POSTMODERNITY vs. MODERNITY & A Leadership Exercise to Discover How We Lead Each Differently

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 11/3/15.

In the first half of this leadership exercise (available at this link https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/out-group-members-a-leadership-exercise-of-listing-people-who-feel-left-out/) we discovered how people become outgroup members, i.e. they don’t fit in with the majority of our congregants. And this can be caused by their age and outlook.

Let me explain a bit more about these differences, and then as a leadership exercise you can give a one-sentence reply about which culture you are primarily addressing. (I use the term “primarily addressing,” for all churches have a mixture of cultures. But, I am looking to see if you can identify the primary culture you are leading, and then I am looking to see if your mini-handbook is designed for that culture).

This is a very brief overview, so here goes.

When talking about leadership, the term “modernist” usually means a more top-down, position-based authority with a command-and-control structure. Younger generations, under 35 usually, often eschew this type of paternal leadership, and opt for a more collaborative and consensus style. The postmodern style is thus slower, based upon consensus-building and emphasizes the importance of entry-level leaders rather than executives (see Mary Jo Hatch, “Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives,” Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 43-55).

Here would be a (very) short comparison:

————————————————
Modern Leadership
> Authoritative
> Command-and-control
> Leadership mystique
> Executive leadership is lauded
————————————————
Postmodern Leadership
> Collaborative
> Consensus-and-partnership
> Leadership authenticity
> Entry-level leadership is lauded.
————————————————

Here are a couple paragraphs from ORGANIX: Leadership For Tomorrow’s Church (2011, p. 6) explaining more about the difference:

At one time, there was a line of thinking that autocratic leaders could more effectively lead an organization than any other type of leader. Churches led by autocrats will sometimes grow rapidly in times of crisis or hardship, but in the long term rapid church decline often results through firings, unresolved conflict, lack of accountability and group exits. An autocratic leader can help a church survive a time of crisis, but once that crisis ends the same autocratic attitude can rapidly drive down church growth.

Ground-breaking research in the 1930s demonstrated that successful leaders usually practice a style of “democratic” or “consensus-building” leadership. Not surprisingly, millennial leaders prefer a “consensus-building” style of leadership. “We build from the bottom up, where people, not leaders, receive the most attention,” one young leader in England told me. “Your generation builds from the top down, but that doesn’t create health … or unity.” Millennial leaders sense that if there is disagreement, a synthesis must be discovered. Sometimes synthesis is fostered by choosing to disagree, other times by compromise, but always through a type of nurturing.

Now, with these understandings about the difference between modern leadership styles (which typically lead older Gen Xers and above) and postmodern leadership styles (that typically lead younger Gen. Xers and younger), towards which will you focus your future leadership?

Write down three leadership actions you will do differently and whether each action is orientated toward leading modernists or postmodernists.

My purpose is not to make you investigate both styles of leadership, but to ensure you consider appropriate scions based upon which culture you are leading. Thus, my purpose is two fold:

1. I want you to think about which culture you are leading, and ensure that your leadership is orientated toward leading that culture.

2. And, I want you to be sensitive to the fact that different cultures (whether ethnic, generational, affinity, etc.) have different ways of being led.

That’s it for this leadership exercise. Just one paragraph

Footnotes:
In Church Quake!: The Explosive Power of the New Apostolic Reformation (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1999, chapt. 4) C. Peter Wagner agues that effective leaders should emulate his pastor who controls 65% of a $5 million church budget. I have known Dr. Wagner for years and consider him a mentor. However, I have also observed that rapid church growth associated with autocratic leadership best works during times of crisis subsides (e.g. start-up processes such as church planting, unexpected catastrophes, etc.). My research has lead me to theorize that decline after a church crisis may be directly proportional to the autocratic traits a leader has exhibited. In other words, an autocratic leader can help a church survive a time of crisis, but once that crisis ends the same autocratic attitude can rapidly drive down church growth.
2 This can be a “hands-off” approach (i.e. laissez-fare) or an “autocratic” style of leadership, c.f. Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lippitt and Ralph K. White, “Patterns of Aggressive Behavior in Experimentally Created Social Climates,” Journal of Social Psychology (London: Taylor & Francis, 1939) 10: 271–330.
3 This initial growth that an autocratic leader can bring to a church in crisis, in my opinion misleadingly led Pete Wagner to conclude that such autocratic style is usually preferred for church growth to occur.
4 For more on how conflict often leads to group exits in autocratically led churches, see Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave The Change Over Change, And What You Can Do About It, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002).
5 Under the “G” in ORGANIX we shall see that blending together a collage of different backgrounds, ideas and interests is the way the millennial leader creates consensus and innovative routes forward.

