Shoes for Syrian Refugees

Post by Matt Brown

Last winter, Michelle and I were watching a CBS evening news story with Scott Pelley, which shared about the great need in refugee camps bordering the war-torn nation of Syria. Thousands of refugees are flooding the camps, and the needs are massive. A businessman from Texas had begun overseeing one of the camps, and expressed the need for shoes for the children during the harsh winter there. This broke my heart. I had a sensation that there are a million problems in the world, but God wanted me to do something about this one in particular.

To this day, I have that same sense in my heart, and I’m wondering what God could use us today if everyone partnered a little bit - how many refugees could we help during this time?

In the last two years, over two million Syrian refugees have fled from the crisis in their country into Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.  Some of the refugees live in overcrowded, unsanitary, often dangerous camps like Zaatari in northern Jordan—a camp established for 30,000 people and now housing more than 150,000 men, women and children.  As conditions in the massive camps become more desperate, increasing numbers of refugees seek help outside the camps in urban areas, only to discover they have virtually no access to jobs, housing, education—or even food.

Fortunately, local churches and grassroots Christian organizations are providing help and hope for these refugees.

These local heroes are offering desperate families groceries, clothing, shoes, first aid supplies, towels, blankets, mattresses, water filters, and heaters, particularly necessary now as winter temperatures reach record lows in the Middle East.

In addition, these faithful servants deliver food and emergency supplies to displaced and vulnerable people still inside Syria, and they help to rescue Syrian women and girls from sex trafficking.  All this work is done in the name and spirit of Jesus.

The local people providing these services are heroes, but they have to be unsung heroes. Because of possible security threats to on-the-ground workers, we can’t name them.  However, one of our partners in this effort, Lynne Hybels, has personal connections to these Middle Eastern ministries, and will transfer 100 percent of your donations directly to them.

If you wonder how much your money can do, here are some examples:

  • Shoes: $8
  • Socks: $2
  • Pajamas: $6
  • Sweaters: $8
  • Blankets: $12
  • Jackets: $17
  • Support a women rescued from sex trafficking for one month: $30
  • 4 blankets and mattress: $70
  • 2 blankets, mattress, stove: $140
  • Support a woman rescued from sex trafficking for one year: $365
  • Provide a family with 3 blankets, 2 mattresses, 1 water filter and filters for a year, 1 stove and fuel vouchers for 8 months: $495

The more you give, the more we can show the love of Christ to Syrian refugees who are suffering. Will you help us? Will you mobilize your friends to meet these needs?

 Go here to give:

Matt Brown is an evangelist, author and founder of Think Eternity. He and his wife Michelle are impacting thousands of people with the gospel each year through live events and online. Their speaking ministry has taken them to the ends of the earth with thousands of people who have dedicated their lives to Christ. They also minister to over one hundred thousand followers on social media on a near-daily basis.

The GLS Thrives in Albania and Kosovo

In a post-Communist culture, more than 350 church leaders gather at GLS events in Albania and Kosovo.

Christian leaders in Southeast Europe’s Balkan Peninsula are eager for leadership training and inspiration. In a post-Communist culture, the GLS is one of the few places where they can gather to experience encouragement and resources.

The Christian minority faces opposition in the form of government curruption, violence, and poverty; and Kosovo’s unemployment rate of 73% is one of the highest in the world. Gathering with other leaders at the GLS “retreat” lifts their spirits.

The highest attended event was in Tirana, Albania, which is the largest gathering of leaders in the country, and includes leaders from the Orthodox church. In the neighboring republic of Kosovo, where the majority of leaders come from a Muslim background, the context of the GLS is very different.

We celebrate the second year of the GLS in the new country of Kosovo, which gained its independence in 2008. While Kosovo is seeking to find its place in the world arena, the church strives to find its identity. Leaders are experiencing a growing belief that God can use the GLS to improve the leadership quality in the church to impact communities and the entire country.

