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Editors, like pastors, see a lot of mail. Much of it-news releases about Animal Awareness Day or brochures about cordless pulpit telephones-doesn't demand much time.

But other items we linger over: submissions by our cartoonists (tough work, but somebody has to do it . . .), and letters from our readers. We read every word of feedback and tabulate every response on the Reader Survey (see page 139).

A couple of issues ago, the survey included an open-ended question: What has been the worst crisis you've had in your ministry? The responses were eye-opening. I began asking the same question as I visited pastors.

Responses fell into four categories:

1. Organizational crises, usually congregational conflict or decline in attendance, giving, or both. Wrote one pastor: "My worst crises are periods of discouragement when I don't know if the church will survive. And when my own vision wanes."

Another pointed out that such crises are caused by both external and internal factors: "I'm trying to work with ...

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