MOSIAC CHURCHES & Understanding Graffiti Leadership by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 2/21/19.

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One of the most influential art forms in American history first appeared in its current form on public walls in the late 1960s.

Graffiti is an improvised, colorful and risky art that is layered on public buildings, bridges, railway cars and subways. A product of urban artists who often eschew training, it is a fitting metaphor for another characteristic of millennial leadership.

While modern leadership often disciplines itself to keep colors and lines in their place, millennial leaders create a leadership collage of colors, symbols and statements. (Paradoxically, the style known as “modern art,” including the works of Matisse, Picasso and others, shunned the orderliness of previous periods of art and acted as a precursor to millennial thinking. This demonstrates the broad strokes and limitations underscored by the term “modern.”)

Some of the attributes of graffiti artists are:

  • Risk-takers
  • Improvisers
  • Led by spirit and passion
  • Breaking human convention for the sake of improvement
  • Creating a collage of colors, styles, messages and meanings that make the world take notice
  • Different artists add their style to others’ art
  • Personal symbols and icons retain individuality.
  • And, graffiti often contains reoccurring elements, including:
  • Name or epithet
  • A philosophy line
  • Synergy created by blending multiple shapes, styles and colors

Graffiti reminds us of the improvisational, risky and outward-focused collage of Millennial leadership. This is not for the faint-hearted, nor the small-minded.

Graffiti leadership embraces risk

In response to these modern perils, the Millennial leader seeks a more elastic and organic approach. While the modern leader tries to create stability and minimize risk, the millennial leader recognizes that chaos is a byproduct of the human condition (Romans 3:23, 5:12). According to organizational theorist Mary Jo Hatch, the millennial leader “embraces complexity and uncertainty and their contradictory demands.”

When researcher Lois Barrett and her colleagues studied churches that were effectively reaching young non-churchgoers they found that a reoccurring pattern was “taking risks as a contrast community.” This is a church that is learning to take risk for the sake of the gospel. It understands itself as different from the world because of its participation in the life, death and resurrection of its Lord. It is raising questions, often threatening ones, about the church’s cultural captivity and it is grappling with the ethical and structural implications of its missional vocation.

A moving example of risk-taking comes from the story of John Perkins, a black man who left Mississippi after his brother was shot by a policeman. After an encounter with Christ he retuned to Mississippi to work with children during the turbulent civic rights struggles of the 1950s.  Eventually, Perkins founded a Christian ministry that included student tutoring, co-ops to share food, child care, nutrition programs, medical facilities and Bible studies. This was risky behavior in 1950s Mississippi.

The millennial leader understands such risk because as Lewis Drummond observes, “In postmodern terms, we might say that Jesus came to bring equal access and opportunity to this in substandard living condition, to give voice and identity to those other than the dominant elite and to alleviate the ravages of capitalistic imperialism and colonialist economic aggression.”

Lois Barrett concluded, “These congregations seem to be living by a set of rules different from that of dominant culture. Their priorities are different. They act against ‘common sense.’  They are trying to conform to Jesus Christ rather than to the surrounding society.”

Such risk-taking for the sake of the missio Dei is akin to the risks a graffiti artist takes for one’s craft.

Excerpted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, by Bob Whitesel (Abingdon Press). Used with permission.

Photo source: istock 

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/understanding-graffiti-leadership/

MOSIAC CHURCHES & How Millennial leadership grows mosaic churches by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 3/20/19.

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Millennial leadership recognizes the need for cultural sensitivity, awareness and autonomy.  Though there is a healthy respect for different traditions, there is also a concern that the body of Christ not be splintered into smaller and less holistic factions. Millennial leaders see two types of church planting and increasingly utilize internal instead of external church plants.

External church plants

When modern leaders think of church planting, they usually think about launching a new and autonomous congregation to reach a new culture. However, many millennial leaders have seen their parents’ churches use a “church planting excuse” to push out a different culture. Whether it be a generational culture or an ethnic culture, these ”forced plants” often don’t survive. The millennial leader often wonders, why can’t the church just get along and stay together as a spiritual network?

Internal church plants (or network churches)

This is an increasingly popular strategy that plants new sub-congregations, but keeps them part of one inclusive and multicultural congregation. Called “network churches,” these can be multiple-site and multiple-venue churches, and as such, they are examples of internal church planting.

Advantages of internal church plants

Sharing finances: In the business world this is called an “economy of scale,” which means that a network of sub-congregations will have more financial resources together than if each were independent organizations. For example, if emergency funds are needed by one sub-congregation, the network can provide those funds more readily and smoothly because they are all part of one organizational system.

Sharing facilities: Internal church plants that employ a multi-site approach foster a sharing of facilities, technology and physical resources. This can help fulfill John M. Perkins’ goal of “redistribution.”

Sharing staff:  Network churches benefit from sharing support staff, allowing sub-congregations to avoid duplicating their workforces.

Culture sharing:  This is a strategic advantage. More cultural sharing will take place if multiple ethnicities are meeting in the same building and sharing the same budget, etc. than will take place if an emerging culture is forced to move down the street to an independent church plant.

Disadvantages of internalchurch plants 

They can become divisive:This is often cited as a main concern.  But, if they exit the church, it is divided anyway.  Division can be addressed by having different preachers at different venues/times share the same message and by holding regular unity events.

Marginalized cultures:Often the largest cultures will try, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes intentionally, to dominate the smaller culture.  Yet, this should not deter a congregation from practicing a ministry that reconciles different cultures in the same church.

One way to address this is to require proportional representation on decision-making committees.

If these caveats can be addressed, the end result is the mosaic church, where the glue of being one united organization unites different cultural expressions. A true image of a “mosaic” is created, where different colors and shades create a unified picture when viewed from a distance, but up close reveals a collage of different cultures working in unity and harmony.

This Millennial “graffiti” leadership is full of colorful layering and icons that when combined produce a new multifaceted, yet integrated image. This is the church.

Excerpted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, by Bob Whitesel (Abingdon Press). Used with permission.

Photo source: istock 

Read the original article here … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/how-millennial-leadership-grows-mosaic-churches/

MILLENNIAL LEADERSHIP & What Boomers & Xers must do differently to lead millennials

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, Feb./Mar. 2019.

I find it refreshing to return full time to my passion of coaching churches on church health and revitalization, after two decades of teaching graduate school and seminary students. But my teaching and consulting worked well together for two important reasons:

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  1. I became especially attuned to how to lead millennials, because most of my students were in millennial generations (Generations Y & Z). 
  2. And, I became increasingly aware that older leaders (Boomers and Xers) must change their leadership styles radically to to lead millennials, which led to my book “ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church” (Abingdon Press).

You may ask, “Why must I learn to lead millennials, most of my congregants are older?” Though this may be true, you must lead millennial generations in order to create a new lifecycle in church revitalization. 

Here are 7 ways you must lead millennials differently.

Communication systems: In the millennial culture communication is increasingly electronic mediated. Twitter, Facebook, emails, instant messaging, Instagram, Snapchat are are all efficient ways for millennials to get their information. If you’re trying to make them aware of what your church is doing to reach out, you must communicate through their electronic mediums.

Rx: Cross-cultural communication usually begins with one-on-one communication. Have your organization’s leaders each find and begin to mentor a millennial mentee. Ask the millennial to help you communicate to their fellow millennials what you are doing. A standard missiological method is to ask someone from the indigenous culture to help translate your message. They may not actually agree with your message yet, as they translate it they will be learning about it.

7.2 systems yellowReconciliation systems: Millennials have grown up in an age of outrage and cultural fissures. At the same time many want to bridge those divides. The New Testament reminds us the Good News traveled from Jewish believers to Gentile oppressors in a similar time of division and outrage. The Letter to the Romans is an example of the Holy Spirit’s ability to create a unifying Messianic subculture filled with Good News. Among my client and student millennials, I’ve found they want leaders who do not polarize the church, but rather foster a community where dialogue is accompanied by biblical fidelity.

Rx: Foster opportunities to dialogue, understand, forgive and reconcile people who have been polarized over differences. Paul said, “…we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong… Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:16–19).  To Paul reconciliation is a dual process: 

    1. “not evaluating people by what they have or how they look” (v. 16) and
    2. “anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! (v. 17). 

Supernatural system: The Hebrew word “worship” literally means to come close to God’s feet and kiss them in homage. This is how worship should be measured, not in flow, performance or excellence. And though millennials have many worship styles, most millennials are united in their uncomfortableness with their parents’ quest for worship “excellence.”

img_0632-3Rx: The solution is to take the focus away from styles and excellence of worship, and put the emphasis back upon the biblical “purpose of worship.” Worship should be evaluated by how well it brings attendees into what I have called, a “face-to-foot encounter.”

Regeneration system: The Good News is news of salvation and change. Most churches have a weak regeneration system. They often have seen few salvations and few changes in congregants’ attitudes. Because millennials have grown up in such an age of rage, they support organizations that help change people for the better. Millennials must find the chruch recapturing its rightful place as a place where people and communities are being changed for the better.

Rx: This requires praying for and allowing the Holy Spirit to work by liberating people from sins, addictions, abuse, bigotry etc. as well as changing the neighborhoods in which the congregants live. Programs that help people change their lives (e.g. divorce recovery, 12-step addiction recovery programs, grief recovery and most importantly the salvation experience) should be what a church is known for.  While researching John Wesley and the power behind his methods, I found a key method was a requirement that every small group regularly help the poor, and so fulfill Matt. 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

Involvement system: Millennials expect to experiment with volunteerism, even before they have expertise. Because millennials have experienced a world of knowledge on handheld devices since they can remember, they learn by experience more than by long training sessions or wordy manuals. 

Rx: Increase latitude on who gets to volunteer and what responsibilities they are given. This doesn’t mean giving people responsibility for which they’re not qualified or suitable, for example I’m not suggesting a non-believer distribute the sacraments, etc. But in other areas millennials can be given opportunities to volunteer, even early on in their spiritual journey.

Unified system: Raised in an enraged and divided world, millennials seek a spiritual community that has a higher degree of unity than they have experienced in the world. As Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Millennials don’t expect the church to be dissonance free, but they do expect it to be more harmonious than what they experience in the world. 

Rx: Millennials look for a church where conflicted parties sit down and discuss their differences. Conflict resolution theories suggest the first step is to get the divided parties talking directly to one another. The second step is to ensure the leader does not get in the middle. This takes the leader out of being a go-between (who can be blamed by both sides) and gets people connecting directly with one another to understand and grow through face-to-face discussion.

Competent system: On the one hand, millennials often focus their churches on a few signature programs that draw people from across a region. On the other hand, Boomers and Xer churches often saturate a narrowly defined community offering a wide variety of programs (often with mixed results). Studies have shown that healthy churches have a specialized ministry competency that is appreciated by the non-churchgoing community. Not surprisingly, millennials have come to expect churches to know what they’re good at doing and to focus their time, talent and treasures toward what God has empowered them to do.

Rx: Ask community leaders what your church is known for and which of your programs the community most appreciates. Then with millennial mentees assisting, begin to sketch out what God has uniquely empowered your church to do well and that the community appreciates. Ask your millennials to help you expand on these signature ministries by slowly allocating more time, talent and treasure toward your God-given ministry competency.

