Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rewatchable

Tomorrow i head to camp for a week.

How will you pass the time until my return next month? My suggestion?

Watch the singing dog-man again and again and again and again and....

Then again, you could re-live this clasice moment of Christian music....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Howl-le-lu-yargh!!!... MAKE IT STOP!

This. Is. Not. Okay. Ever.

Wielding the big stick

I don't normally do "big stick."

It makes me feel awkward and i want to avoid setting a trend where I'll constantly rouse at my kids or leaders.

But... Last Friday i went BIG STICK.

What is "big stick" you ask?

I told the senior high teens that I'd been seeing some stuff that needed to be changed. I was on the verge of being quiet blunt. There was no doubt about what my message was. I brought out the "big stick."

Regardless of how much i may not like it, at times, it is a part of my job.

If i see a harmful or foolish actions, it is my role as a leader to pull them into line.

Was i a jerk? I don't think so. I think i gave the message in a firm, but still caring manner.

But, even if the teens left the room thinking i was a jerk, i would rather be a jerk who speaks the truth and tells them a better direction to go than a bloke who sits idly by and says nothing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Failure perspective

I was reading this blog post today and the fourth point jumped out at me (I'm not thinking about quiting ministry btw).

Get perspective from people who don't particularly care if your ministry fails.

In my mind, the obvious person for this would be people who isn't attached to your church or even a person outside of the faith.

Those who have outside eyes can add perspectives to which you are blind, neglecting or ignoring. They can impart wisdom that puts your personal welfare before the welfare of the cherished ministry.

For some, this is the wisdom that they need to hear.

If the ministry is seasonally weakened, but you or your relationships are strengthened, then it's often sound advice.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How's the REAL ministry going?

I want to begin our staff meeting today by asking the title of this post.

On the wall of my office is my philosophy of ministry and in the corner of that are four words. GOD MARRIAGE FAMILY CHURCH.

This is the order of whom a I'm to loyally minister to and for. God before my wife. My wife before the rest of my family. My family before the church.

If, as ministry team, we are to support and encourage one another to do effective ministry, i think it would be natural to find out how their most critical ministry is unfolding. And importantly, if things are out of whack, we can put in place boundaries and structures so the home isn't neglected.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Deep faithed treasurers

Lately I've been thinking about how churches budget and spend money.

My conclusion?

I think the person with the deepest faith should be the treasurer. The person most in touch with the character of God and the plans He has for the local church should hold the purse-strings.

The budget for a church should be dictated by what God is doing, not the bottom line of the financial sheets. This needs faith to determine, sell to others and implement. It may be counter-intuitive, but perhaps the finance committee should be viewed as a space for those of rich faith, not merely capable accountants.

If the treasurer can set a vision before the people of what God is doing, then the congregation can jump on board and commit to raise the funds to make that happen.

I'm not sure how matching last years budget or keeping up with CPI is showing or stepping out in faith.

Maybe it has to do with those who entrust to set the budget?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Standing on the inside

Last Sunday i did something i don't normally do. In truth, the courage to do it only struck me a few hours earlier and i debated if i would actually go thought with it... but...

I invited people to respond to the sermon by standing.

Sure, it wasn't ground-breakingly ingenious, but it did have an element of risk.

Would people be more concerned with the awkwardness of rising, or giving their whole lives to God (the response to the message)? Even though i invited everyone to close their eyes, would standing an obstacle for those in the congregation?

Upon reflection, i think it was worth the gamble.

Since to the method of responding was unfamiliar to the service, it may have been a slight distraction, but a few arose and later that night a few people told me they were "standing on the inside."

Instead of avoiding the potential awkwardness, perhaps churches need to invite people to step out beyond their comfort zone. Making this something less and less unfamiliar.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why the heck are you here?

Since my last post was inclined towards meetings, i was reminded of something which i think is a great starting point for any meeting.

Simply go around the group and find out what they want resolved/brought up during the meeting.

Or... Why the heck did they turn up?

At times i think meetings just drift aimlessly, with some important points going unmentioned or pushed into the "last point of general business" and not adequately dealt with.

