7 Suggestions to Help Your Children Deal With Fear

By | Christians, Church | 3 Comments

Sickness. Violence. Economy. Weather. Political divisions.

Tragedy is on the news every night and all throughout the day. We talk about it at the dinner table. And, as fun and engaging as it can be, we can thank social media for keeping us constantly informed of all the bad things happening in our world.

As I type this the Coronavirus is one of the leading news stories. Someone said fear is spreading faster than the virus.

And it doesn’t only impact us. It impacts our children.

Our children are not immune from fear. In an Information Age hey know what we know – filtered through their childlike mind.

Childhood can naturally be a scary time of life, but especially these days. We should never diminish a child’s fear or the impact the news of the day is having on them. It may even be totally irrational fear – something you know is completely impossible — but it’s very real to them.

How should a parent or teacher address a child’s fear?

Here are 7 thoughts to help children deal with fear:

Don’t assume their thoughts

Don’t assume just because your child doesn’t mention what has happened or is happening that they don’t know about it or care. Watch for unusual behavior. Be aware of mood changes or extreme sadness. Make sure they know it’s okay to talk about it. Assure them there is no shame or disappointment from you when they are fearful. Maybe tell them of a time you were afraid — even a recent time.

Limit their exposure

You’re curious, so the television may be on news stations more frequently. What are they covering right now? Remember children process information different from how you do. They may not appear to be watching, but they probably are more than you think. Fill their minds with things to encourage them not perpetuate the fear. Make sure there our times you turn off the television and simply play with your kids. They’ll get no better assurance than their time with you.

Ask them questions

You may think children are afraid of one thing, but it is something completely different. Many times children, especially young children, are simply confused or have misinformation. You can better address their fear if you know the roots of them. Getting them to talk about what they are afraid of can help them learn to better rationalize and seek comfort and assurance from you.

Assure them they are safe

Let children know they are safe. Don’t lie to them or give them false assurance, but remember the chances of what they see on the news happening to them is rare — very rare. Remind them you will do anything to protect them. Show them ways you’ve already provided for their safety. (If crime is one of their fears, for example, let them help you lock the doors or turn on the alarm.) You may need to help them process for weeks to come. Don’t rush them to “get over it”. Pray for and with them often.

Live a normal life as much as possible

As much as possible, live a normal weekly schedule. Their routine is part of their “security blanket.” Don’t allow their fear to cripple them or the family for long. In spite of our fears, we have to muster the faith to move forward.

Be calm around them

Especially during this stressful time, don’t let your children see you in panic. Our children need to see us walking by faith and trusting God. Watch what you say in front of them. Discuss the world events, and especially your fears of them, outside of their listening ears. Let the home be their “safe place”. (I also contend parents should rarely fight in front of kids, but especially during a time of uncertainty.) In scary seasons it’s good for parents to renew their own faith and their commitment to each other. Children often get their faith through parents.

Read them Scripture

Children need something they can cling to as permanent and dependable. What better place than the Word of God, which will never fade? Recite Psalm 56:3 to them. If they are old enough, write it down somewhere they can see it often. Memorize some verses of strength and share with them often. Help them memorize some. (When our boys were young we played Scripture music appropriate for their age. Steve Green’s “Hide ’em in Your Heart series was great for this. You can find them online.)

7 Barriers to Growth Every Leader Needs to Eliminate Today

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

As a consultant and senior leader, I have had multiple opportunities to come into a church or organization, assess where things are, identify barriers to growth, and offer suggestions to address them. 

(This type thinking actually fuels me as a leader, so let me know if I can help you.) 

It might appear that change is a difficult process in helping an organization grow again. And certainly it is a difficult part. Change is always hard. But in my experience, often identifying the things that need to be changed most and when to change them is the harder decision. 

And there are several reasons why, even leaders who want change have a hard time determining what needs changing: 

  • Leaders tend to get comfortable with the way things are being done. 
  • Just like the people they lead, they become protective of the way things operate. 
  • After something is done a certain way long enough it’s hard to see how they are barriers stalling growth. They are just “normal”. 

