Monday, March 31, 2008

What's In Your Trunk?

Keep the necessary survival items.

According to BePrepared.com, the essential items you need when stranded in a mechanical 911 are water, food and warmth.

You may be able to make it without food for a few days, but your body will dehydrate without water. Water is also good for washing wounds, sanitation and for an overheating vehicle.

Since food spoils in extreme hot or cold temperatures, Calorie Food Bars are the best thing to store in your car. These bars leave you feeling full and provide you the necessary energy.

What if you’re marooned in the winter cold? According to BePrepared.com, to stay warm you may need 6 to 20 hour warm packs or emergency blankets. Place the warm packs in your gloves, shoes and pockets. Emergency blankets are made of a reflective material can reproduce up to 80% of your body heat.

Create Your Own Emergency Car Kit.

Here’s a tool kit you can put together containing items prescribed in the March/April issue of Westways Magazine: pliers, an adjustable wrench, a utility knife, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, work gloves, a quart of engine oil, antifreeze, a weatherproof flashlight, a Swiss Army knife, wire cutters, bottle opener, an ice scraper, duct tape to make a temporary patch on a leaky water hose and a dry fire extinguisher.

Familiarize yourself with these items before you run into a mechanical emergency.

Have a supply of flares or triangles. The downside of using flares is that they only burn for a short time and can create a fire hazard where there’s a spillage of fuel.


Reflective triangles last forever and are easy to see by oncoming cars especially at night. Be sure you purchase the ones with sides at least 17 inches long and reflective strips that are two inches wide.

Always keep a flashlight with fully charged batteries in your emergency car kit.

Keep jumper cables stashed in the trunk. Don’t skimp on jumper cables. The longer the cables, the less you need to position the cars together.

If you don’t know how to do a jump-start properly, you can do serious damage to your car’s electronics and yourself.

Take care of yourself as well. A cell phone is a must. Store a list of emergency contacts (ICE) in your cell phone.

Packed away in your trunk, you should also carry a first-aid kit containing bandages and dressings, instant ice and heat compresses, scissors, waterproof tape, pain relieving medicine such as Tylenol or Advil, antiseptic wipes, wound ointment and a set of instructions on basic first aid.

Invest in an up-to-date Thomas Guide to help you navigate when you’re totally lost.

Having a roadside emergency kit for mechanical breakdowns and unusual weather conditions can make the difference between getting back on the road or being stuck.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Winds

Don Brock

A New Perspective

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Yvonne Brock


Yes, Yvonne is with me on sabbatical.
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Footprints In The Sand


A private walk on my very private beach with the church-dog.
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The View Outside My Window


On sabbatical, alone with the Lord.
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Today's Prayer

Dear God, If you be for me, who can be against me? You spared not your own Son, but delivered him up for me, for us all. How shall you not with him also freely give me all things? (Romans 8:31-32).

The things you give are nothing like the things of the world. While the things of the world may entice and look pretty, they are temporary and cannot give true and lasting fulfillment. The things of the spirit are eternal and bring meaningful and lasting fulfillment.

Thank you for your many, many blessings. Thank you for my family both biological and adoptive through the church of the living Christ. Thank you for your encouraging touches and miracles in the midst of pain and suffering. Thank you for teaching me through life's circumstances and for giving me strength to endure and peace for the journey.

Thank you for all things, for every need you meet, and for Jesus Christ in whose name I pray. Amen.

Have you told your pastor lately ...?

[From Voice of Hope by Dr. E.C. McKinley]

The phone rings at 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning ... one of the members of the congregation is near death. The pastor answers the phone and within moments is on the way to the hospital.

After realizing the church member is stable, the pastor notices its almost 9:30 a.m. Just enough time to get to the church.

Standing at the front door, the pastor welcomes everyone as they enter, while looking out the door to see where everyone else is at.

The services get started and the deacon pulls the pastor aside to share that something must be wrong with the heat/air unit, there have been complaints about the temperature.

As the pastor goes to check on the heat/air unit, the treasurer hands the pastor a note to remind the moderator of the service that the insurance payment is going to be due next month, and the church really needs to take up a good offering today.

Just as the worship service is ready to start, one of the older members catches the pastor in the aisle of the sanctuary to complain about an error in the bulletin. Even though the pastor didn't catch the small error, an apology is extended ... though the pastor feels like it would never be appreciated.

After all of this, the pastor walks to the pulpit, opens the Bible and the notes prepared for this morning's message, and the pastor is exhausted ... yes, even before it begins. Yes, the physical exhaustion is because the pastor was up late on Saturday night preparing for Sunday, but the mental/emotional exhaustion is even more of a burden. Yet, the pastor declares the "whole counsel of God," gives an altar call, and even though no one responds (in fact several were slipping their winter coats on while the pastor was finishing the sermon), the pastor walks diligently to the door of the church and extends the same, warm and friendly handshake.

And yes, this goes on week after week.

I can tell you about this pastor, because I have been there, but more importantly because I personally know hundreds of pastors by first name, and I see, hear and feel their struggle. You might ask, "well, what does that have to do with me? What's with the title "Have you told your pastor lately...?" I would think the answer is obvious. Have you stopped and told your pastor lately that you appreciate the labor of love, that you appreciate the sacrifice of family time, and the all of ministry your pastor has accomplished around you.

The truth is that only once per year is NOT enough ... we should have a regular habit of telling our pastor how much we love, appreciate and care for their ministry. It can be done with a simple thank you, or a card, or you might even want to bless your pastor with a gift. How could that be wrong?

You say, "well does my pastor deserve that?" The answer is a resounding "yes!" God trusted your pastor enough to call him/her into the ministry, and I know that you will be blessed as you bless your pastor.

Why not take that opportunity today ... you don't know how long it might have been since your pastor heard those words.

