Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ministry Options: Families

Earlier this week I posted that, although imagination, creativity and the Holy Spirit allow for infinite possibilities, there are really only six primary roads to go down in youth ministry.

That post was inspired by thinking about ministry with families and the usual routes churches take in ministering to them.

So, again, while many options can exist, there are really only seven regularly used plans of attack...

#1 - Traditional Sunday morning Sunday School consisting of an up-the-font children's talk followed by small groups.

#2 - Do a "family friendly" service on Sunday afternoon/evening, either starting or ending with dinner, with a similar look and feel of Sunday morning.

#3 - Do a monthly "family inclusive" service on a Saturday afternoon, again involving food, along the lines of "Messy Church."

#4 - Increase face-to-face time with of the families by starting small groups, meeting weekly or fortnightly, over a meal (notice a theme?).

#5 - Put on training events and seminars that deal with issues that parent and families are interested in, providing babysitting (like talks by Steve Biddulph).

#6 - Start playgroups in order to connect with local families.

#7 -"Adopt" a local school, hopefully one where kids from your church already attend, and flood it with scripture teachers, canteen helpers, P&C members, reading helpers, open day volunteers, ect... Intentionally connecting with school families with the end point of a church plant/service on the school groups.

Or #8 - Combine any and all except the first two.

Why shouldn't the first two be run side-by-side? Find out in my next post on Saturday...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When someone else is going to get the ticket...

Last week I got a call from the mechanic that my car, Big Red, was sick and in need of expensive surgery.

I told him to not bother fixing the numerous problems.
My wife and I finally decided to stop pouring cash into that money pit.

Tomorrow I get a new car. For the first time, a BRAND NEW CAR.

As a result, I've been driving my minister's wife's car, as she is overseas.

A few days ago I was having a chat about driving a car which is registered in another name.

We noted that any infraction you do, like getting a speeding fine or parking ticket, will get found out since the ticket will go to someone else first.

As I've been driving around this week I've been having a dreaded thought in the back of my mind.

What if I get booked?
What if I get busted running red light or speeding?
How will that make me look to my minister?

Even if you're not a car hoon, the realization that any infringement will need to be explained to another person, influences the way you behave behind the wheel.

And this is why personal accountability is so effective.
It raises the stakes.
It increases the cost of making an unwise decision since someone will call you or look you in the eye.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ministry options: Youth

Of course, there are loads of ways to "do" ministry with young people. The only thing which limits you is your imagination and child safety requirements.

In my head though, there are really six primary options (which can happen on or off site)...

#1 - Do the typical Friday night youth group with games, food, spiritual input & small groups.

#2 - Do a similar program to number 1, ending with a meal leading into the midweek or evening church service.

#3 - Have your teens meet in gender/school year based small groups with an intentionally high relational temperature.

#4 - Primarily host large events in place of weekly meetings or small groups.

#5 - Do no set activities, but initiate a one-on-one mentoring/elder support program.

#6 - Intentionally have no specialized youth programs (GASP!), but incorporate all ages into your church services.

Or #7 - Combine 1-5..

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Am vs I Do

I'm a youth minister.
I do youth ministry.

No matter if the above statements, for you, have to do with plumbing, engineering or accounting...
One is healthy.
The other is not.

When I was between jobs in 2008 one of the worst things was the loss of identify.

I dreaded the introductory question of "what do you do?" because I had no real reply.

Perhaps I needed to listen closer to the question.

When we ask someone about their job we aren't asking them about their identity. Although they can be tightly entwined, the query asks WHAT YOU DO, not WHO YOU ARE.

We need to change our response.

For I AM a husband.
I AM a son.
I AM a father.
I AM a Christian.
But I DO youth ministry.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The must ask questions for the 20 year old male to answer...

Neither of these questions are new revelations to me. In fact, I've written about both before. But, as I guy, these are the two questions I should have been asked once I burst into my second decade.

Why are you not drinking light beer?
Walk me through your thoughts leading up to and during (insert questionable action)?

With these two questions I could have avoided a lot of mistakes over the next decade...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's not always a good day

Mother' Day.
Father's Day.

Usually these are happy times.
Usually these are days to be celebrated.

But Father's Day 2010 sucked. Big time.

