Rick Richardson, addressing the Great Commission Research Network, 3/6/21.
Read more from Rick Richardson’s book: You Got Me: https://www.amazon.com/You-Found-Millennials-Irreligious-Surprisingly/dp/0830841547
Rick Richardson, addressing the Great Commission Research Network, 3/6/21.
Read more from Rick Richardson’s book: You Got Me: https://www.amazon.com/You-Found-Millennials-Irreligious-Surprisingly/dp/0830841547
Here is the slide deck from Dr. Mark Teasdale’s presentation.
Here is the slide deck from Dr. Mark Teasdale’s presentation.
by Ed Stetzer, adapted from Subversive Kingdom (2012, B&H Publishing Group).
… When Christ instructed his followers to head out under the Holy Spirit’s direction and empowering, bearing witness of him “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), this signaled a new chapter in kingdom work. No longer were God’s people to be continually drawn toward Jerusalem, as had been the case throughout the Old Testament. They were now being sent out from Jerusalem. The centripetal mission of bringing outsiders into an earthly city was being replaced by the centrifugal mission of taking heaven’s glories to the cities of the world. The indwelling Holy Spirit and his amazing visitation at the Pentecost celebration of Acts 2 meant the church was being empowered to pursue, not to be pursued.
This is why, when giving a talk at a missions meeting recently, I said rather facetiously, since it was a non-Pentecostal gathering, “What we need in our churches–in all kinds of churches–is more speaking in tongues.” (Insert nervous laughter here.) My focus–and what each of us along all points of the Christian spectrum should be able to concur with–is this: the church needs to be speaking the heart languages of all the world’s people groups, both at home and abroad. Rather than merely throwing open the doors of our building to a “come and see” festivity (and thereby considering ourselves fully compliant with a kingdom calling), we need to be going out into the darkness with a “here’s light” message of freedom for all kinds of people, in all sorts of life settings and situations.
So I say any church daring to call itself missional might consider doing three kingdom things: (1) serving locally, (2) planting nationally, and (3) adopting an unreached people group globally. Why? Because God wants his glory to be manifest before men and women everywhere through his covenant people on earth. He wants his found children wholeheartedly engaged in rescuing his lost children. He wants his people living and declaring his grace to those who are starting to see the pointlessness of human progress.
Read more at … https://pastors.com/the-church-on-mission-a-subversive-kingdom-excerpt/
by Tom Crenshaw, 6/6/22.
Yesterday was Mission Sunday in our church.
I had the privilege of introducing the ministry of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a ministry that is very near and dear to my heart.
As part of our service, we had a local college and a high school athlete share their testimonies of how the FCA had impacted their lives.
In the course of introducing them on the stage, it dawned on me that it was my 60thanniversary. No, I hadn’t forgotten my wife and our wedding anniversary; it was something even more important than that. It was my “new birth” anniversary. You see as I was introducing these two students, I was suddenly reminded that it was 60 years ago-almost to the very day- that I was in Lake Geneva, Wisc. attending an FCA summer conference where I committed my life to Christ after hearing noted track star Jessie Owens share his faith.
I thought back to that conference and my friend Chuck Beale whose persistent witness resulted in my being at that conference.
As a part of the football team at Virginia Military Institute, we had become friends.
Almost daily Chuck had witnessed to me. He continually would bring up his experience attending an FCA summer conference, and he was persistent in wanting me to attend a conference as well. I don’t know how many times he asked me to attend, but I had no interest in giving up part of my summer vacation to travel 2000 miles to attend such a conference.
However, Chuck’s enthusiasm finally wore me down, and I gave in and said yes- more out of my effort to avoid finding excuses why not to attend than really desiring to go.
In introducing our two FCA speakers, I became aware that I might never have been in church introducing these two young people, had it not been for Chuck’s persistent witness.
In thinking about those who were saved in the Bible, we tend to think of those miraculous conversions. Peter preached and 3000 were instantaneously saved. Phillip stopped a man in a chariot and not only was the man immediately saved, but they stopped to have a roadside baptism service. The Philippian jailor was saved in an instant as he cried out, “What must ZI do to be saved?”
But most conversions don’t happen like that. They happen because someone was lovingly and persistent enough to “keep on keeping on.” Slow and steady wins the race, and that is the key to success in any endeavor, but especially in the spiritual realm.
Don’t give up. Be persistent like Chuck was. Don’t become discouraged. Pray and pray for that individual you desire to see saved. Find ways to love him/her and show them how much you care.
