CHURCH PLANTING & Least livable: 50 worst US cities to reside in. Time For #ChurchPlanters to step up to the challenge?

by Samuel Stebbens and Evan Comen, USA Today, 6/13/18.

…Quality of life is subjective, and difficult to measure. Still, there is a wide range of quantifiable factors that can impact quality of life in a given area. Affordability, safety, job market strength, quality of education, infrastructure, average commute times, air quality, and the presence of cultural attractions are just a few examples of factors that can influence overall quality of life.

24/7 Wall St. created an index with measures in eight categories — crime, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure, and leisure — to identify the 50 worst cities to live in. Not confined to a single region, the worst cities span the country from the South to the Midwest and from New England to the Pacific coast.

Read the list here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/06/13/50-worst-cities-to-live-in/35909271/

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.

wilcox1.png&w=480
(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

RACE & It is still the greatest polarizer in No. America – but there is slight progress #ChurchMustDoMore

Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress *

By Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, University of Pennsylvania, 5/12/10.

Abstract

Subjective well-being data reveal that blacks are less happy than are whites. However, much of this racial gap in happiness has closed over the past 35 years. We investigate measures of subjective well-being that indicate that the well-being of blacks has increased both absolutely and relative to whites. These changes in well-being are found across various datasets and measures of subjective well-being. However the gains in happiness are concentrated among women and those living in the south. While the opportunities and achievements of blacks have improved over this period, the happiness gains far exceed that which can be attributed to these objective improvements.

Download the entire research article here … http://users.nber.org/~bstevens/Papers/Happiness_Race.pdf

image11

image11

image2

image2

TRUMP/CLINTON & Chaos or Community? MLK Jr. Book Has Insight on Where We Should Go From Here

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. After a divisive election, people are wondering what to do. The best insights may come from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last book which followed very divisive elections in America. He urged Americans to distinguish between three types of biblical “loves” (eros, philia and agape), suggesting only with agape love (loving the unlovely) can systemic change be brought that will change the situation of the increasingly poor segment of the US population. Here’s an overview of his last and perhaps most relevant book for 2017.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: CHAOS OR COMMUNITY?

Introducer: Vincent Harding

King believed that the next phase in the movement would bring its own challenges, as African Americans continued to make demands for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, an education equal to that of whites, and a guarantee that the rights won in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would be enforced by the federal government. He warned that ‘‘The persistence of racism in depth and the dawning awareness that Negro demands will necessitate structural changes in society have generated a new phase of white resistance in North and South.’’

King assesses the rise of black nationalism and the increasing use of the slogan ‘‘Black Power’’ in the movement. While he praised the slogan, he also recognized that its implied rejection of interracial coalitions and call for retaliatory violence ‘‘prevent it from having the substance and program to become the basic strategy for the civil rights movement in the days ahead.’’ Condemning the advocacy of black separatism, King maintained that there would be no genuine progress for African Americans ‘‘unless the whole of American society takes a new turn toward greater economic justice.’’ Despite King’s impatience with Black Power proponents, he ends the book on an optimistic note, calling for continued faith in the movement.

King maintained that there would be no genuine progress for African Americans ‘‘unless the whole of American society takes a new turn toward greater economic justice.’’

Reviews:

“Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the greatest organic intellectuals in American history. His unique ability to connect the life of the mind to the struggle for freedom is legendary, and in this book—his last grand expression of his vision—he put forward his most prophetic challenge to powers that be and his most progressive program for the wretched of the earth.” —Cornel West

Excerpt, From Vincent Harding’s Introduction:

… From this position of radical engagement it would have been relatively easy for King, if he chose, to confine his published writing to telling the powerful stories of the experiences he shared almost daily with the magnificent band of women, men, and children who worked in the black-led Southern freedom movement, recounting how they struggled to transform themselves, their communities, this nation, and our world. Instead, going beyond the stories, King insisted on constantly raising and reflecting on the basic questions he posed in the first chapter of this work—“Where Are We?” and in the overall title of the book itself, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

…Building on all of the deep resources of empathy and compassion that seemed so richly and naturally a part of his life, King appeared determined not only to pay attention but to insist that his organization and his nation focus themselves and their resources on dozens of poor, exploited black communities— and especially their desperate young men, whose broken lives were crying out for new, humane possibilities in the midst of the wealthiest nation in the world. Speaking later at a staff retreat of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King expressed a conviction that had long been a crucial part of what he saw when he paid attention to the nation’s poorest people. He said, “Something is wrong with the economic system of our nation. . . . Something is wrong with capitalism.” Always careful (perhaps too careful) to announce that he was not a Marxist in any sense of the word, King told the staff he believed “there must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. . . . ” This seemed a natural direction for someone whose ultimate societal goal was the achievement of a nonviolent “beloved community.” But a major part of the white American community and its mass media seemed only able to condemn “Negro violence” and to justify a “white backlash” against the continuing attempts of the freedom movement to move northward toward a more perfect union. (King wisely indentified the fashionable “backlash” as a continuing expression of an antidemocratic white racism that was as old as the nation itself.)

