loren Eric Swanson: June 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Church Growth in 1906

One of the things we found was a 1906 Sears Catelog. Of course it had some classic ads but the one I found most interesting was this sure-fire way to double church attendance--through the use of 100 colored stereoscopic views of the Holy Land. Double-click on the photo to read the fine-print. It is all very interesting.

New Treasures from the Garage

We made great progress in cleaning out Mom and Dad's garage yesterday. Between trips to the Salvation Army and loading up vans and trucks for the dump we found some great treasures--a Laugh-in ("Sock it to me") thermos, a bridesmaid dress that my sister wore in our wedding, an autograph from Dick VanDyke from 1964, which my sister claimed she's been looking for for over 30 years, a box of albums from the 40s,a box of Look and Life magazines from the 40s-70s, some high school game films, a bb gun I won selling all-occasion cards when I was ten, two sets of guns and (leather) holsters, Roy Rogers scarf and gloves that I have not seen since 1958 or so. The garage was like a sealed time-capsule and we were like kids in a candy store.

One of the highlights was when 46 year old sister Wendy found her Lincoln High Cheerleading outfit and led us (and the neighborhood) in a series of cheers. After cleaning things up and cleaning ourselves up we all went out to In-N-Out Burger for dinner. Couldn't have been a better day.

One more thing...I've been working on putting together old photos in Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com) albums. The latest one to arrive yesterday was the story of Mom and Dad. They were high school sweethearts I had quite a few pics to work with. From Dad's Navy records and a two-page poem he wrote to Mom, I was able to reconstruct his Navy career in WWII. It's a very cool technology to archive family treasures.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cleaning out the Garage and Tomb Raiders

Liz and I are in California for a few days helping my folks celebrate their 60th anniversary. By brother and his wife from Brisbane, Australia are here are my two sisters. We all agreed our first task would be to clean out the garage, which we started on yesterday. I was hoping to find my safe, in which I had stored up my treasures, but which has been sealed for 35 years. I was anticipating the old silver dollars from the 1800s and carefully wrapped uncirculated Kennedy Half Dollars from the 60s, so one can imagine my excitement when I found my safe. With the anticipation of Geraldo opening the safe of the Titanic, I worked the old combination (6-13) but because I had blown open the safe with fire crackers so many times when I was in Junior High School, I eventually had to pry the door open. What did I find? Two uncashed checks from 1963 from two of my customers on my paper route in 7th grade, a $5 IOU from my dad dated from 1963, several old report cards from 8th grade showing several Ds and Cs, and a card from the 1950s or early 60s from the TV show Paladin, an invition to Neal's birthday party, a knife with a compass on the handle, a 4th place ribbon, soap and a glass cover from a Best Western Hotel we stayed in in 1961, and a few other trinkets. But where were the silver dollars? Where were the Kennedy Halfs? Tomb raiders I suspect. The took the treasure. But the real treasure was to follow.
We found my dad's navy uniform and Pea Jacket from WWII. We found a cashe of Al Jolson records, along with a collection of albums from the 50s and 60s. We found a fully functional liesure suit, a Mrs Beasley Doll and old Raggedy Anne doll. We found monogramed wine glasses from my tea-totling great aunt who was born in the 1800s. We found my mom's "Wink" coat (fake mink) that she wore in the 1950s. We found a blanket that my grandmother made for my father. Most of this stuff will go to the dump but what of the treasure? The real treasure was spending the afternoon with my family, going through a time capsule of shared memories, many which evoked associated stories. Today we'll continue the process as we help Mom and Dad downsize.
One thing that did surprise me is the stuff my folks kept. One ususually keeps things that they assume will be valuable in the future. Sure they misjudged the liesure suit but they did keep every letter and card that we kids or grandkids ever sent them. With the use of email, this is probably the last generation to cherish the written note. And they did cherish them.
Mom and Dad are now 81. So far we have not found much that others would consider valuable but the fact that they lived and have loved in the way they have that their little home in Stockton, where they have lived for the past 44 years continues to serve as a magnet that draws us "home." Is there anything more valuable than that? Well, its time to go clean out more stuff.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Why our Baseball Team is called the Rockies

Last week I and several buddies went to see the Rockies play the Yankees. A great three-game series that the Rockies swept, by the way. We've been having great weather in Denver and there is nothing like a night game on a warm night.