Find more ideas for church revitalization at www.7Systems.church 

Download the article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – What Boomers & Xers must do differently to lead millennials, Church Revitalizer Magazine, Feb. 2019

7 systems yellow

SYSTEM 3 of 7SYSTEMS.church: SUPERNATURAL & How to foster encounter in worship.

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This is third (3rd) in a series of articles by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D. (5/24/16) introducing the 7SYSTEMS.CHURCH and which first appeared in Church Revitalizer Magazine.

The “7 systems” of a healthy church (www.7System.church) is based upon an analysis of 35,000 church combined with 25+ years of consulting research and practice.  An introduction to the “7 Systems” of a healthy church (www.7System.church) can be found here: www.7systems.church

Before we begin to turn around a church, we need to know what worship should be turning toward.

This is the third in a series on the “7 Marks of a Growing Church,” based on my analysis of the American Congregations 2015 Study undertaken by Hartford Seminary. Free copies of the study are available at http://www.FaithCommunitiesToday.org 

The American Congregations Study found that in renovated churches, attendees describe their worship as “very innovative.” As I read deeper into the study, it became clear that it’s not mere innovation congregants appreciate, but it is innovation that keeps the worship fresh and supernatural. Let’s look at how you can renovate a church to a fresh and supernatural worship encounter.

How to Return to a Freshness in Worship

Everyone knows that worship can become stale. Here are three ways to keep your worship fresh.

1) Content is Fresh: 

Freshness in worship often means utilizing a style with which the audience can relate, but infusing it with fresh content. Church leaders understand people tend to like music in the musical style with which they have become accustomed. So freshness does not mean changing the musical style, but adding in fresh lyrics, fresh structure and/or fresh order. For instance, fresh worship often takes the words/melody of a new song and rearranges it in the musical style with which the congregation is accustomed. Thus, you add freshness without adding offense.

2) Exploration is Fresh.

Fresh worship happens when worship leaders are exploring a wide variety of “new” worship songs. Because the worship leader can separate the musical style from the content, they are able to take the latest songs and rework them into a style that is acceptable to the listeners.

3) Experimentation is Fresh.

The fresh worship leader is experimenting with different arts including poetry, painting, dance, drama, etc. The key is the word “experimentation,” for these are tests, not something set in stone. The fresh worship leader will keep elements to which a majority of the audience relates.

4) Feedback is Fresh.

Fresh worship results when worship leaders get weekly feedback regarding what is working. However, it is important to concentrate on what is working. Christians too easily focus on the negative (what doesn’t work) rather than the positive (what does work). Thus, the fresh worship leader takes note about what elements are creating a freshness and concentrates on them.

How to Return to Supernatural Worship

As I look over the American Congregation 2015 Study it becomes evident that people seek a worship service where they can forget about their problems and encounter the supernatural love, protection and fellowship their Heavenly Father offers. But, too often today worship has centered around attracting people to a church with high production values. There is nothing wrong with high production values, unless they become more important than the value of providing supernatural worship.Why is supernatural worship so important? The very word worship in Hebrew gives a clue. The Hebrew word shachah means to come close to God and bow down at his feet, as “a close encounter with a king which fosters in reverence, respect and praise” (Whitesel, ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011., p. 96). Thus the word “worship” reminds us that it is about an encounter in which you feel you’ve been in the very presence of God – mere inches away from Him. It is not about appreciating the staging, lighting effects or this seamless integration of the liturgy – but about a feeling that God is present with you.

There are three phases to turning a church back toward a supernatural encounter.

1) Prepare Supernaturally:

Spending time in supernatural preparation often prepares us to lead others in supernatural encounter. A pastor friend told me that his church was stuck in the small size, until God told him to go to church every Saturday night and pray for Sunday’s ministry. God told him, “If you show up on Saturday night, I’ll show up on Sunday morning.” Today a megachurch, it has multiple campuses in Atlanta. God may not say the same thing to you. But it reminds us that to lead others supernaturally, our preparation includes communing with God in prayer, His word and quietude.

2) Lead Supernaturally:

Next it is important that everyone involved in leading worship is not thinking about the mechanics of their task (e.g. singing, playing, words to the song, etc.) but rather enjoying the worship encounter that comes out of it. One church I attended had the band off to the side of the stage and a large cross at the center of the stage, so the focus will be on Christ. Another church, famous for its music ministry, hid the musicians in an orchestra pit so (according to the pastor) “The musicians wouldn’t struggle with pride and the people wouldn’t focus on the musicians.” Of course judging whether someone is worshiping supernaturally is not easy. But worship leaders should gauge their ministry by asking if they are feeling close, within inches, of their Heavenly Father.

3) Participate Supernaturally:

A final aspect to supernatural worship is to observe if congregants are participating in a supernatural experience. I’ve noticed that gifted worship leaders will not only worship themselves, but also notice what’s happening in the audience. They know if the audience is connecting with God and if they are not. The gifted worship leader will make corrections midway through worship.To revitalize a church is not about changing worship to something more attractive or trendy … but it’s about living out in a church what the word worship means: a fresh encounter with a living, loving Heavenly Father.

For an overview of the “7 systems” of a healthy church (www.7System.church) based upon an analysis of 35,000 church combined with 25+ years of consulting research and practice, see www.7systems.church

Speaking hashtags: #CaribbeanGraduateSchoolofTheology
#Olathe

TECHNOLOGY & Why the secret is accessibility, not control. #MinistryMattersMagazine @BobWhitesel #ORGANIXbook #GenZ

Whitesel Ministry Matters page full

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Modern Miscue: Seek to control networks.

The modern leader has lived most of life in a realm of “command and control.”  Command and control is necessary in crisis situations, such as warfare or firefighting.  For Baby Boomers born after World War II, the command and control way of leadership became a popular leadership style in business and the church.

Modern leaders of this generation believe the way to succeed is to control through power, rewards, and punishments.  Slow cycles that grew out of an agricultural economy began to affect business principles, where the agricultural approach of “command and control” began to be applied to the business world. Like breaking a horse, “The worker must be trimmed to fit the job,” Frederick Taylor famously intoned. Subsequently, modern leaders bristle at the thought of losing control.  When wrestling with the freedom found in emerging networks, the modern leader tends to try to exert control through ownership. In the ever democratizing world of electronic communication, control through ownership is increasingly difficult.

Modern leaders attempt to take possession of networks that shape them.  In business, this often means controlling access by charging a fee and thus reinforcing a modern notion of ownership. In the church, we may do this by restricting access to those times and places the modern leader deems fitting.  Former Silicon Valley executive Rusty Rueff noted, “Movie theatres have long tried to control mobile phone signal in their movie theatres. They say it is because it disturbs people.  Really, they don’t want teens text-messaging their friends that the movie is dreadful.” From the days of passing notes in church, to text-messaging a friend far removed from the church sanctuary, church leaders have also tried to limit the location and occasion of electronic communication.

Millennial leaders who have grown up in the expanding world of communication networks, view these networks as public property.  And, to restrict access or monopolize them seems tyrannical.  Modern leaders may recall similar unfair restrictions.  At one time, restaurants and businesses charged a fee to use the restrooms. Charging a fee or otherwise restricting network access should seem just as illogical to leaders today.

Millennial Attitude: Networks should be accessible

Rueff, who serves as an advisor to the president at Purdue University, recently showed a picture of a classroom at that university.  Of the almost 100 students assembled, every one was sitting behind a laptop computer.  “Think of when this will happen in your church,” Rusty Rueff, the former Silicon Valley executive, said.  “What do you do in church?  Is there a place for those who want to communicate with laptops?  Or would an usher ask them to put their computer away?”

Immediate, Even Critical Feedback.  In a millennial world where unfettered networking is routine, millennial church leaders are starting to accommodate instant feedback.  Some young churches have an “ask assertive environment” where those who disagree are encouraged to state their differences of opinion, even during the sermon.  Millennial congregations such as Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis regularly invite questions or challenges from the audience during the sermon. Even millennial megachurches such as Mars Hill Church in Granville, Michigan, sometimes welcome a congregant on the stage to ask the preacher questions during the sermon (since the audience is too vast for everyone to shout out a query). Leo Safko, author of the Social Media Bible calls this “a fundamental shift in power … no longer does the consumer trust corporate messages … they want to be educated by, hear their news from, and get their product reviews by people they know and trust.”

At recent conferences I keynoted, participants were given a keypad so they could rate the presentation and/or their understanding of the content in real time. Even now increasingly smaller smartphones allow electronic feedback as presentations unfold.  Though modern leaders might initially resist such quick and honest feedback in the church, the day is not far off when immediate, even critical feedback will be visually displayed in our churches in much the same manner that words are displayed to a song.

Fact checking and further research.  Allowing laptops and smart-phones into churches may at first seem disruptive, but it will enhance understanding as it allows checking of facts and further research on a topic. I remember sitting in college classes, balancing a three-inch (or so it seemed) textbook on one knee, while holding in my left hand a large diagram of the human organs.  Amid this balancing act, I tried desperately to write what the professor was stating. Today, multiple items sit neatly on computer desktops where only a flick of a mouse pad is required to separate sources or conduct further research.

Nurturing Accessibility

The accessible church describes a church that is accessible via as many social networks as possible.

The accessible church creates networks that reach out to those in need.  Meeting the needs of the disenfranchised is a priority among millennial leaders. Expanding network access should not be limited to just Christians who attend a church, but to those outside as well. One congregation in Edmonton, Alberta started a church plant in an Internet café. Unexpectedly, the free Internet access they offered met the needs of a large Asian-American community in the neighborhood that did not have computer access.  As a result this accessible church in an Internet café created an ongoing network with a growing Asian-American community.

The accessible church fosters instantaneous research and feedback at teaching venues, including during the sermon.Because Christianity is an experience- and knowledge-based faith, access to information can foster a better understanding about God. The accessible church can offer Internet access at teaching times such as during sermons, Sunday school, committee meetings, etc.  Many modern leaders bristle at the thought of laptops and Smartphones being used during church, but so did professors several years ago (only to lose the battle).  At one time sound systems, video projectors, guitars and even pipe-organs were banned from many churches. Though uncomfortable at first, new ways of communication and exploration will emerge, first among these cutting-edge millennial congregations, and eventually among everyone else.   When speaker Stan Toler speaks to younger audiences he often uses instant messaging so attendees can ask their questions via a Smartphone while he is still speaking.  He then displays their questions on the screen and answers them during his lecture.

The accessible church provides on-line communities to augment its off-line fellowship. Online communities “felt the connection and affinity they experienced in these groups fully justified their designations as a form of community.”  Online communities often enhance off-line friendships. A church offering a 12-step program can create an online group in which participants can dialogue between meetings. Groups, committees, Sunday School classes and small groups can create, share and edit documents via Web-based word processors, such as Google Docs.  These online documents allow collaborative work (such as designing a Bible study) prior to face-to-face meetings. Online communities can allow those who have special needs or limited time/resources to still feel like full participants in the community.  In the same way that Robert Schuller continued a life-long ministry to drive-in worshippers because a physically-challenged lady’s husband requested it, online communities can engage people who might be challenged in their ability to physically connect with a church.

