URBAN OUTREACH & An Enthusiast.life means following Wesley into burgeoning urban areas with 3 things: good works, Good News & groups that foster goodness.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., February 6 2019.

Recent forecasts predict these 10 cities’ urban communities will grow exponentially in the next 15 years. John Wesley witnessed similar exponential growth in urban England at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. He sought to help the displaced people of these communities have a faith community of their own. And, he sensed that such church planting began with meeting physical needs without asking anything in return. Simply by providing medical clinics, financial assistance, recovery programs, etc. he sought to demonstrate the Good News. As a result, people of faith could share how faith in Christ motivates and strengthens one to be sacrificial and charitable.

Read more in the book http://www.Enthusiast.life about Wesley’s radical approach to meeting needs as an introduction to an even better Good News. More information at http://www.enthusiast.life.

Then take a look at this forecast of worldwide urban growth. Then ask, “What is God calling you and your ministry to do to meet their needs?”

Image: Statista

POOR & Paul’s words about them, fashion and bi-vocational ministry …

“I’ve never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me. In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’”

Acts‬ ‭20:33-35‬ ‭MSG‬‬ http://bible.com/97/act.20.33-35.msg

POWER & It decreases compassion and empathy according to research.

Answer by Betty-Ann Heggie, Speaker, author, mentor on moving past gender stereotypes, on Quora, 1/25/18


…As people work their way up to the highest ranks, they lose touch with the daily challenges and aspirations of people at lowest ranks. They start to see people in large groups, rather than as individuals. And they treat people as problems to solve, rather than fellow human beings to relate to. This helps explain why research finds power reduces concern for others.

… But right now, things are moving in the wrong direction. The higher up the ranks you go inside a company, the lower the EQ scores (measures of emotional intelligence) drop. A study of 1 million people by TalentSmart found that CEOs, on average, have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace.

…A helpful definition comes from Psychology Today: “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” It’s a combination of emotional awareness, the ability to harness and apply emotions to tasks, and the ability to manage and regulate emotions.

Read more at … https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-be-emotionally-intelligent

SOCIO-ECONOMICS & Research shows churches have grown weakest in communities that need them most: poor & working-class

Commentary by Professor B. In my books I advocate that growing and healthy churches will participate in the “3Rs of reconciliation” as put forth by John Perkins:

  • R-1 Reconciliation both spiritual and physical,
  • R-2 Relocation and as Robert Putnam points out in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,”
  • R-3 Redistribution of wealth should be on the agenda of healthy churches.

See my chapters/articles/interviews on this:

Still, I have grown tired and cynical at watching churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new sound and lighting systems to approximate a rock concert and “attract” a crowd when similar churches just a few miles away are struggling to stay open in lower social economic communities.

This article from The Washington Post highlights the research by Robert Putman which should be a warning to growing and healthy churches that Jesus admonition still holds today: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much…” Luke 12:48.

Why so many empty church pews? Here’s what money, sex, divorce and TV are doing to American religion

By W. Bradford Wilcox, The Washington Post, 3/26/15.

One of the tragic tales told by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his important new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” is that America’s churches have grown weakest in some of the communities that need them most: poor and working-class communities across the country. The way he puts it, our nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques give children a sense of meaning, belonging and purpose — in a word, hope — that allows them to steer clear of trouble, from drugs to delinquency, and toward a bright and better future, warmer family relationships and significantly higher odds of attending college.

The tragedy is that even though religious involvement “makes a bigger difference in the lives of poor kids than rich kids,” Putnam writes, involvement is dropping off fastest among children from the least privileged background, as the figure below indicates.

Courtesy of Robert Putnam, "Our Kids."
Courtesy of Robert Putnam, “Our Kids.”

In “Our Kids,” Putnam assigns much of the blame for the unraveling of America’s religious, communal and familial fabric to shift from an industrial to an information economy. The 1970s saw declines in employment for less-educated men, divergent incomes for college-educated and less-educated men, and a “breathtaking increase in inequality” — all of which left college-educated families and their communities with more financial resources, and poor and working-class communities with fewer resources. The figure below, taken from Nicholas Eberstadt’s essay on men’s employment, shows that work dropped precipitously for men in the 1970s.

(Courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor)

A key reason that working-class men are now less likely to attend church is that they cannot access the kind of stable, good-paying jobs that sustain a “decent” lifestyle and stable, married family life — two key ingredients associated with churchgoing in America.

Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/03/26/why-so-many-empty-church-pews-heres-what-money-sex-divorce-and-tv-are-doing-to-american-religion

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018

NEED-MEETING & Maddox shows Wesley did not have a “hole in the Gospel” #need-meeting

Wesley did not overlook the possible positive evangelistic impact resulting from Christian engagement in such open-ended works of mercy. But the specific potential effect that he highlighted was not the enticement of uncommitted persons to embrace the Christian faith by addressing their physical needs. Rather, he hoped to overcome the widespread crisis of credibility of Christian witness through the increased number of Christians who would model authentic loving care for others!” (Maddox, 2002)

Maddox, Randy L. (2002) “Visit the poor” John Wesley, The Poor and The Sanctification of Believers. Kingswood books Nashville, (pg 69).

