Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bible hearing

Words are important. They shape the way you think.

So, why do we have a Bible reading in a church service, not a Bible hearing?

I think it would put the segment prior to the sermon in better perspective. We don't just read a book, but hear from the Word of God.

We should pay as much attention to the Biblical text as we do the the sermon that follows its declaration.

Giving check-up

Do you think giving talks suck? Do they make you feel awkward?

There could be two reasons...

One - You need to hear what is being said. You're being convicted of a failing in your Christian life.

Two - The person presenting the giving talk is being insensitive.

Think of the process like getting a medical check-up.

If the doctor pushes on a part of your body and you feel discomfort, either something is askew, or the physician pushed too hard.

Ministry burnouts

Apart from Sunday Christmas next year, I'm really looking forward to 2010 at church.

The reason? The season of doing ministry burnouts has almost passed.

For the first six months you make a lot of noise, create a bunch of smoke, generate heat, gain traction, but don't make a heap of meaningful progress.

Once you've been around for a while, then you can make significant steps forward.

I hope 2010 is a year of moving forward.

80 minutes till undead

I just found out that it would take 1 hour and 20 minutes from being bitten by a zombie until i was infected.

I assume that this is a very scientific study, done by people in white cloaks who work in a fine academic facility like the Pond's Institute.

You can find out how long you would take here.

Church niches

Lately, I've been thinking that churches should work together by spreading out ministries.

When i look at the suburb that I'm working in now, there are three churches located in about four blocks, and they basically all do the same thing.

I think it would make more sense if they each did a few things. And do these few things really well.

Churches could work more effectively if they honed in on a few ministry areas, which they became locally known, and people were funnelled towards them if they fall into a particular niche.

There are a stack of options that a church could be known for... Preschools, children's ministry, youth ministry, young adult ministry, ministering to singles, parenting issues, ministry to the elderly, ministering to the poor, or to single mothers, or to those suffering addictions or being known for great music or creativity in worship... or whatever...

Sure, churches would still individually need to maintain support for those who go to their church and upkeep all the regular church activities, but I'm not convinced that a churches aim should be to "do it all."

For the majority of churches, they just aren't equipped (either physically nor personally) to do have a dozen, well run, effective ministries.

I'm not sure how or if it would work ... But maybe churches would benefit if the load was spread...

Those who go to churches would probably benefit...

Preaching to the unseen audience

My last post about ministers needing to be tech savvy, i was reminded about the unseen listeners located when giving a sermon.

Whenever giving a sermon i don't give a whole lot of on weight to the physical number in the building (it's nice if the number is larger than you expect though!) since the message can go beyond those who are present.

Your sermon can come up in future conversations during the week. Or a point remembered and used years later. I still use old sermon notes that i took years ago.

More likely, if you post your sermons online (thus the benefits of a tech savvy minister), they can minister to anyone with a computer.

In theory, the sermon that you deliver before 30 people, can reach well beyond the churches walls.

Tech savvy ministers

Ministers should be more tech savvy.
Imagine it if ministers in all churches could create a good looking PowerPoint presentation. Or put together a decent video. Or knew how to set up a web site or a blog. Or would never need to use clip art ever again.
I hate it when a capable minister has no technological clue. Or at least hasn't evolved from the late 80's. It hinders their ministry.
I couldn't imagine any professional communicator, who would give a talk (at least) once a week, who wasn't keeping up to date technologically.

Dreading 2010

I just noticed that Christmas is on a Saturday next year.

I hate those years.

The reason? Overchurching.

I think this is a big reason that church attendance is down the Sunday after Christmas.

Next year, there is no respite. Church Christmas Eve, then Christmas day, then the following day. By the start of the third service, everyone seems to be wasted, from the musos to the ministry staff. The buzz of Christmas evaporates quickly.

I suspect that i will need holidays the last week of 2010...

Monday, December 28, 2009


This morning i saw Dad get loaded into an ambulance.

Thus, Ramble-a-thon 2009 is postponed. I imagine it will happen from tomorrow... maybe.

For some reason i just don't feel like it today...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The 2009 Ramble-a-thon is coming!

Over December the number of posts i make usually drops.

So... The Ramble-a-thon will commence from tomorrow.

For the rest of the year, whilst i sit around and watch cricket, the kitchen-of-half-baked-ideas-that-is-my-mind will be flung open for all to see.

I recently resurrected my list of blog ideas (which was lost in my virus infected laptop), so the topics will flow thick and fast...

Also, if you have anything that you'd want me to blog on, i will be accepting suggestions.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Diary dilemma

Happy Yuletide, seasons greetings and merry Christmas!

Over the last few days I've faced the same dilemma i face with each new diary.

Who do i cut and who makes the crossover?

This year, the selections are increasingly difficult with my new church.

As time progresses i will (potentially) have less contact with those from my old church. Do you put in someones birthday if it falls late in the year (with the possibility that you may not have seen them for months)? Do you cut people who you haven't seen for a while, but can pick up a friendship quite quickly? Do you put in people who will be away for vast chunks of time, meaning that they won't be transferred the next year?

Am i over thinking the whole thing?

Furthermore, when i originally departed from my previous position, none of the youth from the church made the diary crossover.

