EXEGETE CONTEXT & How to Exegete Your Church & Community Cultures

Interview of Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., by Taylor Bird, Outreach Magazine, Jan. – Feb., 2017.

Recently I was interviewed by Outreach Magazine for an article titled “Stuck: 10 minute consultations to get your church moving again.” I was honored to contribute ideas alongside my colleagues and friends Efrem Smith, Pete Scazzero, Gary McIntosh and others. Below is my portion of the article plus a link to the full article. If you don’t yet subscribe to Outreach Magazine, I would encourage you to do so. It is one of the best sources of ideas that can help congregations reach out and meet the needs of their communities.

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Read the entire article here: http://www.outreachmagazine.com/interviews/20880-bob-whitesel.html? or article-whitesel-outreach-mag-discover-emerging-cultures-jan-2017.

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SIZE & 4 Ways to Break the Church Attendance Barrier #EdStetzer

by Ed Stetzer, Outreach Magazine, 7/12/16.

When it comes to church growth, some barriers or size plateaus prove to be difficult to overcome, churches feel stuck at a certain size…

For example, a lot of churches get stuck at 35 members. These kinds of churches are typically comprised of a family or two and some of their friends. Another barrier exists at 75 members. The church consists of a pastor, who may not be full time, and a congregation in which everybody knows each other. The 125-person barrier is one of the hardest for churches to break through because progress involves restructuring and thinking differently…

There are four shifts that must take place to ensure continued growth past the traditional attendance barriers.

1. Pro-Growth Shift

First, church members and leadership must shift their mindset from anti-growth to pro-growth. I once received some pushback from an occasional attendee at our church. During an outreach emphasis, he asked why we were wasting our time emphasizing church growth. He said we were behaving like a business and that we should be happy with the people we already had…

2. Relational Shift

…In Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations, Thom Rainer and I outline relational intentionality as one of seven elements … Because proximity to other people does not automatically lead to community with other people, the shift must move people from sitting in rows to sitting in circles. Having a 30-second meet and greet on Sunday mornings will not help visitors connect, but helping them to make friends through small groups will. A small group environment provides opportunities for authentic community and connection to the church at large.

3. Staff Shift

In order to break attendance barriers, a church must experience a staff shift. It’s not necessarily that churches need to hire more staff members—though that could be the case—but rather they must help their staff undergo mindset shifts regarding the functions and purposes of their ministries. They must intentionally spend time with two specific groups of people—leaders and the lost…

4. Ownership Shift

The fourth and final shift must take place in the lay leaders within the church. They must take responsibility for their respective ministries. They must own the goals, plans and strategies for implementing and improving their ministries.

This concept must spread to the church as a whole. Beyond merely those in a leadership position, every church member must see the church as his or her own. They should not think of it in terms of being the lead pastor’s church or the elders’ church. Every church member must take ownership and work toward the church’s growth and health…

Read more at … http://www.outreachmagazine.com/features/18394-break-the-attendance-barrier.html

CHANGE & Practical Steps 12Stone Church Undertook to Change

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: My colleague Kevin Myers is a studious and well-read pastor. I’m not surprised that when undertaking structural and branding changes at 12Stone church that he intuitively embraced many of the principles of effective change. Read this case study about the change that took place and notice the following important PreparingChange_Reaction_Mdelements for effective change. 1) They built consensus before they moved forward. 2) They retained what was working in the past and built upon it. 3) They looked at things that weren’t working in the past and then carefully and thoughtfully changed them. 4) They carefully built a consensus to select the best new ideas. And 5) God gave Kevin a Biblical metaphor that helped people visualize and internalize the missional nature of the change. For more on these and other “steps of change” see the book that came out of my PhD research on change titled, “Preparing for Change Reaction.” And then read this article for a good introduction regarding how one church did it well.

KEVIN MYERS: THE INTERNAL CHALLENGE OF CHANGE

By Kevin Myers • February 27, 2014

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“We often talk about ‘change’ as if it’s easy. But leading change is often dealing with our own resistance as well as others’.”

Kevin Myers Senior Pastor
12Stone ChurchLawrenceville, Ga.

TURNING POINTS

When 12Stone was 20 years old, nobody called us 12Stone. Our founding name was Crossroads Community Church. We birthed and built with that name. It was supernaturally given and sacred. We started with a name and eight people in a living room. It took seven years to break 200 and 15 years to break 1,500. At 20 years, we were more than 3,000. Yet we sensed a new era was before us as we were making changes for a new campus with 2,500 seats and becoming a multicampus church. So I introduced a turning point for our leadership team:

Since we have so many “changes” in front of us, let’s make the change that will affect everyone, and let’s change our name! Let’s face it, there are already so many “Crossroads” churches that we cannot maintain our distinction as we expand campuses. For that reason and more, let’s teach our church how to “change”!

So we entered into a redefining season and led the entire church into a teaching series that peaked with introducing our name change. In one weekend, we changed our 20-year name to the re-imagined 12Stone Church. I reminded everyone that, No.1, our mission is to keep God, his word and salvation sacred, but our methods and even our name can change, and No. 2, while we appreciate and celebrate our past, we will re-imagine and change for our future.

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Through that process of change, something shifted in me as a leader, and something shifted in our church. We often talk about “change” as if it’s easy. But leading change is often dealing with our own resistance as well as others’.

