Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quiz: Identity Theft Quiz

Sunday, August 3, 2008

People are Being Programmed to Death

Are You Being Programmed To Death At Your Church?

Should There Be Less Ministries?

Will Your Church Members Get More From Their Worship Experience When Churches Decide To Become More Effective in Understanding the True Meaning of Fellowship?

Comments By Bill Easum

One of the new realities of new, thriving churches is the less they do the more they grow. Sounds strange, doesn’t it. Here’s what I mean. I’m seeing more and more new, thriving churches doing only a hand full of ministries, usually limited to worship, small groups, and children and youth worship, and missions- and nothing more. Thus, less is more.

And the converse is true. I see more and more declining churches with a full calendar of events. The goal of many pastors seems to be “if I can get new people involved in something, I’ve got them.” So, they heap one program on top of another in hopes of involving more people. Whereas this method worked when the church was more at the center of society, nothing now could be farther from the truth. All over-programming does today is split up families one more time as if society doesn’t do that enough.

So why not start cancelling all of the programs you have to annually prop up by begging people to attend? Then look over all of your programs and ask “Which ones really contribute to the spiritual or numerical growth of our church? And then discontinue all of those that do not contribute.

You see one of the mistakes most churches make is they tie their new people up in some many church activities that within a couple of years they don’t have any unchurched friends anymore. Instead of bringing people to church two or three times a week, train them to spend time with their unchurched friends and let them see what it means to be a Christian. You’ll see a marked improvement in the number of new people showing up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What are Men Really Looking For In A Church: How to Keep Them In Church

Are you looking for a church that understands men? Do you want to help your congregation become a guy magnet?

A number of studies have revealed the kinds of churches that tend to attract men. Based on this research, I’ve identified twelve characteristics of a man-friendly church.

Before we begin: a caveat. No single model of church will appeal to every man. As you read this article you may shake your head and think, “I can’t stand those kinds of churches,” or “My husband visited a church like that and he hated it.”

I must also mention that none of these 12 things matter as much as the authentic presence of God. I often tell groups, "If the Spirit of God is moving, it won't matter to men if the pastor is wearing a pink ballerina's tutu. Men are drawn to the real Jesus."

But the research is clear: the churches that draw a healty percentage of men tend to exhibit the following twelve characteristics:

1. Look for Large

As a congregation grows, its gender gap shrinks. Churches that draw thousands on a weekend are the most likely to approach gender balance. Meanwhile, the statistically average church of fifty to one hundred is the size most likely to experience a shortage of men.

Large churches have many advantages. Probably foremost is quality. Most are led by gifted pastors who are compelling speakers. The music is polished. The facilities and grounds are well-kept and impressive. Men can invite their friends without fear of embarrassment, confident that the service will proceed with professionalism and good taste. Men are less likely to leave a large church thinking, Well, that was cheesy. What a waste of my time.

2. Look for Nondenominational

For decades, nondenominational churches have grown, while name-brand churches have shrunk—both liberal and conservative. No one is sure why this is happening, but there’s little doubt about who’s leading this exodus: men. The National Congregations Study of 1998 found that denominational churches were much more likely than nondenominational ones to report a significant gender gap.

3. Look for Strict Adherence to Scripture

I’ve heard it said that men have an instinctive BS detector. Men want proof. They’re natural skeptics. They not only want to know what to believe, but why to believe it.

Churches that attract men have a bottom line: the Bible. Multiple studies have shown that churches that hold their members to scriptural standards (particularly in areas of personal morality) tend to grow faster than those that don’t. The National Congregations Study found self-described liberal churches were 14 percent more likely to have a man shortage than conservative ones.

4. Look for a Young, Multiracial Crowd

A study from Hartford Seminary finds a statistical correlation between a younger crowd, the presence of men, and church growth. Meanwhile, an abundance of members over the age of sixty and a surplus of women is associated with decline.

The same study found a strong correlation between a racially diverse crowd and church growth. It’s not enough to preach racial diversity from the pulpit; the people in the seats must represent many tribes, tongues, and nations. Look for a multicultural congregation when trying to attract men.

5. Look for a Congregation That Is Itself Young

Recently founded churches do better drawing males. The National Congregations Study found that churches in existence less than thirty years are measurably more effective at reaching men.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that church plants do quite well with men. Newfound churches are desperate to grow, so boldness, strategic planning and external focus are part of the culture. These needs jibe with men’s interests and gifts.

New forms of church are enjoying some success rounding up guys. One example: Cowboy churches are popping up all over the United States. Worshipers meet in barns, sit on bales of hay, sing country songs, and enjoy a simple sermon targeted at working men and women. Some cowboy churches have lassoed lots of men—running 50 percent male (or better) on a typical Sunday.

