Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turn Everyday Moments Into Learning Moments

I consider myself a lifelong learner.

Guilty as charged.

Proud of it!

I suspect it had a lot to do with my parent's insistence on reading. From a very early age my mother took my brother and I to the library in the next town every two weeks to get the allotted maximum of 15 books. I would usually devour those in a day or two and reread them till the two weeks rolled around and we could go get some more. My father was also a great reader. Self-employed, he would pull out a good book or magazine or newspaper after supper and read for several hours before bedtime.

In my current calling as a church development consultant, I'm always reading a book (actually 3-5 at a time, but that's another post), conducting research on the Web, talking with church leaders around the country, and oftentimes, just being plain curious about something.

One of the best ways to practice lifelong learning is to just be aware of what is going on around you, and asking a couple of questions:

So what?

Now what?

If you've got an open mind, a curious nature, and listening ears, those four simple words will take you a long way on the journey of lifelong learning.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thoughts While Parking...

I lead one of the parking teams at Elevation Church's Uptown campus. Today I was working in the garage, greeting everyone as they parked and took the elevator down to the sidewalk for the walk up to the theater.

A few observations:

  • The smaller the car, the more difficult the driver has backing into the parking space
  • The traffic rate coming into the garage increases at an exponential rate the closer it is to the experience time
  • Collge kids were out in force today (driving and riding)
  • When I hear tires squealing in the deck, I can be pretty sure it's a male under the age of 21 driving
  • Some people get a red "x" and a green "arrow" confused
  • Pigeons take care of one another
  • When I smile at someone and say "Welcome to Elevation", it's a 99.9 percent likelihood that they will return the smile, even if they were frowning coming in
  • I work with a great parking team (even when machines fail us, you came through again!
  • Our job as the "first face" of Elevation is to welcome everyone to the garage and smile them on their way to the worship experience
Today was amazing - there was a creative worship element that was just awesome: a great set-up for Pastor Steven's message.

Word just came around that the Uptown campus had 981 attending - shattering our previous high numbers. We sent party buses to 4 college campuses and that was great!

No apologies - we care about the numbers, because behind the number is a person, and behind that person is a story of someone God loves.

Simply. Amazing. Thank you God for allowing me to be a small part of YOUR great movement called Elevation!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mission: Show Jesus Through Word and Action

The final part of a series of posts from the book "Transformational Church"

The third transformational loop described by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer is labeled Engage. It contains three elements, the third of which is Mission: Show Jesus Through Word and Action.

Good news and accompanying good deeds are like the two wings of an airplane. Each is incomplete without the other. Each complements the other. Each gives “lift” to the other. To study the life and ministry of Jesus is to study a tapestry woven of good news and good deeds.

Transformational churches create environments to present the gospel of Jesus Christ. They train, model, and create platforms to invite people to cross the line of faith and follow Jesus.

Transformational churches have found a way for the convergence of value and activities to result in something specific – transformed lives.

Transformational churches engage people in ministry within the church and mission outside the church.

TCs seem to have a greater number of people who share their faith out of the overflow of the rest of their Christian experience.

To live as a missionary is to live and work among the people.

Engaging Fully in the Mission
  • Define success
  • Prepare
  • Providing personal leadership to believers
To be transformational, a church must constantly commission their people into service for the city to display and tell the gospel

The mission of God does not progress unless people are talking about God’s mission to save.

Transformational churches multiply vibrant missionaries for the harvest.

In a TC the influence is on moving people from new to the mission to active on mission to leader in the mission

Mission is the opposite of self

The excerpts above are from the book "Transformational Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. TC is the result of a comprehensive study of thousands of churches where truly changing lives is the standard set for ministry.

The principles in Transformational Churches are powerful. If you want to "transform" your church, this is a great guide for the journey.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Community: Connect with People

Part 7 of a series on the book "Transformational Church"

The third transformational loop described by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer is labeled Engage. It contains three elements, the second of which is Community: Connect with People.

The church must have a process (organic and/or systematized) by which believers are connected to one another and growing in Christ. Today’s church needs to experience a methodological regression to the early church of Acts 2.

