Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The magic sentence

I've previously mentioned that I receive daily snippets from the mind of John Maxwell.  I'm currently way, way behind.

When I do get around to listening to the backlog of bite-sized chunks of wisdom I listen out for one important term.

"This is what I know..."

This is what I'm interested in.

What the person knows.

Stories are good.
Humour is nice.
Short is preferred.

But I want to know what you've learnt about the topic.

Otherwise... Why would I listen?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Freeing up to connect

This morning I went to church. 

No surprise. I get paid to attend church.

But this morning was different.

I was with my wife and she actually got to focus on what was going on.

If you have ever taken a baby to church then you'll be aware that this is a near impossibility.

This morning, whilst making sure that things were organised for the youngsters, I took care of Hanna.

And it might come in for form of minding the child during church.
Or perhaps it is giving your partner space for a quiet time.

But I think one of the best things a parent can do for the other is free the other to connect with God.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Connecting with the old folks home

I remember one activity my youth ministry did when I was a teen.
I prefer the word remembered, but the term scared could also be appropriate.

For one old bloke had a hole in his head.
Or at least a hearty divot.
And we chatted about Agatha Christie novels for around ten minutes.

Ideally, annually, one of the school-year-based discipling groups would go to the local retirement home and chat with the oldies.

Sometimes it was awkward.
Really awkward.

At other times it was hugely rewarding.

I think every church should, where reasonable, have a connection with a nearby retirement village.

And every youth ministry should take advantage of these existing partnerships.

The reason?

The, all too often shut in and lonely, elderly get someone to talk to.
The youth are encouraged to connect with those whom society tells them to ignore.

Who knows, the youth minister could establish connections which result in the acquisition of a bus which they can borrow.

Everyone wins.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm a pants man

Next week I'm having a work experience student with me, doing some of the things I wrote about here, and on Friday I gave him one piece of advice.

Wear long pants whenever we are going into a school.

I've previously mentioned that I sometimes tell stories to my scripture classes. This is particularly true as the year winds down.

The reason I wear long pants?

A bloke should never wear shorts and sit in front of children, who when sitting on the floor, will be eye level with his knees (if you get where I'm going with this...)

It's just another thing, like always wearing some kind of button-up shirt and covered shoes, which are handy to know and send a useful message.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Location. Location! Location?

A church with an eye catching sign (I've written about church signs, for good and bad, here, here, here and here).
On the Highway.
On an intersection where people are forced to stop and be amazed by your vibrant church.

That is the dream.

But it's not always the reality.

Some churches are in the depths of the suburbs.
They don't have a lot of traffic which passes by.
In fact, some churches can be walked past without being recognised.

Fortunately, to a large degree, each of the churches I have worked for have been highly visible.

I wonder how important it is?
What role does location play in the success of launching new ministries?
What part does location play in the attendance of "big" events?

If we live in the ideal world where our events are spread by word-of-mouth, and relationships are the glue which not only draw people in by keep them, then a grand location should be minimised.

But if a church holds an event, but no-one sees it, does it make a sound?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Best in the World!?!

Everyone wants to be #1
We look up to those who are in the gold medal position.

I've previously written about the numerous job interviews I've had since 2008 I could now add another three or four to the list.

Some interviews have resulted in me getting the position. For others, I know it's been a line-ball decision between myself and another, and in some cases, I've been told that the church "is... umm... pursuing another option."

In the world of ministry there is no reigning world champion. There are no national titles. You aren't able to declare that you're the best or the greatest or the most successful.

But I'm not sure how useful the claim would be anyway.

For the best, most talented, most charismatic, most culturally aware youth minister I have ever know is no longer working at their church. Nor are they working in any church.

In fact, as far as I can tell, he isn't even a follower of Jesus any more.

A similar story plays out with the most influential youth minister in my life.

Any church would want someone proficient with the necessary skill set to do the job well, but being the top of the youth-minister-food-chain isn't the guarantee of success like it might be in the professional world.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Report reading until...

Last night I attended a meeting. Nothing unusual about that. I do work for a church...

But I needed to arrive early in order to read the papers which were going to be discussed.

But I have a confession.

There have been times when I would skim the reports prior to a meeting. Barely skim. Glance at even.

But now I have a system which I try and enforce upon myself.

I read ever report and glean at least one question or comment which I want to make (even if I ultimately don't disclose it publicly).

The reason? If I didn't, then I'd be forced to question the value I add to the meeting and if my attendance is the best (or even decent) use of my time...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Denomination domination?

As I search for my next ministry position I wonder about denominational ties and their potential, long term, consequences.

What do you do if you're attached to a denomination but they can't serve you as well as another church?

For example, if you're ordained into a denomination, are you compelled to attend a church of that denomination for the rest of your days?

If so, does this also apply for those who work for a denomination (like a chaplain or a in a regional position) but aren't connected to a congregation?

What if there's another local church which will better serve the needs of your family, especially children, than your denomination's options within a realistic geographical area? Do you need to tell anyone you're "jumping to the opposition on Sunday's?"

Chances are, these scenarios would only happen in regional centres where there's only a few churches (perhaps just one per denomination).

But surely no group would want the spiritual health of your family diminished just because one member of the clan is attached with a specific denomination. Worse still, they couldn't demand that you worship separately from them if they go elsewhere.

Can they???

Monday, November 12, 2012

Repetitive lessons

Last week I spoke at the Christian lunch time group at the local high school. Afterwards, one of the quality students mentioned that the passage was one she had bumped up against multiple times over the last week.

Whilst I didn't say it out loud, I wanted to ask what God was trying to teaching her, since it may not be a coincidence that God kept placing the passage before her. 

Then I remembered the story of Joseph in the Old Testament.

