Friday, July 31, 2009


This morning i was reading 1 Corinthians 15 and i agree with Paul. We should be pitied by all...

When we die we end up as worm food and that's it.
The early church was deluded and the Apostles mammoth fibbers.
We are still in our sins, condemned, guilty before God.
Those who preach are wasting their breath.

We save ourselves for marriage for no good reason.
We don't get smashed and take drugs for no reason.
Our attempts to be compassionate and merciful and useless.
Our meeting together in church is silly.
As is bearing one anothers burdens and caring for one another.
Enduring persecution is just plain stupid.

Christians deserve pity... Unless Jesus actually rose from the dead.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

K Mart church salute

Yesterday i was reminded of something that we were told during Big W training. We were instructed to NEVER give a K Mart salute.

A K what, you wonder?

When a customer asks for directions, you point them in the vague location and quickly keep walking.

I thought of this because a guy was complaining about his experience of church visiting in a book i'm reading. He said that the congregation was like a bunch of deaf mutes. They didn't help him in any manner. At best, they gave a K Mart church salute.

Unfortunately, as the church, we often only give minimalistic help to visitors. We give no extra-mile assistance. We don't show people where to take their kids, much less walk them there. We don't give visitors a welcome pack, much less introduce them to the person next to us.

Big W middle-management would be very disappointed in us.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Picture perfect?

Today i wondered about my darling wife and the initial blossoming of our relationship.

Actually, it took a while for the memories to flood back.

I had almost completely forgotten the message from Ange i received whilst at college saying that she liked me (i was absolutely clueless by the way...).

I barely recalled the awful trial i had to endure to ask Ange out. Yes, it took three tries and, at one point, involved screaming across a church.

I only have scattered flashbacks of our first date.

But I totally remember our first kiss, that's a very romantic story....

My ponderings this afternoon? Did other people give us a chance of working out? Was our pairing given the initial thumbs up?

I asked my parents today and they don't even remember meeting Ange for the first time.

Ange seems to think that we generally had an affirmative vibe from others.

But i have no clue what our parents really thought. Or our sisters, who have known one another since year 7. Or our church friends. Or our non-Christian friends.

Hmmm... Did we defy the odds???

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ministry thieves

This morning i lead me first service at my new church. I think it went alright...

I focused around the sentence "It is Good to be in the house of the Lord, one more time."

I would love to say that i came up with the idea myself, but i actually ripped it off a speaker from a conference i went to in 1999.

It reminds me of a saying that was used in a lecture at college. "A good teacher is a good thief." Sure, not exactly Christian, but true all the same.

I find that we often try to re-invent the wheel when we don't really need to. Ministry is advantageously cyclic. You get exposed to a whole new bunch of kids every six years. You get a new opportunity at each different church. You can recycle resources, updating and improving on what you're already familiar with.

Furthermore, we should learn from those who have gone before us. Why bust you hump creating something that already exists, or rack your brain for ideas that can be easily found?

I don't think it's something that you should rely on all the time, but I reckon it is fairly good time management.

After all... The Bible says... There is nothing new under the sun...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bible reading in church

In the near future I'll be leading the teens in a series of discussions on books in the Bible that can be read in under 5 minutes.

It got me wondering... Could a similar thing happen effectively in church?

Could you take 5 minutes during a church service to read a shot book of the Bible? Would a discussion on the book work in a church setting? Could that even go in place of the sermon?

I wonder how well this would go over. Would people complain that you gave them the opportunity to take time out and read the Word of God?

Also, could this work in a church context where the literacy rate isn't guaranteed to be high?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Church velocity

Churches have different speeds.

Some are fast and some are painfully slow.
Some are proactive and some are reactive.
Some will make changes and some will stick with the tried-and-trusted methods.
Some will make decisions quickly and some will form sub-committees.
Some will quickly fix problems and some will put up with them.

I would much rather be in a fast church.

Meeting questions

Lately I've been inundated with meetings. Church council meetings, congregational meetings, staff meetings, youth leader planning meetings, Challenge Camp team leaders meetings have been in my life over the last week or are on the agenda.

With this is mind, I've pondered my attitudes to meetings and the questions that go through my mind beforehand.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been driving to a meeting thinking "I hope this meeting will be worth the effort." Or "I hope this meeting will be better than the last, or at least quicker." Or worse, "I hope I make it out of this meeting without getting any added jobs or responsibility."

