OUT-GROUP MEMBERS & My Video Introduction to Strategies That Reach Them (part 2)

This is another video introduction I have recorded for my colleagues, students and clients regarding how to reach out to people who feel like they are not part of a group.  Called “out-group members” these are often people in our churches and on our boards that are estranged from the group.  Thus, they see themselves as “outside” of the group and not fully accepted by most members of the group. The responsible and effective leader will reach out to these individuals, rather than exclude them.  For an introduction to strategies that will help you connect with out-group members, watch this video. (This video will be especially helpful mini-lecture if you are a student in one of my courses.)

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

For more on out-group members, see this additional video I recorded: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/committee-leadership-my-introduction-to-leading-out-group-members/

keywords: LEAD 600 out group out-group video intro introduction

OUT-GROUP MEMBERS & My Video Introduction to Leading Out-Group Members (part 1)

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/03/17.

This is an introductory video about how to not only lead deliberative bodies, but also how to lead the “out group” members you will usually encounter in these boards/committees/churches.  This video serves as an introduction to my students regarding the assignments associated with the important topic of leading those God has sent to your community, but who don’t yet fit in.

Additional insights can be found in an accompanying video that I recorded.  After you listen to the video below, click this next link to listen to 10 minutes more on ideas about how to reach out group members: churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/out-group-members-my-video-introduction-to-strategies-that-teach-them-part-2/

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

keywords: LEAD 600 out group out-group video intro introduction

VISION & Should Out-group Members Help Shape Vision?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/5/15.

A pastor of a mid-sized church (300-450 attendance) wondered to what degree the vision should be generated by the pastor and staff (the in-group) and to what degree should the vision be co-generated with laity who may include out-groups. This is what he said:

“What do you think about the viewpoints that ‘it is not the Elders’ role to come up with the vision,’ but (their) work is to follow the lead pastor’s vision and ensure that he/she has time, resources, and tools to cultivate a clear vision of the body.” The student went on to emphasize that in many large churches it is the pastor and staff who are an in-group that drives the vision. And the laypersons and out-groups are those who bring it about. Thus vision should be in-group created but out-group undertaken.

But, I wonder with such a scenario about two things. First, perhaps God has sent those out-group members to your church and He wants you to reach out to them and build a shared vision.

Secondly, the in-group/out-group division could have been caused by cultural differences (see my posting on “Does Race Matter When It Comes to Out-group Members?”) Therefore, should we break down the organizational silos and unite a congregation by creating a shared vision, rather than a vision created by the dominant culture in the church.

And finally, what will happen when a new leader (e.g. pastor) comes into such a situation?  Does each new pastor bring their own new vision to the church?  Regrettably, I have observed that this is often the case. The end result it that with each successive pastor the church often gets a new vision and then goes in a new direction, thwarting long term strength and health.

In fact, in the business word the new leader rarely comes up with a brand new vision, but instead allows input from the in-groups and out-groups to set a shared vision.  But there is a caveat. And that is that some churches may have a wrong vision (and/or mission) and therefore they must be gently but tenaciously drawn back to the missio Dei.  However, I’m not talking about these churches.

Rather, I sense that if most churches foster a vision that is cultivated in community that vision will be is more balanced, broad, shared and long-term.

ACCULTURATION & How It Can Make Out-group Members Feel Included

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 11/2/15.

Out-group members are people who are members of your church or organization, but feel like they are not being included in decision-making or being heard.  Northouse states in Strategy Four “Help Out-group Members Feel Included” that because “their members are on the sidelines and peripheral to the action” we must help them feel included (2012, p. 160).  But, there are two major (and widely divergent) ways to go about it.  This is because we must be careful to respect their differences (i.e. the things that make out-group members unique).

Let me give you an illustration.  If a new and young family feels like out-group members in an aging church, we will want to make them feel included. But, we could go about this in two very different ways.

Tactic 1 could be to try to teach them about all of the church’s history and get them to become friends with all of the aging church leaders, in hopes of getting them to become one of our in-group (this process is called “assimilation” – but more about that in a minute).

Tactic 2 could be to have long-standing leaders teach them about the church’s history in a small group setting with other newcomers.  There they would learn about our church culture, meeting long-standing leaders … but could stay part of their culture which might be younger and with small children (such a process is called “acculturation”).

In the field of missional leadership, it is important to understand the difference between “assimilation” and “acculturation.”  While there is some authors who use the terms interchangeably, classic research by Teske and Nelson ( 1974: pp. 351-367) found that assimilation and acculturation are widely divergent.  They found that most scholars were consistent in saying that “assimilation” forces others to leave their culture and become like the dominant culture.  And they found that “acculturation” allows out-group members to adapt parts of their culture with the in-group culture and form a new hybrid culture.