6. Look for Energized Men in the Pews

When you walk into a church, look around at the guys. Do they look like they want to be there? Or are they just fulfilling an obligation? If the men seem to have been dragged to church by wives and girlfriends, forget it. Find another church.

Enthusiastic men bring vigor to worship. Plus you get a snowball effect: guys start inviting their friends, who show up to see what the excitement is about. They get engaged and transmit their fervor to the next group of men.

7. Look for a Man in the Pulpit

If you’re looking for a church your man might like, improve your odds by choosing one with a male senior pastor. Churches with a female senior pastor are 20 percent more likely to experience a lack of men in the pews. Why is this so? Men follow men.

Pastors who cut a masculine figure from the pulpit also seem to be more popular with men. Guys are drawn to men who exude a healthy masculinity, but are turned off by softies.

8. Look for a Pastor Who Is Astonishing and Authoritative

At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, eyewitnesses said this of Christ: “The people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matt. 7:28–29) If you want a pastor who teaches like Jesus, find one who’s both astonishing and authoritative.

As a man, I love being astonished in church. I light up when a message challenges me to think—or better yet, to take action. An authoritative teacher is one who is resolute and consistent in his beliefs. He tells it like it is, even if someone is offended. Nothing disappoints me more than a sermon that does not challenge. Even worse is a message composed of familiar, comforting religious jargon.

9. Look for Informal Dress

For years, getting dressed up has been foundational to the churchgoing experience. When I was a child, no one would dream of entering God’s house unless clothed in his Sunday best.

Fortunately, this is changing. Most men don’t like getting dressed up the way that women do, so many growing churches encourage their members to dress informally. Some pastors are even dropping the ministerial robe, collar, coat, and tie in favor of more casual attire.

10. Look for Modern Technology

Churches that reach men (particularly young men) do so with modern technology. They use slides and video during the worship service. They invest in a professional, easy-to-use Web site. Some churches distribute restaurant-style pagers to parents in case they need to be summoned during the sermon.

Of course, some folks dislike technology in church. The new wave in worship, known as vintage worship or emerging worship, drives technology into the background, employing acoustic instruments, candles, and iconography to help worshipers connect with the ancient divine. But even emerging worship uses much more technology than a traditional congregation; it’s just kept under wraps.

The lesson is clear: churches that deploy modern technology will have an easier time engaging men, because men think technology is cool.

11. Look for Fun

Men are the biggest market for humor videos, Comedy TV networks and the late night comedians. And thanks to the popular VeggieTales video series, a generation has grown up with the expectation that church can—and should—contain an element of fun.

A church service needn’t be frivolous, nor should it be focused on entertaining the audience. But a little humor really helps men drop their guard. The Hartford seminary study also found that a reverent worship climate was associated with church decline (and a lack of men). So might we assume that a slightly irreverent climate actually helps men connect with God? This squares with men’s taste for parody and self-deprecating humor. A funny skit, video clip, or a pastor who pokes fun at himself will score big points with men.

12. Look for a Clear, Unique Mission

Men love churches that make the mission clear. They focus on the basics. This is what our church is about. Here is our mission. Here’s how you can become a part of what God is doing in our congregation.

But this is rare. Few churches have a unique mission. Most are focused on dozens of different goals. Believe it or not, fewer than 10 percent of pastors in the US can articulate the vision toward which their congregation is moving.

So men come to church, but no one ever tells them why they are there. Men sit on those cushioned pews and ask themselves man-type questions: What are we trying to accomplish? Is all this activity really achieving anything? How do we know if we’re winning?

But when a church’s vision is clear, men invest themselves wholeheartedly. Why do you think purpose driven churches are doing so well? Men need purpose, and a church that clearly articulates a mission will be a magnet to men.

Monday, July 28, 2008

6 Tips for Victory Over Your Mind: Encourage Yourself in the Lord

1. Don't panic, worry or complain.
Set your mind and keep it set on victory. When things seem to skid off the tracks, minimize the situation and maximize your time with God. The Word says, "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). God is bigger than your problem; greater than your issues. 2008 will be great if we keep the faith. Fear will die and courage will flourish when you take time and get alone in the presence of God. It's hard to complain about the minuscule when you're in the presence of the omniscient, omnipotent God. Enter into His rest; trust Him. God promises in Isaiah 43:2-3: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God." You can't worry and worship at the same time. So make it a habit to worship God with all your heart - He loves you.

2. Embrace your calling, claim your dream & define your goals.
Be serious about success and don't compare yourself with others. Finding and fulfilling your own destiny is victory. By honing in on your own God-given gifts and talents will prevent you from being side-tracked by envy and jealousy which opens the door to negativity and adversity. Real winners keep their heart pure and focus on achieving more, doing more and reaching for more so they can live their dreams and make an impact on others. Winners are mission-minded. Run the race that God called you to run.

