Monday, September 30, 2013

Pre-emptive holidays

Right now I'm unshaven. That means, since I only shave when I have an occasion which merits it, I'm on holidays.

The week prior to sitting around and doing nothing special, I had a chat about holidays to a few blokes in ministry, asking them when they were taking time off.

By enlarge, they said they weren't because they didn't feel the need to.

I think they miss the point of holidays.

Holidays, if used wisely, should never be horded for a time when you're in desperate need for them.

If that were the case, holidays would be called casualty leave and the Sabbath commandment would only be cashed once a month.

Holidays are a time to recharge BEFORE your tired or a crisis hits. In fact, it's by taking regular time away that you're in better shape to handle the next unexpected hurdle.

The worst mindset to be trapped in is to be desperately seeking/needing a holiday and knowing that you can't get away for another two months.

When you get to this place...
You lose.
Your family loses.
Your ministry loses.
Your church loses.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ministry which gets you punched in the head

Sometimes the truth hurts.
Sometimes it hurts those who need to hear it.
Sometimes it hurts those who deliver it.

Sometimes, protecting those you’re called to minister to hurts.

There have been a number of times in ministry when, depending on how events transpire, I've been prepared to be punched in the head whilst doing my job.

If, when having a necessary but difficult conversation, the person lashes out negatively, I've been ready to cop a whack to the side of the head.

At other times, if someone threatening arrived at an event, I've been prepared to duck a right-cross.

A guy might not like hearing that he shouldn't be getting drunk or sleeping with his girlfriend. And he might react by smacking you in the head. So be it.

If a restricted person attempts to attend an event or drunken teens arrive at an activity, upon being asked to leave, the wrongdoer might respond with violence. So be it.

As a bloke, I think this is just one of the risks of messy ministry.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Next time you get annoyed by kids in church...

Last weekend I was at the joint baptism of my nieces and nephew.

Between the service being very Catholic and my daughter wanting to roam the room like she's grown accustomed to church, at times, I was a little lost.

In fact, the kids presence made keeping track of the read-straight-out-of-the-book service quite difficult.

In truth, I don't think I missed a great deal.

But there were some who gave the obligatory glares because the kids were making noise (gasp!).

The longer I work for a church, and the longer I'm a parent, the clearer one thing becomes...
If you get annoyed by children in church (especially young kids) then the problem is not with the toddler. The problem is with you and your understanding of church.

Families are God initiated institutions.
Children are a blessing from God to the parents and the church.
Jesus welcomes children.

The question I have for those who tut-tut kids in church is...
Would you rather be in a quiet, child free, church which is dying, or hear the toddler?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Principal of Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Earlier in the week I wrote a Tiny Bible Bit on Facebook about Proverbs 7:6-10,21.

Usually, my posts are liked and, sometimes, commented on.

This one wasn't.

I think the reason was the topic matter.

Wrong Place.
Wrong Time.

I've previously written about the important elder statesman conversation which should be had with many Christian young adults. The enquiry beginning with "Walk me through what you were thinking..." matters due to the danger of wrong place, wrong time.

Christians in their late teens and twenties can wander into threatening/tempting situations just because they put themselves or others in positions which they should never have been.

My post recently about Buck's night's is an obvious example. They can easily wander into the wrong place, wrong time.

And at the wrong place, wrong time...
Mistakes happen.
Unforseen mistakes.
Costly mistakes.

This is what ensnared the bloke in Proverbs 7 and the principal which the elder statesman is trying to warn everyone to be alert to...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Best Man's main job

This was meant to be posted right off the back of my last post, but I've been having computer issues...

I've never been a best man. Or even a groomsman.

But I've seen plenty.

And most people think the job of a best man is to make sure the groom is at the church on time, wearing a suit. Additionally, he is meant to organize a Buck's night and, perhaps, hold the wedding ring for a portion of the ceremony.

But the above description misses, I think, the most important duty of the best man.

Make sure the groom is making the right choice.

His most important job, in all seriousness, is to take the groom aside just prior to the wedding ceremony and ask him is he wants to actually go through with it.