Atlanta Externally Focused Church Leadership Community

Last week I was in Atlanta for a couple of days working with Chip Sweney of Perimeter Church on the Atlanta Externally Focused Leadership Community (LC). This was actually a one day make-up session for four churches that were unable to attend the first meeting in Atlanta last month. This LC is comprised of 14 key churches in the Atlanta area representative of the racial make-up of Atlanta. The idea behind the LC design is to live and work from three realities--what is, what could be, and what will be. For "What is" we usually have leaders come to the first gathering with a drawn "model" of their externally focused ministry. Presenting the ministry in this way engages a different side of the brain and forces one to see the relationships between the entities of ministry and community. We often use short articles from other fields to stretch leaders to think about "what could be." So for this group we used a shareholders report from Coca-Cola and an article on the Jesuits. Then participants are asked to recrecreate thier externally focused ministry based on the principles they have learned. This make-up group did as well with this exercise as anyone. The leaders end by creating a two year strategic plan followed by a 6 month Action Learning Plan--who will do what, by when, that they intend to do before the group convenes again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Father's Day--in his Grandpa's steps

Friday, June 15, 2007

Andy Bales--Attempting the Heroic

Does it get any better than having dinner with Andy Bales at Phillipe's--the home of (where it was invented) the French Dip sandwich (recommended by Rachael Ray!), a few blocks where Andy is the Executive Director of Union Rescue Mission (http://www.urm.org/)-- the largest such mission in the world. Andy was community outreach pastor at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, where he was part of the first Leadership Community for Externally Focused Churches before taking his current dream job. He is at the tail end of a battle to relocate 240 single moms and kids out of the inner city and into housing at Hope Gardens in the country NE of Los Angeles. It's a great story (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5360851). Andy has been in the headlines of the LA Times (Local Section), on Anderson Cooper (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/05/17/60minutes/main2823079.shtml) (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0612/23/cnr.05.html), just appeared before a state senate committee on hospital dumping (where homeless are not admitted into hospitals, but rather dumped by hospitals in front of the shelter) http://video.aol.com/video-search/Andy-Bales-SiCKO-What-Has-Happened-to-Health-Care/id/2864518878 (You have to watch this one--unbelievable) and this week will fly to DC to appear before another senate committee. Andy told me that when he read Isaiah 65 to the state senate committe regarding the type of community he envisioned, people cheered. Andy is also featured in a new film by Michael Moore on homelessness and will be released this summer. Got to catch a plane but get on URM Website and get on Andy's blog. It's quite a ride!


Yesterday was another great day in Southern California. In the afternoon I was at Mariners Church in Irvine meeting with Laurie and (briefly with) Kenton Beshore. Laurie is Pastor of Local and Global Outreach and is one of those big-hearted people who is intent on changing the world. Laurie did a great job as a keynote speaker at the Externally Focused Conference a few weeks ago and she understands the heart and soul of externally focused ministry like few people in the world. Mariners has a great history of getting out of the way and releasing people in ministry. They come alongside of and empower and learn from those who are doing ministry--whether those folks be in Santa Ana or Sri Lanka. "If you compass is set in the right direction and you align your heart with God's heart, it will all come together as God will show you what to do." That's Laurie's ministry philosophy. It's not about conformity to a program. It is empowering people.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Other stuff I saw at Newport Beach

A turtle chowing having dinner al fresco in front of his own beach house... and ugly dog and a man who caught 7 fish at a time and an Elvis impersonator at the Pavillion restaurant. California is a great place!

Ode to the Balboa Bar

Yesterday after I got my work done I strolled down Newport Beach--one of the all-time great spots in the world and bought a Balboa Bar. It is the very best ice-cream bar on the planet--even surpassing the Magnum.

Ode to the Balboa Bar

I think that I shall never taste

A treat that so quickly goes to waist.

A bar whose chocolate coating be

Like chopped peanut bark on a vanilla tree;

A bar that lies frozen all day long,

Until $2.75 liberates it--can that be wrong?

Then dipped in chocolate and pressed in nuts,

the best treat ever, no ifs or buts;

People come from near and far,

To savor the one and only Balboa Bar.

Churches Must First Transform Themselves

This is another excerpt regarding recommendations for churches.