Leaders having little experience with online communities may wonder about their cohesiveness, value and permanency, but those who have seen them in action know that increasing accessibility to the church community only enhances the faith experience.

This article is excerpted and adapted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, Chapter 6, “Networks.” Used by permission and it can also be found in Ministry Matters magazine.

#GCRN2018

MILLENNIALS & Barna research finds they view Christians as judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%) … and insensitive to others (70%). My “ORGANIC” ideas to address this!

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I wrote a book titled “ORGANIX: Signs of leadership in a changing church (Abingdon Press) in which I showed what churches can do to serve the needs of the non-churchgoer in a way that will offset the way they increasingly view the church as critical, judgemental and insensitive.  I pointed out that most people held similar opinions before the Wesleyan revivals broke out and i describes what churches can do to recapture Wesley’s organic methods

To find out what your church can do to help people that are increasingly skeptical … read this article and then take a look at the 8-strategies in my book “ORGANIX: Signs of leadership in a changing church (Abingdon Press).

“What Millennials Want When They Visit Church” by Cornerstone Knowledge Network and Barna GroupBarna Research, 3/4/15.

…substantial majorities of Millennials who don’t go to church say they see Christians as judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), anti-homosexual (91%) and insensitive to others (70%).

millennials at church

During a national, multi-phase research program among Millennials, conducted in partnership with Cornerstone Knowledge Network, participants were asked to rate how well each statement in a series describes the Christian community in America. Fewer than half of Millennials agree that the statement “The people at church are tolerant of those with different beliefs” describes the church (a lot + somewhat = 46%). About the same proportion say “The church seems too much like an exclusive club” is an accurate description (44%). Taken together, a significant number of young adults perceive a lack of relational generosity within the U.S. Christian community. Perhaps more concerning are the two-thirds of Millennials who believe that American churchgoers are a lot or somewhat hypocritical (66%). To a generation that prides itself on the ability to smell a fake at ten paces, hypocrisy is a worrisome indictment.

These negative perceptions are not limited to word descriptions. One phase of the Barna/CKN research program included visual polling, and when asked to select the image that best represents “present-day Christianity,” Millennials show the same basic pattern.

millennials at church

A majority—from all faith backgrounds, including Christianity—chose one of the two negative images. More than one-third chose the pointing finger (37%), and another one in six chose the bullhorn-wielding protestor (16%). In total, 52% of respondents view present-day Christianity as aggressive and critical.

BIBLE & 3 misbeliefs about God’s role as you lead #BiblicalLeadershipMagazine

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How do you view God’s part as you live out of a leadership position? Here are three perils to modern leadership and the flaws within these misbeliefs.

1. God makes the work easier for the leader. 

A viewpoint has risen within Christianity that believes if God is pleased with our efforts, he will make the work easier. Sometimes this is signified by a theology of abundance where a faithful leader should expect God to make the leader’s path more affluent and unproblematic.3 There are several flaws with this thinking.

Flaw 1: Blessings can overshadow buffetings.Often, churches are more familiar with the promises of blessings than they are with the warnings of buffeting. While there are scriptural promises that God will bless us, there are also warnings of difficulties that lie in following Jesus. Since prosperity writers often cite passages from 2 Corinthians,4 let’s look at a brief comparison of Paul’s thoughts in this book.

Flaw 2: Modern leaders can come to expect privilege, with a right to ease and com- fort. King David’s temptation with Bathsheba occurred after he dodged his king- ly duty of leading his men into battle, staying behind because of feelings that he deserved this luxury. Theologian Joyce Baldwin observes, “While others spent themselves and risked their lives, he was ‘killing time,’ acting like one of the kings of the nations round about, and exercising a kind of ‘right of a lord’ ” (to do whatever he pleased).8 As we see from David’s story, if leaders expect God to always make their work easier, a false sense of privilege and entitlement can blind leaders to their duty and even to temptation.

Flaw 3: Modern leaders can question God’s participation if the work does not get easier.Prosperity thinking can thwart perseverance and persistence because a leader might conclude that if the route is not easy, God must not be in it. This thinking can leave leaders like Joan unprepared and confused by the onset of hardships. Criticizing his generation, Thomas à Kempis wrote,

Jesus hath . . . many desirous of comfort, but few of tribulation. . . . All desire to rejoice with him, few are willing to endure anything for him. Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread; but few to the drinking of the cup of his passion. . . . Many love Jesus so long as adversities do not happen. Many praise and bless him, so long as they receive comforts from him.9

All three flaws remind us that although God promises to bless his people (2 Cor. 4:18; 8:9; 9:10-11), there are also buffetings that accompany the mission (2 Cor. 4:17-18; 11:23-28). The modern inclination that God principally makes the work easier for the leader is not only unbiblical but also potentially debilitating.

2. God’s presence is a sign of leadership.

Another peril is that modern leaders will allude to the presence of God as a sign of validation for their ministry and/or vision. This manifests itself in several ways.

Flaw 1:Modern leaders may believe visions and dreams validate their leadership and will inspire followers. Supernatural revelation is a way that God can and does reveal his
will (John 16:13), but many modern leaders overly apply and misapply this to
buttress personal vision. Oral Roberts infamously declared that unless $8 million was raised, God would “call him home.”10 Whether Roberts felt God’s warning would validate his plea for funds, inspire more giving, or was just a personal warning, to state it so publicly became self-serving. Modern leadership sometimes mutates into a view that because God has blessed and set apart the leader, followers should follow her or him (and by extension bless the leader too). Henri Nouwen warns pastors this is leadership based on “the temptation to be spectacular,” a temptation the devil offered Jesus when he bid him to throw himself from the temple.11

Flaw 2: Modern leaders can believe that because God’s presence is so pervasive in their lives, God excuses them from corporate worship and prayer.Modern leaders will often feel that because they have so much personal time with God, they do not need congregational times of prayer, worship, and fasting. In a large and thriving church, leaders who were once actively involved in public worship will often be found backstage chatting during worship and prayer.12

God’s presence is certainly needed for church leadership. But when leaders rely primarily on status and not fruit, they ignore Paul’s advice:

If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. (1 Tim. 3:1-3 THE MESSAGE)

Excerpted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, by Bob Whitesel (Abingdon Press). Used with permission. 

3 For an overview of the prosperity movement and its influence on modern church leadership see Simon Coleman, The Globalization of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). And, for an interesting examination of prosperity in African-American congregations see Stephanie Y. Mitchem, Name It and Claim It? Prosperity Preaching in the Black Church (Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 2007).

4 C.f. Kenneth Hagin, Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity (Tulsa, OK: Faith Library Publications, 2009), Gloria Copeland, God’s Will is Prosperity (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1996), Frederick K. C. Price, Prosperity (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 2007).

5 The Amplified Bible is customarily cited by the prosperity movement because its amplifications emphasize the eminence of the blessing, c.f. Joyce Meyer, Prepare to Prosper: Moving from the Land of Lack to the Land of Plenty (New York: FaithWords, 2003), p. 10. Meyer rightly notes that when God bestows his bounty it is usually accompanied by a responsibility to help the needy (p. 23). But, charitable opportunities and tactics are not addressed to any great degree in this book.

6 For a comparison of blessings and buffetings in 2 Corinthians see Alan Redpath’s Blessings our of Buffetings: Studies in II Corinthians (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1985).

7 Whether buffetings are sent by God, allowed by God or autonomous work of the devil is beyond the score of this book. Readers who want to study this topic further may wish to start with: C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Harper One, 2001), Philip Yancy, Where is God When It Hurts (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002) and Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Boston, MA: Dutton Adult, 2008).

8 Joyce G. Baldwin, 1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998), p. 231. Baldwin describes David’s actions with the French term droit de seigneur, a feudal right that allowed a lord to justify doing whatever he pleased.

9 Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Chicago: Moody Publishing, 1980), pp. 114-115.

10 Richard N. Ostling, Barbara Dolan and Michael P. Harris, “Religion: Raising Eyebrows and the Dead,” Time Magazine (New York: Time Inc.), July 13, 1987.

11 Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1989), p. 51-53

WORSHIP & How to tell if it is organic

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 4/27/17.

In the Abingdon Press book ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church I described characteristics of worship that promote an organic atmosphere.  Here is an updated brief list:

Worship flows from the audience to the stage, not the other way around.

  1. Inorganic worship: This is usually manufactured with moving lights in the haze of an artificial fog. It may be lead by the worship team with admonitions of “Come on, let’s praise Him” or “Clap your hands for Him.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done all of those things (too many times to list).
  2. Organic worship: But, I have observed worship that is more natural and flowing from the Holy Spirit originates from the audience and moves across the stage, not the other way around.

The focus is on what is going on inside of your head and heart, not what is going on on the stage.

  1. Inorganic worship: Often focuses on beautiful slides/videos behind words with moving lights on the walls and the audience.
  2. Organic worship: The focus is on what God is doing in each congregants’ head and heart.  The lights on the stage often come from the back of stage, illuminating the worship team as silhouettes so the faces are not illuminated (so that the expressions of the worship team do not distract).

For more see ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church or email me you additions.

 

MEASUREMENT & The Goal of the Great Commission: To Make Disciples

x-in-organix“Chapter 8: MEASURE” is excerpted with permission from ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011), pp. 139-156 (copyright by Bob Whitesel).

Let’s break through to the real reasons for growth or non-growth… Let’s put diagnostic tools into the hands of pastors, people … so they will see, clearly and scientifically the real situation. – Donald McGavran, Fuller Seminary Dean Emeritus[i]

Modern Leadership Millennial Leadership
Measure 1. Measure a church’s growth in conversion & attendance. 1. Measure a church’s growth in maturity.
2. Measure a church’s growth in unity.
3. Measure a church’s growth in favor among non-churchgoers.

When Things Add Up

Jerry was preparing to hire two staff members. And, though he looked forward to adding new staff at First Church, he always felt uncomfortable with these interviews. Thus, he was taken back when he heard the sounds of merriment and laughter coming from the waiting room. “This is some way to start an interview,” Jerry thought as he opened the door.

In the waiting room Jerry found an older gentleman, a thirty-ish young man and a middle-aged woman laughing, conversing and chatting with such excitement that he could scarcely interject a word. Finally, Jerry blurted out, “Who is here for the job interview for Pastor to Senior Adults?” to which the young man and the older gentleman both raised their hands. “Well who is here for the position of Young Adults Pastor?” to which all three raised their hands. Spontaneously, they all broke into laughter again. “You see,” said Joan. “We’ve known each other for years, but we had no idea we were applying for the same two jobs. I haven’t seen Gordon and Joel for years, and I guess we just got carried away by the reunion.”

To Jerry there was something comforting in their camaraderie. “Well, we can start this interview together and then break out separately,” Jerry suggested, which they all thought was a good idea. Sitting down in Jerry’s office, he began to read their résumés. “Joan, it says here you pastored at Aldersgate Church. I pastored there years ago.” “I followed you, I think,” came Joan’s reply. “Aldersgate, that was a hard nut to crack,” continued Jerry. “But eventually, when they let me start counting spiritual progress and stop tracking attendance so closely we began to grow.” “What do you mean?” interjected Joel, who had always been a bit impolite when his interest was pricked. “You see,” Jerry continued, “after a few years at Aldersgate Church things weren’t adding up. Positive things were happening but it wasn’t reflected in our attendance numbers. The congregants were more unified than they’d been in a decade. And, a growing ministry to the Hispanic community had been positive, with a nearby Hispanic church growing because of their generosity. I thought to myself, ‘there’s got to be a better way to measure a church’s growth.’ One night I sat down at my computer and sent an e-mail to a young pastor friend in Atlanta. I described Aldersgate’s situation and waited for an e-mail reply. Before I turned in for the night, I found this reply from Aaron: ‘Before you go to bed tonight read Acts 2:42-47. I’ll call you in the morning’.”