Galatians reminds us not to “grow weary in well doing.” “I’m sowing seed, but I see no fruit.” Hang in their dear saint. The promise is “you will reap in due season if you don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9).
I wonder where I would be today if Chuck had given up on me.
Remember, “The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like thy can’t be done.” Arnold Palmer
As Winston Churchill reminds us “Never give up, never, never, never!”
And that goes for witnessing.
Check out the great video introduction:
Commentary by Prof. B: I’ve created this video to not only introduce colleagues and clients to the efficacy of a “4-Stage Outreach Strategy,” but also to give my online students a sense of an introduction I would give in a live classroom. The viewer will find a concise intro to why most outreach efforts fail … because they are not holistically incorporating all “4-stages” of an outreach strategy. Plus, my LEAD-600 students will find this a helpful introduction to their classroom assignments on need-based outreach.
©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.
You can find more on this in videos and excerpts from my books/articles at the below links (or by just searching for the words “need-based” or “need-meeting” on ChurchHealth.wiki):
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I recently completed a historically accurate￼ introduction to John, Susanna and Charles Wesley in the format of a devotional. While working on it my friend Ed Stetzer asked me if Wesley ministered to the poor because he wanted to get a hearing for the good news, or because helping the poor was morally good.
I responded to Ed that the Wesleys ministry to the poor began many years before their conversions and before they began to emphasize the importance of conversion. From their lives of giving most of their money to the poor, ministering to prisoners and even paying out of their own pockets for the schooling of the prisoners children,￼ it can be observed that the Wesleys ministered to the poor because it was the morally right thing to do n
Read below this helpful article which explains why those who seek to follow Christ will help the poor, not out of a manipulating interest in their conversion but because it’s the right thing to do.
Yet that also means … sharing with everyone about eternity is also the morally right thing to do.￼￼￼￼
by York Moore, Christianity Today, 1/16/21. Evangelism is a moral good and a key expression of our faith…
Evangelism is the highest expression of moral goodness. That is not to say that there aren’t other moral goods. Remember a moral good stands on its own as ontologically good. We do not serve the homeless in order to proselytize. This practice is exactly what has desecrated Christian evangelism. No, we serve the homeless because it is an end in itself, a moral good that cannot be diminished by doing it by itself and for itself. Having said this, however, evangelism is simply the very highest expression of moral goodness because it deals with consummate or eschatological realities bearing upon the eternal soul of all. One can cloth the naked, feed the hungry, free the slave but eventually, these same people who are made in the image of God, without being converted will all suffer a much worse fate than cold, hunger, enslavement and the like-they will suffer eternal separation from God in a place of suffering. This is at least the conviction of Bible-believing Christians, so we evangelize, in part, because it is an expression of moral goodness based on the concern for the eternal state of people.
“…evangelism is simply the very highest expression of moral goodness because it deals with consummate or eschatological realities bearing upon the eternal soul of all.”
Unfortunately, even among Christians, eschatological categories like wrath, hell, damnation, and eternal separation from God are rarely talked about-even from our best platforms and pulpits. This reality does not negate their ontological standing-these categories are real and the real consequences behind door #3. Again, the great news is what’s behind these doors is not unknown to the host, God Himself. They are also not unknown to the Christian who is tasked with the moral good of proselytizing or evangelism.
We are tasked with this out of the love of God who wants to give all people all of the blessings behind all of the doors of life and also to save us from each and every pain, heartache, and ultimately, eternal hell and damnation. It is a moral good and requisite expression of faith to help those around us make the right and good decisions about God, life and the afterlife. As we help them, we are asking them to risk what they have in hopes of something even better, to make a deal, knowing what they will win in exchange is eternally better than what they now possess.
Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2021/january/moral-good-of-evangelism-redeeming-godly-work-of-proselytiz.html
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve read with enthusiasm Bishop Schnase’s observations of practices that move churches from an inward focus to an outward focus. I recommend his books highly.
Here is how I have explained in one of my books the difference between an attractional strategy and an incarnational one.
INCARNATIONAL vs. ATTRACTIONAL & What Is the Difference?
Here is a list of differences between an attractional outreach strategy and an incarnational one (excerpted from ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, Whitesel, Abingdon Press).
7Systems.church explains the “systems” behind each practices.
by Robert Schnase in Leading Ideas, the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, October 17, 2018.
… Most congregations, consciously or unconsciously, operate with attractional assumptions. They imagine that a person, couple, or family becomes aware of their church, perhaps through:
…Attractional models worked in the past
…Today, fruitful congregations have discovered that while attractional models are helpful and necessary to fulfill the mission of Christ, they simply are not enough… (it requires) a different posture toward our neighbors, a more deliberate outward focus, and a willingness to carry Christ’s love to where people already live and work and play, rather than hoping for people to come to us.