Churches Must First be Transformed if They Hope to Transform Anyone Else

In spite of all the need for change and transformation that is needed in cities and communities, the area over which pastors and church leaders have the most influence, and the area that is perhaps in the most desperate need of change, is the church. Historically, it is my observation that Christian leaders are fairly adroit at informing other domains of society (media, education, entertainment, technology, etc.) of their need to change, while ignoring the changes the church can make. Christian leaders are often impotent in getting the adherents of our faith to follow God’s precepts but often demand that secular society live by them. If the church could be changed and her people transformed and infused with kingdom values lived out through kingdom actions, these changed lives would perhaps be the most powerful catalyst for transformation. Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, Richard McBrien, suggests a balanced role for religion in a pluralistic America.
First every religious community may demand conformity to its beliefs on the part of its own members. Second, no group in a pluralist society may demand that government legislate a moral conviction for which support in society at large is lacking. Third, any group, including any church, has the right to work toward a change in society’s standards through persuasion and argument. Finally, no group may legitimately impose its religious or moral convictions on others through the use of force, coercion, or violence.[1]

McBrien’s words, in most cases, are in stark contrast to the church’s de facto strategy for influence. Christian leaders often ask those outside the church to adhere to Christian standards while ignoring the behavior of those inside their domain of influence, the church. Communities can only be transformed as the church itself is transformed.
Robert Linthicum’s exhorts the church:
How far has the kingdom of God become embodied and made real in the city’s people of God? God’s primary intention for the city is to bring God’s kingdom into that city—to permeate its political, economic, and religious structures, to transform the lives of its inhabitants, to exorcise evil and unrepentant principalities and powers, and to place over that city, not a brooding angel but a Christ who would gather the city to himself…. God would seek to do this in every city by creating in that city a new community: the church. The community would be the very embodiment of God’s kingdom in the city…. Through its witness, the church would call the city to participate in God’s kingdom….That is why [Colin] Marchant insists that the underlying question to every church in every city is this: How far has the kingdom of God become embodied and made real in the life, witness, and social action of your church in this city?[2]
To the extent that the church is transformed the community has the potential for transformation.

[1]David Hollenbach , SJ., The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethic, (Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2003), 92.
[2] Linthicum, City of God, City of Satan, 105.

Churches Make a Difference

As I mentioned in my last entry, the final chapter of a dissertation includes not only an evaluation of the project but also conclusions and recommendations. I’ll enclose a couple more excerpts in my next entries

Churches Can and Must make a Difference in a Community

As noted in chapter three, God’s people have historically been God’s hands and feet in the world. Cities, communities, and cultures have been transformed and revitalized as churches have sought to follow Jesus into the cities and communities of the world. Churches that have been in step with Jesus have had a transforming effect on communities and culture. Sociologist Rodney Stark summarizes the urban impact of the early church in the first few centuries.
Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world. . . Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services. . . For what they brought was not simply an urban movement, but a new culture capable of making life in Greco-Roman cities tolerable.[1]

If the church is missing from the conversation of a community, the community will languish. Catholic scholar Thomas Massaro writes on the need and responsibility for churches to engage their communities today.

It would be irresponsible to deprive society of the contribution of religiously motivated persons whose ideas and energies are the potential basis for much needed activism and social movements for great improvement. To take just a few examples from our own country, where would American society be if religious groups had not agitated for the end to slavery (in the Abolition movement), to extreme militarism (the peace movement), to racial injustice (the Civil Rights movement), and to extreme poverty (the fight against hunger, homelessness, and illiteracy)?[2]

The role of the church in engaging the needs and dreams of the community becomes even more critical as social services are trimmed from federal and state budgets. Dr. Ram Cnaan writes,
Because the U.S. government doesn’t provide a safety net for those in extreme need, this responsibility has been delegated to local communities and, by default, also to local congregations. When someone is hungry and homeless, help is most likely to come from members of a local congregation. When children of working parents are left alone at home, the local congregation is most likely to offer an after-school latchkey program similarly, when people are discharged from alcohol rehabilitation centers, it is most likely that they will turn for support of the AA group housed in the local congregation. In other works, in America, congregations are the “hidden” safety net.[3]

Because the church is nearly ubiquitous and always local in its presence in a community, perhaps the church is in the best position to make a sustained and positive kingdom difference in the world. Could it be that the social forces that are shaping the culture today are providing new opportunities for the church to make an impact through service and ministry?

[1] Stark, The Rise of Christianity, 161.

[2] Massaro, Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action 33.

[3] Cnaan, The Invisible Caring Hand, 281.