Speaking hashtags: #NewDirectionChurch

CHANGE & How to Change a Ministry in 8 Stages

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/21/15. Adapted by the author from his book with Mark DeYmaz, reMix: Transitioning Your Church to Living Color, Abingdon Press, 2017 and as published in Church Revitalizer Magazine (Orlando, FL: The Church Revitalizer Group, vol. 1, no. 5, Aug.-Sept. 2015) pp. 44-45.

So, what steps are required to transition a church? Just 8 actually.

John Kotter is a renowned and respected change coach who perfected eight steps for organizational change that have been applied successfully to thousands of organizational transitions.1  Harvard Business Review said, “Perhaps nobody understands the anatomy of organizational change better than retired Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter.”2

I have consulted or mentored hundreds of church transitions. And, I have found Kotter’s eight stages to be reliable, valid and important steps for a healthy church transition to living color.

Here are the key phases for implementing the principles and procedures of a church revitalization.

remix cover

8 Steps to Transforming Your Church 3

1. “Establishing a Sense of Urgency.”

  • It is important to begin with a period of time where you acquaint the congregants with the need and Biblical mandate for transitioning to a church living color.  Because of the urgent situation, many church leaders will be tempted to ignore this step and launch headlong into transition.  Yet, in my consulting work I have found that this step is critical.  Pray, study, research and dialogue on the importance of a church transition first.
  • Share the urgency is multiple venues.  Don’t just use sermons, but let this be the topic of Bible studies, discussion groups, prayer groups, small groups and Sunday School classes.
  • Remember, urgency is a key.  Congregants must understand that we are today at the point where changes in communities across North America requires churches to stand up for Biblical principles of growth and change.

2. “Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition.”

  • The second step which you must successfully navigate is the development of an influential and guiding coalition.  Even though you might think you know the situation the best, due to history, education or background: a church is a communal organization and leadership works best when there is a communal leadership.  Find those that resonate with the transition and help them take the vision to the rest of the congregation.
  • Look for “persons of peace.”  When Jesus told his disciples to spread out and take their message to the byways and villages of the Israel, he suggested they rely upon persons of “peace” they might encounter (Luke 10:6).  The Greek word for peace is derived from the word “to join” and it literally means a person who helps people from divergent viewpoints and even warring convictions to join together in unity whereby oneness, peace, quietness and rest result.4 So, enlist people who are “peacemakers” who have demonstrated they can bring warring and opposing parties together.
  • Listen to the naysayers, even though they may not be part of your guiding coalition, your coalition should hear them out.  This is a step that if overlooked will usually splinter the congregation. This is because research has shown that unless you go to the naysayers and listen to them, they will feel left out of the consultative process and eventually fight the change.5  So go to those who will most affected or displaced and listen to them.  Hearing them out has been shown to create new networks of dialogue that can prevent polarization.  But, you must go to them early in the vision creating process.

3. “Creating a Vision.”

  • People must see the future before they can work toward it.  The goal is to have an easy to read, clear vision statement in no more than a paragraph.
  • Get all of the members of your guiding coalition to help you draft, refine and edit your vision.
  • Many times church leaders rely solely on a written statement of vision. While this is helpful (if drawn up with input from your guiding coalition, see above) you must create a vision with the following “communication elements” too.

