Saturday, June 29, 2013

Worship or music leader?

I've sung into a microphone during a church service exactly twice. And it was on the same day.

So it's safe to say that I'm no expert when it comes to leading worship via music.

I also can't play a musical instrument or read music.

So it's also safe to say that I'm abut the furthest you can be from being an expert musician.

But, I do know the difference between a worship leader and a music leader.

And there are lost of churches who have the later, but not the former.

The difference is not quality. It has nothing to do with their ability to both jump, sing and play guitar like John Mayer or rock a wah-wah peddle.

You can lead people in worship and not be a record-quality musician.
Equally, you can be a phenomenal muso and not be a worship leader.

The difference?

What is the leader hoping for the people to connect with?

A feeling from the "rocking" music OR the Living God, Jesus?
Are they hoping the congregation gets in tune with the music OR the Spirit of God?
Do they want those gathered to have their feet tapping OR approaching the throne of grace?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Accessing the youth ministry database of resources

As another term winds down my head is starting to turn towards term 3 and what we'll be doing in the children's & youth ministries.

For one, the youth ministry, the outline of a program was already planned coming out of the last leader's weekend.

Alternatively, for the kids club, the program still needs to drop out of my brain.

But I've got plenty of time, previous programs and germinating ideas to ensure it happens.

BUT... what if... and I'm not trying to encourage laziness...
Each denomination had a central resource where local youth ministries placed their old programs for others and see and tweak?

Sure, there are professional organisations who sell packaged programs, but what about a "regular, on the ground, tried and tested" database?

In part, this is born out of two things.

First, I (and every youth/children's worker) have OODLES of old stuff I've produced. And, mostly, it just sits dormant in a filing cabinet or trapped within the complex labyrinth of a "youth ministry computer."

Surely there can be a better use for it then that.

And second, going on from my last post, if the resources were from other local youth ministries then you could a) have a chat with someone and find out what "actually" worked and what flopped and b) the resource will not only be tested, but tried in a context which somewhat matches your own.

Again, I'm not wanted to foster a culture of laziness or a-simple-cut-and-paste-job-will-do attitude, but a bigger Kingdom impact can surely be made with the stuff we've already done and won't revisit until another generation of youngsters arises.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Emerging from what???

The emerging church is a... thing... thrown about regularly within "modern" church circles.

The emerging church, according to Wikipedia (the final authority on EVERYTHING!) says that it "contrast(s) themselves with what has gone before."

But my question, especially in light of the above definition, is this...

What has your church emerged from?

What nationality?
What culture?
What theological, leadership and church backgrounds?

I ask because the answers matter if any "emergent church" is going to be a model for other churches.

And whilst I'm aware that few, if any, emergent churches would hold themselves up as blueprints for how-to-do-church, the reality is that some people can't help but do cut-and-paste ministry.

So if you're in Australia, an emerging church out of America or the UK, might not be the best place to look for inspiration.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The preaching stool

When I changed the structure of the youth ministry at my home church, and my first ministry position, we went to a "normal" Friday night youth group from a school-year-based, midweek, small group structure.

And then it began. I then had to start doing youth group talks alongside the, then, occasional preaching in church.

So one Friday night I got my first.
It was solid, wooden and tri-legged.

Then as I travelled though a few more churches, doing further preaching and getting more comfortable unshackling myself from the lectern and my notes, I went without a regular speaking companion. 

But when I arrived at my current church I got familiar with an oddly shaped, metal, padded, green and quad-legged one.

And, as the weeks went on, I knew we weren't a good match.

So I searched over the church property to find a new one.

Now my current one is a tad wonky, metal, padded, orange and quad-legged.

And over the last few weeks I've been preaching a series on the book of Ruth getting acquainted with my new preaching buddy as we go through the unfolding story.

Because, sometimes when you speak, you need a good sturdy seat underneath you.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Perceptioin + Time = Reality

I've been told, wisely, that one of the most important things a youth minister can do is turn up on a Sunday morning, even if you're not scheduled to "do anything."

The reason?

Face time with those who not only hold the church's purse strings but influence the perceptions of the church.

For if you don't clock in face time then it's more difficult to get an accurate read of the perceptions of the church-folk.

And, unchecked by time, perceptions slowly become reality.

Even if they are off the mark.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The art of the cancel

Occasionally you'll need to cancel events.
It happens.
We've all been there.

At times it'll be your fault.
Other times it won't be.

Kids don't respond like you expected/hoped...
You're advertising/promotional material was ill timed/targeted...
You're the victim of a double-booking...
The weather makes the event impossible...

So... WHEN you need to cancel something... How is the best way to go about it?
Do you post a public announcement OR do you cancel quietly?

As a rule, I'm in favor of the last option.

Tell those who did commit, not just apologetically but making it up to them, and those who are in positions of leadership but don't intentionally damage your "brand" by publicly stating, for whatever reason, that the event flopped.

Monday, June 10, 2013

As we heard from the sermon...

It's not uncommon that after you preach (like I did twice on Sunday), either directly after the service or later in the week, that you'll hear someone utter the sentence... As we heard in the sermon.

Whenever I hear that statement I do what, I hope, most preachers do.

I hold my breath.

Why? Because it's over the next few seconds that you'll find out how effective you were at getting your point across.

And sometimes... Success. The person carefully articulates your point and shows a way for it to be applied.

Other times? You'll find out a) that you didn't make your point well enough, b) that there was actually a better point which you should have pushed or c) that the listener zoned out and filled in their own gaps.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Everyone is on you side

I've been a part of some hostile scripture classes, youth groups, kid's clubs, chapel services and seminars.
I've stood in front of teens who have been rude.
I've spoken to high-schoolers who haven't a care for what I'm talking about.

But I've never been heckled during church. At least not openly.
And I'm up the front every week facing people who should expect that I know what I'm doing.

It's undeniable that no one wants someone to give a boring sermon.
Or lead a lifeless service.
Or play bad music.

For no one turns up to be disappointed.

So whenever someone gets up to do something during a church service, no matter the reason, everyone is wishing them well.

We want them to be good.
Not flawless, but good.

Whenever someone leads a service for the first time, or the music, or leads a prayer they need to remember... The sea of faces are not the enemy... They are on your side.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Could you find a way to spend the cash locally?

Overseas missions are great... Churches should support them.

Activities which provide support for regional and outback communities are vital... Churches should support them.

Denominational mission activities need support. As do missionaries... No doubt.

BUT... Outflowing from a recent line of questioning from a budget meeting... If a church, for whatever unforeseen reason, HAD to spend the money they invest in widespread mission work locally, could they find a way to spend it?

I ask because I'm curious about how many churches are aware of local mission needs.

Could churches find places within five kilometers to spend, say, $10,000-20,000?

If not, what does that say about the church?
If not, what does that say about the connection they have with their local community?
If not, what does that say about the connection they have with their neighboring churches and para-church organisations?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hitch your wagon

In my last post about family ministry I said there were seven primary options.

As a reminder, the first two options were...

#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.

As promised, here's why I believe the two most common avenues for family ministry shouldn't be mixed.

Frankly, I think a church needs to hitch it's wagon to one plan and commit to it. Select one timeslot at the expense of the other.
Pick one, even if it does not fit the exact needs of everyone.

But choose one so people are sure what you're offering and putting your best efforts into.