Meanwhile, even before Watts, King and the SCLC staff had begun to explore creative ways in which they could expand their effort to develop a just and beloved national community by establishing projects in northern black urban neighborhoods. (The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, the other major Southern movement organizing force, was involved in similar Northern explorations by the mid-1960s, but both organizations were hampered by severe financial difficulties.) Partly because of some earlier contacts with Chicago-based community organizers, King and SCLC decided to focus on that deeply segregated city as the center of their expansion into the anguish of the North. By the winter of 1966, SCLC staff members had begun organizing in Chicago. At that point King decided to try to spend at least three days a week actually living in one of the city’s poorest black communities, a west-side area named Lawndale. From that vantage point, working (sometimes uncomfortably) with their Chicago colleagues, King and SCLC decided to concentrate their attention on a continuing struggle against the segregated, deteriorating, and educationally dysfunctional schools; the often dilapidated housing; and the disheartening lack of job opportunities…

In the face of such hard facts, King insisted on pressing two other realities into the nation’s conscience. One was his continuing plea for “a coalition of Negroes and liberal whites that will work to make both major parties truly responsive to the needs of the poor.” At the same time he insisted that “we must not be oblivious to the fact that the larger economic problems confronting the Negro community will only be solved by federal programs involving billions of dollars…”

From Dr. King’s conclusion:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity . . . This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos or community.”

Read more at … http://www.thekinglegacy.org/books/where-do-we-go-here-chaos-or-community

See also The Role of Agape in the Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Pursuit of Justice by Jerry Ogoegbunem Nwonye, dissertation to the Faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, 1/2009 available at https://books.google.com/books?id=_0b6NTQGcKUC&dq=Where+Do+We+Go+from+Here:+agape&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Hashtags:  #WesleySeminary #DMinTL

THEOLOGY & Most Americans don’t buy the prosperity gospel—especially if they have money

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) … Most Americans don’t buy the prosperity gospel—especially if they have money.

Two-thirds (63 percent) disagree with the idea that God will always reward true faith with material blessings. A quarter agree. Twelve percent are not sure.

Men (28 percent) are more likely to believe in the prosperity gospel than women (22 percent). Poor Americans—those with incomes under $25,000—are more likely (28 percent) to agree than those with incomes over $100,000 (20 percent).

Those with high school degrees or less (33 percent) are more likely to believe that God blesses the faithful with material blessings than those with graduate degrees (18 percent).

Americans with evangelical beliefs (37 percent) are most likely to agree with the prosperity gospel. Americans who do not hold evangelical beliefs are more skeptical (23 percent)…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

SOCIOECONOMICS & African Americans won’t reach white wealth levels for centuries, report says

By Greg LaRose, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, 8/9/16.

The white population in the United States can expect their wealth to grow $18,000 each year over the next 30 years, while the annual increase for African Americans will be only $750 if current fiscal policies stay in place.

“The Ever Growing Gap,” a study released Tuesday (Aug. 9), examines racial income disparities using data from the Survey of Consumer Finance, a research project of the Federal Reserve Board. The Corporation for Enterprise Development and Institute for Policy Studies used information from 1983 to 2013 to make their projections

Their report defines wealth as more than just extra money in the bank. It includes home ownership, having the means to earn a college degree and save for retirement, and other opportunities that are attainable with savings and investments.

The authors point to tax policies designed to build household wealth, benefit homebuyers, increase retirement savings and start a business — opportunities that are out of reach for the poorest segments of the population.

Looking back, whites saw their average wealth increase 84 percent over the past 30 years — 1.2 times the rate for Latinos and three times the African American growth rate.

If the growth rate stays at the current pace, it would take black families 228 years to accumulate the same wealth that white families have today. For Latino families, the gap would take 84 years to close…

The report frames these disparities in the context of recent deaths of African Americans in police shootings.