The problem? Now that some of the senior high kids are young adults, and i spend more time with them, i have no idea when their birthdays are.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The P's of giving

Leading up to a series on giving that is happening next year at church, I've been reading a book on stewardship and finances from a Christian perspective.

By coincidence, I've also been reading 1 & 2 Corinthians, which has the topic of giving throughout the letters.

In 1 Corinthians 16 Paul gives the recipients of his letter a pattern to follow when giving. The first part of verse 2 says... "On the first day of the week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up..."

The book i'm reading made the pints that giving should be...

Personal - each one of you - Giving is a responsibility and privilege for each individual believer.

Periodic - on the first day of the week - There is value in keeping the discipline of consistency in our giving.

Perspective - in keeping with his income - The amount we give is determined prayerfully before God. No matter what percentage of our income it is, we should support the work of the church, giving sacrificially and generously.

Premeditated - set aside... saving it up - Forethought should be given to our giving. Giving shouldn't first enter our minds when the offering is announced in church. We should set aside the amount we are going to give the day we get paid.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good brotherly questions

Normally i don't post things that catch my eye on YouTube.

But... Holidays + bad, non-ratings period TV = Angry brother and "Why are you up a tree?" and "Why did you bang yourself in the head with a shoe?"

Need to kill a few minutes so it all make sense?

First you need to see this, then this.

Ah... Brotherly love and the questions we all want answered. If only we all had a "Squirrel Boy" with an anger management problem.

Apologies about the language. It's not really bad, but it could offend...

Riding the wooden hobby-horse

This week will, thankfully, be very quiet. Aside from church services on Christmas Eve and Day and a couple of family bashes, I've got an empty calendar.

So... I've been catching up on the blogs that a would normally trawl through in any given fortnight. Using alltop, I'm usually exposed to around 150+ blogs.

Today i stumbled over this post, about preaching at a lectern or not, and it got me thinking.

Or... it reminded me of the preaching styles that happened when we had a combined church service years ago. I was absolutely wowed when one guy, who was also really good, preached without a lectern, whilst one used a regular pulpit and the other a music stand.

I wrestled with this topic when i started preaching regularly and was pretty comfortable with the whole process.

After a while, i tried unshackling myself from the pulpit. And i found that it worked well.

I was more free to use body movement during stores and illustrations, use steps to the side and forward/backward to connect with my points and seemed to be more transparent.

Now, I've not chopped the pulpit into kindling. I still use one when i preach to older folks (or any audience where it will be the expectation) and have a stand of some description beside me for my notes, but i prefer not using one if the space allows.

The people are better than us

For some reason Blogger decided that spaces between the paragraphs of yesterdays post are at their discretion, not mine. Apologies for those offended by the drop in my usual aesthetically pleasing outlook. Hopefully it won't happen today...

Last night my church had a very short church service before we all went to the combined churches carols (about a block away).

As we were packing up after a bite-sized service, the family worker and i acknowledged that people in attendance were better than us.


Because we wouldn't have been there that evening.

Not for a 30 minute service.

Probably not for the carols either.

Both events were fine for what they were, just not catching enough to draw us away from family shindigs nor gloomy weather.

It's actually quite heartening. Ministering to a bunch of people who are remarkably faithful is nice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moving folks

Over the weekend my parents moved into their new unit and out of the home i grew up in.

As a result, I've been put to work.

I've destroyed cupboards, inhaled decades of dust, filled skip bins, made innumerable trips the half block to the new residence and scrounged various items from my past.


I can see few permutations that would result in me ever reversing out of the driveway at my Mum and Dad's old home again. Never again will i curse that cars that make the departure a risky venture.
And this makes me kinda sad.
Actually, the whole process reminded me of leaving my original church.
As the days tick down, you do things for the final time and slowly watch as much of what was uniquely yours departs with you.
The part of the process that I'm dreading most is when the new people move in. What will they do to my old room? Will they renovate? Will they rebuild anew? Could i handle them tearing the house i grew up in down?
I dunno, but I'm pretty sure that will be a sad day as well...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Numbers petition

(I've already written this post once, but my Internet connection died as i tried to post. Originally, this was a work of genius. A masterpiece. Now... Here are the scraps that my mangled memory pieced together)

Leading into small group this week i was nervous. Numbers nervous.

One week prior there were only three of us. And they arrived as i was packing up to head home. It was my first ministry flop at my new church.

I was on holidays, so they had an excuse, and missed the usual enthusiastic Sunday night reminder. But the numbers were concerningly low.

So, come Wednesday afternoon, I said a prayer. The "prayer-that-you-make-when-you're-uncertain-of-numbers" prayer.


Please have people show up. Please.

I know that a bunch of people are missing since they are no holidays, but there's still plenty of people who have no excuse.

I would love them to be there. Or at least it would make my prep worthwhile.

Please have them show up.

Actually, i would love new people to show up.

Just enough to fill in the gaps created by those away.

But not to many newbies that the group gets weird because the dynamic has changed.

(insert number) would be a good number. I would be comfortable with that.

Seriously, have the people that you want there.

Just let that number be close to the number i want.


Beliver kids options

At small group this week we were chatting about the movie "Keeping Mum."

We got to the topic of kids from Christian homes, especially minister kids.

They fall into three categories...

