EVANGELISM & A Link To Donald McGavran’s Original Article: The Bridges of God

by Bob Whitesel, 3/4/15.

A former student in my “Growing a Multi-Generational Church” course once said, “Once the message (Good News) gets into the culture, then it is like an infection and spreads more rapidly, easily.”

QUOTE McGavran on Bridges of God copyTo depict this, Donald McGavran used the metaphor of  “the bridges of God,” suggesting we must:

  • build multiple bridges to a culture
  • across which the Good News can travel
  • more quickly
  • and concurrently.

Here is a downloadable version of Donald McGavran’s seminal article on “The Bridges of God:”


(From The Bridges of God [Revised Edition] by Donald Anderson McGavran. Published in the United Kingdom by World Dominion Press, 1955. Revised edition 1981. Distributed in the United States by Friendship Press, New York. Used by permission.)

WORSHIP SERVICES & My 7 Steps To Launching a New Worship Service (& avoiding the attractional trap)

by Bob Whitesel, Ph.D., 11/13/14

Adding a new worship encounter has its caveats. After helping churches for 20+ years add new worship services, below is my “short list” that I use to help clients see the basic “7-steps” of launching a new worship encounter.

(Note: I distinguish between “launching a new service” and “starting a new worship service.” Starting a worship service first begins indigenously with creating small groups among an emerging culture. See my other post on “Five steps to starting a new service” for information on starting a new service  But once you’ve decided to start one, then this post will tell you how to “launch” it.)

First, you must launch with two important goals:

GOAL 1:  The first goal is the Great Commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Thus, getting new attendees into small groups where they can grow along with others is the major objective.  This is even more important than adding a new service.  So, if you can’t undertake a new service, than at least add more small discipleship groups.

GOAL 2: The second goal of a new worship service is to create a culturally relevant worship encounter.  It is not a performance, nor a time to create mini-celebrities.  It is a time to foster an encounter with God.

Everything should revolve around these two goals.  If it does, then go onto this short list of things you must do to create a new worship encounter for an existing church.

Here are the key principles for starting a new service:

1.    The people who design a new worship encounter should demonstrate that they are missionaries to that culture, or that they are from the culture you are reaching out to.
2.    Ensure you can financially sustain a new service for 18 months, before you launch it.
3.    Make sure you have duplicate leadership too (start training them now, telling them that soon we will launch a new service and they will lead it).
4.    Pick a venue that will be at around 35% full with your projected attendance.
5.    Start small groups (Sunday Schools, Life Groups, etc.) of the culture you are reaching out to, three months before you launch your worship encounters.  Ensure that these small groups are between 5 and 8 people (i.e. they have room to grow) and that they know they are the new discipleship venues for new people who attend the worship encounter.
6.    Keep the worship encounters to 50 minutes total (with 15-20 minutes between other worship services) if you can 😉
7.    Also, make sure your overall attendance is at least 100 before you start a new service.

•    Then ask 50 people to agree to come to the new service for one year (make a covenant to do this, usually written 🙂
•    At the end of that time, they must either recruit someone to take their place, or re-up for another year.  The idea is to create the minimum number of attendees necessary for worship to break out in a larger gathering: usually 35+ people.
•    Thus, with 50 committed, you will usually have 35 in attendance and your new service can grow.

If you follow these principles, you can avoid what these video portray, i.e. the temptation to succumb to a largely attractional tactic (ugh!):

MEGACHURCH & 10 Mega-Church Tips for Ministries of Any Size #ScottThumma #GrowthByAccidentBook

By Scott Thumma, Hartford Seminary Institute on Church Research.

“What could my church possibly learn from these behemoths with million-dollar budgets, hundreds of staff, and thousands of excited volunteers?”

In my travels, I repeatedly hear pastors ask this question. I understand why. But my last 20-plus years of research on megachurches throughout the world suggests that churches of all sizes have much to learn from this phenomenon. However, I don’t believe the primary lessons come from their specific ministry efforts. Instead, the most important things we can learn are the strategies behind all their ministry efforts.

I’ve found that one of the biggest keys to most megachurches’ success is their ability to minister in and adapt to an ever-changing contemporary world. A vital church reaches out to both its members and non-Christians in relevant ways, and megachurches seem to do this both accidentally and intentionally.