God bless each of you.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

15 Signs That You (Or Your Church) Lacks Vision

[By Perry Noble]

#15 - No one is ever challenged to radically rearrange their lives to be a part of what God is doing.
#14 - God hasn’t asked you to give something up.
#13 - Everyone in your church is perfect. (If you are truly reaching lost people then you will discover that ministry is messy.)
#12 - Nothing in regards to how you lead has changed in the past year.
#11 - When your youth group wants to do something you make them have a bake sale in front of Wal Mart–but when your senior adults want to do something the church covers the cost; after all, they are tithers! (And that same church will wonder why “the youth don’t come to church anymore.”)
#10 - You always find something wrong with ministries that are seeing fruit.
#9 - You can do everything you have in front of you WITHOUT the help of God AND others.
#8 - You spend more time on other churches websites than you do reading your Bible.
#7 - You think the answer to every problem is, “If we just had more money.”
#6 - No one has ever left your church.
#5 - You continually call other churches begging them for money.
#4 - You allow people with money to dictate the way you spend your time and the direction of the church.
#3 - When you go to a conference and come back and announce “we are changing everything” because you have received INSPIRATION not REVELATION.
#2 - You’ve never spent sleepless nights wondering, “How in heck are we going to do this? Seriously, I told our church we were going to do WHAT?”
#1 - You worry more about keeping the people in your church happy than you do about pleasing God and speaking the truth.

Friday, March 28, 2008

National Doctor's Day

[By Ed Thomas]

Dr. David Stevens and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations say recognition of National Doctor's Day on Sunday is a chance for churches to acknowledge that Christian physicians have one of the biggest mission fields on earth.

CEO of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), Dr. Stevens says physicians sacrifice years of costly study followed by the hard work and stress of their profession, and he thinks communities should acknowledge those sacrifices. Stevens also hopes churches in those communities will help doctors recognize their key placement for the Christian gospel's sake. "I see every Christian doctor as a medical missionary. Our members -- over 17,000 -- may not serve in a foreign country, but each day they have dozens of intimate conversations with patients who do not have a relationship with God," Stevens contends. According to Stevens, doctors can influence patients or even lead them to Christ through their medical skills and Christian attitude. He says churches should encourage doctors for this reason. "Make this a special day for them, and then help them to see that they're [an] extension of God into the community from that church, to introduce people to Christ and move them on their journey towards God," Stevens says. Stevens also notes churches can refresh the vocational desire and the spiritual service of physicians by recognizing them with notes, prayer, and other special means suggested at the CMDA website.

Day of Prayer for Students

The month of March is “Students First” at First Priority. God’s design is that all children have adults in their life to encourage, mentor and pray for them. In other words, our children come first. It is their needs and battles that must concern us before we consider our wants and desires.

Because of this need, First Priority has secured from the Governor a proclamation naming March 30th as the Day of Prayer for Students Across Alabama. When teachers and principals were required by court decisions to stop leading students in prayer, we lost a powerful weapon in the battle for the souls of our kids and our nation. Its time for adults to reclaim that weapon by stepping up to the challenge and praying for and with students across Alabama! Our children don’t just need our prayers, they deserve them!

http://www.gofirstpriority.com/dayofprayer.htm

Today's Prayer

Dear God, You have instructed me to not be anxious, worrisome, overly concerned for any thing ... but instead to bring everything to you in prayer and thanksgiving. If I do this, you have promised me that your peace, which passes all understanding, shall keep my heart and mind through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). I come to you now for myself and on behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and for those who suffer so much due to anxiety and depression. I pray that you will fill us with your peace; that you will touch our minds and remind us that we do not need to worry. You are our God and maker. You will handle it for us. Worrying does no good. May we lean into you, talk with you, spend time in your Word and before the throne of grace.

May we fellowship with other Christians, those who will encourage us, even more so as the day approaches. Right now, this day, we give you our concerns and ask that you will work out all to our good and your glory. Thank you, Father, for loving us and carrying our burdens. Thank you, Father, for providing our needs. Thank you, Father, for Jesus Christ our Savior and the hope He has given. For it is in His name I pray, amen.

Strom Selected as President of Trinity Bible College

[By Steve Tvedt]

On February 29, 2008, the Trinity Bible College Board of Regents took action to form an Executive Team for the college by selecting G.L. (Jack) Strom, Samuel H. Johnson and Samuel Farina, to assume executive leadership of the college. Strom was selected to be the president of the college. Strom, along with his wife Barb, will be relocating from Florida to Ellendale, North Dakota, to fill the President's office immediately.

"As the president of Trinity Bible College, along with the newly elected Executive Team members, Rev. Sam Johnson and Rev. Sam Farina," Strom says, "I plan to capitalize on the strengths of TBC and focus on communicating a progressive but relevant vision for the future."

Ministry is an inseparable part of Strom's life, whether as the son of a minister, a Bible college student, pastor, church college administrator, missionary evangelist or strategic initiative planner. After serving as a pastor, in 1972, Strom joined the administrative team of North Central Bible College (now North Central University) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he served as vice president of Development. In 1982, he left the college to start his own strategic planning service, Strom Ministry Concepts. Strom has led churches and para-church organizations to dramatic growth in giving, both as a pastor and as a capital fund initiative planner. Under his consulting leadership, churches, colleges and other church related ministries have experienced increases in giving, totaling millions of dollars.

Church Participates With ABC's Extreme Home Makeover - Pastor Joey Turman

In early February, Pathway Temple Church of God of Mobile, Alabama, was asked by ABC Television and Heritage Homes to help with the popular television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. As many as 150 members from Pathway volunteered, says Andric Daugherty, administrative pastor at Pathway. They served meals, worked in the house for the Gaudet family, whose home was damaged by Katrina, and acted as tour guides for guests and VIPs.

Several Pathway businessmen contributed their skills with such things as cabinet installation and trim carpentry. Others helped raise trusses, clean the house, and move furniture. Many Pathway members were on hand at the end of the week to shout those famous words "Move That Bus!"

The Gaudet family, recipients of the home improvement, was chosen in part because of their volunteer work in the community. "They have given so much to the Mobile area, and now the Mobile area is able to give something back," remarked Pathway's Pastor Joey Turman.

Money Management Conference for Churches

Church Executive magazine is sponsoring an event to help churches being affected by the recent economic downturn. The two-day workshop, designed to help churches anticipate and prepare money strategies for possible lean times, will take place this spring.

