Sunday, December 29, 2013

Questioning for a good sermon

What are you going to do tomorrow?
What do you need to change?
How would that make you feel?
Who do you identify with in the parable?
Who do you need to apologise to?
When are you most tempted?

Today, whilst listening to a sermon, I had a significant realization about effective preaching.

The quality of a sermon is in direct proportion with the number of questions asked.

The reason?

If plenty of questions are asked then the chances of engagement and application are increased.

If questions are absent then, while you might have heard/delivered a quality theological lecture, the chance of life change is reduced.

I'd much rather pose questions then keep up the flow of words.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Loser leaders?

I'm about to wonder something aloud which might put me in some hot water.

Let me preface this by saying that some of my previous and current children's and youth group leaders are some of the BEST people I've ever ministered beside.

But currently, in Australia, every youth group leader has their Friday night's back until school resumes the last week of January.

Usually, they are spending one of their prime social windows to hang out with teens, not going out to party, drink, date or cavort until the wee hours of the morning.

So... I wonder.

How are they viewed by those outside the church?

When they're invited for after-work drinks, what reaction do they receive once the reason for their decline is given?

Are they considered... (gulp!)... losers?

When it comes to retaining and recruiting leaders for youth group, do we give enough weight to the, potential, social stigma of sacrificing/investing the first night of your weekend?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Why apologetics matter more today

I never need to wonder when a move was made.
Or who played the weird kid in the opening credits.
I can always find the words of THAT song stuck in my head. 

I can know everything.

So long as I have the Internet.

This is the modern world we now live and the church exists.

You NEVER need to wonder about a tid-bit, factoid or trivia morsel.

And this should deeply influence the way we communicate the gospel to young people.

They expect answers.

As Christians, it's a part of our calling to have these answers.
As someone who works for a church, it is a part of my job to help others wrestle with and find the answers, communicate the truths about Jesus and train others to critically engagee with the bible and alternate worldviews.

The Google-age demands it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Loving Jesus vs Loving Ministry

I was looking over my X Commandments of Youth Ministry Leadership in light of some activities I'm going to do at next year's leader's weekend.

The first is obvious... Love Jesus.

But there's a danger of loving the ministry activity more than Jesus.

We can love our church more.
Or our traditions.
Or our memories of youth group.
Or the excitement of Friday afternoon.

The difference becomes clear once we look at the fruit of loving Jesus and loving ministry.

One produces disciples.
One produces churchgoers.

One changes lives.
One changes habits.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The difference maker

Hosting a free BBQ for the parents of the youngest in our youth ministry.
Putting on a gingerbread house decorating night.
Surviving a lock-in with the teens.
Navigating a jumping castle for the last week of the Kid's Club.
Helping launch the new Christmas lights display at our church.

These last few weeks have been pretty busy and I'm fairly worn down.

But, aside from a few short talks, there is nothing really on my list of activities which couldn't be done by a non-Christian.

They can put on a BBQ... Any weekend at Bunnings will tell you this.
Plenty of schools do gingerbread house events...
Scouts have sleepovers...
Jumping castles are at numerous fairs and birthdays...
Christmas light can be put up by anyone.

And herein lies the importance of the of those "short talks."

Because much of what happens in youth ministry could, potentially, be done by a competent non-believer.

You just hope that the WAY you do any event, which could be effectively run in a secular backdrop, is done in such a manner that they are undeniably shaped by Christ.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why Lock-Ins?


Some people love them.
Others loathe them.
Plenty do them by necessity or tradition alone.

I've just had the first one at my current church to finish off the year.

As expected, there were shenanigans once the sun went down.
The girls wanted to scare the boys.
The boys fought against sleep into the wee hours.
The youth minister pulled an awesome, fear inducing, prank on the girls.

So, what's the point?

For me, the aim is to create memories and bond the group closer.

That's why you put up with the precious few hours of uncomfortable sleep.
That's why you spend hours cleaning up.
That's why you do silly, unpredictable, things.

Hopefully, by the time they go home, the group - especially those of the same gender across the school years - are melded closer together due to what they've shared.

Even if it is being scared by the youth minister late at night.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Library lending

I have a problem.

I know it.
My wife DEFINITELY knows it.

It's common for pretty much everyone in ministry.

Someone needs to start a support group.
And a 12 step program.

Because my name's Graham and I buy books.
As I mentioned here, I have lots of books.

Last Sunday I mentioned to the congregation that my books were open for business.

Between my office and home, with the Summer/university holidays in full swing, anyone can mention a topic to me and I'll probably have a book which they might find interesting.

What's the other option? The books sit on a self.

I'd much rather see my books lent out and read, with the possibly of them never returning, then sit idle collecting dust.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Church blind spots

Last night I lead church in the round (where all the chairs are in a circle) and discovered an unexpected problem.

If you aren't aware, I get very little vision out of my right eye since I scared my cornea as a young kid, subsequently making that eye lazy.

The result? Whist I can see out of my right eye, I get no clear vision. On the eye chart, if I cover my left eye, I can read the top letter and that's about all.

As I found out last night, that's a problem if you ask for volunteers and those on the right-hand edge of the circle put their hand up.

It's not unusual that you'll read about blind spots in ministry.
Usually they aren't physical.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This is when you should SHUT UP

CAUTION: Rant Approaching!

This is just a heads up for anyone MC'ing an event.

If you're going to ask for applause, do so, but SHUT UP FOR A WHILE.

Don't invite people to clap and then continue speaking. We can't hear what you're saying!

To sum up -
Shut up...
Continue once the uproar has ceased.

End rant.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Would I really want to study the bible?

Right now every young adult can be on a study break - Year 12 has been over for a month and university exam period has just finished.

So, if you advertised for a new bible study, would this be attractive to those wanting to AVOID study?

I've previously written that bible study is/should be the wrong title for a group of Christians coming together regularly, but in light of the semester break, the name seems even less fitting.

Furthermore, does attending a "bible study" really appeal to non-believers? It seems like a lot of work for little results. What would the point be?

I suspect that an invitation to an bible exploration/application group would both be more attractive, but also a better description of what actually goes on.