The point of this transformational practice is that believers join their lives for the purpose of maturing in the faith and engaging in God’s mission.

Living in community creates a “safe zone” where unbelievers feel comfortable asking hard questions and believers feel comfortable finding the encouragement they need for growing in the faith.

Values That Support Small Groups
  • A smaller number of people provides a greater opportunity for personal discovery
  • Smaller communities are just that…communities
  • Small groups are the best way to genuine life change through the local church
Five Myths About Smaller Communities
  • Your current small group configuration is permanent
  • Small group meeting locations are limited to church facilities or member homes
  • Your facilitator must be a highly trained spiritual superstar
  • Small group organization must be complex
  • Only pastors are qualified to administer pastoral care
The Five Deliverables of Smaller Communities
  • Smaller communities deliver deeper friendships
  • Smaller communities deliver accountability relationships
  • Smaller communities deliver environments for spiritual growth
  • Smaller communities deliver maximum participation
  • Smaller communities deliver missional opportunities
Five Obstacles Facing TC Smaller Communities
  • Transference of information is valued much more than life transformation
  • Teaching is valued more than learning
  • When they become a reflection of past practices
  • Segmentation of the mission of God
  • Lack of intimacy
Five Elements of a TC Small Group Environment
  • Missions orientation
  • Word-driven mentality
  • Multiplication mindset
  • Stranger welcoming
  • Kingdom focused
The excerpts above are from the book "Transformational Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. TC is the result of a comprehensive study of thousands of churches where truly changing lives is the standard set for ministry.

Next: Engage - Mission: Show Jesus Through Word and Action 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Worship: Actively Embace Jesus

Part 6 of a series on the book "Transformational Church"

The third transformational loop described by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer is labeled Engage. It contains three elements, the first of which is Worship - Actively Embrace Jesus.

Reasons for corporate gatherings:
God is glorified when Christians gather together to worship Him
  • People will look over our shoulders to the God of our experience
  • Worship provides a defense for the faith that is not man-made but is God authored and supernatural

What Happens When We Gather?
  • How many encountered the transforming presence of God through worship?
  • Are we creating consumers of religious goods and services or making disciples?
  • When people attend worship, are they simply observing a show or being transformed by God?
  • The TC plans on seeing people drawn in before God’s presence, experience His power, and be transformed by His grace
Worship serves to connect us with Christ and equip us for ministry. Little of substance will be done in the name of a God we have never experienced. True worship allows us to experience God at a deeper level. When you experience God on a deeper level, personal and corporate mission will always follow.

Real worship will transform the worshipper. Transformed worshippers will change the world.

Worship Pleasing to God
  • TC find a way for people to avoid the debates about place, style, and method. They focus on maximum participation in worship.
  • Passive worshippers usually live passive Christian lives
  • TCs actively engage people in worship and are led by worship leaders who value participation over performance

The Purpose of Worship
  • In corporate gatherings, we are not called to lead worship but to lead people into the presence of God
  • Worship is a spiritual discipline that communicates a biblical meaning in a cultural form
  • Worship from your unity and choose music out of your mission
  • How can worship be planned to lead people in this time and place to worship an eternal God?
  • How can our worship be planned so people can focus on God and give Him praise, glory, and honor?
  • Worship is to be understood by those in need of transformation
Address Tough Worship Questions Together
  • Ask the Lord
  • Involve people
  • Study Scripture
  • Die to self
  • Avoid “truces”
  • Ask new questions
  • Focus on revelation
  • Design new scorecards
When lives have been reformed by the presence and power of God,            then your worship is working.

The excerpts above are from the book "Transformational Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. TC is the result of a comprehensive study of thousands of churches where truly changing lives is the standard set for ministry.

Next: EngageCommunity: Connect People with People

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prayerful Dependence

Part 5 of a series on the book "Transformational Church"

The second transformational loop described by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer is labeled Embrace. It contains three elements; the first two have been covered in previous posts. Today, a look at Prayerful Dependence.

Prayer is our lik to receive understanding from God about His church and move forward in obedience to His mission.