3. Fight back, be bold and very courageous.
Your dreams are worth it. Know that battle is only temporary and we win when we fight using the weapons God has provided us: soak up the Scriptures so you can consistently confess the Word and declare victory over your situation; fasting to sharpen your spiritual sensitivity to hear God's voice; get rid of offense and walk in love and forgiveness; sow seed expecting a miracle because the law of reciprocity works; and praise God before you actually see the victory. That's proof of true belief.

4. Get wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
The more you know, the more you grow. Readers are leaders. Study the champions. Read about great men and women. Meditate on biblical heroes like Joseph, Paul, David or Esther. Stay inspired. Create a prayer circle. Listen to godly advice from mentors. Ignorance can be deadly. "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). Continually expand your mind and learn from good books.

5. Give God time to work.
Stand firm, stay strong and be patient in the process. Promotion follows adversity. Expect it. Get your eyes on the bigger picture. Feed your faith and don't lose hope. Life is a marathon not a sprint. Be tough; avoid the victim mentality when you get weary. Visualize success and keep faith photos of your goal before you. Patience is a weapon. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

6. Stay focused.
Your battle deserves your full attention. We only lose because of broken focus. Eliminate distractions and toxic people from your life. You'll be sure to get the victory when you keep your focus and full of joy. If we just learn to outlast the enemy, we win. When the enemy sees you are more determined than he is, he'll back down and you'll move forward into greater realms of victory.

The key is to stay the course with God. Endurance is rewarded - always. "With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies." Psalm 60:12

Friday, July 25, 2008

Magazines Offers from RevResponse

RevResponse Affiliate Network

Are you interested in extra income!


RevResponse (aff. link) is one-of-a-kind of affiliate network that pays you for promoting Free Magazines, Technical Whitepapers, Software etc the topic of these materials range from Agriculture to Software Development and from Bio-Technology to Transportation and Logistics.

My specialty is IT Security and Information Assurance. I have found those resources very useful to me. This is a wonderful way for you to add knowledge for your professional use. There are hundreds of magazines and article to choose. This means most content based website/blogs won’t have much problem finding relevant offers to promote. Since all magazines, whitepapers etc. are free, it’s kind of a Pay-Per-Lead affiliate network. The magazines, that many presume to be SPAM, are not at all spammy rather are really useful and informative. And as those are all free, it means great source of information for your visitors and income for you!

How Do I Sign-Up?

The Sign-Up (aff. link) process is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require you to fill any lengthy forms once you are done with that, they would contact you within a few days (in my case less that 24-hours) to tell you whether your application is accepted or not. If you have an informative blog/website, you won’t have any problems getting accepted even though your website/blog is on a free host.

What Are the Promotional Materials?

  • Image Ads: Basic ads in all standard sizes.
  • Text Ads: Plain text ads. They also provide pre-written paragraphs. It’d be best if you personalize it.
  • Flash Widget: Beside normal image based ads they also provide interactive flash widgets. Catches eye and would prove to be useful for your visitors.
  • Co-Branded Site: Really great, like Amazon’s store, RevResponse provides you with a customizable website with the same look as your existing website. It is hosted on It could be customized to create your very own Magazine Catalog.

What is the Earning Potential?

If you choose the offers wisely and promote them using genuine reviews, in other words to give genuine value to your visitors, there nothing stopping you from earning, at least, more than traditional advertising (AdSense etc.) they pay between $1.50 - $20 (as far as I’ve heard), which is great. This is a global opportunity because RevResponse accepts leads (subscriptions, downloads of the offers you promote) from international visitors too!


  • Company behind RevResponse has been established since 1996
  • Great affiliate managers, support and “personal” feeling. They have a blog and a forum to share and get ideas.
  • There are two payment methods: PayPal and Check.
  • Accepts international leads.
  • Offers that you can promote are FREE.


  • Net-45 Payment scheme which means you’re paid 45-days after the month you earnings reach $50 (minimum payment threshold)
I’d genuinely recommend RevResponse (aff. link) to anyone having a content blog/website.

You don't want to pass this by. Check it out and sign up today!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Integrity - What Is It, Really?

Richard Dortch was an Assembly of God state overseer when Jim Bakker hired him to come to PTL before the demise. He was brought on board as an executive and member of the Board of Directors of PTL.

In his book, Integrity: How I Lost It, and My Journey Back, he describes how the position, prestige, and authority led him and Jim Bakker to believe they could bend the rules because they were anointed to do the work of PTL.