Dissertation Outcomes

It is a great feeling when the final draft of a 200 page dissertation is sent in to be bound and placed on a shelf...never to be read again. If that doesn't give one a sense of achievement, I don't know what does. I will post however a few relevant finding. Every dissertation has seven mandatory chapters--the last chapter contains an evaluation of the project outcomes along with recommendations for further research and applications to those in the field. My DMin is in "Transformational Leadership for the Global City. My dissertation topic was:


Here is part of my conclusion:

Project Outcomes
In answering the research question, “How effective is Leadership Network’s Leadership Community process in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers?” the research is quite conclusive. Measured in terms of ministry outcomes, the LC process is very effective in accelerating the deployment of church volunteers in service and ministry in the community. If indeed, “Leadership brings about real change that leaders intend”[1] then transformational leadership theory has been validate in this study. As noted in chapter six, cumulatively the thirty-three churches increased the involvement of volunteers from 21 percent of their average weekly attendees in 2003 to 45 percent of their average weekly attendees in 2006. Furthermore, they increased their hours of service from 466,866 hours in 2003 to 1,151,861 hours of service in 2006. The hours served in 2006 alone are the equivalent of 576 people working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks! The financial impact is equally impressive. The economic value of volunteer service increased from $8,025,427 in 2003 to $21,620,412 in 2006. The cumulative economic value of volunteers from these 33 churches serving in the community from 2003 to 2006 is a staggering $62,579,468. Personally, I am very proud of the way the church leaders led so effectively in mobilizing believers. They mirror James McGregor Burn’s view of effective leaders:

For creativity to become leadership, however, conceptual transformation is not enough. As scientists must go beyond ‘revolutions on paper’ and put their ideas to the test in a struggle to win acceptance by their peers, all the more so must creative leadership. Leadership is a social phenomenon, and leaders are ‘intimately tied to other people and the effects of their actions on them.’ According to Wolin, the groundbreaking political theorists were motivated by ‘the ideal of an order subject to human control and one that could be transfigured through a combination of thought and action.’ They intended ‘not simply to alter the way men look at the world, but to alter the world.’[2]

These leaders, have indeed, altered the world—if only the world around them.

[1] Burns, Leadership, 415.
[2] Burns, Transforming Leadership, 168

Missional Renaissance Leadership Community

(If you know of churches that might qualify to be part of these groups, please send contact info to eric@tangogroup.com.

Missional Renaissance Leadership Community Overview
Although the next church’s shape is not yet obvious, the forces that give it shape are.

Leadership Network (LN) is pleased to announce the formation of a series of Leadership Communities for innovative churches whose leaders are thinking differently about what church could be and even should be. For these leaders church has moved from being internally preoccupied to externally focused, from primarily focusing on its institutional maintenance to developing an incarnational influence. These leaders find themselves thinking of kingdom impact more than church growth and are thinking of the church as a catalyst to mobilize all of the community, not just their church, to work on the big things God cares about. These leaders are changing the scorecard for what is measured and valued for the church. The difference in their thinking is not measured in degree…but in kind.

These leaders recognize that every domain of our culture is undergoing profound metamorphosis in its way of being and doing, from healthcare to education to arts and entertainment to the business sector. Dramatically increased levels of education, technology, and wealth are elevating the potential for many human beings to shape their response to the world. At the same time unprecedented numbers of people live in poverty, experience hunger, wrestle with disease and suffer from mal-education. The rise of the age of altruism, expressed by Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Bono, Oprah and others signals the readiness of individuals across multiple domains of our culture to tackle these huge societal issues

We are calling this LC the “Missional Renaissance Leadership Community.” During the 1400’s the most gifted and passionate artists, writers, architects, and mathematicians of the day converged in cities like Florence Italy. Through the cross-pollination of ideas and practices, they helped give rise to the Renaissance—meaning “rebirth.” As in Renaissance times this LC will convene cross-sector leaders to discover breakthrough approaches to the big issues that face our culture.

The Leadership Community Experience
Leadership Communities (LCs) are small groups of innovators and practitioners, pursuing common ministry outcomes, sharing ideas, developing strategy and benchmarking measurements in the context of authentic relationships. LN discovers emerging ministry initiatives and invites strategic leaders into these communities of peers who are seeking to improve their personal and organizational performance in the focused outcome areas.

The Missional Renaissance Leadership Community (MRLC) will gather four times, for two-day experiences over the course of 18 months beginning in November 2007. The MRLC will be comprised of church leaders and leaders from the private, public and social sectors of the community who are passionate about changing the world.

The MRLC will be directed by Reggie McNeal and Eric Swanson. Both men are experienced in helping churches become more externally focused and missional. For the past several years, Reggie, as a leadership development specialist and consultant, has been coaching churches and church leaders into the changes necessary to become more missionally effective. Eric has directed Five Leadership Communities for Externally Focused Churches. Both men have written extensively on the missional focus of the church and are recognized thought-leaders in the area of missional churches.

