GIVING & Are the Rich and/or Powerful Coldhearted? #ResearchSaysYes

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Leader … watch yourself! Researchers have long known that the higher your position, power, finances and/or status in society the less easily you will empathize with the needy. See my chapter on this in Growth by Accident, Death by Planning (Abingdon Press, 2004).  Here is research that again proves it!”

Powerful and Coldhearted, New York Times, 7/25/14


I FEEL your pain.

These words are famously associated with Bill Clinton, who as a politician seemed to ooze empathy. A skeptic might wonder, though, whether he truly was personally distressed by the suffering of average Americans. Can people in high positions of power — presidents, bosses, celebrities, even dominant spouses — easily empathize with those beneath them?

Psychological research suggests the answer is no. Studies have repeatedly shown that participants who are in high positions of power (or who are temporarily induced to feel powerful) are less able to adopt the visual, cognitive or emotional perspective of other people, compared to participants who are powerless (or are made to feel so).

For example, Michael Kraus, a psychologist now at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and two colleagues found that among full-time employees of a public university, those who were higher in social class (as determined by level of education) were less able to accurately identify emotions in photographs of human faces than were co-workers who were lower in social class. (While social class and social power are admittedly not the same, they are strongly related.)

Why does power leave people seemingly coldhearted? Some, like the Princeton psychologist Susan Fiske, have suggested that powerful people don’t attend well to others around them because they don’t need them in order to access important resources; as powerful people, they already have plentiful access to those.

We suggest a different, albeit complementary, reason from cognitive neuroscience. On the basis of a study we recently published with the researcher Jeremy Hogeveen, in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, we contend that when people experience power, their brains fundamentally change how sensitive they are to the actions of others…

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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.

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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

SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT & 6 Innovative Ideas to Help Your Church Impact the Community

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Many people don’t realize that John Wesley was an advocate for free health clinics at the society gathering halls. He saw meeting people’s physical needs as part of the equation to get them to listen to the answers doe their spiritual needs. In these case-study articles by Warren Bird you will find many creative ideas for helping people advance not just socially but also spiritually.”

Article by Warren Bird, 6/4/14

Churches Helping Launch Charitable Health Care Clinics

clinic front

As a career medical professional, Hilary Nicholson thought the idea of a charitable health care was laughable—that is, until a “divine appointment” and a partnership between her local church and a national organization fueled the launch of an innovative, life-changing ministry in her community…


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 & The Effects Of Income Inequality Start While You’re In The Womb

by Jessica Lerner, Fast Company Magazine, 5/22/14

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. 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?

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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.”

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