NEED-MEETING & How to design outreach that is founded upon meeting the needs of those who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ.

Excerpted from Bob Whitesel, “Waypoint 16: No Awareness of a Supreme Being” Waypoint 15: Awareness of a Supreme Being, No knowledge of the Good News” and “Waypoint 14: Initial Awareness of the Good News” in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (2010).

Spiritual Waypoints [cropped top 1:3 65kb]

Waypoint 15

Action 15:1: Research Needs

… How can a church gather first-hand information on the needs of its community?  Let us look at three actions that can produce primary research.

Action A: Live Among Them.  To ascertain community needs it helps to live among them, eating where they eat and shopping where they shop.  In fact, one of 10 major factors in halting church growth is when leaders become distanced from their constituency.   If this occurs church leaders will be only guessing at community needs.

Action B: Meet With Them in Group Settings.  Informal gatherings, focus groups and Town Hall meetings are ways to connect with community residents. Often when people are interviewed one-on-one, they hold back their feelings.  Research into group dynamics tells us that people will often expound more deeply … and expressively in groups.  If the purpose is to ascertain needs, then understanding can be enhanced by group intensity.  However, churches must be very careful to only solicit input and not to politic for the church’s viewpoint.  To do the later will result in immediate distancing and suspicion.  Guidelines for hosting effective focus groups are described in a previous book.

Action C: Don’t Clone Another Church’s Ministry.  Unless necessary, don’t merely reduplicate ministry that other churches are utilizing.  To do so will rob you of a locally developed and contextualized ministry.  However, if your church is too small it can partner to expand its ministry.  Look for other churches that are reaching out at adjacent waypoints and partner with them.  Success often depends upon doctrinal and historical factors.  But, if the needs of a community can be met by collaborating with another ministry, then pursue this option.

Action 15:2: Design Your Ministry from the Bottom Up

As a consultant with church clients of all sizes, I have found that the most helpful ministries are those that emerge from a collaborative effort between church leaders and needy residents.  There are two elements for designing a contextualized ministry.

Action A: Inclusion.  Include non-church goers in the planning and design of your ministry.  <any will reject this offer because they are not yet ready to volunteer, even advice. But those who are emerging out of lower need stages may be entering the Belongingness and Love level.  They will want thus to contribute, and at least give their thoughts.  Yet, a natural inclination of Christian leaders is to reject such offers, feeling that the emerging person needs more time to grow or to gain more secondary knowledge (e.g. book knowledge, theological knowledge or doctrinal knowledge).  But, once a traveler has had their physiological needs and safely needs met, they must be allowed to contribute, even minimally, to the ministry of a faith community.  Churches can help wayfarers by inviting them to participate in the ministry planning process, and this invitation must be extended much earlier and more earnestly that most churches realize.

Action B: Allocate Sufficient Money.  As noted in the first two chapters, churches customarily err on the side of either the Cultural Mandate (social action) or the Evangelistic Mandate. It was also shown that God’s intention for His church is a more holistic approach where a church ministers at many waypoints, rather than just in a narrow range.  Narrow ministry becomes entrenched because churches tend to budget based upon history, rather than forecasts.  A church that understands it should reach out at early waypoints will also understand that it must allocate sufficient funds to do so.  Churches must evaluate what percentages of its budgets are going to support the Evangelistic Mandate and the Cultural Mandate.  And, a plan can be brought about to create a balance, where roughly 50 percent of a church’s budget goes to support the Cultural Mandate and 50 percent goes to support the Evangelistic Mandate.  Regardless of intentions, these mandates will never be brought into parity until finances are allocated with equivalence.

Action 15:3: Connect Your Ministry to the Community.

For a community established to communicate good news, communication is one the weakest skills in most churches. Many congregations design fantastic ministries only to have them marginally attended because residents do not know they are available.  The following are three basic actions for successfully telling the community about ministries that can meet their needs.

Action A: Have a Trial-run. A church should initiate a trial-run with little initial fanfare. This will give the church an opportunity to try out the ministry without being deluged by community needs. To communicate that you are hosting a test-run, use word-of-mouth communication.

  Action B: Use Indigenous Communication Channels.  Church leaders often do not understand how community residents communicate.  In one church’s community, fliers in self-serve laundromats communicated better than online advertising (few needy residents had regular or easy access to the Internet).  Each community has developed different communication channels.  If a church invites residents to participate in the planning process, then residents can share the veiled yet influential ways that news travels in their community.

Action C: Be a Good-doer, not a Do-gooder.  The difference between a do-gooder and a good-doer was revealed to me ten years ago.  Dan was auditioning to be the drummer in a worship team I led.  Though he was more than suitable for the task, I was confused because he looked familiar.  “You visited me last Christmas,” Dan responded noticing my bewilderment.  “Brought a lot of nice things for the kids.”  Each year our church visited needy residents, giving them gifts and singing carols. “You were nice enough to come,” Dan would say to me later.  Dan and I had become friends, and now our team was planning to visit needy households.  “You go, I won’t,” Dan stated.  “I want to be a good-doer, not a do-gooder.”  Further conversations revealed with Dan saw a difference between “do-gooders” and “good-doers.”  On the one hand, Dan saw do-gooders as people who go around doing limited and inconsistent good deeds.  He perceived that they were doing good on a limited scale to relieve their conscience.  Thus their good deeds were perceived as self-serving, insincere and limited.  A church that brings food a couple times a year to a needy family does little to minister to their long-term physiological needs or safety needs.  On the other hand, Dan saw “good-doers” as those who do good in a meaningful, relevant and ongoing manner.  And, he was right.  In hindsight I had been striving to do good, not trying to do good better.  Therefore, a church should connect with its community by offering ongoing ministry and not just holiday help.

Action 15:4: Evaluate the Results

Donald McGavran called the church’s aversion to analysis the “universal fog” that blinds the church to her mission and effectiveness.  And, McGavran preferred the term “effective evangelism” as the best way to describe what we should be measuring.  The term “effective evangelism” has much to commend it.  Evangelism, as we noted in Chapter 1, means “Good News” or a heralding of “unexpected joy.” Thus, if we are embarking as fellow travelers and guides on this journey of Good News, shouldn’t we want to travel that route more effectively?  And if so, how do we measure progress?

Some mistakenly perceive that counting attendance is the best way to evaluate effectiveness. Yet, there are four types of church growth mentioned in the Bible, and growth in attendance is cited as God’s task (and not the job of the church).  In two previous books I have looked at measuring these in detail, but let’s briefly examine four types of church growth and a Church Growth Metric that can measure each.

The Context: Acts 2:42-47.  Here we find Luke’s description of the church’s growth that followed Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost.  Luke describes four types of growth.

Growth A: Growth in Maturity.  In verse 42 Luke notes that the followers were growing in a passion for the apostle’s teaching, fellowship and prayer.  Our first metric is to ascertain if, as a result of our need-based ministry, wayfarers are increasing in their participation in Bible study, fellowship and/or the practice of prayer.  One way to measure this is to measure if people are becoming increasingly involved in study groups, fellowship networks (i.e. informal small groups) and/or joining with others for prayer.  If these numbers are calculated as a percentage of overall attendance, growth in maturity may be estimated.

Growth B: Growth in Unity.  Verses 44-45 describe how the church grew in unity and trust.  This is much harder to measure, for it requires subjective evaluation. But, if people open up, much like Doug did about “do-gooders” then these and similar actions can indicate that ministry is creating deeper and more honest levels of communication.  Unity often results from deepening levels of communication.

Growth C: Growth in Favor in the Community.  Luke emphases that the church was increasingly “enjoying the favor of all the people.”  Here is a metric often overlooked, which asks: is the community increasingly appreciative of the ministry the church is offering?  Asking community residents for regular feedback is a way to accomplish this.  One church crafted an online survey and gave away coupons for free coffee at a coffee shop for those that completed the survey. This survey was not designed to augment the church database, but was used only to ascertain if community residents felt the church was doing-good better.  Another church regularly polled socially sensitive community residents such as school principals, public leaders, community organizers, business-people, etc. about how effective the church was in meeting community needs.  The results were that these churches could gauge effective ministry by observing changes in community appreciation.

Growth D: Growth in More Christians.  Luke concludes this paragraph about early church growth by reminding his readers that “…the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Luke was pointing out that because it was a supernatural intersection, it was God’s task to bring people to and through the experience of salvation.  But in the preceding verses Luke emphasized that it was the church’s role to grow people in the other three types of church growth: maturity, unity and favor in the community.