Here are 10 basic principles gleaned from megachurches that I believe churches of all sizes can apply:

1) Don’t strive for size; strive to serve God…

2) Know your strengths and put them to work…

3) Evangelize in every possible way…

4) Make it appealing, then make it challenging..

5) Worship is not just a “Sunday thing”…

6) Create participants—not members…

7) Connect the congregation…

8) Whatever you do, do it with excellence…

9) Empower people to identify and live out their calling…

10) Sanctification isn’t just for newcomers…

Read the details at … http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/156871-10-tips-from-large-churches-for-ministries-of-any-size.html

GENERATIONS & Millennials Are Old News — Here’s Everything You Should Know About Generation Z

by Hayley Peterson, Business Insider Magazine, 6/25/14

  • Gen Z wants to change the world…
  • Advanced college degrees are less important to them…
  • They are more entrepreneurial than millennials…
  • They are digitally over-connected
  • But they prefer to work independently…
  • They prefer home-cooked foods over processed, ready-to-eat meals such as cold cereal, according to a study by The NPD Group…
  • Gen Z-ers spend more money on food and drinks than anything else, and their favorite eatery is Starbucks, according to Piper Jaffray’s most recent semiannual survey of teens
  • They are less active…
  • They lack brand loyalty…
  • Gen Z-ers are close with their families…
  • They communicate with speed and often use emoticons and emojis instead of words…

FIGURE Checklist for Connecting w: Generation Z

SMALL GROUPS & 3 Ideas For Reaching Your Neighbors Through Them #ChurchCUREbook

by Ed Stetzer, 6/18/14

“Groups are the most likely place where people are going to learn to think outwardly and live externally focused lives. Once you have five to 10 families living intentionally in their neighborhoods, your group will evangelize and disciple people you thought could never be reached. A community on mission together can make a significant impact.

A transformational group is a group that connects with God, with members of the group, and with those who are disconnected—in the church and in our neighborhoods. It starts with disciples who are following Jesus in community…”

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2014/06/18/ed-stetzer-reaching-your-neighbors-through-groups/

WORSHIP & The Best Times on Sunday for Multiple Services

by Bob Whitesel, 7/14/13

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

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

(10 min breaks)

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

(15 min breaks)

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

(20 min breaks).

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

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

(10 min breaks)

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

(15 min breaks)

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


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

(20 min breaks)

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

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

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

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


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

Speaking hashtags: #StLizTX #StMarksTX

RELIGIONS & Why Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists

An interview by Timothy C. Morgan on 4/22/14 with missiologist and author Dave Garrison.

“Muslim background believers are leading Muslims to Christ in staggering numbers, but not in the West. They are doing this primarily in Muslim-majority nations almost completely under the radar—of everyone. In the new book, A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ, Garrison takes the reader on his journey through what he describes as the nine rooms in the Muslim-majority world: Indo-Malaysia, East Africa, North Africa, Eastern South Asia, Western South Asia, Persia, Turkestan, West Africa, and the Arab world. Muslims in each of those regions have created indigenous, voluntary movements to Christ.”

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/april-web-only/why-muslims-are-becoming-best-evangelists.html?paging=off

NEED MEETING & Ideas for Finding Out the Needs in Your Community

Ed Stetzer is a good friend, excellent writer and a tenacious researcher.  I find his insights not only germane, but highly reliable.  Below are some of his blogs regarding ideas for connecting with the local culture and understanding their needs.


OUTREACH & When Easter and Christmas near, more Americans search online for “church”

by Noble Kuriakoae, Pew Research Center, 4/18/14

“Priests and ministers have long noted a sharp increase in church attendance around the two most significant Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter. Some have given those who attend services only at those times of year a name — “Chreasters” — and churches have launched campaigns to get them to attend more regularly.

Google searches for "church" spike during Easter and Christmas seasons“More Americans search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. Google’s Trends tool measures the popularity of a search term relative to all searches in the United States. Data are reported on a scale from 0 to 100.”

Read more at… http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/18/when-easter-and-christmas-near-more-americans-search-online-for-church

WORSHIP & Comparions of Ancient-style vs. Future-style

by Bob Whitesel from Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 emerging Congregations (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006).

Figure: A Partial Comparison of Ancient-Future Elements[i]

Ancient-Future Orientation Fuses the Two Columns

Ancient Future
Liturgical Musicology: –   Hymns-   Chants, etc.-   Professional interpretation. –   Alternative music-   Drum circles, etc.-   Audience participation.
Ambiance: –   Candles-   Natural lighting –   Computerized images,-   Mood walls.
Iconography: –   Plain icons such as:

  • Ichthus symbol,
  • Chi Rho (Constantinian) cross.