“These senseless and violent events have not only given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, they have also sharpened the nation’s focus on the inequities and structural barriers facing households of color,” the report states.

The authors acknowledge their look at wealth data rather than household income further skews the differences, but they note the gaps still exist when considering median wealth figures.

Changes in household wealth
Black Latino White
1983 $67,000 $58,000 $355,000
2013 $85,000 $98,000 $656,000
Survey of Consumer Finance

The report says a more even distribution of wealth would allow the disadvantaged to “get ahead, rather than just scrape by.”

“Imagine that instead of low-wealth Black and Latino families finding themselves unable to deal with fluctuating incomes or how they’re going to make it through an unexpected financial emergency, they have the freedom to invest in their children’s future aspirations. Or, instead of resorting to selling loose cigarettes or CDs to earn a little more money for their families, Blacks and Latinos have the opportunity to build long-term wealth by owning their own businesses.”

Read more at … http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2016/08/african_americans_latinos_wont.html

SOCIO-ECONOMIC & Who is “Middle Income” & “Upper Income”? #PewResearch

ST_2015-12-09_middle-class-02.png

Read more at … http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

Keywords:  middle class upper class DMin

MEGACHURCH & How U.S.-style megachurches are taking over the world, in 5 maps

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This research by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Leadership Network points out that megachurches are internationally comprised of lower socio-economic congregants, while in No. America they are reaching mostly an upper socio-economic strata. This has implications for the goals and economies of megacongregations. For instance, is there greater responsibility put upon these churches and for what missional end? Read this article before you craft your answer.

By Rick Noack and Lazaro Gamio, The Washington Post, 7/24/15.

world-megachurches3.jpg&w=480

… while the United States may have started the trend, the future of megachurches may lie in the rest of the world.

Based on data from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and from the Christian nonprofit organization Leadership Network, WorldViews visualized this global and diverse movement. We used the most common definition of megachurches, which describes them as having “2,000 or more persons in attendance at weekly worship, a charismatic, authoritative senior minister, a 7 day a week community,” and other features which you can find in detail here.

Why global megachurches are bigger than U.S. megachurches

Despite American roots that reach back to the 19th century, megachurches abroad now have a higher average attendance, even though the vast majority of megachurches are still in the United States. While there are 230 to 500 such churches elsewhere in the world, the Hartford Institute estimates that there are about three times more megachurches in the United States.

In the United States, the median weekly attendance is about 2,750, while the median weekly in world megachurches is nearly 6,000. One factor that could explain the larger sizes on other continents is a lack of alternatives for believers.

“Outside the United States, it takes a large amount of charisma and capital to create a megachurch,” said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute. In the United States, however, competition among megachurches is fierce because it is easier to establish such communities. “It is harder to be massive here in U.S.,” Thumma added, citing zoning laws, safety inspections, construction and property costs.

Nevertheless, he believes that smaller megachurches do not lag behind in an international comparison. “I was just at four megachurches within a few miles of each other in Atlanta, and each of these cater to a slightly different audience,” Thumma said.

The differences between U.S. and global megachurches can even be noticed on satellite images. Abroad, megachurches are often constructed in the centers of cities, where they are accessed by foot, subway, bus or cab. In the United States, community members usually access the churches by car. To provide the necessary parking lots, U.S. megachurches are often in suburban areas.

compare-megachurches2.jpg&w=480

Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/07/24/how-u-s-style-megachurches-are-taking-over-the-world-in-5-maps-and-charts/

SOCIO-ECONOMICS & For 50 years gap still widens between the haves & the have-nots #PewResearch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The gap between the have and the have-nots is still increasing. The largest growth over the past 50 years has been among the very lowest and the very highest socio-economic levels, indicating an increasing economic polarization. As John Perkins reminded us (The Healthy Church, Whitesel, 2014) our churches must be trained and equipped to bridge such gaps for the sake of the Good News of salvation with which we’ve been entrusted.

Most Americans Aren’t Middle Class Anymore” by Ben Casselman, ESPN Media, 12/10/15

…A new report from the Pew Research Center says the candidates may be right. For the first time since at least the 1960s, the majority of Americans aren’t in the middle class.
pew11.png?w=305&h=501

The Pew report looks at middle-income households, which it defines as those earning between two-thirds and double the median household income. In 2014, that meant a three-person household would have to earn between $42,000 and $126,000 to be considered middle-income.1 (Pew prefers the term “middle income” to “middle class” because class implies social standing as well as income.)

