Saturday, March 29, 2014

The munchkin drop-off point

I've written about drop out points in youth/young adult ministry previously. Currently, my wife and I are in the middle of the oldest, and previously unmentioned, one.

Having a young child.

This drop out (or as it has happened with us - drop off) point arises in a lot of churches with differently-focused evening and morning services. In fact, young families will inevitably face this problem if the service in the morning and evening don't both cater to families with babies or toddlers.


It all has to do with toddlers needing routine. Break the routine and it can throw out the rhythm of the next two days. For us, our little one's bedtime is somewhere between 6:30-7:15pm. My churches evening service starts at 6:30.

Sense the problem?

I would suggest that most evening services, at least initially, are catered towards teens or actual young adults. Thus, they aren't set up for young kids.

But, as the years pass and the "clientele" advance in life stages towards parenthood, some will notice that "their" service no longer suits their needs.

So, in order to fit around their offspring's sleep patterns, they need to attend church in the morning.

But what happens if they don't feel like they fit into the morning service since they've never made a cross-congregation connection or the earlier service isn't appropriate because it's "classic" church with a "quite mature" average attender?

Fortunately, this isn't a problem in many churches since they have some form of "contemporary family service." But this isn't always the case, particularly if a successful youth ministry starts in evening service BECAUSE they wouldn't fit into what is provided in the morning.

Does a young family screw up their child's sleep pattern weekly?
Do they "suffer" through a morning service which they don't connect with?
Does only one parent attend church, alternating, whilst the other looks after the munchkin?
Or, do they go to another, family friendlier, church?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Share but don't return

Questions don't only make for good sermons but good church services. I start each service with a question and often throw one in the middle of the service somewhere. People, in a safe environment, usually have no problem sharing.

Normally, I'll prod people to talk to someone they don't share a surname or normally chat with (even if this involves moving!). In fact, a few people in church have set themselves a challenge to sit beside a different person each week at church.

One tricky thing I did in church a few weeks ago, as they were discussing with their neighbour, was to have the band immediately begin the next song.

The reason this was sneaky, tying into the sit-beside-a-different-person-challenge, was that it limited the opportunity for someone who moved to return to their original seat.

Who knows?
Sitting next to someone unfamiliar in church might be a good idea???

Sunday, March 23, 2014

God is not deaf

I'm fully aware that praying out loud isn't comfortable for everyone, and is a learned discipline, but it's important for community building and burden sharing.

So anytime I'm leading a time of open prayer I give everyone an important reminder about God.

Even though they aren't praying to me, I still wanna hear and be able to honestly say amen. Thus, anyone who prays will need to speak up so I can hear, not because God is hard of hearing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Are they REALLY Young Adults?

Where do you draw the line?
20? 21? 25? 29? 35?!?

Very few churches have a solid idea about the top age of their "young" adults ministry.

Do you include everyone who is studying?
What if I'm still doing my masters, doctorate or specialising in medicine into my early thirties?

Do you include everyone who is single or lives at home?
What if I got married at 21?

Do you include everyone who goes to the evening service?
How will you ever has them link with the other congregations?

Do you include everyone who isn't catered for my the other groups?
Is this still okay then, if I'm 38, but "young at heart?"

If anything, I think we should draw the line YOUNGER, not older. Avoid the Peter Pan syndrome.

Say... 22.

By the time you've hit 23, you're no longer a young adult.
You're just an adult.

The world thinks so.
So should the church.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Baptism & Confirmation: Selectng a sport & a side

One of my favourite sports is rugby league and my league side is the mighty Manly Sea Eagles. That is my sport and they are my team.

You follow your sport closer than any other and select one group to contribute towards and travel life-within-that-sport alongside.

The scenario reminds me, imperfectly, of baptism and confirmation.

Baptism is like announcing your favourite sport in that you stand up and pronounce that you're going to follow Jesus over all other options (including yourself) and confirmation is selecting your team in that you're deciding upon a group of people to take the journey of faith with.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Get the leader & make a memory

Yesterday, at the Kid's Club of my church, I took one for the team in order to create memories.
Yesterday we played a game I dubbed "Firing Squad."
Yesterday I stood exposed and invited them to take their best shot.

When I wrote about making memories here I missed the one I used yesterday.

Getting the leader.

Yesterday afternoon, when we played wet games, I ended with each kid getting the chance to throw a water bomb at me whilst I stood still in the middle of the car park.

Most missed.

Except for the pot of water, tipped on me by surprise, by some of the leaders.

I'll never turn my back on them again...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The 2 conditions of a reference

I pointed out here one of the hidden perks of my job - writing references. In fact, I did another one just last week.

But, previously, I didn't mention my two conditions.

In order for these conditions to make sense you need to know that when I do a reference, if I think it's accurate, I REALLY talk the person up. My favourite line starts with a favourable attribute followed by "this is the thing I admire most about him/her." It should bring a tear to the eye of any prospective employer.

My first condition, once it's written in black & white, is that the person seeks to live out what I've written.

My second, and I've never had to do this is even consider it seriously, is that I can request to get the reference back.

I'd hate for things to turn pear-shaped and I'm made out to be a liar.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The final P's of a sermon

I'm going to be preaching in a few hours and, having typed up what I'm going to say yesterday, I emailed the transcript to myself with the three final P's as the subject.


Polish - Go ever everything with a clear mind and fresh eyes, tweaking what needs to be fixed.

Practice - At minimum, be able to nail your introduction, stories/illustrations, transitions and conclusion. I find this happens after three to five solid dry-runs.

PowerPoint - Only once you've decided the input and flow of the sermon do you look for pictures which communicate the same things in as few a words as possible.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I'm a fan of professional wrestling. I'm nowhere near as tragic as I was growing up, but I keep track of what's going on and watch the odd show if I've some time to kill or something monumental happens.

Last week was meant to be noteworthy.

The primary show, Monday Night RAW, was meant to feel the brunt of a tsunami-like wave of fan discontentment.

The city with one of the most vocal fans, Chicago, was to unleash a disgruntled fury against the creative direction of the company.

To make the situation more volatile, the hometown boy - CM Punk - was rumored to make his big return after walking out on the company, and, as you can see below... his people love him...

The plan was dubbed #HijackRAW. It trended worldwide on Twitter and even had a manifesto outlining the way the crowd would take control.

I wonder... What would happen if a similar thing happened in church?

Could someone #HijackWORSHIP or #HijackSERMON?
If they tried, how would they do it?
What would the manifesto describe?
Who would be more annoyed, fellow congregation members or clergy?
How would a church leader appropriately respond?
Worse still, how many people would need to drastically change their actions to be a part of the anarchy?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Second year problems

I've mentioned before that longevity's a positive thing in ministry but, having been at my church for over a year now, it's starting to create a problem...

For I get ideas fairly quickly. When faced with a sermon or children's address, I'll have a thought pop into my mind without too much strain. 

But I also have a poor memory.

Herein lies the problem.

I'll forget the stories, illustrations and objects I've used in the past, and one day, get caught using the same immediate-ideas to describe different, even opposing, things.