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    Taking Time

    I am writing this on the eve of a long weekend which I am taking a break away from email and non-emergency calls.  This has been one of those summers of long weekends as opposed to taking a longer break.  My resolve next year is to opt for the longer break.  Long weekends are nice but they do not afford the kind of renewal that extended vacations offer.  In years past I found that taking two or three weeks off together did much more for my health (physical, emotional, mental) than shorter periodic spurts of downtime.  I find the first week is simply decompression time - letting go of all that I have held close and been wrapped up in.  The second week I begin to unwind and the third week I rest and renew.


    Studies show that downtime is a necessity for productivity. Employees that take downtime reduce serious health issues such as heart disease. Jonah Lehrer, in his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, states, "While it is commonly assumed that the best way to solve a problem is to relentlessly focus, this clenched state of mind comes with a hidden cost: it inhibits the sort of creative connections that lead to breakthroughs."


    So this weekend I have 1) dedicated my schedule to downtime, 2) will shut off my smartphone, 3) will not look at texts, chats, social media, or email, 4) get outside for some exercise, 5) relax.  For me, this last item may include reading or weeding, or even a end of summer nap in the yard.


    I also have my next downtime scheduled for soon after the Annual Gathering.  Last year I took off for a week and "it was just what the doctor ordered."


    When is your next downtime scheduled?



    Non-Anxious Leadership
    Tuesday, 15 December 2009 12:36

    Peter SteinkeLast week, I was blessed by a conference on Stewardship Leadership where Peter Steinke. Peter wrote Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What. It was one of the top ten books in 2006.

    Rev. Dr. Peter Steinke is a Lutheran pastor from Austin, Texas. He has served as a parish pastor for fifteen years, as a therapist for clergy for fourteen years, and a consultant to congregations for ten years. Viewing churches as living, breathing organisms, Steinke evaluates the health of a congregation using family-systems theory.

    The subject matter for the days I spent with Dr. Steinke was how to navigate the anxious times we face in the church in the present age.

    What business are we in?
    Monday, 14 December 2009 00:00

    Survival of your church cannot be your purpose. Business consultant, Peter Drucker, wrote that purpose statements boil down to a simple answer to two questions: “What business are you in?” and “How’s business?”

    It is budget season for many churches. The message many stewardship campaigns relay is “Give so we will be here in the future.” I confess that I have at times written these same words when soliciting donations for the region. I am as guilty as many of the churches in the region in running a purposeless campaign. Our donors don’t care whether the region offices will be here in the future. Not really. What they care about is what the region is doing in the present and what it will be doing in the future. If what we are doing is of little or no value will they be interested in giving a gift?

    Mission Statements
    Sunday, 13 December 2009 00:00

    I have been thinking a lot about church mission statements lately. I have read a good number of them in church newsletters and on websites. I must confess – I am not finding many of them to be compelling, interesting or inspiring. One thing is that many mission statements are much too long. Last year while attending a conference on church vitality, the presenter asked for people to raise their hands if their church had a mission statement. Nearly every hand went up. The second question was how many could recite their mission statement. Only two hands went up.



The American Baptist Churches of the Rochester/Genesee Region

1100 South Goodman St.

Suite 320

Rochester, NY 14620


Telephone: (585) 340-9520

Fax: (585) 340-9522