Prayer is done with expectancy rather than out of repetitive behavior

Strategies, excellence, methods, or even commitment cannot substitute for humble dependence on God

Prayer Priorities of Christ
  • The proper use of His house
  • The accessibility of “all people” to a relationship with Him
  • The response to His praying people

Transformational Prayer Practices
  • Praying churches experience breakthroughs
  • Praying churches have praying leaders
  • Praying churches commonly experience answers to prayer
  • Praying churches pray for members by name
  • Praying churches have systems and processes
  • Praying churches have corporate prayer
  • Praying churches engage their communities through prayer
  • Praying churches have praying events
Prayer is the engine of Transformational Churches.

The excerpts above are from the book "Transformational Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. TC is the result of a comprehensive study of thousands of churches where truly changing lives is the standard set for ministry.

Next: Engage - Worship: Actively Embrace Jesus

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Fun at the WV State Fair

Anita, Aaron and I are spending the weekend with Jason, Jaime and Seamonkey. It's about 5 weeks till their due date!

After spending the morning at the local Farmer's Market (fresh veggies for shishkabobs) we helped around the house: finishing the deck, putting up baby things, etc.

We're at the state Fair now: Jason and Jaime are on this Ferris Wheel somewhere.

Fine dining: fresh donuts, huge cinnamon rolls, elephant ears, corn dogs, and frozen lemonade.

Fireworks show coming later.

This is what family fun is all about!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Relational Intentionality

Part 4 of a series on the book "Transformational Church"

The second transformational loop described by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer is labeled Engage. It contains three elements, the first of which, Vibrant Leadership, was covered here. Today, a look at Relational Intentionality.
A relational approach to reaching and developing people is woven throughout every ministry and practice. Relationships are the substance of the church culture.

We Are a Friendly Church
  • TCs intentionally build platforms to create relationships
  • The purpose of relationships in the TC is to see lives changes through the power of Christ

The Look of a Relationally Intentional Environment

What are the challenges within your church environment to cultivate relationships, and how can you address them?

What are the challenges in your church environment to intentionality, and how can you address them?

• Produce family

• Practice one-on-one relationships

• Provide space for difficult people
   Every member must be willing to minister because when God really moves,  
   broken and hurting people show up
   The outcast and marginalized need the compassion of Christ

• Systems and processes are present and must be aligned
   A system is an environment, a way of doing things, providing the “how”
   A process is a path with a purpose, a destination, providing the “where”

God’s delivery system for the gospel is relationships with people who have met Him

The excerpts above are from the book "Transformational Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. TC is the result of a comprehensive study of thousands of churches where truly changing lives is the standard set for ministry.

Next: Embrace - Prayerful Dependence

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Defying Gravity

I want to interrupt the "Transformational Church" series to bring some great leadership lessons from Andy Stanley, who spoke at a special leaders event tonight at Elevation Church.

Drawing on the story of Acts 15 and the "problem" of Gentile believers, Stanley talked about the tension of what church should and could be versus the gravitational pull of culture and the world.

  • There's always a gravitational pull toward insiders and away from outsiders
  • Application: You must continue to create empty seats at optimal worship times for those far from God
  • There's always a gravitational pull toward law and away from grace
  • Application: Have as few policies as possible and as many conversations as possible
  • There's always a gravitational pull toward complexity and away from simplicity
  • Application: Do what you do well and do it better than anyone else
  • There's always a gravitational pull toward preserving and away from advancing
  • Application: Remain open-handed
3 Closers
  1. You must be a raving fan publicly
  2. You must be an honest critic privately
  3. You have to be extraordinarily generous



Vibrant Leadership

Part 3 of a series on the book "Transformational Church"

The second transformational loop described by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer is labeled Engage. It contains three elements, the first of which is Vibrant Leadership.

Transformational leaders let God shape their church. The TC is Christ being presented to the community. TCs are tenacious about the vision and are people focused.