It's kind of like a God syndrome. Once one believes that God has put them on a pedestal, they then begin to believe that their thoughts are God's thoughts, their words are God's words, and they can do no wrong. If challenged, they react with the presumption that they can do no wrong. Everyone lacks integrity but them. It seems easier to defend actions than to honestly examine them. They are quicker to attack than to admit.

Admissions require courage! When we summon the courage to take ownership of our experiences, to see them just as they are, to feel them, we will recover the blueprints of our lives. We will face our fears and find the transparent beliefs that create them. Becoming more honest with ourselves means introducing more honesty into the collective consciousness of the world, and this lays a foundation upon which an enlightened planetary civilization can be built.

If someone tells you that they have not committed any transgressions, realize you are talking to either a saint or a liar. Human beings make mistakes. They are supposed to. That’s how they learn. Human knowledge is the product of mistakes. It is only when the mistakes are hidden or become intentional (as in a hidden agenda) that they lead to inflexible viewpoints. It is how you handle a transgression that is important, not why you did it.

The wrong way to handle a transgression is to hide it, or to justify it, or to deny it. These are the actions (hiding, justifying and denial) that harden consciousness into an inflexible identity. Hardened consciousness projects a reality that can be viewed only in one way. Listen to these responses. Would you make them?
“I don’t know anything about it.”
“I didn't do it.”
“They made me do it.”

Creating these beliefs is like pouring concrete into your mind.

The solution is to begin to practice self-honesty from this point forward. I will exert my best efforts to become less deceitful, to be more fair in my dealings, more sincere in my speech, more deserving of trust and MORE FORGIVING.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Checklists for a Healthy Church, You Decide!

How do you begin your checklist of a healthy Church? What are the qualifications? Some might say to "Glorify God" should be on the top of every church's list. Among the listing, "a strong leadership" is imperative of a healthy church. To ensure that you have a loving and caring church, strong leadership credentials are essential. Below is a listing of several well-known leaders in the ministry and their view of a healthy church.

Bill Easum: Marks of church health:

  1. Clear sense of mission
  2. Authentic community
  3. Indigenous worship
  4. Lay mobilization
  5. Organic structure
  6. Kingdom oriented
  7. Experientially focused on Jesus Christ

Leith Anderson - What Healthy Churches Do:

  1. Glorify God
  2. Produce disciples
  3. Exercise spiritual gifts
  4. Relate positively to their environment
  5. Reproduce
  6. Incorporate newcomers
  7. Open to change
  8. Trust God and prayer

George Barna - The Nine Habits of Highly Effective Churches:

  1. They rely upon strategic leadership.
  2. They are organized to facilitate highly effective ministry.
  3. They emphasize developing significant relationships within the congregation.
  4. They invest themselves in genuine worship
  5. They engage in strategic evangelism.
  6. They get their people involved in systematic theological growth.
  7. They utilize holistic stewardship practices.
  8. They serve the needy people in their community.
  9. They equip families to minister to themselves.

Willow Creek - Characteristics of a Healthy Church:

  1. Active spiritual formation
  2. Authentic community (not public)
  3. Contagious evangelism
  4. Mobilized spiritual gifts
  5. Good stewardship
  6. Strong leadership
  7. Cultural relevance
  8. Effective, generation-focused ministry
  9. Collaboration and partnership

Natural Church Development - Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches:

  1. Empowering leadership
  2. Gift-oriented ministry development
  3. Passionate spirituality
  4. Functional structures
  5. Inspiring worship service
  6. Holistic small groups
  7. Need-oriented evangelism
  8. Loving relationships

C. Peter Wagner - Vital Signs of Healthy Churches:

  1. A positive pastor
  2. A well-mobilized laity
  3. Meeting members' needs
  4. Proper balance of the dynamic relationship between celebration, congregation and cell
  5. A common homogeneous denominator
  6. Effective evangelistic methods
  7. Biblical priorities

Leadership Network - Windows into the 21st Century Church:

  1. Effective leadership
  2. Lay mobilization
  3. Cultural connectedness
  4. Authentic community
  5. Kingdom collaboration

Friday, July 4, 2008

Pastors, Ministers, Clergy Credentials and the IRS

The church has every theological right to ordain whom they will, and has historically done so. But remember Paul, Barnabus and the multitudes following, did not have to contend with the IRS. Ministry living and functioning in the US are subject to US tax laws

The question we will address in this article is what the IRS will look for, if the credentialed minister is receiving benefits which reduce his tax obligation. Such benefits include reimbursements for ministerial expenses, a housing allowance, which is free of state and federal income tax, and the privilege of exempting from social security, and paying taxes as a self employed person.