“I like to think that when we said goodbye to the participants at the end of each of the three events in Albania and Kosovo, the work was not finished…that it is just the beginning. Leaders will go out into the world and back to their churches, and implement all that has been spoken into their lives. I am glad I am alive in a time when I can see God work in wonderful ways in the lives of church leaders in Albania and Kosovo. The GLS is God’s way of saying “I love you” to the hundreds of Albanian leaders and hundreds of thousands of leaders  around the world.” -Doni Lilo, GLS Producer in Albania


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5 Ways To Start Your Year At The Office

Post by Tommy Bowman

It’s a new year and if you’re like me you’re back at the office after a nice, long break. And perhaps you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Well, don’t be. Try these steps this week as you get back to work:

1. Map it out

Before you start working, be sure to map out your week. Prioritize what must get done first. Know what you must accomplish and know what can wait. This is true of all weeks but this week especially, block out your calendar for maximum productivity and hold to it. It’s probably not the week to be flexible. Save that for next week.

2. Stay “out of office”

Hopefully you had your Out Of Office on over your break. Well, leave it on. Just for one more day. Perhaps change it to “I’m playing catch-up…I’ll be sure to respond first thing tomorrow morning.” Spend day one responding to the pile in your inbox and then get back to your responsive routine tomorrow.

3. Shut your door

There are a ton of questions to ask and even more to answer when you return to work. You could spend your entire first day in conversation and not on work. Map out a time during step one to get your necessary check-ins scheduled. Keep them tight and then get in your office and shut the door.

4. Ease into it

I might be too late for this one. If so, use this one next time. I find it helpful to get into the office a day before your first day back. Erase your whiteboards, clear your desk, get any needed supplies. This is also a great time to do step one.

5. Work after hours

This is a secret tip of mine. In the process of easing back into it, try going home early, getting a workout in, eating a meal with your family, and going back in for an hour or two in the evening. You’d be surprised by how focused you can be in the evening. Especially with an empty office.

Give these a try this week as you get back to work in 2014. Please share a comment and add a helpful tip of your own!

Tommy is the Directional Leader at Mission Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Tommy’s passion is to take proven leadership values and principles from the business world and implement them into the world of church and church teams.

Five Reasons People aren’t Volunteering at Your Church

Re-Post from Tony Morgan

One of the three core areas of consultation that I provide to organizations is a staffing and structure review. Because we produce a custom structure for every organization, I don’t have any templates to share with you.

What I can offer, though, are several questions that shape how we arrive at our recommendations. Whether you are operating a church, non-profit or business, these same principles about creating a healthy structure will certainly apply.

  1. What is your strategy to accomplish your vision? We base the structure on the core strategy. One of the most frequent questions I get is can we review the staffing structure first? I never do that, because the ideal structure is always based on a clearly defined strategy. For organizations that have not clarified their strategy, we offer the StratOp process.
  2. What are the strengths of your current team? We review not only the roles people currently fill but also the way each person is wired up. We lean on Leading From Your Strengths for this. What are their gifts and skills? What are their experiences? How does their personality impact their contribution? What are they most passionate about? We try to make sure current staff are in a role that is a best fit for them and the organization.
  3. What’s the leadership capacity of people on the team? We pay attention to the 4 Stages of Leadership to determine who has the capacity to lead tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. There’s no assessment to determine leadership capacity. It’s all based on looking at how a leader has demonstrated leadership capacity in the past — that’s the best predictor of how they’ll live out their leadership role in the future.
  4. Have you developed a senior leadership team? No matter what size the organization, it’s never too early to begin establishing team-based leadership at the top of the organization. I, of course, shared my philosophy on this in my eBook, Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team.
  5. Does every program, service or product connect to the senior leadership team? In other words, nothing stands on its own. Particularly in churches, it’s not uncommon for ministries or programs to be independent and unconnected to the leadership team. Again, this is why we focus on making sure the structure supports the strategy.
  6. Does your structure support future growth? When we complete our staffing and structure review process, we typically recommend a future structure that would support the organization if it was twice its current size. This helps to identify future leadership gaps and begins to help the organization begin to prioritize leadership roles as financial resources become available. We want to help organizations begin to make decisions today that will influence their growth tomorrow.