4. “Communicating the Vision.”

  • Use all communication vehicles available to you: written, vocal, electronic, narrative, arts, mixed-media, etc.
  • Experience it first-hand by taking your leaders and congregants to places where turnaround ministry is being done. In these locales congregants can see first hand, ask questions and experience the heart of a ministry that is being revitalized. Vision can be communicated best by picturing something rather than just writing out a paragraph of technical terms.
  • stone-stack-sign-1500x430Use stories to help people picture change.  Scott Wilcher while studying change found that successful change is more than twice as likely to occur if you attach a story to depict the change.6  In the Bible you can find dozens of Biblical stories that depict change.  Attach these stories to the vision to make the vision “come to life in a story” (after all that is what Jesus did with his compelling use of parables).

5. “Empowering Others to Act on the Vision.”

  • Delegate your power to others.  Too many times passionate church leaders are tempted to go it alone. One pastor said, “Jesus had to do it alone.”  And atonement and redemption were definitely things that only the Son of God could accomplish. But remember, he rounded-up and delegated to his disciples his ministry (Matthew 10, Mark 6, Luke 9, 10).  You too must delegate to those you have mentored.
  • Create accountability.  Because the Good News (Matt. 28:19-20) is so essential, it requires that evaluation and accountability be central too.  Have regular checkup discussions with clear objectives.
  • Remember, because change can be polarizing, oversight and accountability for progress are essential.

6. “Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins.”

  • This is the key step most overlooked.  Kotter discovered, and we have confirmed in our church consulting, that short-term wins help people see the validity and direction of a new vision.
  • Short-term wins are projects, programs and processes that can be undertaken quickly and temporarily. They usually won’t change the long-term outcomes (yet).  But they demonstrate the validity of the transition in a quick, temporary way.  Thus, they pave the way for long-term wins.
  • Many short-term wins will convince reticent constituents of long-term legitimacy of the new direction.
  • Use temporary “task forces” instead of semi-permanent committees to investigate and launch new directions in ministries.  Then as task forces prove their effectiveness they can be transitioned into more permanent committees.

7. “Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision.”

  • As noted above, wins even in the short-term can give the leadership coalition the social capital to make structural changes.
  • Don’t start with structural changes. You haven’t got enough buy-in from hesitant members and/or most of the congregation.
  • Only after your short-term wins validate your approach will you be able to change systems, structures and policies.

8. “Institutionalizing New Approaches.”

  • As your ministry moves in the exciting direction of revitalized ministry, encourage an organizational structure that promotes this in the future.
  • Institutionalizing principles of church transformation will allow you to reach out to new people and cultures as they develop in your community.
  • Finally for long-term health and viability, the revitalized church of must acquire a personality and reputation as a church of consistency in theology but change in Godly methodology.

You can download the article here >> WHITESEL ARTICLE 8 Steps to Changing a Church or read it online in Church Revitalizer Magazine here.

ENDNOTES:

1 John Kotter, Leading Change, (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996), John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

2  Editor’s note to John Kotter, ibid. Harvard Business Review.

3  John Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (Boston, Harvard Business Publishing, 2007), retrieved from https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail/ar/1

4 James Strong The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 1515.

5 Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) and Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

6  Scott Wilcher, MetaSpeak: Secrets of Regenerative Leadership to Transform your Workplace, Ph.D. dissertation (Nashville: Turnaround 2020 Conference, 2013).

Speaking hashtags: #BreakForth16 #Renovate15 #ChurchRevitalization #TheologicalReflection

RELIGION & What’s driving the changes seen in Pew’s Religious Landscape Study

by Pew Research Fact Tank, 5/28/15.

Based on more than 35,000 interviews, the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study presented a detailed portrait of an America where changes in religious affiliation have affected all regions of the country and many demographic groups.

The survey’s findings raise questions about why these changes are occurring.

Fact Tank sat down with David Campbell, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, to explore what the new findings mean. Campbell is the author of a number of books on religion, including (along with Robert Putnam) “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.”