Last Sunday, on Mother's Day, I shared my tale of Father's Day 2010.

That was my first Father's Day after my Dad died from cancer.
That was my first Father's Day after our first miscarriage.
It was the first Father's Day when I started to think I might never become a Dad.

For some people, times of celebration are painful.

Mum & Dad are not words associated with warm fuzzy emotions. Instead they are paired with bitterness, anger, abusive or absent.

Mother's Day and Father's Day remind them of what they've lost or what they will never posses.

Even Christmas, in 2010 -  barely a week after out second miscarriage (which occurred the due date of our first miscarriage), sucked.

On Sunday, I acknowledged that for some present and (even if they're unaware) someone they will know, Mother's Day will be a difficult time.

So we prayed.

And it was good. Really good.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

But why HERE & NOW?

I just had a great conversation with someone about church and what God is doing within them, sometimes in a fairly different ways.

The point he raised, when considering if something is "from God," don't forget to ask the further questions "IF this is from God, then why is He doing it HERE and NOW?"

For, if you ponder these questions, they will dramatically help you discern the initial one.

And if you can recognise the timing of God, especially if "the movement" doesn't match your context, then you can have a far greater appreciation for why God is going in that direction OVER THERE.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Inviting > Welcoming

Our Internet is having some issues, so I can't access the link, but yesterday I read an article on which made a great point. (here is the link)

If you have the choice, don't be a welcoming church.
Be an inviting church.

Why inviting over welcoming?

Because one is active whilst the other is passive.

One goes to the people whilst the other waits for people to come to them.

Best of all? If your church is inviting, then by default, they will be welcoming to people who are invited since that's how they'll want their invitees to be treated!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The secret to going home on time

I've been doing this guy's third point in preventing burnout since the computer in the church office, which I use, is slow. Painfully slow.

The software is slow.
The Internet is horribly slow.
If you try and do more than a single task then the computer will have a fit and stall for thirty seconds.

What takes 90 seconds on a "normal" computer takes you 10 minutes in the office.

The simple solution is to bring my laptop to work and use that. No worries.

But this has an additional benefit.

For, right now, I have roughly two hours and thirty minutes. Then that's it.

That's how long it will take for the battery on my laptop to die today.

After that, it will be time to quickly wrap up whatever needs to be done on the church computer (like printing) and head to my Mum's and collect my daughter.

My laptop won't let me work until the wee hours of the night since, in my mind, we both shut down at the same time.

And incredibly... I've been getting home on time.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Can you combine flirty, single and in ministry?

I've never been single whilst working for a church.

But it was only by a matter of months.

Sometimes I wonder about single people in ministry and the challenges they must face.

Lately, I've been curious about the process just prior to dating... Flirting.

If you're working at a church, finding yourself attracted to a member of the opposite gender, when do you need to disclose this to someone?
Is there a point where you need to "have a chat about your desire to openly flirt?"
Is there a point where you get "called out" for your flirting?

Undoubtedly there's a line which, when you cross it, you'll need to disclose your desire for "potentially something more."

But... If you're a single person in ministry...
And you don't find someone at beach mission.
Or stumble over your soul mate at bible college.
Or lock eyes with a ministry colleague across a crowded conference room.

Surely the best place to find someone is church and is it reasonable to expect every relationship for the single-and-in-ministry to begin without that clumsy flirting?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The change conversation you need to count

Whenever changes happens, even for the better, something needs to, at least in part, come to an end.

Whenever something changes there will be people for whom the former ways worked better.

Whatever change occurs there will be people turning up whom would have fitted better into the previous system.

This is the inevitable risk of change.

Eventually you'll need to look someone in the eye and say that you're heading in a different direction. Even if it doesn't suit them perfectly.

You'll need to explain to someone new that what you provide is now on at an alternate time.

If you change the day of the youth group, it'll clash with someone's music tutor or sports practice.
If you create an alternate family-friendly service, your target core will not only leave their former service but there will still be young families who arrive in the morning.
If you change the night of a small group then it won't mesh with someone's work or university timetable.

This is just one of the, often uncounted, costs of change.

But if the change is well thought out, with a well defined purpose, then the conversation with those "missing out" doesn't have to callously end with "sorry" but a productive invitation to be involved.