Monday, October 29, 2012

Daughter, lend me your ears

I get it... families are busy.
I get it... being at church on time can be an ordeal if you have kids.

But... there have been more weeks than I can recall, at numerous churches I've been attached with, when there have been no kids for the children's talk (even if they do arrive immediately after the talk).

So, the primary option is to throw out a light-hearted quip about the "the young at heart" or "those who are short, and would like a better view" and quickly proceede like nothing was amiss.

Yesterday's gimmick to overcome the no-children-in-church dilemma was to sit my seven month old daughter in front of me and give her the children's address.

For the most part it worked.

It showed off Hanna's latest talent of sitting unsupported, allowed me to expand the talk to include some of the sermon content and was damn cute.

I imagine I'm not the first leader of a church service who has personally provided the youngsters for the kids talk.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The clothing of death

Yesterday I went to the races and, whilst I was in a suit, I didn't wear a tie.
Today I preached in both and morning and the evening services, and whilst I wore a suit, I didn't wear a tie.
Every time I speak at chapel, whilst I wear and suit like all the other teachers, I never wear a tie.
Whenever I go to a wedding, I will always wear a suit, but never a tie.

The only time I crack out a tie is at a funeral.
To get me wearing a tie, someones gotta die...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurry before time runs out!!!

At the lunchtime group at the high school I teach scripture they are plugging a camp. Nothing too earth shaking about that.

But today I found out that the head scripture teacher had "extended" the deadline.

I use term "extend" because, in reality, he didn't stretch a thing. For the deadline for forms to be returned was always next Thursday. BUT, he promoted the event like the deadline for applications was last week.

And herein lies the genius of his plan.

With the "extended" time frame a whole new wave of excitement was stirred and kids who were hesitant last week now have another "final" week to get their butts into gear.

All because he knew when the forms ACTUALLY had to be handed in but promoted the event like it didn't matter.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Safety within the risk pitch

If you check out the Cecil label in the sidebar then you'll know some of the trial of tribulations I endured with my first car. At best, he was "full of character" (but oh so comfy!).

If you read these posts then you'll see the torment my second car put me through. At best, he was craptastic.

My current car is now having issues. Over the last few days he's sounded like he's powered by an outboard motor and I constantly feel the burn of pedestrians judgemental eyes whenever I accelerate. At best, Big Red is critically wounded and bleeding out.

For each of my cars there's been a time when my wife has looked sternly at me and declared firmly that she "was not getting in that car."

And she had a valid point.

At various times, each of my cars has been vehicular Russian Roulette.

And the risk hasn't been worth it. My cars have been too dangerous to transport something as important as my wife or child.

For with every risk must be an element of safety. If not? Then it's a mistake waiting to happen.

This is equally true for cars as it is for ministry.

For ministry should involve some risk.
Change involves risk.
Ministry should involve stepping out into uncharted waters.
Following Jesus should not merely be safe.

But the pitch to others must involve more than just an invitation to jump aboard a kamikaze style ministry. Some elements of safety must be mixed in with the elements of risk.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The 7 Le'Tours of Voldermort

Should Lance Armstrong become the cycling equivalent of Voldermort?
Was the head of the UTI right to say that he should "be forgotten?"

I don't think so.

The world should not forget Lance.
Sportspeople should not forget Lance.
Cycling, definitely, should not forget Lance.

Nor should athletics forget Ben Johnson or Marion Jones.
Nor should rugby league forget what the Melbourne Storm did.
Nor should wrestling forget Chris Beniot.

Instead, they should learn from those who have gone before them and fallen spectacularly.

I think this is what 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 is trying to get at.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Announcing the departure in 3, 2, when?

December 31st.

This is the final date of employment at my current church.
It was announced to the church a month ago.

And I've known my final dated for a while before then. Maybe not officially, but the funding was always finite.
The church? For some, the first they heard about my departure was when it was announced.

So how much time should a church have before a ministry agent leaves?

As one who has been on both ends of a lengthy and swift departure window, both have positives and negetives.

But in reality only a few things matter...

What are the circumstances of the departure? Was it amicable? 
Who needs the departure date more, the church or the departing worker?
Is the person going to another placement?
Does the church need adequate time to arrange another appointment?
Is there a viable succession plan in place for things to continue?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm okay either way...

Sometimes there's just one answer when all the evidence is weighed up. When this is the case then a team of people will need to be convinced by your reasoning.

But you won't have much buy-in for your idea.

At other times, there are a number of options which are equally plausible and reasonable to implement.

And herein lies a golden opportunity.

Present both options and let the members of your team decide for nothing creates ownership like having the major stakeholders choosing the way forward.

Sometimes all you need are two options you're perfectly fine with...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Death inhibitors

Some churches are thriving.
Some churches are doing powerful things to expand the Kingdom of God.
Some churches are taking innovative risks in order to reach new people with the Good News.

Other churches are struggling to the point of death.

The sad thing is that you don't have to look far to find a church which is at the doors of death.

