Thursday, January 31, 2013

Who was the change champion?

I'm currently working at my fourth church, having started at my last church a few weeks ago, and at each one, inevitably, things have changed.

But the key to a successful change is only exposed once the leader moves on.

For then it will become know if the leader was the force behind the change or if enough people brought into the vision to continue the new pathway.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Youth group double dipping

Should a teen go to more than one youth group?

Check out what I wrote at morethandodgeball about the topic and the conversation that's kicked off.

If you dare, you can contribute and keep the flames of input going...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Offering > Collection

Is it an offering or a collection?

Tonight my new minister mentioned a great point about the segment of a church service when people give money.

He said that the offering is a time when a believer offers to God gifts in gratitude of what he has been given.

Meanwhile, a collection implies a taking of something owed, like a tax or a duty.

In the context of a church service, an offering is a far superior term for what goes on when you part with your cash.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mail genius

This. Is. Genius.
If they gave out a Nobel Prize for youth ministry then this idea would win.

Having just started out at a new church, with a lot more kids than any of the previous churches I've been connected to, I've been regretting doing my first youth-ministry-wide mail out (I've expressed my love/hate relationship with mail outs before).

The idea I just read about will CHANGE THEM FOREVER.

The idea?
The time saver?

Get the kids to address multiple letters to their parent/guardians near the start of the year.

You take a few minutes and give each kid three envelopes. They then address the envelopes to whoever the parents/guardians are in their home. Mum and Dad. Mum and Geoff. Dad and Sue. Whoever.


Instant outsourcing of the thing I despise most about doing beginning-of-the-school-term-mail-outs.

AND, the likelihood of having your mail opened is dramatically increased.

Genius I tell you...

Monday, January 21, 2013

What does a trashed bible say?

A bible that's falling apart is usually owned by people who aren't!

This is a so-so Christian bumper sticker, with an element of truth, but there's a significant difference between used and falling apart.

I've been at churches and involved in ministries where bibles are missing covers, have been torn, scribbled on and generally thrown about.

But bibles which are falling apart don't send a positive message about the way you view the scriptures.

We shouldn't coat the bible in tissue paper, only cracking it out on special occasions, but surely we should value it enough (if we truly believe it reveals the character of God and His unfolding salvation story) to not see it be trashed and be comfortable.

And when you can get quality bibles cheaply, is there really any excuse?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ministry hoarding

Just in case...
I'll keep the bag full of bicycle inner-tubes.
I'll keep any spare scripture books from the last decade.
I'll keep that pile of cloth.
I'll keep every prop used in a talk.
I'll keep the outline of every scripture lesson I've ever done.

I mentioned here that those in youth ministry have access to a lot of stuff. If I don't have something, no matter how obscure, I'll be able to track it down in a few phone calls or a shout out on Facebook.

The reason? Those in ministry hoard. Everything. We've ever used. Just that one time.

I do it. BIG TIME.

I'm go guilty of ministry hoarding that the pile of stuff I bring with me to each church has exponentially grown after each position.

And you encounter the negatives of this when you arrive at a new place and notice that they also have a lot of... crap stuff.

Things which were kept but, to fresh eyes, is actually rubbish.
Things which you can imagine no discernible purpose.
Computer files kept from the time when clip-art was cutting edge visual media.

Tomorrow one of my main jobs is to catalogue all the stuff that my new church has accumulated over the many years of youth ministry.

For I would hate to buy a dozen ping pong balls or manilla folders and then find out that there is a stack of them in a miscellaneous storage cupboard...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Predecessor questions

Fortunately, I have known the bloke who was the youth minister before me a long time, getting along well and he left on good terms. 

With these ideal conditions met, I got to meet with him today and quiz him on my new church. 

In reality, all I needed to know was the electronic location of everything that has happened in the past (especially the programs of the last two years) and where the useful things are (like a tug-of-war rope or ball pump).

But, we met over a couple of hours.

So what did I want to know?

To start... I did give my predecessor the option to answer any of the following queries with the response "stop being lazy and find out yourself."

I wanted to know the best way to communicate with kids, leaders, parents and the church.

I wanted to get the scoop on any personal issues which exist between the youth group leaders below the surface (ie, have any gone out and how did it end?).

I wanted to find out what leadership and child protection training had been undertaken and how long ago these occurred.

I wanted to know what things could be thrown out and what, even through it might look like rubbish, must be kept.

I wanted to know who the gatekeepers of the church were. In short, who do you go to in order to make things happen?

Finally, I wanted to know when he was most concerned he would get fired (luckily he couldn't think of a time!) and what one thing he wanted to do but, for whatever reason, never quite got around too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 1st-15th resolutions revisited

Today is the first day of my new job.

Whilst I was between gigs I made this list of up-until-the-middle-of-January resolutions.

How did I go?

Purge emails - Done. Of the +1600 received and 1200 odd emails sent, I'm now down to only 150.