Understanding Transformational Leadership
  • TL understands that the church exists for the mission of God, and God gives leaders to help churches focus on the mission
  • TL focuses on leveraging every life for the kingdom of God around the world
  • TL is focused on the outside of the leader’s world
  • TL is missional in perspective and action-oriented in decision
Shift in Thinking
  • From one to many leaders
  • From “me” to “we”
  • From personal power to people empowerment
  • From church to the kingdom of God
Whether from bricks and mortar, programs, or just the inward pull of self, the church can become distracted from the mission of the kingdom. It did not take long in the early church for the epicenter of God’s activity to move away from house to house and life to life. With the advent of church buildings, the temptation was to become building-focused, inward, self-absorbed congregations. People became spectators. Scattering throughout the community as the church was replaced with the sacred, passive gathering in one place. When church is reduced to that place on the corner where we go on Sunday, we reduce the church and kingdom to something smaller than God intended.

The Leadership Structure of Transformational Churches

  • Traditional committees gave way to affinity-based teams
  • Membership is encouraged to discover strengths, spiritual gifts, and talents
  • Churches had less structure as opposed to more structure
  • Structures reflect confidence in their pastor and positional leaders
  • Congregational members did not vote on every issue
  • Small advisory teams and accountability groups worked alongside the pastor and staff
Jesus, Leading Transformation
  • Jesus invested in people
  • Jesus saw long and far
  • Jesus sent people away from Him on mission
  • Jesus grieved for communities
  • Jesus led a balanced life
  • Jesus embraced other cultures
  • Jesus gave up His will
  • Jesus surrounded Himself with lost people
  • Jesus’ harvest vision was leveraged by prayer
  • Jesus felt the needs of the people
Transformational Leadership Environments
  • Value a team approach to ministry
  • Values a sharper mission focus
  • Values new leadership priorities
Transitional Leaders advance through the following steps:
  • I join Him on mission or the “encounter” level
  • I lead others to join Him on mission or the “influence” level
  • I lead others to lead others, to join Him on mission, or the “leading leaders” level
  • I lead others to lead others to lead others to join Him on mission, or the “movement” level
The excerpts above are from the book "Transformational Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. TC is the result of a comprehensive study of thousands of churches where truly changing lives is the standard set for ministry.

Next: Embrace - Relational Intentionality

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Missionary Mentality

Second in a series of posts from the book "Transformational Church"

The first "transformational loop" in the transformation process is Discern - Transformational churches live out the essence of disciple-making in their activities through worship, community, and mission. But they do so in the context of their culture.

To do worship, small groups, mission, leadership, prayer, and relationship effectively, you have to know the story of the people to whom God has sent you

Unfortunately, Christian leaders are often more in love with the way they do church than they are in love with people in their community

Transitional Churches empower and release people to live on mission, with a missionary mentality, where they are right now – at the right time, following God’s activity and obeying His assignment

The Missionary Mindset
  • Restless to look, learn, and live out the gospel
  • Activate ministries that are on behalf of the people to whom God has called them
  • God has called you to a people first and then to the task
Three Default Modes to Avoid
  • Deconstructionist – discontented tribe of leaders who obsess with what they will not do anymore
  • Methodologist – obsessed with what they will do better than the rest
  • Impressionist – students of conferences and successful leaders
Transformational churches demonstrate a passion to touch the world. They have learned to address the need to work both locally and globally.

Transformational Churches fully embrace missional without losing the mission
  • They recognize it is God’s mission, and they are passionate about the mission as He describes it
  • They understand and obey God’s call to serve the poor and the hurting and are not afraid of a stronger engagement in social justice
  • They share God’s deep concern about His mission to the nations – that His name be praised from the lips of men and women from every corner of the globe
  • They are serious about joining God on His mission and obey His commands to disciple the nations
Transformational Churches are truly Acts 1:8 churches. They have a mindset to be a missionary in their community and ultimately to the entire world.

The excerpts above are from the book "Transformational Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. TC is the result of a comprehensive study of thousands of churches where truly changing lives is the standard set for ministry.

Next: Embrace

Monday, August 16, 2010

Watching the Scoreboard

I'm watching preseason Monday Night Football - maybe not quite the real thing (the Giants have a ton of injuries), but to the teams playing, it's real enough. They're out there to play well, help their team score, and be ahead at the end of the game.