Let me explain what Teske and Nelson found.

Assimilation

  • Is unidirectional. Change only happens within one culture and this culture becomes a clone of the dominant culture.
  • The out-group members have to change their values and embrace the values of the dominant in-group. Out-group members must now value the things the dominant in-group values. While this may be necessary with theology, it does not respect their culture when they are forced to adopt the dominant culture’s methodology too.
  • Out-group members must accept the dominant culture as superior.

Acculturation

  • Is “two-way, that is, may occur in both directions” (p. 365). In other words, the dominant culture may change too by its interaction with the out-group. The out-group may bring some new and/or outside perspective that helps expand the awareness of the in-group.  For example, new young people coming into our churches can help the choir or the traditional order of worship employ a contemporary chorus (but the choir may rewrite the chorus to make it more consistent with their musical genre).  The idea is that in acculturation both sides influence one other for good (and hopefully not for bad).
  • Does not require change in what the out-group values.  Out-group members can value the same things as before, where these values do not conflict with the values God wishes for His offspring.
  • Out-group and in-group members see both cultures as having value. Reconciliation between cultures occurs.

Now, acculturation does not mean accepting all elements of a culture. For some elements of every culture run counter to God’s Good News.  Here is how I have stated, this (Spiritual Waypoints, 2010, p. 74):

When elements of a culture run counter to the Good News, and others are in agreement with it, what should be done? Eddie Gibbs has provided a helpful metaphor in the image of cultural “sifting” (Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, 1981, p. 120). Sifting separates out unwanted elements from wanted elements, most notably in cooking where a mesh strainer such as a colander will sift out impurities. The task of explaining the Good News to wayfarers at Waypoint 13, also carries the requirement that we sift between elements of a culture that go against Christ’s news and those that do not.  To not fully explain God’s expectations is to misinform and ill prepare the traveler.  Some Christians avoid the task of doing this, perhaps because championing God’s requirements is awkward in comparison to lauding His rewards.  But both must be undertaken.  A leader who is not ready to sift elements of a culture and tactfully explain what can be retained and what must be abandoned, is not ready to travel forward with the wayfarer.

As you can see, the term “acculturation” is technically the better term, for what we often refer to in our churches as “assimilation.”  Now, while most people in out-groups (e.g. visitors, displaced volunteers, ignored leaders, etc.) will never know the difference between these two terms; it will be important for you as up-and-coming leaders to understand (and be able to articulate among each other) the difference.

Thus, we should use the more correct “acculturation” in lieu of “assimilation” for it reminds us that getting out-group and in-group members together will usually mean preserving both cultures, while also allowing God to transform each with His Good News.

Gibbs, E. (1981). I believe in church growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Teske, R. H.C. & Nelson, B. H. (1974). Acculturation and assimilation: A clarification. American Ethnologist, Vol 1, No. 2. pp. 351-367.
Whitesel, B. (2010). Spiritual waypoints: Helping others navigate the journey. Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House.

OUT-GROUP MEMBERS & A Leadership Exercise of Listing People Who Feel Left Out

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/30/15

Every organization has out-group members.  But, in churches we are charged with shepherding them too (c.f. Luke 15:11-32).

But, what exactly are out-group members?  Northouse  (2012, p. 151) defines them as “those individuals in a group or an organization who do not identify with the larger group” (ibid.).  And thus, in Northouse’s words “out-groups are a natural occurrence of everyday life” (ibid.).

A Leadership Exercise

With your leaders (or classmates) identify how you will in the future listen to such people, who often remove themselves from our midst making communication with them difficult.

The leadership exercise is to draft a grand list of “church out-group members” (i.e. out-group members we might encounter in a church).  The purpose of this exercise is to help us all see the many types of out-group members that we have in our churches and to ensure we do not overlook communicating with all of them.

Therefore, just add your list (and if a student in one of my courses, just copy the previous student’s list) of out-group members one might encounter in a church.

Here are some examples from Northouse (2012, p. 151) that can provide a structure for our list:

“Out-group members can be identified in many everyday encounters. At school, out-group members are often those kids who do not believe that they are a part of the student body. For instance, they may want to participate in sports, music, clubs, and so on, but for a host of reasons do not do so.  At work, there are out-groups comprising people who are at odds with the management’s vision, or who are excluded from important decision-making committees. On project teams, some out-group members are those who simply refuse to contribute to the activities of the group.”

