SPIRITUAL WAYPOINTS & A Review by Dr. Kwasi Kena, Discipleship Ministries, United Methodist Church

A Review of “Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey” by Bob Whitesel, reviewed by Dr. Kwasi Kena, Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.


Journey
— from time immemorial writers have employed this metaphor to bear the weight of meaning for their ideas. From Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” to Scott and Russell’s song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” journey has found constant employment. To the phrase, “life is a journey,” auto-makers and airline companies place their taglines: “travel it well” (United) or “enjoy the ride” (Nissan). Isaac Asimov wrote one of my favorite twists on the journey metaphor “Life is a journey, but don’t worry, you’ll find a parking spot at the end.”

But what of the Christian journey. Who provides aid in navigating its path? We’ve borrowed the phrase “life’s a journey not a destination” from the lyrics to Aerosmith’s song “Amazing” to describe the Christian experience, but can’t we do more than borrow catch-phrases and the latest slogans for our service?

At least one author has responded to these questions, Bob Whitesel. In his book Spiritual Waypoints, Whitesel highlights key markers or waypoints located at strategic points of one’s journey toward and with Jesus Christ. Whitesel points out the advantage of using waypoints while journeying to a destination.

A waypoint is a position, not a phase or a frozen marker. It tells where a traveler is in relation to other features on the road. He also points out that a waypoint may be different for each trekker. He offers no single, canned approach to relating to people on the journey. Instead, Whitesel provides a variety of options that may be adapted by individual churches.

The Engle and Clinton Models

In the past, many clergy were exposed to the Engle scale when introduced to evangelism methodology. The Engle scale is a model that visualizes a spiritual journey along a continuum. This continuum begins with the negative number eight and ends with the positive number five. Each number represents a stage of spiritual decision. For example a negative eight(-8) represents “Awareness of a supreme being, no knowledge of gospel.” A -1 represents “Repentance and faith in Christ.” Some traditional approaches to evangelism emphasized focusing more attention on people closer to the repentance stage to maximize the probability of evangelistic “success.” Sadly, people on the extreme negative side of the Engle scale were routinely avoided. It is this type of short-sighted approach to evangelism that Spiritual Waypoints corrects.

A second model used to chart spiritual maturation is Robert Clinton’s “Six Phases of Leadership Development.” In each of these six phases, Clinton describes the “what” and “how” of spiritual development in an individual.

A Synthesized Model

Whitesel combines Engle’s Eight Stages of Spiritual Decision and Robert Clinton’s Six Phases of Leadership Development to produce his synthesized Spiritual Waypoints Model. This model provides sixteen distinct waypoints that guide the reader in determining the spiritual location of an individual. At each point, Whitesel shares practical suggestions about how to recognize and assist travelers on their spiritual journey.

In a lecture on his book, Whitesel noted that while many highly evangelistic churches have typically shied away from a “negative eight” on the Engle scale, there are ways to get the attention of such individuals. Surprisingly, he pointed to the efforts of “community outreach churches” that participated in social outreach. Through their charitable acts, these churches introduced God’s grace to people who were most antagonistic toward God. Despite initial antagonism, even the most hardened soul may take notice of kindness. This experience will pave the way for later receptivity of God’s grace in that individual.

By providing insights into what spiritual travelers are experiencing at each waypoint, churches can help such people negotiate their way toward Christ. The sixteen-point continuum provides a visual for churches to consult and assess how well they are doing to relate to people at all points of their spiritual journey. Many find that their church focuses on people only at certain points of the spiritual journey, but neglects people at other points. That occurs, says Whitesel, “because church leaders are largely unaware of the next phase of the spiritual traveler’s spiritual development.”

The Perils of Narrow Band Ministry

The neglect of the next phase in a spiritual traveler’s journey causes gaps. It means that a church is offering only a narrow band of ministry. When churches offer a narrow band of ministry, Whitesel notes “they can force the spiritual traveler to sever fellowship with one faith community in search of another that will take them to the next stage of spiritual development.”

Pastors and laity who are serious about developing a church culture that excels at evangelism and discipleship will benefit from reading this book. Pastors and laity alike would be well-served to become familiar with the descriptions and accompanying ministry strategies contained in the Spiritual Waypoints model. I agree with what one reviewer says about Spiritual Waypoints: “It will forever change the way you go about fulfilling the great commission.”

Download the review here: Review of ‘Spiritual Waypoints – Helping Others Navigate the Journey’ by Bob Whitesel

Read more here … https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/review-of-spiritual-waypoints-helping-others-navigate-the-journey-by-bob-wh

Related Resources:

Spiritual Waypoints

Engle Scale Explained

The Making of a Leader by Robert Clinton

The Making of a Leader Review PDF

 

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

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

WAYPOINTS & Barna’s Chart of Spiritualiy in America #Seedbed

Seedbed’s Raison D’Etre, by J.D. Walt, 1/6/15.