Maybe that's me right...

But if this attitude is not just mine, i wonder if the reason is because of the kind of meetings we put people through. Or does the solution rest in the lap of the person running the meeting and setting the agenda?

Either way, what would happen if our meetings revolved less around agendas and more about chiming unto what God is doing and seeing His will being done?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Five meals

On Sunday night the worship leader made an excellent point, initially made by Mark Driscoll.

Prior to communion he mentioned that salvation history can be summed up in five meals.

1) The eating of the forbidden fruit in Eden.
2) The first Passover meal.
3) The Last Super.
4) The remembrance meal of Communion.
5) The heavenly feast described in Revelation.

I like it when people point out brilliant insights into the bible that i haven't heard before.


So far I've worked at my new church for two days officially and it's thrown my whole week out of whack.

Example? I only finished reading the Sunday papers this afternoon.

Man is not meant to have two jobs AND read two weekend papers...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Church jingle-jangle

I think I'm going to have my church worker limp back. You know, the one weighed down by a million small pieces of metal...

Yesterday i picked up a stack of new keys for church. I'm now burdened with a massive 14 keys aside my three key rings.

Five church keys... four car keys... two house keys... a key to Mum and Dad's... a key from my old church (which i have to return) and my Jesus key.

Jesus key? A blank red key which reminds me about the key of salvation, the blood of Christ.

My Mum said i look like a prison warden.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No more interuptions

Don't you hate it... you can change now... when, during a sermon... yeah, next one... you keep getting interrupted. Or worse, when the... ok, change... person giving the sermon keeps needing the PowerPoint slides changed.

It used to greatly annoy me at Balgowlah until they got a handheld slide changer.

At my new church this annoyance has once again reared its head.


First, constantly informing the techie to change the slides is frustrating. It bothers the person giving the talk and distracts the listeners. Any flow during the talk is lost.

Second, you are shackled to your slides. Normally i don't deviate from what I've got planned, but on occasions i have and this would throw the techie into utter confusion.

Finally (and most importantly), it allows the person at the computer to focus on the sermon, not the slide show.

And... They aren't that expensive, not to mention having a handy laser pointer!

Avoiding the hole

Today I was reminded about an analogy about temptation/sin scenarios that you may recognise in life.


A person walks down a road. They fall into a large ditch. It takes a long time to get out. The person keeps walking.


A person walks down a road. They see the hole. They still fall into the ditch. It takes less time to get out. The person keeps walking.


A person walks down a road. They see the hole. They still fall into the ditch, but immediately get out. The person walks away annoyed.


A person walks down a road. They see the hole. They walk around.


The person chooses a different road.

When i look at my life i recognise all of these stages. Times when i have stumbled, seemingly unknowingly, into sin. Times when i have tripped over the same stupid things repeatedly. Times when I've been annoyed with myself that I've one again failed.

But thankfully, i can also see times when I've made the a smarter choice and avoided the temptation altogether.

Monday, July 13, 2009

First steps

Hopefully i start at my new church officially next week and with the date approaching I've been thinking about what I'd like to do whenever i started at a new church.

So... In no particular order...
  • Observer for the first week. Carry around a small notebook and jot down anything that springs to mind. What questions need to be answered or explanations given to those viewing the church as a visitor, outsider or upstart minister. Get a vibe for the people and the church services.

  • Create a week, month, term and year planner. Place on church events, youth ministry routines, children's ministry link-ins and wider church activities. Work out what events are non-negotiable for the youth ministry.

  • Meet with as many "main players" as possible. This would include meeting with the ministry staff independently, the youth ministry leaders, young adult small group leaders, the church secretary and treasurer, local scripture teachers/co-ordinators and other local youth ministers (both within and outside of the denomination).

  • Get my hands on the local Lifeline telephone counselor resource folder and create one of my own. Contact local sexual health centres, counselling centres and other places who can provide answers, services or resources that you can not. I did this at Balgowlah when i broke my collarbone, and even though i never had to delve into the folders, it was good to know the info was on hand.

  • See what connections the church already has in the community and abroad. Find out what missionaries, retirement homes and non-profit organisations are already being supported, who the contact person is and what opportunities could arise to assist in the future.

  • Collate all previous information that you can get your hands on (the previous youth minister could be useful here). I spent my first few days at Balgowlah doing this and dug up a few hidden gems.