On May 19-20, Church Executive magazine will sponsor "Managing the Money: Transactions and Transparency" in Grapevine, Texas. Spokesman Ron Keener says the sessions on money management could be vital to the financial solvency of churches whose members are facing their own cash crises during the current tough economic climate -- including salary freezes, layoffs, and foreclosures.

Monetary conditions in the lives of church members, according to Keener, impact "congregations ... and what's put in the offering plate." He contends churches may soon "deal with a cash flow that might be going downward."

Keener believes churches should also investigate the need to set aside proper cash reserves or even acquire a line of credit. He says the seminars will be chock-full of ways for church pastors, business administrators, and finance committee members to learn how to analyze expenses, work on financial targets, and adjust operational plans for a more secure future. "It's a matter of controlling costs and understanding how they can take care of financial matters better," Keener notes.

Church Executive magazine is published for larger churches and megachurches needing guidance in administration and management. Registration for the workshop is available at the magazine's website.

Parents Choose Faith Over Doctors - Girl Dies

Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.

An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died last Sunday from diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body.

"She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness," the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.
The girl's mother, Leilani Neumann, said the family believes in the Bible and that healing comes from God, but she said they do not belong to an organized religion or faith, are not fanatics and have nothing against doctors.

She insisted her youngest child, a wiry girl known to wear her straight brown hair in a ponytail, was in good health until recently.

"We just noticed a tiredness within the past two weeks," she said Wednesday. "And then just the day before and that day (she died), it suddenly just went to a more serious situation. We stayed fast in prayer then. We believed that she would recover. We saw signs that to us, it looked like she was recovering."

Her daughter — who hadn't seen a doctor since she got some shots as a 3-year-old, according to Vergin — had no fever and there was warmth in her body, she said.

The girl's father, Dale Neumann, a former police officer, said he started CPR "as soon as the breath of life left" his daughter's body.

Family members elsewhere called authorities to seek help for the girl.

"My sister-in-law, she's very religious, she believes in faith instead of doctors ...," the girl's aunt told a sheriff's dispatcher Sunday afternoon in a call from California. "And she called my mother-in-law today ... and she explained to us that she believes her daughter's in a coma now and she's relying on faith."

The dispatcher got more information from the caller and asked if an ambulance should be sent.
"Please," the woman replied. "I mean, she's refusing. She's going to fight it. ... We've been trying to get her to take her to the hospital for a week, a few days now."

The aunt called back with more information on the family's location, emergency logs show. Police and paramedics arrived within minutes and immediately called for an ambulance that took her to a hospital.

But less than an hour after authorities reached the home, Madeline — a bright student who left public school for home schooling this semester — was declared dead.

She is survived by her parents and three older siblings.

"We are remaining strong for our children," Leilani Neumann said. "Only our faith in God is giving us strength at this time."

The Neumanns said they moved from California to a modern, middle-class home in woodsy Weston, just outside Wassau in central Wisconsin, about two years ago to open a coffee shop and be closer to other relatives. A basketball hoop is set up in the driveway.

Leilani Neumann said she and her husband are not worried about the investigation because "our lives are in God's hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do."

[What do you think? Are the parents guilty of crime of faith? Does all faith take a risk?]

Today's Quote

“Sometimes, a leader emerges from among equals, a man whose natural charisma, stability, and sense of purpose make everyone turn to him, just as the office plants turn toward the window. There’s something special there, and everybody recognizes it, even if no one can put a finger on it. Leadership isn’t a job or a title, it’s a calling.”

(David Zinczenko-Men’s Health Magazine editor)

What If The Church Closed For Retraining?

[By Dave Ferguson]

My high school age daughter Amy is a barista at Starbucks. A few weeks ago all the Starbucks across North America closed shop for three and half hours in the evening. Why? To hear from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz via video about the companies need to get back to it's original vision. Next, the store manager talked about several strategic changes that the store would make to give the customer better and more personalized service. And the evening ended by re-training everyone at that Starbucks store. When my daughter got home here is what she said to me, "Dad, you would have loved it! ... It's really weird, I know that I really work at a fast food chain, but they made me believe that it really matters."

So here is my question: If we were to close all the churches across North America for three and half hours and we had the chance to vision-cast and re-train every Christ Follower, what would need to be said and what would you do?

[Click "comments" below to leave your's.]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Top Pastor Resources

[By Anthony Braswell]

I’m always looking new resources, so I thought you may be as well. Check out some of my favorites!

The following are my top ten resources:
  • The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork – John Maxwell
  • Communicating for a Change – Andy Stanley
  • Confessions of a Pastor – Craig Groeschel
  • The Creative Leader – Ed Young Jr.
  • Into the Future – Elmer Towns
  • Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age – Ed Stetzer
  • Seven Practices of Effective Ministry – Andy Stanley
  • Simple Church – Thom Rainer
  • The Way of the Shepherd – Kevin Leman
  • Church Marketing 101 – Richard Reising

The following are my top ten websites:

Personal (Sabbatical) Update

Yvonne and I are on sabbatical. I cannot express how important it is for pastors to take a sabbatical from time to time. When I am away, in the mountains or on the ocean, I can think so much more clearly and focus so much better on the real priorities of life and ministry. A sabbatical must be longer than a few days. We must disconnect from the world as we know it in order to reconnect with God. Jesus set the example. How often did He retreat or get away during His three years of ministry?

Most congregations do not understand the importance of sabbaticals. It will take good communications and teaching to change this culture. But, it must be done to preserve and improve pastoral leadership. It will pay great dividends to the pastor and the congregation.

A sabbatical (from Greek sabbatikos) is a prolonged hiatus, typically one year, in the career of an individual taken in order to fulfill some goal, e.g., writing a book or traveling extensively for research. Some universities and other institutional employers of scientists, physicians, and/or academics offer a paid sabbatical as an employee benefit, called sabbatical leave. Some companies offer an unpaid sabbatical for people wanting to take career breaks - this is a growing trend in the UK, with 20% of companies having a career break policy, and 10% considering introducing one.

