Thursday, May 31, 2007

End the Myth of the Perfect Pastor!

No pastor or church leader can be all things to all people. But how many of us -- driven by the myth of the perfect pastor and by our own fear of appearing incompetent in any way -- wear ourselves out and even end up damaging our teams and churches trying to maintain the image that we're the flawless leader?

In the complexity of today's ministry environment, that is a guaranteed formula for failure

The February 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review includes an article titled "In Praise of the Incomplete Leader" (Deborah Ancona, Thomas W. Malong, Wanda J. Orlikowski and Peter M. Senge) that was reprinted here.

They argue that leadership exists at all levels of the organization, where you find expertise, vision, new ideas and commitment:

“In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization. Only when leaders come to see themselves as incomplete—as having both strengths and weaknesses—will they be able to make up for their missing skills by relying on others.”

These MIT researchers break down leadership into four capabilities:

sensemaking (understanding the context in which an organization and its people operate),

relating (building relationships within and across organizations),

visioning (creating a compelling picture of the future), and

inventing (developing new ways to achieve the vision).

Few, if any, leaders are skilled in all four capabilities. In fact, they argue that the most effective leaders accept being incomplete. But they don't just stop there. They understand their own weaknesses and compensate for them by identifying/recruiting team members who bring those needed strengths to the table.

“It’s the leader’s responsibility to create an environment that lets people complement one another’s strengths and offset one another’s weaknesses. In this way, leadership is distributed across multiple people throughout the organization.”

Have you ever bluffed or faked you way through in an area where you knew you weren't strong but you felt you have to preserve the image of the flawless pastor?

“Even the most talented leaders require the input and leadership of others, constructively solicited and creatively applied...It’s time to celebrate the incomplete—that is, the human— leader.”

Maybe it's time to celebrate the less than omni-competent pastor too!

But he (the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Grocery Stores (and churches?) overwhelming to men

Help! Grocery store still overwhelming to men

By Brad Dorfman Sun May 27, 10:04 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) - So, this guy walked into a grocery store ... and got completely overwhelmed.

U.S. men are doing more and more grocery shopping, both for themselves and their families, but retailers are still not doing much to make the trip any more enticing, retail consultants and industry experts said....

"Men do represent a large part of grocery shopping dollars and they aren't being very well accommodated ... sales are being lost," Mandy Putnam, vice president at consulting firm TNS Retail Forward said...

In a recent report titled "Men in Grocery Stores," Putnam said that men shop inefficiently, which leads to missed sales for retailers....

Many men have difficulty finding items, forego buying rather than risk purchasing a substitute for an item on the grocery list and hesitate to ask for help if they can't find an item, Putnam said in her report....

"They never ask for help, except maybe from the butcher, but they always say they never had problems finding anything when the cashier at the register asks," she said.

Unlike women, male shoppers typically focus more on convenience than price, and retailers will need to cater to that need in order to attract them to their stores, consultants said.

Unlike women, men tend to hone in on the specific thing they want to buy instead of surveying the entire aisle, consultants said…. "They were great at picking out the stuff that they bought before. It's the new stuff, or something new and different that a manufacturer is trying to promote, that they have trouble with," said Putnam, who walked along with men as they shopped as part of her study.

Men also tend to bristle at the overwhelming number of choices in grocery aisles, with the cereal aisle being one prime example, Putnam said.

"One guy I thought was going to have a nervous breakdown in the cereal aisle," Putnam said, adding that this man, in his early 30s, worked the night shift as a police officer in a dicey part of town and was otherwise used to stressful situations.

Retailers still refer to their main customer as "she," with women still doing the majority of the family shopping, so a major overhaul of stores to make them more attractive to men is not likely.

Sounds like men are the problem because we weren't wired to shop the way the store intends for us. Yes, these retailers could change the store to better serve men...but they're not likely too.

I came across this article just as I’m diving into David Murrow’s book “Why Men Hate Going to Church. (Thomas Nelson, 2005) You know the statistics: 90% of men believe in God, 83% of men call themselves Christians, 30% of men attend church regularly.

But do you read those stats, then yawn and move on…Or have you wrestled with what it would take for your church to be reaching twice as many men as presently attend?

I’m not just talking about changing the lilac paint on the sanctuary walls of one church I recently visited. An extreme makeover may be one option, but it will take more than hanging a record deer mount in the men’s room to reach the typical American male (yes, we tried that at New Hope – Williston).