Who Can Participate
Churches will be invited to apply for entrance into the MRLC and will be approved for participation based on the following selection criteria:
· Churches must be currently transitioning to / engaged in missional ministry as an intentional strategic direction.
· Churches must be committed to developing a new scorecard for ministry that reflects the multi-dimensional facets of the missional church expression and impact.
· Churches must agree to bring a team of five individuals to each gathering—the lead pastor plus other pastoral staff and at least two leaders from other domains of the community. Such leaders could include superintendents of schools, the mayor of your city, business owners or company CEOs, arts and media/entertainment leaders, half-timers, and executive directors of major nonprofit organizations such as United Way, Red Cross, or Salvation Army.

Tuition for the MRLC is $5,000. This covers program fees and meals for five team members for the18-month experience. Travel and lodging are not included.

Contact Information
Gary Dungan
Leadership Community Coordinator
P: 214.754.9705 800.765.5323 x105

Water of Life--Fontana, California

Yesterday I met with pastor Danny Carroll of Water of Life Community Church in Fontana (http://wateroflifecc.org/index.html). If you can imagine an externally focused chruch on steroids you have just entered Water of Life! I scribbled a few notes of a few things they are involved in. In early May they sponsored what could best be described as a party for the city--7000 folks in attendence--200 bikes repaired ("Most of the kids don't have dads so they never learn how to repair flats and fix chains") and gave away another 50 bikes. They did make-overs for the women and haircuts for everybody. They hosted "career booths" where kids could put on uniforms of doctors, nurses, police, etc. and then the kids were photographed and prayed over and spoken words of hope--"Always keep believing that you can make it with God's help." Then there was the barbecue...and band and even a message where nearly 650 indicated they made decisions to become Christ-followers. This is an amazing church!

They partnered with the city to rebuild abandoned houses for Katrina victims that arrived in the area. High level city officials have come to faith from a variety of spiritual backgrounds and are now active at WOL. 100 folks are going overseas this summer to Camodia, Thailand and Burma. They have built several churches overseas and have started and sponsored a school with over 600 kids.

In a church where people have "a passion for God and compassion for people" everyone wants to give themselves away--something Danny encourages. One man who was hired for a staff position now spends 60% of his time working in WOL's prison ministry. Last month WOL had 8,000 prisoners in Bible study and correspondance courses. Did I tell you about their medical ministry?

WOL has four physicians, four physician assistants and 14 nurses who take their mobile medical clinic into the underserved areas of the community where they provide vaccinations and basic medical care. The medical ministry is accompanied by the food and spiritual ministry. That brings us to food...

Recently the folks at WOL packed 10,000 boxes of food through "Pray and Pack." After every thousand boxes, they stop, worship and pray. This takes about five hours and costs $25K--just a small portion of the $600K+ given in ministry to the poor every year. They are a generous church although founding pastor (16 years ago) Danny has never taken an offering. They call themselves a 50-50 church. Half of all they take in is given away.

Danny was personal friends with Dr. Bill Bright--founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ. Crusade's seminary library was housed for many years at WOL and Dr. Bright gave Danny his wathch in appreciation of all they were doing for the kingdom. Danny is probably one of those many folks you don't know. They are under the radar but cutting a huge swath for the kingdom.

As Reggie McNeal and I are starting a new series of Leadership Communities for externally focused, missional churches, pastor Dan and WOL are the kinds of churches we are looking to bring together. This new Leadership Community is called "Missional Renaissance Leadership Community." I'll write about it in the next entry.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cistine Chapel Updated

Ever feel like this?

Boulder Sharefest

This weekend was our fourth annual Sharefest. This year we had over 2,500 participants working in 18 different locations around the Boulder area. It's a great format--working to refurbish schools and non-profit service organizations. Liz and I worked at Sanchez Elementary School in Lafayette. The format is very do-able. Folks work Saturday 8:30 to 4:30 and then again on Sunday, 8:30 to 11:00. Afterwards we convene on the University of Colorado campus at Mackey Auditorium for a combined worship service (Rick Rusaw from LifeBridge gave the message) followed by a big picnic lunch on the lawn--this year catered by Qdoba and KT's Barbecue. During the worship service, school district officials and principles and executive directors of non-profits take the stage...to a standing ovation. One administrator commented "This is the type of thing that changes the world." Another said, "Sharefest is the very best thing you can do." Another remarked, "Long after the paint has faded the community will endure because of the work we've done together. One pricipal sent this letter to the local paper:
This weekend (6/9,10) over 120 people came to Eisenhower Elementary school to do some much needed painting, cleaning and landscaping. Most of these people did not have children in our school yet they were willing to give of their time and care to make the school a nicer place for our students. Sharefest is an amazing assemblage of people, good intention and great results! The members of Calvary Bible Church that came to Eisenhower are the quiet heroes in our community that do good as a matter of course. In times where so many are trying to find blame or fault it is so refreshing to find a committed group of people willing to serve our community’s children in a giving, tangible, and important fashion.. Sharefest’s work is a gift to our school community that is greatly appreciated!
Charles S. Serns, Principal