Radical hospitality is not merely focused on getting people to come to church. Rather, it focuses with greater intentionality about how we carry hospitality with us into our neighborhoods, work life, and affinity networks. What good is Christian hospitality if it’s something we only practice for an hour on Sunday morning while failing to form relationships with people who live next door?
Passionate worship extends beyond improving what happens on Sunday morning in the sanctuary. Worship becomes mobile, portable, on the move, going where people live, and work, and play.
Intentional faith development includes more focus on experiential learning, mentoring, spiritual formation, and forming relationships in addition to traditional content-based education in Bible studies and Sunday school classes.
Risk-taking mission and service explores relationships more deeply and offers examples of shifting from doing ministry for to less patronizing, more relational models of doing ministry with those who suffer hardship or injustice.
Extravagant generosity involves helping people learn to love generosity as a way of life not just a way of supporting the church.
This shift of energy, focus, and imagination is life-giving. When the church leaves the building to offer ministries that matter, we view ourselves as part of Christ’s mission in a whole new way, as sent into a mission field uniquely prepared by God that uses the talents, gifts, and relationships God has given us.
Read more at … https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/5-practices-for-fruitful-congregations-in-a-post-attractional-era/
by Jeff Droogsma, Outreach Magazine, June 23, 2020.
Our leadership teams all meet on the same night… During those meetings, we intentionally make time for each ministry to talk about one person they are working with and we pray for them. We have all the normal ministries and programs, but this approach is helping every team to think more deeply about people who have not yet come to Christ.
For example, one change that came out of this process was a desire in our people to start offering to conduct funerals for nonmembers. We are now serving many families through this ministry, and the church is connecting with more people…
We realized that we needed to accept that some people at our church might permanently avoid becoming outreach oriented. Rather than focus on that group, we wanted to provide a way for others to grow in their ability to share their faith and help people come to Christ.
We offer different adult Sunday school classes that meet at the same time. We have been intentional about devoting one of those classes to connecting and equipping people for outreach. Our last series focused on praying for the people in our lives and sharing stories. This semester we are talking about Jesus in the workplace, and how to be a light and outward focused in our jobs.
… There is a growing sense that outreach is where the fun is.
We always focus on our FRANC group (friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues). It reminds us to constantly be asking, “Who is in your world?”
We require a mandatory check-up process for our leaders. During those times, we spend 5 to 10 minutes talking through who is on their FRANC list. We then provide a quick teaching and one quick story.
… We explain that it is often natural to feel scared when we reach out. We have been intentional about getting out of our Christian bubbles so we can model lives that characterize outreach in normal and natural ways, and we speak about these occasionally.
…In many ways, our church is quite traditional. While the architecture and committee structures have not changed, something new is happening in the heart of the congregation. God is leading us on a journey that is bearing fruit in new ways.
(The Church Evangelism Institute, the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College hosts cohorts of senior pastors across North America who are committed to growing both their personal and congregational evangelism and outreach passion.)
Read more at … https://outreachmagazine.com/features/evangelism/56836-an-outreach-journey.html
Book review by Sam Chan, Christianity Today, 6/29/20.
… Pippert, of course, is best known for her classic book on evangelism, Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life. First published in 1979, Out of the Saltshaker was written to equip believers for evangelism in a culture that was drifting in post-Christian directions. Four decades later, those forces have only accelerated, but Pippert hasn’t lost any confidence that the gospel message can break through walls of hostility and indifference, even in the context of everyday conversations. As the subtitle of Stay Salt puts it, “The World Has Changed: Our Message Must Not.”
There are three sections in Stay Salt. In the first, Pippert looks at what she calls the means of evangelism—in other words, you and me, the “evangelists.” None of us feels adequate when confronted with the juggernaut of hostile Western secularism. But Pippert reassures us that this is precisely how God works our circumstances. God uses us not despite but because of our smallness, weaknesses, and inadequacies. We are supposed to depend upon God for the courage and strength to evangelize.
In the second section, Pippert takes us through the message of evangelism—the gospel. Here we might roll our eyes. Don’t we already know this stuff? But Pippert got me excited about the gospel with the fresh language she uses. She skillfully presents the gospel as both a rebuttal to the accepted doctrines of secularism and a positive message our friends will want to hear.