Church Growth Metrics remind us that we are engaged in a task that is not about large cadres of attendees, but about the inner growth of God’s creation into 1) a deepening relationship with Him, 2) more unity among His children, and 3) in such a way that a watching world rejoices…

Action 14:2: The Good News That God Cares

A church also must understand and articulate a theology regarding God’s concern for His creation, if its congregants are going to help people move beyond Waypoint 14.  Yet, a theology of creation must be a holistic theology and include not just God’s creative activity but also humankind’s woeful response. For in response to God’s gracious creation of a paradise on earth, humans chose a selfish route disobeying God’s directives and forfeiting paradise.  Thought there are many elements to a theology of creation, let us look at five points that bear upon our current conversation.

Point 1:  Injustice, poverty, etc. are the result of human activity, God does not desire it for his creation.  When Adam and Eve forfeited the paradise of Eden, they embarked upon a journey of selfish arrogance. The Scriptures tell us their journey led to self-centeredness, injustice and greed (Genesis 3-5). Ron Sider reminds us that this disappoints God, stating “the Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that God is at work in history casting down the rich and exalting the poor because frequently the rich are wealthy precisely because then have oppressed the poor or have neglected to aid the needy.”

Point 2:  This injustice was not always so.  God provided Adam and Eve an Eden of goodness and wholeness in every aspect of their life.  Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann pointed out that the Hebrew word shalom comes closest to describing this “wholeness in every are of life, where God, creature, and creation enjoy harmonious relationships.”  God had warned that disobeying him would result in a  loss of this life of shalom (Genesis 2:15-17).  But, Adam and Eve picked selfish choices putting to an end this world of  balance, bless … shalom (Genesis 3).

Point 3:  Humankind was put in charge of caring (i.e. stewardship) for God’s creation.  Yet early on in the Genesis story, before the fall of humankind from the era of shalom, God had given humankind a task, to take care of the garden and to be a steward of it (Genesis 1:26-30).  This requires Christians, to be good stewards of God’s earth and life upon it.

Point 4:  Humankind was put in charge of caring (i.e. stewardship) for the needy, oppressed and disfranchised.  Proverbs 19:17 says “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Judah was punished in part because of her mistreatment of the poor, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.  What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? (Isaiah 10:1-3).  King David said, “I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (Psalm 140:12).    And, Howard Snyder reminds us that “God especially has compassion on the poor, and his acts in history confirm this.”

Point 5: God requires his people to sacrifice for this task.  Adam and Eve were put in charge of caring and cultivating the garden (Genesis 1:26-30), and this required sacrificing their own will to taste the forbidden fruit.  From this beginning, serving a loving, creative God required self-sacrifice.  At this sacrifice, Adam and Eve failed.  In doing so they condemned their children and their children’s children to laborious toil, hostility, repression and ultimately death (Genesis 3:16-24). Still God’s desire is that His children serve and sacrifice for others.  Jesus stated, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors…. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).   This sacrifice for others is exemplified in the sacrificial actions of Godly men and women in the Bible, ultimately culminating in the sacrifice of Jesus for humankind’s disobedience.

When a congregation grasps the five points above, wayfarers will understand that evil, oppression and the like are not God’s doing, but human doing.  And wayfarers such as James can see that God wants Christians to help the oppressed, disenfranchised and neglected.  The church must help travelers at Waypoint 14 see the Good News is that “…the sinfulness of the social order offends thoughtful Christians everywhere.”

Read more by downloading the chapter here (but remember, if you enjoy the input please purchase a copy to support the publisher and the author): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 16, 15, 14

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

TRENDS & Share of Americans With No Religious Affiliation Is Rising Significantly, New Data Shows

by David Crary, Time Magazine, 10/17/19.

The portion of Americans with no religious affiliation is rising significantly, in tandem with a sharp drop in the percentage that identifies as Christians, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

Based on telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, Pew said Thursday that 65% of American adults now describe themselves as Christian, down from 77% in 2009. Meanwhile, the portion that describes their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

Both Protestant and Roman Catholic ranks are losing population share, according to Pew. It said 43% of U.S. adults identify as Protestants, down from 51% in 2009, while 20% are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.

Pew says all categories of the religiously unaffiliated population – often referred to as the “nones” grew in magnitude. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up from 2% in 2009; agnostics account for 5%, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009.

Read more at … https://time.com/5704040/american-religious-affiliations-decreasing/

CHURCH HISTORY & Christian Smith explains what happened in the 1990s that led to a surge in the “nones” – the religiously unaffiliated.

by

In the early 1990s, the historical tether between American identity and faith snapped. Religious non-affiliation in the U.S. started to rise—and rise, and rise. By the early 2000s, the share of Americans who said they didn’t associate with any established religion (also known as “nones”) had doubled. By the 2010s, this grab bag of atheists, agnostics, and spiritual dabblers had tripled in size.

Christian Smith, a sociology and religion professor at the University of Notre Dame, America’s nonreligious lurch has mostly been the result of three historical events: the association of the Republican Party with the Christian right, the end of the Cold War, and 9/11.

This story begins with the rise of the religious right in the 1970s. Alarmed by the spread of secular culture—including but not limited to the sexual revolution, the Roe v. Wade decision, the nationalization of no-fault divorce laws, and Bob Jones University losing its tax-exempt status over its ban on interracial dating—Christians became more politically active. The GOP welcomed them with open arms…

The marriage between the religious and political right delivered Reagan, Bush, and countless state and local victories. But it disgusted liberal Democrats, especially those with weak connections to the Church. It also shocked the conscience of moderates, who preferred a wide berth between their faith and their politics. Smith said it’s possible that young liberals and loosely affiliated Christians first registered their aversion to the Christian right in the early 1990s, after a decade of observing its powerful role in conservative politics.

Second, it may have felt unpatriotic to confess one’s ambivalence toward God while the U.S. was locked in a geopolitical showdown with a godless Evil Empire. In 1991, however, the Cold War ended. As the U.S.S.R. dissolved, so did atheism’s association with America’s nemesis. After that, “nones” could be forthright about their religious indifference, without worrying that it made them sound like Soviet apologists.

Third, America’s next geopolitical foe wasn’t a godless state. It was a God-fearing, stateless movement: radical Islamic terrorism. A series of bombings and attempted bombings in the 1990s by fundamentalist organizations such as al-Qaeda culminated in the 9/11 attacks. It would be a terrible oversimplification to suggest that the fall of the Twin Towers encouraged millions to leave their church, Smith said. But over time, al-Qaeda became a useful referent for atheists who wanted to argue that all religions were inherently destructive.

Read more at … https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/atheism-fastest-growing-religion-us/598843/

SHARING FAITH & This can fix churchgoers ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith: #Waypoint5, #Waypoint6 & #Waypoint7 …

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Growing in faith for most is a journey. And, the important parts of that journey may be when a person begins to perceive the uniqueness and expectations of Jesus’ Good News.

Customarily it is His followers (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 2 Peter 3:9, Luke 8:39) who should be prepared to share His Good News with their friends, as Peter reminds us:

Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. 1 Peter 3:15-18

To help His followers understand each elements of faith, I dedicated three chapters in my book Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey.

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Spiritual Waypoints [104KB]

Those chapters can be accessed and read online here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/spritual-waypoints-how-to-help-people-at-waypoints-10-9-8-7-spiritual-transformation/

Or download the chapter here (and be sure to support the publisher and the author by purchasing a copy if you enjoy it): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 &amp; 7

Below is an article that reminds us that being able to clearly and helpfully share our faith is critical.

Anglicans churchgoers have ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith

Christian Today staff writer

… The report from the Church’s Evangelism Task Group and Evangelism and Discipleship Team highlights research showing that while 70 per cent of churchgoers could think of someone they could invite to church, between 85 and 90 per cent of these said they had no intention of doing so.

‘The problem was not the worshipper’s local church but the main issue the research highlighted was a total lack of confidence in talking about faith at all and with anyone,’ the report says.

However, it says, ‘small behavioural changes’ from the 1 million Anglican churchgoers could make a huge difference.

‘If one additional person in 50 from our regular attenders invited someone to a church event and subsequently they started attending it would totally reverse our present decline. Nationally the church would grow by 16,000 people per year, offsetting the current net loss of 14,000,’ the report argues.

It commends the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative and calls for the development of a ‘culture of invitation’ across dioceses with a view to encouraging churchgoers to invite people to events. It also calls for 1,000 new evangelists to be engaged by 2025, saying: ‘we believe having more evangelists in dioceses and local churches encourages more of the million to do their part in witnessing confidently in their lives’.

Read more at … https://www.christiantoday.com/article/anglicans-churchgoers-have-total-lack-of-confidence-in-speaking-about-faith/131645.htm

CONVERSION & Why for Snyder, Stott, de Wall, McLaren, Newbigin, etc. it is metaphors that best capture the sense of a transformative journey & the word: evangelism

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2010.

“Bridge Building Requires a Plan”

A helpful metaphor toward depicting this planned and purposeful process, is that such bridge building can be thought of as a journey. A journey reminds us that outreach is a bridge-building process, requiring time, patience, mapping and perseverance.

