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My physician put me through several months of tests before finally giving a diagnosis: "You have a little brain tumor." I was shocked. "Little" or not, I hadn't expected anything that major.

But almost immediately after the shock came the worry so typical for pastors: What about my congregation? It's the beginning of Lent. I don't have time to be sick. We were in the midst of a major building renovation. How can I take time off? Will my illness cost us our momentum?

For more than three years, I had been pastor of a small, integrated, urban church. We had grown, but our position was still precarious. Would we be able to survive this latest crisis?

We did, in fact, survive. If anything, we grew stronger, learning to trust God and one another more. It was not easy, and many hazards along the way were unexpected. Several guidelines, however, emerged that may help other pastors and congregations who face a similar crisis.

We journeyed through three treacherous periods: the time prior to surgery, ...

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