Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When our powers combine...

When our powers combine we are... slightly more efficient!
At least that is the plan.

Yesterday I had a chat to another local youth minister about combining our planning for the last two terms of 2014.

Normally I take my youth group leaders away twice a year in order to plan the next six months. In short, they are awesome.

But they are also expensive.

Too expensive.

For example, at the start of the year, I brought my leaders dinner at the pub, ice-creams/snacks on the way to the afternoon activity and, all up, the weekend ended up costing me a few hundred dollars more than everyone else.

One problem's that my leadership team is now JUST shy of the number needed to break even financially.

So, in a few months I need to expand the warm bodies who'll be in attendance. In theory, this will solve the financial issues.

BUT, the bonus flows from this post about sharing resources and ideas. If two youth groups can hear one another planning talks and activities then they can spitball ideas and, if the other group has done a similar topic, share what did and didn't work previously.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter Tiny Bible Bits 2014

Based around the six statements of Easter, this is what I wrote over the last few weeks on Tiny Bible Bits.

Matthew 21:8-9 – A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
The story of Easter can be summed up by a series of statements which I’ll be looking at over the next week-and-a-half. The cries of the crowd is the first one – Hosanna.

When Jesus enters Jerusalem, he rides in as a humble king; not on a chariot, but a donkey.

The crowds, in the capital for Passover, saw Jesus as a Messianic conqueror. In Jerusalem to remember God’s saving hand in Egypt, saw Jesus as the answer to the dilemma that was Caesar.

So they cry out for God to once again save them.
And He would.

He would bring salvation through the cross, not the sword.
He would bring peace between God and humanity, not the Jews and the authorities.

He would bring a lasting deliverance to all those who would place their trust in Him.

As we’ll see in a few days, the crowds quickly turn on Jesus.
One reason is that He wasn’t the kind of Messiah they were expecting.
Thankfully for them, and us, Jesus is the prefect saviour which we all need.

Matthew 22:21-23 – “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”
“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Surely we wouldn’t respond in a similar manner as those before Pilate. Surely.
Unless, if you’re anything like me, you dare to examine your thought life… Then, I suspect, that you put Jesus to death all too often.

When the Spirit of Christ convicts you of sin, you crucify its prompting.
When the Spirit of Christ reminders you to be involved positively in the lives of others, you ignore the suggestion.

In so many ways we, like those in the first century, decide that we don’t want Jesus, instead, desiring something else.

Matthew 27:46 – About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Constant union.

Since time infinite this is what Jesus had, as a part of the Trinity, with The Father.

At Easter, that union was broken so we could be united with our Heavenly Father.

This is the good news of Good Friday.

Who are you going to bring to church at Easter to hear about it?

John 19:30 – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

What is finished?

The mission of the Incarnate God.
Paying the wages of sin for humanity.
Separation between you and God.

This is why we can call Good Friday good.

Mark 15:39 – And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Did you go to church Easter weekend?
When you encountered the Easter story, how do you respond?

How did you respond to the God who would break into human history in order to live a perfect life and be unjustly put to death?

How did you respond to the God who would lay down His life in order to bring unity with His creation?

How did you respond to the God who is intimately familiar with grief, suffering, pain and sorrow?

Like the centurion, you stood before the Easter story, how did you respond?

Matthew 28:6 – He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

The truth of this verse should’ve been the core message of church on Easter Sunday.

The tomb was empty…
Jesus was raised…
Just as He said.

For some, once the benediction was given, Easter was over for another year.

But the gospel of the resurrected Jesus continues all year.

For this Sunday, and every day, we should celebrate that…
The tomb was empty…
Jesus was raised…
Just as He said.

Matthew 28:6 – He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

At the tomb the angels told the women to come and see.
Come and see the empty tomb.
Come and see the faithfulness of God.
Come and see where He lay.

On Easter Sunday many churches had a determined effort to invite others to church. On Easter Sunday we especially want our family and friends to hear about the Lord who conquered the grave.

This Sunday, like every Sunday, billions of Christians will once again come together to remember that Jesus is risen.

So this Sunday, even though it’s not Easter Sunday, who are you going to invite to “come and see?”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Are we worth half a million bucks?

I'm extremely grateful that I work for a church, full time, in youth ministry.
I'm grateful that I get to do something which I enjoy and find meaning in and I'm grateful because my family like to eat.

I don't know what the average full-time youth minister/pastor is paid per year. For the sake of this article I'm going to say $40,000 (that is about on par with what I found here and here).

With longevity being important and youth ministry being cyclic (getting in a new generation of kids every six years), I wonder, after a dozen years, does a church get a HALF A MILLION dollars worth?

Now, twelve years is a long time...
And spiritual (not to mention physical, emotional, relational, social, mental) transformation and development is impossible to measure...
And this can as easily apply to any ministry worker (children's, family, small groups, pastoral care, admin, associate, teaching, lead/head/senior minister)... 


If you went up to your average church and asked them to chip in $500,000 towards a ministry would they reconsider because the number is so substantially greater than 40K per year?

When weighed up against the way that large sum of money could be used, would they see it as a fair trade?