Sociologists James Engle and Wilbert Norton depicted this journey as a processes of deepening communication. They noted that it took place over time with a variety of adaptations, stating “Jesus and His followers … always began with a keen understand of the audience and then adapted the message to the other person without compromising God’s Word. The pattern they followed is as pertinent today as was two thousand years ago”[i]

Richard Peace, professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation at Fuller Seminary, looked carefully at the 12 disciples in the New Testament and concluded that a step-by-step process unfolds through which the disciples eventually have a transforming experience.[ii] Peace calls this “process evangelism,” summing up,

“The Twelve came to faith over time via a series of incidents and encounters with, and experiences of, Jesus. Each such event assisted them to move from their initial assumptions about Jesus to a radically new understanding of who he actually was. In his Gospel, Mark invites his readers to make this same pilgrimage of discovery.”[iii]

Esther de Wall, in The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination notes that the Christian life has always been viewed as a journey, stating,

“Life seen as a journey, an ascent, a pilgrimage, a road, is an idea as old as man himself. One of the earliest titles for Christians at the time of the Acts was “the people of the way’. We see the individual Christian as a pilgrim on earth having here no abiding city; we speak of the Church, particularly since Vatican II, as a pilgrim church. But we cannot think of life as a journey without accepting that is must involve change and growth.”[iv]

Lesslie Newbigin sums this up nicely, saying that “as a human race we are on a journey and we need to know the road. It is not true that all roads lead to the top of the same mountain. There are roads which lead over the precipice. In Christ we have been shown the road … God has given us the route we must follow and the goal to which we must press forward.”[v] Thus, the journey metaphor accommodates the imagery of planned, deliberate and unfolding bridge-building across cultural chasms.

“The Holism of a Journey”

A journey also denotes a flexible progression with varying scenarios, milestones, interruptions and course corrections. The journey metaphor conjures up the image of strenuous assents, downhill traces, varying impediments and careful mapping. Maps, sextants, and modern GPS devices attest to the desire of a traveler to pinpoint where she or he may be on their journey. Thus, the use of the journey metaphor accentuates the importance of understanding place in relation to process. Wilbert Shenk emphasized that the “flaw” with most thinking about outreach is that the “parts rather than the whole” are emphasized.[vi]

The metaphor of a journey can help overcome this flaw, by emphasizing the totality of the journey. In three separate books, Ryan Bolger,[vii] Eddie Gibbs,[viii] and this author[ix] have noted that younger generations seek holistic understandings of evangelism that do not separate the Great Commission (to make disciples of all people) from the Great Commandment (to love one’s neighbor as oneself). Gibbs and Bolger suggest this be viewed as “different sides of the same coin”[x] which is an attractive metaphor because only one substance is involved. But, coin imagery suggests that the coin at some point must be flipped over, and a new emphasis begins. The coin imagery in this author’s mind, unfortunately separates into two phases the inseparable progression of a common and continual journey.

Author Bryan McLaren appropriates the term “story” to describe this process, noting,

If you ask me about the gospel, I’ll tell you as well as I can, the story of Jesus, the story leading up to Jesus, the story of what Jesus said and did, the story of what happened as a result, or what has been happening more recently today even. I’ll invite you to become part of that story, challenging you to change your whole way of thinking (to repent) in light of it, in light of him. Yes, I’ll want you to learn about God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, and about the gift of salvation.”[xi]

This is a more attractive metaphor. But still, a story is static, inflexible and even when modernized … historically captive. It carries none of the dynamic, flexible and indigenous attributes of the varying obstacles, excursions, accompaniments and progressions encountered on a journey. Thus, the imagery of a journey better highlights continuity, commonality and elasticity. And, a journey is often a communal undertaking, and thus the journey metaphor accommodates the idea of accompaniment, companionship and inter-reliance.

“A Journey of Breaking and Refreshing News”

The term evangelism is maligned today, often associated with churches that coerce or force conversion in a self-seeking or exploitive manner. Yet Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourn Magazine, argues that a response to bad religion, should be better religion.[xii] In similar fashion, the argument could be made that our response to bad evangelism should be better evangelism.

Such disparagement was not always the case. The term evangelism originally signified breaking and revitalizing news. Evangelism is an English translation of the Greek work euangelion (Matthew 24:14), which described the “good news” that Christ and His followers personified and preached.[xiii] Customarily an optimistic message brought by a courier, euangelion was a combination of the Greek words “good” (eu) and “messenger” “angel” or “herald” (angelion). For early hearers “to evangelize” or “to bring Good News” carried the connotation of great responsibility, fantastic insights with more news to follow. Alan Richardson says, “for those who thus receive it the gospel is always ‘new’, breaking in freshly upon them and convincing them afresh…”[xiv]

Because evangelism is a process of bringing this refreshing and breaking news, it is logical that not all of that news could be communicated at one hearing. Because the news we bear is both deep and broad, it requires a journey of dialogue. And as with any subject, this news is best understood when the learning starts with the basics and the moves into more complex and complicated themes.

“Is the Joy in the Trekking, Or In the Destination?”

Some readers may wonder if merely heading out on this journey of Good News might be sufficiently rewarding, feeling that the recompense is in the going. Robert Lewis Stevenson once famously intoned, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”[xv] While a trek by itself can be a rewarding experience, the journey of which we speak is comprised, as Doug and I discovered, of life changing renovations and eternal destinations. Such consequence indicates that simply enjoying the journey along an adventuresome route is not sufficient.

John Stott reminds us that there are spiritual triumphs on this journey and their importance dwarfs even the excitement of the trek., writing:

Evangelism relates to people’s eternal destiny, and in brining them Good News of salvation, Christians are doing what nobody else can do. Seldom if ever should we have to choose between satisfying physical huger and spiritual hunger, or between healing bodies and saving souls, since an authentic love for our neighbor will lead us to serve him or her as a whole person. Nevertheless, if we must choose, then we have to say that the supreme and ultimate need of humankind is the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and that therefore a person’s eternal, spiritual salvation is of greater importance than his or her temporal and material well being.[xvi]

Howard Snyder, in his book The Community of the King, agrees with Stott, stating that,

Evangelism is the first priority of the Church’s ministry in the world (italics Snyder). This is true for several reason: the clear biblical mandate for evangelism; the centrality and necessity of personal conversion in God’s plan; the reality of judgment; the fact that changed persons are necessary to change society; the fact that the Christian community exists and expands only as evangelism is carried out. The Church that fails to evangelize is both biblically unfaithful and strategically shortsighted.[xvii]

Wagner creates a good summation, stating “When a person dies without hearing that ‘God so loved the words that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, RSV), it is too late. The best thing that could possibly happen to that person has been denied.”[xviii]

Some rightly fear that prioritizing either one can undermine the other. Concern about this could be a reason for the evangelical church’s nearsightedness. But Snyder reminds us that, “an evangelism that focuses exclusively on souls or on an otherworldly transaction which makes no real difference here and how is unfaithful to the gospel.”[xix] As such, both the trek and it’s destination are important.

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 & 7  and read more in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Abingdon Press, 2010) (Please remember, if you enjoy the free download please consider supporting the author and the publisher who invested in this book by purchasing a copy)

Footnotes:

[i] James F. Engel and Wilbert Norton, What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1975), 35.

[ii] Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999). Peace offers a helpful examination of Mark’s account of the 12 disciples and their conversionary experiences. Peace argues that they were not converted while traveling with Jesus as members of his apostolic band, but that Mark’s Gospel is organized in part to underscore that “were brought step-by-step to the experience of repentance and faith,” 12.

[iii] Ibid. 309.

[iv] Esther de Waal, Seeking God, 69.

[v] Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1989), 183.

[vi] Wilbert Shenk, Changing Frontiers of Mission, 28.

[vii] Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic, 2005), 149.

[viii] Eddie Gibbs, Church Next: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 22-27.

[ix] Bob Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, xvi-xvii.

[x] Gibbs and Bolger, Emerging Churches, 149.

[xi] Brian McLaren, The Method, the Message, and the Ongoing Story,” in Leonard Sweet, ed., The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 214-215. For a critique of McLaren’s perspective see Martin Downes, “Entrapment: The Emerging Church Conversation and the Cultural Captivity of the Gospel,” in Reforming or Conforming: Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church, ed.s Gary L. W. Johnson and Ronald N. Gleason (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 224-243.

[xii] Jim Wallis, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn’t Get It (New York: HarperOne, 2006), 66.

[xiii] Though familiar to the New Testament hearer this term would be strangely unique because it was rarely used as a verb, i.e. “to evangelize.”

[xiv] Alan Richardson, A Theological Word Book of the Bible, ed. Alan Richardson (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1950), 100.

[xv] Robert Louis Stevenson, Selected Writings, “Travels With A Donkey in Cevennes: An Inland Voyage” (New York: Random House, 1947), 957

[xvi] John Stott, Evangelism and Social Responsibility, 25.

