Monday, September 28, 2009

Biggest U.S. churches

From USA Today:

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Two new reports on the size and strength of American congregations present contrasting pictures of church life today.

The October issue of Outreach magazine is all about growth. It lists the 100 largest U.S. churches, based on attendance statistics gathered by LifeWay Research, Nashville.

Leading the list, as in 2008, is Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, Houston; 43,500 attend weekend worship.

Lakewood could almost swallow the second and third place megachurches in one gulp.

But the newest trend in church growth is exemplified by the No. 2 ranked church's cross-country reach. transmits pastor Craig Groeschel's worship services from the church's studio home in Edmond, Okla., to 13 locations, reaching 26,776 people in average weekend worship attendance.

"Multiple sites are the new normal for fast-growing and large churches. Lakewood is the exception. The next 10 all have multiple sites," says Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay. "They're contemporary, aggressively evangelistic and evangelical and they're moving beyond the 'big box' megachurch model. The best churches have very intentional systems to move people from sitting in rows to sitting in circles (in small groups) to going out and making a difference in the world."

But the third edition of the Faith Communities Today Study of 2,527 U.S. congregations, released last week, finds overall the nation's congregations — Catholic, Protestant and other world religions — are suffering. Only 19% say they are in excellent financial health, down from 31% in 2000.Less than half (48%) could report at least 2% growth in worship attendance, down from 58% in 2005.

The study was conducted by a multi-faith coalition hosted by the Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Hartford, Conn. Institute Director David Roozen sees a "slow downward trickle" in measures of "spiritual vitality" such as participation in devotional practices, church attendance and satisfaction with the quality of worship.

The congregations that do well, Roozen says, are participatory, involve lay leadership, and have a "strong, clear sense of their purpose."

And drums. Churches with contemporary worship music grew while those with traditional music stalled.

Black & Decker 18V Firestorm Drill Charger

My cordless drill died. Or more specifically, the charger for the battery died, and when you can't charge the batteries, it effectively becomes a large paper weight. So I did some digging around, and discovered that this is a common problem with the Black & Decker Firestorm drills (not just the 18 Volt unit which I own). But the good news is that I also learned there is a work around for these poorly made/designed chargers - it is the DEWALT DW9116 7.2-Volt to 18-Volt Pod Style 1 Hour Battery Charger. Apparently the Dewalt charger/batteries are exactly the same (well other than color scheme) as the Black and Decker ones. This Dewalt charger has smart technology that will hopefully prolong my battery life. I'm ordering one today, so I can start using my drill again. You forget how nice a cordless drill is until you have to revert to using a corded drill. If you haven't used a corded drill (mine is also a Black and Decker) to drive a screw home recently, you may have forgotten how powerful the drills are, and how the motors don't immediately stop when you let off the trigger. That means no precision, and with extra power that's a problem. It's like trying to kill a fly with a sledge hammer. So I am excited to get this unit in my hands so I can go back to using my drill!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is this the beginning of the end for the ELCA as we know it?

From a local perspective, this issue is causing waves outside the ELCA. Agree or not on what has gone on, it is generating a lot of discussions.

From the Washington Post:

CHICAGO -- The presiding bishop of the nation's largest Lutheran denomination warned Wednesday that withholding financial support to protest a recent gay clergy vote would be "devastating" to the church.

Bishop Mark Hanson laid out his concerns in a letter to leaders of the 4.7 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is based in Chicago. The ELCA churchwide assembly voted last month to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, dropping a requirement that gay clergy remain celibate.

Hanson's letter comes on the eve of a meeting in suburban Indianapolis of conservative ELCA group Lutheran CORE, which has urged supporters to "direct funding away from the national church" because of the vote.

Withholding funding would hurt the mission of the Chicago-based denomination, Hanson wrote.

"Although these actions are promoted as a way to signal opposition to churchwide assembly actions or even to punish the voting members who made them, the result will be wounds that we inflict on ourselves, our shared life, and our mission in Christ," he wrote.