The perfect child - Gets along with their parents wonderfully and is ridiculously talented, smart, outgoing, confident, with a strong faith.

The rebel - Hates anything to do with God or the church. Would not be out of place amongst Satanists.

The nerd - Their idea of a good time is getting a new fastest time solving a Rubik's cube or painting Lord of the Rings figurines.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pre sermon checklist

Things to do before giving a sermon...
  • Be thoroughly familiar with where you are going to preach. Be comfortable with the height and position of the lectern and microphone.
  • Have all your notes with you and a printed outline of the PowerPoint. Check you have each page. When you turn to page 5 and it's not there... life becomes difficult.
  • Grab a glass of water. I don't think I've ever used one when preaching or leading, but if i ever need one... it's there.
  • Put on deodorant and chew gum. No-one likes it when the guy praying for them smells bad.
  • Eat an hour before. Being hungry when preaching sucks.
  • Poop prior. Needing to poop when preaching is much worse than being hungry. WARNING: Choose your time wisely. Walking into the stall after a preacher, and being meet with a stench worse than death, is not appealing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Church name tags

I hate wearing name tags.

In hell i would be wearing a name tag.

On other people they are great... especially when they wear them outside of the workplace and forget they are wearing them... but on me i think they suck. I think a part of the hate is associated with the knowledge that others will know my name without my expressed consent. Maybe i have underlying, deeper issues...

This morning i had to wear my church name tag since i was preaching. Whenever i go to the oldies service i wear it. Firstly, so the oldies will know my name, and secondly, because my ministers wife (who is lovely) got the badge for me and she was going to be in attendance.

The saddest thing? An oldie looked straight at the name badge when they forgot my name and the ensuing awkwardness was quickly dissipated.

It annoys me when things I'm not fond of have a useful purpose...

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I saw a sign today that should be a warning to everyone...


I feel sorry for poor Bill... He must have done something bad.

Really bad.

Time Efficient

Now that I'm on holidays i have plenty of time on my hands.

But not enough to view all six Rocky films.

Luckily... this is much more efficient...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I am not a tough man

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. Our computer at home has gremlins that had to be hunted down and mercilessly annihilated.

Meanwhile, i have two confessions. Neither make me a tough guy.

Confession 1: I'm addicted to checking my blog stats. It's been three days since I've last checked them ... and I'm having withdrawls. I think i need to go to "Webstat Checkers Anonymous."

Confession 2: I dropped by my Nan's today after work and had tea for two hours. It was awesome. One of the best things about reading water meters is that my final few days of each quarter (which i normally stretch out) are located right near her house. Getting to see her (at least) every three months rocks!

I've never claimed to be a tough guy, nor would i ever be mistaken for a tough-man contestant, but these two facts just make the case against my "tough guy status" much stronger.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pass the botox... stat!

Yesterday Gavin and i went to watch the golf and i got sunburn on my forehead.

Now, every time i move my eyebrows, my forehead is on fire!

If only i had planned ahead and got botox injections to make my forehead immovable.

Next time...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Becoming regular

Tom posted on his blog about preaching for the second time at his new church (here) and it got me thinking.

When you preach for the first time you invite everyone. Your family, your friends, your old youth minister, your old youth group leaders... everyone assosicated in any manner of your christian existance and you hope upon hope that they all arrive and are dazzled.

For your second time... you invite no-one... inwardly hoping that you'll be really good and amaze all the regulars.

The third time? No fan fare. No bells and whistles. Just you, the Word of God and a microphone once again (hopefully still being good!).

After a while you get into the routine and the novilty starts to wear off (and it doesn't have to be only preaching for this to happen. It could be your first sports game... anything with a "come and watch me do this!" factor.).

I'm begining to treat my blog visitors that way.

A while ago, an international visitor whould get a personal greeting.

Now, with my visitor world map lighting up across Australia, Asia, Eurpoe, North and South America, i'm not as fussed. It's nice to get visitors from places like Canada, Chile and South Korea, but just not as exciting as it used to be.

Still... if you are a first time visitor to the site... Welcome and look around. You all come back now.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Last night Claire mentioned that she never gets mentioned in my blog. She is wrong.

I searched her name and it turns out and i have mentioned her in four posts. The same number of times that i have mentioned Nick.

But they are both dwarfed by my Ramblings that contain Liam (with nine) and Gavin (at at whopping 16).

Fortunately, Ange is ahead with 22 hits (I was scared that Gavin would have more!).

In case you're interested... and i know you are... I've mentioned sex on my blog in 14 posts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Action day messages

On Friday's and Sunday's i hate it when my phone gets a message.

When my mobile sounds that familiar BEEP BEEP, the pit of my stomach fills with dread... An ominous feeling that something bad is about to happen.

Friday and Sunday are action days. You have youth stuff on a Friday night and Sunday is choc full of church services.

But hours before people pull out of an event you get a dreaded phone message... Hours before plans change you get a dreaded phone message...

Then again, it could be worse and i could get no message at all from a leader dropping out...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Church specific sins

My new church is quite security conscious. If you're not in the room, the door is locked. If you're caught not obeying this unspoken rule, then you'll be given a scowl of disappointment.

