Posts Tagged ‘indiana wesleyan university’

Counterpoint by Keith Drury; Richard S. Taylor; Kenneth J. Collins; Wallace Thornton, Jr.; Larry D. Smith

July 21st, 2009 No comments

A Book Review
By Dr. Gayle Woods

Standing before the Christian Holiness Partnership, formerly known as the Christian Holiness Association, in 1995, Keith Drury detonated an issue which has sent shock waves through Wesleyan holiness circles for over a decade. His premise was that “The Holiness Movement is Dead.” He was not saying that any holiness church or denomination was death. Neither was he saying that the doctrine of holiness was dead. He was stating that the holiness movement is no longer moving. It is no longer making a significant impact on our society. He proceeded to list eight reasons that he felt this was true.

1. We wanted to be respectable.
2. We have plunged into the evangelical mainstream.
3. We failed to convince the younger generation.
4. We quit making holiness the main issue.
5. We lost the lay people.
6. We overreacted against the abuses of the past.
7. We adopted church-growth thinking without theological thinking.
8. We did not notice when the battle line moved.

The responses to this address were many. They varied from “So what? It was out of step with reality anyway,” to “The liberals finally have recognized that they have lost it, but we are the true remnant which is still proclaiming the truth.”

Ten years after the presentation, Schmul Publishing Company printed a compendium of responses to the original monograph in the format of dialogue. The contributors are Keith Drury, professor at Indiana Wesleyan University Richard S. Taylor, founding president of the Wesleyan Theological Society, and retired professor from Nazarene Theological Seminary; Kenneth J. Collins, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary; and Wallace Thornton, Jr, a former professor at Union Bible College. Each of these men have distinguished themselves as published authors. Larry D. Smith, who serves as the editor of “God’s Revivalist and Bible Advocate”, edited the volume.

“Counterpoint” was structured well. It began with the initial presentation by Keith Drury. An Appendix written in 2004 was added in which Dr. Drury revisited the presentation and evaluated his initial conclusions. Part Two included the published response of the other three authors. They were also allowed to evaluate their former thoughts with a 2004 appendix. Part Three was designed to allow each of the authors in turn to assess the opinions and conclusions of the other three. The book was concluded with an Epilogue by editor, Larry Smith.

Each of those involved in the dialogue made significant contributions as they dissected the problem. The holiness reader cannot help but be disturbed as the material unfolds and the causative matters are discussed. For those of us who have seen the holiness movement as a healthy vital centerpiece of our offering to the world the realization of what has taken place is gut wrenching. We must admit that Keith Drury’s assessment of the Conservative Holiness Movement is true when he says, (1) that we are mostly a “pres¬ervationist” movement making little impact upon our world; and (2) that we are “in the early (perhaps medium?) stages of the same pro¬cess” that destroyed the broader movement—perhaps twenty-five years behind. (p. 158)

In my opinion, this is a book that must be read by everyone who is sincerely concerned that the holiness movement seems to have no movement. I would challenge every pastor, board member, Sunday school superintendent, Sunday school teacher, Bible school teacher, and thinking layperson to make a prayerful study of this book. I would encourage our leaders to develop a think tank to discuss how to remedy this creeping problem. We need to listen to these prophetic voices calling us to action lest we soon have to wipe tears of regret while we listen to the reading of the obituary of our movement.

Keith Drury; Richard S. Taylor; Kenneth J. Collins; Wallace Thornton, Jr.; Larry D. Smith. Counterpoint: Dialogue with Drury on The Holiness Movement (2005). Schmul Publishing Company, Salem, OH. ISBN 0-88019-495-2

Categories: News

Growth By Accident – Death By Planning: How Not to Kill A Growing Congregation by Bob Whitsel

July 21st, 2009 No comments

A Book Review
by Dr. Gayle Woods

It was the title of the book that first grabbed my attention. Don’t we normally think in terms of church growth by planning? As I stood at his book table, I knew that Dr. Whitesel, Vice-President of the American Society for Church Growth, had something on his mind that many had probably overlooked.

Dr. Whitesel, the founder and Senior Editor of Strategies for Today’s Leader magazine, and associate professor in the College of Graduate Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University is well equipped to write on the subject of church growth. Having studied under church growth guru’s such as Peter Wagner and Charles Arn at Fuller Theological Seminary, he is well versed in this subject. Knowing Dr. Whitesel’s excitement to see God’s kingdom increase through the auspices of the local church, I could not wait to study this volume.

The author looks at eleven missteps that churches have taken which have caused them to stumble on the stairs to success only to fall to the landing of defeat. These include: Staff Influence, Worship Celebrations, Prayer, Budgets, New Facilities, Innovation, Evaluation, Dysfunctional People, Staff Education, Small Groups and the Centrality of Christ. At the first of the book he charts his course so that the subject matter is graphically simplified. The chart divides the material into “Factors That Cause Initial Growth in Churches”, “Erroneogus Decisions That Lead to Plateauing”, and “Corrective Steps to Regain Initial Growth”. (pp. 14-16) Following this plan Dr. Whitesel unpacks the material chapter by chapter look at each misstep in turn.

By giving case studies for each example of growth and decline, Dr. Whitesel’s argument that local churches often grow naturally, only to decline when the leaders begin to structure their successful ministry, is verified. It is my suspicion that the problem can be understood in terms of mission and maintenance. The church in the excitement and momentum of mission grows as the people enthusiastically are involved in ministry. As the local church grows from movement to monument, however, mission also evolves into maintenance. Organization, departmentalization, and compartmentalization occur as the leadership attempt to streamline and control what seems to be a race car that is beginning to cough and sputter like a junkyard jalopy.

Dr. Whitesel does not just tell the exciting stories of church growth only to end with the discouraging news that the people have messed up something that God has designed. Rather, he goes on to give counter measures which will hopefully correct the downward spiral and bring the church to renewed growth.

This certainly is a work that every serious pastor needs to study carefully. For some it will bring inspiration to renew their efforts at revitalizing a church that has known better days. Some will begin to understand why their efforts may have gone awry. Others will be excited with ideas that have spawned growth in different fields. Whatever the case, the reader will not be able to lay the book aside without realizing a telling impact on his ministry.
Dr. Bob Whitesel ( is an author, professor, international speaker and researcher on the organic postmodern church, non-profit management and church growth. He is Associate Professor in the College of Graduate Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University (, training tomorrow’s leaders from dozens of denominations. And, he is president of Creative Church Consulting (C3 International) a church growth consulting firm in Winona Lake, Indiana ( Dr. Whitesel has penned over 140 published articles on church leadership and management, and is the author of four books in six years for Abingdon Press including: A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (2000) with Kent R. Hunter, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change, And What You Can Do About It (2003), Growth by Accident – Death by Planning: How Not to Kill A Growing Congregation (2004), and Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations (2006).Bob Whitesel is Senior Editor of Strategies for Today’s Leader magazine, and a church consultant affiliated with the Church Growth Center. He lives in Winona Lake, Indiana. (Biographic material borrowed from Abingdon Press website:
Bob Whitsel, Growth By Accident – Death By Planning: How Not to Kill A Growing Congregation, (2004). Abingdon, Nashville. ISBN: 0-687-08325-7.

Categories: News