Tomorrow I'll be watching the second half of the Joseph VeggieTale in scripture, following up the reciprocal lesson last week.

I'll be doing the same thing on Thursday.

This is on the back of referring to Joseph during my aforementioned talk.

And doing a high school scripture lesson on him a fortnight ago.

Finally, I mentioned Joseph while answering a query about faith ensuring you a life of "happiness, health, wealth, attractiveness and popularity."

The point of the lessons on Joseph's life have been...

1 - God will not spare you from the bad stuff in life.
2 - God will be with you through the good and the bad times.
3 - God himself, through becoming incarnate, knows what it is like to be human; both the good and the bad.
4 - Thus God is able to sympathise when we cry out to Him in the tough times.

The lesson which I think God is trying to get through to me? I think number 2 is taking some time to sink in...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finish the job on Sunday

I've previously written about the important elements of a sermon. When it comes to the end; trailing off isn't a pretty conclusion.

But I think there is one vital element that's required before the curtain is drawn on a sermon.


Unless I know how to apply what you're telling me on a Monday, then your task on Sunday is unfinished.

James 1:22 tells believers to "... not merely listen to the word" but also "... Do what it says."

Unless the preacher fulfils both information and application then the job is not done.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fill the vacancy

I feel like I've had this rant before.
If I have, I can't track it down.

The closest I've gotten is this post about kids who leave and do nothing. I'm going to mash the main thrust of that post with one I did about giving leaders a chance to step down but providing an amnesty period.

If you want to step back from leading in a ministry... no matter if it's as an elder, youth group leader, door greeter, musician, whatever... please have something to step back into.

Maybe your passion for a ministry has wained.
Perhaps your life stage has shifted.
There may even be an irreparable personality clash.

Unless you are forced to step down due to burnout, stepping from one ministry into a vacuum is not, in my opinion, what God intends. God intends every member of the Body of Christ to be active.

Leave with grace.
Wish them well.

But don't let your next destination be floating about in nothingness.

No matter if you're departing on a positive note or a low point, if you say that you are going towards something else (something that you feel God is calling you to be a part of, something you are passionate about, another ministry with a need) then the leader will take your departure much better.

Heck, they may even affirm the direction you are taking and (shock!) send you with their blessings.

Imagine that...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Minor action men

Last Sunday a bloke came up to me with a small oil bottle to apply on the church's squeaky table legs.

He notices such things.

Every church has a few people who notice such things. Little things. Things which normally don't catch the eye of others.
Maybe it is a broken or flickering light.Or that the cushions needs reupholstering.
Or that the tap is dripping in the bathroom.
Or that there's a persistent buzzing sound during the church service.

And, whilst I had noticed the ear piercing screech of the table legs, I would have lived with it.

But there are a rare breed who walk among us.

No matter what it is... These people not only notice these small things, but actually DO SOMETHING about it.

These people are THE BEST.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Who wouldn't hire a Wookie?

A hippy.
An old man.
A yobbo.
A dirty Mexican.
Many, many, photos being a creeper...

As someone looking for a job for 2013, I'm told that potential employers will trawl through my social media profiles.

The above are some of the pictures they will find.

And, as a youth minister, that isn't unusual.
At camps you dress up.
At events, or during their promotion, I've made a mighty big fool of myself all too often.

In fact, some of these photos could assist in my search for a new ministry position.

But, they might send the exact opposite message to a potential employer who isn't church based.

So... how long should it be until I de-ministry-ify my social media profiles? I vote for never.

Who wouldn't want Chewbacca working for them?

Friday, November 2, 2012

No Movember

It's November, so once again, the clock is ticking for blokes to grow moustaches for Movember.

As good as the cause is (raising awareness of prostate cancer and Men's mental health issues)...
As wonderful as the $300+ million raised is...
As excellent as having 1.9 million people participating is...

I just... um... won't can't do it.

The reasons?

1 - I can't really grow a moustache... Aside from a dirty, Mexican, pedophile one.
2 - I can't afford to be prohibited from schools and young people for 30 days.
3 - I don't want to scare my daughter.
4 - My wife detests it whenever I go without shaving for long periods and I'd rather not force my darling wife to leave me.

So I can't do it.

Because, if I did, would you let this guy near children???

That all being said, donate to the cause here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Priority Ramblings

I'll admit something which the sidebar of this blog has made painfully obvious. I'm blogging less.

In the past I've tried to churn out five items a week. Now I've settled into the routine of writing something every couple of days. Maybe slightly less.

I use the term "churn out" purposefully because that was how it felt some times. I was spouting out content "because it was due" on my imaginary posting calendar.

But it went further than that.

I knew that a decrease in posts would have consequences.

My blog would get less hits.
I would have less of "a voice."
I would be less "out there" in the WWW.
My imaginary drove of readers would faithfully click on my Ramblings and see... nothing new.

But life has changed.

I'm now a proud father to a seven-month-old.
For the last 12+ months I've been writing Tiny Bible Bits thrice a week (thus robbing my blog of amaz-irffic content).
My church commitments became increasingly varied as my current position winds down.

And because these reasons, especially the first one, outweighed the importance of this blog I wore the cost...
Hits have dropped.
I haven't submitted a guest post for a few months.
Sometimes, like now, there have been a couple of days without a fresh post.

And I imagine that very, very, few people have really noticed.

And whilst I still value this outlet.
And if you read my Ramblings then that is swell.
And I'd love you're input of what I write about.
And... If I become "Internet famous" then that's great.

It really comes down to the meat of this post about why I turned down a full time ministry job.

The more important things must come first... In life. In ministry. In blogging.

(I'm sure I'll write something profoundly insightful in another day or so. You all come back now!)