The Rev. Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran CORE, said the gay clergy vote was the devastating event - "a departure from God's clear word." He called Hanson's letter "an attempt to shift the responsibility of this devastation and crisis within the ELCA away from the people who presided over it and are responsible for it."

Lutheran CORE says 1,200 people have registered for this weekend's conference, which organizers say will start the process of forming an "alternative church fellowship" for traditionalists within the ELCA.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clergy Rank #8 for Prestige of Occupation

The American public views firefighters, scientists and doctors as the most prestigious occupations, while real estate agents, accountants and stockbrokers are at the bottom, according to a recent Harris Interactive survey.

The poll has been conducted annually for 32 years, and in the original poll of 1977, clergy were at same percentage level as today. The biggest change in the survey findings over the years has been a 22-point increase in the prestige level of teachers.

Top 10 Occupations with "Great Prestige"
Firefighter 62%
Scientist 57%
Doctor 56%
Nurse 54%
Military officer 51%
Teacher 51%
Police officer 44%
Priest/minister 41%
Engineer 39%
Farmer 36%

The Bottom 10 Occupations with "Great Prestige"
Business exec. 23%
Athlete 21%
Journalist 17%
Union leader 17%
Entertainer 17%
Banker 16%
Actor 15%
Stockbroker 13%
Accountant 11%
Real estate agent 5%

Check out Harris Interactive for the full report.

(HT: Leadership Network)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What is the average cost to raise a child?

From Leadership Network's ADVANCE:

Pricetag to Raise a Child: $291,570
A middle-income family can expect to spend $291,570 including inflation to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood, up slightly from the federal government's estimate one year ago.

The estimate covers food, shelter and other necessities for a child to age 18, said the annual report by the Agriculture Department. The figure does not include the cost of childbirth or college.

For more info check out the USDA site.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bible Recommendations 2.0

A number of our students are needing Bibles so I thought I would put together a quick set of links to the Bibles I suggest.

For our Junior and Senior High students I highly recommend the Teen Devotional Bible. All of our 6th and 7th grade student from last year have this Bible. It is the NIV version which is what we have in the pews and what I use on Sundays when I preach. This Bible is just under $16 and should last until students are in their college years and can then better appreciate a more permanent and sturdy Bible like one of the ones I will list below for adults.

For our 3rd-5th grade students we use the NIV Discoverer's Bible. It is a full NIV and the students use them in both Sunday School as well as Youth Chat on Wednesday evenings.

These are a nice Bible to keep on hand to give away - NIV Gift Bible.

It should be noted that the NIV is not my preferred translation, but it is my first recommendation because it is what our church has in the pews. That is not to say I don't like the NIV, or that it is bad in any way, I just think the ESV (below) is one step - a big step - better. I use the ESV as my primary study Bible and it is what I keep open on my desk at work at all times.

If you have young children I highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. Pastor Chris has this for his newborn son and is looking forward to reading this to him for years to come. A second high quality Bible for children that is worth considering is The Big Picture Story Bible. You can't go wrong with either one!

Currently, as a church we give away The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories which is a nice children's Bible, but I'd recommend one of the above two over this Bible. We may be switching which one we give away once we have exhausted our supply of The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories. That isn't to say this is a bad Bible, just that the others are even better!

For adults:

1. NIV Study Bible - This is the Bible (the leather version) that I have used since college. It has served me well. The NIV is a reliable and readable translation. I prefer the Study Bible versions because they have ample footnotes that give additional background information to help the reader understand the passages on that page. The NIV has a good reading flow. We use the NIV in our church, so it will read the same as our pew Bibles. I own 2 of these NIV Study Bibles, and have a handful of NIV's all together.