So we settled it. If we were going to take new territory for the kingdom, we would have to let go of things that were familiar, much like David before he became king. What got him noticed was taking down Goliath with a sling. But what made him famous was taking down tens of thousands with a sword. Sometimes you have to trade your familiar slingfor an unfamiliar sword as part of “becoming and conquering.”

stone-stack-sign-1500x430Changing our name was not the primary reason we grew from 3,500 to some 14,000 over these last five years. But the spirit of making leadership changes for the sake of the mission ignited a new era and a fresh freedom—the freedom to lead “change.” So where do you need to trade in your sling for a sword? (The Bible never records David using the sling again.)…

Read more at … http://www.outreachmagazine.com/interviews/5417-embracing-change.html

PREACHING & Passing on Sound Doctrine to the Next Gen #OutreachMagazine #DanKimball

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Dan Kimball is not only a friend, but I believe the leading organic voice for making systematic theology relevant to average congregants. Read this excellent article by Dan in Outreach Magazine where he explains how he created a 14-week sermon series that covered classical systematic theology.”

PASSING ON SOUND DOCTRINE TO THE NEXT GEN

By Dan Kimball • June 3, 2015, Outreach Magazine.

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When it comes to the emerging generations, we may need to teach doctrines no one is asking about.

More than 35 percent of our church is college students, so a recent message series felt a little risky.

At a time when you often hear that emerging generations don’t want to hear about doctrine and theology, we designed a 14-week classical systematic theology series to teach to the entire church. Our topics included Christology, the study of God the Son; bibliology, the study of the Bible; eschatology, the study of the end times; and angelology, the study of angels, demons and Satan.

Our Sunday attendance has grown, and lives are being affected. A college student emailed me that her four non-Christian friends have been coming and are fascinated. One Sunday, we taught the doctrine of salvation, defined words like “justification” and invited people to “pray a prayer” of salvation. Many responded and told me afterward that they put faith in Jesus.

Sometimes we can put so much emphasis on doctrine that emerging generations lose interest, but at the same time, I sense a desire among them to learn truth and doctrine. Here are some lessons we’ve learned about teaching it …

Read more at … http://www.outreachmagazine.com/features/4804-a-holy-responsibility-passing-on-sound-doctrine-to-the-next-gen.html

COMMUNITY IMPACT & To Meet Needs in A Community You Must Go “Beyond Branding”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  “Recently Outreach Magazine asked me and four colleagues who study evangelism and culture about how a church can raise it’s visibility in a community.  I joined Tony Morgan, Len Sweet, Tom Bandy and Will Mancini in explaining how a church becomes “visible” in a community when it serves the needs in the community.  (Consider subscribing to Outreach Magazine, one of the best sources for helping a church reach out).  Click here to read the article: ARTICLE ©Whitesel Beyond Branding OUTREACH Mag

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COMMUNICATION & 7 Biblical Ways to Increase a Church’s Visibility – from my interview w/ Outreach Magazine

by Bob Whitesel, 2/25/15.  The following is from my interview with Outreach MagazineI was asked, “What you would want to convey to the church that says, ‘We aspire to be better known in our community’.”  Below are my thoughts about how to organically and biblically increase a church’s visibility.  (It is probably not what you anticipated.)

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ELEVATE: Raise Your Visibility Before a Skeptical World

Today in an increasingly skeptical world, the church must move beyond branding and build a new, more powerful reputation.

15-MJ_BobWhitesel-300x225Here are 5 steps to elevating your visibility in a community.

1. Elevate the visibility of your need-meeting. Churches should be known as the place in a community where people go when they have a crisis. Churches that offer divorce recovery programs, grief support groups, 12-step programs, etc. increase their visibility as the primary place where needs are met in their community.

2.  Elevate the visibility of spiritual-change. People are looking for ways to change their lives and often psychologists or self-help programs are their first choice. While these can offer the physical change that people need, I believe only Christ can offer the spiritual change that people long for deep inside. So in the name of helping people better their physical lives, do not neglect their higher needs for a supernatural transformation that only comes through Christ.

3. Elevate the visibility of your openness and honesty. Churches often promote that they have the best program or the most exciting worship. But non-churchgoers sense that this is not the real purpose of the church. Acknowledge that your church doesn’t do everything well and sometimes you get fixated on your organizational needs. Then remind them that your church is a spiritual community, seeking to work together to draw closer to Christ.

4. Elevate the visibility of your unity in diversity. In an increasingly diverse world, people want to go to a church that mirror’s the diversity of God’s creation. But such diversity must not be only symbolic, but also heartfelt. It is important for people of diverse cultures to run the church together, to worship together and to learn from one another about cultural background and baggage. The church should be visible in the community as a place that not only promotes spiritual reconciliation to God, but also physical reconciliation between cultures.

5.  Elevate your visibility as a place to learn. People today have a conceptions of the church as a place that lectures and criticizes, rather than a place that promotes learning. Jesus gave us a Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) to “make learners.” Thus our goal must be to acquaint them with His words, while we exemplify how these words are lived out in community.

6.  Elevate your visibility as a place where everybody can find a place to fit. Emphasize smaller fellowship groupings within the larger whole. Most people today are not only looking for a large event, but also a smaller group where they can ask spiritual questions and receive support on their spiritual journey.

7. Elevate your visibility as a community that promotes and seeks God’s wisdom. The church should be known as a place of Bible-study and prayer. Thus it should be a place where people who are estranged from God or even just struggling in their relationship, will find people and prayer environments that will assist them in connecting to their heavenly Father. If a person in the community needs prayer, the first place they should think of is your church.

If you can’t elevate one or more of these areas, because they don’t yet exist in your church, then start with the easiest but don’t stop until you develop these seven ways to elevate an organically spiritual and Biblical visibility.

CLICK HERE to download the entire article with contributions by my colleagues Len Sweet, Will Mancini, Tony Morgan and Tom Bandy: ARTICLE ©Whitesel Beyond Branding OUTREACH Mag

And HERE IS A LINK to the online version: http://www.outreachmagazine.com/features/11582-raise-your-visibility-before-a-skeptical-world.html