Sabbaticals are often taken by professors, pastors, cartoonists (e.g. Gary Larson and Bill Watterson), musicians (e.g. Cindy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin) and sportsmen (e.g. Alain Prost). Academic sabbaticals are typically for one year following six years of full-time employment. Also taken by those young professionals who just need a break from work to determine if a career path is correct for them.

In UK and Irish students' unions, particularly in higher education institutions, students can be elected to become sabbatical officers of their students' union, either taking a year out of their study (in the academic year following their election) or remaining at the institution for a year following completion of study. Sabbatical officers are usually provided with a living allowance or stipend.

As Yvonne and I spend this time alone with God, we are already seeing things differently. God is restoring our divine vision.

We may take a little longer - until April 8 or so.

Today's Prayer

Dear God, I know that You have a plan for my life. Sometimes, I'm not sure I'm following the right path that will fulfill Your perfect will. I pray that You will give me discernment to make the right choices, and to recognize when You place someone in my life to give direction and point out truths that will prepare me for the path I am to follow and the circumstances I am to face. Lord, please give me strength, grace, and unction from on high to not turn back neither to one side or the other, but to remained focused straight ahead on You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Tithing and Giving

(By Chris Blumhofer)

I just finished my taxes, and as part of the process, I reviewed a statement of all the contributions that my wife and I made to our church last year. It was humbling.

I was reminded of a missionary that Stephanie and I supported, and the time that we shared a meal with him and heard about the kingdom-building work going on in the U.K. Good times.

But there are embarrassing omissions on our statement, too. Last July is an example, when our church recorded zero contributions from us. I vividly recall four weeks of, "Did you remember the offering?" "No, I thought you had it."

This year, my wife and I are striving to do better, though not under any illusions that four more weeks of tithing will usher in the kingdom. Instead, we give because we're convinced that faithful, generous giving is the appropriate response to him who's been so generous to us.

A church that embraces the right attitudes toward tithing requires wise leadership in the area of financial stewardship.

[The entire church leadership team must have the right training and attitude on how to teach tithing and giving.]

Fire Damages Church

A fire damaged the interior of the 21st Street Church of God of Prophecy in Kansas City, Kan. The fire was believed to have started in a kitchen area. No one was hurt.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Does Your Church Have Unity?

[Here are five ways to help your church remain united by Rick Warren.]

Does your church have the kind of unity that honors God and draws others to the cross?

As pastors, it’s our job to face conflicts and lead the church in a united effort. Let's look at five ways to help your church remain united.

[ more]

Universities Will Teach the "Business" of Church Management

[By: Ed Thomas]

Villanova University's new graduate-level church management program, offered online beginning this summer, is designed to bring standard knowledge of financial controls and reporting, and personnel management, up to speed enough to help avoid any more moral scandals or embezzlement situations in religious institutional settings.

It is one of three new programs started within the last year at major Catholic universities, according to Charles Zech, director of Villanova's Center for the Study of Church Management -- which researches church management issues and looks for policy solutions. "With all the problems that [Catholic and Protestant] churches have had in recent years ... with managerial issues, we felt the time was right for the business school to get involved and do something to address those issues," says Zech.

"All churches face the same sort of problems [with such things as] financial control ... evaluating their personnel ... reconciling church law with civil law ...," he adds. "So all the issues we talk about in our program are germane to all churches in the United States today."

With the program specifically tailored for church management situations and legal issues, Zech feels it will be more help to clergy and lay volunteers in churches than just a standard business program with a broader range of issues -- and more useful in identifying red flags that might have headed off disasters like the priest sex abuse scandal and several high-profile embezzlement cases.

"The best thing that we can do for someone is give them the tools to be good managers," Zech shares, "and it really, then, protects them from being accused of something -- because if they know what they're doing, they're less likely to get themselves in trouble and less likely to have folks accusing them of making a mistake, either on purpose or not." So far enrollment has been 50-50 clergy and laity, as well as Catholic and Protestant. Zech hopes many more religious-affiliated universities will follow suit on similar church management programs in the future.

Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and Boston College began similar programs in September.

(Source: OneNewsNow.com)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pastor - Your Life IS Different. Embrace It.

[From LifeChurch.tv : swerve by Craig Groeschel]

Pastors, your life is different.

I used to fight for the normal life. One of my mentors told me that as long as I strive for normal, I’ll fail. He encouraged me to embrace the differences of ministry and learn to flourish within those differences. (Living the balanced life will likely be impossible.)

Pastor, here are just a few ways your life is different:
  • You prepare new messages every week for the same crowd. (I can’t think of any other profession who does this without the help of curriculum or speech writers.)
  • You do what many managers or business owners do. (The short list includes: maintaining the building, building new facilities, hiring, training and firing staff, overseeing the budget, raising money, recruiting and leading volunteers, etc.)
  • You shepherd the flock. You might counsel someone who is suicidal, meet with a couple who is about to divorce, do a funeral and a wedding before your preach on the weekend.
  • You are rarely “off duty.” Like the doctor who might be on call one weekend a month, you are almost always “on call.”
  • Though your hours are flexible, they are generally long and unusual. You work many nights, weekends and most holidays.
  • You have the pressure of life in the “fish bowl.”
  • Your role creates many social obligations.
  • No matter how much you do, your ministry is never “finished.”

Some resent the differences. Some embrace them. I choose to embrace the differences and strive to follow Christ as my model instead of the culture’s cry for balanced living.

Which of these differences affect you? What differences have I not mentioned that are important to you?

How Important Is Children's Ministry?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Free Online Storage

[From Planting Space by Doug]

Most church plants cannot afford to have office space in the early days. One of the problems that creates is how to share files easily between staff members who are working out of their homes.

Many companies are now offering free online storage for files. ADrive is currently offering 50GB of free online storage. You can use this service as an easy way to exchange files or as a cheap and secure backup solution.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter greetings!. On this day, Christians around the world join in celebrting the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man.

For Christians everywhere, Easter is a day when, in the words of the ancient Exultet hymn, the earth "rejoices in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of its King." It is a time to be humbled by and grateful for God's sacrifice and boundless love and to rejoice in the sheer wonder of life and the promise of victory over death.

