Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mourn-stalking the old kids?

Even though it was my birthday yesterday, and I'm barely holding onto my mid-thirties, my entire ministry experience has occurred within the age of social media. Thus, many of the young people at churches I've worked at are my friends on Facebook. Most days I'll get some sort of update about what is happening in the life of someone who makes me think... "Oh yeah, I remember that kid..."

But I wonder about the generation of youth ministers before me.

Do they stalk those who were in their ministries on social media, and if so, how do they feel about what they find?

I'm sure, when former kids are getting married or having babies, they would get a warm fuzzy.

But what if their life has taken an unfortunate turn?

Is social media stalking, in some instances, a source of mourning for what they see play out and hoped could have been?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mr Miyagi was wrong

He's a great character, top bloke and Karate machine, but Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid isn't a good teacher.

Sure, Daniel-san kicks ass at the end of the film (spoilers!), but his sensei's training methods are ordinary.


Because wax the car, paint the fence and scrub the deck were missing vital elements of effective training.

There was little supervision...
There was no continuing encouragement...
Most importantly, there was no partnership from doing it together.

When teaching someone how to do something, you need a generous dose of all three components.

Or else, whilst the trainee might pick up the skills via osmosis, they'll think you're a jerk.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The journey of starting anew

I've written... somewhere in the labyrinth of this blog... that those who arrive at a new church, either fresh from leaving their previous church amicably or under "less fortunate" circumstances, should be given at least a six month amnesty before they get involved seriously in any ministry.

This lets them get a good feel for the culture of the new church and allows them, if they need it, to begin healing from any damage caused by their previous church experience.

I wonder, as I've spent a bit of time gazing at various youth ministry "expectations of a leader"  agreements, how the journey from it's-my-first-week-at-your-church to hi-kids-I'm-your-new-youth-group-leader works.

Personally, I've never had to take the journey.

I wonder how I'd find not being in charge...
I wonder how I'd find not being "up front"...
I wonder how I'd find not setting the agenda...

I wonder how long I'd last before subtly mentioning my past in youth ministry.
How long would it be before I'd start sniffing around the youth ministry activities?
More importantly, how would I go about "just checking it out" without being a creeper?

The more I think about the journey from visitor to volunteer, I increasingly realise the path requires a hearty dose of courage to be willing to put yourself on the line and offer to step up.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The 9 questions to evaluate your leadership development

This is a blog post which could potentially bite me in the ass later in the year... AND be really useful.

For this coming year I've got a great opportunity to develop new and upcoming leaders in the youth and children's ministry at my church.

In order to work out if my leadership and training have been effective there are certain questions which will need to be evaluated...

Do you feel that you were communicated with appropriately?
Were expectations for what you were asked to do clear?
Were you given the physical equipment to effectively do what you're asked to do?
Were you given adequate preparation time?
Could you have used more training in what you were asked to do?
Did you feel supported during all events and activities?
Did you feel protected from unfair or unwarranted criticism?
Did you feel encouraged enough?
Do you thin that we evaluated and implemented change enough?

If these questions were asked at the start and end of every year, like they will be going forward, I suspect a lot of churches would have a far greater perspective on how they are doing in leadership development and care.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The inner preacher turmoil

You can't ask that question...
How dare you!
You hypocrite!
Surely, everyone KNOWS you have a LONG WAY to go in this area!
You aren't even CLOSE to perfect!

These are just a few of the things which will go through my head when I preach tomorrow. And in this I'm not alone.

For tomorrow, on the back of this blog post, I'll be asking more than a dozen questions.

If I'm honest, deep down, there's a part of me which knows that I have no right to stand before anyone and pose challenging questions, especially in areas where I have significant room for improvement.

Herein lies the turmoil...

If a preacher boldly declares the truth from God's word then they will always run the risk of destructive self questioning.

Fortunately, when you look at the caliber of people God's used in the past, you have no doubt they were far from perfect.

That's the kind of people God uses to ask the God-inspired challenging questions...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The important preaching question for ME not YOU

I wrote here that quality preaching involved questions.

The most important question is one I'm struggling with currently as I'm preaching this Sunday.

What is God teaching ME from this passage?

Sometimes, the only questions posed in sermon are...
What can God teach YOU?
What should YOU do in response?

In theory, the sermon and its implications should first impact the person giving the sermon and, from this, the application questions then flow into the homily.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The ministry turntable imbalance

Large ships take a long time to turn.
Usually, so do churches.

For ministries are heading in one of three directions...

Obviously, every person in ministry wants their church to be heading in an upward direction, but that's not always the way it pans out.

So, how long does it take for a ministry to take a turn?

It depends... It can go south quickly...
As in one month.

If you get the essentials wrong for one unfortunate month, things can turn sour.
If you take your eye off the core elements of a sense of God's presence, worship, applicable biblical teaching, pastoral support and evangelism, then things can take a downward surge quickly.

But the upswing is usually more of a trickle than a flood.

If the change needed is cultural or theological, then it will take the amount of time needed to slowly teach and guide those present through the required lessons.

Maybe a term to six months... At least.

If the problem is leadership, then it will take as long as needed to identify, integrate and develop appropriate leaders.

Anywhere up to a year. Probably more...

A problem emerges when we want the upswing to follow the same timeframe as the downward spiral.

A church in decay for decades, or a ministry struggling for years, can't be reheated in the microwave.

Those in ministry get frustrated when we try to turn a large ship and discover that it takes far longer than we expect...