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Books and Brew

We kicked off the first of six backyard gatherings of Books and Brews this summer. The format is simple. I heat up some wings or ribs, throw together some chips and beverages and folks show up with a book they are reading and the insight they are getting from the book connected to what God is doing in the world, or their own life or ministry. If you are in town on Friday afternoons, 4-6pm come stop by. Email me at eric@tangogroup.com for location and the next five meeting dates.

Bill Hybels in Colorado

Yesterday Bill Hybels was at Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot meeting with pastors around the topic of Leadership Development.

Left to its own churches will muddle south and be less and less a reflection of at Acts 2 church. Acts 2 (representing the ideal) church is there because of leaders. That's that leaders do. What will we do? As church leaders change, churches change. As churches change, communities...cities, states...countries and the world change.

Why is the New Testament church so leadership reliant? If you put a bad leader in a good church, it gets worse. If you put a good leader in a bad church in five or ten years there are fantastic results [Eric's note: This should be of good news to any who are in their 9th year in a bad church.]
If the church is generous, cares for the poor, is evangelistically effective, racially reconciling, mobilizes volunteers it is because of leadership. It didn't drift that way. it was led there. If great things are happening its because of prevailing leadership.

I believe there are no bad pastors...just underdeveloped pastors. Good pastors need to get better. Romans 12:8--"Whoever leads, let him / her lead with diligence." This is in the context of Romans 12:1-2--our "reasonable" thing we should do. My responsibility as a leader is to get better at it.

My dream is that every church leader get an "A" in leadership. We can still become better leaders through diligence and humility. What's my plan to improve my leadership?
1) Read everything you can on leadership
2) Go where leadership is taught. I can't overestimate the value of one great leadership thought
3) Get around leaders who are better than you. Call up a leader and invite him / her to lunch. Assure the person you don't want to become best friends just have three questions.

Then Bill opened it up to questions: "What is your leadership challenge?" One question came up regarding motivating people. Bill's answer was instructive: "There are three things leaders must do:
1) Vision casting
2) Team building
3) Inspire and motivate. The church is woefully uninspired"

We need to become one-person thanking machines--thanking those who serve with us. Pay attention to greetings and goodbyes. [This was very insightful and something Bill did personally to the 40 or so folks who were there.] Every person in power communicates something of valuing or diminishing others who are in the room.

Another question came up regarding recruiting and hiring good staff. Bill answered (and I want to note here that Bill always asked others for insight and answers) that our pipeline is usually not broad enough to choose good candidates. Senior pastors need to be intentional about being in places where they are networking and looking for good people with character, competence and chemistry. [Again, this was insightful.] When the person walks into the room do you feel an emotional shot of energy when he / she walks through the door. Register the emotional response of your body. If you can hardly stand a two hour interview, imagine what working with this person would be like. If new-hire starts going south you must bring performance coaching quickly.

Bill also had some insights on board meetings--setting ground rules on respectful behavior recognizing that some folks were about to get their feelings hurt. We need to stay connected to the people we lead. He recommended Henry Cloud's book, Integrity. Never envy a leader. I keep waiting for the day when I do things so well that I won't be criticized...that day will never come. Leaders always bring change and change brings loss for someone else.

I had a second conversion regarding AIDS when I went to Africa. Pastors need a second conversion Congregations will engage in any social issue if they are led and fed. If you are doing it, congregation will follow. We have gone from 2% ethnic to 20% ethnic at Willow. At Christmas we collected $2 million dollars to give to global poverty and AIDS. People who had never been to our church, stopped by or wrote letters--"I want to check this place out." When the church does the heroic and extraordinary things, the unbelieving world pays attention.

Bill then talked about the leaders that were coming to the Willow Leadership Summit in August--Colin Powell, Richard Curtis (film director who orchestrated the American Idol Gives Back campaign that raised $73 m towards Africa and over $1b to aliviate poverty), and a host of others. It was a great morning.