Retrieved by Salvation Army officer Regina Shull as part of an assignment for LEAD 600.

social engagement action need-meeting

NEED-MEETING & Wesley used transformational thinking because churches were not providing health & wellness measures

In terms of serving the poor, I think Wesley used transformational thinking in that the churches were not providing health and wellness measures.  Wesley believed that providing remedies for those who could not afford doctors was serving the poor as required by God.  The notion of the serving poor as a work of the church was not new to Wesley, but making it mandatory for Methodists was new.  For most it was an option.  For Wesley it was a necessity.     – quote by Liz Wiggins, DMin in Transformational Leadership, 7/24/17.

Wesley & the Poor: You cannot help only at a distance

“But is there need of visiting them in person?

May we not relieve them at a distance?

Does it not answer the same purpose if we send them help as if we carry it ourselves?’

… But this is not properly ‘visiting the sick’; it is another thing. The word which we render ‘visit’ in its literal acceptation means to ‘look upon’. And this, you well know, cannot be done unless you are present with them.

Wesley, J. (2013). “On Visiting the Sick,” in The sermons of John Wesley: A collection for the Christian journey. K.J. Collins & J.E. Vickers (Eds.). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, Kindle Edition.  (The above was cited by Barb R. in LEAD 600.  Good sleuthing Barb.)

WESLEY & The Poor: “Put off the gentlewoman” & Experience First-hand the Poor

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/23/15.

An integral part of John Wesley’s “method” was to encourage wealthy people to first-hand experience the needs of the poor.  Here is his response to a wealthy woman who avoided the poor. Note the lessons (p. 782):

“I have found some of the uneducated poor who have exquisite taste and sentiment; and many, very many, of the rich who have scarcely any at all … the poorest of the poor, who, if they have not taste, have souls, which you may forward in their way to heaven.  And they have (many of them) faith, and the love of God, in a larger measure than any persons I know.”

He then exhorts the rich gentlewoman:

“Creep in among these, in spite of the dirt, and a hundred disgusting circumstances, and thus put off the gentlewoman.”

Then he concludes:

“Do not confine your conversation to genteel and elegant people.  I should like this well as you do: but I cannot discover a precedent of it in the life of our Lord, or any of his Apostles.  My dear friend, let you and I walk as he walked.”

Wesley was a firm believer in authentically and indigenously experiencing the poor in their surroundings.  He knew this would create a life-long solidarity with those in need.


1) If you are one of my students or leading a team, ask yourself (and them): when is the last time you experienced first-hand the living conditions and spiritual sensitivity of the abject poor?

2) If you have not done so in the last four weeks, then plan to do so today!

3) And make this fellowship with the poor in their environments, a part of your spiritual formation (it was for followers of Wesley’s methods, who became know as “Wesleyans”).

John Wesley, “The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M., New York: Emory and Wauch Publishers, 1831, p. 782

The full text of Wesley’s letter to Miss March, John Telford, ed., The Letters of John Wesley, A.M., 8 vols. (London: Epworth Press, 1931), 6:30-31 (retrieved from http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-letters-of-john-wesley/wesleys-letters-1776/)

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

To Miss March

LONDON, February 7, 1776.

I have found some of the uneducated poor who have exquisite taste and sentiment; and many, very many, of the rich who have scarcely any at all. But I do not speak of this: I want you to converse more, abundantly more, with the poorest of the people, who, if they have not taste, have souls, which you may forward in their way to heaven. And they have (many of them) faith and the love of God in a larger measure than any persons I know. Creep in among these in spite of dirt and an hundred disgusting circumstances, and thus put off the gentlewoman. Do not confine your conversation to genteel and elegant people. I should like this as well as you do; but I cannot discover a precedent for it in the life of our Lord or any of His Apostles. My dear friend, let you and I walk as He walked.

I now understand you with regard to the Perronets; but I fear in this you are too delicate. It is certain their preaching is attended with the power of God to the hearts of many; and why not to yours Is it not owing to a want of simplicity ‘Are you going to hear Mr. Wesley’ said a friend to Mr. Blackwell. ‘ No,’ he answered, ‘ I am going to hear God: I listen to Him, whoever preaches; otherwise I lose all my labor.’

‘You will only be content to convert worlds. You shall hew wood or carry brick and mortar; and when you do this in obedience to the order of Providence, it shall be more profitable to your own soul than the other.’ You may remember Mr. De Renty’s other remark: ‘ I then saw that a well-instructed Christian is never hindered by any person or thing. For whatever prevents his doing good works gives him a fresh opportunity of submitting his will to the will of God; which at that time is more pleasing to God and more profitable to his soul than anything else which he could possibly do.’