Murrow has some definite ideas (see about changing the trend. Mark Driscoll built Mars Hill Church by doing whatever it would take to reach “young, creative and urban secular men.” (Confessions of a Reformission Rev, Zondervan, 2006 p. 108)

Will your church be like the grocery stores in the article (“a major overhaul of stores to make them more attractive to men is not likely”) or will you lead closer to the edge?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Missing Something on the Edge?

Here's today's trivia question for leaders who want to take their church to the edge:

Even after Starbucks had five stores and more than 20 employees, which item was unavailable for purchase at their stores:

Hot Coffee
Frappucino® blended beverage

Sorry but that's a trick question. The answer is 'all of the above.'

All they sold was beans... although you could get a free taste of the coffee if you thought to ask politely. It took several years after the company was up and running before they realized it might be a good idea to sell beverages.

No, I’m not suggesting every church needs a cafĂ©.

I do wonder, could your church be missing opportunities for ministry that are staring you right in the face?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Is Your Big Idea Sticky?

Our new pastors and church planters networks both met today in Grand Rapids. Our district team is blessed with some of the most effective leaders in our denomination!

Today we talked about a few concepts from Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Heath and Heath argue that for an idea to stick it must have several ingredients of SUCCES. They use the example of JFK’s idea to “put a man on the moon in a decade” which had all six of those ingredients:

1. Simple A single, clear mission.

2. Unexpected A man on the moon? It seemed like science fiction at the time.

3. Concrete Success was defined so clearly—no one could quibble about man, moon, or decade.

4. Credible This was the President of the U.S. talking.

5. Emotional It appealed to the aspirations and pioneering instincts of an entire nation.

6. Story An astronaut overcomes great obstacles to achieve an amazing goal.

Our groups talked about what it means for your sermon, a clarified vision or a new church plant to become sticky.

Another author who talks about that is Seth Godin. Here's a byte of what Seth has to say about viral ideas:

For an idea to be spread, it needs to be sent and received.

No one sends an idea unless:

  1. They understand it.

  2. They want it to spread.

  3. They believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind.

  4. The effort to send the idea is less than the benefits.

No one “gets” an idea unless:

  1. The first impression demands further investigation.

  2. They already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea.

  3. They trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time.

Notice that ideas never spread because they are important to the originator.

Notice, too, that a key element in the spreading of the idea is the capsule that contains it. If it’s easy to swallow, tempting, and complete, it’s far more likely to get a good start.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Extinct Fish? Bad day for evolutionists...

Indonesian fisherman nets ancient fish


An Indonesian fisherman has caught a coelacanth, an ancient fish once thought to have become extinct at the time of the dinosaurs, a fishery expert said on Monday.

Yustinus Lahama and his son caught the fish on Saturday in the sea off North Sulawesi province and kept it at their house for an hour, said Grevo Gerung, a professor at the fisheries faculty at the Sam Ratulangi University.

After being told by neighbours it was a rare fish he took it back to the sea and kept it in a quarantine pool for about 17 hours before it died.

Coelacanths are known from the fossil records dating back more than 360 million years, according to the Australian Museum Fish Web site...they were believed to have become extinct approximately 80 million years ago, when they disappeared from the fossil record, it said.

The experts were wrong?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I have teenagers in my home. They have a code "TMI" they use when someone goes into extensive descriptions that would be better left unsaid. TMI = Too much information. Given the information overload that threatens to swamp many of our lives, maybe we could have a TMI day and enjoy "the sound of silence" for even just 24 hours.

There is a real cost associated with information overload.

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it." - Herbert Simon (recipient of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic in 1978 for his contribution to organizational decision making)

If you're reading this, you're choosing not to read something else. If you watch American Idol, you're not watching DATELINE NBC with John Grisham discussing his first nonfiction work, “The Innocent Man,” about a murder case that resulted in the wrongful conviction of two Oklahoma men. I'm not lobbying for one or the other, rather affirming that Simon's quote applies so much to those of us who are church leaders.

Are we intentional in the Sunday announcements (strategic concerns) that we make verbally versus those that are just printed in the bulletin? What do we choose to write about in our newsletters? If we only have one or two things to say, are we talking about what matters most?

Ultimately, our goal is not information transfer but transformation. Some information is critical to the transformation process. Too much information may even be counter-productive. I don't know who said it first, but I've repeated it often reflecting on church world: "After all's been said and done, more's been said than done."