How the minister’s income is reported by the employing church is also a concern to the IRS. The IRS’s concern is in regards to the many “Scam” operations posing as a “Church,” that would issue credentials for the sole purpose of benefiting from the tax benefits granted to legitimate ministers by the Internal Revenue Code. There are three terms of credentialed ministry the IRS accepts: Ordained; Licensed; and Commissioned. The required prerequisite is that the credentialed minister, regardless of which term is used, be authorized to Marry and Bury,” in order to participate.

Of course, they will also be interested in whether or not the credentialed minister is "In fact":
1. Administering the Sacraments [does he marry and bury];
2. Conduct "Religious worship." [entails the preparation, and the ministering of the word];
3. Does he have management responsibilities in the church or denomination";
4. Is he considered a religious leader by the church or the parent denomination?

Some of the key points that should be addressed by the “Ordaining Church.”

• Does the church require of the applicant to have completed a prescribed course of study, or has otherwise proven his qualification for ministry by virtue of having served in a position of “apprenticeship” under active and qualified ministry?

• Does the church have the necessary language in their By-Laws which clearly define how, or strongly alludes to, and under what conditions, the church will grant ministerial credentials? Following are some basic suggestions to consider:
1. Qualifications of the candidate for ministerial credentials: *
• A period of time of having been with the church, that his character and family life is fully known;
• Preparation; By completion of prescribed course material; or his experiential requirements;
• Having a proven record of Ministry of the Word of God, and a good report from the community;
• Recommendations by additional seasoned “Senior” ministers, other than from the ordaining church;
• Upon application to the Board, the Minister would be evaluated to determine that he or she meets Biblical qualifications, with an assessment of his “Gifting, Anointing, Calling, and ability to minister.”
2. Does the church require an “Ongoing relationship of accountability” with the minister? Is their annually, a reaffirmation of identity on theological perspectives? Can this be proven by any documentation recorded in the church records? And then, based on that documented reaffirmation,
3. Will the ministerial relationship be reviewed and credentials be reissued every year?;
4. If there are different “Levels” of credentials, is it clearly defined what those differences are?;
5. For the “Ordained” minister, do the By-Laws [and his Ministerial Certificate**] clearly give him the authority to “Marry and Bury?”

* The Ministerial “Credential” – is a wallet sized card, issued annually, that says the Ministerial Certificate is current and valid for the year issued, because of his ongoing relationship of accountability with the church.
** The Ministerial “Certificate” – For the Ordained, Licensed, or Commissioned Minister, is that document issued by the church – and now hangs on the wall of his office;
Credentials – as spoken of within this article – refers to both the Certificate, and the Credential Card.

Ordination - is for life (Unless the minister has been “Defrocked”), and may only need new credentials from another organization;
Oftentimes a church wishes to ordain it’s pastor, who had previously been credentialed with another organization or Denomination, but is now no longer relational. We suggest building a “Bridge” with appropriate documentation in the Minutes, using the previous documents (A copy of his previous Certificate of Ordination), as justification for the church issuing new credentials. This is proof that his ministry was recognized by others.
In all other cases, when a church decides to credential a minister, ordained or otherwise, documentation of as much of the above as possible would be wise.

CONCLUSION: The “Independent” * church, that chooses to ignore the above, may well be setting it’s newly credentialed minister up for some serious headaches down the road – and a disallowing of his previous tax breaks – possibly having to pay back taxes, penalties and interest.
* Oh how I dislike using that term, for we believe the Lord would have us all be relational, and accountable to one another.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Are You Burned Out?

According to a London Daily Mail poll, more than half of those reading this right now are completely burned out on the job. How can you tell if you're burned out? If you have lost that satisfied feeling at work and don't even revel in your own job accomplishments, there might be a problem. Are your coworkers asking if everything is okay with you? Have they noticed you acting depressed or even moody on the job? Have you been snapping at everyone?

Here's a telltale sign of work burnout: the minute you return from a vacation, the joy, happiness, and relaxation you felt are instantly gone, and you can't even manage to come back from lunch on time.

Another sign: procrastination is your new middle name. Dr. Alan Shelton, author of Transforming Burnout, studies worker burnout. He notes that you shouldn't feel alone if you're feeling this particular burn. Some three-quarters of all workers are hit with this feeling from time to time. According to Dr. Shelton, vacations, days off, new hours and outside interests don't always help. Professional counselors can help, especially if you're a workaholic who is stressed out by a desire for everything to be perfect all of the time.The important thing is to find balance between work and other pursuits. Then work isn't the only focus. Dr. Shelton also suggests the following:

Get a physical to rule out more serious health problems. Take care of the spiritual side of life. It will give you focus. Meditation and prayer can help with burnout because they take the focus off work. Make relaxation a priority in your life.