At my old church it was driving on the grass in front of the church. If you're sprung cutting across the turning circle, then you are pretty sure that someone will have a "quiet word in your ear."

In both occasions, the rules are there for a purpose (or reactionary to a previous situation), so there's nothing wrong them... Just no-one every speaks of them.

Until your busted breaking them just once...

Follower #2

I just noticed that my loyal followers have doubled.

Welcome Mitch.

Next time I'm at Manly and see you and Nick out together, I'll buy you both a beer and we'll have many happy Ramblings...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Safe, simple questions

Whilst at a training day yesterday we were talking about churches being a safe place. We noted that this should extend to people who are new to the church and how things happen inside their walls.

Thus, simple questions should be okay to ask.

Questions like... What exactly is this gospel thing that you all keep going on about?

Or... Why do you people meet together?

Even... What does God look like?

I think, at times, Christians give off a vibe that would roll-their-eyes-and-groan if they were asked "basic" questions at church by a visitor.

It's a shame really...

My favourites

This month the globe has finally taken notice of my small square of the blog world.

Already this month I've had visitors from Australia, United States, Great Britain, Poland, Indonesia, Singapore, The Netherlands, Canada, South Korea, Malaysia and Brazil (my visitor world map is lighting up like a Christmas tree!).

Since I'm getting so many new visitors, i thought now would be good to reminisce about my favourite posts from 2008...

Why i hate small dogs...

Am I a Christian whore?...

Cat walking freaks!...

Jesus is a friend of mine...

The preaching playbook...

The weird and the Brave...

Room Group leading for Dummies...

LEEP into ministry...

The E's unleashing a SHAPE for ministry...

I am the Original Penny...

The culture of leaving...

Changing the scene...

Roles of a minister...

Tribute to Pop...


How to avoid crap sermons...

Monday, November 23, 2009


Whilst walking the golf course with Gavin on Saturday arvo i took a seat beside the eigth tee.

The seat i sat on was dedicated to a bloke i used to go to church with.

It turns out that he also had his ashes scatted beside the bench. Actually, they were still there, neatly in a pile.

I'm fairly confident that i will be cremated eventually. It seems to be the done thing...

I just don't know where i'd be scattered or where my bench would be located.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Speaker bio

Over the last few weeks I've got a few speaker and convention advertising pamphlets.

It made me sad.

I could never be a speaker on the Christian conference circuit.

My bio would be almost empty.

I don't drink coffee. I don't have kids. I don't hang out in cafes nor play LAN games. I haven't been a missionary in a remote place. My favourite food isn't exotic nor have I represented my country in anything.

But i do have a darling wife. And a cat.

Land sharks and giant spiders

I wonder... How would our lives change if we weren't top of the food chain? What if we were hunted by land sharks or picked off by giant spiders?

I reckon our crappy days at work wouldn't be so bad. Who cares if the boss yells at you... at least you weren't devoured on the way home.

I wonder because i stroll into some pretty irksome places whilst reading water meters. If man eating spiders did exist, i figure i would quickly be consumed.

Nothing could beat death by paralysis, having my innards turned into goo and then hypodermic consumption.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Watch out Europe

If you're aware that i have a geographical stat counter on my blog (it's about four screens down on the right hand side... just above the self esteem booster - I was told i had great hair today) then you'll notice that I've had new spots appear in Canada and Indonesia over the last few days.

Fortunately, i get the inside scoop because the map is only updated every 24 hours.

So... Get ready... Poland is about to be lit up!

Scripture Exams

Today i was told by my scripture class that other scripture classes have exams.

DISCLAIMER: I don't know if these teens were confused with the subject Religious Studies, but nonetheless...

I would never have formal scripture exams. Quizzes for chocolate? Sure. Revision? Of course. But not genuine, stress inducing, tests.


Because i don't really care if the kids can recite all the answers perfectly. 100% on an exam won't get you into heaven and I'm not sure it is the measure of success for a scripture teacher.

Definitely give them the facts of the gospel, who Jesus is and how he lived, but surely the measure of a scripture lesson is about getting the kids to think about what they believe.

The aim should be to challenge their mindset about the world we live in (no matter if they are atheist, agnostic, theist or even Christian). To challenge them with life's big questions and give them the Christian perspective on who God is, what the point of life is and how people and the world fit together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Truth in the face of a stinker?

Lately I've been wondering... What do you do when a co-worker at your church gives a rubbish sermon?

Not just a dull sermon, or an averagely presented sermon, but a outrageously crap drivel.

I'm torn, because I've been in the situation before and (almost certainly) placed others in the predicament.

I want to say that you tell them the truth. They could/should have done better... They tried to be too creative and lost everyone... They didn't connect with the audience... They offered a dry, dull, monotonous diatribe... They were just plain wrong in what they said.

I want to take a hard line because the results effect the church.

A rubbish sermon may turn those away who are church-shopping. Similarly, those who are turning to the church for answers will continue searching elsewhere once confronted with a non-scenically ramble.

Then again, there could be extenuation circumstances that contributed to the poor showing and maybe grace should be shown...

I don't always hit it out of the park...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prayin in the name of...

On Sunday i preached in the evening service and at the end i said a prayer... Nothing really noteworthy about that.

Afterwards, a caring person brought to my attention that i didn't end the prayer "in the name of Jesus."

