Friday, September 30, 2011

Time before the ask

At church things have changed slightly in the way we organise the evening service. The service leader now has responsibility to find people to do the various parts that make up the service.

I know, nothing ground-breaking, but a shift all the same.

I've seen this work effectively in other churches that I've been associated with, but there is one lurking danger.

Pouncing on the newbie.

When new people arrive at your church the first thing they need isn't a request to "be on a roster." In fact, some people head to a new church to GET AWAY from being on the roster treadmill.

The thing some people need is time, not obligations.

If they are burnt out from their previous church, this is one of the best ways you can serve that person whilst developing a relationship with them.

Additionally, it allows the newcomer to get a grasp on the culture of the service, thus making their involvement more effective anyway.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Turf warfare

Ballet. Bridge. Physical culture.

At every church I have worked at there has been a constant tension surrounding the use of the church buildings, especially the hall.

Churches have the desire, and some would say responsibility, to open their facilities to the public. There are only so many large halls that are available and often churches feel guilty about theirs sitting vacant.

Additionally, churches get accustomed to the income that rolls in from renting out their buildings.

And this isn't all bad. Ministry is made possible with this income. People have their wages paid with this cash. Resources are purchased with this money.

But... Here is where the tension lies.

Inevitably there comes a day when a church wants to do something new and they find it near impossible since there are no appropriate times when their building is empty.

I wish there was an easy answer to the conundrum. There isn't. Or at least I've never found nor heard one.

Perhaps, when this arises, it can be seen as an opportunity for the church to do ministry outside of the church space. For a new ministry, this could remove one of the barriers that new attenders need to leap.

But the tension still remains...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tiny Bible Bits

People are busy. Especially school kids.

Starting tomorrow I'm starting something new and a little unknown. Tiny Bible Bits.

The idea is simple. Every Mondays, Wednesday and Friday the Facebook page (called Tiny Bible Bits) will have a small chunk of scripture (nothing more than a few verses) with a short reflection or question.

It's not designed as a replacement for church or youth group, but I (and a bunch of others) have noticed that attending "God stuff" and having kids engage with the bible is more and more difficult (especially in senior high).

So, if you want to like the page and join up, then that would be grand. If you want to spread the word to others, then that also would be grand.

If nothing else, it can be a way for people who already have a symbiotic relationship with Facebook, to connect with God and will force me to engage with the bible more regularly.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Virtical bungee

I'm going to loose my mind because spell check has no idea whether (or weather) I mean lose or loose.

And I know it bugs AT LEAST one other person.

Last term my church was involved in an event which advertised a "virtical bungee."

Now this was askew on a few levels.

1 - The first word is definitely not correct and the second is debatable. Vertical Bungie would be more in the ball-park.

2 - An inside vertical bungie would be an OHS nightmare. Horizontal is the axis where far fewer kids get injured.

From those who noticed, it didn't send a confidence-increasing message.

I've been guilty of this slip up plenty of times in the past (like the latest note I sent to the teens and my previous blog post). You could call it a habit. A nasty habit.

It is something that I wish I could kick.

When you hand out notes or bibles studies, the first reaction you desire is not a "quick... let's find the typo."

No one wants that reputation.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Urban responsibility

Today my wife and I entered into the fourth, fifth and sixth stages of moving house hell. We've already endured collecting boxes, packing and negotiation with removalists. Today was moving day.

We awoke at six to be ready for the removalists at 8am (stage 4... doing the final we're-about-to-leave clean). Nearly 11 hours later we are sitting in a semi-furnished house with miscellaneous piles of boxes in varying degrees of emptiness (stage 5... unpacking).

Sure, we don't have a finished kitchen, we won't sleep in our new bedroom until the middle of next week and the cat won't arrive back from vacation till Tuesday (stage 6... general home calamity).

I can't imagine how this would be if I was doing this by myself. Especially if I were leaving my family and the majority of my friends.

But this is what country people do all too often. Weather it be for study, work or another reason, young adults all too often leave for the "big smoke."

And this is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility for urban churches.

We are entrusted by our country brethren to welcome, involve and nurture those who have been brought up and discipled in the faith at their country churches.

A phenomenal privilege and responsibility is given to city churches by faithful parents and congregations. The least we owe them is a quality church for their kids to be a part of...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Generational tightrope walking

The young are to be ignored. They want to change everything.
The old are to be ignored. They cling rigidly to tradition.
Families are nice, but their kids should be "seen and not heard."

Sometimes the church will cut off its nose to spite its face.

During the farewell sermon my minster gave he mentioned something that had been bouncing around my head a while.

Although churches would never act like the italicised intro to the post, all too often they hobble themselves due to the focus they give to one generation.

If one generation, no matter if it is kids & teens, young adults, young families or retirees, is given the lion's share of attention (usually resulting in a larger proportion of this group) then the church community becomes unbalanced.

And it loses what the other generations bring to the table.

Churches lose tradition and the value of life experience if the "oldies" are missing.
Churches lose the blessing of witnessing toddlers grow and discover their world by excluding young families.
Churches lose the enthusiasm and vigor for transformation of teens if they exclude them.