For you, what stands out as the most important new finding or findings in the Religious Landscape Study?

The rise of the religiously unaffiliated has rightly drawn a lot of attention, but it is worth pausing to consider what that rise tells us. For one thing, the secular surge demonstrates the fluid and dynamic nature of America’s religious ecosystem. Most of the people who say that their religion is “nothing in particular” or “none” were raised in a household that was at least nominally religious. In other words, the “nones” were once “somethings.” But, equally important, most of the “nones” are what we might call soft secularists. Most do not describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, which suggests that they are not totally disaffected from all aspects of religion, or from a belief in a God or higher power. In other words, this suggests that many of the “nones” are not actively opposed or hostile to religion, and that some of them might even be attracted to a new form of religion.

The pattern of growing “none”-ism also reminds us that the U.S. version of secularism is different than what we have observed in Western Europe. There, secularism has grown steadily through a process of generational replacement — each generation is more secular than the last. Here, secularism has grown rapidly, which means it cannot be explained by generational turnover. But, as I noted, the growth has largely been in soft secularism. Given the highly innovative and entrepreneurial nature of American religion, it is probable that we will see a response by religious leaders to bring those soft secularists back. Whether they will succeed is an open question, but the U.S. has gone through other periods where secularism seemed to be on the rise, only to see religion respond and stem the tide of secularism. For example, religious influence in U.S. society was waning in the 1960s, but was on the rebound by the late 1970s.

Why have mainline Protestants continued to decline dramatically, while evangelical Protestants have shown only small declines?

Evangelicalism can hold on to its adherents because it is as much a subculture as a religion. While evangelicals are typically defined by more than the church they attend on Sunday, they are also bound by mutually reinforcing expressions of culture — the schools their children attend, the movies they watch, the websites they visit, the music they listen to. The deeper someone’s immersion into such a subculture, the more their religion is an integral part of their identity, and thus hard to leave. Furthermore, evangelicalism — both as a religion and a subculture — is highly innovative, entrepreneurial, and adaptable. Evangelical congregations are often engaged in “creative destruction” by regularly introducing such things as new forms of church organization and types of worship.

In contrast, mainline Protestantism is much less likely to be all-encompassing, largely because over most of American history, the national culture had a mainline Protestant accent. Thus, there was no need for mainline Protestants to develop the sort of subculture found among evangelicals. Similarly, while there are some notable exceptions, mainline congregations are generally steeped in more tradition than their evangelical counterparts, making it more difficult to innovate…

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/27/qa-a-look-at-whats-driving-the-changes-seen-in-our-religious-landscape-study/

EVANGELICALS & Compared with other Christian groups, evangelicals’ dropoff is less steep

by DAVID MASCI, Pew Research, 5/15/15

Number of Evangelical Protestants GrowingUnlike some other groups of Christians in the U.S., evangelical Protestants have not declined much as a share of the U.S. population in recent years, according to a major new Pew Research Center study.

Our 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that since 2007, when a similar survey was conducted, the share of evangelical Protestants has fallen only modestly, from 26.3% of the adult population to 25.4%. By contrast, both Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants have declined by more than three percentage points during the same period.

Looking at the raw numbers, the evangelical population actually appears to have grown slightly over the last seven years, rising from roughly 60 million to about 62 million. Again, this contrasts with mainline Protestants and Catholics, who together have lost several million adherents during the same time period.

Evangelicals Make Small Gains Through Religious Switching

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/15/compared-with-other-christian-groups-evangelicals-dropoff-is-less-steep/

RELIGION & Pew Research Center’s New Report on Religion in America Shows the Power of Choosing Your Own Faith #TheAtlanticMagazine

by Emma Green, The Atlantic Monthly, 5/12/15.