Elvis sang "A little less conversation, a little more action please..." Not a bad motto for some churches to consider!

Maybe that's why Jesus said "Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes.’" (Matthew 5:37) or in the NLT "Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't'."

If you're interested in tackling information overload, check out:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Group Fizz ... on the creative edge!

I was privileged to attend the Fizz conference at Daybreak yesterday!

Mark Courtney's session kicked off the day. He talked about principles for carbonating your ministry. The first concept was "group fizz" - moving from solo to ensemble. He had a great quote from authors Kelley and Littman talking about the “myth of the lone genius.”

They write: “If you distrust the power of teamwork, consider this fact. Even the most legendary individual inventor is often a team in disguise. In six scant years, for example, Thomas Edison generated an astounding four hundred patents, producing innovations in the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, and lightbulb— with the help of a fourteen-man team . As Francis Jehl, Edison’s longtime assistant, explained, ‘Edison is in reality a collective noun and means the work of many men.’ Even Michelangelo couldn’t have painted the Sistine Chapel without the help of a gang of artisans…"

“At IDEO we believe that the myth of the lone genius can actually hamper a company’s efforts in innovation and creativity. After close encounters with dozens of real-life inventors, I have to report that most of them don’t have a lot to teach us about applying the creative process to business. Too many of the inventors I have met suffer from a self-limiting form of paranoia. They want help with their inventions but aren’t quite ready to reveal them. They aren’t quite sure they can trust us with their precious secret and are worried that any potential partners will take advantage of them. So they return to the safety of their garages and basements and nothing ever happens.”

(Kelley, T. and Littman, J. (2001). The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm. New York: A Currency Book, Doubleday. pp. 69 – 70.)
Do you have a group/team in your church with whom you're creating fizz and staying on the creative edge of ministry?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Boy and A Sailboat… on the edge

Three years ago, Michael Perham, then all of 11 years old, informed his parents of his dream: he wanted to be the youngest person to ever sail solo across the Atlantic.

National Geographic Adventure magazine recently published his story recounting how this fourteen-year-old boy from England sailed a 28-foot sailboat called Cheeky Monkey some 3500 miles across the Atlantic.

Michael Perham beat the record for the youngest crossing by 434 days.

In the magazine interview, written by Andrea Minarcek, Michael had a lists of 'musts' that helped him reach his goal.

- Dream big
- Get an early start
- Be true to yourself
- Don't get distracted
- Keep in touch
- Sleep tight
- Stay the course
- Savor the moment
- Push the envelope

Here are a few more quotes from the under-aged but undaunted navigator:

"I slept about three-and-a-half hours each day, in one-hour naps. With all the noise of water rushing past it sounds like being in a car wash. But it wasn't hard to fall asleep. Put your head down after a day out on the water, and you'll just drift off to sleep straightaway. It does exhaust a person.”

"I ate every variation of canned food thinkable. I'm not the best cook, so I'd just put it in the pan and heat it up. It wasn't at all nice. I was able to call my mom and sister almost every day, so that was good, but I really missed warm toast, ice-cold drinks, and crisps.”

"Near the Canary islands the VHF radio and satellite tracker on my boat died on me. My dad and I lost contact entirely for three days. No one in the UK knew where I was but it didn't really bother me to be off the radar. I knew where I was headed, so it was as simple as sticking to the course."


Dream big, get an early start, be true to yourself, don't get distracted, keep in touch, sleep tight, stay the course, savor the moment, push the envelope ... sounds like good advice for keeping your edge!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell ... Remembered

``He was a man who set a direction. He was someone who was not afraid to speak his mind. We all have great respect for him ... he is a person who told you what he thought, and you knew where he stood.'' - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

``Over the years we became friends; sometimes we had polar opposite points of view. ... I have many fond memories of him. He leaves a great legacy of service and a great university behind. He's left his footprints in the sands of time.'' - The Rev. Jesse Jackson.

``Jerry Falwell was a close personal friend for many years. We did not always agree on everything, but I knew him to be a man of God. His accomplishments went beyond most clergy of his generation. Some of my grandchildren have attended and currently attend Liberty University. He leaves a gigantic vacuum in the evangelical world.'' - Evangelist Billy Graham.


For all his other accomplishments, Jerry Falwell was first a church planter.

