Thursday, February 28, 2013

The church sign is for...

It annoys me when bloggers apologise for the lack of posts due to their business so I'll spare you...

I want to make a quick statement about something I've dealt with a number of times. 

In the past I've called them crappy, embarrassing, confusing and cringe-worthy.

Of course, I'm referring to signs outside of churches.

I want to make something clear.

If you work for a church, pull up an chair, affix your eyes to the computer screen and lend me a few precious moments.

Church signs are not for those who go to your church. In theory, any regular attendee will find out anything you could possibly put on a church sign from going to church on a Sunday or alternate internal communication devices.

They are for those OUTSIDE the church community.

They understand your jargon.
They have no idea what your groups are called.
They don't care about your pithy saying gleaned off the Internet.
In fact, usually your slogans will drive people away from your church, not encourage them to visit.

They want to know what you can provide for them.
They want to know what to expect if they decide to turn up on a Sunday.
They want to know, if they did darken your church's door, that what they hear will be relevant to they life.

Church-sign-crafters everywhere... Lend me your ears!

Remember who your primary audience is...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is communication the #1 thing?

It took a six weeks, but I've finally started a full schedule of face-to-face ministry activities at my new church. Thus I've had a very full week.

In an average week during school term I'll do four scripture classes, kids club, youth group and lead the evening service.

Additionally, I'll do a kids address in the morning and the sermon every fortnight.

All in all, this routine isn't unusual for someone with my job (and I can squeeze plenty more into it!).

Those with my job do a lot of up front activities.

We give talks, both short and long, for a range of ages.
We run and explain games.
We co-ordinate activities.
We plan and execute lessons.

So... this leads me to my question... Do youth ministers need to be good communicators?

I ask because it is usually the case.

But is it a NEED?

I think not.

Anyone with my job needs to be comfortable standing before others and communicate clearly, but there is a far greater quality required.

Any youth minister NEEDS to be strong at relationships, not communication.

This is what matters most.


Because, to quote a John Maxwell-ism, people don't care how much you know (or how well you you may be able to communicate it) until they know how much you care.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Should the church pay tax?

A lack of knowledge has never stopped me from sharing my opinion.

Last night a TV program did a story on Hillsong and the church, or any large church, not paying taxes (you can watch it at and a reply letter to an earlier story from Hillsong here).

About this topic I'm fairly ignorant and much smarter people than I have written plenty about this before.

So, from my position of unawareness...
and open to the accusation of hypocrisy since a portion of my salary has been tax free...
and since no one asked my opinion...

Here are my Ramblings on the subject.

Do I think churches should pay taxes? I believe they should... BUT

I understand the arguments for the church not doing so.

It is reasoned that many churches would go broke if they had to pay taxes and the services they provide would be seriously slashed.

And that point is, largely, tough to refute. I know plenty of churches who are struggling financially.

And here is where my BUT comes into the equation.

I think churches should have to pay taxes once they have a working budget of, say (and I'm just plucking this figure out of the air), half a million dollars (this would certainly eliminate the small struggling churches).

For here is where the Hillsong story makes people's blood boil since they make a heap of cash from multiple revenue streams.

BUT... What if the amount a church had coming into it's coffers affected the amount of tax it coughed up, just like personal income?

From my limited understanding I would like to see incoming donations, like offerings, and any outgoing revenue used for services to the community, like a soup kitchen or op shop, remain tax exempt.

From what I can grasp, this is what the law permits and was implemented to protect. Charitable acts and services are tax free.

But I have a problem, despite what it might do to the bottom line of churches, with churches getting money from rental, conferences, book, television, DVD or music sales and have that remain tax exempt.

I might be off base, and I have been before, but somehow it doesn't feel 100% kosher...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another evaluation marker?

This is just a quick post squeezed in around a hectic week of double preaching, multiple pancake making and consuming, new scripture classes, RSL lunches and my wife potentially breaking her ankle and loosing mobility (a real downer with an eleven month old!).

But I just stumbled over this post which mentions an interesting evaluating marker for ministries.