There are a number of other factors we consider depending on the nature and size of the organization, but these six questions shape the foundation. Let me suggest, as well, that if you are in a high growth situation, you may need to review and adjust your structure every one to two years.

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact.

It’s Not Mine to Take or Keep

Re-post from Jenni Catron

“God put me here. 

It is not my responsibility to take, or keep, authority.” 

from A Tale of Three Kings

Leaders, what if we really believed this?

How would it change our actions?

What would be different about how we lead?

I wonder if we’d stress less and love more?

Would we breathe deeper and slow down?

Do we really believe that our authority has been given by God?

Can we be comfortable when it comes and goes?

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.

Are You Complacent in Your Clarity?

Re-post from Jenni Catron

Every year I grow to understand myself a bit better.  My strengths become clearer.  My passions are more easily defined.  I know better what I like and dislike.

This is mostly good.  I have greater clarity on my purpose and calling and am less compelled to chase the dreams of others.  Most of the time.

But I’m also realizing that the better I understand myself the more opinionated and less flexible I’ve become.

Phrases like “That’s the way I’m wired” or “I need to play to my strengths” are quick to roll off my tongue.

And while I firmly believe we need to chase diligently after an understanding of our unique gifts and passions (our Clout if you will), I can’t help but fear that my seemingly clearer picture of myself is inhibiting me from pushing myself to grow.

Do I chase knowledge with the same fervor as I did a decade ago?

Will I put myself in new and uncomfortable circumstances to stretch my thinking and my comfort zone?

Am I trying new things, engaging different conversations, meeting new people?

While purpose and clarity are incredibly important, watch for the drift in your life to become complacent in your clarity.

As you begin dreaming and planning for 2014, I encourage you to consider these questions.

How can I chase knowledge in a new way?

What new environments do I need to explore?

What new things can I try?

What different conversations should I have?

Who do I need to meet?

New knowledge and experiences will continue to add layers to the clarity of who you are and who you are becoming.  Don’t let your clarity lull you to complacency.  Keep growing.  Keep learning!

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.

A season of hope for the future

Merry Christmas!

As many of us are putting final touches on our Christmas celebrations, teams in Haiti and Mexico are preparing to open their doors to the last two GLS events of 2013! We resume the GLS season on January 10 in Taiwan and by March 2014, an additional 11,000 leaders will experience the GLS.

During the past few months, we’ve heard incredible stories of God’s provision, protection, and movement in the lives of leaders from every segment of society around the world. We have so much to be thankful for and to celebrate!

Please continue to pray for the global impact of churches as they present the gospel message that tells about the King of Kings who brings lasting justice, peace, and redemption to our broken world. Thank you for the investment you and your teams are making in developing Christ-centered leaders. You are critically important in seeing God’s Kingdom restored on Earth.

Despite threats of violent opposition, leaders in Toluca, Mexico celebrate the third year of the GLS

After last year’s GLS, threats against the members of the Steering Committee and their families forced them into hiding for a few months. While we can’t mention the name of the pastor/businessman who leads the team, he took on the challenge to expand the GLS despite violent opposition and the risk it would be shut down.

He sees his city’s desperate need for godly leadership and understands the impact it has on transforming communities. Despite the risks, he is committed to bringing the GLS to leaders who need it most.

His approach to making the GLS a reality involved engaging high-level leaders within the local government, including the mayor, who not only showed interest in the event, she threw her support behind it. She and other government leaders are beginning to see the value and importance of great leadership and its impact on society and the ills they face today. The mayor sponsored the event at a neutral venue in a local hotel, and 270 leaders from all over the city attended.

