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The Tears We Need to Shed

As a pastor, I’ve seen my share of tears. They show up in so many places: in hospitals, especially in emergency rooms, at funeral homes, in the office, in the delivery room, at the altar, during worship, while talking quietly in a home. Some days they are predictable and expected, som
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Cultivating a Healthy Staff Culture

Christianity is built on relationships. Our relationship with God. Our relationships with one another. Jesus taught us that in what he said and how he lived. As ministers on a church staff, one of the most important things we can do is to model healthy relationships, particularly with
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Martyrdom is for Real Martyrs

I overheard a conversation on a plane recently that re-taught me an important truth about congregational ministry. It was on a Monday morning at the end of a flight out of Atlanta to another city. Regular travelers know that Monday morning flights out of Atlanta are often dominated by
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A Lesson from a Duel between the Sun and the Wind

When I was a little boy, my mom told me the fable of a contest between the sun and the wind. They were arguing about which of the two was the stronger, when along walked a man wearing a coat. The wind challenged the sun by saying, “I’ll bet I can get his coat off him quicker than you
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Guide to Building a High Trust Leadership Culture

Some of the very best days I have known in ministry have revolved around high-functioning staff friendships and relationships. Seeing plans come together, an organization take off, or a worship experience exceed expectations is meaningful beyond words. Some of the hardest days in my l
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Understanding Church Microclimates

The weather during July in San Francisco is best described by a quote mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Tourists clad in t-shirts and shorts shivering in the summer fog that blankets the city are proof of this adage.
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The Rearview Mirror

These were hard conversations. This minister had been dismissed from his church many months ago, but the wounds had refused to heal. Hurtful things were said, friendships were broken, trust was betrayed, and he walked away wounded and bitter. Over the ensuing months, we had talked reg
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“I believe it is God’s will that we. . .”

Spiritual leadership often requires of us that we offer a word from the Lord to His people. That sometimes means we say to folks we serve and lead, “I believe it is God’s will that we…” And that is a dangerously sacred thing. For example, in the 10th grade I found myself sitting the b
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Congregational Staffing for Healthy Futures

  Post by Larry McSwain. Most American congregations face a painful reality. David T. Olson has established clearly that no more than 17 percent of the population attends anyone’s church. The only congregations growing are those smaller than 49 or more than 2,000 in attendance or
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