[xvii] Howard A. Snyder, The Community of the King (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press), 101.

[xviii] Church Growth and the Whole Gospel (San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1981), 52.

[xix] Snyder, The Community of the King, 102.

(to use on biblicalleadership.com)

CONVERSION & Kinds of conversion w/ a rationale for the term: spiritual transformation

 

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/8/18.

Personally I use the term “spiritual transformation” because it is a more precise descriptor for the often over applied term “conversion.” In fact here are just a few of the ways that the word conversion can be applied today:

Conversion to Christianity… There is an abundance of literature dealing with different types of conversion and the author is indebted to Richard Peace for classifying these varieties (1).

> Secular conversions, where a drug addict might be transformed from drug dependence to a drug-free lifestyle.

> There are manipulative conversions, where coercion is used by a cult (2) or a government (3).

> There is conversion between religious worldviews, for instance the conversion from Sikhism to Hinduism that is taking place in India.

> And, there is conversion from one Christian denomination to another, for instance when popular Catholic priest Rev. Alberto Cutie (nicknamed “Father Oprah”) converted to the US Episcopal denomination.”

The term “spiritual conversion” is thus a more precise term though perhaps not precise enough to always designate conversion to Christ. However in lieu of a more precise term and to not muddy the meaning too greatly, I usually embrace the term “spiritual transformation” or “spiritual transformation in Christ.”

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 & 7  and read more in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Abingdon Press, 2010) (Please remember, if you enjoy the free download please consider supporting the author and the publisher who invested in this book by purchasing a copy)

Footnotes:

(1) Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 7-11.

(2) For more on manipulative conversion see Flo Conway and Hi Siegelman, Snapping America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1978). For an overview of the New Testament milieu of conversion, and varieties of conversion in secular life, see A. D. Nock’s classic historical treatise Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 1933).

(3) Robert Jay Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China (New York: Norton, 1961).

 

BEYOND HOLIDAY CHARITY & How to be a good-doer, not a do-gooder #YearAroundService

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 6/12/10.

A church that brings food a couple times a year to a needy family does little to minister to their long-term physiological needs or safety needs. Such churches in Dan’s mind were comprised of “do-gooders.”

Action C: Be a Good-doer, not a Do-gooder.

The difference between a do-gooder and a good-doer was revealed to me ten years ago. Dan was auditioning to be the drummer in a worship team I led. Though he was more than suitable for the task, I was confused because he looked familiar. “You visited me last Christmas,” Dan responded noticing my bewilderment. “Brought a lot of nice things for the kids.” Each year our church visited needy residents, giving them gifts and singing carols. “You were nice enough to come,” Dan would say to me later. Dan and I had become friends, and now our team was planning to visit needy households. “You go, I won’t,” Dan stated. “I want to be a good-doer, not a do-gooder.” Further conversations revealed with Dan saw a difference between “do-gooders” and “good-doers.” On the one hand, Dan saw do-gooders as people who go around doing limited and inconsistent good deeds. He perceived that they were doing good on a limited scale to relieve their conscience. Thus their good deeds were perceived as self-serving, insincere and limited. A church that brings food a couple times a year to a needy family does little to minister to their long-term physiological needs or safety needs. On the other hand, Dan saw “good-doers” as those who do good in a meaningful, relevant and ongoing manner. And, he was right. In hindsight I had been striving to do good, not trying to do good better. Therefore, a church should connect with its community by offering ongoing ministry and not just holiday help.

Excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2019), pp. 48-49.

EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM & Understanding the 4 Verbs of the Great Commission

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 2010.

Biblical Support for an Ongoing Journey

As seen earlier, the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 is the apex toward which the Great Commandment (Mark 12:31) aims and instructs.[i] Within the Great Commission are four verbs: go, make disciples, baptize and teach. Though in the English they appear identical, in the Greek only one of these verbs is the main verb, and the other three describe it (the other three are participles, i.e. helping verbs that modify or explain the main verb).

Which then is the main verb, the one that the other three are describing? The Greek language holds the answer, for the unique spelling of matheteusate indicates that “make disciples” is the main verb, and thus “to make disciples” is Jesus’ choice for the goal of our going, baptizing and teaching.

But what exactly is this disciple that we are commissioned to foster? Matheteusate is derived from Greek word for “learner” and means to “make learners.” McGavran stresses that matheteusate means “enroll in my (Jesus’) school.”[ii]

And yet, the Greek grammar holds more surprises. Matheteusate has a unique Greek spelling, indicating that it is in the imperative voice and the present perfect tense. These grammatical constructions tell us the following.

  • The imperative voice indicates that to make learners is a crucial and urgent
  • The present tense denotes that making learners should be a current
  • And the perfect tense carries the idea that making learners should be a continual and ongoing

Therefore, the present and ongoing imagery of a journey becomes a welcome metaphor. Engel said,

In short, discipleship requires continued obedience over time…. Thus becoming a disciple is a process beginning when one received Christ, continuing over a lifetime as one is conformed to His image (Phil 1:6), and culminating in the glory at the end of the age. In this broader perspective, the Great Commission never is fulfilled but always is in the process of fulfillment.[iii]

In our search for a culture-current metaphor we see the image of a “journey” emerging, with “traveling wayfarers” moving forward to encounter new “waypoints.” For churches to focus too narrowly on a few waypoints, slows and disconnects the process as travelers will have to seek out new churches to help them travel on the next leg of their journey. Many wayfarers will find the change too awkward, and many will not make the leap at all.

In the following chapters we will carefully examine each waypoint. In the process we will encounter personal stories that illustrate each waypoint and learn what churches can do to help travelers negotiate each point on life’s most important journey.

[i] Still, the mandates are two parts of the same process. Engel however makes a persuasive argument that Wagner (Evangelical Missions Quarterly, vol. 12 [July, 1976], 177-180) separates too greatly the cultural mandate from the evangelistic mandate (Contemporary Christian Communications, 66-68). Engel argues from Scripture and from practicality that it is a “grave missiological error” to separate the cultural mandate from the evangelical mandate at all. It is toward re-coupling these mandates that metaphors of a journey and waypoints are employed.

[ii] McGavran, Effective Evangelism, 17.

[iii] Engel, Contemporary Christian Communications, 66.

Excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010).

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints Introduction & Appendix

keywords: make disciples

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT & Clinton’s 6 Phases for Developing Leaders

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 2010.

Clinton’s Phases

Bobby Clinton from Fuller Seminary focused on the phases of the journey after new birth (Figure 2). Though other authors have offered similar process models,[i] Clinton’s is one of the best organized and defined. In addition, Clinton emphasizes that these phases overlap and are indigenized for each person.[ii] Let us look briefly at each of what Clinton calls “Six Phases of Leadership Development.”


Figure 2

Clinton’s Six Phases of Leadership Development[iii]

I Sovereign Foundations

New birth: A New Disciple is Born

II Inner-life Growth

III Ministry Maturation

IV Life Maturation

V Convergence

VI Afterglow


 

  1. Sovereign Foundations. Clinton suggest this phase begins in the period before new birth. Clinton sees God imbuing His creation with certain personality characteristics that after new birth will correlate to spiritual gifts. During this phase God is preparing a leader through experiences and character traits.[iv]

A New Disciple is Born. Between Phase 1 and 2, Clinton sees “an all out surrender commitment, in which the would-be-leader aspires to spend a lifetime that counts for God.”[v] Here Engel offers here more depth as he charts the minute, but important, mental steps that lead up to a “surrender commitment.” Therefore, Engel’s preparatory steps to this experience will contribute more robustly to our waypoint approach.

  1. Inner-life Growth. In this phase Clinton describes the mentoring and modeling that the new Christian experiences. Clinton neglects Engel’s insights regarding the post-birth evaluation, yet Clinton adds to our understandings the influence of both informal apprenticeships and formal training.[vi]

III. Ministry Maturation: Ministry as the Prime Focus of Life. This phase occurs as the disciple senses ministry is increasingly becoming a focus of their life. The disciple is motivated to explore ministry options and spiritual giftings.[vii] At this juncture, Clinton offers the most satisfying insights, pointing out that much of the growth in the new disciple is self-directed, meaning the disciple must take it upon themselves to look for opportunities to volunteer, minister to others and evaluate effectiveness. Ministry is thus often organic, unpaid and unscripted.[viii] Though Clinton notes that “most people are anxious to bypass Phase II and get on with the real thing – Phase III, ministry,”[ix] in hindsight Phase II can be very satisfying because all options are possible and hope abounds.