Watch the backlog of Minute-with-Maxwell's - I started approximately three month's behind, meaning I had around 100 to plough through, I'm about half way done.

Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy - I've now seen all three films in their entirety. Almost. I did have a nap in the middle of the second (but I had seen that bit previously). I still haven't seen The Hobbit.

Submit a new guest post on MorethanDodgeBall - Completed. It should be posted here sometime over the next week. I wonder if a teen should go to more than one youth group.

Read the latest Eragon book - I'm currently, or so my wife's Kimbo tells me, 24% through the last book. I took some time to actually read/skim the first three books (not a short task at around 600-700 pages per book).

Get on top of my Google Reader - I now have two topics with +1000 posts. A small step in the right direction.

Finally, brew some beer - Fail. I still haven't used my beer making kit. One day...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Coming to church just because the roster says?

Something I've often felt are people who come to church, seemingly, just because they are "doing something" on the roster.

And whilst I'm not a fan of it I've been guilty of it every Sunday in 2012.

For I haven't been to church all year. Last week I went to the cricket (you don't turn down free member's tickets!) and yesterday the morning and evening services at our home church didn't align with our daughter's schedule.

But I'll be at church this Sunday since it's my first week at my new church. I assume I'll have to be there this Sunday... and every week afterward since I'll be "down to do something."

So are roster's an effective way to get people to come to church?

I hope not.

But I've acted in the past like it is.

I've put people on a roster, knowing full well that it'll lock them into attending and I've seen similar things done by involving kids in an element of the church service.

But I think the putting-someone-on-the-roster-so-it'll-get-them-to-church system is broken.

It's broken because it feeds the false mindset that church only "wants something from you."

It's broken because it doesn't allow someone to just come to church and be ministered to.

Finally, it's broken because it revels a warped sense of community, where you are only involved due to obligation, not an overflow of what God is doing in your life and the church you've been called to be an active member of.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I am not your child

I've heard that it's preferable for ordination candidates to have done a previous occupation for a few years. In theory, this is so a 18 year old kid doesn't leap into ministry before getting "life experience." In truth, I think it is just so ministers will have a non-ministry source of sermon illustrations.

Every ministry agent have a past.

They have previous occupations.
They have their family background.

I will always be a former retail worker and water meter reader.
I will be a son of a father who died in middle age of cancer.
My wife and I will always have gone through miscarriages and the journey it took to get our daughter.

I only have one request (and this goes for myself as well!).

Be aware of how your past and present situations influence the way you treat others.

Were a boss of a company? don't treat the church council like you might a boardroom.
Did you work with children? Then you need to be alert to the differences which exist between a church and a school setting.
Are you a parent of teens or young adults? Then you need to treat others in their age-range differently than you would your child. Don't nag or lecture.

There is nothing worse than having a conversation with someone in ministry and thinking... I am not your child.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How I know it's building

If I'm anxious about something then I'll plague me in the shower.
If I've got a big event then I'll plot in the shower.
If I've got an important speech or sermon then I'll practice it in the shower. Repeatedly.

I'm glad I'm in the middle of a fortnight between my last job and my new ministry position for, given enough time, it was bound to happen.

As I sit around at home... whittling away may days... it is slowly building.

It's only been the last few days that the excitement of a new job is starting to really kick in.

How do I know?

I thought about the new job in the shower. 

The shower is where all the real thinking happens and I found myself wondering about the new church, the questions I'll ask and what I'll do on my first day.

Now I just have to decide if I technically start Monday or take it as my usual day off...
Maybe I need another shower.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Tiny Bible Bit selection process

In light of yesterday's post noting a few of the Tiny Bible Bits of 2012, I'll going to answer a question which I'm occasionally asked... 

Where do I get the passage/verse of the day from?

The answers are fairly simple and not that profound.

By now I've written just shy of 200 posts and none of then have come to me in a dream. 
Or a vision.
Or a burning bush.

If it's a time in the calendar or liturgical year which leans towards a passage, or group of passages, then I'll obviously head in that direction.

Most often the selected verse will flow from what I'm doing the rest of the week, be it a scripture lesson, kids club lesson or sermon. Sometimes the reflections will be lifted straight from what I'm doing, and at other times, they will be the extra details which "hit the cutting room floor."

Now and then the verse will be drawn out of what I've been personally reading in the bible, in books or through my study.

Finally, if these options are fruitless, then I'll select one from these verses.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 Bible Bites

This time last year I wrote a post about some of the things I had gleaned from writing Tiny Bible Bits on Facebook. After another year, here's some musings which I think were noteworthy...

Of course, I've already posted the series I did over Easter and Christmas.

Joshua 1:2, 5, 9 - Even when things weren't peachy, God provided strength and courage by saying He would be with Joshua and His people.

Luke 15:28 - Even with the older bitter brother the father invites him in. God does the same thing with us.

John 1:4-5 – The world can be a dark place... This is no more evident than the cross of Jesus. But the darkness will not overcome... This is no more evident than the resurrection of Jesus.