Shortly after graduating from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, Jerry Falwell returned home to plant the Thomas Road Baptist Church with $1,000 and an initial congregation of 35 adults and their families in an abandoned building that had housed the Donald Duck Bottling Company.

Falwell began building his church in 1956. Carrying a yellow legal pad and a Bible, he set out to visit 100 homes a day, knocking on doors to share the Gospel and invite people to become part of this new church. Eventually, he personally knocked on every door in that city.

Everything else, the TV ministry that spanned the globe, the university serving 20,000 students and even the Moral Majority, flowed from that first commitment.

Church planters --- the leading edge!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Shauna Hybels Niequist ... on the Leading Edge

Shauna Niequist served 8 years on staff at two of America's leading edge churches, Willow Creek and Mars Hill. I was recently privileged to sit in with Pastor Wes Dupin and the staff meeting Daybreak as Shauna talked about the challenge of making a life while working as a staff member at a church.

Shauna shared guiding ideas, warning signs and suggestions.

Guiding Idea #1 - Ministry is both really important and really difficult. The stakes are incredibly high and working with volunteers is a complex leadership task, both emotionally and spiritually draining.

Guiding Idea #2 - As a staff member, it is your responsibility to create your own work and life experience in which you can thrive. It's not your boss's job.

Warning Sign #1 - When people become problems. We are in the people development business. They are our highest value but when we see them as a nuisance, burdensome, annoying...we're not in a good place.

Wanring Sign #2 - When creativity becomes costly. If I'm in the right place (spiritually and emotionally), then the challenge of being creative is in itself inspiring. But, if I dread the thought of having to come up with or implement "one more big idea" ... then I'm in the wrong place (spiritually/emotionally or maybe even vocationally).

Suggestion #1 - Set clear boundaries and keep them. Honor our biblical boundaries (i.e. Sabbath, family) ... your ministry will benefit in the long run. Only check your office e-mail at your office and your office voice-mail while you're working. Structure debrief time with your spouse. Urgent does not always equal important.

Suggestion #2 - Figure out what you love to do obsessively outside of work and go do it. When Shauna was 13, her dad (Bill Hybells) took up sailboat racing. What is your hobby or passionate pursuit?

What are you doing to keep your edge?

By the way, Daybreak has a great conference coming up this week: FIZZ

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mothers prefer silence over cinnamon rolls!

Moms want solitude, not room service, for Mother's Day, according to a new survey commissioned by Dunkin' Donuts.

Nearly 70 percent of the more than 1,500 women surveyed said they would rather sleep or have uninterrupted time to themselves than get breakfast in bed on their special day, reported.


I'm not going to read that to mean no more cards/flowers/gifts ... but apparently some silence speaks volumes!

How will that play out for you in your church this weekend? Will the guys staff the nursery/ childrens church and the worship service feature protracted periods of silence for mothers to contempate and mediate or just take a nap? Please don't tell me that's what is happening during the sermon ;-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Membership on the edge?

According to the 2007 State of the Church statistical highlights released by the General Secretary's office at The Wesleyan Church headquarters, total global membership decreased by 5,157 last year. That number may not paint an accurate picture since some international reporting was incomplete. Here in the North American General Conference, total membership (covenant and community) increased by 1718, or less than 1 new member per church. In light of that report, I found the following article, Membership Matters, from Dr. Keith Drury thought-provoking (I think that's one of Keith's spiritual gifts)

Keith writes:

"Robert Leonard is worried about declining membership. He’s seen the bottom drop out of his national figures in the last 50 years—from 4.1 million in 1959 down to 1.6 million this year. That’s a “reverse growth rate” (as the church growth movement used to call it) of –.013 per year. While losing less than 2% of membership a year never seems to be an “emergency,” over 50 years it can pile up and bite you in the rear [pocket].

Why aren’t they attracting new members? Daniel Wilson from the New Jersey region thinks they’ve got to reach out to the younger people. He along with other leaders thinks the membership standards may be too high for the newer generations. They want to shorten the length of new member training, cut out some of the hoops a candidate has to jump though, and maybe even compromise on some of the stringent requirements for new members.

So what do you think? To get themselves on the map again should these guys lower standards to grow or leave them high because people value things more when they cost more? What do you think?