  1. Life Maturation: Gift-mix With Power. Here Clinton offers a critical insight into the powerful synergy that is unleashed when a person finds a ministry that corresponds to their gifts. Ministry priorities are also established during this phase, which Clinton describes as a phase of “mature fruitfulness.”[x]
  2. Everything Converges. In this phase personality, training, experience, gifts and geographical location converge to release ministry that is not only effective but also widely appreciated. Clinton points out that not all disciples reach this stage, but by just defining the stage Clinton gives us a mental picture of God’s potential for the individual. “Ministry is maximized” sums up Clinton.
  3. Afterglow. This is a phase when a person’s ministry is so influential over such an extended period of time, that the person enjoys the afterglow of effective ministry. Thought a end that should be considered, Clinton notes that in reality few get there. However, travelers should not be discouraged nor surprised, for the Scriptures are replete with examples of saints who never attained (at least in this life) afterglow.

Clinton provides an interesting roadmap toward the growth of influential and effective leadership, even if the higher phases are often not realized in this lifetime. It is in the phases of leadership development that Clinton bests Engel.[xi]

[i] I.e. John C. Maxwell, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1999); Max DePree, Leadership is an Art (New York: Dell Publishing, 1989), Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, Strengths-Based Leadership (Washington, DC: Gallup Press, 2009); Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us (New York: Portfolio, 2008).

[ii] Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1988), 30.

[iii]Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader.

[iv] Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader, 31.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] While Clinton addresses the influence of personal mentoring, he does not address the influence of the Christian community to the degree of Engel. Research shows that the health of a church community is an important factor in fostering leadership development (Whitesel, Growth by Accident, Death by Planning, and Inside the Organic Church, along with parallels in the business world, Mary Jo Hatch and Majken Schultz, The Dynamics of Organizational Identity [Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004] and Mary Jo Hatch, Monika Kostera and Andrzej K. Kozminski, Three Faces of Leadership: Manager, Artist, Priest [Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005]).

[vii] This would be Engel’s sub-stage of “discovery and use of gifts.”

[viii] For “A Comparison Between Institutionalization and Improvisation” see Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, 119.

[ix] Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader, 32.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] While Engel emphasizes spiritual disciplines, there is no guarantee in Engel’s scale that spiritual maturity will correspond with these actions. For example, just because a person is experiencing Engel’s +8 Stage of stewardship of resources, or +9 Stage of prayer, does not mean that person is actually growing in maturity. These are actions that should accompany maturity in faith, but do not necessarily do so. Thus Engel emphasizes the artifacts of the journey, but Clinton emphasizes their influence.

Excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010).

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints Introduction &amp; Appendix

EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM & The Hidden Power of Engel’s Scale

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 2010.

To visualize this process, (James) Engel began with what he called “the Great Commission in common dress”[i] and viewed this as a process of stages. Let us look briefly at each stage (Figure 1) in what Engel labeled “a model of spiritual decision processes,” [ii]

Figure 1: Engel’s Stages of Spiritual Decision[iii]


-8 Awareness of supreme being, no knowledge of Gospel

-7 Initial awareness of Gospel

-6 Awareness of fundamentals of Gospel

-5 Grasp of implications of Gospel

-4 Positive attitude towards Gospel

-3 Personal problem recognition

-2 Decision to act

-1 Repentance and faith in Christ

New birth: A New Disciple is Born

+1 Post-decision evaluation

+2 Incorporation into Body

+3 Conceptual and behavioral growth

+4 Communion with God

+5 Stewardship


-8 A person at this stage might label themselves an agnostic, knowing there is a god but not knowing who that god is.

-7 Here a person becomes aware of Good News about God (i.e. the Gospel) through the deeds, words, testimony, etc. of Christians or others.

-6 A deepening awareness of the fundamentals of this Good News could include the traveler experiencing charity, forgiveness, graciousness, reciprocity, etc.. This could be exemplified in acts of mercy, sacrifice, justice, etc., which fulfill the Great Commandment (Mark 12:31) to “love your neighbor as yourself” (sometimes called the “cultural mandate”). A sizable portion of people today may lie in this realm, appreciating the good deeds of Christians but not moving into the next stage (-5) where they grasp the personal implications of the Good News.

-5 This indicates the person understands the personal requirements of the Good News. Here is where major disconnects may occur, when people see good deeds but fail to grasp that the Good News has requirements and obligations upon the hearer. Jesus noted this many times, for instance when he said, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

-4 The person develops a positive view of the Gospel. Again, because of what was noted above, many unchurched people today probably reside in a realm between -7 and -4.

-3 Here a person recognizes a personal deficiency, incapable of being addressed without divine interaction and assistance.

-2 A person makes a decision to act and reach out for supernatural assistance to address the deficiency.

-1 A person recognizes they have not lived up to God’s standards, and that only by faith in Jesus Christ and His death on their behalf can they escape the penalty of their sins.

New birth. God creates an intersection between the spiritual and physical words; and a new person is born (John 3:3-8).

+1 Here the person reviews what has happened and whether the decision was worth the effort and/or the emerging criticism. Some, after reevaluating their decision, lapse back to -3 or -4 with either a decision not to act, or to revaluate their positive attitude toward the Good News.

+2 If forward progress occurs a person will seek out a support network of fellow Christians, fulfilling the admonition of Hebrews 10:24-25 to “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”

+3 Here spiritual growth is observed in faith and action. In Acts 2:42-47 we observe three types of church growth that should emerge: growth in maturity (growing in passion for the Bible, fellowship and prayer), growth in unity (growing in harmony with others ) and growth in service (growing in service to others both inside and outside of the church).[iv] Engel places traditions associated with new birth, such as adult baptism or confirmation, in this stage.[v]

+4 At this point Engel clouds the picture a bit, referring to this a stage as communion with God “through prayer and worship.”[vi] Though he acknowledges that this happens earlier too, by stressing it here Engel gives the unintended impression that supernatural encounter mostly flourishes later.[vii]

In fact here is a weakness of the Engle Scale, it is stronger and more descriptive of the pre-birth process than of the post-birth journey. If both aspects of the journey should be balanced as Engel suggests[viii] then further waypoints must be added to the upper realms of Engel Scale to make it truly holistic.

[i] Engel and Norton, What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest?, 45.

[ii] James F. Engel, The Church Growth Bulletin (Fuller Institute of Church Growth, Pasadena, CA: 1973). Engel stressed that his decision scale emphasized how a church’s “communication ministries” must change as the traveler journeys through the spiritual decision process, What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest?, 44-45. Unfortunately, the published designation, “Engel’s Scale of Spiritual Decision” clouds Engel’s emphasis upon the elastic role of the church’s communication, and thus this scale’s designation does not correspond to its content.

[iii] Engel’s Scale of Spiritual Decision has been codified from several of Engel’s variations, c.f. James F. Engel and Wilbert Norton, What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest? A Communication Strategy for World Evangelism (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1975); 45, James F. Engel, Contemporary Christian Communications: Its Theory and Practice (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979), 63-87, 225; James F. Engel and William A. Dyrness, Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong (Westmont, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 100-101. The current example has been adapted by the author.

[iv] For an explanation of each of the four types of church growth found in Acts 2:42 along with measurement tools to track each, see Bob Whitesel and Kent Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000), 207-218.

[v] Engel, Contemporary Christian Communications, 81. Scot McKnight’s observations indicate that some denominations might disagree with Engel’s placing baptism at +2. McKnight notes that some liturgical traditions place baptism earlier, at Engel’s New Birth juncture. McKnight offers a helpful overview of when and how different denominations view baptism as corresponding to the conversionary experience. He notes that evangelicals and Pentecostals view “personal decision” as the place of conversion, while some mainline Protestants see conversion associated with a long nurturing process (McKnight calls this “conversion through socialization”). He then notes that some liturgical traditions may view conversion as attached to liturgical acts such as baptism, the sacraments and “official rites of passage,” Scot McKnight, Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 1-7. Subsequently, depending on the tradition and practice, baptism may be viewed as occurring anywhere between the stages of New Birth through +2.

[vi] Engel, Contemporary Christian Communications, 82

[vii] Engel sometimes talks about communion with God (+4) and Stewardship (+5) as subsets of +3 Conceptual and Behavioral Growth. Engel, Contemporary Christian Communications, 83; What’s Gone Wrong With The Harvest, 45, 52-56.

[viii] Engel in Contemporary Christian Communications, 66-68.

Excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010).

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints Introduction & Appendix

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018 make disciples

WAYPOINTS & 16 Waypoints in a Spiritual Journey

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2010.

A New Roadmap for a New Era

Engel’s and Clinton’s scales provide helpful visual reminders in a world increasingly comfortable and dependent upon symbols and icons.[i] But both Engel and Clinton are still rooted in a modernist world where inflexible stages and lock-step phases rob the journey of outreach of its elastic and local flavor. Who would want to blindly follow someone else’s travelogue, and not experience surprises, scenic byways and flexibility in route?

