Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Win list

During a planning meeting with my amazing young ministry leaders, we all shared our highlight of the term past.

This week, while reading a book on communication, the author made the point that those who work for churches need to make a "win list" and keep it before their church.

They need to show those in their ministry that good things have actually happening. Big and the small. Up-front and behind-the-scenes. Both the remarkable and quickly forgettable.

People need to be reminded that what they are a part of is making a difference in the lives of others. An end-of-term win list wouldn't do any harm.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blake David

Last week i became an uncle to Blake David. Jo and Craig did good...

Wordless sermon

Last night i gave a really good sermon with almost no prep and without knowing i was going to give it Sunday afternoon.

In fact, i didn't even speak during church.

All i did was serve soup, clean up, do the dishes, organise tea/coffee and then sit around and chat to a guy who needed an ear.

All i gave to people at church was service and my time to a bloke who doesn't get it often from others.

With our evening service soon embarking on a series on Spiritual Gifts, i figured that i should show the church what some of them look like in practice. It will probably be as good a lesson as anything I'll say from the pulpit.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Articulate the unknown

During a meeting last week a bloke said something that was important in light of what has been bouncing around my head lately. He said that sometimes those in the church have to articulate to unknown. They must deal with the areas that include a leap of faith and say, that despite what is not assured, the church should move in x direction.

This struck me because of the way I've seen and heard churches handle money and savings.

I'm stunned when good, God loving people are concerned over an apparent lack of fund when they have tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in the bank and are sitting on millions of dollars in real estate.

I wonder if some Christians believe that their church needs a kind of superannuation account... just in case the worst happens like the roof caving in.

Sure, there is an element of good stewardship in not running week-to-week and having some savings. But, I wonder what it says about the God that they follow and when enough is enough...

At times, i think the church needs to step out in faith and do the work of God with the funds that they have. Not drain the pot completely, but step out in faith that the roof WON'T cave in. Step out in faith that this money won't come back empty.

My major concern is that when Jesus returns a heap of churches will have "if the absolute worst occurs" accounts full of unused money. That idle money will have been wasted.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thankyou Facebook

I would never have known about Wing Han Tsang's newest venture towards world domination if i didn't become a devotee of hers on Facebook.

Nothing would make me prouder than being on a crowded bus and having the Wing-Tune ring on my phone go off.

You can hear a selection and get one here.

You know you want one.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Passing advice

Yesterday there was a funeral for one of the older gents at church. As i sat in the memorial service i thought back to Dad's service and what advice i would give when someone loses a family member or someone close to them.

Reflecting since February (when Dad died), i would say the following...

1 - Feel how you want to feel. If you want to cry. Do it. If you don't feel like you want to burst into a fit of weeping, that's okay too. Don't feel that you need to be a textbook example of the six stages of grief. This can go for other friends and family as well.

2 - Talk to people who care for you and it will be safe to feel however you feel.

3 - Stay close. Proximity and physical presence is important after a time of loss. Drop by other members of your family. Do it a lot. Just being there will help them and it will help you.

4 - It's alright to stop. The world will still function while you deal with your loss. It's okay to take a break from it all and do point #2 & 3.

5 - Avoid doing anything foolish, dangerous or life changing. Don't drive at 150km/hr, go on a three day bender, do drugs or commit arson. Don't quit your job, drop out of University or break up with your partner. Process what you have gone through before making changes.

6 - You will have immediate and later reminders. In the first week there will be a void. Even if it's trivial. You will notice and it's fine to be sad in these times.

But you will keep encountering reminders of the person whose died. You will find their wedding ring. You will hear their voice in the background of a video. You will see pictures of them. You're Niece will say his name and be able to point at him.

You will miss the person at these times too. That's okay.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


173 e-mails. A curse upon you Facebook.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Hottest. Eastern European. Grandmother. Ever.

Caving in

I finally joint Facebook. A large part of me can't believe i sold out. I feel so cheap and dirty.

I purposely (and that's the story that I'm sticking too!) put my gender as female to see who would first notice.

At this stage, 50 minutes in, i have 25 friends. At this rate I'll be friends with everyone on the planet in around 5800 years.

I'll be the most popular guy in the world by 7810AD!


I think my job rocks. I get to work beside supportive people, minister with amazing leaders and hang out with teens who are great.

At other times my job doesn't rock.

Kids are torn between parents who are in a messy divorce.
Teens friends or siblings are killed in car accidents.
Cancer strikes a family.
A parent dies.