Remind yourself that each morning is a new day to be appreciated. On the way to work find two or three things that make you happy, even if it's just a beautiful forest preserve on the side of the road or watching your kids.

Exercise helps beat job burnout.
Sleep helps beat job burnout.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tips on Developing and Communicating Vision

by Nelson Searcy

Vision is a pre-requisite for leadership. One cannot lead without a vision of the future. Choosing to cast your vision is the first critical leadership choice. Vision is the essential ingredient for a leader, both personally and for the organization you lead.

You cannot lead without a vision of the future. Show me a person with vision and I'll show you a future leader. (I say a future leader because vision must be cultivated, defined, and cast.) As Paul Thorton reminds us, "A vision expresses a desired future state that is better in some important way than what exists. It describes where you will be in the future and what it will be like." For more, see Thorton's Be the Leader: Make the Difference (Griffin Publishing Group, 2001).

The myth of leadership as a position
Because vision is a requirement of leadership, you cannot lead based on position alone. Recently someone told me, "I just received my first leadership position." While on paper that may be true, the position will not become one of leadership until that person develops, cultivates, or produces a vision. With vision comes leadership. In fact, great organizations give positional promotions only to those who already have vision.

Cultivating a vision
Where does vision come from? Vision can flow from a number of sources:
Experience: Because of what I have learned from the past, I have a vision for the future.
Inspiration: Because of an imaginative or spiritual spark, I have a vision for the future.
Analysis: Because of my analytical study, I have a vision for the future.

The key point on vision is that it is unique to every leader. My vision must be cultivated out of experience, inspiration, or analysis. If you borrow a vision, you are simply managing another person's vision, you are not leading. To borrow a vision is to fail to lead.

Vision often arises at just the right time. Therefore there are environmental factors related to vision. These environmental factors may include a conflict, an opportunity, a crisis, or a need. When confronted with one of these factors, a leader steps forth to offer vision and direction. In fact, the leader knows that such circumstances are ripe for vision, because people have a more urgent need for clear direction, guidance, and purpose during such trying times. The manager squelches trying times because she sees such times as interruptions in "business as usual." Leaders value trying times because such interruptions are opportunities to get below business as usual and chart a new and better course.

Defining a vision: vision and values
Your vision is defined by your values. Your values are those ideals that you cling to deeply - your core. The best vision is derived from a core of integrity, where inner values are given expression through the vision. Vision without values is chaotic. Values without vision is monastic. When values and vision match, a leader is set in motion. Be careful in determining your values! Don't mistake surface concerns with underlying values.

Vision waits on you
Once a person cultivates a vision there are only two options: containment or casting. A person who cultivates a vision but then contains that vision has failed to step into the leadership arena. Because his vision will affect only himself, he has chosen to accept mediocrity (and most likely will never be able to cultivate future visions). A person who cultivates a vision and then casts that vision has started a leadership journey into the unknown. The leadership journey promises not only growth and fulfillment but most likely the accomplishment of the vision.

Casting your vision
Choosing to cast your vision is your first critical leadership choice. Casting vision is work! In order to cast vision you must:
Verbalize clearly: If you can't say it clearly, you don't know it completely. You may think that the vision makes sense, but your mind will fill in the holes of the vision without you being aware. When you verbalize the vision, you've taken the important step of examining the holes and resolving them – for yourself and for others.
Incubate carefully: Once your learned how to say it, let it sit. Let it stew. Let it incubate. Incubation happens when you warm the vision. You warm the vision by holding it next to the heat of your values, ideas, other readings, research, etc.
Share conspicuously: Talk to your trusted friends. Internal thoughts allow us to see only so far. We must make use of others' eyes. This kind of sharing is different than casting the vision so that others buy into it.
Implement cautiously: Look before you leap, but make sure you do some leaping! Casting your vision requires an element of risk, but don't waste your vision by implementing haphazardly.
Observe carefully: Who and what are around me are available to help me fulfill this vision? Also, who in the organization will oppose the vision and why? Observation helps you think through the strategies for implementation.
Never give up!: If you have cultivated a vision, never, never, never, never give up! The number one strategy for casting vision is to be persistent. Most visions are worthy of manifestation, but many go unrealized because leaders give up too early. Remember, the road is never crowded on the second mile.

Work on your vision
Vision is the essential ingredient for a leader, both personally and for the organization you lead. As James Kouzes and Barry Posner put it in The Leadership Challenge: "Visions are like lenses. They focus unrefracted rays of light. They enable everyone concerned with an enterprise to see more clearly what is ahead of them." Many potential leaders miss out on the rewards of becoming a leader because they lack vision. Their lives are unfocused. But this lack of focus hurts not only them, but those around them. Again, Kouzes and Posner put it well: "The vision of an organization acts as its magnetic north." Smart leaders do not waste their lives on directionless activity; rather they invest in a vision with purpose - providing the vision for their families, teams, groups, and companies.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Child Safety and Background Checks!