A new postmodern era is emphasizing the importance of learning through experience, not just from books.[ii] These are people who want to experience the journey, not just live vicariously through someone else’s diary. For these people a new roadmap is needed, a map that draws from the best of Engel and Clinton, but also emphasizes how each traveler experiences the journey uniquely. This new map must emphasize that there are common waypoints that each traveler will encounter though at different times and with different facets. Our new map must focus less on stages and phases, and instead concentrate on the natural experiences that the traveler will encounter on the journey.

To begin to chart this new route, let us see how (in Figure 3) both Engel and Clinton contribute insights, but on different segments of the journey.

FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS A.3 Engel & Clinton p. 231.jpg As seen in Figure 3, both scales have their strong points. By combining the two, taking out some overlap, updating terminology, and focusing on the process rather than static stages/phases, a new roadmap can emerge that is more attune to today’s traveler. Therefore to provide a more elastic and organic alternative, I suggest that the stages and phases become less prominent, and they be replaced with moveable waypoints that give a general understanding of where one is within a certain segment of their journey. Figure 4 then is a new scale, born from the above,[i] but with emphasis upon indigenous waypoints for tracking the traveler’s progress.

FIGURE ©Whitesel SPIRITUAL WAYPOINTS Map A.4 p. 232.jpg

[i] For examples of the widespread use of icons in contemporary communication, see Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations (Abingdon Press, 2006).

[ii] See also the author’s analysis of postmodernal church patterns in Inside the Organic Church and Preparing for Change Reaction. Especially note Chapter 3 on change and culture in the latter volume.

Excerpted from Bob Whitesel, Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), pp. 231-232.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingswood2018

NEED MEETING & Examples of Need-based Church Programs from Maslow’s Hierarchy

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/7/15.

When undertaking need-based outreach, leaders often have trouble getting their heads around the idea of “what kinds of needs” should be addressed. One student put it this way:

“A few years ago the local community needed an area of the county ditch cleaned up.  There was a lot of debris and junk in the water way that needed cleaned out and basically a lot of manual labor was needed.  Our church volunteered to do it and we ended up cleaning out the ditch for the county.  Is that more what you’re saying?”

First, let me say the most critical need of all humankind is a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father which can only be brought about by a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  In addition in today’s skeptical environment, we sometimes need to demonstrate God’s care (and our care) for non-churchgoers beforehand by meeting their needs in the name of Christ even before they are Christians.  This demonstrates to them that they have a “good” and “loving” Heavenly Father, who sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit and who we (as followers of Christ) represent.

But what are the needs people have, that sometimes need to be met before salvation?

Cleaning out a ditch might be a need, but outreach may be more effective if it is meeting “pressing” needs that are pulling people to their need for reconciliation with their Heavenly Father.  Psychologist Abraham Maslow helped visualize this in a pyramid (see the attached pages below).

So, to help you visualize and deploy programs that meet the felt needs (that usually must be met before a person is ready to focus on reconciliation with their Heavenly Father), I have attached with permission a couple pages illustrating this from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey, see pages 19-26 in this draft version (footnotes for your citations are in the published version).

Here you will find church programming ideas that can address the needs that non-churchgoers have and that prevent them from investigating their relationship with Christ.

FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS Maslow + ideas 1

FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS Maslow + ideas 2

Download the chapter and charts here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 16, 15, 14

Speaking Hashtags: #SalvationCenterTX #TransformationalLeadershipConference

WESLEY & A Comparison of His 3 Types of Existance

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/5/15.

John Wesley noted that people generally existed in a journey through three waypoints (or stages): natural existence, legal existence and evangelical existence.  Put forth most famously in Wesley’s “The Spirit of Bondage and the Spirit of Adoption” (1746), Thomas Oden’s helpful introduction prepares the reader to understand these important waypoints in spiritual discovery.

These categories are not too dissimilar to my friend and colleague Ed Stetzer’s categories of “cultural Christians” (somewhere between Wesley’s natural-legal continuum) and “conversion Christians.”  In Stetzer’s typology, Wesley’s conversion took place at Aldersgate. But since in Wesley’s day “evangelical” did not have today’s negative media connotation (and hence perhaps Stetzer’s aversion to its use), I believe that if Wesley lived today, due to his emphasis upon conversion, he would embrace Stetzer’s designation of “conversion Christian.” Wesley certainly after his Aldersgate experience places conversion as the fulcrum upon which his methodology and theology would emerge.

Here is a screenshot of Oden’s helpful introduction to the idea:

oden-on-wesley-on-conversion

Buy the book at … https://books.google.com/books?id=8qqtss5N6cYC&pg=PA277&dq=John+wesley+natural+legal+evangelical&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipxrLx_MTJAhUF6CYKHSUsDTYQ6AEIHTAA#v=onepage&q=John%20wesley%20natural%20legal%20evangelical&f=false

Hear more about John Wesley’s conversion and his experience of the interplay of these three existences at …http://livestre.am/5fQ0e

SPIRITUAL GIFTS & Inventories to Help You Find Your Giftings

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/5/10.

…Traits, abilities, skills or behaviors[iv] can become supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit as manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that these can be understood as gifts or manifestations. Theologian James D. G. Dunn observes that they are “gifts” because they are given, and “manifestations” because they attest to the reality of the unseen Giver.[v] And, according to the Scriptures these are given to all Christians:[vi]

1 Cor. 12:7     “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

Eph. 4:7          “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

1 Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

(Robert) Clinton states that at this waypoint the leader now “recognizes that part of God’s guidance for ministry comes through establishing ministry priorities by discerning gifts.”[vii] Discerning or determining a leader’s gift-mix can take place through the following four actions.

Action 2.1: Learn About Your Gifts

The route toward discovering a leader’s gift matrix begins with a study of the gifts in Scriptures. Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 along with secondary gift lists in 1 Corinthians 7, 13-14; Ephesians 3 and 1 Peter 4 describe approximately 25 gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet, because none of the gift lists are complete in themselves, it is reasonable to conclude that there may be other plausible gifts if they can be Scripturally verified.[viii] Therefore, I have listed an additional gift of “artist” that is not mentioned in the main gifts lists, but which appears to have attestation in Scripture and church history.

(The above is excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey [2010] or click on this link for a list of gifts and the rest of the chapter.)

Below are Spiritual Gift Inventories that can help you or others find your spiritual gifts:

The United Methodist Church’s Explore Your Spiritual Gifts, http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.1355371/k.9501/Spiritual_Gifts.htm.

My friend Larry Gilbert at ChurchGrowth.org produces The Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts Inventory, available at https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/cgi-cg/gifts.cgi?intro=1

An easy to take, online inventory has been produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is available here: http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Congregations-and-Synods/Faith-Practices/Assessment-Tools

The Rock Church in San Diego produces (and updates) their Spiritual Gift Inventory at http://www.sdrock.com/giftstest/new/

But probably the most carefully crafted is the Spiritual Gifts Survey by my friend and colleague, Dr. Elmer Towns available at http://elmertowns.com/?page_id=5

PRAYER & How to Find the Intercessors: The Differences Between Roles & Gifts

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/27/15.

We often have trouble getting people to attend prayer meetings. And, this may be because those who have the gift of intercessory prayer, don’t know they have it. Let me explain. When you invite everyone to a prayer meeting before the service, only a few people (probably those with the “gift of helps”) show up. The problem is that you have not identified those with the gift of intercessory prayer, and those with other gifts are only half-heartedly joining in.

But, the “gift of intercessory prayer” is listed as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in James 5:14-16, 1 Tim. 2:1-2 and Col. 1:9-12, 4:12-13.  So how do we “find the intercessors?”

First, let’s look at a definition of “the gift of intercessory prayer.”

These are people who have the special gift for “passionate, extended and effective prayer, c.f. James 5:14-16, 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Col. 1:9-12, 4:12-13 (see this excerpt from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey, Wesleyan Publishing House). C. Peter Wagner estimated that about 5% of a congregation has the gift of intercessory prayer (1979, 1984, p. 70).

Secondly, how do you help those with the gift, “find it?”

A student once said,

“How can you even know if you have the gift of intercessory prayer? Is it if you like prayer? That seems like more a product of personality than gift. Is it because you see more results when you intercede? How can that even be measured? Do you just know it or feel that it is your gift?  Dr. Whitesel, in your post you talk about a “supernatural charge or anointing”… I can get pretty jazzed when I preach and I can feel like I am “in the zone” but does that mean it is my spiritual gift?  I am sorry to ask all these questions but perhaps I am just that young adult like the original student refers to who just hasn’t fully developed a mature prayer life.”

Here is how I replied, “My professor Pete Wagner wrote a book on Spiritual Gifts and he suggests these five steps to finding yours (Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, Regal Books, 1979, 1984, pp. 68-70.)

  1. Explore the possibilities (e.g. the Bible and Spiritual Gifts Inventories)
  2. Experiment with as many gifts as you can (obviously the gift of martyrdom for example 😉
  3. Examine your feelings (you are doing that with preaching)
  4. Evaluate your effectiveness (are people growing in learning when you are in the zone?)
  5. Expect confirmation from the body.”