In truth, i don't always, and my reasoning is that the "name of Jesus" is not a magical incantation to make God respond.

Although Jesus does say that... I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it." (John 14:13-14) and... Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name (John 15:16) the "in Jesus's name" doesn't seem to be the huge deal in the Bible that we can make it today. The early church doesn't do it consistently (or at least not in a way to sign off praying) and Jesus himself doesn't include it when teaching the disciples what to pray (now know as the Lord's Prayer).

I think that you can pray in the name of Jesus without muttering the exact sentence. You pray in the authority of Jesus, of who He is and what He says about those who have put their trust in Him. It is because of Him that we can enter before the presence of God. We pray in the name of Jesus when our requests line up with the purposes of God in the world.

Nonetheless, i usually cap my public prayers with the sentence "in the name of Jesus (and usually adding the qualities of Jesus which apply to what i have said previously).


Because it is expected. Because (for well meaning intentions of not) forgoing the "in the name..." may distract people.

So i do it (or at least when i remember)... But not as a wondrous concoction of words that shoot my requests to God's inbox.

Verse of plausibiblty

Twice last week i referenced the passage of the bible that helps me make sense of the rest.

The passage is Genesis 1:1-4a... In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good...

These few sentences set up the rest of the Bible.

Simply, God exists and has from the dawn of time, which He ushered in. God is alive, active and gets involved in the events of the world, which He created by His spoken word. In doing so, God created order from chaos and deemed what He had made as good.

I think we should wrestle with the first few words of the bible.

If we do, and can find them to be believable, then that will shape the way you encounter whatever is written after.


Because IF God created the world and the order within it, then He can (at times) move beyond those normalities in what we would call miracles. IF He created life then He can restore life. Or heal the sick. Or part the Sea.

IF... Genesis 1:1-4a can be a passage that you can come to terms with then the rest of the bible, at best, becomes plausible.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Plan A... check booking... Plan B

God bless Plan B.

Over this week i have had my Plan A foiled twice.

First, i had planned to use a certain part of the church for my new young adult culture study.

Second, i had planned on using the prayer labyrinth of my old church next Sunday.

Turns out both things are already booked.

Note to self: Check booking first, plan second. The other way around can become problematic.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who said it would be easy?

At the moment I'm reading a book on Difficulties in the Bible and the author makes some really good introductory points.

Basically, the guy says that we need to take a breath and chill out when it comes to biblical difficulties. There are over 31,000 verses in the bible and we aren't the fountain of knowledge that we sometimes claim to be.

If you believe the bible is the word of God, and it reveals the character of God, what His purpose are for the world and how He is working out those purposes, then it's ok if we don't have an absolute grasp of every syllable.

Why would we be so surprised that some of the bible is difficult understand? Would we be more comfortable if there was a complete revelation about God and it was no great effort to understand?

Sometimes we need to admit that we are not God. He knows the answers, even if we don't.

Second, we need to know that difficulty doesn't mean that something is wrong or that there is not an answer. Just because i found 3 Unit maths difficult didn't mean that the answers were nonexistent.

I just had to work at getting the answers or ask someone else smarter than me.

When it comes to the bible, sometimes we need to acknowledge that we don't posses the answers, but others do. That's ok. I'm humble enough to recognise that i don't know it all (no matter how confidently i may crap on!).

Actually, I'm ok with passages that give me trouble. It gives me something to think about. Something to chew over.

Otherwise this whole Christian gig could, potentially, become boring. Especially if you're planing on doing it for the rest of your life.

Then again, some famous theologian once said (something like) that it's not the passages of scripture he couldn't understand that bother him, it's the ones that he could.

Maybe he has a point.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sweetening the deal

This Sunday i have a child protection training day and (I'll admit) I'm using bribery to assist people in deciding to attend.


When you arrive, your favourite chocolate will be waiting for you.

Actually, the idea stems from the motivation to make meetings worth the time and effort to those who chose to attend. You should make the meeting useful and worthwhile.

If chocolate helps achieve those aims... then chocolate will be served.

Or Coke and Tim-Tams.

That's what i would give to Nick to be at Youth and Children's Team meetings.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery

I just finished reading a pretty average book about preaching and caring for your voice.

One thing that i noticed was a point that the author made about bad preaching.

In short, he said that that you should listen to it, be annoyed by it and learn from it.

When you see bad communication, endure it and swear to never repeat the same mistakes.

Exhibit A: Bernie Fraser.

Death by spider

Over the last few days a large huntsman spider has been creeping around my car.

I first spotted it on Saturday arvo as he scurried across my bonnet as a did 80km/hr.

He reappeared on Sunday night, scampering across my windshield after church and then later when Ange was driving Big Red.

Fortunately, he seems happy to reside on the outside of my car.

But if i die a fiery death in an automobile accident, it will be the spiders fault.

And I'm sure he will escape the flaming wreckage of Big Red unscathed...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Audience perspective > Ministry perspective

On Sunday we had our post camp debrief.

Next Friday i will have a debrief about the Jesus, All About Life youth event that my kids and leaders went to.

Neither event was perfect. Nor would it ever be.

At camp we made the usual number of mistakes. Some large, some minor. As a result, some things will change, some will become a part of camp.