In 2015, just under 50 percent of American adults lived in middle-income households. (The chart above rounds the number to 50 percent.) That’s down from 54 percent in 2001 and 61 percent in 1971, the earliest year Pew looked at. Meanwhile, the share of income going to middle-income households has also fallen, from 62 percent in 1971 to 43 percent last year…

Read more at … http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/most-americans-arent-middle-class-anymore/

CULTURES & An Emerging List of Cultures (and citations from my books)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 1/29/15, excerpted from my books with page numbers and footnotes.


Ethnicity

Anglo (Change, 68)

Hispanic (Change, 68)

Latin American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

Hispanic American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

African American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

African American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

Native American (Change, 51; Cure 34)

Anglo American (Change, 51; Cure 34)


Generation

Generation Y (Change, 52; Cure 34)

Postmodern Generation X (Change, 63; Cure 34)

Leading Edge Generation X (Change, 53; Cure 34)

Builder (silent) generation (Change, 63,68; Cure 34)

Boomers (Change, 68; Cure 34)

Builders (Change, 52; Cure 34)


Socio-economic

Urban/poor (Cure 34)

Working class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)

Middle class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)

Capitalist (upper) class (Change, 51-52; Cure 34)


Affinity

Motorcycle riders (Change, 56; Cure 34)

NASCAR Nation (Change, 56; Cure 34)

Goths (Change, 57)

Cowboy churches (Cure, 34)

Emerging postmodern churches (Cure, 34)

Café Churches (Cure, 34)

Art churches (Cure, 34)

College Churches (Cure, 34)


Other

Ingrown and outgrown churches (Cure, 23)

General and demographic churches (Cure, 31-33)

Worship styles are varied (Change, 67)


Resources

Cure for the Common Church

Types of Cultures: Figure 2.2 pp. 34

Footnotes: Online in PDF Cure for Common Church http://www.wesleyan.org/cure

Preparing for Change Reaction

Chapter 3 (p. 49-57)

Footnotes: 1-13

  1. Here and throughout the book, I will use the customary congregational size designation as codified by Gary McIntosh in One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Bringing Out the Best in Any Size Church (Grand Rapids, Mich,: Revell, 1999), 17-19.
  2. The 2001 census in the United Kingdom created controversy when it listed the following ethnicities. These categories are reprinted there again, not to offend, but to demonstrate the broad range of possible designations and the difficulty in creating acceptable lists. Thus, the purpose of this list is simply to acquaint the reader with the immense variety (and potential controversy) of ethnic groupings.

White: British, White; Irish, White; Other

Mixed: White and black Caribbean, mixed; white and black African, Mixed; White and Asian, Mixed; Other

Asian: Indian, Asian; Sri Lankan, Asian; Pakistani, Asian; Bangladeshi, Asian; Other

Black or Black British: Black Caribbean, Black or Black British; Black African, Black or Black British; Other

Chinese or Other: Chinese, Chinese or Other; Other

  1. The World Factbook: CIA Edition (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books; rev. ed., 2006, CIA 2005 ed.).
  2. For the reader looking for a more in-depth analysis of socio-economic levels and their influence on behavior, consult David Jaffee’s books: Levels of Socioeconomic Development Theory (New York, Praeger, 1998) and Organization Theory (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001)
  3. Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, Studies in Social Discontinuity (Burlington, Mass.: Academic Press, 1980).
  4. Joseph V. Hickey and William E. Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology, 5th (Boston, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  5. See Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001).
  6. For an extensive analysis on the distinguishing characteristics of each generation see Whitesel and Hunter, A House Divided and Gary McIntosh One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2002).
  7. Bob Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations ( Nashville, Abingdon, 2006), x-xii.
  8. Mike Yankoski, Under the Overapass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America ( Colorado Springs, Multnomah, 2005)
  9. Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, x-xii, xxvii-xxxiii. For a detailed look at the postmodern Xer; fresh ideas for the church, as well as the differences between modernism and postmodernism, see Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations. x-xii, xxviii-xxxiii.
  10. Anonymous, Thunder Roads Magazine, vol. 5, no. 2 (2007): 5.
  11. For more on this innovative, growing evangelical church with the unlikely name, see the chapter dedicated to the church and what every church can learn in Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, (76-87).

Organix

Does not have an explicit list of cultures (especially like the ones in Change an Cure). However, it does discuss “mosaic churches” on pp. 71-72 (footnote 39- 41 – see below) and 77-81 (footnotes 59-63, also see below).