Screening youth and children’s workers is a hit-or-miss practice in today’s churches. One out of every four pastors (23%) admitted their congregation has little or no protective screening processes for the people working with young people. That equates to more than 70,000 Protestant congregations that do not give sufficient attention to protecting young people.

Slightly more than half of all pastors gave their church high marks for doing "thorough background or reference checks of the people working with children and youth" (57% said this description was a "very accurate" of their church). However, another one-fifth of pastors (20%) described their efforts as merely "somewhat" thorough.

Larger churches are generally more vigilant than smaller ministries. For instance, churches with more than 250 adult attenders were the most likely to evaluate workers very carefully (78%), while congregations of less than 100 adults were the least likely to engage in such practices (49%). About three-fifths of mid-sized churches (attendance of 100 to 250, 62%) said their church is well described by such practices.

Many other subgroup differences emerged when it came to doing a thorough job of evaluating children’s and youth workers. Congregations in the West (75%) were more likely than those in the Northeast (60%), South (56%), or Midwest (50%) to report strong levels of such screening. Churches comprised primarily of white attenders (54%) were less likely to report security screening than were congregations with primarily non-white individuals (69%). Churches led by a pastor who had graduated from a seminary were slightly more likely than congregations whose pastor lacked a seminary degree to pursue security measures (60% versus 51%).

In terms of age and experience, churches pastored by Baby Boomers (ages 43 to 61) more frequently took part in security checks (60%) than did Protestant ministries led by pastors from the Baby Bust generation (52% among pastors 42 or under) or those older than Boomers (55% among those 62 or older). Similarly, those in full-time ministry for fewer than 10 years were less likely to claim thorough worker-screening (50%) than were ministry veterans of 10 years or more (61%).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Church Clergy and Taxes

Prior to 1968 a member of the clergy had to elect to be covered by social security.

If you are duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church, you are covered by social security and Medicare under the self employment tax provisions for the services you perform in your capacity as a minister unless you have requested and received a tax exemption from self employment tax. This is true whether you are an employee of your church or a self employed person under the common law rules.

Unless an ordained member of the clergy objects to social security benefits based upon conscientious or religious grounds he/she is subject to self employment tax. To object you must file Form 4361. The form must be filed before the due date of your tax return for the second taxable year in which you earned $400 or more from work as a member of the clergy. The social security self employment tax exemption is irrevocable.

What is duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church? The term duly ordained minister of religion means a person: {who has been ordained in accordance with the ceremonial ritual or discipline of a church, religious sect, or organization established on the basis of a community or faith and belief, doctrines and practices of a religious character}, {who preaches and teaches the doctrines of such church, sect or organization}, {who administers the rites and ceremonies thereof in public worship}, {who, as his/her regular and customary vocation, preaches and teaches the principles of religion}, and {who administers the ordinances or sacerdotal duties of public worship as embodied in the creed or principles of such church, sect or organization}.

Although as a licensed ordained, commissioned or licensed minister you are considered a self employed individual for social security purposes, you may be considered an employee for other tax purposes or putting it bluntly you are considered an employee by the IRS.
Self employment tax does not apply to any post-retirement benefits or the rental value of any parsonage or parsonage allowance.

Under these tax rules, you are considered an employee or a self employed person depending on all the facts and circumstances. Generally, you are an employee if your employer has the legal right to control both what you do and how you do it, even if you have considerable discretion and freedom of action.

If you are not considered an employee in performing your ministerial services, you will figure taxable net earnings on Form 1040, Schedule C. Figure your self employment tax on Form 1040, Schedule SE. If you earn or receive taxable income during the tax year that is not subject to tax withholding, or if you do not have enough income tax withheld, you may have to pay estimated tax.

The law requires all churches to apply for an Employer’s Identification Number (EIN) even if they do not have employees. Much like an individual’s social security number, your EIN (federal identification number) is used as an identifier on all federal tax returns and on all correspondence with the IRS. A State tax number should not be confused with a Federal Employer’s Identification Number (FEIN). Possession of an EIN is NOT evidence of tax-exempt status. You can apply for your EIN (Form SS-4) immediately from the comfort of your computer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Faith Leader Urges Black Churches to Support the Sister Study


“When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it affects her family, her church and the community in which she serves. African American faith leaders can motivate women to find ways to help prevent diseases like breast cancer that are plaguing our communities.

African American women should join the Sister Study so our young sisters won’t have to face the disease.”