At the youth event, the speaker wasn't what we/i expected. I felt the message was to get people motivated. I was. Just motivated to follow my dream, not follow Jesus.

The thing that struck me is that for both events the teenagers had little idea that mistakes were made and left feeling that everything was fine and dandy.

I wonder, do those in ministry, or at least those with a view "behind the scenes," make a big deal out of things which weren't obvious to the target audience of the event?

If the program was out of whack because of the weather, but the kids were fine with it, was it a major issue?

If the speaker didn't say the exact things that you would have wanted, but kids still responded... does "all's well that ends well" apply?

Sure, learn the lessons. Make things better and avoid the mistakes that happened behind the scenes. Continue to aim for excellence in what you do, especially if it is for the purposes of God.

Actually, I do a similar thing when i hear someone preach. I critique the way the message is said, or presented, and wonder how i would have given the sermon. To the standards i set for preaching, average is hard to swallow and less than outstanding is often cringed at.

Usually, when I'm less that enthusiastic about a sermon, many others find it to be perfectly acceptable.

Maybe those in ministry need to take off the "ministry perspective" glasses and view an event through the eyes of a participant.

Perhaps we would chill out and enjoy church a little more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I would rather sing "Jesus is a friend of Mine"

This. Is. So. Wrong...

Whatever you do, don't follow the link to clear up your confusion from "Experiencing Agapic vertigo" (No, I don't exactly know what that means either).

If you dare follow the link, may i give you a warning.

You will encounter the "Campaign Against Triclavianism" (even after reading their spiel, i don't exactly know why this is a big deal, much less warranting the need for a Anti-Triclavianist Logo that i would put on my blog).

I would rather have this song stuck in my head again... Enjoy...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Modernly over-rated?

This is a dangerous thing to say... but here goes... I find Clive Staples Lewis over-rated.

Sure, you may know him as simply C.S. but I'm no fan, so it's purely formalities between myself and Mr Lewis.

I've just finished reading The Screwtape Letters again and i must say that I'm underwhelmed. A similar thing happened when i re-read Mere Christianity a while back.
I know, i should hand in my Christian membership card.

I fond the books distractingly dated (but that can't be helped since they were written over a generation ago) and they just don't seem to have the "classic" feel to them that everyone bemoans that they posses within their pages.

Sure, they are alright, but not more. I even gave them a second chance after five years and have not changed my opinion.

I wonder if modern day classics will be belittled by future generations as "just average."

I'm soon going to re-read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If all goes to plan, my opinion on that book will have a similar transformation. When i read the book at college i was unimpressed. Now i may see the illuminated genius that everyone else sees...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Easy axxxess

In some respects, sinning would have been much more difficult in the past then it is now.

Today, porn is no more than a few clicks away.

Creep around the Internet, searching for porn or not, and you will inevitably find some.

Type the letters por into a search engine and the suggested search results will fill in the rest.

Today, any young person can be exposed to porn.

No more sneaking a peak at the newsagent. No longer is there a need to locate the R rated movies at the video store and catch a glimpse. Early porn exposure no longer is reliant on stumbling across it in the bush/beach/school or in "Dad's secret stash." (these are just examples that happened to... a friend of mine)

Today it seems much easier.

There's no more shame of hiring the video or buying the magazine and having to look a person in the eye.

Beyond that, you can get exposed to much more hardcore porn than you may have otherwise. Now you are just two clicks away from pictures and videos of things that you could never have seen a generation ago (or at least not as easily).

Then again, if you want to cheat on your partner and get away with it, there are plenty of websites to teach you how and hook you up with a partner.

Mmmm... Bacon

I had luch at Mum and Dad's yesterday and had bacon. It made me think of this...

If you're like Tom and can't read it, then you can look at a larger picture here...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Extraverted Introvert

Over the last few weeks at church I've been playing an up-front roll, either preaching or leading the services.

At another blog the author had the same personality type indicator that is on mine. He then wondered if he was seen in an accurate personality-type light by others in his church.

Like me, he was statistically quite an introvert, but would be displayed publicly as the opposite.

For instance, last Sunday i spent all dinner sprucing free stuff that our church was giving away. If you didn't leave with a vegetable steamer, herb storage device and an organiser, then you didn't stick around for dinner.

I think most people at church would be surprised to find that I'm a dominate introvert. It doesn't mean I'm overly shy, just weary around people I'm unfamiliar with and it takes a bit of energy to be around groups of people.

It would be a fair explanation why i love to read the papers for a few hours by myself between services.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Change reaction

Last night my new church had our first 5:30pm family-friendly service (combining two struggling services - 10:45am & 6:45pm).

Last night the church changed...

Church was done in a new way... A better way.

The week before i preached on change (which i have unsuccessfully tried to post) and in the sermon i referred to "the bell curve of change reaction."

Essentially, you will be this curve during a time of change.

You're position may change depending on the transition that you are going through... but you will be on it.

At one end of the graph is the INNOVATORS. These people make up 2% of a changing population and are the vision casters. These people are the ones who birth the idea.

The Innovators are then followed by the EARLY ADAPTORS. They make up the next 14% of a changing population. They see a good idea and they jump on board. They are the bandwagon riders.