Thirdly, Everyone Has the Responsibility to Pray (because there is a difference between “roles” & “gifts”).

A student once responded, “I really do not see how intercessory prayer is a gift and I think we are selling ourselves and our congregations short when we consider it so.  I think prayer, period, is a discipline. I am convinced that the reason why more people do not pray corporately is that they have no basis to do so. They can’t pray because they don’t know how. They don’t know how because they never do it. I found this true existentially. I never could pray when I was a late youth, early adult and that was because I had no prayer life. But once God developed within me a passion for prayer.”

These are good thoughts.  However, the distinction that Peter Wagner would make is that everyone has the “role” of prayer, but not everyone has the supernaturally empowered “gift” (see Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, Regal: 1979, 1994, pp. 85-87).

For example, I think I have the gift of teaching (1 Cor. 12:28, Eph. 4:11-14, Romans 12:7, etc.). Though someone may have to teach on occasion without the gift, they cannot say they do not need teaching abilities. They do.  But they don’t get the supernatural charge and anointing that those with the gift regularly experience. Now, I’m not saying teaching is such a great gift. I think the gift of intercessory prayer is more critical. But, I have the role of intercessory prayer, and am called to exercise it regularly.

Thus, when like the student above I began to mature in my Christian discipleship I discovered that I had a gift for teaching that as a shy teenager no one could have foresaw. But, I must be careful that I do not view everyone through my lens (i.e. gift) of being a teacher. If I do, I may unfairly criticize them for not teaching with the same passion as I. And especially so, because they may have another gift, such as the gift of intercession.

Thanks for allowing me to elaborate on the important need for everyone to practice the “roles” and for specially endowed people to operate in their gifts.

Here is how one student used “command and gift” as substitutes:

Matt said, “This discussion (roles and gifts) is very similar to the discussion on evangelism we keep having here. Some older member keep pushing back that they don’t need to because they aren’t good or they can’t do it unless the spirit prompts them to. I keep bringing it back to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which is the universal command, and the scattering of the seeds (Mark 4:1-20) the reality of the command. With those as a frame work we then discuss the difference between gift and command. Some people are gifted in evangelism and they will win droves of people to Christ, everyone else needs to evangelize and their harvest is what it is.”

I responded that I think “role” is a better better word that command.  That is because everyone has the command, and thus should undertake a role in evangelism.  But some have the gift, and we should position and empower them for more effective ministry.

Another example is the gift of teaching (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11-14, Rom. 12:7, Acts 18:24-28, 20:20-21).  Everyone has the role (such as in teaching your children, c.f. Deuteronomy 4:9) but some have the gift and might develop a career of teaching.

Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)  “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

OUTREACH & Santa Cruz, CA motto: “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” inspires Dan Kimball.

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 11/19/15.

A former student joined an elective course I taught with Dan Kimball in Santa Crux, CA.  And the student made the following insightful analysis of how Dan stays connected with the libertine lifestyles of Santa Cruz.  In fact, Santa Cruz is very proud of their oddness and eccentricity (there is a popular bumper sticker they sell in Santa Cruz that states “Keep Santa Cruz Weird”). The student wrote:

Dr. Whitesel,  One of the most impacting methods of understanding Santa Cruz that Dan mentioned were the relationships he maintained with the “weird” citizens of Santa Cruz.  He mentioned having coffee with a man who vehemently resisted and rejected Dan’s stance online concerning homosexuality.  We also met Susan Harding, a unbelieving professor at UCSC who studies churches simply from a sociological perspective.

Dan regularly meets with people who do not hold to the same tenets of reality or religion.  In doing so, he is constantly giving himself exposure to different worldviews, to different ways of thinking, to different perspectives and to different cultures.  In doing so, he is able to identify that culture’s needs, its language, and its symbols.  This enables him to effectively create a church that is unique, maintains its faithfulness to the Gospel, while still communicating in a language and through symbols that reach out to other cultures.

When Dan asked in class, “How many of you regularly meet with non-Christians” I could not raise my hand.  It is my goal now to find a few to hang out with!  Thanks Dan.  Thanks Dr. Whitesel!  – Joel L.


Here is how I responded:

Glad to help.

During that course we also had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Susan Harding: http://anthro.ucsc.edu/directory/details.php?id=28 .  One of her research foci is “born-again Christianity” (ibid.) and she has penned a book titled “The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics” (Princeton University Press, 2000). It looks at the philosophical outlook and influence of Jerry Falwell.  To have a person volunteering with Vintage Faith Church on her faith journey was remarkable (but it shouldn’t be 🙂

What I found equally powerful, was that she said the love and community she found at Vintage Faith Church had changed her perspective of where she was in her own spiritual journey.  As a result, she helped others get in touch with their spiritual side by serving at Vintage Faith Church. Thus, while she was not leading persons across the waypoint of conversion, she was leading people further along their spiritual journey (across more waypoints) to connect with their spiritual side.  A student in the class made this point, saying “Dr. Harding is actually helping spiritual travelers cross Waypoints 16, 15 and maybe even 14.”  This is why looking at the spiritual journey as a series of waypoints is helpful.  We can see that many people are helping people move along the journey, and that just because they are not helping people cross the “conversion” waypoint, doesn’t mean they are still not helping people with their spiritual quest.  I look at such guides as helpers for a part of the journey. And, I hope that as they travel more on their own personal journey, they will be helped by others further along the trek, to see that the ultimate designation in my view is a return to fellowship with God made possible only by Jesus Christ.  Spiritual Waypoints help us visualize better the process the Holy Spirit is using.

FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS Map

SMALL GROUPS & A Leadership Exercise To Discover Why People Dislike Them

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/29/15.

Most people intuitive understand that accountability and discipleship take place in small, intimate groups (e.g. Jesus’ twelve disciples or Wesley’s band meetings).  And, I have some to believe that small groups are probably the most important of the three tiers in a church (congregation – sub-congregation – small groups).  But, my students and clients often say people in their church resist the idea of small groups?

If you have encountered this situation, let me explain a dynamic that is sometimes the source of this variance in viewpoints regarding the suitability and validity of small groups.  Then I will follow with a short leadership exercise to help you (and your leaders) identify where their reticence comes from,

Where does small group reticence come from?

Often times rejection occurs because people in the church have a preconceived notion of what constitutes a small group, such as a weeknight home fellowship group.  They may have had a bad experience with what they perceive as small groups in the past, if they had been encouraged (they may even feel coerced) into joining one.  You see, they will resist joining a weeknight small group because their small group needs are already being met in the Sunday School “style” of small group. Thus, they have a restricted impression of a small group, as some sort of extra weeknight meeting.  Why would they want this when their small group need are already being met in Sunday School class or elsewhere.

But, as you will notice from my books, a home fellowship group is only one type of small group.  There are hundreds of types of small groups: committees, teams, worship bands, tech crews, leadership teams, etc. etc. etc..  And, most of our churches already have them in Sunday School classes.

A leadership exercise.

  • First, if you encounter initial reticence to the idea of small groups, educate yourself on the history of small groups in the congregation.  See if there isn’t limited view of what constitutes a small group. Take a piece of paper and divide it down the middle.  On the left side, write out the history of small groups in your congregation in bulleted points (no more that a half dozen).
  • Next, in the right column describe how people in the church felt about small groups at each bulleted point. Use a Likert Scale (1 – 5):
    1. = “highly disfavorable,”
    2. = “disfavorable,”
    3. = “no opinion,”
    4. = “favorable” and
    5. = “highly favorable”).

Put at the top:  How were small groups viewed as a result of this stage?

  • Finally, create a plan of four (4) stages to educate the reticent ones (slowly and tactfully) that small groups are (per the definition above) informal conclaves or many, many different varieties.  Also address the times when small groups were increasingly disfavorable.

When congregants realize they are already in a small group and you are not asking them to join another … then they will usually not dismiss them, nor be wary of them.

NEED MEETING & How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Helps Churches Reach Out

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D. (excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), “Waypoint 15: Awareness of a Supreme Being,” pp. 41-54. DOWNLOAD the entire chapter HERE (not for public distribution and if you enjoy it, please consider purchasing the book):  BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 15 Maslow

Signs of Travelers at Waypoint 15

The needs of travelers at Waypoint 15 are best understood through the assessment grid of Abraham Maslow. A psychologist, Maslow was concerned that care-givers often misperceive needs, attempting to address higher needs that are not yet felt by the recipient. He suggested that the recipient may have basic needs that are unmet, and since these basic needs are not yet met the recipient is not interested in the fulfillment of higher needs. When a.

FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS Maslow Figure 6 copyFigure 6 is a diagram of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Let us look at each level, working upward from the basic needs at the bottom (click to enlarge).