Black History in the Making

Bishop McKenzie serves as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her historic election in the year 2000 represents the first time in the over 200-year history of the A.M.E. Church, in which a woman had obtained that level of Episcopal office. In 2004, she again made history becoming the first woman to become the Titular Head of the denomination, as the president of the Council of Bishops, making her the highest-ranking woman in the predominately Black Methodist denominations.

Bishop McKenzie has been honored for her community service, outstanding achievement and being a religious role model by a number of diverse civic, educational, business and governmental leaders. She is also the National Chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. an international public service organization and life member of the NAACP.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Innovation in the Ministry

Innovation in the churches, is this possible? Can any church ministry have innovative ideas? Will it cause more problems than help? Without innovation what can happen to a church ministry? For one thing, without innovation, morale dwindles, it may cause of an organization or small group to die a slow, painful death. With innovation, it will enable a ministry, organization or small group to refocus on the very reason it was create. Innovation is like a breath of fresh air, eliminating the stagnation of a crusted environment.

As a leader, you must ask yourself these painful questions:
How do I find the time to implement innovative ideas?
What if I fail, how will others perceive my failures?
Is it really worth the effort to innovate?

As a leader you should make innovation a requirement. It is a tool used to repackage or to re-engineer stale processes that no longer are effective. Effective leadership in any ministry helps create innovative organizations. New ideas should become the DNA or culture of an organization. In other words, the big “I” should become a part of the character and personality of the organization. So the next question for leaders to consider is how do you develop a culture of innovation? There are six tips that a leader should follow.

1. Communication is key: involve staff members
a. Discus how you should meet the targeted audience.

2. Schedule a retreat for leaders
a. Get away for 2 to 3 days to strategize the steps for innovation.

3. Provide training, seminars and workshops for staff members and volunteers
a. Training is key to innovative success.

4. Develop strategic planning guide with board members
a. Create a vision: Where does the church need to be going?
b. Create a mission: How is the church going to get there?
c. Create goals: What steps need to take place to achieve success?

5. Attend conferences
a. Networking and sharing your ideas with others.

6. Talk to other leaders
a. Ask other leaders about the tools and practices they use to embed innovation into the culture of the organization.

Developing a new way of thinking requires patience, consistency and nurturing. The payoff may just win more souls to Christ. Now isn’t that what it is all about?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Role of Innovation

I recently read “Why Buy The Cow” by Subrah S. Ivar, who is the CEO and founder of WebEx. This astounding and innovative company has more than 30,000 corporate customers and more than two million registered users. Small business owners are constantly searching the Internet space for innovative tools that’s beneficial to them. WebEx is a service bringing people together across the world to work together in real-time over the Web. That’s what I call innovation. But what are some of the ways we apply innovation today. I attended a leadership seminar where Doug Balog, VP of IBM Modular and Blade Systems Development spoke on Innovation Driven Leadership. Doug shared his thoughts on innovation in a millennium of global competitiveness. He states that the global communities are willing use Software as a Service (SaaS) to drive business. More products are a compilation of knowledge from virtual collaborative decision-making. Here are his thoughts below:

How Do We Innovate, by Using:
Smart objects
The connectedness of everything
Information Put to Work
Collaboration and co-creation
The marketplace for expertise
The virtual corporation

It’s Time to Innovate Through Service Using:
Business processes
Business models
Management and culture
Policy and Society

On the "Identify Self-Defence Course"...

Have a look at this interesting post by Doug Pollack, titled “Are you Well Protected?”:
“As we look forward to what is in store for us in 2008, The Identity Theft Resource Center is projecting an increase in both the number of security breaches and incidents of identity theft.
With this as a backdrop, we’ve developed a set of recommendations for people to protect themselves. As part of our ID Self-Defense Academy, a component of our subscription services member website, this Self-Defense Checklist includes both common sense suggestions that you are likely to be familiar with, as well as others that are new this year given the evolution in the use of the internet and computers in identity theft.”

Actually, this post provides an “ID self-defence check list” about:

  • Protecting yourself at home

  • Protecting your computer and Internet access

  • Protecting yourself on the road

Of course, all this is pretty much based on common sense, but it provides a useful reminder …
— NOTE: use this mirror blog to post anonymous (un-authenticated) comments —
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Understanding Your Mission Statement

Do you understand your mission statement and why it is important? A good mission statement should explain the "why" of your organization. In your mission statement you should articulate the organization's values. A mission statement should answer three questions:
1. What is the purpose of your organization?
2. What is the business of your organization?
3. What are the values of your organization?

You can start your mission statement with the following headings:

The purpose:
The business:
The values:

Finally, your mission statement should be short enough that will allow anyone in the organization to memorize and repeat it when asked.