–   Lavishly ornamented icons such as:

  • Celtic symbols and crosses,
  • Byzantine symbols and crosses.
–   Techno-icons such as:

  • Mars Hill’s Directions© signs,
  • And, St. Tom’s Lifeshapes©

–   Stylized icons, where artists interpret ancient symbols via modern artistic genres, e.g. multi-media, expressionism, surrealism, kinetic art, etc.

Truth Delivery: –   Presentation of the Word via sermonizing, pedagogy-   Intricate musical lyrics.-   Art, such as stained-glass windows, mosaics, sculpture, church architecture, banners/tapestries, drama, etc.-   Stations of the Cross –   Interaction with the Word via questioning, dialogue-   Native[ii] musical lyrics.-   Art, such as film, video, acting, design, poetry, dance, photography, pottery, visual arts, abstract art, kinetic art, mixed-mediums, etc.-   Interactive stations
Christ and Culture –   Christ Against Culture, [iii]) leads to monastic disciplines (e.g. Tertullian, St. Benedict:

  • Prayer grottos,
  • Prayer labyrinths.
  • Meditation,
  • Spiritual retreat.
–   Christ Above But Working Through Culture, [iv] leads to sifting culture where,

  • Some elements are judged,
  • Others reaffirmed,
  • For the transform-ation of the whole.[v]
Discipleship Ethos –   Monastic, “withdrawal from the institutions and societies of civilization.”[vi] –   Missional, with engagement and “dynamic equivalence.”[vii]


[i] The chart is not meant to be exhaustive. It is presented here simply to give the reader a general direction of the ancient-future nexus. The elements of these columns will continue to evolve and adjust along with culture, experimentation, and effectiveness.

[ii] Native is a word I have introduced into the organic discussion due to a sense it conveys the duality of the organic church’s sentiments, where feelings of opposite extremes are acknowledged, and even expected as the result of humanity’s fall. Thus, native sums up the dual yet inborn nature of humanness, where emotional pairings such as the following contest with one another: e.g. faith-doubt, love-hatred, impartiality-prejudice, acceptance-alienation, community-isolation, exuberance-despondency, reassurance-apprehension, chance-predetermination, etc. Such human duality is often expressed in the organic church’s liturgy, songs and teachings; and has biblical precedence in the psalmists’ meditations, e.g. Psalm 12, 53, and 139 among others.

[iii] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, pp. 45-82.

[iv] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 113-115.

[v] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, pp. 92-95, 120.

[vi] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, p. 56. It should be noted that I have not witnessed any societal withdrawal due to monastic tendencies in the organic church. Rather their monastic elements are primarily evident in spiritual disciplines, such as praying at the monastic hours.

[vii] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 315-327.

OUTREACH & What Models for Evangelism Are Working Best?

A video interview by Warren Bird

“In recent years most churches have reached new people by creating a great “invitation culture.” But what about the increasing number of people who don’t respond to an invitational or come-and-see approach? How can churches connect with them? Brent Dolfo, interviewed by Warren Bird, describes a new platform for large churches — those with a priority and track record of evangelism — to learn from each other’s best current models, especially ones that go beyond creating an invitational culture. For more go to the New Evangelism Leadership Community website.”

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/what-models-for-evangelism-are-working-best/

BIBLE & Do Bible Haters Now Equal Bible Lovers? American Bible Society Thinks So

Do Bible Haters Now Equal Bible Lovers? American Bible Society Thinks So

“The number of Americans who read Scripture at least four times a week and believe that it is the inspired word of God has fallen to just under 1 in 5, according to new reseState of the Bible 2014arch from the American Bible Society (ABS).

The same percentage of Americans (19 percent) are now ‘antagonistic’ toward the Bible, reading it less than once per month and believing it is a book of teachings written by men that contain stories and advice.

Thus, the ‘percentage of Scripture haters now equals Scripture lovers,’ notes the [original] press release for the 2014 edition of ABS’s annual State of the Bible report, conducted by Barna Group. The main reason: millennials.”