Perhaps we'd have better meetings, get more done and felt more engaged if we kicked of the meetings with the question that really matters.

Bumper people

The older i get, the less i sometimes want 18-21 year olds to get deeply entrenched in the church-politics world.

I want to empower young people to use their skills, talents and creativity to do great things for God. Just avoid the stench of crappy committees.

At times, committees stifle enthusiasm. Or excellent ideas. Or ambitious, half baked ideas.

So i think the church should instigate buffer people for young adults.

People who will help them navigate around the, at times, complex world of church and assist in shielding them from unwarranted criticism or negativity.

It sounds like a great ministry to prevent young adult burnout or disenchantment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mis-contexted

Last Friday night i answered a question revolving around context and spoke about the two most misquoted verses in all of the bible.

Context matters. Without awareness of what is beside a passage, any point can be twisted.

Psalm 14:1 is a good example of the importance of context? Here the bible, technically, says "there is no God." But in context, the meaning falls into place.

The two most common offenders, normally, written on mountaintop-sunset-beach-waterfall clad posters?

Jeremiah 29:11.

This verse is often equated with the grand plans that God has for His followers. But in context, the "plans God had," was 70 years in exile. Not exactly a holiday!

This exile would ultimately be used to turn the people back to God. Here is the positive, not a motivational poster inspiration.

Romans 8:28.

The worst, out-of-context, offender.

This verse could say that those who love God will be healthy, happy, wealthy, popular, famous and successful. Nothing bad will happen.

Read with the next verse, verse 28 makes sense.

Whilst admittedly wordy, the point is that all situations (good or bad) will be for our benefit if they make us more like Jesus (the "to be conformed to the likeness of His Son" bit).

The way that i have learnt more about God and about following Him is the only way any of this could be of any good and how Romans 8:28, ultimately, makes sense.

HSC survival pack

Yesterday Ange and i packed 150 HSC Survival Packs. It goes without saying that it was less then enjoyable.

Today i gave out 120 HSC Survival Packs to the year 12's at Ravenswood High. That was much more fun.

The contents of the packs?

A Bottle of water, for when their brain feels dries up.
A Pen, because you know that your pen will run out in the middle of an exam.
Tiny Teddies, because sometimes you just want to bite the head off someone who’s smiling.
A Chupa Chup, because sometimes exam questions suck.
Wizz Fizz, because every now and then you just need a sugar hit.
A Furrie Friend, because everybody needs a friend like chocolate.
A Light Bulb, for when they need a bright idea.
Some Freeze Dried Peas, to remind the students that they have available to them peas of God, which passes all understanding.
Some Pretzels, to remind the students to pray and not neglect God (based upon the
shape of the pretzel), and that we’re (the church and the school) all praying for you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Growing the church

Ways to grow your church...

1. Biologically - Create your own children's ministry... have kids.

2. Transfer Growth - Draw in those who already believe, but have began going to your church.

3. Evangelism - Convert those from outside the body of believers.

4. Reconnection - Tie in those who are loosely attached to the church or their faith.

5. Spiritually - Connect those present into effective ministries, greater commitment to loving God and serving one another.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bang for your buck

I thought I'd already blogged about this, but i can't find it anywhere and it's been bouncing around my head.

The question oscillating in my mind?
What do you actually get when someone is paid for ministry?

Tis post is nothing against laity. They do MASSIVE things for God. The church couldn't survive without them. They are indispensable.

But... I think a ministry, and a church, gains...

DEDICATION - Someone has non-competitive head space to give the ministry. Not the scraps after they have worked ten hours a day or done three University assignments.

IDENTITY - The ministry has a face attached to it. A go-to person. Someone to answer the questions.

ACCOUNTABILITY - If things go wrong. This person will be held to account. It is their head on the chopping block.

CHAMPION THE CAUSE - Hopefully, this person will be able to cast a vision and direction (because they will have adequate time) that will raise the expectation of the church and engage them to get on board.