Never let your expenses exceed your income. To servants I would give full as much as others give for the same service, and not more. It is impossible to lay down any general rules, as to ‘ saving all we can’ and ‘ giving all we can.’ In this, it seems, we must needs be directed from time to time by the unction of the Holy One. Evil spirits have undoubtedly abundance of work to do in an evil world; frequently in concurrence with wicked men, and frequently without them.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018 #DMin

POVERTY & The 15 US Cities Where Poverty Is Soaring Fastest

Commentary from Dr. Whitesel:  “Many of these cities are also the hubs of Wesleyan churches: including High Point, North Carolina, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia and Indianapolis, Indiana.  Plans for church planting should include stronger partnerships with suburban churches, so that suburban support can offset fast rising urban poverty. See the book The Healthy Church for examples of how to create urban/suburban church partnerships.”

Read more at … http://www.businessinsider.com/cities-poverty-soaring-2014-8

WESLEY & Helping the Poor Opens the Door for the Good News #Quote

“These little labours of love will pave your way to things greater importance. Having shown that you have a regard for their bodies, you may proceed to inquire concerning their souls.”

John Wesley, The Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 98, “On Visiting the Sick.”  http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-98-on-visiting-the-sick/

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

WESLEY & Why the Rich Don’t Visit the Poor #Quote

“Indeed, Sir,” said person of large substance, “I am a very compassionate man. But, to tell you the truth, I do not know anybody in the world that is in want.” How did this come to pass Why, he took good care to keep out of their way; and if he fell upon any of them unawares “he passed over on the other side.”

John Wesley, The Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 98, “On Visiting the Sick.”  http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-98-on-visiting-the-sick/

WESLEY & Why the Rich Don’t Visit the Poor #Quote

“One great reason why the rich, in general, have so little sympathy for the poor, is, because they so seldom visit them.”

John Wesley, The Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 98, “On Visiting the Sick.”  http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-98-on-visiting-the-sick/

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

WESLEY & 4 Reasons Why the Poor Mattered to Early Methodism

by Andrew Dragos, 7/20/14

“It is well known that early Methodism was especially concerned for the poor of society. The Methodist revival included field preaching to coalminers and the establishment of schools, employment opportunities, and special banks for the poor. Methodists felt compelled to reach out on a grande scale in ways unique to their movement. There are many reasons why Wesleyan spirituality was oriented toward the under-classes of society. The following are just 4 of those reasons.

1. Sin is the great equalizer—both the wealthy and the poor are affected….

2. A holistic view of the person empowers holistic ministry…John Wesley claimed that Christianity is “essentially a social religion, and . . . to turn it into a solitary religion indeed is to destroy it.” While this was primarily a reference to Wesley’s arrangement of Methodists into class meetings, it also points to the inherent relationality in his understanding of Christianity…. For Wesley this meant that all good works—works of piety as well as works of mercy—are “in some sense necessary to sanctification.” In at least five different places in “The Character of the Methodist” he equates love of neighbor and care for the poor with qualities of being a Methodist… He regularly advised affluent people to visit the poor in order to “improve life” and “use their health.”

3. Earthly riches are dangerous.

…Though not to be equated with inherent sin, Wesley echoed Jesus words in saying, “What a hindrance are riches to the very first fruit of faith, namely, the love of God!”…Thus one of the purposes of the Methodist societies was to proclaim, “All my riches are above! All my treasure is thy love.”

4. Caring for felt needs opens the door to caring for spiritual needs.

…John Wesley suggested that providing for the physical needs of the poor opens doors for spiritual ministry as well. In advising ministers on how to visit the poor, he suggested that the minister inquire of their physical needs which paves the way for things of ‘greater importance.

Read more at … http://seedbed.com/feed/4-reasons-poor-mattered-early-methodism/

SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT & Housing The Homeless Saves Money–Here’s The Research That Proves It

Housing The Homeless Saves Money–Here’s The Research That Proves It
by Ben Schiller, Fast Company Magazine, 4/1/14.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel; “This article is based on research conducted at the University of Charleston which indicates that faith-based organizations who provide housing (Maslow level one) and job training (Maslow level 2) to the formerly homeless, saves the government money by making them self-sufficient and less reliant up on free governmental services. A link to the original research is included.”

Read more at … http://www.fastcoexist.com/3028384/housing-the-homeless-saves-money-heres-the-research-that-proves-i

ECONOMICS & The religious left is struggling. Can the cause of economic justice help? #TheWashingtonPost

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Economic parity and justice remain key areas of need in America.  Churches that are leery of social action, must none-the-less  help address the growing gaps between the wealthy and the poor.  Here is one of many verses that drive home Jesus’ admonitions that Christians care for the poor, Matthew 25:34-36: ‘Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me’.”

ARTICLE by Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, 4/24/14

Read more at … http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-religious-left-is-struggling-can-the-cause-of-economic-justice-help-it-rise-again/2014/04/24/b9fa0708-cb5e-11e3-93eb-6c0037dde2ad_story.html