Each generation offers more then what was listed above, but the Body of Christ works best when there is a generational balance brought about by acceptance of all.

If it takes a "village" to raise a child, then surely we should strive to include the entire spectrum of ages...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where is this relationship going?

In the past I wrote that the process of being interviewed and agreeing to work for a church was similar to dating and finally "getting hitched."

Last week I sat down with someone from church and had a chat about where our relationship was going.

Do we have a long-term future together?
Where do we see ourselves in a few years?

Due to my soon-to-be-changing life stage and church staffing change this discussion was thrust into the spotlight.

The conversation (and note that is was a quite informal, not a I'm-renewing-my-resume showdown) was really positive and something which should be on the agenda for churches every few years.

When life throws up a transition, and it will every so often, it helps to know the lay of the land...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Big shows and small consistancy

Last week the dedicated cook for the youth group was showered with flowers and chocolate since it was her final week helping out in the kitchen after six years.

In ministry there are a lot of chances to thank people. It's a consequence of working in an industry dependant upon volunteers.

I acknowledge that thanking others isn't one of my strengths. At least not in small ways.

I do BIG shows of appreciation rather well.

I've given out trophies and publicly expressed my gratitude in congregational meetings. But small, consistent, appreciativeness (is that a word?) is still something I'm working on.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The road to manhood

Last night my church again hosted a seminar from Steve Biddulph, this time about "The Road to Manhood." (and no, it is not cruelly ironic that I put this post after one about kittens)

Again, it was really good.

One thing that caught my attention were the five truths guys need to appreciate to be mature men. (the numbers are from the talk, the rest are my ramblings)

1 - You are going to die... and that's ok.

The stats, when it comes to death are fairly convincing. 1 in 1 people die. You will not live forever, no matter how great or indestructible you feel at 19. You are mortal and will need to leave a legacy.

2 - Life is hard... but you're not alone.

Of the truly worthwhile things in life, most are not easy. Of the things that produce great worth, risk is a part. Life will not always be fair. But no matter how things develop, have a supportive band of people around you (particularly other blokes) to help, encourage and lift you when you fail.

3 - You are not that important... but your not meaningless.

Sorry to burst your bubble. You just ain't the center of the universe. In fact, you should try to avoid being the center of your own existence.

4 - Your life is not about you... this is a relief.

The planet does not depend upon your daily success. Use your time, talents, skills and resources to make the lives of others better. Don't be scared to serve others.

5 - You are not in control of the outcome... don't be so anxious.

Make wise decisions. Consider the consequences. Plan well. But be aware that you are not always in the driver's seat of your live. That's no surprise... see number 2.

Actually, Steve should write this down somewhere. Luckily, he has. The talks were based on an updated version of this book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Awww kittens

It is universally acknowledged that the Internet is used for five things.


Humorous photos.

With this in mind, I did enjoy this website more than I should have. Sure, large blokes may ambush me in a car park and snatch away my man card, but here it is anyway...

Unlearning what you know

Last night our church hosted a "Raising Boys" talk by Steve Biddulph and it was good. Really good.

Steve started the presentation by saying how parenting has been going on since the dawn of humanity and, normally, they are fairly good at getting the job done.
arents, supported by a large number of others, raise their kids into productive adults.

Using this as a platform, Steve said that the usual parenting answer is already known. Usually your gut is correct. But due to the industrial revolution causing a instinctual-parental disconnect, we live in a time where we question this primitive voice.

I a similar thing occurs with belief in God. Small kids are quite comfortable with theism. In scripture, if you invite a year 1 kid to talk to God they are more open and accepting than in year 4 or 5. As they get older they "loose" this underlying awareness of something bigger then themselves.

Culture, upbringing, something deprograms this inherent knowledge.

Perhaps, similar to parenting, we need to place the expert-driven, modern skepticism in perspective and check what our gut thinks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sex questions

I heard this morning that one of my teenage leaders was asked about her sex life at the kids club this week. Needless to say I was not there and the reaction of the senior leader was being less than thrilled.

I can't remember a time when I was asked about my sex life as a youth group leader. Perhaps it happened and I've forgotten. What is more likely is that the kids knew I wasn't a much of a chance to "pick up."

The place where I get asked about my sex life is in scripture and I oscillate between two replies.

1 - DEFENCE: Do you ask the other teachers about their sex lives? Do you think that's appropriate? As your librarian the same question and tell me what she replies...

2 - HONESTY: Not graphic. Definitely not specific. But I'll say if I was a virgin on my wedding night and I'll say what decisions I had to make whilst I was dating. I'm not embarrassed about the answers. In this one specific area I did a decent job of doing what God calls me to do.

Personally, the topic doesn't fluster me (which I think is a big motivation behind the question) because my answers revolve around being smart enough to know where not to go. My answers revolve around it not being simple or easy to remain a virgin.

Usually, the scripture lesson then resumes regular broadcasting.

Exam survival packs

I just finished handed out around 140 Year 12 Exam Survival Packs to the girls who weekly use our church for chapel.

To find out what's in the packs you can go to my post about them here.

One good thing about having ministered at multiple churches is taking the great things that you collect along the way and using them in fresh surroundings.