…Every American has a religion story, which is why it’s a little strange to think of America as an increasingly secular nation. That would be one way to read the Pew Research Center’s new Religious Landscape Study, a massive survey of more than 35,000 American adults. Over the last seven years, it found, the share of Americans who aren’t part of any religion has grown significantly, rising from 16 to nearly 23 percent of the population. A small portion of this group are atheists and agnostics—3 and 4 percent, respectively. More commonly, though, they are detached from organized religion altogether. When asked what religion they identify with, they answer simply: “Nothing in particular.” All in all, roughly one in ten Americans say religion is “not at all important” to them.

But the survey actually reveals something more complex than a slow and steady march toward secularization. Those who didn’t identify with any particular religion were asked a follow-up question: “How important is religion in your life?” The answers reveal that this group might be churchless, but it’s not wholly faithless: 44 percent said religion is “very” or “somewhat” important to them, while 56 percent said religion isn’t important to them, according to Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director of research. This is a slight drop compared to findings from a similar survey taken in 2007: That year, 48 percent of the “nones” said religion was important to them, while 52 percent said it wasn’t.Even taking this decline into account, there’s a pretty significant group of Americans who don’t identify with a particular denomination or congregation, but who still care about religion to some degree. That’s not the pattern of a Godless nation; it’s the pattern of people finding God on their own terms.

And that holds true even among many of those who do identify with a particular faith. The survey gives at least a partial look at what the researchers call “religious switching”: People converting to other faiths, joining new kinds of churches, or ditching religion altogether. If you count switches among the major traditions in Protestantism (mainline, evangelical, and historically black congregations), roughly 42 percent of Americans no longer consider themselves part of the religion in which they were raised. The researchers point out that this estimate is probably on the low side; many people leave their childhood religions, only to return to them later in life. If those decisions were measured, the estimates of “religious switching” would likely be even higher…

Read more at … http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/05/american-religion-complicated-not-dead/392891/

PLANTING & Soong-Chan Rah Challenges Urban Church Planters to Find a Non-white Mentor

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel,: “Soong-Chan Rah is a friend and colleague, who has important advice for church planters. Citing Walter Brueggemann, he points out that churches which sponsor planting often operate under the context of ‘celebration (those who already have good things)’ as opposed to those in urban areas who who ‘have little and operate under a context of suffering.’ To demonstrate ways to offset cultural myopia I describe a new model in my book The Healthy Church” called ‘The Multicultural Alliance Church’.”

By Richmond Williams, 07/13/11

Soong-Chan RahSoong-Chan Rah challenged a General Assembly audience to break free from stagnation and captivity and recognize the “changing face of Christianity” in Tuesday’s “Be The Change” lecture at the General Assembly.

Rah, a professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, pointed to dramatic demographic shifts and changes in American culture over the past 50 years to demonstrate that diversity is no longer a matter of choice. In 1950, Rah said, the “typical face of a Christian” was a white male from an affluent metropolitan suburb, but today’s Christian is likely to be a peasant in Nigeria, a teenager in Mexico City or a woman in South Korea.

Rah cited statistics illustrating a change from 1900, when more than 80% of Christians in the world were in Europe and North America, to a projected 29% on those same continents in 2050. America has seen similar shifts, Rah said, since the 1965 passage of the Immigration Reform Act. These trends are accelerated in the church, marking “one of the first times church is ahead of society.”

Christianity has an advantage over other large religions like Islam, he said, because of its adaptability to new cultural contexts, including language translations of sacred texts.

At the same time, mainline Christian denominations that are historically European and predominately white – such as the Lutheran and Episcopal traditions — are the ones facing sharp declines. Baptists and Pentecostals, by contrast, have been able to ride waves of the new multi-ethnic reality.

Energized, Rah painted a picture of a church at a crossroads – one that faces the “danger of becoming imprisoned by white Western culture, which has been more influential than the Bible itself,” citing historical individualism, materialism and racism.

Outlining Walter Brueggemann’s work, Rah contrasted those who operate under a context of celebration (typically those who already have good things) as opposed to those who have little and operate under a context of suffering.

Congregations who celebrate tend to focus on stewardship and being thankful to God, Rah said. They also prefer the status quo and think heaven is “more of the good things they already have.” Those who operate under the lens of suffering talk about survival and injustice, and hope heaven will be the opposite of their lives on earth.