For the next hour Jerry recounted how Aaron’s suggestion had led him to measure a church’s health by spiritual metrics, and not attendance numbers. Jerry had inherited a badly divided church at Aldersgate. But, his hard work had brought about an improvement in unity. Jerry recalled, “One lady said, ‘we’re much more united than we were before Jerry came. If that is all we got out of his leadership … well maybe that’s enough’.” To track the growing unity Jerry would regularly ask people if they sensed the church was more or less unified than last year. Jerry also tracked the number of congregants in small groups such as Sunday School classes, Bible-study groups and even committees. “I wanted to see if people were growing in their devotion to Bible-study, fellowship, meals together and prayer gatherings, as it says in Acts 2:42. These things seemed more important to measure than how many I could get to show up on Sunday morning.” As Jerry continued Joan, Gordon and Joel peppered him with questions and impressions. And, before long all had lost track of the time. Finally, a knock at the door interrupted their lively discussion.

“I’m leaving now, it’s the end of the work day,” came the voice of Jerry’s assistant. “Do you want me to schedule more interviews next week?” Suddenly Joan, Gordon and Joel were brought back to reality. There were three of them, and only two jobs. “No, don’t schedule any more for next week. I think I’ve found our staff members.” With that the assistant departed, but for Joan, Gordon and Joel anxiety took his place. Neither wanted to take the other’s position, but all relished the idea of working with a creative pastor like Jerry. After some uncomfortable minutes of silence, Jerry spoke again. “I’ve made my decision, if the church board agrees. I think Joel would make an excellent Young Adult Pastor.” Gordon and Joan both smiled, and Joan winked at Joel. After all, Joan and Gordon had only suggested themselves for the job because of what they had learned through Joel’s friendship. “And for the Senior Adult Pastor I will suggest Gordon to the board,” Jerry continued. Now elation was tempered. Both Joel and Gordon felt that Joan had been their pastor, and she had been in the ministry longer. Spontaneously they hugged and tears of joy and sorrow began to flow down Gordon’s face. After a minute they composed themselves and congratulated the two men. “I don’t know what you are getting all weepy about,” came Jerry’s reply after an awkward silence. “I don’t know where we’ll find the money, but I think we should create a new position of Pastor to Adults for Joan. I’ve needed help for some time, and I think your experiences and your spirits are right for this church. Welcome home.”

And with that four circular routes reconnected and resulted in fruitful years of ministry. Here at First Church lessons learned in so many diverse congregations and locales had come together to spread ever increasingly the good news of God’s mission.

X is for “Measurement”

This chapter will discuss measurement. Yet, not just any kind of measurement, but ways to measure spiritual growth and its relationship to effective leadership. However, when the words spiritual and measurement are linked together, church leaders often cringe. Such phrases give the impression of either excessive scrutiny or over simplification. Thus, let’s begin with a short investigation into the rationale for measuring spiritual growth.

Is Measurement Spiritual?

The Scriptures are replete with examples of appraisal and assessment, especially when describing how spiritual seekers mature along their spiritual journey. The numberings in Numbers 1:2 and 26:2 reminded a Jewish nation that a lack of pre-exodus faith had resulted in many of them forfeiting the blessings of the promised land. And Luke’s numberings in Acts 1:15, 2:41 and 4:4 reminded the Christian church that even amid persecution, the Christian community matured and spread from the imperial backwaters of Jerusalem to the Roman capital.

Still, some argue against counting, claiming that David was punished for ordering a census of Israel in 1 Chron. 21:1-30. But, a closer look reveals that David was punished by God because in the face of an overwhelming opponent, David sought to count his men to bolster his faith rather than trust in God’s assistance. David’s err was not his counting, but because he counted for inappropriate reasons. And yet, this story of David’s inappropriate counting can be a warning for all who would count today. If you are counting because you need to bolster your faith, then your err is the same as David’s. Measurement should not be a substitution for faith, but an indication of God’s moving among his people.

Let’s look at how modern leadership and millennial leadership differ in their approaches to measurement. This comparison can help tomorrow’s leaders see what should be counted and what should not.

A Peril of Modern Leadership Regarding: – Measurement

Modern Leadership Millennial Leadership
Measure 1. Measure a church’s growth in conversion & attendance. 1. Measure a church’s growth in maturity.
2. Measure a church’s growth in unity.
3. Measure a church’s growth in favor among non-churchgoers.

Modern Miscue 1. Grow a church’s growth in conversion and attendance.

Just one modern miscue will be investigated in this chapter, because it contrasts significantly with three more organic measurements. The modern miscue is to put too much reliance in measuring conversion and attendance as an indicator of leadership effectiveness.

1.a. Counting Conversion. First let me say that conversion is a critically important experience for every spiritual traveler.[ii] Let’s define what we are talking about using an accepted definition by psychologist and philosopher William James:

(conversion is) “…the process, gradual or sudden, by which the self hitherto divided and consciously wrong, inferior and unhappy becomes united and consciously right, superior and happy in consequence to its firmer hold upon religions realities.”[iii]

Such conversion is an important response to God’s mission (the missio Dei) for it describes a second birth where a person begins a new life reunited with her or his heavenly Father. The Bible states, “What we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life begins! Look at it!” (2 Cor. 5:17, Msg.).

Such changes are countable, but there are two caveats to counting conversion.

  • Conversion can happen gradually or suddenly, thus counting is difficult. A sudden conversion to Christianity is easily noted, while a more gradual conversionary experience is harder to count. Let’s look at how the Bible describes both types of conversion and therefore how effectively counting all conversions becomes difficult.
    • Sudden Conversion. Today when people think of conversion they usually think of a sudden conversion like that of Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). Many people, including this author, have experienced conversion in this abrupt and unmistakable way.
    • Progressive Conversion. But, if we look at how most of Jesus’ disciples were converted, we see a more gradual progression. Fuller Seminary’s Richard Peace emphasizes that:

“What Mark sought to communicate in his Gospel was the process by which these twelve men gradually turned, over time, from their culturally derived understanding of Jesus as a great teacher to the amazing discovery that he was actually the Messiah who was the Son of God.”[iv]

Scot McKnight adds that “for many Christians conversion is a process of socialization,”[v] meaning that it is in the company and companionship of other Christians that many people gradually convert to Christ.

  • Counting conversion is difficult because it is a supernatural work of God’s Spirit, occurring on God’s timetable. Conversion involves a God who declares, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” ( 55:9). Thus, as Jesus pointed out, trying to tally up conversions is like trying to count the wind:

“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God” (John 3:8, Msg.).

And when Luke describes the growth of the early church, he stresses God’s involvement, writing, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” The scriptural emphasis is that being saved from the penalty of one’s sin happens when the Holy Spirit and a human’s free will intersect. Subsequently, counting conversations is not a good indicator of leadership, for it happens at different paces and as the result of a divine intersection.[vi]

1.b Counting attendance. Perhaps because conversion is such an inscrutable intersection, counting church attendance has become the common alternative. Yet attendance at an event, worship celebration, etc. can be artificially skewed by many factors. Figure 8.1 includes just a few temporary factors that can artificially skew attendance growth, making it an inconsistent measurement.

Figure 8.1 Temporary Types of Attendance Growth

Temporary Types of Attendance Growth
Forces affecting

temporary attendance growth:

Actions that can

create temporary growth:

 

Curiosity:

·       New facility is built

·       New pastor is hired

·       New program initiated

 

 

 

Entertainment:

 

·       Special musical guest(s)

·       Special speaker(s)

·       Church becomes the “it” church, meaning it is inordinately popular and thus people want to associate with it.[vii]

 

 

Population changes:

 

 

·       Growing neighborhood surrounding the church

·       Church attracts an emerging culture (ethnic, age group, etc.) from the neighborhood.

In the examples above, temporary and artificial reasons, not leadership, may be driving attendance growth.

Therefore, if modern ways of measuring leadership by counting conversion and attendance are difficult to decipher at best, perhaps Luke has given hints of better indicators. Let’s look at the verses preceding Acts 2:47 and see if more relevant measurement tools emerge.

3 Attitudes of Millennial Leadership Regarding: – Measurement

Modern Leadership Millennial Leadership
Measure 1. Measure a church’s growth in conversion & attendance. 1. Measure a church’s growth in maturity.
2. Measure a church’s growth in unity.
3. Measure a church’s growth in favor among non-churchgoers.

 Millennial Attitude 1. Measure a church’s growth in maturity.

In Acts 2:42-47 Luke describes Jerusalem’s reaction to Peter’s first sermon.[viii] A fresh Spirit-infused community has come into being, and thus measuring it (as Luke always likes to do) requires new metrics.[ix] In Acts 2:42 Luke writes that as a result of Peter’s sermon,

“They devoted themselves….

  • to the apostles’ teaching
  • and to fellowship,
  • to the breaking of bread
  • and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).

Let’s start with the word “devoted,” which comes from two Greek words: pros- meaning “a goal striven toward”[x] and karterountes meaning “steadfast, to hold out, to endure.”[xi] The New International Version translates this “devoted,” but the New American Standard Bible translates it more accurately as “continuing steadfastly.” A compromise might be to say that they “steadfastly strove for the goals of …”

The subsequent phrases indicate four goals of this steadfast striving: learning, fellowship, communal dinners and prayer. What a refreshing metric. Luke is not measuring bodies, but hunger for knowledge, unity, community and prayer. In the new millennium measurement is not about how many warm bodies show up at an event, but how much committed community emerges.

Growth in maturity is one way to label this growth. But, we shall see shortly that growth in maturity is not easily measured. Yet, if we calculate it in the same way year after year (for instance count the number of people involved in Bible studies and prayer groups) we can catch a glimpse of Luke’s intent: to measure how God grows within and through his followers. Before we look at tools that can measure growth in maturity, let’s investigate three more measurements Luke describes in Acts 2:42-47.

Millennial Attitude 2. Measure a church’s growth in unity.

Acts 2:44-45 describes a growing trust within the fledgling church. This resulted in their selling of their possessions to help on another. Some throughout history have taken this passage to suggest that true discipleship is only to be found by living a communal lifestyle where all possessions are shared.[xii] However, if communal living was to be the norm for the Christian church, then Paul, Peter, James and others would have admonished churches in Corinth, Antioch, Philippi, Jerusalem and elsewhere to adopt a communal lifestyle. Scholar Everett Harrison adds an interesting insight, “this was not the forsaking of the principle of private ownership, since the disposal and distribution of their possessions was occasioned ‘as anyone might have need.’ When the need became known, action was taken based on loving concern.”[xiii] What Luke is emphasizing is a heightened trust and unity that is growing in the church. Followers are becoming confident they could rely on one another, even with which they formerly valued most: their money and assets.

