TRANSFORMATION & 3 ways to walk a spiritual bridge to new life w/ someone

by Bob Whitesel, Church Central, April 30, 2017.

Two things are happening to a person in spiritual and physical crisis:

1. At this point they realize that only God, the one who created them, can effectively and enduringly meet their needs.

2. They also feel that their relationship with God is estranged because they have ignored him for so long.

The uncommon church will foster an environment where helping others navigate this bridge is the norm. Therefore, the uncommon church walks this bridge with others, not retracing their own steps again but walking alongside helping, answering questions, and encouraging others as they cross a bridge between natural and supernatural living. A verse that reminds us of the magnitude of the newness and that we represent God in it, can be found in 2 Corinthians 5:17–19: “What we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives” (MSG).

The importance of walking the bridge with them 

And so, as Christ’s representatives we need to tell others how God gave his Son to provide a bridge back to himself. I have found that in many growing churches almost all congregants know how to explain the story of Jesus’ bridge.

Thus, the last key toward helping others navigate the bridge back to a restored friendship with God is to have a congregation that can explain God’s biblical bridge. Sometimes called “the plan of salvation,” these are simple memory devices that the majority of all attendees in the uncommon church must know if we are to fulfill Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that, God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives” (MSG). Here are three of the most common explanations of that bridge:

The Four Spiritual Laws 13

1. God loves you and created you to know him personally (John 3:16; 17:3).

2. Humans are sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know him personally or experience His love (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for human sin. Through him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3–6; John 14:6).

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience his love (John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8–9; Revelation 3:20).

The Romans Road 14

To aid in memorization, this explanation employs the metaphor of a Roman thoroughfare:

• Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” (Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned.)

• Romans 6:23: “The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (The price or consequence of sin is death.)

• Romans 5:8: “But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Jesus Christ died for our sins. He paid the price for our death.)

• Romans10:9: “Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation.” (We openly declare that we receive salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.)

• Romans5:1: “Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Salvation through Jesus Christ brings us back into a relationship of peace with God.)

Steps to Peace with God15

This explanation uses phrases tool: from John 3:16 as a memory

• For God so loved the world: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

  • That he gave his only Son:“While we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
  • That whoever believes in him: “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).
  • Should not perish:“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).
  • But have everlasting life: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

So pick an explanation that works for you. But hold one another accountable to be able to explain at least one route, for 1 Peter 3:15–18 urges:

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. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God. (MSG)

Excerpted from Cure For The Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health, by Bob Whitesel (Wesleyan Publishing House 2012). For further online notes: See Chapter 8 Complete Notes. 


VISION & What Makes a Visionary Leader #Video @BobWhitesel #ChurchCentral

What makes a visionary leader?

May 4, 2017 | by Bob Whitesel

 

Watch the video at https://www.churchcentral.com/videos/video-what-makes-a-visionary-leader/

Bob Whitesel gives historical background to the term strategic leader.Explore the characteristics of this leadership and think about who models these attributes on your church’s team. (Excerpted from the Society For Church Consulting’s Church Staffing Summit 2015.)

#STO STO leadership

 

LEADERSHIP & 3 Perils of Modern Leadership by @BobWhitesel #ChurchCentral

by Bob Whitesel, Church Central, May 11, 2017

Leadership is an interdependent mixture of intuition, experience, and inspiration. And precisely because of this extraordinary fusion a starting place becomes difficult, if not impossible, to assign.

Staying power

As the weekend retreat ended, two influential elders of Clarkston Church3 drew me aside. “We’ve decided to call for Pastor Gordon’s removal,” began Julian. “It’s not that we haven’t tried,” continued Rosa, “but Gordon is single-minded and stubborn. This weekend has been one long sales job. He’s just trying to get us to buy his vision for a new building.” Within a week I received an e-mail announcing that the elders were bringing Gordon before the council for removal. As I thought back to my two years working as a consultant with this church, I marveled how quickly things had changed.

Two years ago, Gordon was fresh out of seminary and following a popular pastor at Clarkston Church named Joan. Joan had turned a dying church of forty attendees into a growing congregation of more than 120 worshipers. Tapped as her successor, Gordon had graduated from seminary after forty years of running an investment program for his denomination. This was his first pastorate, and I remember the passion he brought to his new vocation.

Two years later, the enthusiasm was gone, replaced by a spirit of pessimism and duress. “They wanted me to change things,” recalled Gordon in a phone conversation later that day. “And they gave me free rein. So I took it. They are forgetting that we grew a lot my first year.”

“But last year was different,” I interjected.

“Sure, they’ve got their own unrealistic ideas about how things should be done,” continued Gordon. “They don’t have the training. I do! They saw my way worked the first year. They should have listened to me last year too.”