In a creative twist, the MAJORITY are next. Wickedly divided into the early and the late majority (with 34% each) they are neither for nor overly against an idea. They will react once momentum starts and results begin to roll in. These people are more cautious then the preceding groups.

Finally, the LAGGARDS make up the last 16% of a people going through a time of transition. They will fight against the change, either going along kicking-and-screaming, or stubbornly not at all.

Over the last few weeks i have seen this play out at church with the lead up to the new service.

Some have quickly jumped on board and sacrificially contributed ideas, finances and time. Some have taken more time to warm to the concept. Others have dragged their feet or openly questioned the change.

But last night was good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Didn't see that coming...

Talked or felt out?

To my core, I'm a facts guy. This is particularly true when it comes to my faith.

Today i wondered, if i was confronted with a question i couldn't answer (as if!), how much would it rock my faith?

The curly one that i posed to today was about the length of the ministry of Jesus. Was it one or three years? How many Passovers did it encompass?

The Internet has the answers.


Could there be a question that would faze me out of my faith?

Or, would i be more suseptabe to a set of circumstances that would shake my belief in God?

I figure that I'm more vulnerable to the first problem. But, then again, i am a thinker (or so my personality type suggests), not a feeler.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seeing the sights

Things i saw whilst reading water meters today...

Multiple cats and dogs... Normal.

A Rabbit... Not exceptional.

A small frog on a fence... A little odd.

A heap of lizards... It was a warm day... so that's not unexpected.

A naked man... A first.

Yep, you read right, a NAKED MAN. In fact, an elderly naked man.

I don't know if this chap was gardening in the nude, or doing yoga without a stitch on, or if he had just got his groove thing on with Nan and was now working on his tan, but he sure didn't expect me to waltz through his gate searching for his water mater.

And i didn't expect to see a wrinkled ass when i woke up this morning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Starting chips

At each of the church services on Sunday (two in the morning and one in the evening) i preached on to topic of change.

I received positive feedback, even hearing the annoying statement... Wow, you should really think of getting into real ministry!

After the second morning service, i was asked how i could get away with giving the sermon i had just delivered.

Two of the services i preached in are combining this week at a new time. They are in a time of change and not everyone is at the same point of the transitional response timeline.

So... How did i get away with my message?

I'm still playing with my starting chips.

Quite simply, it's the credit you have when you are still new on the scene. For some, depending on your age, prior experience, reputation, results, the time the church waited for you to arrive and your personality, you will have additional beginning leeway than others.

For a while, you can feed off these starting chips. You can make change or start new things based on the credit you have from the time you arrived.

At times you will use your starting chips and it will pay off (like it did for me on Sunday) and sometimes you will be found short.

In time, you can be judged on your own achievements and by their own standards.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The... Ugh... Team

I hate the name "The Dream Team."

It's a thing that makes me go... Ugh!

If you know me, you may find that odd. For i was once a part of "The Dream Team" at my previous church. In fact, I'm in the process of killing the term "Dream Team" at my current church.

At my previous church the discipling group leaders made up "The Dream Team" and the same label has been thrown about for the planning team of our new family-friendly evening service.

But, why the hate?

First, I'm not a fan of elevating people just because they happen to be involved in a ministry area.

Second, it can cause unrest amongst those who are not on "The Dream Team." It would annoy me not to be on the team.

And third, I'm not sure that i (or anyone) is really worthy to fill a "Dream Team" void.

When the term was first applied to the US basketball team it was because they were, undeniably, the very pinnacle of what they did and would be undefeatable by mere mortals.

Somehow... I just don't think that's me.

Maybe i should form a "Pretty Alright Team, who (if they follow God closely) will do Amazing things because God has a habit of using pretty alright people."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Say or pray?

A question... If you go regularly to church....

How many times have you said the Lord's Prayer?

For me? It would be in the vicinity of around 650 times (with the LP said in most services i would have gone to in the last 13 year).

The question i posed in a devotion time i ran at a prayer day our church has on was... Do you say the Lord's Prayer, or PRAY the Lord's Prayer?

I'll admit, i find that i usually say the words, not especially pray them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jesus = BFF?

Today i heard a song that called Jesus their best friend. If you've been around Christian circles long enough, this won't be shocking.

But i wonder, how many people would actually call Jesus their best friend? If you're a believer, do you? When asked, do you say that the Son of God is your bff?

What does that mean anyway?

When talking to little kids we say that through the actions of Jesus on the cross we can become friends with God, but do we need to be best friends?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Phone Karma?

Want to know what a mobile phone looks like once it has been flung off the roof of the car you were driving?

Tomorrow i will find out since today the above scenario happened to me when departing work from Thornleigh.

The conversation i had with the lovely woman who discovered my work phone (in pieces in the middle of the road) was rather awkward though.



Between my exclamations of overwhelming thankfulness, the woman said that she hopes that karma will reward her for her good deeds.

I figured it was inappropriate telling her that i don't believe in karma.

She will get chocolates from me though...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Non inspiration

This week I'm back reading water meters (thus alone with my intriguing thoughts) and in the process of crafting a sermon for Sunday and i am short on inspiration in both fields.

Usually, i have two avenues to kick start my thought mojo.