Such actions describe a deeper unity and trust among believers than they had known before. This is a second type of church growth and makes more sense to track than conversions or attendance. Growth in unity is one way to label this emerging inter-reliance. Again, measuring this will be subjective and require some effort to calculate. But, we will see that a simple congregational questionnaire administered yearly and anonymously can glean congregational perceptions of whether unity is growing or waning.

Degree of unity is an important measurement that is often overlooked by denominational measurement methods too. For instance, in the story that began this chapter (and based upon an true account) Pastor Jerry had inherited a badly divided congregation. His hard work had brought about an improvement in unity, as exemplified in a congregant’s comment that “we’re much more united than we were before Jerry came. If that is all we got out of his leadership … well maybe that’s enough.” However, because the church was experiencing a plateau in attendance and the denomination was not tracking growth in unity, Jerry’s progress was not evident to the denomination. We might ask ourselves, “was Pastor Jerry growing the church?” Yes. “Was he growing it in a way that was helpful and valuable?” Yes. “But, was this growth evident to the denomination?” No. Herein lies the problem. We are measuring things like conversion and attendance, which human leadership has only limited ability to influence, and we are overlooking important metrics of church growth, such as a church growing in unity. In the next section we will look at tools that can measure growth in unity as well.

Millennial Attitude 3. Measure a church’s growth in favor among non-churchgoers.

The Acts 2:47 phrase, “and enjoying the favor of all the people” describes in concise terms a growing appreciation for the church among community residents. Here we see that manifold connections and service to the community result in favor, esteem and a good opinion from those outside of the congregation. The community does not regard the church as mongers, dogmatists or self-absorbed elitists. Instead, the church seems to have been serving the community with such joyful enthusiasm, that people genuinely respected and valued their presence. Here is another refreshing metric which Luke choose to describe.

Therefore, measuring growth in favor among non-churchgoers can ascertain if community favor is increasing or declining. But, there is a caveat. Growing in favor does not mean catering to immoral elements in a community in hopes of currying their favor. Rather this verse describes what happens when a church applies biblical principles of love, fairness, truth-telling and compassion in a non-churchgoing community. This results in the community returning to them favor and respect. Such regard can be seen in an observation of the early church leader Tertullian, who wrote that non-Christians often commented, “Behold, how they love one another.”[xiv] We shall now see how measuring a church’s impact and esteem in a community be an effective tool to measure leadership.

Nurturing the 3 Attitudes Regarding: – Measurement

Growth in favor is similar to maturity growth and unity growth, in that all three are must rely upon subjective assessment. As noted, this may be why modern leaders often take the easy route of counting physical attributes of attendance and conversion. But subjective measurement is a reliable tool if consistent and commonsense questionnaires are employed. After years of applying the following tools among client churches and students, I have found that the following assessment tools are a helpful starting place.

Nurturing Millennial Attitude 1. Measure a church’s growth in maturity.

This is one of the easier types of growth to measure. Acts 2:42 describes how the young church steadfastly strove for goals of “…the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Every church has groups that center around these purposes. Thus, by counting the percentage of people involved in small groups where teaching takes place, fellowship takes place, shared meals take place and prayer takes place, a church can begin to get a general picture of spiritual progress (or regress).

1.a Count up all of your small groups. Figure 8.2 suggests typical small groups and how they might correlate to the categories mentioned Acts 2:42. When counting groups, limit yourself to small groups as defined in Chapter 3 as “less than 20 people meeting 1+ times a month.”[xv] Measuring changes in participation in these small groups can be a general indicator of changes in how many congregants are actively striving for learning, fellowship, communal dinners and prayer.

Figure 8.2 Groups Who Might Exemplify Growth in Maturity

“They devoted themselves to … Small groups in a church that might exemplify this:
 

 

 

…the apostles’ teaching…

1.     Bible studies

2.     Sunday school classes

3.     Newcomer classes

4.     Membership classes

5.     Confirmation classes

6.     Baptism classes

7.     Any regular gathering or class encouraging Christian education

 

 

…to fellowship…

1.     Hobby groups

2.     Sport teams

3.     Any regular gathering or class primarily fostering Christian fellowship

 

 

… to the breaking of bread…

1.     Lunches together

2.     Dinners together

3.     Any gathering promoting Christian community with a meal

 

 

…and to prayer…

1.     Prayer meetings

2.     Participation in prayer programs such as prayer triplets, prayer covenants, etc.[xvi]

3.     Participation at prayer times (at the altar, in the prayer room, etc.)

Still, measuring all groups in Figure 8.2 could be cumbersome for many churches due to the large number of groups involved. Therefore, let’s limit ourselves to those small groups that are easier to detect, i.e. those orientated around biblical teaching or engaged in prayer.[xvii]

1.b Tracking your church’s growth in maturity (Figure 8.3). A church’s emerging spiritual maturity could be estimated and changes tracked by counting up the number of participants in groups that are focused on Bible study or prayer. Figure 8.3 shows how to tally up the number of participants in these groups and track changes from year to year.

Figure 8.3: Tracking Growth in Maturity (example in grey)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years

Number of people involved  

Total

Involvement

 

 

 

 

 

Church Attend-ance[xviii]

Composite Maturation Number
Bible study groups (adult)

·  Sunday Schools

·  Any small group w/ a Bible focus

Prayer groups (adult)

·  Prayer meetings & events

·  Prayer programs

Total Involvement divided by

Church Attendance

 

% of Change

 

2008 34 16 50 200 25 %
2009 45 18 63 203 31 % + 6 %
2010 49 23 72 199 36 % + 6 %

The goal of Figure 8.3 is to see movement toward a higher percentage of congregants involved in Bible study groups and prayer groups. In the example above (in grey), the church has been plateaued for three years. But, by computing the “Composite Maturation Number” we find that involvement in prayer and Bible study groups has actually grown 5% and then 6% per year (for a total of 11%). This growth in maturity demonstrates that something good is happening, but unless the Composite Maturation Number is tracked a denomination will usually not notice this.

In addition, because each church is unique, a church should not try to compare its scores with anyone but itself. This score will show you only if you are changing in the number of people who are participating in groups that focus primarily on Bible study or prayer. Therefore, compare them only with yourself to gauge year-by-year changes in congregational commitment to Bible study and prayer.

Nurturing Millennial Attitude 2. Measure a church’s growth in unity.

2.a Tracking a church’s growth in unity (Figure 8.4). Congregants usually have a good sense of whether unity in the congregation is improving or waning. A simple Likert-type scale with two questions (Figure 8.4) can be administered to congregants once a year, and improvement or deterioration in a church’s perceptions of unity can be tracked.[xix]

Figure 8.4: Tracking a Church’s Perceptions of Growth in Unity

Growth in Unity
 

Our church is more unified than last year.

1.                  2.                  3.                4.                          5.

strongly disagree       disagree              neither                 agree                   strongly agree
 

I trust our church leadership more than last year .

1.                       2.                 3.                 4.                       5.

strongly disagree       disagree              neither                 agree                   strongly agree
 Given: once per year  Given when: at each worship celebration  Results: Movement toward higher numbers is preferred

2.b Track unity of congregants with one another and with leadership. The purpose of tracking growth in unity is not necessarily to score high, but to be moving higher. And, each question measures a different attribute of unity that should be increasing.

Question 1: Assesses perceptions of unity among congregants.

Question 2: Assesses perceptions of unity of the congregation with church leadership.

Again these numbers should not be bantered around between congregations. These scales are not relevant to boasting or bravado. Rather these scales measure progress (or regress) in congregational unity. For example, a church that has a low self-esteem may initially score poorly on this scale. But, in subsequent years if the numbers move upward them the congregation’s perception of its unity is increasing. This does not mean unity has always increased, but it does indicate that something is going on that is increasing a congregational sense of unanimity.

Nurturing Millennial Attitude 3. Measure a church’s growth in favor among non-churchgoers.

3.a Measure opinion makers in the community that do not attend your church (Figure 8.5). A Likert-type questionnaire is helpful here too, for it measures changes in attitudes. Here we will not poll the congregation, but the non-churchgoing community. I use the term non-churchgoers in an attempt to be sensitive to labels, for these are people who may go to another church, synagogue, temple or mosque but who are not churchgoers at your place of worship. They include community leaders and opinion makers such as community officials, school principals/superintendents, business people, community leaders, etc.

3.b Poll the same people and/or positions each year for consistency. When possible, attempt to poll the same people every year to ensure that you are tracking changes in perception among the same local opinion makers. Figure 8.5, when given to community leaders, can help track changing perceptions of favor toward a local church.

Figure 8.5 Tracking the Perception of Growth in Church Favor Among Non-churchgoers.

Growth in Favor
 In your view (name of church) is more favorably regarded

within this community than last year

1.                       2.                 3.                 4.                       5.

strongly disagree       disagree              neither                 agree                   strongly agree
Given: once per year  Given to:

·  Community officials/leaders

·  School and business leaders

·  Local opinion makers

 

Results: Movement toward higher numbers is preferred.

 

Nurturing Millennial Attitude 4. Measure a church’s growth in conversions too.

For our fourth measurement we will measure conversions. Though we have seen that conversion is difficult to track, it can still be a helpful measurement when evaluated in light of the above metrics: growth in maturity, growth in unity and growth in favor among the community. In addition, Luke tracks conversion as we see from an abbreviated record from the book of Acts:[xx]

  • “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41
  • “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47b
  • “But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.” Acts 4:4
  • “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” Acts 5:14
  • “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7

In Luke’s narrative we see that conversion was taking place, and that he was tracking it. Thom Rainer summarizes, “Luke writes Acts in rapid-fire sequences, demonstrating that believers were persistently active in prayer, evangelism, and service.”[xxi] Punctuating this rapid-fire account is Luke’s repeated emphasis upon conversions taking place at the mystical intersection of God’s will and human choice. As we noted earlier, because of God’s involvement counting conversion is like counting the wind (John 3:8,). But, Luke still tracks it. Yet, because of God’s considerable involvement, outcomes of conversion may be less tied to the leader’s skill. Thus, we should count “growth in conversion” for it is a valid metric to signify God’s movement. And though conversion is the apex of one’s spiritual journey before eternity, we must always remind ourselves that this number is less indicative of effective leadership and more indicative of God’s sovereign workings in the mission Dei.

The cross in ORGANIX reminds us that conversion is the heart God’s missio Dei.

Though evaluating leadership by counting conversion is difficult because of the supernatural nature of conversion, it is also problematical to underemphasize conversion. Conversion is the penultimate experience that God wants all his offspring to experience. The Scriptures emphasize:

  • “And he (Jesus) said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 18:3
  • “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again… you must be born again.” John 3:3, 7
  • “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
  • “What we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life begins! Look at it!” (2 Cor. 5:17, Msg.).

Thus, the X in ORGANIX has at its heart the icon of a cross. The numbers in each quadrant stand for four valid types of measurement derived from Acts 2:42-47. Yet, the X in the center[xxii] reminds us that Christ’s death and resurrection has offered humanity the prospect of conversion. And this conversion, as a turning from trust in self to trust in God,[xxiii] is central to God’s mission, the missio Dei. God wants his offspring to go in the opposite direction, reunite with him in his mission and lovingly join others on the way back to a relationship with him.