In the final section, Pippert outlines the method of evangelism. This might seem like another occasion for eye-rolling. Surely not another formulaic technique! But Pippert instead motivates us to love our friends and to “proclaim” the message through questions and conversations rather than a pre-rehearsed monologue.
Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/june-web-only/rebecca-manley-pippert-stay-salt-evangelism.html
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. These are well written and engaging thoughts from the developing world and by my former graduate student at Wheaton College. I hope you are inspired (I was). And if you are, you may want to follow his musings. Click here to sign up for Josh’s email list!
Why Doesn’t God Move the Same Everywhere? by Josh Howard, 7/9/20.
In these 12 years, I have had a front row seat to some of the most amazing movements of God that I’ve ever seen. Churches multiplying like crazy…people getting radically saved…others getting radically healed. It’s like the Book of Acts: Episode II Return of the Jedi. (Apostles)
And almost every time I talk to a group of Americans, they always say something like, “Why doesn’t that happen in America, Josh? Why does it only happen in India or Africa or China or (insert your favorite mission field here.)”
And I don’t really have an answer…
And then, a while back, I was listening to a message by the famous evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke … And his answer finally gave me an answer. This is what he said —
“If you want to see the power of God…go to where the Gospel has never been preached and His Power will meet you there!!!”
Wow. Profound. (Insert mindblown emoji here).
I don’t know exactly what it is…and there is no special formula, but God’s power moves greatest when we are loving and serving those who don’t know Him. He’s still leaving the 99 to go after the 1. His heart is still breaking over the coin that rolled under the table. He’s still on his front porch looking for the lost son to run home. And his power is waiting for us to move. His Hand always moves in the direction that His heart always longs…
You aren’t going to miraculously get the power of God sitting on your couch watching Netflix. His power will meet you at the places furthest from your comfort zone.
P.S. For the past few years, we have been getting people together over zoom every month to talk about how they can begin to “get in the game” or get their church in the game. If you’re interested in being a part of a group like that, Read more at … https://ignite.mykajabi.com/eb/BAh7BjoWZW1haWxfZGVsaXZlcnlfaWRsKwfcVTdp–ff6a2222e884f89a28edcc9c51e706bf3ab53696
by Rick Warren, Saddleback Lake Forest Campus Update, 5/21/20.
… This week, Saddleback Lake Forest lost a dear friend who many of you will remember speaking at our campus through the years: Ravi Zacharias. Ravi was a vocal skeptic turned passionate defender of the faith, when he found Jesus following a particularly difficult season of his life. He once said,
“You’ll never get to a person’s soul until you understand their hurts.”
… Saddleback Lake Forest has always been about being a big church that feels small – by getting to know everyone who calls our campus home, understanding the hurts that every one of us carries, and providing places to process those wounds in a Christlike way.
This week, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of those safe and healing spaces that are available to you, whether you’re struggling with mental illness, job loss; or hurts, habits, or hang-ups you could use a faith community to help overcome. We also wanted to invite you to be a part of our first ever socially distant baptism celebration next Tuesday night, as we celebrate the hope and freedom that Jesus offers each of us in a visible and soul-stirring way.
Read more at … https://saddleback.com/visit/locations/lake-forest
by Jamie Manson, NCR Online, 10/19/19.
.., Kaya Oakes, the Oct. 15 event’s opening panelist and author of the 2015 book The Nones Are Alright: A New Generation of Seekers, Believers, and Those In Between.
“The better questions we should ask instead of how to get the nones back is, where do we meet them and what do they need?” said Oakes.
…Oakes has been intentional about not using the term “nones,” preferring instead to call them the “religiously unaffiliated.”
“It’s a negation,” said Oakes, that is not reflective of their spiritual longings.
A second panelist, Tara Isabella Burton, also questioned whether the term “nones” should be used at all.
The author of the forthcoming book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, Burton says that the nones nomenclature is “profoundly incorrect.”
According to her research, “About 72% of the self-identified religiously unaffiliated say they believe in a higher power of some sort and about 20% say they believe in the Judeo-Christian God.”
“There is an enormous number of people,” Burton said, “who see themselves as spiritual persons, who have a spiritual hunger.”
Read more at … https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/grace-margins/us-nones-increase-we-must-start-asking-different-questions
by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., July 8, 2019.
(Read it below or download the article here: https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/serve-your-community-rather-than-entertain-it/ )
download the article here: https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/serve-your-community-rather-than-entertain-it/ )
By Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D, 5/23/19.
Al & Pam Goracke are pictured with Rebecca and me in front of their church yesterday. It is a Thursday afternoon and behind us you can see people lining up two hours early for the food pantry at the Hope Church.