So which denomination are we talking about here? None. The story above is about the Masons. Their membership has been dwindling since the 1950’s. They are desperately trying to reach what they call “the younger generations 21-55” (55?). They’re shortening the year-long membership process collapsing the first three (of 33) Masonic steps (“degrees”) in an attempt to bring in the next generation and keep their local “lodges” alive. While they are still unwilling to open up membership to women (the Mason’s version of the church’s WMS is the “Eastern Star”) they are willing to make other compromises. After 50 years of declining membership they think its time.

So what is the lesson for us church folk?

Think about these things. Discuss them with someone else who cares about the church like you do.

  1. __Yes __No We should we lower membership standards to reach new generations.
  2. __Yes __No We ought to hold to the membership standards as they are—it is who we are.
  3. __Yes __No We should make membership training shorter and easier for people.
  4. __Yes __No We ought to make membership training harder and longer—people don’t value bargains.
  5. __Yes __No We could compromise on at least some current membership standards.
  6. __Yes __No We should let anyone who claims to be a Christian join our church.—why have higher standards than God?
  7. __Yes __No Membership should become leadership in our church—people don’t need to join unless they want to lead
  8. __Yes __No Denominations shouldn’t have membership standards any more—that should be up to local churches.
  9. __Yes __No We should quit making the number of members a criterion of success for pastors.
  10. __Yes __No We ought to get rid of membership altogether—anyone who attends should be able to vote on anything.
  11. __Yes __No We should ban or expel people who use alcohol from membership.
  12. __Yes __No We should ban or expel people who use tobacco from membership.
  13. __Yes __No We should ban or expel people who gamble—even buy lottery tickets or go to casinos—from membership.
  14. __Yes __No We should ban or expel divorced people who did not have a biblical cause from membership.
  15. __Yes __No We should ban or expel people who have a continuing sexual affair from membership.
  16. __Yes __No We should ban or expel people who practice the gay lifestyle from membership
  17. __Yes __No We should have higher standards for leadership then we have for membership.
  18. __Yes __No We should have a higher standard for ministers than for lay membership in the church
  19. __Yes __No
  20. __Yes __No (What question would you add?)
So what do you think?"

Thank you, Keith, for making us think!

Monday, May 7, 2007

One Pastor Too Close to the Edge?

Search Continues For Minister Missing Since April 20

The search continues for a missing minister from Kimberly. It's been more than a week since anyone saw Gary Vance. The traveling minister and building contractor was last seen Friday April 20th. Gary Vance suffers from diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease. He needs medication, and police say he won't make it much longer without it... Vance has visited churches across the southeast singing, sharing his faith and spreading the gospel. But the evangelist didn't serve on Sunday. He's been missing now for more than a week and his family is devastated….

While Vance’s wife awaits word of his whereabouts, detectives continue to track leads...The 59 year old drove to
Lincoln Friday morning April 20th for a business meeting and hasn’t been seen since…. Now friends and family are left wondering if Vance is a victim of foul play or if he left intentionally, although people who know him best can't see that.

Vance’s friend
Gary ____________ said, “It's hard to understand knowing Gary, how he could walk away."


Article published May 3, 2007 (Stephanie Taylor, staff writer, Tuscaloosa News)

Police say missing preacher went to
Las Vegas

Police have closed the case of the missing preacher whose SUV was found in
Tuscaloosa on Friday, believing he went to Las Vegas of his own accord. Kimberly Police investigators believe that Gary Vance, 59, is in no danger. They closed the case Wednesday.

“Everything points to him having left on his own," said Sgt. Bill Isbell, the Kimberly Police Department investigator assigned to the case…. Vance’s 2004 Chevrolet TrailBlazer was found a week later in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart on Skyland Boulevard, covered with a tarp. Store videotape showed Vance leaving the parking lot in a taxi. Isbell interviewed the cab driver, who recognized Vance from a photograph and said he had taken Vance to the Greyhound bus station downtown.

A woman at the Greyhound station said she was “75 to 80 percent sure" that Vance was the man to whom she sold a ticket to Las Vegas.…


It's Monday morning and somewhere in America there is at least one or two ministers who are wondering if they should hang in there or just call it quits.

Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger's recently published finding from their study of pastors who leave the ministry revealed that in all five denominational groups, the top motivating factors for leaving were the same. Pastors reported:

“I felt drained by demands.”
“I felt lonely and isolated.”
“I did not feel supported by denominational officials.”
“I felt bored and constrained.”

(Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger's book, Pastors in Transition, is part of the Lilly Endowment's Pulpit and Pew research project on the state of pastoral ministry)

Flip those concerns over and you may find you're on the road back from the edge.

