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/

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

MEDIA & What Communicators Can Learn From It

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “VICE is a successful millennial online media company. Despite a name, which really does not represent its content, this media powerhouse uses key principles to communicate with Millennials. One principle (see the excerpt below) is that the organization is here to help Millennials solve their problems. There is a lesson here for the church: we must empower people with God’s principles and the Holy Spirit to change their lives and their community. They see the people they serve as the heroes and the resourceful ones, and the organization is their mentor. Most organizations today have it the other way around and are less successful because of it. Read this article for more good ideas on how to equip our most important resource (i.e. people) with God’s principles and power to change their world.”

(Article excerpt below.)

“You are not the hero; your audience is.

Another reason VICE is successful is because they assume their audience is smarter than they are. As a result, they have flipped the traditional framework of brand marketing and storytelling on its head. Instead of positioning themselves as a brand that solves their customers problems, VICE assumes its community understands the solutions better than its producers and editors.

VICE empowers their audience to be the hero and plays the role of the mentor. As Adweek notes, VICE has focused their branding efforts to being experience-based and consumer-engaging (brand as mentor) instead of pushy and brand-centric (brand as hero). VICE assumes their audience is resourceful, connected, and has higher expectations for authenticity. By keeping these standards top of mind, they kept their product (ranging from their news site to their documentaries) in ever growing demand.”

Read more at … http://blog.hootsuite.com/the-rise-of-vice/

MILLENNIALS & Research Reveals They Are Cynical Do-Gooders #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This research reveals that Millennials (born in the 80s and 90s) care very much about social issues and helping others. But it also reveals that they are: ‘the least trusting generation on record.’ For churches to reach out to this generation we need to authentically be engaged in social issues. The church cannot pay lip service to social issues and reach this generation. But also because of their skepticism, sermons must tackle the hot-button, hard issues if we are to address the rising skepticism among the Millennials. See ‘Spiritual Waypoints’ (2010) for field-tested ideas and activities that can reach a generation that is caught between hope and cynicism.” Article by Walter Frick, Harvard Business Review

SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT & Is the “Social Gospel” Worth Preaching?

by: Scot McKnight, 5/16/14

Jackson Wu teaches theology and missiology for Chinese pastors. He blogs at www. jacksonwu.org. Wu has also written Saving God’s Face: A Chinese Contextualization of Salvation through Honor and Shame (2013). Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

A “Social Gospel” Worth Preaching

In Christian Political Witness, how might McKnight and Gombis’ chapters practically shape the church’s ministry?

(For a summary of their chapters, see my previous post.)

1. A “Social Gospel”?

These two chapters should alert people that the gospel does indeed have a social aspect. Too many people hear the word “gospel” connected with politics, serving the poor, etc. and then immediately get suspicious or even defensive.

Conservatives worry that such a “gospel” is too this-worldly to be any eternal good.

However, because the gospel is inherently a political summons from a king, the gospel is necessarily public. Loyalty to a king expresses itself across the spectrum of social spheres. Therefore, a “gospel” that does not compel radical public transformation of church communities is sub-biblical; it is hardly worthy of the name “gospel.”

Jesus really is the king over governments, corporations, neighborhoods and families, then how can the citizens of God’s kingdom remain apathetic or resistant to ministries that seek to meet tangible needs?

How is it that a strong concern for saving people from eternal suffering can somehow lead to practical indifferent to present suffering in the world?

We may need to rethink our view of the gospel.

2. A Church Gospel?

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/05/16/is-the-social-gospel-worth-preaching-jackson-wu/

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS & How You Can Have the Most Impact

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Social entrepreneurship means encouraging entrepreneurs to create programs that help the needy. Churches have an important role in encouraging such entrepreneurship. Learn more about social entrepreneurs and how your ministry can develop ‘idea generators’.”

by Katie Smith Milway, Harvard Business Review

Read more at … http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/05/how-social-entrepreneurs-can-have-the-most-impact/

PARENTHOOD & Six Ways Single Christians Can Help the Orphans

by Jamie Calloway-Hanauer, Christianity Today, 4/28/14

“You don’t have to be a parent to care for children in need.”

Six Ways Single Christians Can Help the Orphans

“While much attention has been given to the work of international adoption and setting up in-country orphan care overseas, we also have approximately 400,000 children in foster care in this country. The Christian Alliance for Orphans calls them “social orphans,” noting that during the time children are in foster care they are without the support, protection, and provision of their biological parents…

By focusing locally, Christians—no matter their marital, financial, or educational status—can serve the orphans who live among and perhaps even become a regular and stable part of these children’s lives…”

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2014/april/six-ways-single-christians-can-help-orphans.html

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

DIVERSITY & Wide Racial Divides Persist Over Fair Treatment of Blacks

Civil Rights: Wide racial divides persist over fair treatment of blacksby Brude Drake, 4/19/14, Pew Research

See this graph for the percentage saying blacks in their community are treated less fairly than whites. This demonstrates an ongoing wide racial divide on how much progress has been made.

In a survey conducted last year before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Pew Research Center found that fewer than half (45%) of all Americans said that the U.S. had made substantial progress toward racial equality since that historic event, while 49% said a ‘lot more’ needs to be done.”

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/09/the-civil-rights-act-at-50-racial-divides-persist-on-how-much-progress-has-been-made/


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


How Wesley’s “Method” Focused a Church Inward AND Outward

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

The cure for the ingrown church is to keep a church focused both inward and outward. In fact, history indicates that churches that stay connected to outsiders often do a better job at inward ministry too. For example, an Anglican pastor named John Wesley was so ashamed and alarmed at the depravity of the people outside of his church, that he took his sermons outside the church walls and began ministries to better serve their spiritual and physical needs.[i] Balancing this emphasis upon people inside and outside the church required a rigorous structure his critics mockingly called: “Wesley’s Methods.” Soon his followers were know as “Methodists,” a term which endures to today and should remind us that we need a clear method if we are going to avoid focusing only on people inside the church. After 20+ years of consulting, I believe this method here lies in three organic remedies. These cures, if taken together, can foster a healthy balance between inward and outward focus.

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.

For more details, DOWNLOAD the O.U.T. Chapter Here (and if you like it, please consider supporting the publisher and author by buying a full copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT.

For more information on this and other cures for the common church, see “Cure for the Common Church”, Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011 and you can read more about the book at … http://bobwhitesel.com/c3/Cure_for_the_Common_Church.html


[i] Wesley urged discipleship via small groups which he called “class meetings” to help non-churchgoers grasp the basics of Christianity. These “class meetings” were a type of discipleship group, which we shall discuss in greater detail in the next chapter of “Cure for the Common Church.”


Missio Alliance | The Scandal of the Wesleyan Memory, part 1
by Ken Schenck and Jeremy Summers



CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) National Conference

Each year, the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) national conference draws more than 2,500 people from around the world to share in best practices of Christian community development (CCD). Practitioners teach workshops around relevant themes and find support by networking with others facing similar challenges. Partners offer valuable resources, assisting practitioners in their community transformation efforts. Advocates bring attention to issues affecting people at the grassroots level. And provocative speakers challenge our assumptions about what it means to embody Christ’s love as we journey together in our marginalized communities.

For more info … http://www.ccda.org/events/national-conferences

A video of Bob Whitesel: OUTREACH & Get Radical by Asking Your Community About Their Needs

Bob Whitesel, Oct. 2012, Turnaround2020.com Conference, Nashville, TN

Professor Whitesel summarizes a simple “need-based” strategy for growing your church through outreach. (From Church Central’s Turnaround 20/20 summit in 2012.)