Monday, December 28, 2009

Today's Quote

Unless God’s people have a clear understanding of where we are headed, the probability of a successful journey is severely limited.

Mainline Churches Declining, Aging and Lacking Diversity, New Study Reveals

Mainline Protestant churches in the United States have declined dramatically since the days of Eisenhower—from more than 80,000 churches in the 1950s to only about 72,000 today, according to a new report released by The Barna Group in early December.

No longer can the six major mainline denominations boast holding the majority of American congregants. According to the report, which was based on several national telephone surveys comparing data from studies conducted in 1998 with statistics from a new 2008 study, membership in mainline churches has taken more than a 25 percent dive. Only 15 percent of all American adults associate with a mainline church today, researchers found.

In addition to addressing the decline in mainline churches, the Barna report also examined the changes in the types of people who attend them as well as in the clergy overseeing them.

For example, the study noted, mainline churches are not doing a good job of attracting young adults and minorities. With more than one-third of mainline attendees being age 60 and above—and with the number of Hispanic and Asian congregants running at only 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively—the mainline church, it seems, is aging fast and not keeping pace when it comes to racial diversity.

One wonders if an aging clergy has something to do with those figures. Ten years ago, researchers noted, the average age of mainline senior pastors was 48. Now it’s 55. According to the study, this occurred because not enough young pastors are entering vocational ministry, and too many older pastors are refusing to retire.

For the full report, visit

[from - From the President]

Developing Effective Leaders

Developing your team into effective leaders requires more than just explaining how to do something. You must explain the why behind the how. Understanding the science behind a method is crucial to being able to effectively lead in times of unusual circumstance.

When it comes to systems, most rules have exceptions, but you can’t appropriately identify these exceptions unless you understand the principles behind the rule. Teaching rules alone creates carbon copy robots. Teaching principles creates leaders.

The Pharisees lived by rules with such rigidity that they missed the principles and the purpose behind the rules. Jesus knew the rules, but more importantly, Jesus understood the more important principles behind the rules. As a result, He made exceptions that made His ministry dramatically more fruitful and impactful than the office of a Pharisee.

Here’s the challenge – it is much easier to teach the how without the why. Teaching the science and principles behind it all requires the investment of a mentor. Often, it requires modeling. Managers teach rules. Leaders teach principles.

[This is a guest blog post from Kent Shaffer. Check-out his blog:]