Here are 7 common barriers I’ve seen that every leader needs to eliminate today: 

The lid of capacity. As leaders, we often set an unwritten limit to where people can go within the organization. The lines of authority sometimes dictate where ideas can originate or who is involved in strategic-thinking. Some of the best ideas are not even welcomed simply because there is not a clear avenue for them to be shared. 

This may need to be the subject of another post, but one example of how I have tried to address this lid is with what I call “focus groups”. Whenever we are stalled in an area of ministry, I like to invite different voices to brainstorm and develop new ideas. New people always bring new capacity. 

A culture of fear. When people are afraid of making a mistake they are less likely to take a risk. Leaders must create cultures where even failure is embraced as a tool for discovering new insights. 

One way I have attempted this is by calling new initiatives an “experiment”. Make it known up front we are trying something and we aren’t sure if it will work. 

The absence of hope. You don’t even try where things appear to be hopeless. In the darkest of days, the leader should provide hope that the future will be bright. 

In most every sermon message and every staff or church-wide meeting, I try to paint a picture of hope for people. The world is full of naysayers and doomsayers. We need to be agents of hope. 

The limitations of resources. Granted this takes creativity, especially when finances are stretched, but always hearing “we can’t afford that” or “we aren’t big enough to do that” is never motivating to a team. 

I wrote a post on innovative ways to develop people, as an example. One way I address this lid is by continually asking this question such as: What would we do if the life of this ministry depends on doing something new, but there were no resources to do so? With good leadership desperation can often lead to innovation. 

Burdensome bureaucracies. Structure is good. We need good managers and good guidelines to keep us legal and accountable. When structure begins to get in the way of progress it needs to change. 

This is probably one I challenge the most as a leader. Partly this is because I’m not a good rule-follower. Mostly it is because I have seen this one cause the most limitations to growth in established churches. 

The vision-less organization. Where are you going and why are you going there? People will work to achieve things they can understand the why and they believe in it.

The leader must continually be sharing the why behind the decisions being made. I try to do this every time I assign a task or make a request of someone on our team. 

(By the way, sharing the vision often forces the leader to ask hard questions too. Sometimes you end up realizing there’s not a good why. When that is the case, perhaps you don’t even need to do it. Now you have time to do something else.) 

Meaningless meetings. Most people have more to do than sit in a meeting that only happened because it appears regularly on a calendar. And when they are forced to do so it keeps them from doing more productive things. 

Get rid of meetings just to meet. One thing I try not to keep the same standing meeting schedules for too long. Being willing to review when we meet and why, at least on an annual basis, keeps things fresher, helps ensure the right people are in the room and makes meetings more effective. (This includes keeping me out of meetings where I’m simply not needed.) 

These are a few barriers I’ve observed and continually try to address in organizations where I lead. Again, I’d love to come help your team analyze and address some of these. Let me know if I can help. 

5 Ways to Lead Well Responding to Criticism

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

Let’s be honest! Criticism hurts. No one enjoys hearing something negative about themselves or finding out that something you did wasn’t perceived as well by others as you hoped it would be.

Criticism, however, is a part of leadership. It comes with the territory. And, if handled correctly, it doesn’t have to be a bad part of leadership — or at least not as bad as we make it.

The truth is there is usually something to be learned from all criticism. Allowing criticism to work for you rather than against you is a key to maturing as a leader.

Recently I posted Mistakes People Make responding to criticism. This is the companion post.

Here are 5 ways to lead well responding to criticism:

Listen to everyone.

You may not respond to everyone the same way, but everyone deserves a voice and everyone should be treated with respect. This doesn’t necessarily include anonymous criticism. It’s hard to give respect to someone you don’t know. I listen to some of it, especially if it appears valid, because I’ve often learned from that too. Plus, I always wonder if something in my leadership prompted an anonymous response.

At the same time, I never “criticize” leaders who don’t listen to anonymous criticism. I don’t, however, weight unidentified criticism as heavily as I would criticism assigned to a person. (Feel free to leave a comment about anonymous criticism and how you respond.) But the point here is to at least listen to criticism when people are willingly to put their name behind it.

Consider the source.

In a stakeholder sense, how much influence and investment does this person have in the organization? This might not change your answer to the criticism but may change the amount of energy you invest in your answer.

Years ago our church met in two schools, for example, so if the Director of Schools had criticism for me I would invest more time responding than if it’s a random person complaining about our music who never intended to attend our church again.

Analyze for validity.

Is the criticism true? This is where maturity as a leader becomes more important. You have to check your ego, because there is often an element of truth even to criticism you don’t agree with completely.

Don’t dismiss the criticism until you’ve considered what’s true and what isn’t true. Mature leaders are willing to admit fault and recognize areas of needed improvement.

Look for common themes.

If you keep receiving the same criticism, perhaps there is a problem even if you still think there isn’t. It may not be a vision problem or a problem with your strategy or programming, but it may be a communication problem. You can usually learn something from criticism if you are willing to look for the trends.

Give an answer. 

I believe criticism is like asking a question. It deserves an answer even if the answer is you don’t have an answer. You may even have to agree to disagree with the person offering criticism. By the way, especially during seasons of change, I save answers to common criticism received because I know I’ll likely be answering the same criticism again.

I love how George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” responds to criticism that the Bailey Building and Loan is going to collapse. He takes the criticism serious, considers the importance of the critics, responds as necessary, attempts to calm their fears, and refocuses on the vision. What a great leadership example during times of stress!

Obviously, this is an extreme and dramatic example, but it points to a reality that happens everyday in an organization. And some times it is extreme and dramatic. Many times people simply don’t understand so they complain — they criticize. The way a leader responds is critical in that moment.

What would you add to my list? Where do you disagree with me here? I’ll try to take the criticism the “right” way!

5 Mistakes Leaders Make Responding to Criticism

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | One Comment

Criticism accompanies leadership. We shouldn’t be surprised when it comes; especially when we are leading change. (Which is what leaders do.)

Make any decision and some will agree and some won’t.

The only way to avoid criticism as a leader is to do nothing. 

If a leader is taking an organization somewhere, and really even if he or she isn’t, someone will criticize his or her efforts.

That said, the way a leader responds to criticism says much about the maturity of the leader and the quality of his or her leadership.

Here are 5 mistakes leaders make responding to criticism:

Finding fault with the critic.

Instead of admitting there might be validity to the criticism, many leaders immediately attempt to discredit the person offering it. Granted, there may be fault — and some people are terrible complainers (some are just mean), but it’s never helpful to start there.

Blaming others.

Many leaders realize the criticism may be valid, but they aren’t willing to accept personal responsibility, so they pass it along to others. This is dangerous on so many levels and is truly poor leadership.

Returning criticism.

Often a leader will receive criticism and instead of analyzing whether there is validity or not, the leader begins to criticize other organizations or leaders. It’s a very immature response. In elementary school it went like this — “I know I am, but what are you?”

Ignoring an opportunity to learn.

This is a big one, because criticism can be a great teaching tool. It needs a filter. The person and circumstances need to be taken into consideration, but with every criticism rests an opportunity to learn something positive for the organization or about the leader.

Appeasing people.

Many leaders are so fearful of conflict they attempt to satisfy all critics, even if they never intend to follow through or make changes because of the criticism. They say what the critic wants to hear. If there is no merit to criticism then don’t act like there is merit. Be kind, but you don’t have to always be accommodating to the critics.

I’ve been guilty of all of these at one time or another. Awareness is half the battle. Identifying the wrong ways to respond to criticism and working to correct this in your leadership is part of growing as a leader.

In my next post I’ll share some right ways to respond to criticism.

What else would you add as a wrong way to respond to criticism?

How Should Pastors and the Church Respond to the Coronavirus Fears?

By | Church, Fear, Leadership | 2 Comments

It is incredible how fast the Coronavirus outbreak has impacted all of us. The outbreak is continually trending on Twitter. It dominates the news. The stock market has been rattled by concerns of global impact. (Fear is one of the biggest movers of the market.) 

I saw a report that Japan is shutting down schools for a month. In the U.S., the Center for Disease Control issued a statement this week in preparation for what “could” occur. The President has launched a special task force. 

I’ve been asked several times how I would respond as a pastor. How should the church respond?

I have a few thoughts. 

We should remind believers that we are not to live by fear. One recent headline I saw said, “Coronavirus Fear Spreads”. The article was more about the spread of fear than the actual virus. And that’s typical for situations like this. We have rational fear, which is normal, but we also have lots of irrational fears. 

I hope we don’t miss things we enjoy doing, such as ballgames (and dare I say church). All the experts I’m reading say as much as possible we should live as normal lives as possible.

We need to seek truth over rumors. Let’s not believe everything we read. We need to make sure we are checking multiple outlets of news. And just because it’s on Facebook does not make it true. 

Realize that news outlets often highlight the worst case scenarios. Yes, it’s bad. It might get much worse. But I read recently the number of cases in China are going down. That’s some good news. I wish that was making headlines too. Hopefully that trend continues. And I realize it is still spreading places, but the risk in the U.S. at this time is very minimal. Let’s live informed, but not in panic. 

Address obvious fears. Recently I switched a planned message to a message addressing fear. People are naturally afraid. We should be agents of hope, courage, and confidence in God’s care and control. 

Times like these are really opportunities for the church to be the church. We have the Good News!

Do what we know we can do. Stop handshaking and do elbow bumps. I recently had our custodial staff place trash cans by the bathroom doors. (They should have already been there.) Make sure we are sanitizing everything we can. Encourage people to stay home when they are sick. 

Remind people to automate their giving. I realize this sounds self-serving, but if this outbreak worsens (and even if our prayers are answered and it doesn’t), the church is going to be needed. The ministries of the church are vital to our communities and we need to encourage people to keep giving in the event we can’t meet corporately or fears or sickness keep people at home. 

A friend of mine, Henry Kaestner, posted this on LinkedIn:

I can’t help but think and feel (and apparently write) that many more people will be affected by the impact of the coronavirus fears on the economy and market than will be affected by the actual virus itself. I fear a massive drop in philanthropy and impact investing as stock portfolios go down and liquidity dries up. My hope and prayer is that we will resist the temptation to hunker down, but instead actually step up our giving and investing. It will likely matter more and make a bigger impact than ever.

Make sure people know how to view services online. Thanks to Facebook Live that feature is available to most size churches. People in your church will want to keep in touch and hear from you even if they are kept from attending services.

Pray none of this is necessary. Of course, we should pray. Prayer is always the ultimate work. We say that and probably believe it, but have we really prayed for God’s intervention in this situation. He is still the Healer.

Worship. Isn’t that the Biblical example for us in times of uncertainty, fear or crisis? Let’s worship the God who has the answers we need. We worship because He is in control.

What other suggestions do you have? 

What a Leader Does in Times of Crisis

By | Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

The Apostle Paul was an effective leader. He was the arguably the most successful church planter of all times; managing to plant churches and write books we are still using today.

There is an interesting story in Acts 19 of a time of crisis. I call it a crisis because the sub-heading in my Bible calls it “The Riot in Ephesus.” Have you ever witnessed a riot? It sounds chaotic – like a crisis.

And apparently it wasn’t a small riot. Notice this verse: “About that time there was a major disturbance about the Way.”‭‭ Acts‬ ‭19:23‬ ‭

Major disturbance. Crisis.

What is specifically interesting to me is the response of Paul in the time of crisis.

Read it for yourself:

After the uproar was over, Paul sent for the disciples, encouraged them, and after saying good-bye, departed to go to Macedonia. And when he had passed through those areas and exhorted them at length, he came to Greece. Acts 20:1-2

So, Paul did three things: 

  • Called together the leaders of the people.
  • Encouraged them.
  • Continued working to accomplish the mission.

Paul demonstrates for us the role of a leader in times of crisis – or even in times of uncertainty or times of change. In these times, people need to hear from their leader.

People are looking for assurance everything is going to be okay. They want to know the mission will continue. People want to hear the leader has confidence and is going to help move the mission forward.

In other words, they want leadership.

Leader, if you are in a time of difficulty or exaggerated stress right now in leadership, the worst thing you can do is to run and hide. The best you can do is to reengage the people you are trying to lead.

Gather your people. Encourage them. Keep the mission moving forward.

Leadership helps people process the pain of their circumstances so they can keep going.

All Good Leaders Do 2 Things

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

There are two things all good leaders do for their team. These are vital if you want to lead a healthy team.

They help their team say yes.

Good leaders give their team the freedom to dream. They empower the team to take their ministry in new directions. Risks are encouraged without fear of retribution if it doesn’t work.

Good leaders make sure they aren’t so distracted with mindless and burdensome tasks, so they can pursue the things which spark their interest. They help their team move swiftly when change is needed and encourage the team to be proactive rather than reactive. 

And when team members do things differently than the leader would, the leader looks to see if the vision is being attained. If it is, then the leader submits to the leadership of the team. 

They help their team say no.

The team can’t do everything. Neither can the leader. People are limited. Everyone is limited.

All of us can easily get distracted by seemingly good things and fail to do the best things. Good leaders give their team the authority to say no when the opportunity doesn’t align with the vision, they simply can’t complete it with all their other demands, or it is outside their ability to do it well.

And when there is backlash for the decision, good leaders defend their team. Every single time. 

(Granted, some team members will take advantage of this second one. They will always say no. In those cases, we handle the problem with that person individually. And we don’t use them as a reason to create unnecessary rules for everyone else.) 

Leader, does your team have freedom to say yes and no? What could you do to help them more?

When I Do Some of My Best Work

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

Some of my best work is done when I can’t understand all that I’m doing.

  • When things are messy.
  • My head is cloudy.
  • I have more questions than answers.
  • My faith is being stretched.
  • I am unsure of my position.

If you wait until you have all the answers – where doubt is removed completely:

  • You’ll often find yourself stagnant on making decisions.
  • Seldom will you achieve “the best you can do”.
  • And the rewards you receive will be less than monumental.

A 64-year-old very successful businessperson told me recently that one of his regrets is not taking more risks in life. And he’s taken a ton in my experience.

Part of living the Christian faith – and especially being a Christian leader – is actually using your faith!

How are you currently having to walk by faith?

Let me leave you with a couple of reminders from Scripture:

One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4

Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. Proverbs 14:4

7 Suggestions for a Stalled Organization

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

I talk with leaders regularly who lead an organization struggling to grow. They are trying to figure out how to succeed again. It could be a pastor, a ministry or non-profit leader, or a businessperson, but they want to spur another season of growth.

I understand. Every organization experiences times or seasons of decline. I’ve been the leader in these situations many times.

What you do next – when these seasons come – almost always determines how long they last and how well you recover. 

First, I should say, every situation is unique and requires individual attention. Don’t use a script for your team. Don’t take principles or suggestions, even these I’m sharing here, and think they are a magic pill.

Also, don’t be afraid to bring in outside help. It could be anyone from a paid consultant to trading a friend a favor who leads another team. Everyone can use a fresh perspective at times. Wise leaders welcome input from outsiders. (If I can help you, please let me know.)

With those disclaimers in mind, I can offer a few suggestions to shape your current thoughts.

What do you do when your organization is stalled or struggling for a win?

Here are 7 suggestions:

Admit it

Pretending there isn’t a problem will only make things worse and delay making things better. Most likely everyone in the organization knows there is a problem. This is where the leader must be humble enough enough to recognize and admit the problem.

(I realize an obvious question is “What do I do when the leader isn’t this humble?” This would be the focus of another post, but hopefully this post will help. Perhaps you should email it to them.)

Recast vision

People regularly need reminding why they are doing what they are doing. You should have a vision big enough to fuel people’s energy towards achieving it. If you don’t have one, spend time there first.

If you already do it is probably time to tell it again. And again. And frequently. (For my pastor friends, you have a vision given to you – we know it – we just sometimes get distracted by other things. Tradition. Programs. Systems. Stuff.)

The why behind what you’re doing is always be the fuel for what we do.


Times we are stalled are good opportunities to ask hard questions? What is going wrong? Who is not working out on the team? Where have we lost our way? Where are we stuck? How did we lose our way? What are we missing?

This is a great place to bring in some outside perspective if needed. I have learned often the answers are in the room if we ask the right questions. Sometimes an outsider can help draw them out of the team.

The less you try to protect personal agendas here the greater chance you’ll have of recovery.

Introduce change

You need to try something new. Growth never happens without change. Perhaps you need several somethings new. We tend to hold on even more to our traditions and what has worked in the past in times of stalling, but now is not the time to resist doing something different. Obviously, what you’ve been doing isn’t working, which is the point of the post.