1a. NIV Life Application Study Bible - I like the Life Application version slightly less than the plain Study Bible, but it is still a really good version. I have one of these on my shelf, but because of it's bulk and less focused footnotes I prefer the above version. This is a great bedside Bible, or one to keep around the house for reading.

2. English Standard Version Study Bible (ESVSB) - For me, this is the gold standard of Bibles. The scholarship that has gone into the ESV and the ESV Study Bible specifically is unprecedented in my opinion. If you are a King James reader from years past, the transition to ESV versions will be easier than to the NIV. The ESV is very scholarly, and reads at a much higher level than the NIV's listed above, but that shouldn't scare anyone away. It uses the more precise theological terms when they are the best choice - words like sanctified and justified and propitiation - words that are rich in meaning that is often lost or diluted in other translations. I do own 4 ESV Bibles, and they are what I use 75% of the time in my day-to-day life and studies.

3. The Daily Bible in Chronological Order - I recommended this Bible in a sermon a while back. It is also a NIV version. I really like this Bible for daily reading. It is laid out so you can easily read through the whole Bible in a year, with morning and evening readings. The thing I REALLY like about this Bible is that they have attempted to put it in Chronological order. That allows things in books like 1 and 2 Kings to make a lot more sense when trying to get the bigger picture of what is going on when and where to who. It tries to place the Psalms in the context of when they happened (where possible) so they add to the story line. I had some amazing lightbulb moments the first time I read through the Old Testament with this version. The drawback for this Bible is that it is futile to attempt to look up a specific passage. The daily readings for March 1 for example cover Numbers, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. The specific passage citations are in the outside margins. So you can't just turn to the "book" of the Bible you might want to look at. Another example would be on June 19 the Minor Prophet Hosea is intermingled with 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles passages so you understand it chronologically.

4. NLT Life Application Study Bible - This is a nice reading dynamic equivalent translation with some good study notes. If you are looking to read big chunks of the Bible in a single sitting, this is the book for you. The drawback to a dynamic equivalent translation is that it is more focused on being readable than being literal to what the original language said. The NLT does a good job of keeping this in check, but it does mean the wording is not very precise, thereby making it less useful as a study Bible. But to get overall themes and big pictures I find it useful. I have a couple of NLT Bibles, and I think the NLT is a great version to give to someone who is new in faith and unfamiliar with some of the words other translations will use. It is not a Bible I would suggest to be the long-term only Bible translation someone reads.

Below I have Romans 8:1-5 of all three translations referenced above (ESV, NIV, NLT) so you can read and compare.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power* of the life-giving Spirit has freed you* from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.* So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

Gambling Addiction and Senior Citizens

As many as one in 10 seniors may be addicted to gambling, according to some researchers. Even a small loss at a slot machine or bingo table could mean financial trouble for those on a fixed income. "When we talk about gambling for this age group, it isn't just going to a casino, but it's also things like lottery, sweepstakes, that kind of thing," said Dr. Dennis McNeilly, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. McNeilly indicated that what some senior citizens see as entertainment may end up being a path to addiction. Some signs to look for are: cashing in life insurance, asking for money to pay for everyday expenses and neglecting personal needs and family. []

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Personality Patterns

I took an interesting test on Personality Patterns at Psych Central and it tells me I am Centered, Assertive and Competent.  So I got that goin' for me, which is nice (Caddyshack reference for those who don't know).

You often feel balanced and on top of things, even when those around you are freaking out. You're in a pretty good state all the time, and not subject to drastic mood swings.

You don't usually react before you think; you're not ruled by your emotions.

You behave in a confident and forceful manner, take charge of the situation, raise your hand in class, stand up for what you think is right, and lead others. Among those who have a high score on the "assertive" trait, many have jobs in which they are valued for their organizational skills as well as their talent for supervising others.

You are not interested in fading into the woodwork, leaving everything to fate, taking more time than necessary to accomplish a task, or avoiding confrontation.

You strive to master everything you undertake. You tend to learn quickly and do not shy away from challenges.