Image: American Bible Society – Barna Group

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/april/do-bible-haters-equal-lovers-american-bible-society-barna.html

SOCIAL MEDIA & The Internet and Religion: The Great Disruption

The Internet and Religion: The Great Disruption
by Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center


At the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, reported the Project’s latest findings about how Americans use digital technology and their implications for religious institutions:

“There is no neutral position when it comes to the Internet. Whether you use it or you don’t, it still affects your organization. If knowledge is power, join us for this session and learn the most important Internet trends so that you can make an informed decision for the direction of your ministry relating to new media and digital technologies including mobile devices, tablets, and Internet-connected TV. Find out the future trends so that you can prepare strategically to maximize your results.”

The Internet and Religion: The Great Disruption from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

#GCRN #GCRN18 #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork


Church Cure 1 = GROW O.U.T.

by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from “Cure for the Common Church,” Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011

Rx 1 for the Common Church = Grow O.U.T. In this cure, as well as in all of the cures in this book, the remedies spell out the name of the cure.

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.

Read more about how to apply this “Cure for the Common Church” at http://bobwhitesel.com/c3/Cure_for_the_Common_Church.html


SOCIAL MEDIA & the Rule of Thirds?

Are You Following the Social Media Rule of Thirds?by Sam Milbrath, 3/28/14

What is Social Media’s Rule of Thirds?

  • ⅓ of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
  • ⅓ of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • ⅓ of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your personal brand.

WORSHIP & Is Your Worship Music Driven by Complaints or Mission in Context?

Is Your Worship Music Driven by Complaints or Mission in Context?
by Ed Stetzer, 3/27/14


DIVERSITY & The 500+ Unreached People Groups in US

All Nations” and Church Planting

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, 3/26/14

How does church planting relate to the Great Commission and Jesus’ call to reach the nations?

"All Nations" and Church Planting

“In research released last year by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that nearly twenty percent of non-Christians in North America do not personally know a Christian. More than seventy-five percent of the Sikhs, Hindus, and Jains living in the U.S. do not know a Christian. The same is true for more than sixty-five percent of Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, and practitioners of Chinese folk religion. Even forty-two percent of Muslims acknowledge that they have no close Christian contacts. They need new church plants.

In the U.S. alone, there are more than five hundred unengaged, unreached people groups.

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/march/all-nations-and-church-planting.html?paging=off

OUTREACH & Reversing the Direction of Mission

All Nations” and Church Planting

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, 3/26/14

How does church planting relate to the Great Commission and Jesus’ call to reach the nations?

“The Great Commission… The sheer scope of the assignment is embodied in the two little words: all nations. This phrase is translated from the Greek panta ta ethnē. It is often the subject of significant discussion. When many people hearethnē, or ‘nations,’ they think of countries. But when Jesus spoke those words, there were no countries as we understand them today. The nation-state is an invention of the modern era. In Jesus’ day, there were groups of people, and there were empires. So, Jesus spoke of peoples—all peoples.

When Jesus said ‘to all nations,’ He did not mean exactly what missiologists like me want to read into the text—as if He was speaking of the eleven thousand ethnolinguistic people groups in the world today. However, He meant to identify more than simply the non-Jews or Gentiles. He spoke to a Jewish people who knew that God created the nations at Babel (Gen. 11:9), called the nations ‘up to Jerusalem’ (Isa. 2), displayed the tongues of the nations at Pentecost (Acts 2), and will be worshiped by men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation forever (Rev. 7).

In other words, when Jesus spoke of going to the nations, the hearers of His day knew the immensity of this remarkable task. The idea of ‘the nations’ was not new to them—though Jesus was changing how the people of God engaged them.

In speaking of the nations, Jesus reversed the direction of mission.

In speaking of the nations, Jesus reversed the direction of mission. It was no longer that the nations were to go up to Jerusalem (Isa. 2), but that the disciples were now to go out fromJerusalem (Acts 1:8).”

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/march/all-nations-and-church-planting.html?paging=off

MULTIPLICATION & Multisite : 3 Potential Phases of a Multisite

3 Potential Phases of a Multisite Church

An interview by Warren Bird with Tim Nations

“Growing multisite churches can go through up to three different organizational phases. All begin with a launch stage. A growing number then pass through the threshold of 3-4 campuses while still others grow beyond the 8-10 campus phase.

Each of these transition points requires internal changes and a different approach to leadership. Leadership Network’s Tim Nations explains the process, and the role Leadership Network can play in this short interview with Warren Bird.”