Pages 71-72

  1. For more on these types of churches, see “Types of Multiracial Churches” in George Yancey’s One Body, One spirit: Principles of Successful Multiracial Churches.
  2. See Whitesel, “The New Network Approach”
  3. Ibid.

Pages 77-81

  1. Bob Whitesel, “Communicating the Good News Across Cultural Divides” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008), 62-68.

60.Brian Schrag and Paul Neeley, eds., All the World Will Worship: Helps for Developing Indigenous Hymns (Duncanville, Tex.: EthnoDology Publications, 2007).

  1. C. Peter Wagner traces such blending through history as an “assimilationist model” that seeks “Anglo-conformity” in Our Kind of People: The Ethical Dimensions of Church Growth in America (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), 45-49.
  2. Such committees might include trustees, financial, staff-parish (HR), and so on.
  3. Sociologists, however, refer to this as the “new pluralism” or “structural pluralism.” See Milton Gordon, “Assimilation in America,” Daedalus 90, no. 2 (1961): 263-85.

64.George G. Hunter III, The Contagious Congregation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1979), 63.

  1. Mosaic is a term that has been applied to multiethnic churches largely due to the popularity of some megachurch models. See Erwin Raphael McManus, An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind (Colorado Springs: Group Publishing, 2001).
  2. The melting pot imagery can be traced to Israel Zangwill’s popular play The Melting-Pot (1908) where the protagonist cries, “Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians – into the crucible with you all! God is making the American.” Quoted in Winthrop S. Hudson, ed., Nationalism and Religion in America: Concepts of American Identity and Mission (New York: Harper and Row 1970), 127. C. Peter Wagner, who wrote his dissertation on models of assimilation and pluralism, defined new pluralism as “a model in which America is seen as a nation that maintains group diversity within national unity.” Our Kind of People, 50.
  3. Nathan Moynihan and Daniel Patrick Glazer, Beyond the melting Pot (Boston: MIT Press, 1984).
  4. Indiana University scholar Gerardo Marti has written extensively on Mosaic Church in Southern California (led by Erwin McManus) and believes that its multi-ethnicity is produced in part by “playing down” ethnic differences and uniting around evangelicalism. For more on Marti’s analysis, see A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).
  5. Wagner, Our Kind of People, 51.

Hashtags DMin

SOCIO-ECONOMICS & Are you in the global middle class? Try our income calculator #PewResearch

by RAKESH KOCHHAR, Pew Research, 7/16/15.

On a global scale, just 13% of the world’s population could be considered middle income in 2011, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the most recently available data. Most people in the world were either low income (56%) or poor (15%), while only 9% lived at an upper-middle-income standard and 7% were high income.

See where you fit.

Start by entering your household’s income in 2014 in the currency of your country (our study covers 111 countries). This could be in daily, weekly, monthly or annual terms. Ideally, it should be the total income of all earners in the household. Your best guess will do. Next, enter the number of people in your household, including yourself. (Pew Research Center does not store or share any of the information you enter.)

http://www.pewglobal.org/interactives/purchasing-power-calculator/iframe/ © PEW RESEARCH CENTER

The calculator estimates your equivalent income in 2011 and reports where you and others in your country might have stood in the global income distribution that year.

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/16/are-you-in-the-global-middle-class-find-out-with-our-income-calculator/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=4866d8ba86-July_15_2015_weekly_newsletter7_15_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-4866d8ba86-399907237

DIVERSITY & Best Practices (plus exercises) for Growing a Multiethnic Church from 30+ Years of Consulting Churches.

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/16/15.

CHAPTER 4: The Church as a mosaic … Exercises for Cultural Diversity

We do not want the westernization of the universal Church. On the other hand we don’t want the ecumenical cooks to throw all the cultural traditions on which they can lay their hands into one bowl and stir them to a hash of indeterminate colour. – John V. Taylor, statesman, Africanist and Bishop of Winchester [i]

A Church of Many Colors (and Multiple Cultures)

Culture. Though the term multiethnic church is often used today, researchers prefer the term “multicultural,” because culture is a more accurate way to describe people who share similar behaviors, ideas, fashion, literature, music, etc. Christian anthropologist Paul Hiebert defined culture as people who join together because of “shared patterns of behavior, ideas and products.”[ii]

  • Behaviors are the way we act,
  • Ideas are the way we think, and
  • Products are the things we create such as fashion, literature, music, etc.

