In terms of serving the poor, I think Wesley used transformational thinking in that the churches were not providing health and wellness measures. Wesley believed that providing remedies for those who could not afford doctors was serving the poor as required by God. The notion of the serving poor as a work of the church was not new to Wesley, but making it mandatory for Methodists was new. For most it was an option. For Wesley it was a necessity. – quote by Liz Wiggins, DMin in Transformational Leadership, 7/24/17.
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2012.
Newness for Those in Spiritual Need
This is the true newness that will permeate the uncommon church. It is an expectation and invitation for people to be transformed physically and spiritually by a reunification with their loving heavenly Father (and among a community that embraces such newness). Figure 7.1 gives an overview of why and where supernatural newness comes.
Figure 7.1 An Overview of Newness for Those in Need
God cares about those in need.
|· “I know that the LORD will take up the case of the poor and will do what is right for the needy.” Psalm 140:12
· “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in distress,” Isaiah 25:4
God wants to bestow upon those in need a spiritual and physical newness
|· Jesus declared, “I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10)
· “So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” (2 Cor. 5:17)
Christians are to provide a fellowship that fosters and anticipates this newness
|· “True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.” James 1:27
· “Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.” Luke 14:13-14
In the previous chapters we saw that the term missio Dei describes God’s quest to be reunited with his wayward offspring. Once this reunion is made, a real newness in personal lives emerges, a newness toward which the uncommon church will be orientated. Though growing O.U.T., S.M.A.L.L. and L.E.A.R.N.ers are part of the process, a church will not become uncommonly supernatural unless it welcomes and expects spiritual and physical transformation.
People today (but probably no more than in any other period) are in search of newness. They want to alleviate bad habits, overcome harmful enticements, curb destructive behavior, be more loving, kind and generous. But something deep inside of each one of us seems to pull us back toward bad actions. The cure, the real, long-term cure for uncommonness is a church where supernatural encounter and expectation is woven into the fabric of the congregation. And so, an uncommon church will exhibit many of the characteristics of Figure 7.2.
Figure 7.2 Church Patterns That Welcome Transformation
|The uncommon church||· Expects miracles to happen
· Expects people to be changed in positive ways that no human effort could accomplish
· Expects people to show signs of growing in their dependence upon God rather than dependence upon humans
· Does not put its trust in programs, pastors, the past or trends; but daily increases in their dependence upon God’s supernatural assistance to meet physical and spiritual needs
Excerpted from ©BobWhitesel, Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012), pp. 125-126.
By LifeWay and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.
“…in this culture desire becomes elevated to the level of need…and because we tend to be a pit of bottomless desire, there is no end to our need.” Pastors are “expending their lives, running about in such busyness, attempting to service the needs of essentially selfish, self-centered consumers, without critique or limit of those needs.”
Willimon, W. H. (2002). Pastor: The theology and practice of ordained ministry. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, p. 95.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: How should we react?
And what should we do to instill in congregants a sensitivity to real human needs and not just desires?
I have suggested in my book “Cure for the Common Church” that the best strategy is to follow John Wesley and require that all members serve the needy on a regular basis, usually through their small group. Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012), chapter 2, “CURE O: Grow O.U.T.”
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This pyramidal chart demonstrates that one of the highest needs for people today is to change their life for the better. This is exactly what Christ offers and the Church participates in this better than it entertains. I have argued tirelessly for a need-based church in lieu of an entertainment-based ecclesiology. So read this Harvard Business Review article for additional validation.
The Elements of Value
The amount and nature of value in a particular product or service always lie in the eye of the beholder, of course. Yet universal building blocks of value do exist, creating opportunities for companies to improve their performance in current markets or break into new ones. A rigorous model of consumer value allows a company to come up with new combinations of value that its products and services could deliver. The right combinations, our analysis shows, pay off in stronger customer loyalty, greater consumer willingness to try a particular brand, and sustained revenue growth.
We have identified 30 “elements of value”—fundamental attributes in their most essential and discrete forms. These elements fall into four categories: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. Some elements are more inwardly focused, primarily addressing consumers’ personal needs. For example, the life-changing element motivation is at the core of Fitbit’s exercise-tracking products. Others are outwardly focused, helping customers interact in or navigate the external world. The functional element organizes is central to The Container Store and Intuit’s TurboTax, because both help consumers deal with complexities in their world.
Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-elements-of-value
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I emphasize in all four of my most recent books, that churches must stop guessing about community needs and actually go out, exegete the community and ask people about their needs. Here are some great ways to do this written by Kate Riney for Facts & Trends.
By Kate Riney, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 7/28/16.
To reach the lost and broken with the gospel, each church needs to be aware and reflective of its community’s assets and needs. Here are five ways your church can do that.
1. Take a walk and talk.
Map out a radius around your church based on how concentrated the population is in your area. For urban churches, tackle the 2- to 3-block radius of your church location. For more suburban or rural churches, you may want to take a 2- to 3-mile walk or drive.
Walk around the area with staff leaders and key volunteers. Meet people hanging out at the bus stop, coffee shops, local eatery, the gym, etc. Ask these people about their lives and take notes. Get to know them and the challenges they face.
Try to take on the posture of a missionary who has recently arrived on the mission field. By starting without assumptions, you’ll be better prepared to hear some surprising revelations…
2. Identify community assets.
As you walk, take note of medical facilities, homeless shelters, day cares, schools, libraries, different types of housing (high-rise apartments, single-family homes, public housing, mobile homes, etc.), religious and civic organizations, public transit, gas stations, grocery stores, shopping malls, green space, recreation facilities, etc.
Next, identify these assets on your map. Look first for assets, second for patterns, third for needs…
3. Assess community needs and begin developing your strategy.
Perhaps there are no grocery stores in your church’s area, only corner stores. Maybe you could offer a farmer’s market in your parking lot to bring quality, nutritious food to the local residents. Are there many day cares, but mainly overcrowded or underfunded preschools?
Consider starting a church school for all those tots about to age out of day care. If the area lacks public transit, the church might offer a shuttle ministry to allow more people to attend worship services and church events…
Many elderly people may live in an assisted living or retirement community you’ve never noticed. They might love to be a part of your church family if the opportunity is available…
4. Filter and prioritize.
…Some initiatives will be simpler than others to start, and you may find you can easily implement two or three projects at once.
Outreach projects are best started one at a time, usually one a quarter. Try to stagger launch dates so the community isn’t confused by an onslaught of announcements and invitations that pull their focus in different directions.
5. Begin setting or redefining your church culture.
… As you assess the community and begin implementing your findings, know that the DNA of your church will naturally change ..
If your church truly desires to reach the lost, and grow and send disciples, then you need a clearly defined mission, vision, values, and strategy based on the community you serve. You cannot lead those to a life in Christ without knowing their unique needs and gifts.
Figure 2.5 Canvass Question (Cure for the Common Church, 2012, p. 38)
“Hello. My name is _____(name)_____ and I am from _____(name of church)_____. I am asking people to help us understand what are the greatest needs of this community that a church like ours could address?
An abbreviated version by the author, 2016:
“Hello. My name is _____(name)_____ and I am from _____(name of church)_____. What are the greatest needs of this community that a church like ours could address?
A brief overview of this from Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan for Church Health:
Focus 1: OUT. In Jesus’s ministry we see a ongoing emphasis on reaching out to nonreligious people and people in need (e.g. Luke 6:31-33). But churches quickly become inwardly focused, looking more after their own needs than the needs of those outside their church.
Tool 1 to Focus OUT: ASK. Get your administrative board and staff to go out on a Saturday morning walk through the church neighborhood and areas from which you draw your congregants. Tell them to ask people they meet this simple question: “What could a church like ours do to meet needs of people in this community?” Don’t ask them what you can do to meet their personal needs. That is too personal. Rather ask them to tell you about community needs. Usually they will tell you about their own needs. Then go back to the church and compile a list of needs. Pick out a couple needs that your church is equipped or is beginning to be equipped to address. Then reallocate funds and volunteers to meet those needs. I advise churches to do this twice a year. This keeps leaders listening for needs in the community. One church board member said, “I now work that question subtly into my conversations all year long. I find a lot of interesting needs in this community that way. And it helps me be a better board member because I can help the church focus on meeting needs outside the church.”
Here are some other tactical ideas for ascertaining community needs: