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13 The Leader’s Choice

When I graduated from seminary in 1981, I was twenty-four years old. Within two years, mostly because I was a good preacher, I was hired to be the senior minister at the Brownlee Woods Presbyterian Church in Youngstown, Ohio. At the tender age of twenty-six, the church hired me to be their senior leader.

For the ten years before I arrived, the church had been in a steady decline. Membership was shrinking, attendance declining, revenues at a plateau and, most worrisome of all, the average age of the members was increasingly elderly. Looking out on Sunday morning the blue and gray hairs far outnumbered all others. So the church elders, in their wisdom, hired me in hopes that I would bring in members and gather youth ...

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