Therefore, people of a culture can tell who is in their group and who is out of their group by the way they talk, the way they think and the way they act.

Ethnicity. Ethnicity is a type of culture, often based on biological connections to a geographic area of origin, such as Sri Lankans (from the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka), Yemenis (from the Republic of Yemen) or Chinese (from the People’s Republic of China). But the term ethnicity is very imprecise, because there may be dozens of different ethnic groups that hail from the same area of origin (and thus the term ethnicity is not without controversy[iii]). For instance, China has 50+ recognized ethnic groups but they all originate from the same country.[iv] While all are Chinese, so too are all 50+ different cultures.[v] Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture is usually preferred.

Multicultural or Multiethnic Church? So, what should we call a church that reaches multiple groups of people? And what should we call a neighborhood that has Guatemalan Hispanics, Mexican Hispanics, aging Lutherans and a growing base of young Anglo professional? The accurate answer is a multicultural neighborhood. And, such a mosaic of cultures should give rise to a multicultural church.

Below are examples of groups that have been identified as justifiable cultures:

Affinity cultures (these are cultures that are based upon a shared fondness or affinity):

  • Motorcycle riders
  • Country music fans
  • The NASCAR nation
  • Heavy metal music fans
  • Contemporary Christian music fans
  • Surfers

Ethnic cultures:

  • Latin American,
  • Hispanic American
  • African American,
  • Asian American
  • Native American, etc..

Socio-economic cultures[vi]

  • Upper Socio-economic Level[vii]
  • Upper Middle socio-economic Level[viii]
  • Lower Middle Socio-economic Level[ix]
  • Lower Working Socio-economic Level[x]
  • Lower Socio-economic Level[xi]

Generational cultures:[xii]

  • Builder[xiii] (or the Silent[xiv] or Greatest[xv]) Generation, b. 1945 and before
  • Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
  • Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
  • Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
  • Generation Y, b. 1984-2002

Therefore, to help our churches grow in the most ways possible while recognizing the broadest variety of cultures, it is good to speak of multicultural churches. These are churches where people from several cultures (e.g. ethnic, affinity, socio-economic, etc.) learn to work together in one church.

Avoiding the Creator Complex

The Creator Complex. Sociologists have long known that people of a dominant culture will try, sometimes even subconsciously, to make over people from an emerging culture into their own image.[xvi] One missiologist called this the “creator complex” and said, “Deep in the heart of man, even in missionaries, lurks that ‘creator complex’ by which he delights in making other people over in his own image.”[xvii] And so, when humans encounter different customs, the creator complex in us wants us to view their customs as abnormal and change them to be more in keeping with our traditions.[xviii]

Cultural Filters and Firewalls. The creator complex arises because it seems easier and quicker to assimilate a culture and make it look like us, than to try and sift out any impurities that run counter to the message of Christ. But in the words of missiologist Charles Kraft, every culture is “corrupt, but convertible.”[xix] To convert any culture thus entails sifting out elements that run counter to Christ’s Good News while retaining elements that affirm it. Eddie Gibbs calls this “sifting a culture,” drawing from the image of a colander or strainer that sifts out impurities in food.[xx] But, purifying processes in factories instead of in the kitchen may today rob this metaphor of some familiarity. Thus, a more contemporary idiom may be helpful.

Terms such as “firewall” and “spam filter” are broadly used today to describe how computer networks sift out malicious computer viruses and unwelcomed (i.e. spam) email. A cultural filter and firewall may serve as a better image to depict a community of faith that is analyzing a culture, noting which elements run counter to the teachings of Christ, and openly filtering out perverse elements.

A Goal: Spiritual and Cultural Reconciliation

So what then is the goal for our filtering of cultures? Let us return to Charles Kraft’s reminder, that every culture is “corrupt, but convertible.” Our purpose thus becomes to assist God in His quest to convert or transform a culture. Such transformation begins by reconnecting people to their loving heavenly father. This has been called the ministry of reconciliation, which Paul described this way:

So we try to persuade people, since we know what it means to fear the Lord. … So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:11, 17-18)

But John Perkins suggested that today’s divided world needs churches that will foster both spiritual reconciliation and physical reconciliation. This would fulfill Jesus’ prayer that His children would be united as the Father and Son are united (John 17:20). To describe this goal, Perkins employed 3 Rs:

  • Redistribution (sharing money from wealthier cultures with struggling cultures),
  • Relocation (relocating ministry to needy areas) and
  • Reconciliation (physical and spiritual reconciliation, first between humans and their heavenly Father, and then between humans).