To complete the leadership exercise, just fill this in the reminder of these two sentences:

  • At church, out-group members can be ….
  • For instance, they may …

That’s it.  Just add to other’s lists about 2-3 examples of church people who would fit Northouse’s definition of an “out-group member.”  Try not to use examples that you may have already used in this week’s postings, but make this an expanded list.

I’ll start.

At church, out-group members can be …. church board members who feel they are in the minority on the board.
For instance, they may … feel like the board is made up of people from the church’s dominate culture, and that they won’t listen to the out-group member. Their insights about their emerging culture can thus be overlooked.

At church, out-group members can be …. those who do not have a good grasp of Christian terminology.
For instance, they may … be confused by the theological words the pastor and other leaders’ use and thus just keep quiet to keep from embarrassing themselves.  Their spiritual maturity can thus be obstructed.

At church, out-group members can be …. congregants who felt close to the previous pastor but now don’t feel as close to the new pastor.
For instance, they may … feel useless with their knowledge unneeded and their advice unheeded. Their spiritual gifts go unused, and the church suffers (1 Peter 4:10 CEB, “And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts.”)

The list you develop can help your team see the many out-group members that we must reach out to and listen to if we, as church leaders, are to be “good managers of God’s diverse gifts” among the people that God sends to us.

References.

Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

CULTURE & The Important Difference Between Assimilation & Acculturation

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D.

In the field of missional leadership, it is important to understand the difference between “assimilation” and “acculturation.”  While there is some authors who use the terms interchangeably, classic research by Teske and Nelson ( 1974: pp. 351-367) found that assimilation and acculturation are widely divergent.

They found that most scholars were consistent in saying that “assimilation” forces others to leave their culture and become like the dominant culture.  And they found that “acculturation” allows out-group members to adapt parts of their culture with the in-group culture and form a new hybrid culture.

Let me explain what Teske and Nelson found.

Assimilation

  • Is unidirectional. Change only happens within one culture and this culture becomes a clone of the dominant culture.
  • The out-group members have to change their values and embrace the values of the dominant in-group. Out-group members must now value the things the dominant in-group values. While this may be necessary with theology, it does not respect their culture when they are forced to adopt the dominant culture’s methodology too.
  • Out-group members must accept the dominant culture as superior.

Acculturation

  • Is “two-way, that is, may occur in both directions” (p. 365). In other words, the dominant culture may change too by its interaction with the out-group. The out-group may bring some new and/or outside perspective that helps expand the awareness of the in-group.  For example, new young people coming into our churches can help the choir or the traditional order of worship employ a contemporary chorus (but the choir may rewrite the chorus to make it more consistent with their musical genre).  The idea is that in acculturation both sides influence one other for good (and hopefully not for bad).
  • Does not require change in what the out-group values.  Out-group members can value the same things as before, where these values do not conflict with the values God wishes for His offspring.
  • Out-group and in-group members see both cultures as having value. Reconciliation between cultures occurs.

Now, acculturation does not mean accepting all elements of a culture. For some elements of every culture run counter to God’s Good News.  Here is how I have stated, this (Spiritual Waypoints, 2010, p. 74):

When elements of a culture run counter to the Good News, and others are in agreement with it, what should be done? Eddie Gibbs has provided a helpful metaphor in the image of cultural “sifting” (Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, 1981, p. 120). Sifting separates out unwanted elements from wanted elements, most notably in cooking where a mesh strainer such as a colander will sift out impurities. The task of explaining the Good News to wayfarers at Waypoint 13, also carries the requirement that we sift between elements of a culture that go against Christ’s news and those that do not.  To not fully explain God’s expectations is to misinform and ill prepare the traveler.  Some Christians avoid the task of doing this, perhaps because championing God’s requirements is awkward in comparison to lauding His rewards.  But both must be undertaken.  A leader who is not ready to sift elements of a culture and tactfully explain what can be retained and what must be abandoned, is not ready to travel forward with the wayfarer.

As you can see, the term “acculturation” is technically the better term, for what we often refer to in our churches as “assimilation.”

Now, while most people in out-groups (e.g. visitors, displaced volunteers, ignored leaders, etc.) will never know the difference between these two terms; it will be important for up-and-coming missional leaders to understand (and be able to articulate) the difference.

Footnotes:
Gibbs, E. (1981). I believe in church growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Teske, R. H.C. & Nelson, B. H. (1974). Acculturation and assimilation: A clarification. American Ethnologist, Vol 1, No. 2. pp. 351-367.
Whitesel, B. (2010). Spiritual waypoints: Helping others navigate the journey. Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House.