  • Finally, look at the previous years youth ministry programs and studies, church council reports and church/youth ministry budgets. See if any area is missing from the programs and where the church "puts its money where its mouth is."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sermon series selection

On the agenda for my first staff meeting in a few weeks is helping to select the sermons for the rest of the year. As a result, i spent today wondering about the topic.

Primarily, the only issue is... What does this community of faith need to hear from God? How do they need to be encouraged? Where do they need to grow in obedience?

As a planning strategy you need to begin with the past. What have you do over the last few years? Has anything been overlooked or needs to be revisited?

Is there a balance in the revelation of the Godhead? Have all members of the Trinity been equally represented?

Is there a balance in the genres of the scriptures? Have you preached on the Old Testament narratives, Old Testament major and minor prophets, Old Testament wisdom, the Gospels and the Epistles. Have you just focused on the preachers favourite passages or books?

Has there been a balance of exegetical (verse by verse study) and thematic topics?

Have you equipped the church in apologetic and evangelistic techniques so they are sure what the gospel is and how Christianity is defendable?

Looking into the future, you can plan with the church calender in mind, building into and upon the church seasons. Flow into Advent and the Christmas season with an Old Testament prophet. Flow from Pentecost into a series on Spiritual gifts.

Be aware of the church specific events. Plan with church anniversaries, baptisms/confirmations and, importantly, staff holidays in mind.

Also, the length of each series should be carefully prepared. A new series shouldn't begin when a large portion of the congregation are away on holidays nor extend/compres a series beyond what is appropriate.

Finally, you could always go with the prescribed lectionary readings... At least for some of the time.

Or... You could ask some trusted people in the congregation what they want to/need to hear and take that into account...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Value Dinners

As i flicked through a stack of documents from my new church and i noticed an intriguing event. Basically, the church leaders/church council/elders meet with members of the church/staff who are making a contribution at church and they add value into their life. Over dinner they each speak words of affirmation to the person to show that what they do is valued and appreciated.

I think this idea rocks!

I have no idea how often they occur, if they are effective or who actually attends, but the groundwork seems nothing but positive.

First, it actively fights against burnout in the church leadership. It allows them to hear that they are appreciated. That what they do adds positive things into the ministry of the church and the individual members within.

Second, it creates a culture where affirmation is the norm. It switches the mindset of the lay leadership to one where they are looking for the positive traits and actions that the pastoral staff are having.

Third, i think it would make huge steps in solidifying the "church leadership team."

But finally, i think it can go both ways. Every church has dozens of people who work tirelessly, and seemingly unnoticed, behind the scenes. The paid staff can hold meals to build up those invaluable, but unassuming, members of the church.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Notice my new disclaimer in the header... I've been waiting to actually be employed by a church in some capacity to add that.

Finally... The blame is all mine!!!


I'm currently reading a book on why young adults leave the church. One chapter that caught my attention dealt with singles, particularly singles over 30.

The author made the point that the church should work as matchmaker for their single young adults unless directly told to act otherwise. Sure, some Christians are called into a life or extended season of singleness, but many are dissatisfied with their predicament.

So... Why shouldn't the church assist? If you want help with finding a job, or a car, or accommodation, the church may help, so why not in finding a date?

In the past your parents had a massive role in pointing you in the right direction. They knew you and would have a fair idea of who would be a good fit. Now days, especially with children from non-believers, why wouldn't the church fill a similar role?

Hmmm... Should they at least pray for them publicly to find partners if they have the desire to do so... We pray for marriages all the time!

With so many churches seeking to be "family friendly" why shouldn't they (without being creepy Uncle Church) assist making other potential believing families?

I dunno if the church should keep a singles radar roving the local community, but the argument seems kinda convincing on the surface.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

North America lights up

I don't know how many of you have realised my new visitor counter. The map is cool, showing where folks are in the world that access my Ramblings.

In truth, I'm a little disappointed.

It would appear that i only cater to Aussie folks. Mainly in Sydney, but also Melbourne, Brisbane and the ACT.
Due to the months that elapsed before my counter was established my map is a tad bare. In reality, it should have dots scattering the US, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Malaysia, Greece and Romania.

Luckily, Tom is in the US at the moment. If you squint you can make out a small dot in North America (New York i imagine).