And, among today’s emerging generations I am seeing young people more attune to this need for reconciliation between people of different cultures. Today’s young people have been born into a very divided world of politics, economics and cultural clashes. Yet, across the nation I have observed churches lead by these young leaders that refuse to limit themselves to just spiritual reconciliation, but also see maturity in Christ as advancing cultural reconciliation. I agree with Brenda Salter McNeil who sees the emergence of a reconciliation generation, who in addition to a spiritual reconciliation, sees “a host of people from various tribes, nations, and ethnicities who are Kingdom people called to do the work of racial reconciliation.”[xxi]

And so, to bring about both spiritual and cultural reconciliation, we need churches where people of differing cultures are not only reconnecting with their heavenly Father, but also who reconnecting with one another. A multicultural church may provide the best locale. Let’s look at five types of multicultural churches to discover which type might be right for your church…

Exercises To Create Multi-cultural Churches

Review Your Church’ Multicultural History (INTIMACY):

Exercise Plan. Look at the history of your church (as far back as you can go, but not over 40 years). Describe times when your church has been one of the following models:

  • Multicultural Alliance Church
  • Multicultural Partnership Church
  • Multicultural Mother-Daughter Church
  • Multicultural Blended Church
  • Cultural Assimilation Church

Based on this historical analysis and knowing what you know about your community, what will you do to help your church embrace a healthy model or hybrid model for the future?

Variations. Apply this exercise to a ministry. Ministry programs are often organized similar to a small church.

Principles. Looking at how your organization or ministry has experienced multiculturalism in the past can help you avoid missteps in the future.

Review the Bible’s Multi-cultural History (INTIMACY):

Exercise Plan. Conduct a study on the church in the Book of Acts and explain when and why it was one of the following types of churches:

  • Multicultural Alliance Church
  • Multicultural Partnership Church
  • Multicultural Mother-Daughter Church
  • Multicultural Blended Church
  • Cultural Assimilation Church

Variations. Other books of the Bible lend themselves readily to this exercise, including Luke, Romans, James, 2 Corinthians, and even Revelation.  Church history is another good source upon which to apply this exercise, including the Pre-Constantinian period, the Reformation, the rise of Holiness Movement, the Pentecostal awakening, the 1970s Jesus Movement and today’s rise of evangelical Christianity.

Principles. This biblical study imparts a sense of God’s joy in cultural variety. At the same time, it reminds us that though elements in every culture are corrupt, God sees all cultures as convertible.”[xxii]

Review Your Personal Multi-cultural History (INTIMACY):

Exercise Plan. Write down a paragraph about each of the following questions.

  1. What is your cultural background? And, how closely do you adhere to cultural traditions?
  2. Do you have personal traditions? And, how closely do you adhere to those personal traditions?
  3. Knowing this, what kind of church would be the ideal Christian fellowship for you?

 Variations.  You can also:

  1. Ask someone who is a friend but of a different culture to answer these same questions and share their answers (as appropriate) with you.
  2. Describe the ideal church that would meet both of your cultural preferences.

Principles. This exercises helps people see how their personal cultural preferences affect what they want in a church experience and community. And, this exercise reminds us that with today’s blended society and families, a multicultural church not only creates intercultural understanding, but also brings together friends and families.

(Excerpted with permission from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013 … you can download the chapter here: 

Endnotes:

[i] John V. Taylor, “Cultural Ecumenism,” Church Missionary Society Newsletter, Nov. 1974, p. 3, see also John V. Taylor, The Theological Basis of Interfaith Dialogue, in Faith Meets Faith, ed. Gerald M. Anderson and Thomas F. Stansky, Mission Trends, no. 5 (New York: Paulist Press, 1981), pp. 93ff.

[ii] Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1976), p. 25.

[iii] The United Kingdom created controversy when its 2001 census divided ethnicity into the following; White: British, White: Irish, White: Other; Mixed: White and Black Caribbean, Mixed: White and Black African, Mixed: White and Asian, Mixed: Other; Asian: Indian, Asian: Sri Lankan, Asian: Pakistani, Asian: Bangladeshi, Asian: Other; Black or Black British: Black Caribbean, Black or Black British: Black African, Black or Black British: Other, Chinese or Other: Chinese, Chinese or Other: and Other. These designations were still too imprecise for many British residents.

[iv] The World Factbook: CIA Edition (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books; Rev Ed, 2006, CIA 2005 Edition).