You are not a "que sera sera" type of person, nor do you go easy on yourself when attempting to master a new skill or get a job done.

You like your own company; you're a very interesting person. Tracking your own mental processes, knowing what you're thinking and why you do what you do, is important to you. Often, what's going on in your mind is more compelling than what's going on outside. For the most part, those with a high score on the "introspective" trait enjoy reading, taking long walks, learning new things, and other solitary activities.

You are not someone who is constantly looking to be among a group of friends; you never feel bored when you are by yourself.

You bounce back quickly from adversity. For you, all setbacks are temporary. You don't dwell on bad news, bad luck, or criticism; you regroup and focus on solving the problem, whatever it may be.

You almost never feel that there's too much on your plate, that you don't have the strength to deal with the bad hand you've been dealt, or that you're going to lose it if you have to deal with one more problem.

You are a "glass half-full" kind of person, always on the lookout for the silver lining. Your happiness is contagious, which is why others like to be around you.

You do not feel that the world is an intrinsically depressing place; you are not the kind of "realist" who thinks that only fools find joy in life.

You have a knack for knowing what's going on in the hearts and minds of those around you, without their having to tell you explicitly. People tend to turn to you with their problems because they know you care, and that you will likely offer good advice and a helping hand.

You do not feel that people with sad stories are just looking for attention, or have brought their problems upon themselves.

You tend to feel at home wherever you find yourself, even in unfamiliar settings, with new people. It takes a lot to rattle you, and when rattled you recover quickly and gracefully.

You are usually not self-conscious or nervous when you're in an unfamiliar environment or with people you don't know.

You feel it's important to work according to a plan and finish every task, to do things correctly and thoroughly.

You are not the kind of person who abandons a project before finishing it, or slacks off when you've lost interest.

You know how to lock in on what's important. You quickly prepare yourself for a task, you don't procrastinate, and you don't let up until the job is done to your satisfaction.

You are the opposite of scattered. You don't procrastinate before starting a task, and you almost never lose track of what you're doing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pastors Feeling the Pinch of the Economy

A recent national survey of pastors and church staff shows the compensation package paid to the average pastor — including salary, housing allowance/parsonage, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, continuing education allowances and retirement — has declined in 2009 by 2.4 percent for lead pastors to an average of $70,806. The average for senior pastors who lead multiple pastoral staff declined .5 percent to $80,745. The average for solo pastors was down 6.6 percent to $56,189, which means solo pastors lost more than $300 per month in salary and benefits. In 2008, pastors received a slight bump up in salaries.

The annual survey, conducted by Christianity Today International, is based on data from nearly 5,000 churches and 13 different staff positions, ranging from senior pastors to church secretaries.

The decline, in part, was caused by wage freezes in many congregations. About half of lead pastors reported they received no salary increase in the previous year (53% of senior pastors and 51% of solo pastors). Other staff noted the same limitations. Only 50 percent of secretaries/administrators and 38 percent of musicians/accompanists received an increase last year.

The complete analysis, which includes breakdowns based on church denomination, income budget, congregation size and geographical setting, is included in the 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, available at A summary is available at Christianity Today. [,]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coral Ridge to Vote on Tchividjian

A special meeting will be held this Sunday at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church to determine the future of their new senior pastor, Tullian Tchividjian. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., church — founded by the late D. James Kennedy — installed Tchividjian this past Easter as their second senior minister in five decades.

A petition was able to collect the minimum 100 signatures needed and, as a result, church elders were required to call for a congregational meeting. According to, members in good standing will vote on whether or not to "amicably" dissolve the relationship with Tchividjian and the merger of Coral Ridge and New City Church, the Margate-based church Tchividjian had founded in 2003.

Though 91 percent of the 2,500 member congregation had voted in March to support the call for him to serve as their new senior minister, six dissenters distributed a letter and petition to church members in late July calling upon them to "reverse course before it is too late."