Easter comes at the end of the Lenten season, a period of penitence and solemnity in many Christian traditions. The Lenten season prepares Christ' s followers for the joyous affirmation that "Christ is Risen!" Holy Week activities, including Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday, remind the faithful of the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Many traditions associated with Easter have become a part of our American way of life. Although these customs may differ, the universal message of Easter draws all Christian communities together. As families and friends gather to celebrate, we renew our commitment to follow the example of Jesus Christ in loving our neighbors and giving of ourselves for others. On this joyous day, let us also remember all those in need and those Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.

Yvonne joins me in sending best wishes for a wonderful Easter.

Don & Yvonne Brock

Revised Year End Report Released

The revised Year End Report has been released by the COGOP.

To download in PDF, CLICK HERE.

You will also find the link under "Downloadable Documents" in the right column of this Blog.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five Rules For Meeting With Your Mentor

[From Perry Noble dot com by Perry]

I have had the privilege of being mentored by some incredible leaders, some you would know, others you might not – but nonetheless, God has used them to teach me SO MUCH about life and ministry.

Over the years I have developed five rules for meeting with a mentor that I would love to share here today … you may agree or disagree, all I know is that they have worked for me.

#1 - I Always Adjust To Their Schedule–ALWAYS!

When I am attempting to set up an appointment with someone I want to meet with – I always ask them (or their assistant) to throw two or three dates at me that is most convenient for them … and then I adjust my schedule to make the meeting happen.

I NEVER send them the times I want and then ask them to adjust their schedules. I am the one who wants the meeting … and if they are available to me I will bend over backwards to hang out with them.

#2 - I Am Always Early For The Appointment.

If I am driving from out of town I always make sure I arrive around 30 minutes early. If I get their TOO early then I will find a coffee shop – OR break out a book (ALWAYS have a book with you.)

Usually I will arrive at the person’s office to meet them about 15 minutes early … and quite a few times the person I am meeting with has been ready, thus giving me “bonus time!”

#3 - I Have A List Of At Least Five Questions That I Want To Ask.

I remember John Maxwell saying to me once, “I will mentor you, but you have to ask the questions. I am not preparing a lesson for you … YOU guide this meeting. If you want to know something – ASK. If you don’t ask anything then we don’t really have anything to talk about.”

SO … anytime I meet with a mentor (especially JOHN) I am LOADED with questions. Sometimes I get them all answered … sometimes I don’t … but I NEVER walk into a meeting without having a list of what I would like to know.

#4 - I Don’t Talk About Myself Unless They Ask.

When I meet with a mentor I don’t spend 30 minutes telling them about myself, my daily routine and how good I think I am. I ask questions and then SHUT UP! If I disagree I do not argue. If they ask me a question then I will answer … if not then I will keep on asking them my questions. They didn’t ask to meet with me … I wanted to meet with them – TO LEARN from them, not debate them.

#5 - I Always Send A Note/Gift Saying Thanks.

I haven’t done this until recently … but anytime someone gives me time I will send them a Starbucks gift card or a restaurant gift cardn – just to thank them for the time. (And I jot them about a four sentence note – NOT A BOOK, but a note.)

Those are my rules … hope they help!

Update - Dr. Charles W. Conn

Dr. Charles W. Conn, who served in the highest capacities of leadership in the Church of God, passed away on March 18. He was 88.

Charles Conn’s ministry spanned a wide spectrum of positions throughout his ministerial career. A native of Atlanta, Ga., Conn’s first denominational appointment was in Louisiana where he was the 20 year-old Sunday school and youth director for the state. Two years later he accepted his first church where he served as a pastor for six years at two Missouri churches , St. Joseph (1942-44) and Leadwood (1944-48). By 1948, Charles Conn had earned his ordination and the Church of God had recognized his emerging leadership by appointing him director of Sunday school and youth literature. Four years later, at the age of 32, he would be appointed editor-in-chief of all Church of Godpublications. For the next decade, Charles Conn’s integrity and respect as a church leader, author and historian would rise. In 1955 he released perhaps his most enduring legacy to the Church of God, Like A Mighty Army, the first comprehensive history of the Church of God. The publication would be the first of nearly two dozen titles Conn would pen throughout his career, including Pillars of Pentecost, Where the Saints Have trod, The Bible: Book of Books, A Guide to the Pentateuch, Acts of the Apostles, Why Men Go back, Cradle of Pentecost, the Pointed Pen and Anatomy of Evil.

In 1962 Dr. Conn was elected assistant general overseer on the Church of God Executive Committee, the denomination’s highest governing body. He would serve eight years on the Committee, rising in 1966 to the office of General Overseer, the highest role of leadership within the Church of God. During his tenure from 1966-70 the church of God would grow around the world and a new general offices building would be dedicated at the current site of the international offices in Cleveland, Tennessee. During his years on the Executive Committee he represented the Church of God in several interdenominational capacities such as the executive committee of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, the presidium of the Pentecostal World Conference and the board of directors of the National Association of Evangelicals.

In 1970, General Overseer Conn became President Conn when he accepted the presidency of theChurch of God’s flagship educational institution, Lee College. His leadership over the next twelve years would be marked by a time of unprecedented growth and advancement, both in student enrollment and standing in the academic community. New enrollment records were set during his tenure and a new 1,800 seat auditorium – the Conn Center – was constructed.

From 1982-84, Charles Conn would serve for two years as state overseer for the Church of God inVirginia. In years to follow he would devote his time to Church of God history as the official Historian for the Church of God. He would lead the Historical Commission and serve as a valuable resource of knowledge and history of the Church of God.

During his appointed and elected positions throughout his life, Conn received numerous recognitions, honors and awards and served on boards and ministries. Including his service on the Executive Committee and excluding the years off due to tenure limitation, Dr. Conn served for 30 years on theChurch of God Executive Council, from 1952-1990. He was a member of the National Radio and Television Board (1962-64), director of Ministry to the Military (1962-66), member of the national Layman’s Board (1964-66) and the Centennial Commission (1980-86). He is the recipient of the Doctor of Letters degree from Lee University (1962) and a Doctor of Divinity from Berea TheologicalCollege in South Africa (1977).