Moving Toward Millennial Leadership: Questions for Personal Reflection and/or Group Discussion

The following questions are for personal reflection but can also be utilized in a group setting.

  1. For personal & group reflection: Create an Organix Leadership Journal by …
  • Selecting two (2) items from each box,
  • Writing in it what you will begin to do over the next 30 days to move toward millennial leadership in these two areas.
 

Millennial Leadership

 

 

Measurement

1. Measure a church’s growth in maturity.

 

1.a. Count up all of your small groups.

 

 

1.b. Tracking your church’s growth in maturity (Figure 8.3).

 

 

2. Measure a church’s growth in unity.

 

2.a. Tracking a church’s growth in unity (Figure 8.4)

 

 

2.b. Track unity of congregants with one another and with leadership.

 

 

3. . Measure a church’s growth in favor among non-churchgoers.

 

3.a. Measure opinion makers in the community that do not attend your church (Figure 8.5).

 

 

3.b. Poll the same people and/or positions each year for consistency.

 

4 . Measure a church’s growth in conversations too.

 

 

 

  1. For group refection:
  • Share your responses to the chart above with your group (omitting answers/plans that are overly personal).
  • Take notes in your Organix Leadership Journal on the following:
    1. Does your group agree or disagree with your assessments and plans?
    2. What input did they give you regarding moving toward millennial leadership?
  • Then rewrite your plans in your journal utilizing their input.
  1. For Personal and Group Reflection:
  • Revisit your notes in your Organix Leadership Journal every month for six months. Ask yourself:
    1. Are there areas where I am making progress? If so, describe them.
    2. Are there areas where I am still weak? What will I do to address this?
  • At the end of six months reread the chapter and update your plans.

 

DOWNLOAD the article here:  organix-chpt-8-measurement-pg139-156 But remember, if you enjoy of benefit from this chapter, please consider supporting the publisher by purchasing a copy of the entire book.

Footnotes:

[i] Donald A. McGavran and Winfield C. Arn, Ten Steps for Church Growth (New York: Harper and Row., 1977), p. 3.

[ii] There are various types of conversion, such as secular conversion (e.g. when a drug addict is transformed to a drug-free lifestyle) or religious conversations (e.g. when a Sikh converts to Hinduism). Richard Peace gives a good overview of these kinds of conversion and the relevant literature in Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), pp. 7-11. We will limit our discussion to conversion to a Christian worldview as defined by Peace.

[iii] William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (London: Longmans, 1902), 114.

[iv] Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), p. 4.

[v] Scot McKnight, Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press 2002), p. 5.

[vi] The modern inclination to count conversions, while insightful to the wind of the Spirit, may include too many divine and unperceived factors, making measuring it as an indicator of leadership is deficient.

[vii] This is not to say there is not something, like a supernatural and indescribable “it,” that people seek to encounter in a church. Craig Groechel in his book, It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), describes “it” not as a trendiness but as a profound encounter with the supernatural.

[viii] Luke’s emphasis is jarring, for most secular writers at the time reveled in the scale of the followers, and not upon new passions for learning, fellowship, communal dinners and prayer.

[ix] The four types of church growth described by Luke may be divinely inspirited metrics or simply part of a biblical narrative. Yet, they suggest relevant and helpful measurement of tools.

[x] Walter Bauer, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 716-718.

[xi] Walter Bauer, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 406.

[xii] The most prevalent historical examples of communal living would be the monastic movements.

[xiii] Everett F. Harrison, ACTS: The Expanding Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1975), p. 66.

[xiv] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), p. 485

[xv] Some may wish to measure attendance in all-church worship celebrations in lieu of small groups. This may yield a less reliable result, since in a large worship gathering it is easier to attend without a steadfast striving for goals of the apostles’ teaching, etc. In addition, it is harder to attend a small group setting without this commitment since in a small group accountably is stronger.

[xvi] For examples of prayer triplets, neighborhood prayers centers, prayer covenants and prayer chapels see Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000), pp. 230-237.

[xvii] If your church has organized and regular fellowship groups (e.g. sport teams, hobby groups, etc.) and/or your church has regular times where congregants dine together (recurring evening dinners/lunches, a “dinners of eight” program, etc.) then these groups can be included in your assessments. The key is for each church to include groups that have as a goal the development of spiritual maturity.

[xviii] Church attendance is valid to track here, since the pivotal number is the percentage of church attendees who are involved in Bible study groups and prayer groups.

[xix] Growth in unity and growth in community favor are based upon perceptions. Yet, subjective scales have been proven to be valid and reliable, see Rensis A. Likert, “A Technique for Measurement of Attitudes” in R. S. Woodworth, Archives of Psychology (New York: The Science Press , 1932), vol. 22, no. 140, p. 55.

[xx] Further examples include Acts 9:42; 11:24; 13:43, 48-49; 17:12; and 19:18-20.

[xxi] Thom S. Rainer, Church Growth and Evangelism in the Book of Acts, Criswell Theological Review 5.1 (Dallas, TX: Criswell College, 1990), p. 67.

[xxii] The cross at the center of these four measurements also reminds us that progress is God’s doing and that we only participate in his missio Dei.

[xxiii] Walter Bauer, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 301.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018

LEADERS & The Difference Between Good Leaders and Great Ones #OrganixBook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This article from Harvard Business Review illustrates what I try to communicate to my students. And that is, that “great” leadership which revolves around forceful leading in times of danger or calamity is very different from “good” leadership which often is more collaborative and utilized in times of relative harmony. I outline the differences in the book ORGANIX. Read this article to understand more of the nuanced differences.

The Difference Between Good Leaders and Great Ones

by James R. Bailey, Harvard Business Review, 9/23/16.

…That anyone can develop as a leader is not in question. What I dispute is the stubborn resolve that great and good are points along the same stream. That just isn’t so. Great leadership and good leadership have distinctly different characteristics and paths. Leadership is not one-dimensional. It can be great and good, or one but not the other, or neither.

Uses of “great” usually begin with descriptions of being unusually intense or powerful, either “to great effect” or “a great effort.” In that sense, great is a force. True, great also means “excellent,” but that is not its primary meaning. As for “good,” we usually reference morality, virtue, and ethics — “a good person” or “a good decision.” Good can refer to the quality of something — contrasted against the commonly understood opposite, bad — but in this context good refers to the direction in which behavior is compelled.

Great leadership is powerful, dominating, often overwhelming. It can sweep people along through sheer animation. Great leadership excites, energizes, and stimulates. It’s a rousing call, shocking complacency and inertia into action. It’s one of the most potent pulls in human history, and as such accounts for much of humanity’s progress, as well as its suffering. While it ignites collective action and stirs passion, its direction depends largely on those that wield its power. Great has no inherent moral compass, and thus its unpredictable potency can just as easily be put toward pugilistic and peaceful purposes.

To speak of good leadership is to speak of protecting and advancing widely accepted principles through means to ends. It denotes doing the “right” thing. There may be legitimate differences in interpretation of what’s right and wrong, but long-standing ethics, mores, and customs of conduct that have allowed individuals and collectives to survive and thrive are remarkably similar across culture and time. Good heeds the best interests and welfare of others.

Good leadership is not as arresting as great leadership. When good rules the day, it’s not so noticeable, as things are transpiring as they should. Great is dramatic, whereas good is the blended background, a values-based screen upon which great deeds unfold. This accounts for why the force of great often overshadows the direction of good.

The tug between great and good leadership is one of perpetual and dynamic coexistence. There is great — a force that is often inexplicable, occasionally irrational, and, importantly, intermittently ungovernable. Then there is good — a direction that is north-star true, providing the point of values of mutual benefit. The former moves, the latter aspires. The figure below illustrates the relationship.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-difference-between-good-leaders-and-great-ones

COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP & Why A Flat Organization is Better Than a Hierarchy for the Small & Midsized Org.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Most nonprofits and churches, with under 50 full time employees, work better as a “flat organization.” Read this comparison between the creativity and speed created in the flat organization vs. the typical hierarchal model. Moving to a hierarchical model when a church or nonprofit is small is one of the main factors that holds back their creativity and growth (ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, chpt. “N: Networked“).

Research: Narcissists Don’t Like Flat Organizations

by Emily Zitek and Alex Jordan, Harvard Business Review, 7/27/16.

Flat organizations are having a moment. Research has shown that reducing hierarchy can lead to more satisfied employees and speedier decision making, and some companies have concluded that flatter structures would work better. Zappos, for example, became a “holocracy” in order to empower employees to act like entrepreneurs. Similarly, Treehouse eliminated managers after noticing that “people had really great ideas but were powerless to implement them.”

But hierarchy does have its merits. It helps people learn relationships in the organization and satisfies a psychological need for order. Moreover, hierarchies perform well when the product requires coordination

We wanted to know how hierarchy might influence the type of talent organizations can attract and retain. Our forthcoming paper in Social Psychological and Personality Science shows hierarchies and flat organizations attract different kinds of workers. We conducted a series of studies to understand how narcissism—a personality trait involving exaggerated self-worth, a sense of entitlement, and a desire for authority—relates to people’s organizational preference.

In our research, people’s level of narcissism was measured by their agreement or disagreement with a series of statements such as “I will be a success” and “I think I am a special person.” Participants then answered questions about how much they would want to work in a hierarchical organization.

Our research shows that people with narcissistic traits had a stronger desire to work in a hierarchical organization, compared to less narcissistic people. Why? They believed they would perform well and thus rise to the top. However, after learning about a hierarchical organization in which none of the high ranking people would be leaving the organization anytime soon, narcissists actually wanted to work there less than non-narcissistic participants did.

Thus, narcissists like hierarchical organizations because they think they will rise to high ranks and reap status and power. Narcissists are less interested in hierarchies where there is little opportunity for upward mobility. The same goes for flatter organizations, where there are fewer high ranks to attain…

Is it good or bad to have narcissistic employees?

That depends on your company. When negotiating with a client, do you just want to make the most money, or do you also care about maintaining a good relationship? Narcissists win more in negotiations, but they are also disliked by the other party. Do you value creativity? If so, it might be good to have some narcissists (not too few and not too many) because groups generate more creative ideas this way. Are you working in an industry where seeking risk is rewarded, or one where risk aversion is more valuable? Studies of CEOs have demonstrated that more narcissistic leaders show a greater bias toward action and more aggressive pursuit of potential rewards, and they pay less attention to mitigating risk.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/research-narcissists-dont-like-flat-organizations

EVALUATION & A List of Church Growth/Health Measurements (metrics) from My Books

AN OVERVIEW of MEASUREMENT METRICS: In four of my books I have updated and modified a church measurement tool.  You will find a chapter on measurement in each of these books:

Cure for the Common Church, (Wesleyan Publishing House), chapter “Chapter 6: How Does a Church Grow Learners,” pp. 101-123.
> ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 8: Measure 4 Types of Church Growth,” pp. 139-159.
> Growth By Accident, Death By Planning (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 7: Missteps with Evaluation,” pp. 97-108/
> A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps In Your Church (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 10: Evaluate Your Success,” pp. 202-221.