"We have seen a complete lack of respect towards the congregation and for long-standing traditions that have been part of Coral Ridge's rich heritage for decades," stated the letter signed by Kennedy's daughter, Jennifer Cassidy, and five others.

Reasons listed for the removal of their new pastor from those who oppose his leadership include his alleged failure to present the Gospel clearly, his failure to raise awareness on current issues and the replacement of CRPC staff with "less qualified staff members who are, however, 'loyal' to the new administration."

According to Coral Ridge's Session of Elders, "We believe God has called Tullian here and anointed him to lead this church." The elders further reminded the congregation that the determination to remove a pastor "is more than a matter of personal preferences." According to their Book of Church Order, the basis for removing a pastor should be limited to heresy, immorality or illegal activity.

(from FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Names of Marriage Supporters Will be Protected

A federal judge has ruled the names and addresses of Washington state voters who signed petitions to put Referendum 71 on the November ballot will not be made public. The referendum would repeal the new "everything but marriage" domestic-partnership law. Family advocates fear retaliation from gay activists if the names of petition-signers are released. []

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When a pastor is fired

From the Pastor's Weekly Briefing by Focus on the Family:

Question of the Week:
Where does a pastor turn when he's faced with a forced termination?

Oftentimes, pastors are blind-sided with this seemingly "punch to the gut" moment. As a result, they're left reeling in a state of shock, disbelief, anger and disappointment. It's during this time that a board, committee or some other governing body tends to press for quick and silent exits. Otherwise, one runs the risk of losing his severance package. Unfortunately, it's an all-too-familiar story line.

Denise George, in her book, What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew (Zondervan, 2009), says getting fired is one of a pastor's greatest fears. If you've been a pastor for any amount of time, you know this is a growing reality.

If you're faced with this reality, we hope the following resource links will be of help, comfort and guidance for you:

Additionally, please visit the following Web sites:

Finally, let these words from Scripture wash over you: "For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance" (Psalm 66:10-12, ESV).

Trusting that He will lead you to that place of abundance!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Congregational Church of Waseca Sermon Podcasts

Sermons from First Congregational Church of Waseca are now available via Podcast. The first two weeks audio quality wasn't the best, but we are working those kinks out. This past week the audio quality was pretty good, and we'll keep working on it to make it even better! If you use iTunes click here to subscribe to the podcast! You can also click on the right sidebar of the First Congregational Church of Waseca web site "Podcast" image.

What is a podcast? From Wikipedia:

A podcast is a series of digital media files, either audio or video, that is released episodically and downloaded through web syndication. The mode of delivery is what differentiates podcasts from other ways of accessing media files over the Internet, such as simple download or streamed webcasts: special client software applications known as podcatchers (like iTunes, Zune, Juice or Winamp) are used to automatically identify and download new files in the series when they are released, by accessing a centrally-maintained web feed that lists all files currently associated with that particular series. New files can thus be downloaded automatically by the podcatcher and stored locally on the user's computer or other device for offline use, making it simpler for a user to access episodic content.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Religious People Are More Generous

The results of a Gallup Poll released last week confirm that those who attend religious services are more likely to be generous in how they use their resources and time. The research discovered the difference in generosity, not only among Christians in the U.S., but also among all the major world religions. Those who attend religious services, even if they do not identify with any religion, have a higher rate of generosity.

Of those who had attended a religious service in the last seven days:

  • Donated money to a charity (34%).
  • Volunteered their time to an organization (26%).
  • Helped a stranger (50%).

Of those who had not attended a religious service in the last seven days:

  • Donated money to a charity (26%).
  • Volunteered their time to an organization (18%).
  • Helped a stranger (41%).

In 90 percent of the countries surveyed, Gallup found a statistically significant positive relationship between religious attendance and donations.