Blog-wise, i can normally look at a list of possible blog topics i wrote when i first imagined dipping my toe in the blog sphere. There was a list of around 150, but they are trapped tightly in my broken laptop.

Sermon-wise, i can usually delve into multiple commentaries about a passage. This time, I'm stuck doing a topical sermon, thus the inspiration is more difficult to track down and/or think up (or so i find). Who would have thought the immutability (non-changing nature of God) and the way He changes situations and transforms people would be so tough to get going?

Oh well, i still have one faithful follower to read my blog when inspiration strikes and days until i need to worry about the sermon.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Giving or tipping?

Yesterday, before i crashed after camp, i tripped over a blog that asked if Christians actually give to their church, or just tip them.

In the end, the average committed believer shells out somewhere in the vicinity of around 2-4% of their income. When you stack this up against what Joe Blow gives away in nations who regularly give tips, churches may really be full of tippers, not givers.

If it wasn't for Jesus...

I got back from camp yesterday and i feel quite post-campy. Sleepy and sniffily.

Camp always brings odd realisations.

Like the "if it wasn't for Jesus kids" is the latest.

You know... you have probably met them. You may have even been one in the past.

The kids who are weird. Magic-show, elf-card playing game weird.

The kids who incoherently chatter. Non-stop.

The kids who latch on and won't let go. Year after year.

The kids who don't shower. Nor have discovered deodorant.

The kids who, if you didn't love Jesus, you would avoid.

When i think of the difference my faith makes, and ponder my new church, i see this.

Wherever you go... Churches have included creepers. Lurkers are accepted. Freaks are valued. Weirdos are given a voice and a place to be themselves.

I think that's the way it's meant to be and a sign of a healthy faith community.

Follow me or i will look lame...

I noticed that this blog, despite the dozens (!) of people who indulge in my ramblings, only has one official follower.

I feel like such a loser.

So, do me a favour, take a second and click the FOLLOW BLOG box at the top of the screen and show me some follower love...

Nick has.

Don't leave him all on his lonesome...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Christian HOF

I'm not sure i would be all that comfortable being inducted into the Christian Hall of Fame...

Technically, i already am because i could be called "The Unknown Christian", but it seems odd that there are 62 entrants from the year 1900 onwards and only 40 prior to that (including no-one mentioned in the New Testament!).

Drinkin for Jesus

This is disturbingly stupid...

If you don't know the poem, the moral is... when life's tough... God will be carrying you.

The moral when the poem is referred to on a shot glass?

God will be carrying you... because you won't be able to walk in another ten shots.


When life's tough... God will carry you... so you can have have a drink.

Dear church: I resign!

Over the last few days i have been cramming for my Ministry of Pastor competence assessment.

Actually, it has been really helpful in reminding me what the church stands for, why the Uniting Church holds certain beliefs and why it behaves the way it does.

One thing that stood out, in light of some thinking I've been doing about people leaving church, was the weight the Basis of Union puts on church membership.

Personally, I've never made a massive deal about it, nor have i generally had it stressed to me.

Sure, you should be a committed member of a church, but (unless you want to take part in the decision making processes of the church) it hasn't been high on the agendas that i push.

In fact, i haven't even transferred my membership to my new church, nor have i looked into how i would make it happen. I don't know if i just start telling people, or there are papers to be processed and forms to be stamped.

But, a few people, when they have left the current church I'm at have sent resignation letters. Not just letters to the various teams that they were on, but a quite formal letter to the Church Council.

I'm not sure i would.

If i was hurt enough to leave a church, i probably wouldn't go to the effort to type up a diatribe, no matter how constructive my comments may be. Alternately, if i was departing on fond terms, i would say by farewells in person.

Z's instead of S's

Over the last few days Ange and i have been without the Internet (thus the lack of blog action)... So this insightful comment should have been posted a few days ago.

Thankfully, Kraft (the makers of Vegemite), are going to change the absurd name of the new "non-Vegemite" from iSnack 2.0.

The stupid name got me thinking about children/youth ministry names.

On the back of the planning meeting i had on Sunday for our churches new family friendly evening service, i made a joke about a potential title for our kids program.


Never fear... it won't be called that.

I would cringe if it was.

I hate it when we insert z's in the place of s's... Or when we purposefully put letters backwards... All in the effort "too be cool."

It's not.

At least now-days.

It's no longer the late 80's.

It could be worse. We could give the kids ministry a name that will quickly become dated... like what the "new Vegemite" name would have quickly been.

Any ministry/church name with an "i" at the front of the title will not be cool in 2012.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Default programs

You can feel it in the air... New television programs are coming.

So, what awaits our not-to-distant future?

Re-runs of Scrubs, old episodes of Two and a Half Men and repeats of the Simpsons.



Some "brand new-exciting-newest thing to hit our screens-hilarious-moving-fresh-revolutionary show" will flop.

Then... cue the default programs. The TV equivalent of junk food. Shows that won't rate well, but no-one will openly complain. Shows that you could almost quote verbatim. Shows that will never inspire nor challenge. Shows that offer no nourishment and will be forgotten quickly.

Actually, we did the same thing when i was a college.


The default chapel service: Sing Shout to the Lord/Blessed be Your Name and then break up into triplets and share/pray.

Too often, we probably serve up the equivalent of ministry/church junk food.