I explain that church growth involves four types of congregational growth.  It is a seriously incorrect assumption to assume church growth is all about numbers.  It is only 1/4 about numbers and 3/4 about the other types of growth mentioned in Acts 2:42-47.  In the New Testament we find…

> Maturation Growth, i.e. growth in maturity,Acts 2:42-43.
> Growth in Unity: Acts 2:44-46.
> Growth in Favor, i.e. among non-Christians, Acts 2:47a.
> Growth in number of salvations, i.e. which God does according to this verse, Acts 2:47b.

For more see … https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/measurement-a-reliable-valid-tool-to-measure-church-growthhealth-organixbook/

ORGANIX & An Executive Summary of the Signs of Leadership In a Changing Church

by Jeff Lawson, Life Church, 5/12/16.

A few years ago my church sent me to Dallas, Texas to attend a Catalyst Church Conference. I remember thinking at the beginning of the week that I felt more like I was at a Spring Break party in Florida than I did at a church conference. Folks were texting all through the events. Beach Balls were bouncing around the room. Lots of interaction, even while the speakers were on the stage. I felt it was so sacrilegious.

By the end of the week my feelings had changed. I saw that these young people were worshiping Jesus in ways that were more comfortable for them. It was without a doubt genuine and I remember feeling that I wish I could understand more what I was experiencing.

I wish I had been able to read Dr Bob Whitesel’s book, Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press) prior to attending the event. If I had read this work, I am certain that my experience would have been much more complete.

In my opinion, Organix paints a picture for the Modern Leader to better understand tomorrow’s Millennial Leader. I would highly recommend this book to be read by all pastors and then re-read together with their leadership team.

By using an acronym with the word Organic, Whitesel teaches the reader the difference between the modern leader and the millennial leader. Early on Whitesel explains his use of the ‘x’ in Organic instead of a ‘c’. He says, “There is a millennial propensity to alter the spelling of words to create distinction with like-sounding letters.” Whitesel intrinsically breaks down the differences in a very astute way each chapter. He also begins each chapter with a brief true to life story that helps the reader dig into the important differences (which was extremely helpful for me).

O stands for ‘Others’. Whitesel says, “Among tomorrow’s leaders there is a passion not for themselves or their own accomplishments but for helping those most in need.” This spoke loudly to me. My generation is quick to write a check to make a problem go away. Tomorrow’s leaders are more ready to roll up their sleeves to help to solve the problem long term. Whitesel says, “A key to knowing the needs of others is to experience life with them.”

R stands for the Rx in ‘Prescription’. Whitesel says, “An R with a slash through the right leg is a Latin abbreviation for ‘recipe,’ which has come to indicate a recipe or prescription for health.” This is a bit of a twist on the idea that healthy organizations produce healthy people to the idea that when you have healthy people, you will find a healthy organization. The shuffling of words is subtle, yet true. The first idea is true sometimes, but more times than not, the second option is more reliable. This chapter talks about small groups. Whitesel introduces the idea of MissionalNets which are a gathering of two to five small groups that can produce quicker and easier results when one small group tries to tackle a mission alone. It also encourages fellowship among the different small groups in a church.

G stands for ‘Graffiti’. Whitesel says, “While modern leadership often disciplines itself to keep colors and lines in their place, millennial leaders create a leadership collage of colors, symbols, and statements.” He opens the chapter early by a profound statement that I have found true, “Millennial leadership is not for the fainthearted or the small-minded.” I laughed out loud at the statement with my previous experience with the Catalyst Conference mentioned earlier. It doesn’t always make sense, but we must ask ourselves, does it always have to make sense? After all, God says, “Your thoughts and ways are not like my thoughts and ways.” We must get over ourselves and embrace the idea that we don’t always have to be in control of everything we experience.

A stands for ‘Recycle’ with their triangle symbol. This in my opinion was the most creative and thought provoking chapter. Whitesel helps the reader to see that we are not only to be concerned with recycling precious natural resources, we must also be mindful of people and that they are just as precious as a resource. Many people have been cast away as useless because of a past mistake, but with a quick glimpse of the Bible we can see that God regularly used murders, prostitutes, thieves, and adulterers, to name a few. This does not mean that we are to gloss over sin, but it does not show that sin means that you must be doomed to everlasting ministry purgatory.

N stands for ‘Networks’. With the popularity and growing use for the internet, networks are growing by the thousands. In my own life, I have dozens of people who are close friends who I have never met face-to-face, but because of our work together online, we have daily contact and interaction. 30 years ago prayer requests could take up to a week to go from the mission’sfield to the local church, now it happens instantly.

I stands for ‘Incarnate’. Whitesel describes it this way, “Incarnation describes how God sent His Son, Jesus to earth in the flesh and in person in lieu of sending a surrogate or just speaking through a prophet as He had done in Old Testament times.” This chapter shows the idea of tomorrow’s leaders as not depending on someone else to send, to teach, or to minister, but to take matters into your own hands and jump in and be involved. There is much power in being present and able to witness face-to-face.

X stands for ‘Measure’. Whitesel says that the ‘X’ is the Jerusalem cross and “Represents four types of measurement observed in Jerusalem which at their core point to Christ’s work on the cross.” This chapter helps the reader to better understand how tomorrow’s leaders measure spiritual growth and its relationship to effective leadership. It is not close to accurate to measure a church’s health by empty chairs on Sunday morning. There are so many other factors involved.

Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church answers so many questions. It is a book that I will refer to again and again. I am very thankful for the insight that I gained from reading it.

MANAGEMENT & 3 Management Styles That Belong In The Past

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Research cited in this article describes facts I utilized to write the book “ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church” (Abingdon Press). For more about how leaders must apply management differently today with younger people, see excerpts from “ORGANIX” on this .wiki after reading the article.

MANAGEMENT & These 3 Management Styles Belong In The Past

by Paolo Gallo, Forbes Magazine, 2/3/16.

What assumptions am I making, that I’m not aware I am making, that give me what I see?

This powerful question, taken from Benjamin Zander’s book, The Art of Possibility, has been stuck in my mind for a while. Traditional management thinking is based around three fundamental assumptions.

  1. First, that organizations need a top-down approach to strategy and objective setting;
  2. Second, that the role of management and human resources is to measure/control what is being done to achieve objectives and to provide the corresponding incentives for performance or non-performance; and
  3. Third, that monetary incentives motivate people.

Accepting these assumptions, grounded in a dogmatic approach,

  1. means that CEOs and executives decide on behalf of people,
  2. managers control and HR professionals develop complex systems to measure performance,
  3. incentives and consequences.

Sounds like the same old story of carrot and sticks.

Beyond Carrots And Sticks

Yet scientific evidence has proven that what motivates knowledge workers is not longer carrots and sticks.

Take for example Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive, which makes the case that autonomy, a sense of purpose and mastery are the real motivating factors, in addition – in my view – to a sense of fairness and trust.

Despite such breakthroughs in understanding human behavior, most organizations have still not changed their management systems or thinking accordingly. The problem is that we are using the management tools of the first industrial revolution, while we are entering the fourth industrial revolution. It’s the equivalent of still using a gramophone to listen to music. I suppose it is easier to change a smart phone than a mental model.

Even the fabled “20% time” granted by Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other Silicon Valley giants – originally designed to give knowledge workers greater job satisfaction, allowing them to use company time to tinker around with new ideas – is only change at the margins. In Google’s case it is now being discontinued, with others possibly following suite.

Overwhelmingly, even in the most innovative industries with the most “knowledge workers,” we tend to manage using the same methods that were put in place to keep tabs on factory workers during the industrial revolution.

Overcoming Resistance To Change

I would like to share a story which illustrates how we can move beyond our old, hopelessly out-of-date assumptions.

In 2012, when Professor Klaus Schwab, who founded the World Economic Forum some 41 years earlier, had the idea of disrupting his organization with a new model of community management, better suited for the Millennial generation, he met the same reaction from management that every leader faces when implementing change: resistance.

Like others who walked the road of change management before him, he set up a “skunk works,” an isolated team under his leadership, to make change happen.

Professor Schwab’s premise was simple: with half of the world’s population under the age of 27, we need a new and different way of engaging young people with decision-makers to shape their common future.

Read more at … http://www.forbes.com/sites/worldeconomicforum/2016/02/03/these-3-management-styles-belong-in-the-past/#d2b49913707b

ORGANIX & A Chapter-by-chapter Summary of the Abingdon Press Book

Executive Summary by Cheri Wellman (1/26/16) of “ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church,” Abingdon Press.

ORGANIX differentiates between two prevalent leadership styles, modern and millennial. The differences that exist between these two styles is significant because it impacts the way in which leaders approach various aspects of leading. This book describes eight attributes of an organic church and how the two leadership styles impact the Church’s ability to engage in the mission Dei.

Organix_final.aiIn reading and understanding my own leadership style I am better equipped to further engage in the millennial leadership in which I am a part. Additionally, by understanding the modern leaders I am able to understand the responses, road blocks and gaps in methodologies that have created challenges over the past several years.

​Each of the eight chapters addresses its own aspect of an organic church.

CHAPTER 1: The first chapter focuses on the how each leadership style considers others. Others are viewed by the modern leader as resources to be managed, led primarily by the leader’s vision and in regards to how the volume of others measure leadership success. In contrast the millennial leader is driven by the needs of others, sees others as souls to be nurtured and leads focused on integrity. Millennial leaders have a need to be among the people and seek out their needs as a driving position for ministry direction.

CHAPTER 2:  ​The next chapter contrasts the two leadership styles in respect to their perception of how God interacts or supports the leader. The millennial leader recognizes that God strengthens the leader for the work, that God’s presence is a result of the leader’s need of God, and that God is the one who examines the leader’s participation in God’s mission. The modern leader however looks to God to make the work easier due to leadership faithfulness, presumes that God’s presence is a result of His pleasure with the leadership, and that God celebrates the leader’s involvement in the mission Dei.

CHAPTER 3:  ​The chapter of prescription was helped me see some areas where the district’s church health and fitness team are missing the mark. The model that is established is working in a modern leadership style and assuming a healthy church will produce healthy churches. This view has been a challenge for me and now I understand why. I have been very concerned for the health of the pastors and the leadership specifically, but the methodologies ignored their poor health and focused on methods to create a healthy church which included increasing volunteerism. Millennial leaders see the health of the people as the driver for a healthy church. It is their focus on the health of the individual that cares for them through use of small groups where people are cared for and nurtured.

CHAPTER 4:  This chapter addresses risk and the type of church the leadership style develops. The modern leader avoids risk, is concerned about white male privilege, and grows museum churches. The millennial leader embraces risk, practices methods of reconciliation and grows mosaic churches. I resonated personally best with this chapter. “Anger is necessary or things won’t change” (p.69). This chapter also describes both the diversity and the partnership that is needed through sub congregations.

CHAPTER 5:  ​The concept of recycling whether it be people, resources, or worship is addressed in chapter five. Rather than recycle, the modern leader moves out the old in to a new purpose rather than recycling it for its original intended purpose like the millennials do. One significant point in this chapter is how each leadership style approaches those who have failed. Millennial leaders address the failure and make a path toward reconciliation and restoration toward one’s original purpose, but modern leaders are likely to move the failure out and use them as an example and warning for others. The other point I found helpful was the thinking of the millennials and their ancient-future elements to honor those who have gone before them.