The results of the study are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with more than 240,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted between 2005 and 2009 in 145 countries. Those who were interviewed were asked to report their generous behavior only from the past month. For the complete report, visit the Gallup Poll Web site.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hillsong - With Everything - With Subtitles/Lyrics

I love this song, and would love to do it at our church!

Angry Motorists

A Pew Research Center® survey showed that over a third (38%) of American drivers cursed or shouted at other drivers in the past year. Younger drivers (18-49) are more likely than older drivers to report such outbursts as well as indulging in singing (68%), making phone calls (58%) and eating while driving (41%). In addition, 16 percent did personal grooming such as make-up or hair; six percent read a paper, book or magazine and six percent fell asleep. To view survey, click here. [Pew Research Center]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Patrick Lencioni - Organizational Clarity

Below are my notes from listening to Patrick Lencioni speak today at the Southeastern University Leadership Forum Webcast hosted by If you aren't familiar with Lencioni, you are missing one of the great minds of today on leadership - in any organization church or otherwise. Lencioni's books are "must read" quality, and whenever he is speaking I go out of my way to listen because he always challenges me. His insight and clarity are always refreshing, and his creativity is always fun. A few of Lencioni's books I would recommend highly are:
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business
Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors
The Five Temptations of a CEO

Patrick Lencioni – Organizational Clarity
Every organization that succeeds and maximizes its potential has to have 2 things going for it
1. It has to be Smart
2. Health
-Minimal politics
-Minimal confusion
-High morale
-High productivity
-Low turnover

Best area for improvement and competitive advantage comes from the #2 group above, not #1. #2 list is a multiplier on the #1 list.

Have the courage to be simple about the things you do, so you can do them well.

Your family is the most important organization in your life.
Success in Families


What we need:
-Without context we struggle
-with context less guilt
-more courage – we know it is the right decision in context
-more clarity

What do we need to do to create greater clarity
1. What makes us unique?
-how are we not a generic church/family/org
2. What is most important?
-something has to be most important
3. How will we act on all this?
-can’t put it in a notebook and put it on a shelf, use it to behave, living direction for us

What makes us unique?
-Core Values

Core Values (“Built to Last” a good reference)
-something that is inherent and true, we don’t make it up, it is already there
-what we say and do already without defining it
-Permission to play values – important values (integrity etc.) that don’t set you apart – not core values
-Enron listed integrity as a value
-it is important, but it doesn’t set us apart
-Aspirational Values – values we know we need to succeed but don’t have – not core values
-if we put it down and say we got it, maybe people will start doing it
-we often say the things we are not
-doesn’t mean we don’t try to do this, but they cannot become a core value
-things you manage for and structure for
-Accident values – not necessarily good or bad, but not core values
-protect against things creeping in and becoming true

So what is a core value – the ones you will do no matter what
-Core values protect your identity
-What is it that uniquely makes us who we are
-You get punished for your values, and that is how you know it is real.
-When you have a core value, you will at times go too far in that direction, but that’s alright
and part of the process

-write down everything that is true about your org, and then say what are the things that inform the other decisions we make – our anchors
-allows us to be informed by something to help us make decisions
-Clarity is empowerment
(Youth sports is the false god of our society)

So what is the most important thing?
-if everything is equally important, nothing is important
-A Rallying Cry
-A single thing
-it is qualitative
-Shared across the whole organization
-If we accomplish something in the next 3-12 months, what is the one big thing that matters most

Reinvigorate the church example:
-Improve the sermon
-Add small group
-Increase outreach
-Improve youth program
-Improve visibility of pastor

What’s the one big thing that if we look back at the end of the year, if we didn’t do it, we failed?

How are we going to act on this?
-one of the worst problems we have, we do the planning but don’t live it out

Organizational Health is key
Clarity reduces guilt and increases courage
Three Questions must be answered for resources (slides) related to this presentation

Five Most Stressful Cities in U.S.