I wonder how many churches/denominations make decisions because they are afraid to die. Or at least die sooner.

How many churches won' take a risk today so they can survive another year?
How many churches seek to maintain what they have because they're aware they haven't attracted anyone new for years?
How many churches are so scared by the stench of death within their walls that they won't step out in faith?

Better yet, who is the person going up to these churches and challenging them to change their mindset?

Just wondering...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Celebrating in the rear-view

I remember having a conversation with a fellow youth minister a year after he transitioned into a new position. He was telling me about the state of his old church. He smirked as he described its downhill spiral.

And I felt awkward.

For I admit that I've been jealous of the success of my successors. I've been tainted with disappointed upon hearing that a stubborn teen has got involved once I departed or a troop of volunteers offer to help out.

But... I don't care how much you've been jerked around by a church... you should never wish to see the ministry you helped shape, and more importantly, the people you were called to care for, go backwards.

If we truly believe that we're not in competition with the "guy down the road" and are focused on "Kingdom growth" then we should celebrate the advancement of a church once we ride off into the sunset. Surely...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Advice from the mirror

Want help exercising your boundaries or managing your time?
Need a plan to help you increase your bible reading?
Want to know how to forward plan?
Want handy action points whist waiting on God to reveal the next step?
Want a game plan for finding your dream job?
Want to know what should you do before choosing someone to date or deciding if you'll propose?

A thousand questions flow in and out of our lives.

And if someone came up to you with some of life's perplexing questions then I could crack out a pretty fair answer.

Unless the question is posed from the mirror... Then I draw a blank and grope around in a mist of confusion and avoidance.

But what would happen if we pretend a "miscellaneous stranger" in the mirror was asking the same question?

If someone else came up and posed the same questions I usually struggle with, I suspect, I'd be able to churn out a decent response.

Perhaps our answers are cloaked in a change of perspective.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sprinting from the start line

You want to make a good impression...
You want to snatch up opportunities as they arise...
You want to blaze new paths...
You want to "experience everything at least once"...
You want others to think they can call on you...

I'm going to start a new ministry position some time in 2013 (the sooner the better!), all going well, so my mind has been wandering amongst new beginnings.

When I began my current position I said yes to a lot of things.
This I won't change going into my next placement.

But, due to many of the above reasons, went beyond just saying yes and made a number of commitments.
This I would change.

For I fell into the common trap of setting a starting pace which I couldn't commit to long term.

I've seen up close and walked-a-mile-in-the-shoes of those who have, regrettably, had to change their initial yes into a remorseful no...
It's a path I'm not particularly keen to retread. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just-a-click-away preasure?

Earlier today I was struck by this post from Seth Godin (yeah, I'm down with the movers and shakers of the marketing/blog world).

Seth writes, in short, that in today's world it's not okay to be ignorant. You can simply look anything up. Instantly. And people know you can.

I wonder how this fits into ministry, especially apologetics.

Any question, since there aren't REALLY any original questions, will have been asked and answers any number of times on the Web. At worst, all you need to do it track down the "solution."

So... How far does this raise the bar for those who, for example, enter a high school to teach scripture?
Is an expectation placed upon them to be equipped with the answers just because they can be Google searched?
If so, is this fair?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Does the minister need to lock up?

I'm currently at church. Alone.
I was also at church until midnight last night.
But I'm not trying out for youth minister of the decade, have boundary issues nor trying to avoid a teething baby...

Instead, I'm doing an essay.
A you're-due-at-midnight-so-I'll-finish-you-tonight-even-if-it-kills-me essay (thus the lack of posts lately!).

Lately I was wondering about ministers and the "duty" of sticking around. Do employees of the church need to be the last to leave the building every Sunday night... or...
If someone else is fine to lock up, then can they leave promptly after the service?

I've found that I'm usually, by coincidence more than anything, the last one to leave. In fact, it's the history of those I've known in ministry.

And I don't mind.

BUT, should it be a requirement?

A while ago I wrote what the roles of a minister should be and what you get when you hire someone... So... 
If, being in paid ministry comes with added responsibilities, should the answer be yes?
If, being in paid ministry means that you're meant to be available for someone (without camping out at the church 24/7!), should the answer be yes?
If, being in paid ministry means setting an example of I'll-help-pack-up-servanthood, should the answer be yes?

If the answer is no, a minister can leave "early," is that the expectation within most churches?

I'm not sure either way...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Anything to avoid being a talking head

Some "speakers" are known for usual gimmicks.

They won't do a talk without a YouTube clip of the bible reading.
They will always open or close everything they do with a song. Or three.
Every children's talk they give will be the reading of a children's story, projecting the pictures.
Whenever they are leading something will include give people food or a trinket to take home.

Now all of the above can be good. 
I've done them all.
More than once.

And if the communication method employed is used to help get their point across... then swell... knock yourself out.

But I wonder if there's another motivation which leaders are tempted by. Even if it is utterly predictable, they will do anything to avoid being a talking head (because that would be so 1992 and never hold anyone's attention...).