This five minute chalk board session captures well Seedbed’s founding purpose. We think you will resonate with it (you can skip the outtakes.) ;0)

So What about This “Great Awakening” Are We Sowing For?

The next great awakening will likely not come as a result of “decision” oriented evangelism built on a propositional gospel centered around an ethereal afterlife in “heaven.”

The next great awakening will sprout from the seeds of the whole gospel, sown into “good soil” of the nascent Kingdom of God, sending down deep roots into the ancient orthodoxy of the Word of God and drawing up living water from the eternal springs of the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of this awakening will be nothing less and nothing more than the holy love of Jesus Christ, mediated by the Holy Spirit and manifested in and through his followers.

It will be a slow growing and sustained awakening of global proportions built on a brand of discipleship whose means and end is holy love. It will be centered around the New Creation’s cry, “On Earth as it is in Heaven!” Equally amplified will be the longing cry for the Kingdom to come in final glory, “Come Lord Jesus!”

So Why John Wesley?

To be clear, this isn’t about John Wesley, nor is our mission to make people Wesleyans or Methodists. When we look back on our history, we search for exemplars who not only saw the vision of the Gospel but who lived into it in history making ways. Wesley considered himself and his people nothing more than Scriptural Christians. That’s why we like him. We learn from the Wesleys to be better followers of Jesus. Here are a four reasons why:

The Wesley brothers demonstrate for us a practiced theology rooted in a sovereignty shaped by the Fatherhood of God, rich with the mind of Christ and contagious with the supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit.

The Wesley brothers lead us through a structured approach to community-based gospel conversion reflecting the dynamics of crisis and process coupled with patterns and benchmarks in the long perseverance of character transformation.

The Wesley brothers show us a more excellent way of discipleship; one which subverts a shame-oriented moralism on the one hand and a prosperity based motivation on the other. They disciple at the level of our dispositions, affections and ambitions.

The Wesley Brothers impart theological truth and missional vision through the incarnational fabric of their sermons, songs, prayers, journals, and letters. These every day vessels provide a far more native habitat for theology than does that of the more manageable and yet imposed systematic constructs.

Read more at …http://seedbed.com/feed/seedbeds-raison-detre/

WAYPOINTS & Bill Hybels Talks About Planting Evangelism

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: A colleague sent me this short but insightful video in which Bill Hybels explains why Christians must view evangelism as a process of walking people through certain stages of knowledge toward a personal decision for Christ. I’ve crafted the metaphor of “waypoints” (Spiritual Waypoints, 2012 and Waypoint, 2013) as a way to visualize this and equip Christians to help others navigate the journey. If you are intrigued by Hybels’ stage concept see an expanded version in the books mentioned above. Hopefully such metaphors will remind Christians that evangelism is ministry to others at “many places” on their spiritual journey (of which the personal decision to accept Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness is of course the apex).

Watch the video at … http://youtu.be/W4KGlhstqeI

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

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & A Case Study #WaypointBook

by Guillaume Bignon, Christianity Today, 11/17/2014

How a French Atheist Becomes a TheologianImage: Dan Bigelow

If French atheists rarely become evangelical Christians, how much rarer it is for one to become an evangelical Christian theologian. So what happened? One might argue that with 66 million French people, I’m just a fluke, an anomaly. I am inclined to see it as the work of a God who says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy” (Rom. 9:15). Hearing the facts may help you decide for yourself…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/november/how-french-atheist-becomes-theologian.html?paging=off

DIVERSITY & A surprising map of the world’s most and least religiously diverse countries #PewResearch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “To me this is a reminder that because America is not as diverse as it thinks, that Americans may not be as sensitive to inter-religious differences and preferences. (See Spiritual Waypoints, 2010, chapter 16, 15 and 14 for ideas how to better communicate the Good News with people of different faiths.)  This also means in America we will need to work harder to understand and communicate to people of different faiths and cultures, because the religious cultural mix in America is not as robust as it is even just to our north in Canada or around the globe.”

A surprising map of the world’s most and least religiously diverse countries

by Max Fisher on April 15, 2014

“The world’s most and least religiously diverse countries may not be quite what you think, judging by an extensive report by Pew that scores and ranks countries on religious diversity by indexing survey data with a mathematical model. The results, to be honest, really surprised me.

Here’s the data mapped out, with the most religiously diverse countries in blue and the least diverse in yellow:”

Religious_diversity

 

Read more at … http://www.vox.com/2014/4/15/5617068/a-surprising-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-religiously-diverse

ATHEISM & Agnostics

“Nones” on the Rise
by Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project

“The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%)…”

No religious affiliation in America has grown to 19.6%

Read more at … http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/