How are the relationships within the group?

The author mentions friendships which exist between the group and the closeness between the leaders and the teens, but I like the romantic spin that is expanded.

For those who are dating, are they healthy relationships?

If you had leaders dating, are they setting good examples?

When/if a couple, either teens or leaders, break up how do they treat one another?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Random Rambles

My phone is full of half baked blog post ideas. I used to flush them out with an end of year Ramble-a-thon (which I did in 2008 & 2009). 

This post will serve as a way to clear a bit of space in my potential-posts folder.

So... Here are some questions I never quite got around to distilling down to an answer...

When do prayer points become gossip?
When does the line between pastoral care and being a busy body get crossed?

When measuring success, what matters more, what you get out or what you put in?

When did virginity become a problem to be dispensed with quickly, not treasured?

How many people are unhappy with their church? 
Would it be more than those who work for churches? 
And, who is in a better position to change things they are dissatisfied with?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Not all glamour

I spent last Thursday creating a database of the 100 or so children who went through the kids club at my new church in 2012.

It. Took. All. Day.

Half the database was typed up at my Mum's while she was looking after Hanna and she recognised a hidden secret about my profession.

It's not all glam in the world of youth ministry.

It's not all playing games and cracking side-splitting puns.
It's not all creating inspiring bible studies or life changing sermons (I wish!).
It's not all lunches at the RSL.

One of my tasks tomorrow is to create the attendance records which I'll use for the year ahead, and whilst it might not be edge-of-your-seat exciting, it's an important thing to get done.

For, even though it might not get you springing out of bed, databases and attendance records are a part of the ministry lube which makes everything run a little smoother.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two filters for new events

Sometimes when I'm pondering events or activities I have suggestions pop into my mind which, upon a few seconds of rational thought, are swiftly rejected.

Two filters which any potential event must navigate are the effect it would have on younger Christians and non-believers.

What kind of example would the proposed event set for the believers who are younger than you? Could you take an 18 year old to the activity? 


If a person who didn't go to church asked what you did, what message would the get from hearing about your activity? If they asked if an activity is "okay with the bible" and the "church is cool with it" can you honestly answer in the affirmative? 

If an event can successfully negotiate these two hurdles then it's closer to becoming reality...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lots of first dates at the RSL

I want to be clear. My marriage is going just fine.

But over the last week I've been on five first dates.
I have another six separate dates to go on over the next few weeks.

By now, as I've mentioned before, I'm a youth-minister-first-date-master.

Who have I been wooing?
My new youth group leaders.

One at a time.
Over lunch.
At the local RSL.
Followed by a game of pool and/or snooker (you can read the reason why here).
Everything my treat.

By the end of the month my heart should explode via a roast meat and gravy overload.

Why am I buying all my leaders lunch?
Why would I fork out my hard earned dosh?

Time + Knowledge = Building trust.

If I spend time with my leaders, getting to know one another by sharing our heart for the youth ministry, then trust is slowly built.

It's a way to grow my starting chips by making initial deposits in the investment bank early in my new ministry placement.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

But it worked for me....

This post makes me nervous because it might flame into a morethendodgeball-guest-post type of controversy...

I wonder if people look back on their own personal experience with "but it worked for me" glasses which then affect their stance on certain grayish issues.

I fear that some people develop a well-it-worked-for-me-mindset so to do likewise should be alright, when actually, they are the exception to the rule or quickly forget how they narrowly escaped a risky situation.

An easy example would be the appropriate number of post-school trips.

I went on... three. That's right, three.

Not just one at the end of year 12. But three. One dose of schoolies at Noosa and two bouts of toolies at Surfer's Paradise.

And, overall, they didn't really harm anyone (aside from one case of AWFUL yellow hair dye).

But I wouldn't recommend it now to a school leaver. It wasn't a wise decision to make.

I wonder how many have their opinions on the following questions slanted by the way they acted when they were younger...

Who is it wise for Christians to date?
How many drinks do you have until you've had too many?
How far is too far sexually before marriage?
Do I need to commit to a church as a teen or young adult?