Rosa, in her mid-seventies, and Julian, in his early thirties, formed an odd partnership aligned against Gordon. “We both feel that Gordon won’t support our ideas to help townspeople,” began Julian. “We’re the poorest area in the county, and Gordon just wants to focus on building a new sanctuary.”

“He’s afraid the new building won’t be built if we use our money to help the needy here in Clarkston,” added Rosa. “He’s forgotten our history as a denomination that looks after the poor.” Later Julian summarized: “Gordon is getting his ideas from what bigger churches are doing in bigger cities and the stuff he learned in seminary. He doesn’t listen to our input. But we’re more familiar with what people need around here because we live here. And he still doesn’t.”

Gordon recently confided, “Look, Bob, I’ve got three years until I can retire with some denominational benefits. No one wants to hire a pastor my age. So help me convince my board to do things my way for just three more years. Then I can retire. The church can hire someone else to beat up, and everyone will be happy.”4 Gordon didn’t have three years. He barely had three months.

Stands for “others”

Among tomorrow’s leaders there is a passion not for themselves or their own accomplishments but for helping those most in need: the underprivileged, disadvantaged, and deprived. To understand this empathy, let us first look at what modern leadership has evolved into, for this will help us understand the millennial reaction. Here are three perils of modern leadership:

Modern peril 1: Others and their allegiance drive the leader. 

In the modern leadership world, numerous books extol leadership as the pinnacle of human ambition.5 And many of these books measure the leader’s success in terms of how many follow her or him.6 Harvard leadership professor Barbara Kellerman said, “The modern leadership industry, now a quarter-century old, is built on the proposition that leaders matter a great deal and followers hardly at all.”7 Another leadership
writer warned, “Many in leadership positions today believe that their leadership should be measured by how many people look to or depend on them.”8 A result has been that modern leaders often measure success by the number of followers who meet the needs of the organization (or meet the needs of the leader).

Subtle clues abound in the church world, such as when the leader’s name is proudly displayed on church signage and in advertisements. Doing this builds a church on a person rather than a community and inadvertently fosters a cult of personality. Another damaging result is that the non-church community can view the leader as the most important person in the congregation. Leaders exacerbate this problem when they use possessive terms: “Mychurch is located on Second Street,” “myboard does this,” or “myyouth pastor does that.” Ownership, self-importance, and dominance are the subtle insinuation, announcing that if you want to be part of this church, you should view yourself as a possession subject to an earthly person rather than to Christ.

Modern peril 2: Others are resources to be managed. 

A type of management arose during the Industrial Revolution that valued workers for their labor, not for their worth. In 1913 Frederick Taylor described this as “scientific management”9 and famously intoned, “The worker must be trimmed to fit the job.”10 To legitimize his conclusions, he conducted time and motion studies to show how jobs could be better performed at the workers’ expense. Modern managers embraced this research to prove that by manipulating people, work can be done faster and more efficiently (oftentimes, however, at the expense of the workers’ input, self-worth, and dignity).

The human resource movement rose in reaction,11 where fulfilling a worker’s needs and aspirations was seen as equally important. But this approach came to view humans as little more than just another “resource” to be allocated, deployed, and/or deleted.12 After a century of these trends, modern leadership often became too focused on propping up the organization and/or the leader at the expense of the people it managed or served.13

An autocratic leadership model emerged in many churches that paralleled the business world where all major decisions passed through a central leader.14 Known in the business world as the sole-proprietorship model, this is a mom-and-pop business approach where all-important decisions pass through “pop,” the figurehead leader. In the church this figurehead is usually a professional clergy person. But this creates a bottleneck in the decision-making process, stalling growth for several reasons. First, growth stalls because of the time needed to get a decision approved by a senior leader. Second, volunteers may feel their input is not trusted because the volunteers must “convince” a figurehead, far removed from the work, of the merit of the volunteers’ ideas. Third, the figurehead will often respond by using past experience to criticize the new idea. Leaders become trapped in an experience trap and dismiss the innovations of others.15 Volunteers such as Rosa and Julian often feel they do not measure up to the leader’s expertise. They feel unappreciated, unacknowledged, and eventually a commodity.

Modern peril 3: Others are led by vision. 

“Everyone keeps talking about vision statements. They spend too much time on these things. Great Commission, Matthew 28:19, that’s our mission!” said Leonard Sweet.16

An abundance of books today deal with how to fine-tune a church’s vision.17 Yet very little church growth occurs because of a more accurate vision or mission statement. Rather, I have observed churches preoccupied with scrutinizing the language of their statements. Wrangling over words in our statements preoccupies congregations with the minutia of church language, disregarding the important language of good deeds to a non-church community.