CHAPTER 6:  Chapter six focuses on networks and networking. The modern leader relies on historical networks and controlling and restricting network access. The author points to how this modern thinking addresses outward behavior more than inward transformation. Millennials see networks as a tool and resource that should be freely available to everyone. They view personal networks important as they do the organizational networks. This chapter outlines the variety of benefits to online networks.

CHAPTER 7:  Second to the chapter on Graffiti, this chapter on incarnation was my favorite. Modern leaders send others, teach at others, and create gatherings as an attractional event. Millennials however go in person, teach and are willing to be taught, and gather with the goal of a supernatural encounter. The John Perkin’s principles shared in this book are the foundation for how I view ministry both locally and globally. The section that addresses the supernatural encounter goal of the millennial leader where they spend a significant time seeking God’s leading through prayer, fasting, silence and meditation is something I have witnessed and appreciated in other younger leaders.

CHAPTER 8:  The last chapter on measurement is encouraging, but likely still a long way from where the denominations are going to be measuring for a while. The challenges of measuring in the traditional modern methods of attendance and conversions is that these are tangible numbers theoretically. The methods of measure for millennials are more subjective as they look to measure maturity, unity, favor, and conversion. The short surveys provided in this chapter are useful tools in beginning to address and measure these areas.

My only question, does this book come in Spanish? I’d love to work through this book with my Colombian brothers and talk through the concepts with them.

MISSIO DEI & A Holistic Definition

The missio Dei is God’s mission to reintroduce himself and restore fellowship with his wayward offspring. – Whitesel

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 2011.

Because the millennial leader is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need as well as the multifaceted challenges of leadership … the millennial leader knows she or he needs help beyond what humans can provide. The emerging leader seeks divine stamina, insight, power, travel companions and even miracles to accomplish the task. But what exactly is this divine and enormous task? It can be summed up in the Latin: missio Dei, the mission of God.[i]

The missio Dei is God’s mission to reintroduce himself and restore fellowship with his wayward offspring. It emphasizes that “mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God.”[ii] John Flett explains, “the Father sent his Son and Spirit into the word, and this act reveals his ‘sending’ being. He remains active today in reconciling the world to himself and sends his community to participate in the mission.”[iii] William Willimon concludes,

“It is the nature of this God to reach out … A chief defining content of this good news of God (1 Thess. 2:1, 8, 9; Rom. 1:1) is this sort of relentless reach. This God has a gregarious determination to draw all things unto God’s self (John 12:23) … The church exists not for itself, but rather to sign, signal , and embody God’s intentions for the whole world. God is going to get back what belongs to God. God’s primary means of accomplishing this is through the church.”[iv]

Specifically because the missio Dei is God’s work, it is presumptuous and incorrect to say humans have this mission. Only God has such a grand mission, because only he can accomplish it. Yet he enlists human participation in the task, as Jesus emphasizes, “My food … is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Thus, it is best to say humans “participate” in the missio Dei, assisting God as he calls and equips us for his extraordinary task.

Therefore, because of the magnitude of the mission and because of whose mission it is (God’s), a “theta” (Q) will be this chapter’s icon. Q is the first letter of the Greek word for God (theos) and can be created by adding a “dash” to the middle of the “O.” Though subsequent chapters will have only one meaning each, this chapter’s symbol (Q) is a completion of the Chapter 1 icon: “O.” This is because an understanding and solidarity with the needs of others will drive a person to God, for only God can supply the strength needed for the task. Millennial leaders are recognizing that without divine intervention, she or he will be able to meet tomorrow’s burgeoning needs. This is not to say that humans create God to help them with their needs, but rather that God has placed in his creation a divine spark of compassion, and when that spark begins to grow the leader recognizes that only in their creator will they find the source and power behind that flame.

[i] Missio Dei was first used in this sense by missiologist Karl Hartenstein to describe God’s mission in contrast to Karl Barth’s emphasis upon God’s action (the actio Dei). For an overview of these terms, their history and their implication for the millennial leader see John Flett’s The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth, and the Nature of Christian Community (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2010).

[ii] David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in the Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 19910, p. 390.

[iii] John G. Flett, The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth, and the Nature of Christian Community, p. 5.

[iv] William H. Willimon, Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), pp. 239-240.

Excerpted from ©Bob Whitesel, ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, Abingdon Press, 2011), pp. 9-10.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

BLENDED WORSHIP & To Blend or Not To Blend: Here is a better option for small churches

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/51/15.

Let me share about blended worship and the evangelistic prowess of blended services (which I prefer to call “unity services” rather than blended – but for this discussion and clarity I will use the latter).

I’ve made clear in my books (“ORGANIX,” “Cure for the Common Church” and “The Healthy Church”) about the lack of evangelistic efficacy of blended services, but often smaller churches (as I mention in “A House Divided”) have trouble having enough people to move to two services.  In this scenario the better option to the blended format is the compartmentalized format.  In this strategy the key will be to compartmentalize your service until you have grown sufficiently to launch two services.

One client had a pre-glow contemporary music component from 10:10-10:30, and then their standard traditional service from 10:30-11:30. This meant those who didn’t like modern worship didn’t have to sit through it. I have also seen this work as an after-glow too (though with a bit more difficulty).  Eventually as growth occurs the two services grow into two worship alternatives.

The reason this is necessitated is that people worship most passionately without alien (to them) music and culture invading. That is because we worship more readily and unhindered when surround with familiarity. Thus separating the two segments (rather than blending them into some sort of muddled goo) allows people to worship more passionately.  Biblically, we see Davidic worship very different than New Testament worship.

Thus, many churches will need to follow this strategy to grow. An area growing with younger families may especially require this. As you know in my book I show you how with about 100 people you can readily go to a second service. This is the ultimate way to dissuade the cultural music wars 🙂  Until then, the compartmentalized format will help smaller churches grow with some degree of cultural anonymity.

CREATIVITY & Why you need entrepreneurs: They capitalize & network breakthroughs.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In the seminal journal article by Saras Sarasvathy, he puts forward his idea of “effectuation.” This means entrepreneurs are effective in creating new networks and visualizing new ideas by choosing from the various “outcomes” or “effects” that they can perceive in their mind. For more on the important role that creative minds play in your organization see this journal article.

Causation and Effectuation: Toward a Theoretical Shift from Economic Inevitability to Entrepreneurial Contingency

by Saras D. Sarasvathy (University of Virginia – Darden School of Business, 2001) Academy of Management Review, Vol. 26, Issue 2, p. 243-263 2001. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1505857 and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship

Abstract:
Studies the theory of effectual reasoning with focus on the creation of firms in nonexistent or not-yet-existent markets. Effectuation takes “a set of means as given” and focuses “on selecting between possible effects that can be created with that set of means.” The effectuation process is actor dependent whereas the causation process is effect dependent. Some key characteristics of effectuation are: selection criteria based on affordable loss or acceptable risk, excellence at exploiting contingencies, and explicit assumption of dynamic, nonlinear, and ecological environments. The theoretical works of March, Mintzberg, and Weick are explored to identify connections between their work and the proposed theory of effectuation. Recent empirical works that fall outside of the traditional causation models are also discussed. The four principles of effectuation are affordable loss, strategic alliances, exploitation of contingencies, and control of an unpredictable future. Based on these principles, a series of testable hypotheses are presented. The hypotheses consider the role of effectuation at different levels including the economy, the market or industry, the firm, and the founders/decision makers. The theory of effectuation advanced in this analysis concludes that the essential agent of entrepreneurship is the effectuator. (SRD) by

Read more at … http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1505857

OUTREACH & One Way To Check How You Are Doing (a leadership exercise)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/1/15.

A key principle in my Abingdon Press book, ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, is this:

Healthy organizations put non-churchgoers’ needs ahead of churchgoers’ needs. – Bob Whitesel, 2010.

But, this is challenging because churchgoers have louder voices at the decision making table.  Also churches soon become mini-cultures of Christians who are more familiar with their own needs than those still outside of their community.

To get your emphasis back upon non-churchgoer needs, I have written an entire chapter on this in CURE for the Common Church and a chapter titled, “OUT: Grow Out.”  There I suggest you:

CURxE O:  Observe whom you are equipped to reach
CURxE U:  Understand the needs of those you are equipped to reach.
CURxE T:  Tackle needs by refocusing, creating or ending ministry programs.

You can download the chapter here (not for public distribution, but if you enjoy it please consider supporting publisher and author by buying a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT

Plus, in ORGANIX I explain how to put others first in your:

  • decision making,
  • focus
  • and prayer life.

You can download that chapter here (again this is not for public distribution, but if you enjoy it please consider supporting publisher and author by buying a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – ORGANIX Others

Below is an exercise to help you see how you are doing regarding keeping non-churchgoers as your primary ministry focus (and only secondly your congregants).

EXERCISE

Take a look at your webpage and then the webpage of several growing churches.  Then evaluate how, where and how much emphasis non-churchgoers get in the website artistic and visual structure.

For example, one church said “Belong, Live, Know and Serve” prominently on their webpage. But this gives the impression to non-churchgoers that the first emphasis of the church is that you belong.

A better example from another church is, “Help others, know God, grow together.”  I think you can see how this website gives a more Biblical impression that non-churchgoers’ needs take precedence over churchgoers’ needs

So, take a look at your website and the websites of several growing churches. Then write down what you find.

  • Any insights?
  • Any missteps?
  • Any changes you want to make to your website?

Speaking Hastags: #SalvationCenterTX

HOLARCHY & Why Wesley Used This Leadership-style That is Popular Again #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: While studying churches that grow in times of crises, I’ve noticed that at these times leaders put authority into their small groups to do most of the ministry work. Such an example is St. Thomas’ Church in Sheffield, England when as England’s largest megachurch they lost their auditorium with three weeks notice. Read about this in the chapter I contributed to Eddie Gibbs’ festschrift titled “Gospel after Christendom” (Baker Academic, 2012). Basically what St. Thomas did was allow all the small groups to do the social-action ministries and even require them to do so. Therefore, instead of top-down organization of social action programs designed by the executive team of the church, they required each small group to look around it’s community and weekly do something to help non-churchgoers. This democratized the organizations outreach through a leadership-style called “holarchy.” storyality-theory-2014-uws-pg-conference-jt-velikovsky-61-638This is exactly what John Wesley required of the small group meetings: they were each required to go out and serve the needy. This became known as Wesley’s “method” and adherents the “Methodists.” Read this article in Inc. Magazine to become acquainted with “holarchy” and how it is much better than top-down autocratic management when managing today’s post modern young adults.

Read more about “holarchies” at … http://www.inc.com/elle-kaplan/want-to-improve-your-company-let-every-person-on-your-team-be-a-chief.html

And read more about Wesley’s holarchy leadership-style here (including a downloadable section on this from my book Cure for the Common Church …https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/small-groups-3-facets-of-well-rounded-small-groups/

Embedded is a chart (click it to enlarge) that depicts a holarchy and was retrieved from http://image.slidesharecdn.com/storyalitytheory-2014uwspgc-jtvelikovskyv2-140715075956-phpapp02/95/storyality-theory-2014-uws-pg-conference-jt-velikovsky-61-638.jpg?cb=1405411334