[v] The term ethnicity, while unwieldy and imprecise, is still employed by church leadership writers to describe various cultural heritages, when the more precise term culture would be more appropriate, c.f. Kathleen Graces-Foley, Crossing the Ethnic Divide: The Multiethnic Church on a Mission (XXX), Mark DeYmaz, Building a Healthy Multiethnic Church (XXX), Gary McIntosh, Being the Church in a Multi-Ethnic Community: Why It Matters and How It Works (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012).

[vi] Joseph V. Hickey and William E. Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology (Boston, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon, 5th ed. 2004).

[vii] They are approximately 1-5% of the No. American population and are characterized by power over economic, business and political organizations and institutions.

[viii] They represent approximately 15% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers who hold graduate degrees, possessing a significant degree of flexibility and autonomy in their work.

[ix] They are approximately 33% of the North American population and are usually white-collar workers with some college education. Subsequently, they have a degree of flexibility and autonomy at work, though not as much as those of the Upper Middle Socio-economic strata.

[x] They are approximately 30% of the North American population). Both white- and blue-collar workers, their jobs are characterized by minimum job security, inadequate pay and worries about losing health insurance.

[xi] They represent 15% of the North American population and often go through cycles of part-time and full-time jobs. Many times they must work more than one job to provide for their needs.

[xii] For a chart depicting the different age ranges for each generation see Bob Whitesel Preparing the Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), p 53.

[xiii] Gary McIntosh, One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002] and Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000).

[xiv] This generation has been labeled various ways, for instance as the “silent generation” by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of American’s Future, 1954-2069 (New York: Quill, 1992).

[xv] They are labeled the “greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 2004).

[xvi] Robert Jenson, “White Privilege Shapes the U.S.,” White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism (New York: Worth Publishers, 2002), p. 103-106

[xvii] C. Peter Wagner, Frontiers in Missionary Strategy, (XXX) p. 96

[xviii] Regardless of the label, this practice often comes from veiled if not subconscious, desires to make over people to look like us. Jesus faced a similar creator complex where he jousted with the Pharisees and Sadducees who tried to make people over in their particular dress, social laws, etc. Jesus criticized them for their creator complex by saying:

  • “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” ( 23:2-4)
  • “You do away with God’s word in favor of the rules handed down to you, which you pass on to others” (Mark 7:13).
  • Jesus said, “How terrible for you legal experts too! You load people down with impossible burdens and you refuse to lift a single finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)

[xix] Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

[xx] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, 120.

[xxi] Quoted by Kathleen Garces-Foley, Crossing the Ethnic Divide: The Multiethnic Church on a Mission (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 64.

[xxii] Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective(Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

PLANTING & Urban Church P̶l̶a̶n̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ Plantations #ChristenCleveland

Urban Church P̶l̶a̶n̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ Plantations by Christen Cleveland.

If you are preparing to do [urban ministry] and you’ve never had a non-white mentor, you are not an [urban minister], you are a colonialist. – adapted from Soong-chan Rah[i]

Last week I had the honor of meeting with a group of urban pastors who’ve devoted their lives to serving Buffalo, NY. While discussing the challenges they encountered while doing urban ministry in a predominantly non-white, socio-economically oppressed[ii] city, the black, Hispanic and Asian pastors with whom I met raised a familiar issue, one that I’ve heard and witnessed all over the country. Same story, different city.

Buffalo, like many other urban centers, has faced a shrinking population and declining business interest for decades[iii].

But things rapidly changed in December 2013, when NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan in which he pledged to invest $1 billion in Buffalo, with the goal of transforming the beleaguered city into a high-tech center. Not surprisingly, suburban folks who’ve long abandoned the city are suddenly eager to return and participate in (cash in on?) the urban renaissance.

This doesn’t surprise me one bit. This is how capitalism works in the U.S. empire.

WHEN THE CHURCH WORKS LIKE THE EMPIRE

The urban pastors reported that, in the wake of Governor Cuomo’s announcement, many predominantly white, wealthy suburban churches in the area have expressed renewed interest in Buffalo’s urban center. But rather than connecting with the urban pastors who have been doing ministry among the oppressed in Buffalo for years, and looking for ways to support the indigenous leaders who are already in place, they have simply begun making plans to expand their suburban ministry empires into the urban center. In other words, they’re venturing out into the world of urban church planting…

Read more at … http://www.christenacleveland.com/blogarchive/2014/03/urban-church-plantations?rq=plantations