Unmet physiological needs. These are travelers with needs for the basics of sustainable life, such as food, water, etc.. People who are without work, incapacitated by illness, emotionally or mentally abused, etc. may be consumed by worry about how to meet these basic needs. For example, a need for food to put on their table (or in their mouth) will supersede all higher needs. The person at this stage may not care about housing, joining a faith community, or bettering themselves. They only want to have a sustainable and ongoing source for food, water, etc.. Churches can and should develop ministries for people at this level of need, though this will require extensive effort because these needs are pervasive and long term

Examples of ministries that churches to fulfill physiological needs include:

  • Family emergency services
  • Medical emergency assistance
  • Food and domestic hunger ministries
  • Housing and residential programs
  • Hunger/housing loan and grants programs
  • Disaster relief services
  • Addiction and recovery counseling and support

Unmet safety needs. These are needs for long-term security and a sense that the future is now predictable. Once a person feels they can meet their hunger and thirst needs, they turn their attention to Security Needs, such as a place of their own (i.e. housing), long-term employment, learning a job skill, etc..

Churches that only address short-term physiological needs will not fulfill long-term safety needs. Too often churches offer short-term places to stay, short-term food staples, short-term loans, etc.. These offers will sound hollow and incomplete for travelers at this waypoint, for they are looking for assistance that will ensure long term survival.

Examples of self-sufficiency and sustainable development programs are:

  • Job Training. A homeless person once told me “I am at home on the streets…I’ve learned to survive and that’s the only thing I’m good at.” Helping such people acquire marketable skills is key toward helping them meet long-term needs for safety and security. Examples can include:
    • Job skills evaluation and training
    • Vocational rehabilitation
    • Congregants can hire out of work individuals to give them an opportunity to learn new job skills
    • Community service work at the church can provide references for future employment
    • Scholarships provided by the church call allow for training to improve employability
  • Job Placement. Oftentimes a predictable future begins with dependable employment. Churches that help community residents attain secure and long-term employment will often help them meet long-term safety needs, including:
    • Employment counseling and networking
    • Career research
    • Mentoring for application and resume writing
    • Personal hygiene, clothing and conversational skills to help prepare for job interviews
    • Networking the under- and unemployed with potential employers
    • English as a second language (ESL) assistance
    • Support for GED and equivalency education.
  • Health programs. Insecurity about the future can arise from an illness with an uncertain or vague prognosis. Helping people at this stage means assisting them in finding adequate health care, information about their illness and specialists in their malady. One church was located adjacent to a large hospital. When patients and family visited the church in search of solace, the church prayed for them. While this was an authentic and beneficial act, the patients often left with less inspiration than the parishioners. The church discovered that in addition to prayer, they could offer a patient advocacy ministry. Soon the advocacy ministry had fostered a connection and cooperation with the hospital. The church now not only offered prayer, but also patient help for those suffering from an unpredictable future.

Unmet belongingness and love needs. These needs have to do with acceptance into a community of inter-reliance. At this waypoint, the person realizes that living in a symbiotic relationship with others will enhance their life. A person may join a faith community, volunteer for a ministry and/or seek acceptance. It is at this point that Christians often exhibit their most energetic efforts. There is nothing wrong with this, for travelers at this stage want to belong and be accepted. But, when churches focus only on incorporation they appear manipulative and self-absorbed to people who have been struggling with safety or physiological needs.[ii] Therefore churches must have a robust ministry to meet both physiological and safety needs before they can legitimately offer (and campaign for) assimilation.

At this stage of belongingness and love needs, recipients are also seeking unconditional acceptance and love. But, because they may have an unstable and inconsistent background they may have habits that test Christians’ acceptance. Foul language, addictive habits and ignorance of church traditions will often perturb Christians accustomed to a more genteel church environment. The church must not allow itself to be agitated because people are early in their God-ward journey. Instead, travelers need to feel a different love from the church than they have experienced in the secular realm. To demonstrate this, Christians must offer unselfish love. The Old Testament word for this love, chesed, conveys a “kindness, especially as extended to the lowly, needy and miserable.”[iii]

Other levels of Maslow’s needs will be explored in the appropriate chapters of this book. Thus, the reader may want to bookmark Figure 6 for future reference…FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS Maslow 2 levels compared with ideas

  1. (Click to enlarge adjacent figure) Do you have a balance between ministries that meet physiological needs and those that meet safety needs? Use the following chart to measure your balance between physiological needs and safety needs. If they are not balanced, what will you do to ensure that both needs are met and the route of the Good News is unbroken?

DOWNLOAD the entire chapter HERE (not for public distribution and if you enjoy it, please consider purchasing the book):  BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 15 Maslow

[i] Adapted from Abraham H. Maslow, Motivation and Personality, 2nd edition (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), p. 300-394; and Abraham H. Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, (New York: Viking Press, 1971), p. 300.

[ii] The church’s enthusiasm for primarily meeting belongingness and love needs sheds light on how churches grew during the post-World War II economic expansion. The Builder Generation (b. 1945 and before) was basking in unrivaled prosperity and a church-friendly milieu. Thus, tactics that meet belongingness and love needs such as membership classes and assimilation standards were touted (see Finke and Starke The Churching of America as well as additional factors discussed in Laurence Iannacone’s 1994 essay, “Why Strict Churches Are Strong” in American Journal of Sociology (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1994), vol. 99, no. 5, 1180-1211.

[iii] Hebrew chesed, Francis Brown, S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 338.

Speaking Hashtags: #BreakForth16 #SalvationCenterTX

TRAINING LEADERS & How to Create a Formal Training Structure in Your Church #SpiritualWaypointsBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), pp. 197-198.

(In other postings I’ve discussed more specifics of “Apprenticeship” and “Mentoring” for church leaders.  For more on this topic see these postings which are also excerpted from SpiritualWaypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey).

Churches over 1254 in attendance should create a leadership development and training program. There are three elements that are essential for fostering holistic leadership training.

Element 1: Educate the mind.

Leadership training in a local church often takes place one night a week, with churches offering courses on leadership, volunteerism, management, etc. Too often churches confuse leadership training with theological or historical training, neglecting the former and accenting the latter. While good training has elements of each, remember that the trainee is struggling with hands-on application. Thus a sizable portion of the educating the mind should deal with the principles of application. It is also important to host a question and answer time for application clarification.

Element 2: Educate the hands.

The focus of most church leadership training is head knowledge, but this can be inadequate for hands-on doing is needed too. Remember the story of Len Sweet at Waypoint 6? Len had burgeoning head knowledge about Christianity and Christ, but it was not until he was forced into a ministry experience did God‘s power impact his life. Thus, training should not be only about theory or case studies, but should require the leader to be actively participating in ongoing ministry. And the trainee should be reporting back the results on a regular basis. This forces the trainee to learn ―in the field‖ as did the twelve disciples and the thirty-six teams of two, who reported back to the master the results for clarification, adjustment, and improvement in ministry.

Spiritual Waypoints [cropped top 1:3 65kb]Element 3: Educate the heart.

As will be noted in the next section, educating a heart to be sensitive to God‘s nudging, guidance, and correction are critical for effective leadership. Research suggests that formal training often results in less spirituality in a trainee‘s life.5 Thus, to offset the potential to over emphasize head and hand knowledge, a formal training program should include devotionals, meditation, ministry focus verses, and spiritual formation.

Elements 1, 2, and 3 must also be equally balanced. Due to the urgent nature of ministry, education of the hands can often dominate. At other times educating the mind can rule. Yet because supernatural intervention is needed in leadership development, it is educating the heart that is most critical to the process. Let us therefore investigate this area more closely.

TRAINING LEADERS & The Two Rules for Fostering Mentoring #SpiritualWaypointsBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2010), pp. 194-195.

(In other postings I’ve discussed more specifics of “Apprenticeship” and “Formal Training” for church leaders.  For more on this topic see these postings which are also excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey).

Spiritual Waypoints [cropped top 1:3 65kb]Mentoring: The Two Rules for Fostering It

1) Organically link experienced leaders and new leaders. This means the mentors and trainees should have a great deal in common, not just job descriptions. If feasible, leaders of similar backgrounds, cultures, and affinity groups should be linked, because communication and connection is best fostered when social and cultural barriers are minimal. For example a young assistant pastor might best mentor a youth pastor, rather than requiring the senior pastor to mentor the youth pastor. Though youth pastor and senior pastor are involved in similar pastoral functions, the cultural gaps between a middle-aged senior pastor and a twenty-something youth pastor may be too great.

2) Communicate both ways. The mentoring process must include clear and candid communication that goes back and forth between the mentor and the trainee. If communication is only one way, primarily from the experienced leader downward, the trainee will not be able to question for clarification, indigenize for their local context, or evaluate for improvement. If this occurs, communication will cease and frustration will ensue.

#StMarksTX mentee mentor