Additionally, if this money was viewed as a long-term investment not a rolling annual amount, would the evaluation of a ministries' effectiveness be different?

If nothing else, when such substantial numbers are thrown about, it should make those working in ministry sit back and consider the great, long-term, cost faithful people have made.

Friday, April 18, 2014

REPOST: Why do we call Good Friday Good?

A day when a completely good...
Absolutely innocent man...
Was betrayed by one of His closest friends...
Abandoned by all...
Endured a fixed court case...
With false witnesses...
With no presumption of innocence...
Held under the cover of darkness...
Prosecuted by the wrong person...
With no defense entered or allowed...
Was beaten...
Spat on...
Overlooked for a murderer...
Who heard those who previously cheered for Him now cry out for His execution...
Who had to personally transport His death implement...
Held to it by five inch long nails...
Stripped naked...
Mocked by those who passed by...
Insulted by those who orchestrated His murder and those who were being killed on either side of Him...
Who endured an excruciating ordeal...
Dying a death reserved for the lowest of low...
The worst of the worst...
A demise off limits to those in power...
A fate, in the eyes of the Jews, for those cursed by God...
Who, in His own words, was FORSAKEN BY GOD...

It was the ultimate injustice.

Before His own mother...
A son...
A friend...
A teacher...
The King...
The Messiah...
The Son of God... was killed.

The day the bread of life was broken and the blood of the Lamb split...


The only reason we dare label this day good is due to what it achieved. It tore down the division between God and humanity. 

The result of Jesus' death and resurrection is the reason we celebrate Easter and can call Good Friday good.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Losing the church in the "divorce"

Year 6...
Year 7...
Year 9-10...
Year 12...
First year university...
Getting married...
Once you become a parent...

I've written about the drop out points in youth and young(ish) adult ministry before.


Some drop out point are caused by life change...
Ending primary school.
Starting high school.
Starting higher education.
You "graduate" from a group.
Moving out.
Starting a family.

Others develop relationally...
Your friendship group changes.
You get married.

In this later category, another reason can emerge.

Breaking up.

Whenever a church-going couple break up, it's not unusual for one side of the pairing to "get" the church in the ''division of assets."

For some, it will be that they attended the church for the least amount of time, thus they feel relationally squeezed out.
For others, it will be that they are "at fault" for the break up and will feel uncomfortable, even judged, at church.
In some rare cases, in order to allow one member of the former-couple to stay connected, the other will volunteer to step aside and go somewhere else.

This is the risk when two people date, no matter how well they swear to "purposely uncouple."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The six statements of Easter

Just like the entire bible can be summed up by five meals, the story of Easter can be summed up by six statements.


Crucify Him!
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
It is finished.
Surely this man was the Son of God!
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Over the next week-and-a-half I'll be reflecting on each of them at Tiny Bible Bits. You can check it out here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Restored perspective

This week the I was scheduled to speak at three primary school Easter scripture services.
I was only able to appear at two.

Yesterday it took me 2.5 hours to get to work.
Normally it takes 55 minutes.

As I was stuck in a massive traffic jam, eventually backtracking and AGAIN getting slammed by a plethora of cars, I started to stress.

As the minutes ticked away, the moments of the morning drifted past.

First, I was going to be late to setting up our church for the latter scripture service. Then I had to call my minister, who was helping me set up, and tell him that he would need to set up alone. 

After this, I started to scramble for the number of someone who might need to kill a few minutes if I was "very on time" to the first service. 

Finally, I had to admit defeat and arrange for someone else to fill in and speak at the service.

I was increasingly annoyed.

I promised the school and scripture teachers that I would speak...
I had a good talk planned...
It was a good opportunity at be "up front" at a school I'm on the fringe of...
I, potentially, put someone in a really difficult position by asking them to fill in at the last moment...

Then I heard that the delay was caused by a fatal car accident.
Someone died that morning.
Everything changed.

My problems weren't that important. 
Perspective was restored.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ideas need microwaves and slow cookers

Some people have ideas. They see the vision before anyone else does. They are the innovators I spoke about here.

Others jump on board when they hear about the new idea.
They would be the early adopters.

Of theses, some are microwaves and some are slow cookers.

The microwaves will want action. Screw the procedures. They want to see tangible results. Immediately if possible.
The slow cookers will be just as committed as the microwaves, but will have the patience to see the entire project through.

Microwaves will often burn themselves out or get side-tracked when the next new initiative comes along.

For an idea to see the light of day, you need both microwaves and slow cookers.

Microwaves will provide the enthusiasm, energy and positivity to help sell the idea.
Slow cookers will be the ones who help the idea get past the difficult fall over moments.

The challenge is finding a healthy mix of both and managing their expectations.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The change equation

No matter if it is losing weight, learning a language, starting a new ministry or kicking a bad habit...

Identify + Desire + Envisage + Plan + Accountability = Change

See the need to change...
Want to change because it will take you to a better place...
See an anticipated destination...
Have a series of achievable steps towards change...
Be held responsible until you reach your goal...

When you have all these pieces then you have lasting change.