Rather than operating under one of these distinct contexts, Rah went on, the church should find a way to learn from each context. He warned against exceptionalism and tokenism, which does not allow room to learn from those operating under the context of suffering.

“If you give someone a seat at the table and then expect them to act white,” Rah said, “that’s tokenism. If you give me a seat at the table, you’d better be ready to change your ways. Can you learn as much from me as I’ve had to learn from you?”

In closing, he challenged all Disciples to find at least one non-white mentor by the end of 2011, even if they started with just a book by a non-white author.

“If you are a missionary preparing to go overseas and you’ve never had a non-white mentor,” Rah said, “you are not a missionary, you are a colonialist.”

Read more at … http://disciples.org/general-assembly/soong-chan-rah-challenges-disciples-to-learn-from-the-changing-face-of-christianity/

WOMEN & A Reading List of Egalitarianism at its Best by Krish Kandiah

by Krish Kandiah, www.krishk.com, 1/5/13.

Post Script

I have been asked to provide some reading material to help read Egalitarianism at its best.

Here’s my limited list – very happy for other suggestions:

1. Women in the Church’s Ministry – RT France, Eerdmans
2. Bible Speaks Today – The Message of Women: Creation, Grace and Gender, Derek and Dianne Tidball, IVP
3. How I Changed my Mind about Women in Leadership, Zondervan
4. The Gender Agenda, Lis Goddard & Clare Hendry, IVP
5. The Blue Parakeet, Scott McKnight, Zondervan.
6. Women in the Church: A biblical Theology of Women in Ministry, Stanley Grenz

Here are some others recommended through social media ( I have not read them… yet)
Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters’ by Philip B Payne
Women and Authority, Ian Paul , Grove Booklets
I suffer not a woman’. Kroeger & Kroeger;
‘Half the Church’ Carolyn Custis James;
‘Women & Religion’ Clark & Richardson.
Two Views on Women in Ministry, Keener and Belleville

Read more at … http://www.krishk.com/2013/01/tim-keller-women-and-ignoring-your-own-rules/

WORSHIP & The Best Times on Sunday for Multiple Services

by Bob Whitesel, 7/14/13

Below are options for Sunday morning worship times. These are the best asynchronous (i.e. not simultaneous) worship options (as observed in my client churches).  Whether you choose OPTION A or OPTION B  depends on: 1. how long is your optimal service (50 or 60 minutes max is best in my observations) and 2. how long it will take to empty/fill the facility.*

OPTION A:  50 min services (best length for connecting with the greatest number people today):

(10 min breaks)

8:30-9:20  first service**
9:30-10:20  second service
10:30-11:20  third service

(15 min breaks)

8:30-9:20  first service
9:35-10:25  second service
10:40-11:30  third service

(20 min breaks).

8:30-9:20  first service
9:40-10:30  second service
10:50-11:40  third service (or Sunday school)

OPTION B:  60 min services (second best length for reaching more people today):

(10 min breaks)

8:30-9:30  first service
9:40-10:40  second service
10:50-11:50  third service

(15 min breaks)

8:30-9:30  first service
9:45-10:45  second service
11:00-12:00  third service

or

8:15-9:15  first service
9:30-10:30  second service
10:45-11:45  third service

(20 min breaks)

8:00-9:00  first service
9:20-10:20  second service
10:40-11:40  third service

* You don’t have to factor in fellowship time – this will go on in the foyer. etc. during the beginning if the next service. This is just how much time is needed to empty/fill the facility and parking lot.

** You can substitute a “Sunday school hour” or “educational hour” for any of the services.  For example, many churches modify Option A this way:

8:30-9:20  first service
9:30-10:20  Sunday school hour
10:30-11:20  second service

or

8:30-9:20  Sunday school hour
9:30-10:20  first service
10:30-11:20  second service

Speaking hashtags: #StLizTX #StMarksTX