Jeremiah 6:16a - Stand. Look. Ask. Walk. Rest.

1 John 4:1-3a - Give special consideration to the messages you hear about whom Jesus was and what He came to do. A wise idea, if you hear something about God which is new, is to run it past some older, wiser believers and see that they think.

1 Samuel 11:1-2 - This is what sin desires for us. It wants us to be in the wrong place… at the wrong time… doing the wrong thing.

Revelation 19:6-8a - Jesus loves the church. Jesus died for the church. Jesus installed the church as the source of spreading His message and extending His care throughout the world. Jesus is working at making this bride complete, pure and blameless. As difficult as it might be, perhaps we should stop slapping the church around and stand up for it when others do so in our presence.

James 2:7-8 - Our patience should be flavoured with expectation.

Isaiah 64:8 - God I am your pot. Shape me and work in me as you see fit.

Jonah 4:5-8 - Can what you value be destroyed by SUPERWORM?

Hosea 11:3 - God is taking care of us, working behind the scenes, but we pretend this is not the case. How open are your eyes to what God is doing in your life?

Proverbs 16:17 - When you think of the places you go, the people you send time with and the things you feed into your mind; are you travelling down wise paths?

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 - Faster. Higher. Stronger. World Records. Perfect 10’s. Gold Medals. Nothing short of victory. This is the message of the Olympic Games. The greatest, most transforming event in the history of the world is defined by foolishness, defeat and forsakenness.

Mark 6:31 - When life gets buys, Slow Down, Hang With God.

Acts 23:16 - Paul was an uncle, who knew?

Luke 14:27-28, 31 - Jesus says that following Him will have a cost. It will change the way you make decisions, the way you treat others and the way you view the world. It makes sense to weigh the cost before deciding to follow Jesus. When we share the message of Jesus we should tell people the cost of putting Him first in their life. The good news? The cost is worth it.

1 Corinthians 6:18a - Are you toying with someone or something which you should be fleeing from?

Psalm 40:1-2 - The challenge for us, like my daughter, is the waiting between the time of our cry and God’s response.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 - Christians should reek of Jesus. For some, this will be attractive. They will see the way you live and be drawn in. For others, this will irritate them. A Christian will remind them of something vital which they are missing.

1 Samuel 8:19-20 - Do you sometimes want to be more like “the others” who don’t follow God? Are you jealous of how they behave or where they find their security?

Galatians 4:18 - Passion can be a good thing. Provided you are passionate about the right things. Allow your appropriate passions to stay alight no matter who you are surrounded by.

Job 2:11-13 - Despite whatever else they got wrong Job’s friends exercised the power of presence.

Matthew 25:40 - When you look at those you (or society) label “the least” do you view them the same way which God views them? If you did, how would this affect the way to treated them?

Romans 12:18 - How might you need to change YOUR actions and responses to further the peace process in your relationships?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 - Weigh up the way you use the gifts, talents and skills which the Holy Spirit has (and is) developing within you and consider if you exercise them with love for others as you primary motivation. If it isn't, go bash a cymbal for 30 seconds and see how much you enjoy it... Better yet, do it with another person nearby and ask them what they thought.

Mark 9:24 - Despite his lack of absolute knowledge, Jesus honours the faith which the man DOES possess, not punishing him for the areas where he is lacking. Thank God that He doesn't rate us on how much we know.

Psalm 127:1 - If I want to make a God inspired difference in this world, I need to go beyond my own measures. I need to rely on God for the results.

Matthew 4:18-22 - It is easy to imagine that the decision to leave their fishing nets wasn’t an easy one. It was their livelihood. They were a part of a family business. Jesus didn’t lay out a perfect blueprint for where they were going. But they followed Him anyway.

Philippians 4:12-13 - You can’t defy gravity. You can’t become invisible. You can’t communicate with marine life like Aqua Man. You don’t get superpowers when you convert. We should remember that our union with Christ helps us live how God wants and make the changes in this world which God desires. When these things get difficult, we should go to The One who will grant us to strength to endure.

1 Kings 19:11-12 - If you’re wondering what the future might hold, take a step away from the interruptions and really listen for God’s tender whisper.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January 1st-15th resolutions

I don't make New Year's resolutions. They just make me feel bad about myself on January 7th once I've already failed to fulfil my good intentions.

So, while I'm between jobs, I've got a few "first two weeks of January resolutions"

Purge emails - At the moment I've got 1467 emails in my inbox. 
Watch the backlog of Minute-with-Maxwell's - I'm approximately three month's behind.
Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy - I've never seen all three films in their entirty. THEN go see The Hobbit.
Submit a new guest post on MorethanDodgeBall - The last one I submitted didn't translate-across-the-cultural-shift-across-the-Pacific well.
Read the latest Eragon book - I read the first three books a few years ago but never picked up the final book.
Get on top of my Google Reader - I currently have three topics with +1000 posts.
Finally, Brew some beer -  I was given a beer making kit last Christmas but still haven't used it since I'm missing a few pieces.