ORGANISATION - Paperwork gets done. Quickly. Follow up is smoother. Resources can be found and trailed. Rosters are sorted.

LEG WORK - Someone will have the time to do the odd jobs, the setting up and the mid-week collecting of ideas and resources.

REFLECTION - A person will have time to adequately sit down, think through what happened and make needed tweaks.

WORTH - I think that the church who puts their money where their mouth is (or want to be) gives those who are being ministered to a sense of importance and value.

EMPOWERMENT - Ideally, this will not be a one-person show, but those who are already exercising this ministry, will feel more support, be better equipped and a sense that the ministry runs smoother.

QUALITY - With the freedom of not having to juggle a job and ministry, the amount of preparation time should go up. Hopefully, this would equate to a better program.

Monday, September 6, 2010

WTF church

One rearrangement for the church banners. STAT.

Check it out here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Miscarriage lessons

On the back of my Father's Day post... some things i have learnt from my wife and i going through an early-term miscarriage.

First, miscarriages suck. Big time. And it is a pain that you go through is in near isolation. No-one knows you're pregnant, and no-one is aware when you lose the baby.

Second, miscarriages are common. Really common. Nearly-every-woman-i-have-spoken-to-about-it common. And the pain of loss remains. For years.

Third, I would love there to be a ministry for these couples. I just don't know how it would work, but something should be done.

Finally, jokes about having kids are NOT COOL! I used to do them. Often. Way too often. I have now stopped. The reason? You have NO IDEA how painful they could be because you have no idea now hard it is to conceive or if they have recently (or not so) lost a baby. Don't risk it. Just don't.

Father's Day lessons

If i were going to give a quick talk tonight at church...

This week i didn't get a Father's Day present. I didn't ask Mum what Dad needed/wanted, add the next instalment of his DVD series, or purchase golf paraphernalia.

This is my first Father's Day without my Dad. He lost his five year battle with cancer around seven months ago. Dad passed away as i was in the process of getting my current job.

Understandably, this Father's Day has been different.

But other events have influenced my perspective of Father's Day this year.

A fortnight before Dad died, my wife was told she was unable to conceive after we had been trying to fall pregnant for 6 months. Between the job prospect and the possibility that we couldn't have kids, this end-note can now make sense.

Fortunately, this storm cloud had a silver lining. We live in 2010 and my wife's condition isn't uncommon nor untreatable.

So, on fertility drugs, we kept trying.

And fell pregnant.

Then the day we were due to hear our babies heartbeat, we heard nothing but silence. This was my first up-front night at my new churches youth activities. Thus this post.

So, with that background... My lessons for Father's Day?

Fatherhood is a blessing. Having a father is a gift from God.

Fatherhood is a privilege, not a right. Being a father is a gift from God.

Do you have to obey your parents?

This week at youth group i gave each person my answer to the tricky question about obeying parents. Having folks that haven't ever said they believe in God, it's something I've thought about a bit.

Reading Ephesians 6:1-4, this is what i reckon Paul can teach us about how to interact with our parents.

First, obeying your parents is important. But, it is overridden by your obedience to God (verse 1). We are called to follow how God has called us to live. This is number one. If you’re parents tell you to rob a bank, join a cult or commit murder, you are within your Christian right to respectfully not agree. WARNING: This can be tough to navigate, so getting some advice is a good idea!

Second, the Bible seems to make a bigger deal about honouring your parents (verse 2) than obeying them ( though these will normally go hand-in-hand though). No matter how old you are, you are to respect those who raised you. They may not be perfect or mistake-free, but they are to be honoured by your actions, words and attitudes.

Third, if you get along with your parents, it will be for your own benefit (verse 3). Hopefully, those who care for you are trying to do the best job they can and the decisions they make are guided by their love for you (verse 4). Cut them some slack at times. Try and see it from their point of view. No-one wants to live in a home full of arguments and tension.

Forth, notice how Jesus treated his parents in Luke 2:51. Follow His example.


Finally, pray for yourself and the adults in your life. Pray for wisdom and understanding. Putting the wants of others before your own isn’t easy. Ask God to help you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010