See through the unknown eyes

Please note: This is not a blog-slam.

Church services can be tricky. You never know who will turn up or their past history. If you do something out of the ordinary you run the risk of distracting, disturbing or offending people.

It happens.

It's happened to me.

And, for the second time, i saw it happen to someone else.

The first time i remembering it happen was when i visited a church who were watching Simpson's episodes leading up to a discussion time. Although this wasn't a bad idea, i do remember that if i was from a certain people group, the show would have left me wondering why that clip was allowed to be viewed in a church.

I would have been quite offended.

Last night i was in a church that watched a movie as a part of the service. Again, the idea is swell, but it did run the dangers of distraction, disturbance or offense.

No, we didn't watch Jackass. But the film raised some issues that could threw some of those watching.

Perhaps churches need to think through the media they use (or sermon illustrations for that matter) with a lens of the unknown. The unknown person who may appear for the first time. The unknown person who may be from a different culture. Or generation. Or socio-economic background.

The reason? You want to avoid distracting people enough so they won't pay attention to the rest of the service. Or disturb people enough that they will be numb to the discussion. Or offend people so they think the church is not a place of inclusion and get defensive to the gospel of grace and forgiveness.

Another term another...

The holidays are over. How do i know? I'm doing another start-of-term mail out.

Ironically, i stumbled over this blog post. He made some fair points about general church mail outs, but i still think they work for teenagers.


One - It ensures that the information actually enters their household. By the time the teen opens the letter they have exactly what you want in their hand. You sidestep the I'm-a-year-ten-guy-so-anything-you-give-me-will-be-lost-by-the-time-i-leave-the-building kid.

Two - Parents are interested when their children get mail. This greatly increases the chances of parents seeing the program/note.

Three - Teenagers don't get a lot of mail so it makes them feel special (in a i-just-got-a-letter type of way...).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Let me explain...

We all know that if you need to explain a joke once you have told it then the joke bombed.

I think the same should be true for sermon illustrations. If you need to explain how it fits afterwards then it were a dud.

On Sunday i fired a dud.

After the morning service i was asked to explain how a story fit into the point of the sermon. Twice.

I now realise what i did wrong. To begin, the actual story didn't add to the point i was making a probably should have been omitted.

Second, With half an eye on the clock, i rushed my way through explaining the connection and just moved on.

Finally, my transitions into the illustration and away from the story weren't concrete enough.

From now on I'll try to be more clear. If the point of the illustration can't be stated in one sentence, and the connection be clearly made, then the sermon will be stronger if it is left on the cutting room floor.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taste and see why the shark should have won

I can't let my film of today experience pass without letting you get a glimpse of the trailer and the best parts...

Caution... One S-bomb ahead.


Pop up kids

Yesterday Ange and i hung out since she had a day off and I'm chilling out on holidays.

We decided to hit the driving range and drop by the bowling alley on the way. Yes, you're correct in thinking that we really know how to rock out on a Monday afternoon.

Whilst immersed in school holiday bowlers, and quickly deciding that we would ditch any effort to try and secure a lane, i spotted one of the teens from my church.

Then another.

This was odd because they were quite a distance from home and were actually on an activity during a camp.

The lesson i learnt was that teens that you minister to can pop up where you don't expect. Nowhere is immune to them turning up.

And this isn't a bad thing...

The GIGANTIC winner

I will end your prolonged suffering from yesterday...

I'll break it down, round by round. gigantic

Round 1 - Winner: Civic Video. Loser: Me.
The DVD didn't work. My plan for an evening with large monsters is thwarted.

Round 2 - Winner: Civic Video. Loser: My wife.
My darling spouse called the store and explained that i would be coming tomorrow for another copy. I'm sure they giggled when she told them that the film was "Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus."

Round 3 - Winner: My Mum. Loser: My DVD player.
Again, the DVD didn't work. So, at my wits end, i decided to drop by my Mums and make sure that it wasn't our DVD player at fault.

Turns out it was, which is odd because we watched Avatar yesterday. Perhaps my DVD player only rejects crappy movies.

The real winner was definitely my Mum. When she woke up today she had no idea that her home would be invaded by Mega Sharks or Giant Octopi.

Round 4 - The battle of the behemoths was a draw.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Clash of the giants

Tonight Ange and i are having a HUGE night in.

Tonight we settle in, captivated by the LARGE dose of entertainment outlaid before our eyes.