1) Feeling drained by the demands? Learn to say "No." Work with your leadership team to set healthy boundaries. Prioritize. Delegate.

2) Feeling lonely and isolated? Reach out to two other pastors in your area (whether or not they're in your denominational camp) and buy them lunch. Explore the possibility of connecting at least once each month. Call an old classmate from your religion department days. And don't be reluctanct to seek out a Christian counselor.

3) Feeling lack of support from your denominational officials? Let them know. Express your willingness/desire for a greater level of engagement and find a way to connect (the trick is to do that without increasing the demands ... see #1)

4) Feeling bored and constrained? It the goal you're pursuing big enough? Do you have a God-sized dream that keeps you running? "I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing; forgetting what is behind.and looking forward to what lies ahead." Philippians 3:13

It's Monday. Read a book. Take a walk. Just don't hop a bus for Vegas!

Friday, May 4, 2007

From the Center to the Edge...

“…The map of global Christianity that our grandparents knew has been turned upside-down. At the start of the 20th century, only ten percent of the world's Christians lived in the continents of the south and east. Ninety percent lived in North America and Europe, along with Australia and New Zealand. But at the start of the 21st century, at least 70 percent of the world's Christians live in the non-Western world—more appropriately called the majority world.

More Christians worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Britain, Europe, and North America combined. There are more Baptists in Congo than in Britain. More people in church every Sunday in communist China than in all of Western Europe. Ten times more Assemblies of God members in Latin America than in the U.S.

The old peripheries are now the center. The old centers are now on the periphery. Philip Jenkins brought this shift to popular attention in The Next Christendom. Yet many Christian leaders of the global South resent the implication in Jenkins's title. They have no desire to be another "Christendom"—wielding monolithic territorial and political power. Nor do they wish to be any kind of threat to the West, but rather to help Western Christians in the struggle to shift from survival mode to mission mode—in their own lands….”

Christopher J.H. Wright is the international director of Langham Partnership known in the U.S. as John Stott Ministries.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

National Day of Prayer

"The Christian needs to be alone during a definite period of each day for meditation on scripture...and for prayer...even during times of spiritual dryness and apathy.

It matters little what form of prayer we adopt...or how many words we use. What matters is the faith which lays hold on God, knowing that He knows our needs before we even ask Him. That is what gives Christian prayer its boundless confidence and its joyous certainty. We simply make petitions and requests to One who has the heart of a Father.

Of course, God's will must be the primary object of our prayers... and we must recognize prayer as an instrument of God's will. Therefore, we pray that God's will may be done throughout the world..."

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Help, the boss is blogging!

Blogging isn't just for po-mo pastors or techno-geeks or net-heads (are any of those real words?) anymore. Even busy corporate types like Bill Marriott are making time to communicate directly with customers and employees. If you're new to blogging (okay, so I'll admit that I may be the last pastor on the planet to get this) or an old hat, you can appreciate Bill's first blog on uncharted territory.

Here are a few excerpts:

"I'm venturing into uncharted territory as I launch this blog. A year ago, I didn't even know what a blog was -- until my Communications team began telling me about all the blog traffic on travel and tourism. Now I know this is where the action is if you want to talk to your customers directly...

"Truth be told, I'm not very good with computers, although I couldn't do business in today's fast-paced economy without my cell phone, and my grandchildren have gotten me hooked on my iPod.... Ten years ago when my people first started talking about selling room reservations over the internet, I was a skeptic. Today is not only the biggest website in the hotel industry, it's also our fastest growing reservations channel. I'm a convert...

"Blogging will allow me to do what I've been doing for years -- on a global scale. Talking to the customer comes easily to me. I visit 250 hotels around the world every year. This year I'll be traveling once again to China where we have 27 hotels, 16 under construction and many more in our development pipeline. At every hotel, I talk to associates, from housekeepers to general managers, to get their feedback. I call it "management by walking around." Like my parents, I value the input from our associates at all levels. I make lots of notes -- and my best ideas almost always come from our people in the field... Bottom line, I believe in communicating with the customer, and the internet gives me a whole new way of doing that on a global scale. I'd rather engage directly in dialogue with you because that's how we learn and grow as a company. So tell me what you think, and together we'll keep Marriott on the move!"

Sounds like a leader that is committed to keeping his edge!