Take another risk – as scary as it is. Explore again. Be intentional and make sure the changes line with the vision, but encourage movement. Movement often spurs momentum.

Fuel potential

There are usually areas which are working and areas which are not. If no areas are working, you may be looking for different answers than this post can provide. Sometimes it’s hard to discern what is working when you are clouded by what isn’t working, but you must try.

Often these are things the team is known for or things which are fairly new but are working. Wherever there is a spark of any kind, you must fuel it. This is usually the best place to spur more momentum quickly. Maybe you need to build upon something you’ve taken for granted. In church revitalization, I use the term “rediscover – don’t reinvent”. Build upon the things which are working currently.

Celebrate small wins

When you have something to celebrate, make a big deal out of it. A really big deal. Put your party hat on and cheer together with your team. Don’t go overboard over something people will quickly dismiss as nothing, but if you are seeing any signs of hope, share it. People need the energy of something going well to keep pushing forward for even more success.

Encourage one another

As a final thought, remember, the hard times as a team can actually help build your team for long-term success. Consequently, allow this to be a time you grow together as a team, figure out this together, and help the team to grow and succeed again. Pray for and with each other. Cheer each other on daily! You can do it!

Have you been a part of a turnaround team? What helped?

7 Essentials in Facilitating a Church Merger

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

I am a fan of church mergers. It takes Kingdom-minded people to be willing to humble themselves and carry through with the blending of two separate churches. I am always impressed with the people involved. I believe we will see even more of them in the future.

Although I do not have the expertise of my friends Jim Tomberlin or Warren Bird (I highly recommend their work and book on the topic), I have been a student of the “movement” for  more than a decade.

It is a long story for another post, but it was learning about church mergers (and in part this video) that eventually led me to leave a very successful church plant and pastor an established church. We were able to accomplish a successful church merger. 

Just recently my son, Nate successfully led the merger of two churches. I can tell you, biased of course, that it might have been one of the best handled I have observed. 

I have also walked with a number of friends through church mergers. 

Churches merging together could result in saving both churches and it is one way healthy churches are growing today.

In my experience and observation, there are some common practices among mergers that are successful. 

For clarity sake, many times merger is the word used and it is actually an acquisition. Either way, the same pieces come into play. 

Here are 7 essentials in church mergers: 

Budge on non-essentials.

Every pastor has a vision for what they want a church to be. The truth is, however, not everything matters. Be willing to let go of those things which are preferences, but simply not mission critical. 

For example, I watched my son move services to the room of one of the churches he helped merge. It wasn’t the room he actually preferred, but it was one that satisfied the most people. And it has worked.

Don’t budge on essentials. 

Some things do matter and they are worth holding out for. One that we simply couldn’t budge on, for example, was who held title to the building. While this was the messiest one to navigate through it was one of the most important. If one church is going to invest significant resources into another there needs to be an incentive to do so. 

We once lost the opportunity to merge with another church, because they wanted us to agree never to pave any more parking. It wasn’t something we could guarantee long-term. In fact, they needed new parking immediately, in our opinion.

Honor the honorable past. 

There will be things worth remembering and celebrating. If there’s not I would probably reconsider merging. 

Soak up wisdom all you can. 

Learn all the history you can. Listen to people who have been in the church for years. They may not even like the changes that need to be made, but they have valuable insight into the church upon which you can build. I have also found that people are less resistant if they feel they have been heard. 

Take your time. 

As much as you can, go slowly through the process to make sure you cover everything. This isn’t always possible. Sometimes you need to move fast. We once moved in a matter of a couple of months. And there is such a thing as opportunity cost if you delay too long.

But time is a valuable commodity and should be used well. Stretch it out when possible.

Build on individual strengths. 

Find common strengths in both churches that you can share. Don’t assume one church has all the answers. 

For example, if one church has a feeding ministry that has existed for years and it works, two churches together might make the ministry even stronger.

Make sure documentation is legal and clear. 

This is the hard part. You want to handle this delicately and with grace, but you also have to handle the legal and business aspects in a way that protects all parties.

For certain you need an attorney and you may need a professional audit done. Invest in getting professional help, even if that is a mediator between the churches leadership.

(If you are in the process of merger talks and I can help in a consulting capacity, please let me know.)