Similarly, when conflict arises (as it will in the church), a leader may be tempted to retreat to her or his vision, using it as a weapon to demote the vision of others. Often, the leader may try to win over others by scheduling a vision retreat, which more aptly might be called a “vision-selling retreat.” Then, if others are not won over, leaders such as Pastor Gordon may focus on Jesus’ warning that “my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit” (John 15:1-2 NIV).18 Usually, this indicates the leader wants certain people (who don’t agree with the leader) to exit the congregation, which in a worst- case scenario can lead to congregants being forced out. This can be exacerbated if the leader has come to see one’s vision as superseding any corporate vision. This malady allows the leader to dismiss others’ foresight for ministry.19 Such a leader develops a type of people blindness.20

Excerpted from Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, by Bob Whitesel (Abingdon Press 2011). For further online notes: See Chapter 1 Complete Notes.

Photo source: istock

Read more at … https://www.churchcentral.com/blogs/3-perils-of-modern-leadership/

RETREATS & 3 lessons that make a successful retreat #ChurchCentral

by Bob Whitesel, Church Central, 7/25/17/.

 As a leadership consultant and seminar leader, I spend a lot of time at leadership retreats. I’ve seen over the years three ideas that make them more effective. 

1. A retreat should embody the idea of getting away, relaxing and enjoying the kind of fellowship that you don’t normally experience in business meetings. 

“Probably 90 percent of the retreats I attend are all day business meetings … just in a different location.”

Mistake 1: The first mistake is to make your retreat just a business meeting just in a different location. If the room doesn’t have windows you wouldn’t know that you weren’t in the typical church or university conference room. These really shouldn’t be called retreats, but relocations.

Corrective Step 1: Instead of a relocated business meeting, go to a location that allows the types of activities you normally don’t experience with your colleagues. These non-business activities can forget team building. One church went to a river rafting center. Another went to a lakeshore location where participants could rent a paddle boat or sailboat. Another school went to a amusement business where the students could compete in go cart races, arcade games and miniature golf. Granted, these are ideas especially attractive to energetic baby boomers, but the idea is to have some place you can go that offers activities that can create team building and a break from the typical business meeting simply relocated.

2. The agenda of the retreat should be revitalization and reinvigoration as indicated by the title “retreat.”

“…most retreat participants associate your vision with unrelenting promotion.”

Mistake 2: It seems most of the time retreats are scheduled by administrators to create an extended time to sell their vision. But this usually works against vision, because wearing down people does not help them buy-into the vision. As a result, most retreat participants associate your vision with unrelenting promotion.

Corrective Step 2:Use the retreat as a time for people to give feedback on their current understanding of the topic. If it is a vision retreat, ask the participants to share what they think is the vision. Then you can respond by describing to them the leadership’s perspective on the vision. This way you create dialogue which begins with questions from the retreat recipients.

3. Don’t forget to let the Lord be the revitalizer and reinvigorator of the retreat participants. 

“…people commune with God in different and personal ways.”

Mistake 3:  Sometimes leaders think that extended times of quietude and/or prayer is what the participants need. But people commune with God in different and personal ways. 

Corrective Step 3: Don’t tell participants how to communicate with God, rather give time and space to do so. Let them read, journal, reflect, sing, etc. but let it be done organically and individually. Don’t force a corporate expression of spirituality, but rather let each participant connect with God in the way that she or he feels benefits them.

By taking into account these three areas you can have a retreat that truly is a “retreat” for the attendees. Remember …

1. It is not just relocating to a different conference room and having sandwiches brought in for lunch. It is about revitalizing and restoring participants energies by letting them do something new and fun with their colleagues. 

2. And it is not about selling a vision, but rather about communication that should start with those you serve. 

3. And finally it’s about letting each person connect with God in the manner in which they connect most powerfully.

Read more at … https://www.churchcentral.com/blogs/3-lessons-that-make-a-successful-retreat/

STRATEGY & Why churches need blue-ocean strategies

by Bob Whitesel D,Min., Ph.D, , Biblical Leadership Magazine, 9/18/17.

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne analyzed 150 years of strategic decision-making and concluded that every strategy could be described as either a “red ocean strategy” or a “blue ocean strategy.” A red ocean strategy is where you go after the same people as your competitors and try to meet the same needs that your competitors are meeting. Therefore you fight over the same fish and, as sharks feeding on the same fish, the water becomes red with blood.

preorder-boshift-ebook.jpg

A blue ocean strategy, however, finds new segments of the market that are not having their needs met and begins to meet those needs. Therefore you are not competing with your competitors, but rather you are meeting needs in a segment of the market that the other competitors have overlooked.