Al and Pam lead a Wesleyan church in Blaine, Minnesota that is ministering to over 2000 hungry people each week with a congregation of only 400.
Ministering to the needs of the community is how many churches today are finding they can best reach out and begin sharing the good news with people in a increasingly skeptical environment. “When these people go to the hospital they consider me their pastor. They ask me to visit,” said Al Goracke. “They attend our Thursday food pantry, and though they may not attend our worship services, they consider us their church family. It’s our way of beginning a relationship with them.”
“A lot of churches don’t like to have a food pantry, because so many people coming through their building tears up the carpeting. So we ripped up the carpeting,” said Al.
“And here we are a church that runs almost 400 in attendance, but we’re meeting the needs of thousands of lives each week.”
“But people often ask me, ‘Where do you get the volunteers to run it?’ At first we asked our congregants to do it. And they did. But over the years the people in the community who have been served by this come to appreciate it so much, that many volunteer. And they come to consider our church family, their family.”
Al is one of my students and a friend. To learn more about how they are building bridges to people in need, check out their website at https://everybodyneedshope.org/
And, if your church would like to launch such a ministry, Al can explain how even a small church can begin a ministry that will touch thousands of lives every week.
by Chris Martin, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 1/25/16.
The latest U.S. religious landscape study published by Pew confirms much of what has been reported about millennials in recent years. But the study also sheds new light on this “spiritual, but not religious” generation and can help churches understand how to reach them.
According to the study, millennials have not completely abandoned spiritual beliefs or practices. Millennials maintain a sense of spiritual peace and interest in the universe beyond what is simply seen on earth.
One of the most interesting data points regarding millennials from this latest Pew survey is the large portion of who feel a sense of spiritual peace and well being, while being less affiliated with religion than any other generation. Most young adults also feel a sense of wonder about the universe.
This should lead pastors and church leaders to ask, “How does this affect how I reach out to unbelieving millennials in my community?” Here are three things to keep in mind when attempting to engage young adults.
1. Engage the sense of wonder.
… As Christians, we can engage the wonder of millennials and point to the source of that phenomenon: the Creator God of the Bible. Use this wonderment and point people to the starting point and the upholder of it all.
2. Probe for the source of “spiritual peace.”
Why do such a large portion of people who claim no certainty in the existence of God say they are at peace spiritually? Perhaps they are at peace because they do not think God exists. Regardless, one of the ways churches can engage with unbelieving millennials in their community is by recognizing these young people are likely content with where they stand spiritually.
Christians should talk with them, ask questions, and identify the source of this “spiritual peace,” then figure out in what ways it may fall short in comparison to the gospel.
3. Provide a better way.
Finally, when we engage the sense of wonderment and spiritual peace among millennials, we must work to provide a better way—the only Way, the gospel of Jesus.
The research shows these young people are not hard-and-fast naturalists who only believe in what they can see in front of their face. They ponder the spiritual. They wonder about the universe. Engage these feelings and point them to their ultimate fulfillment…
Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2016/01/25/3-ways-to-engage-the-spiritual-but-not-religious-millennial/
“I’m not particularly attracted to a religion where someone approaches me in the parking lot of a grocery store with a tract in hand, telling me I’m going to hell, without ever once considering the possibility that I might need help carrying my groceries.”
Commentary by Professor B: This was a short fable shared with me by a former student. It illustrates succinctly why we should utilize a need-based approach to outreach. Larry wrote:
Prof. Whitesel, I’m doing a response for Bible as Christian Scripture and recalled a quote from a friend of my son’s some years that reminded me of your book, Cure for the Common Church, and in particular, your prescription for growing O.U.T.
The response touched on how we want to world to see us, as a source of judgement or a source of the Good News. The quote I recalled from my son’s friend: “I’m not particularly attracted to a religion where someone approaches me in the parking lot of a grocery store with a tract in hand, telling me I’m going to hell, without ever once considering the possibility that I might need help carrying my groceries.”
Thought you might enjoy that. Larry
by Bob Whitesel DMin, PhD, January 17, 2017. A colleague asked for a simple process to help a new church reach out. Here it is:
Cure 1: find a need (among non churchgoers) and fill it.
Cure 2: disciple in interpersonal small groups, rather than the anonymity of large venues.
Cure 3: your goal should be “making learners” (i.e. disciples or as McGavran said, “enroll in Jesus’ school”).
Cure 4: make conversion the apex of the process.
You can tell I use these simple four aspects with church planting (and growing church) clients.
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