In addition to an honorary doctorate, Charles Conn’s alma mater Lee University has honored him in various ways over the years. In 1960 he was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. A Charles W. Conn scholarship was endowed for needy students by the Collegiate Sertoma Club . The annual Charles W. Conn Leadership Award and scholarship was established several years ago and the Lee board of directors bestowed the title President Emeritus in 1999.

First and foremost in the life of Charles W. Conn was his wife Edna, who passed away in 1997, and their twelve children Philip, Sara, Stephen, Paul, Sharon, Raymond, Camilla, Mark, Cathy, Bruce, Jeffrey and Melody.

The family will receive friends on Friday, March 21, 2008 at Ralph Buckner Funeral Home, 4:00-7:00 pm. The funeral will be Saturday, March 22, 10:00 am. (location to be determined).

Please continue to keep the Conn family in your prayers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How To Reduce Desk Clutter

[By Bill Reichart]

One of the best practices in ministry is trying to stay organized.

I have never seen your office, but if it is anything like mine - you are constantly fighting against the clutter.

Crown Financial Ministries has some thoughts on the high cost of clutter. Here are some highlights:
  • National studies have shown that the typical executive spends four and one-half hours a week looking for lost papers. At a salary of $30,000, the cost of searching for important papers, measured in lost time, is $3,376 per year. At $60,000, the cost is $6,752 per year. At $100,000, the annual cost jumps to $11,250.

As staggering as these costs are, the majority of managers and business owners with whom I've worked report that they lose even more. I have found that the cost often jumps to 15 percent of their yearly income.

Just think—at this rate, nearly two years of each life is lost looking through clutter.

Penelope Trunk thinks that simply having a messy desk alone can undermine your career.

Clutter isn't just paper. It is also electronic. The History Channel show "Modern Marvels" recently aired a show about 90s technology that proved this startling statistic:

  • In 2007, over 170 billion email messages were sent per day. That's almost 2 million messages every second. 70% of them were spam and viruses.

Our lives are filled with clutter and information overload!

I don't presume to have this issue fixed and settled, but here are some ways that I help reduce clutter:

  • Limit paper - I tell everybody, don't send me paper. I don't want to have to file it and then try to find it later. I am pushing most of my information online. Google Docs and Google Notebook are my big "go-to's." It is easier to store and find my documents on Google Docs rather than search email attachments or my hard drive. Also, with Google Notebook I clip and save any interesting fact or illustration for a future sermon/save online receipts/store important information etc. I believe that Google Notebook is one of the more underrated tools within the Google stable of online apps.
  • Use a good email client - Gmail is the king. I use labels and filters to make sure only the email I need to read reaches me. Also they have an awesome spam filter that significantly reduces the clutter in my life..

Wife of Former AG General Superintendent Passes Away

Wife of former AG general superintendent passes away Elizabeth H. (Price) Zimmerman, wife of former General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman, passed away March 18 at Maranatha Village, Springfield, Missouri, after short illness. She was 93.

Visitation to be held 4-8 p.m. Thursday, March 20, in Maranatha Village chapel. Funeral services to be held 10 a.m. Friday at Central Assembly of God, Springfield. Arrangements are under direction of Greenlawn North.

COGOP Releases Year End Review

To download PDF document, CLICK HERE.

Or, download from "Downloadable Documents" in the right column of this Blog.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking (also "best practice benchmarking" or "process benchmarking") is a process used in management and particularly strategic management, in which organizations evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice, usually within their own sector. This then allows organizations to develop plans on how to adopt such best practice, usually with the aim of increasing some aspect of performance. Benchmarking may be a one-off event, but is often treated as a continuous process in which organizations continually seek to challenge their practices.

Benchmarking is a powerful tool because it overcomes "paradigm blindness." Paradigm Blindness can be summed up as the mode of thinking, "The way we do it is the best because this is the way we've always done it." Benchmarking opens organizations to new methods, ideas and tools to improve their effectiveness. It helps crack through resistance to change by demonstrating other methods of solving problems than the one currently employed, and demonstrating that they work, because they are being used by others.

Churches and ministry organizations can benchmark and track many things:
  • Attendance
  • Offerings
  • Tithes
  • Reports
  • Outreach
  • Evangelism
  • Growth
  • New Births
  • Baptism
  • Membership
  • Volunteers
  • Web Hits
  • News Articles
Each of these can be tracked in many ways. Whatever the specifics, benchmark the things that reflect your goals, objectives, and priorities.

Metrics

Metrics are used in business models, CMMI, ISM3, Balanced scorecard and knowledge management. These measurements or metrics can be used to track trends, productivity, resources etc. Typically, the metrics tracked are key performance indicators, also known as KPIs. For example, metrics are used to better understand how an organization is performing compared to other similar organizations.

Most methodologies define hierarchies to guide organizations in achieving their strategic or tactical goals. An example can be:
The intention is to identify future-state objectives, relate them to specific goals that can be achieved through critical success factors or performance drivers which are then monitored and measured by key performance indicators. Through this hierarchy, organizations can define and communicate relationships between metrics and how they contribute to the achievement of organizational goals and objectives.


Metrics are important in IT Service Management including ITIL; the intention is to measure the effectiveness of the various processes at delivering services to customers. Some suggest that data from different organizations can be gathered together, against an agreed set of metrics, to form a benchmark, which would allow organizations to evaluate their performance against others to establish, objectively, how well they are performing.

Church goals and objectives that cannot be measured, are not effective.


An example of a church metric is the show-up-rate of volunteers. This number can give insight into the leadership and vision-buy-in at a church.

It is important to know how many serving spots are necessary for a church. One measurement is the percentage of people who show up. (This number is rarely 100% because of sickness, conflicts, etc.)


If the show-up-rate is 90% at one church and 68% at another, this probably indicates a problem at the second location.

  • You may not be placing the right people in the right roles.
  • You may not be adequately training volunteers.
  • You may not be appreciating volunteers.
  • You may not be communicating well.
  • You might consider tracking the show up rate over time to see if you are improving or slipping in helping your volunteers make a difference by serving.

Former COG General Overseer Passes Away

Former Church of God General Overseer Dr. Charles Conn, 88, died Tuesday in a Chattanooga hospital.