Couldn't you say some of the same things about the church?

Congregations have long measured success by "bodies, budgets, and buildings" - a record of attendance, the offering plate,and the square footage of facilities. But for growing, healthy churches, the scoreboard can't stop there.

Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer led one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind to understand what sets "transformational churches" apart from others. In their most recent book "Transformational Church", they take us to the thriving congregations where truly changing lives is the standard.

In the first of a multi-part post on the book, here is a brief overview:


Missionary Mentality-church understands the community and will minister in contextually appropriate ways to reach local people with the gospel


Vibrant Leadership-leaders showing passion for God, His mission, and its transforming power on people

Relational Intentionality-deliberately connect with one another; accountability, encouragement, long-term relationships

Prayerful Dependence-natural disposition of communicating with God about the hope for transformation; dependence on prayer rather than a program for prayer


Worship-expectancy; knew something great was going to happen; trusted God to deliver transformation rather than the musicians to deliver a good show

Community-activity of joining lives together through ministry systems

Mission-God’s mission to make disciples of Christ and to engage the world as Jesus calls; understand disciplemaking as the normal sate of the Christian’s life

Stetzer and Ranier develop these three categories of transformation as a loop that can be entered at any point.
Principles of the Loop

1. Connecting to the loop - all three categories and seven elements are necessary parts for a transformational ministry, but churches can begin anywhere.

2. Cathartic Experience - the change to a transformational mindset begins with a moment of decision that is beneficial and liberating.

3. Convergence of Elements - churches with transformational disciplemaking allow for a free convergence of all the elements.
      A Transformational Church is a congregation that joins God’s mission

of sharing the gospel and making disciples. Those disciples become more like Jesus, and the church thus acts as the body of Christ transforming their communities and the world for the kingdom of God.

Tomorrow: Discern

Sunday, August 15, 2010

School's Starting...

It's that time of year when school buses are rolling down the street making their practice runs, back-to-school sales are everywhere, and parents and kids are counting the days (though for different reasons).

School is starting.

For the Adams family, though, it's not about Crayons and paper and other supplies - it's a whole new experience.

Around our house, we had a different kind of prep for starting school this weekend: Amy has finished college (in 3 years!) and is getting ready to begin her master's work at Campbell Divinity School this week.

She finished her summer job as unit leader at Mundo Vista Girls Camp last week, and came home for a few days before heading to her new home: a rental house she is sharing with 3 other girls. Anita and I had already delivered most of her stuff over the July 4th weekend; this time we went to finish decorating.

29 years ago I was in a similar situation: starting graduate school (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY). It was a little different for me: I had been married for almost two years, we had a six month old, and I was moving to a school in which I knew only one student.

Amy has been on the campus for 3 years, she (of the bubbly and outgoing personality) knows everyone and is known by everyone, and she has worked for several of her professors in different capacities.

She's going to do great, and she is eagerly looking forward to this new chapter in her life.

Gotta laugh at one thing though: in a house with four girls who are somewhat possessive about things, Anita suggested she label her food with her initials. Amy promptly got a Sharpie out and started putting AA on the food.

Some things never change...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


When Jack Trout and Al Ries published "Positioning" in 1981, it became a classic marketing text about how to come to grips with the problems of communicating in an overcommunicated society.

A lot has changed since 1981 - and society is not just overcommunicated, it's hypercommunicated.

Enter Jack Trout's "Repositioning", a book on how to market in an era of competition, change, and crisis. Yeah, it's a business book - that just happens to have a lot to say to ChurchWorld. Here are some key points:

RePositioning happens when you:
  • ReThink your current marketing
  • ReFocus your consumer branding
  • ReAssess your organization's strengths
  • RePosition your organizational identity
  • ReClaim your competitive edge
3 C's of RePositioning
  • Beat the competition - Challenge your rivals, differentiate your services, increase your value, stand out in a crowd
  • Change with the times - Use the latest technology, communications, and multimedia resources to connect with your customers
  • Manage a crisis - Cope with everything from financial setbacks and rising costs to bad press and public relations nightmares
Understanding the mindset of your customers is half the battle. Winning in today’s world is often a matter of repositioning. It’s how you rethink the strategies you’ve always relied on. It’s how you regain the success you’ve worked so hard for. It’s how you win the new battle of the mind.