The aim isn't to reproduce everything that you've done in the past, but some arrows are worth keeping in your quiver.

Monday, September 12, 2011


The last few days have been VERY exciting. I went to a wedding in the country, meeting a bunch of my wives family for the first time, getting to announce in person that WE ARE EXPECTING A BABY!

Everything is looking awesome after the first trimester, and if you're aware of the trials that it has taken to get to this point, then you'll understand that we're both extremely excited.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Prayer answers

This week I spoke in the chapel services for the school which uses our church about prayer and the difference it makes.

During the short talk I mentioned something that occasionally makes people think I'm crazy.

I reckon God answers prayer. Sometimes the answer is affirmative, sometimes the response is to patiently wait and other times the reply is no.

I've never heard a loud booming voice from the sky, had my attention captured by a burning bush nor been knocked off my horse and blinded by a bright light. These ways are possible ways for God to communicate, but I've never experienced them.

Instead, I find, that God answers prayer in four primary ways.

1 - Whilst praying about a situation I will get an idea.

2 - I will be reminded of a passage from the bible which will apply to the situation.

3 - Sometimes God will bring about conversations with others, Christian or otherwise, who will help provide an answer.

4 - Whilst I'm struggling with a situation I will hear a talk or sermon that will speak to what I am facing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


What is your church known for?

If our church was known for the talking head up front then we would soon be in trouble.

Shortly the church I'm working for will embark on the daunting task of calling a new minister. The job will be understandably drawn out, but probably not too painful, since we are a relatively healthy church in a wealthy part of Sydney.

But for many churches the undertaking would be much more difficult. Some communities of faith can't financially afford to pay for a minister. Some rural communities desperately struggle to find a minister who is willing to travel "outback."

In my denomination, having a full time minister is quite a luxury. I remember a figure bandied around that said that almost 50% of congregations are without a full time Minster of the Word.

I asked my initial question with this "fact" in mind. Most churches do not have an identifiable minister attached to them. Of those who do, most senior ministers will only be around for a set period of time (somewhere around a decade, 15 years max).

Perhaps churches shouldn't be known for the minister. Churches should instead strive to be known for WHAT THEY DO in the community, not WHO is leading their worship/preaching the sermon/leading the youth group (gasp!) on any given week.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Youth Minister: Church Revivalist?

I just had a guest post put up at More than DodgeBall about youth ministers not being church revivalists. Head on over and check it out here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cranking up the volume

Every day we get exposed to messages from the world around us, positively or otherwise.

Materialism. Feminism. Hedonism. Stoicism. Rationalism. Pluralism. Nihilism. Idealism. Deism. A whole bunch of other "ism's."

One point of church is to change to volume. A chance to tune into God and step away from the rest of the white noise.

Ideally, church should "turn up" the volume of your theology. It should increase the volume of who God is, what He has done for you and how he invites you to follow Him.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Eutychus ministry

An odd little story in the bible deals with a bloke named Eutychus.

The account of his death is told in the twentieth chapter from the book of Acts. In short, the Apostle Paul bores the young bloke to sleep by his preaching and he subsequently falls out a window. Fortunately, Paul (in an I-haven't-done-child-protection-training way) revives the chap and everything is fine.

I wonder how many modern day Euthychus' there are today.
How many people have been bored out of the church?
How many are dead to the gospel due to what they have heard in church?

Perhaps a re-engaging ministry should be established especially for those who have fallen out the third storey window.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bibleopoly... Really?

Dear creators of Bibleopoly,

What were you thinking?

Did the world need another dodgy Christian rip-off?


Did you have to take the BEST THING out of the game? If I can't decimate my opponent, watching them dangle on the verge of bankruptcy, why would I want to play a game that ends in "opoly"?

Most regretfully, GB

This is how the game is described... Start "In the Beginning," journey through Bible cities, "Meditation," "Community Celebration." Earn a cornerstone by helping others. Collect Bricks & Steeples to build a church. Good deeds are rewarded, but sometimes Faith cards intervene. The object of the game is to be the first player to build a church in one of the Bible cities. In Bibleopoly, you cannot win by destroying your opponents. You can only be the winner by assisting the fellow players. This act of cooperation is what allows you to gain the things necessary to build your church and be a winner. For 2 to 6 players. It takes about one hour to play.

Arua obstacle?

As a youth minister, what I do takes a certain amount of skill. Not an insurmountable amount, but some.

To be a senior minister takes some certain talents. Not a barely possible mix, but some all the same.

To do many things during a church service takes some degree of proficiency. Not perfection, but it's sure nice not to suck.

I wonder, have those who do the "up front" stuff at church created an aura about what they do?
Do those who "watch" on any given Sunday think they are capable of doing the same things?
Are the actions of the "professionals" inhibitive to those in the pews?

I would like to say that those leading ministries and church services don't create an obstacle to others in the congregation. I would like to say that the perception of Super Christian doesn't exist in the eyes of the churchgoer.

But when I think about the excuses given as to why they aren't involved... "I couldn't to that" is a common reply.

Perhaps the message to those up the front is that the way we do things is more of an obstacle than an invitation.