He served the denomination in several capacities, including pastor, editor in chief of the Church of God Publications, member of the Executive Council and president of Lee College.

A native of Atlanta, Ga., he has lived in Cleveland since 1948. He served the Church of God as general overseer from 1966 to 1970.
For 12 years, Conn served as president of Lee College, now Lee University, from 1970 to 1982. He has been serving as president emeritus of Lee University.

In 1955, Conn published his acclaimed history of the Church of God movement, “Like A Mighty Army.” The book was the first printed by the Church of God’s publishing arm, which emerged as Pathway Press.

He has edited and written 23 books.

Under Conn’s leadership at Lee College, Carroll Courts, a married student apartment complex was constructed and a new auditorium, which later was named the Charles W. Conn Center by the board of directors.

“Dr. Charles W. Conn served as a statesman for the Church of God for many decades. Currently president emeritus at Lee University, he also served as general overseer, president of Lee University, church historian, and in many other leadership positions. Dr. Conn strategically impacted the church and the Pentecostal world. His influence and legacy will endure for generations to come,” noted G. Dennis McGuire, general overseer, this morning.

Raymond F. Culpepper, assistant general overseer, said, “Dr. Charles W. Conn not only touched the minds of hundreds of thousands of people through his writing and historical research, he brought profound influence to me personally. Charles W. Conn has exemplified holiness, dignity, respect and love for his family and church.”

“Dr. Charles W. Conn was a minister of the gospel whose faith was founded in the Word of God and translated into a life of committed discipleship which is reflected in the legacy he leaves to the Church of God,” said Dr. Paul L Walker, secretary general for the Church of God.

“Few times in life do we realize that a giant has come our way. Such a person was Dr. Charles W. Conn. A talented writer and author of Like a Mighty Army, the story of the development of the Church of God, his leadership – including service as general overseer of the denomination and president of Lee University – established significant milestones in the church’s ministry and worldwide growth,” noted Beecher Hunter. “Not only did he write about the history of the church, but he helped make it. While editor of The Cleveland Daily Banner during some of those important years, it was my privilege to help chronicle his decisions and achievements. Despite the important roles that he played, Dr. Conn remained humble, filled with a vibrant faith in his Lord and passionate about the work of the church. I have lost a dear friend.”

Conn was married to Edna Minor Conn. They had 12 children.

Complete survivors and funeral arrangements will be coming from Ralph Buckner Funeral Homes.Church of God officials, members, and friends are mourning the passing of Dr Charles W Conn, who was promoted to glory last night!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Personal Note ...

This is a relatively new Blog. As the Blogger, my original intent was to offer information and tools to encourage, support, and assist pastors everywhere. To me they are the unsung heroes of today. The posts have primarily been limited to professional musings by me or others.

Some of my old readers from the Harvest News Blog have requested that I include more COGOP and personal news from time to time.

That is fine with me, but how do you feel? Let me know.

Today's Prayer

Oh Lord; Help me be strong and courageous. Empower, lift up, and encourage me that I will not be terrified of any thing, person nor circumstance, neither let me be discouraged, for You, the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9). No matter what I face today, I know that You are with me and Your Holy Spirit lives within me. I know that the blood of Jesus has covered my sin and washed me white as snow, that I may be righteous in Him and live unto Him. I praise You and thank You Lord Almighty for Your strength, power, grace, mercy, and love. May You be glorified in all the earth, and through my life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What Should You Know About Your Pastor?

[From Mark Beeson by Mark Beeson]

I'm pondering the perceptions of people in the Church.

When faithful followers of Christ listen to their pastors, watch their lives and see their examples, they expose themselves to massive doses of spiritual radiation. The searing example emitted by our spiritual leaders transmits more than a tinge of fissionable material into our psyches. Our leaders mark us.

After watching your pastor for years, and listening to hundreds of heartfelt sermons, do you have a sense of your pastor's core values? Have you gained a sense for your pastor's convictions? Would you say you know the general direction your pastor is headed?

Such knowledge requires defacto context and background. Freeze-frame any moment in time and we'll be incapacitated; we'll be unable to properly speak of that pastor's direction, velocity or momentum. (Listening to one isolated sermon, on one weekend, makes it virtually impossible to adjudicate the pastor's beliefs, opinions or values. Experiencing one message, in one moment, limits your understanding and is demonstrably inadequate for comprehensive assessment.)

Assuming you've listened to your pastor for years (whether you relate to your pastor on a personal level or not) do you have a sense of your pastor's principles, ethics and priorities? Whether you agree or not, do you know your pastor's position on core issues?

The question is not, "Do you agree?" The question is, "Should you know?"

Every Christian will not agree with their pastor on every issue. I'm sure many people at GCC disagree with me on a number of ancillary topics. That's both positive and strengthening to our ministry. Complementary viewpoints enable congruency and alignment if we value each other enough to listen, learn and work together.

God created different members of One Body and every component Christian cooperates for the glory of God's story.

We're not the same.

We collaborate with people holding divergent views and opinions.We sometimes partner with leaders looking for consequences we don't prioritize. We often gain ground as we learn from people holding different values, religious convictions and political positions.

We're better together.

Since the day God gave Adam and Eve a team and partnership, humanity has enjoyed the strength and progress enabled by complementary gifting. Different roles and divergent views make rich the journey of life. Differences offer opportunities unknown in the homogeneous puree of communities pounded into conformity.

We don't have to agree on everything to make progress on important things.

The question is, "Have you the requisite contextual information to know what your pastor thinks about important things?" If not, hold your tongue. You don't know enough to speak.

Salacious lies, spin, and scandalous innuendo may diminish more ministries and undermine more pastors than we imagine. The rumormonger verbalizing snap judgments based on partial information is a bane on our existence and anathema in the Church. The scriptures condemn gossip.

Be judicious; think before you speak about someone, especially someone leading a church.

What do you think?
  • Can people learn the mission, vision and values of their pastor?
  • How long does that take?
  • Does it matter?
  • Do you care?

A pastor's direction and core values, manifest in their life-mission and evidenced in their ministry record, are important to me. How about you?