Don't be turned off by the business language. If you are intent on reaching a society that is driven by consumer mentality, it behooves you to understand it as best as you can.

"Repositioning" will help you do just that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are You in the Top 5?

That's Top 5% - as in the exceptional presenters who are talked about for all the right reasons.

Mark Sanborn's "The Encore Effect" is filled with helpful ideas on becoming a presenter who effectively communicates his message to the audience, causing them to call for an encore.

Here are Sanborn's methods for moving into that rare atmosphere of the Top 5%:

  • Find out things about your audience they won't imagine you could know
  • Anticipate every question your audience might raise and formulate a strong answer
  • Rehearse every problem that might arise
  • Know more about your competitor's products, features, and benefits than they do
  • Become the expert in your field
  • Through your appearance and demeanor, give your performance a level of gravitas that your audience won't forget
  • Give your audience more than one reason to invite you back
Think your job description doesn't make you a presenter?

Think again.

Anyone who comes into contact with other people - in your organization or outside it - needs to know how to be a Top 5 performer.

The curtain is coming up - it's showtime!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stirring the Flames of Passion

I've been revisiting some great books on presentations in preparation for a series of major opportunities in the next month or so. Mark Sanborn's "The Encore Effect" is one of these. Earlier this year I posted on his use of PDA in presentations.

Today, a look at a few more of his excellent suggestions that will have your audience (of one, or a thousand) calling for an encore.

Four Insights of a Passionate Performer
  • Passionate people know for whom they are performing
  • Passionate people know how to perform remarkably
  • Passionate people know why they perform
  • Passionate people know what their performance needs to look like
Cultivating Passion
  • Study and learn your subject matter
  • Use small achievements or successes to fuel larger ones
  • Look to other passionate people as role models
  • Plug the leaks
  • Make passion a part of your life
Does your passion for your work burn brightly? Or is just a smoldering flame?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On Top of the World

...or at least the top of the Jungle Jim at the playground!

Jack's busy day: Farmer's Market, playground, taking Mommy a snack, lunch at the Mellow Mushroom.

Naptime's coming...for GrandBob too?
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Tony Dungy at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit

Tony Dungy, retired coach of the Indianapolis Colts, spoke yesterday at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit with Craig Groschel. Dungy is one of the most admired and beloved figures in American professional sports.

He is releasing a new book entitled "The Mentor Leader - Secrets to Building People and Teams that Win Consistently." Here are a few excerpts:

In my life and career, I have seen all kinds of leaders, but the ones who have had the greatest positive impact on my life are the select few who have been no only leaders but mentors.

Character is tested, revealed, and further developed by the decisions we make in the most challenging times. We have to know what is right, and we have to choose to do it.

How you do your job has always been more important than what you do.

You don't win on emotion - you win on execution.

It's important to give people a certain amount of freedom - and the responsibility that goes with it - to allow growth to take place...in a common world, becoming an uncommon person begins by cultivating uncommon character.

I am a firm believer that the Lord sometimes has to short circuit even our best plans for our benefit.

Coach Dungy spoke simply but powerfully on the importance of being a mentor and having a mentor. He's an amazing man who stepped aside at the height of his success, but through the work he is doing now with kids, may be making the most lasting impact of his career.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Four Words to Use Every Day

Most of the time we give ourselves more credit than is due for our conversations. When those conversations are intended to move the listener to take an action, we need to remember the following:

The significance of what we are saying is not always self-evident, 
let alone shocking and/or awe-inspiring.

It's time for clarity:

So what?

Keep asking the question till you (and your audience) are satisfied that you are both clear on what is being communicated.

But don't stop there: information without application leads to stagnation.

It's time for transformation:

Now what?

Your audience may have information, but have you given them reason to act on it?