And soon you will know the answer to the MASSIVE question that has kept you awake at night.

Of what do I speak?

This evening I get to watch the film Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus.

You know that you are plagued by restlessness over who will emerge victorious...
I'll let you know who wins once we're done.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Skeleton pens

Today i reached a new pinnacle in my ministry. This afternoon we had the planning meeting for the next term of kids/youth ministry.

To show how much i value my leaders, and give them a writing implement that they will actually use, i got each of my leaders a special pen.

These pens are... Amazing. They have a skeleton on the top that can punch when you push a button and light up when you write with them. The picture below isn't what they exactly look like, but you should get the gist.

Take my word for it, these pens will be bigger than Jesus. Or at least his dashboard bobble-head...
My leaders better feel much loved.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Samurai cards

At the moment i am sitting in my office doing a parent mail out for next terms dinner roster (yes i am working on a Saturday, but i go on holidays next week).

But I'm hearing strange noises.

On a Saturday our church hall is used by oldies playing bridge and the odd noises are not the usual murmur of geriatrics playing cards.

Oh, no.

Every so often there is a loud "HUH!" or "YAH!"

The only options?
The TaeKwonDo people have arrived five days ahead of their scheduled time and are taking over.
Some elderly ninja is playing hardcore bridge.

Either way, I'm going to cower under my desk in darkness until things settle down.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Today, when the series finished

For a while i hadn't been reading any fiction. I didn't keep me awake at night, but it was on my radar. My wife reads a stack of fiction and normally I'm reading a book vaguely related to my work or the church.

My main issue was that i had no fiction books that i had any desire to read. The only book that i remembered having a glimmer of interest (and an easy read) back in school was Tomorrow, When the War Began. An additional trouble? It is a series of 7 books, plus three further novels.

Without being overly bothered, i dropped the idea.

Fortunately my wife, independently, decided that she wanted to read the "Tomorrow" books. My literary decision was made for me.

And this morning, after 3000 odd pages and a couple of weeks, i finished the 7th book.

Now pass the apologetics/leadership/theology/Christian growth...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stopping at one

Today i got my full drivers license.

It only took 42 months on my P's, but now i can have a frosty ale and drive into the distance sitting at 0.04.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Arnie Vs Danny

Oh pay TV, what have you done?

I just had the chance to watch Predator 2. Let's just say that it is... different from the original.

The first Predator was hunted by Arnie. He was slain in a rugged Central American jungle by a real hero.

The sequel? This Predator is located in LA with Danny Glover. Pansy.

Ideal killing meetings

I want to think that those who work for churches begin with good intentions and an ideal that working for a church will be a good thing.

For a time... it is. Hopefully a lengthy time.

But eventually a fateful meeting comes that shatters that dream. A meeting where you leave asking how those involved are the same people you see each Sunday.

At my current church i haven't walked into that meeting, but i heard about one happen to someone else and it sucks. What happened to this guy was pretty crap and i know that Ange hated going through a similar experience.

I've only been in a few meetings that have had me genuinely wondering what the heck just occurred and how people who love Jesus can be so ideal-shaking.

But this is the risk that God took when He left the gospel in the hands of the church and the people who make up its parts.

Maybe ministry jobs should come with a disclaimer that, at times, churches will make decisions and cause a ruckus that will not reflect what you think the church should be like.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Move on light

Ugh! (Groan) Move on...

I have been in plenty of meetings where i have thought this, overheard someone as they vocalise this or exclaimed it myself.

I think i have a solution.

The "move on" light.

Whenever someone is in a meeting they have a light attached to a timer. Once a topic has been discussed for an agreed amount of time (say five minutes) then those in attendance can turn on their "move on" light.

A bit like the voting procedure in many meetings, the options would be "stop and move on," "discuss further" or "let's decide now."

I could make a fortune selling them door to door at churches...

Bequest Request

A bequest, if you don't know, is simply leaving some money for the church once you die.

But how do you bring this up to the members of your church? Do you just assume that they all know about it? Do you take it for granted that when people are making their wills (again or for the first time) that they set some cash aside for the future work of the church?

I have seen plenty of bequests used to really good, greatly needed, things in churches. In fact, a stack of opportunities would be missed if an injection of funds hadn't been blessed to the church. And maybe herein lies the answer.

The use of bequests should be advertised better. Not necessarily the amount that was left, but a mentioning that this ministry prospect has been taken due to the financial gift someone has left the church.

It sure beats having a "bequest request Sunday."