This is very important for the church. Most churches typically try to have a better children’s ministry, a more professional worship team or a more visible/attractive facility in hopes of attracting people to the church. Typically this attracts other Christians looking for a better experience.

And, my observation has been that over the past three decades more and more churches have tried to grow by focusing on attracting other Christians rather than meeting the needs of non-churchgoers.

A red ocean vs. blue ocean strategy for the church means reaching non-churchgoers [need-meeting] rather than just reaching church-goers [attraction]. Take a look at this comparison between the two strategies published by Sage Growth Partners.

Here is a helpful comparison:

 For more insights, see W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant (Boston: Harvard Business Review Books).

Photo source: istock

Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/why-churches-need-blue-ocean-rather-than-red-ocean-strategies/

LEADERSHIP & “It is about vision, but management is about solving problems”

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 9/22/17.

I ask my students the difference between leadership and management. Here are some quotes I’ve used to describe my thinking:

“Leadership can be more prestigious, more exciting and more visionary.  But management, that’s about solving problems”

 

“Management is what’s missing in our ministry leaders.”

 

“If you get kicked out of a church, it’s usually not because of bad theology or even poor leadership … but because of bad management.”

“Leadership is about vision, but management is about solving problems.”

ETHICS & Becoming a Leader After God’s Own Heart #ChurchLeadersMBA

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2012 (excerpted with permission from The Church Leader’s MBA: What Business School Instructors Wish Pastors Knew About Management, eds. Mark Smith and David Wright, chapter title “Becoming a Leader After God’s Own Heart” by Bob Whitesel).

Today we are having the most lively ethics discussions since ancient Greece more than 2.300 year ago… – Geoffrey P. Lantos, Professor of Business Administration[i]

A Well-intentioned Misappropriation?

“They didn’t train me for this in seminary … the rules about ethical business decisions were never addressed.”

Jim, a pseudonym, was leaving the community food bank for which he had served as director. His career had been shaky from the start, but Jim felt over time he had grown into the position. Just a year before he had told me, “this (job) is where I think I’ll stay until I retire.” Now, only in his mid-40s, Jim was leaving to pursue a career in business. He had been stung by perceived ethical missteps, which eroded his credibility, and eventually eroded his support among the food bank’s board. “They didn’t train me for this in seminary,” complained Jim. “The rules for parsing verbs were explained clear enough. But the rules about ethical business decisions were never addressed.”

The ethical landscape can be a minefield for the Christian leader. Differentiating between what is appropriate and what is illicit can be daunting. Jim had learned the lesson so many church leaders learn the hard way, that high expectations are placed upon church leaders, and ethical missteps, even minor ones can be ruinous.

What was the fiscal blunder to which Jim succumbed? In the midst of trying to keep a floundering food bank afloat, he appropriated money designated specifically for food purchases and used it for office expenses. When the benefactor learned money designated for food stuffs, was now going to buy a copy machine, they demanded their money be returned. Standing upon shaky ground, Jim could not refund the money without jeopardizing the daily operations of the center. The board decided that in order to make ends meet, Jim’s salary would have to fill the gap. And thus, Jim was unceremoniously dismissed.

Jim had rationalized, that if he didn’t apply the designated money to the non-designated needs of the office, then food bank would lose its few already overworked employees. Certainly this is not what the benefactors would want. And thus, he made a judgment call. However, it was an ethical decision that the wealthy benefactors felt crossed the line of propriety. What Jim needed was some sort of system, or procedure for effectively grappling with these ethical questions.

Defining Ethics

Fred David in his seminal book on planning, tenders a common definition of ethics. David writes, “ethics can be defined as principles of conduct within organizations that guide decision making and behavior.”[ii]   This definition is good, even in its brevity, for it reminds us that ethics are not a set of hypothetical decrees, but principles that actively affect daily action and attitude. Ethics are powerful and dynamic ways of thinking that determine our choices, our actions, and our future.

In today’s world, ethics play a central role. The media is full of accounts of moral breaches of ethical behavior. And a continued barrage of ethical issues is being thrust upon businesses and churches by the pervasiveness of sexual harassment, religious prejudice, and ethnic discrimination.

Therefore, due to the dynamic and strategic nature of ethics, let’s begin our investigation with a look at how ethics are practiced in the business world. We begin with the business realm, because is it the venue where most laypeople become acquainted with ethical decision making…

Download the rest of the chapter here > Ethics_Whitesel_10.09.

[i] Geoffrey P. Lantos, “Motivating Moral Behavior,” Journal of Consumer Marketing (Arvada, Colorado: np, 1999), Vol. 16, No. 3, p. 222.

[ii] Fred R. David, Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases, op. cit., p. 20.