Taking a Shot at the Pulpit

[By: Jake Jost, Investigative Producer, WBIR, Knoxville, TN]

A woman accused of storming her former church and shooting a pulpit is out of the hospital and headed to jail.

Cocke County Sheriff's deputies escorted Janet Compton out of the hospital Friday afternoon.

Compton is accused of firing a shot inside the Hilltop Church in Newport last Wednesday night. A bullet ricocheted off the floor and lodged in the pulpit her husband stood behind. The couple is going through a divorce.

A wreck while fleeing the church sent Compton to the hospital in critical condition. She faces charges of attempted first degree murder, reckless endangerment, and possession of a firearm to go armed.

Armed Guards at Church are Recommended

[By Mike Conneen - Fox 21, Colorado Springs]

Colorado Springs Police and New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd hosted a church security forum Thursday.

Organizers said they wanted to share information with local churches to help them in their efforts to provide security.

A C.S.P.D. Crime Prevention Officer touched on emergency planning, including the role of greeters and ushers and how to interpret suspicious activity.

More than 100 churches and other religious organizations registered to participate. They are from communities across the Pikes Peak region, and as far as Canon City, Castle Rock and Denver.

Boyd said he does not want to see another attack on another church.

"We're not calling ourselves experts but we have some contemporary experience that could be helpful to to others," he said.

Boyd said the church made immediate changes ... mainly, more visibility of police officers and security guards.

He said he absolutely recommends churches use armed guards. He said, in today's culture, it is the wise thing to do.

"If we had not had someone on our campus with a gun, we'd be doing funerals for three weeks," he said.

President Bush Addressed the NRB

President George W. Bush addressed the National Religious Broadcasters convention Tuesday, March 11, 2008 in Nashville, Tenn.

He said, "Evil in some form will always be with us, and we must never be afraid to face it. I know you understand that. I also know that you understand that for those who are on the front lines, and for those who struggle against evil, they could be helped through prayer. And I appreciate your prayers. I appreciate your prayers to help comfort millions of people. I appreciate the fact that you pray for our troops and their families. And I appreciate the prayers that you have directed my way. I feel your prayer. I can't tell you how meaningful they have been, to help Laura and me deal with -- do our job. And I can report to you this: that the prayers of the people have affected us, and that being the President has been a joyous experience."

(Photo by Chris Greenberg)

Friday, March 14, 2008

THANK YOU, PASTOR

Hebrews 13:7 (MSG) "Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness."

You work vigorously, often neglecting personal needs to give us comfort and direction. You do so much, yet you receive so little in return.

Thank you.

Reasons For Pastor Burnout

David Yearick, pastor emeritus at Hampton Park Baptist Church in Greenville, SC and former senior pastor of 39 years, shares the most common ways that pastors burn out.

Physical Burnout:
  • Lack of proper sleep and rest
  • Little or no exercise
  • Obesity
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Illness

Emotional Burnout:

  • Excessive worry
  • Disappointment
  • Self-pity
  • Hurt feelings

Spiritual Burnout:

  • Pride
  • Fulfilling the letter and not the spirit
  • Moral failure

What would you add to this list? Which of these are particularly challenging for you? What do you do to fight burnout?

[Read the whole article at Crosswalk.com.]

Today's Quote

“A gospel that does not deal with the issues of the day is not the Gospel at all.” --Martin Luther

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Guard Went To Church Prepared For The Worst

[By LANCE BENZEL - THE GAZETTE, Colorado Springs]

Jeanne Assam was prepared for the worst the morning after a gunman killed a pair of missionaries in Arvada, according to a newly released account of the church shootings.

The volunteer security guard was on the hunt for anything unusual at New Life Church on Dec. 9, well before the deadly rampage on the bustling campus.

She memorized a police description of the Arvada gunman, helped fellow members of the church's security team track down suspicious vehicles in the parking lot, and even grabbed one teenager during a sermon and patted him down - only to earn his thanks for her vigilance.

When her fears materialized, Assam was ready for 24-year-old Matthew Murray.
"There he is, Jeanne," someone said as the gunman made his first appearance inside the church after launching his attack outside. "He's right there coming in the doors."

Assam, who was inside when the shooting began, told police she took cover in a doorway with her pistol drawn as he strode down the corridor from the northeast entrance, firing a weapon and muttering to himself.

When the moment was right, she came out shooting. She saw Murray fall to the floor and continued advancing. Assam told investigators that she kept firing at Murray after he went down, wrongly believing the gunman was fumbling for a grenade on his chest. Instead, his hands were "cupped" around a pistol, one of three weapons he carried into the church that morning.

"I'm just gonna shoot myself," Murray said to her, though Assam told police she couldn't be sure of his exact words.

She kept her Beretta 9mm trained on Murray until another guard arrived and confirmed the gunman was dead, according to the police account.

An autopsy determined Murray died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police determined that Murray was hit by four of the five bullets Assam fired - hitting him with gunshots in the legs and arm and shooting the rifle he carried.

Assam, 42, credited her faith in God even as she was debriefed by police about the incident.
"I shot him," she told one officer. "I don't know how many times. I just knew I had to do it. ... God was with me. I prayed for him to keep me safe."

New Life Pastor Brady Boyd has called Assam a "hero" whose actions averted further bloodshed. She was normally his personal security guard, but on the morning of the shooting she was stationed in the middle of a church rotunda, on the lookout for danger after reports of the shootings at the mission training center in Arvada earlier in the day.

COGOP International Assembly

Are you a timid or tentative leader?

[By Dr. John C. Maxwell]

It's cliche to say that every journey begins with a single step, yet it's true. Leaders don't wait for everything to be perfect before they move forward. They don't wait for all the problems or obstacles to disappear. They don't wait until their fear subsides. Leaders take initiative.

Leaders know the secret of momentum: once you take the first step and start moving forward, everything becomes clearer and easier. If momentum gets strong enough, problems begin to take care of themselves and new opportunities arise. But the benefits of momentum only come into play once a leader takes initiative.

As leaders, why are we sometimes timid or tentative when we should be taking action? In my experience and observation, there are six root causes of our procrastination.

Read the full article...