Hopefully, the groom has sincerely considered the vows he is about to take (pooped himself at the gravity of the decision) and wants to proceed.

But if he doesn't, it is the job of the best man to hold the back door of the church open, bundle the runaway-groom in a cab and cop the flack when he informs everyone that the wedding won't go ahead.

The best man, if he truly is looking out for the groom's best interests, should want his mate to be doing the right thing.

At the core, this is his main role. Not organizing strippers.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Buck's differences

Booze, cigars, debauchery, hazy memories, kebabs, lap dances and stumbling home covered in stripper dust.

If the Hangover has taught us just one thing it's that a buck's night is meant to be choc full of crazy, corrupting adventures.

Even for a Christian?

This is what the Internet thinks should happen at a Christian buck's night (here, here and here).

So how should the shindig go down?

I'm fine with poker/paintball/insert manly activity which results in the groom to be legally embarrassed.

I'm also okay with some robust drinking and smoking (so I'm no wowser).

But I draw the line at strip clubs.


First, because the buck's night is about two things... the groom and the bride. Both should be honoured by the night.

With that said, I don't think sitting around and watching strippers is a healthy thing to put into a soon-to-be-husbands head. Not only should it something that his soon-to-be-wife isn't be thrilled with, but it just adds another writhing body to the mental gallery she'll be compared with. I just don't see this being a wise action.

Second, especially if the groom gets drunk, the potential for things to get progressively physical is a possibility. Why would you go to a place where that is even a remote chance?

Why would you allow a bloke, especially if he is a fellow believer, to be taken to the wrong place at the wrong time?

Furthermore, how could the events at the buck's night affect the example anyone attending have if they say they're a believer? The gospel and strippers don't go together.

For I believe a buck's night can be a significant point of difference in the life of a Christian guy.

It's too bad so many guys get this so wrong by conforming to the wishes of those who aren't believers. Romans 12:2 would seem to firmly refute this...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Invisible investments

A while ago I posted a plan for the youth ministry at a church I previously worked for. It was called Come, Go, Come.

Tonight, while on the topic of the "visible" and "invisible" church, I was involved in a discussion about the importance of the church going out to where people are, not expecting them to come to us.

This, it was touted, is especially true since there are many (more than we probably realise) who are open to the gospel message and/or are already interacting positively with Christians, just not within church buildings.

In youth ministry there are many examples...
School based lunchtime groups.
Students who meet before school at a local cafĂ©.
Students who hear the gospel at camp or beach mission.

The discussion tonight was about the transferring use of funds away from the church building and towards resourcing and/or strengthening the small faith communities who are already functioning.

I wonder, if this is a growing realisation by those "in the trenches" how long will it take before it flows up the financial food chain to church councils, finance teams and treasurers?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why you should (at least) skim before church

A long time ago I imagined my perfect Sunday.

I was reminded of one of the elements during a conversation yesterday.

I was having a chat with a minister about the best time to read the newspapers on a Sunday.

Usually, if I have time, I read them between services on a Sunday.

He argued, wisely, that at minimum you should skim over the papers so you're aware of any major events heading into a service.

The reason?

You don't want to miss either a connector which you can slide into your service leading/sermon or a catastrophe which should be mentioned during the prayers.

Nothing is worse than perusing the papers on a Sunday afternoon and discovering you missed an obvious opportunity or open the door for others to thing you've ignored a pressing event.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mother church?

Last Sunday night I stayed home from church.

In a very nice gesture, I was given the night off by my minister since it was Father's Day.

But it got me thinking about church and the way it was described by a church forefather in the "Being the Church" subject I'm doing at college.

It was noted that the church is to nourish Christians like a mother does a child.

The only trouble is... It's wrong.

A child is totally dependent on the parent for food. We should never be absolutely dependent on a church service for our spiritual food.

This is a dangerous place to be and a sign of immaturity (thus the child analogy).

The church should be a place to serve and be encouraged not be spoon fed your sole spiritual meal for the week.