Thursday, May 6, 2010

Never Retreat

In Washington Wednesday, Franklin Graham urged Christians to openly proclaim their faith -- "even if preaching the Gospel someday becomes against the law."

An Army spokesman said Graham's message wasn't inclusive, Muslims were offended and a federal judge declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. That ruling is being appealed.

Franklin Graham has said he'll pray outside the Pentagon before speaking at a National Day of Prayer observance on Capitol Hill.

Since U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, critics have declared what they think of her: A Marxist. A moron. A disgrace.

In her ruling last month, Crabb said the law creating the tradition being observed today is an unconstitutional call to religious action.

President Barack Obama, whose administration is appealing the ruling, has urged citizens to "pray, or otherwise give thanks" for the nation's freedom and blessings. And Crabb put enforcement of her ruling on hold pending the appeal, meaning thousands of prayer events will go on today as scheduled.

Crabb, a 31-year veteran of the bench, has been denounced for overstepping.

[from One News Now]

Young Harvest

(By Alan Nelson)

I know what it’s like when someone “leaves” the ministry. Internal eyebrows rise. We wonder what caused someone who professed a call from God to preach the Gospel and lead a congregation, to jump ship and do something else. Our minds race to the seamier side. Was the pressure too much? Did he have a call at all? We don’t often say it, but we wonder, don’t we?

After more than 20 years of being a pastor, I left the ministry, technically speaking. But after authoring a dozen books and nearly 200 articles on ministry and spiritual life, plus serving as the executive editor of Rev! magazine, I exited the pastoral field.

The reason was simple. Time was running out and I desperately wanted to change the church — and if possible, society at large.

No matter how much we value egalitarian and democratic processes, history is not made by the masses. Three dominant factors change society: discoveries, disasters, and leaders, but the most significant by far is leaders — whether good or bad. If you want to change history, you must focus on leaders. But how do you change them? For more than a decade, thanks to books such as “How to Change Your Church,” “The Five Star Church,” “Me to We,” and “Embracing Brokenness,” I was able to travel as a pastor, teaching workshops and seminary courses. But after a decade of that, I came to the conclusion that investing in adult leaders yields a low return on investment.

My dad used to say, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The less you have left, the faster it goes.” By age 45, I was convinced that we needed to lower the age of leadership development, identifying and developing influencers while they’re still moldable. Barna’s research coincides with that of Kohlberg and moral psychologists, noting that character is pretty much established by age 14.

Thus I began prototyping an executive-caliber leadership training program with the upper age set at 14. The goal was to learn how young you could teach serious leadership skills. During our research phase, we discovered that if a child displays leadership aptitude, by 10 years of age, s/he is cognitively mature enough to learn sophisticated social skills required in leading. So at the ripe old age of 49, with two sons in private college, I gave up my paycheck and benefits to launch a non-profit organization called KidLead.

Pastors don’t need to give up on adults, but if we’re good stewards, we need to be putting a lot of eggs in the kid basket. Even better, we need to target our very young leaders. The most strategic time for developing effective and ethical leaders is a 4-year threshold we call the 10-13 Window. Unfortunately, very few church staff are leadership savvy. They confuse it with discipleship and service. And preteen/middle school ministries always tend to be low on the church totem pole.

Even if you don’t have a personal call to this area of ministry, you can still champion it. We have developed the first of its kind, executive-caliber leadership training curriculum called LeadNow. The faith-based version is beginning to be used in premier Christian schools and some larger churches. It is sophisticated enough to require certification to use it. You watch a brief video and take a free leadership aptitude assessment on a child by going to the KidLead website By pushing the “parent” button, you’ll get an automated response to help you understand the type of child you should be reaching for leadership mentoring. There’s also a book that summarizes our findings.

Waiting until college, seminary, and first employment is far too late to develop effective, ethical leaders. We must start younger, much younger. Churches and Christian schools are the best places to accomplish this task, because these are social communities where young leaders can develop their skills in a context of faith.

My challenge to pastors is to respond to the call of identifying and developing young leaders. If there’s one thing your church does well, make it young leader development. If you want to change the world, focus on leaders. But if you want to change leaders, focus on them when they’re young. I “left the ministry” to make a bigger impact on the church. You don’t have to quit being a pastor, but I pray you’ll join me in this endeavor.

[Alan E. Nelson, Ed.D. ( is the author of KidLead: Growing Great leaders and the founder of KidLead Inc.. The Nelsons live near Monterey, CA. For more info on KidLead, contact them through the website:]

Good Leadership

Leadership is a word that has many different meanings to many different people. So... how do you know if you're working with a real leader?

Perry Noble gives four insights that will help you figure this one out...

#1 – They come to you with problems … AND the solutions as to how to solve them. A true leader will always have direction and possible solutions.

#2 – They are more upset about a mess up than you are. Passion for what a person does is essential if they are going to be an excellent leader.

#3 – Being around them actually fires you up. Leaders will give you energy, not suck it from you.

#4 – They don’t retreat inside their shell when conflict arises but rather embrace the tension in the room and will speak the truth in love until a resolution is reached.

Perry says: A leader will speak their minds … even if they know it is not going to be popular … and even if they know that in the end they will probably lose the argument … they would MUCH rather than have a clear conscience than be a coward.

[from MMI Weblog]

National Day of Prayer