Macedonia holds its first GLS

When Macedonia received its independence in 1991, it was one of the least developed republics in Eastern Europe. The church has suffered under government oppression that has restricted church growth and church planting. As a result, the majority of the population is unreligious. Against this backdrop, the GLS was held for the first time. It was a small start, but Christian leaders and pastors were encouraged, stating that this is the best leadership training available to them. Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin (Zechariah 4:10 NLT )

A glimpse at the GLS in France, Russia, and Kazakhstan

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“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

Please continue to pray for our friends in Haiti and Mexico as the hold their GLS events this month.

Leadership matters—especially in times like these

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Lenin is toppled, but the GLS stays strong!

In the midst of a revolution in Kiev, Ukraine, protestors toppled an iconic statue of Lenin. The government commandeered the use of the building that was scheduled to be used for leadership training for church pastors. And the GLS was at risk for being shut down. God intervened and the GLS took place as scheduled. 900 church leaders, hungry for change in their lives and in their country, crowded into the space reserved for 830. Leadership matters—especially in times like these!

Courageous leadership in Bangalore, India

In India, a country where only two percent of the population practices Christianity, Christian leaders face daily opposition as they live out their faith. Against a backdrop of oppression, the GLS offered an opportunity for 300 like-minded Christian leaders to gather for inspiration from the GLS and were particularly impacted by Bill Hybels’ session on courage.

Encouraging feedback means growth for Leon, Mexico

The 290 church leaders who attended the GLS in Leon, Mexico were particularly gripped by Chris Brown’s “Right Title, Wrong Kingdom,” and his challenge to examine whether they are building God’s kingdom or their own reputation. Encouraged by the participants’ feedback, the GLS committee is committed to expanding in this region of Mexico so more leaders have the opportunity to experience high levels of growth and inspiration.

A Shared Vision in Jordan

Despite great opposition and persecution, 250 church leaders from various countries in the Middle East gathered in Jordan for the GLS. With a shared vision to reach their countries for Christ, they are committed to maximizing the opportunities God provides—including the impact of GLS training, resources, and inspiration.

More than 525 leaders attended the GLS in Liberia

Facing two long decades of violence, corruption, poverty, and a crumbling infrastructure, 525 church leaders in Liberia turned to the GLS for encouragement and direction in rebuilding their churches and communities. The GLS brought world-class training and resources to this war-torn part of the world where they are needed most.

Record attendance at GLS in Taiwan

More than 2,200 church, business, and government leaders flocked to six different cities in Taiwan, to attend the GLS, making 2013 the highest attended GLS in this Asian country. Numerous stories of impact include one from Chung-jen who was encouraged by Bill Hybels’ message on courage. Chung-jen’s battle with Stage IV liver cancer made it clear that God was calling him to spread the Gospel in Taiwan. “I’ve been afraid and worried, but Bill’s message gave me the strength and determination I need.”

A Glimpse of the GLS in Mexico


Voices from around the world: 

“I have received inspiring words as a lady from a country in war for so many years, and a town that is labeled ‘the capital of rape’, Bukavu. I believe that I am a leader. With the spirit of excellence that has been planted in my heart during the GLS, I will impact and bring change to my country, Congo. I am waiting for a day when women will be gathered for a GLS in the most rural place in Africa.” – GLS attendee, Congo

“The GLS will change the way I live for the rest of my life.” – First time GLS attendee, Bangalore, India

“The GLS is a brilliant concept. I would suggest that our political leaders and public ser­vants experience this. It would be great to integrate the concept into our education cur­riculum so that we start developing and empowering leadership skills at a young age. We are all leaders in some way. This will allow children to discover their purpose early and hone their skills. I believe we have the power to instill good character in our youth.” – GLS attendee, Kenya

Let us always remember that even in the darkest of days, our efforts in the house of the Lord shall never be in vain. Let us rededicate our lives to establishing His glorious church. Death would not be too high a price to pay, because we believe that all is temporary with no exception but one – the eternal nature of the church!” – GLS attendee, Taiwan

Please continue to pray for our friends in Los Angeles (Chinese site), Haiti and Mexico as they hold their GLS events this month.