 7 p.m. Then two hour-long sessions of classes take place, one starting at 7 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m. The classes are listed on a big screen inside the dining hall.

The MIX is supported by a host of donors, local and national, that include Wells Fargo, Nike, Adobe software, Trader Joe’s, Dave & Busters, Obey Clothing and Bracken’s Kitchen…

Read more at … http://www.ocregister.com/2016/12/28/after-2014-tragedy-why-the-mix-in-santa-ana-is-thriving-as-a-free-source-of-classes-meals-and-love/

NEED-MEETING & Luke’s commentary on Jesus’ words, “more blessed to give than to receive…”

“In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” ‭‭ Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭20:35‬ ‭CEB‬‬

Read more at …. http://bible.com/37/act.20.35.ceb

NEED-MEETING & Why You Want a Blue Ocean, Rather Than a Red Ocean Strategy

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/25/17.

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne analyzed 150 years of strategic decision-making and concluded that every strategy can be described as either a “red ocean strategy” or a “blue ocean strategy.” A red ocean strategy is where you go after the same people as your competitors and try to meet the same needs that your competitors are meeting. Therefore you fight over the same fish and, as sharks feeding on the same fish, the water becomes red with blood.

A blue ocean strategy however finds new segments of the market that are not having their needs met and begin to meet those needs. Therefore you are not competing with your competitors, but rather you are meeting needs in a segment of the market that the other competitors have overlooked.

This is very important for the church. Most churches typically try to have a better children’s ministry, a more professional worship team or a more visible/attractive facility in hopes of attracting people to the church. Typically this attracts other Christians looking for a better experience.

And, over the past three decades more and more churches have tried to grow by focusing on attracting other Christians rather than meeting the needs of non-churchgoers.

Many years ago when the airline industry was suffering from too much competition, many carriers tried to increase their service to their flying customers. They wound up competing with each other and creating a red ocean of blood over the existing flying public. Stalwart and storied carriers such as Northwest Airlines disappeared.

At the same time a young start up company called Southwest Airlines focused on making flights cheaper along with the customer experience better. Their early motto was “everyone flies first class.” The result was meeting the need that a flying public desired of cheaper flights. This meant that they weren’t competing just for an existing market, but they were reaching out to people who typically didn’t fly to a nearby location. Now low cost meant the non-flying would considering a shorter flight.

A red ocean vs. blue ocean strategy for the church means reaching non-churchgoers [need-meeting] rather than church goers [attraction]. Take a look at this comparison between the two strategies published by Sage Growth Partners.

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