For the second year in a row, Chicago is the country's most stressful city. Los Angeles, Calif., is second, followed by New York, N.Y., Cleveland, Ohio and Providence, R.I. Factors that were considered in determining the country's most stressful cities were: unemployment figures for June 2009; cost of living figures; median home-price drops from Q1 2008 to Q1 2009; population density; the number of sunny and partly sunny days per year and air-quality figures. To view the entire list, click here. []

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation

I got an interesting book in the mail to review a few weeks ago, and while I haven't read it all, what I have been able to read (and what I have thumbed through) has been quite interesting. Below is a partial review with links to purchase if you might find it interesting.

The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation
(Nordskog Publishing) by Jerry Newcombe is a definitive volume on the Christian roots of our nation. Those who want to restore knowledge of our Christian heritage have their work cut out. As secularism continues its stranglehold on American education, we move further and further away from retaining our Christian roots. The Book That Made America will challenge anyone to know the true origin of our Nation and to fight to keep it. Newcombe hopes to educate Americans by providing the facts of history, proving that America began as a Christian nation and American’s have every right to preserve and uphold that heritage.

All that is positive in our foundation can be traced back to the Scriptures. Recently, President Obama declared that America is not a Christian nation, while Newsweek announced the demise of Christian America. This book is the answer to America’s critics with the facts of history.

Jerry Newcombe, D. Min., is senior producer for Coral Ridge Ministries and has produced or coproduced more than fifty documentaries. The host of two weekly radio shows, he has also been a guest on numerous television and radio talk shows - including Fox Business News, C-Span, USA Radio and Moody Radio. He is the author or coauthor of twenty two books, including with Dr. Kennedy, WHAT IF JESUS HAD NEVER BEEN BORN?, How Would Jesus Vote?: A Christian Perspective on the Issues, and The Presence of a Hidden God: Evidence for the God of the Bible.

Coral Ridge Ministries is a media outreach founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy. Its programming reaches a national television, radio, and Internet audience at

Purchase the book HERE!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

If you only read on thing on the health care debate

I'm copying this from Justin Taylor's blog Between Two World so that more people will see this outstanding article:

Lots of people are saying that the best piece on health care is now this 10,000+ word essay by David Goldhill entitled How American Health Care Killed My Father, published in the September 2009 issue of The Atlantic. I don't know anything about Goldhill except that he is a Democrat and a business executive. But the piece will definitely inform you and cause much food for thought. Here's The Atlantic's summary:
After the needless death of his father, the author, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. And the health-care reform now being contemplated will not fix it. Here’s a radical solution to an agonizing problem.
Here is how David Brooks opens his op-ed in today's NYT:
If I were magically given an hour to help Barack Obama prepare for his health care speech next week, the first thing I’d do is ask him to read David Goldhill’s essay, “How American Health Care Killed My Father,” in the current issue of The Atlantic.
Joe Carter at First Things:
The forthcoming issue of the Atlantic includes one of the most sensible and pragmatic articles on the health care debate you’re likely to ever read.
John Schwenkler , who says this may be the best piece he's ever read on the issue and that it's "absolutely worth reading carefully and in its entirety," tries to identify the top 10 points in the 10,000+ word piece:
  1. We treat “health insurance” and “health care” as synonymous, but they shouldn’t be.
  2. There is a massive moral hazard problem.
  3. We’re the only ones who can pay.
  4. Governments can’t do enough [to] reduce costs.
  5. Regulation limits competitiveness.
  6. Medical providers work to serve the people who pay them, not the people in their care.
  7. The costs of medical technologies are vastly inflated.
  8. The present push for “comprehensive” reform will do nothing to solve the underlying problems.
  9. The proper response is a shift toward consumer-driven care, with subsidies for the poor and a single program of truly catastrophic insurance available to all.
  10. We spend too much money on health care.
Read Schwenkler's post for a summary of each of these points.

Goldhill was recently on NPR's Morning edition, and you can view or listen to the transcript and audio.