Monday, August 31, 2015

Who should I be caught by if I had an AM account?

This weekend, churches across the world are about to have a leadership bomb explode in light of the account details of the Ashley Madison hack becoming public. 

In the North America, it's estimated that 400 church leaders will be standing down. I don't know how many ministers, church staff, deacons and elders will be caught up in Australia, but with a million users, some churches will  inevitably be affected.

I wonder, how many churches had awkward moments in a staff meeting where they wondered...?

Better yet, how many asked the question?

So far, I haven't been asked (don't by the way...).
And I didn't pose the question to our Minister of the Word.

Is it something we should have asked?

I wonder, when it comes to the leaders of denominations, if they thought about calling every church worker under their care and openly asking them if they had an AM account.

We're they, in light of the damaging (and inevitable) exposure, obligated to pose the question?

Furthermore, as the details become easier to find and navigate through, how many congregation members will search for their minister?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Paying to shun a hymn for a year???

The other day I saw a picture on Facebook of, what could be argued, is the most brilliant money-raising scheme ever devised.

In short, it's a form where you nominate a hymn/song your church sings and an amount you'd be willing to pay in order for it to be "retired" for the next twelve months.

Of course, the beauty of the fundraiser is that you can then pay an excessive amount to "save" a tune if it's one of your favourites and nominate an alternative.

As a cash-raising activity, I think it's borderline genius. Super-villain diabolical...

But as a church-unity initiative, the idea screams red-flag. I can imagine blinding arguments breaking out if someone tried to nominate a cherished song from someone else's childhood or the final song at grandma's funeral.

Furthermore, this idea can be theologically impeding. What if somebody, instead of being musically offended by a tune, really wants a hymn cast out because it contains theology which, although throughly accurate, grates at them due to sin or closed-mindedness? Are you allowing them to pay in order to keep their conscience seared?

As good as a fundraiser as this may be, I'm just not sure that the cost could be worth it...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How far from perfection do you really need to aim for?

Yesterday I stumbled over the post titled 30 Tips for Church Stage Designs on with the following one particularly jumping out at me.

It only has to look good from 20 feet away. (Or your first row of seats.) Don’t spend hours making it look perfect from up close—no one is looking at it from there.

I wonder, in any ministry - not just stage design - how much time do we spend making improvements which no one else will notice?

How long to we tinker with the PowerPoint slides...
How long to we nudge around a picture on the flier...
How long do we stress over the details of a scripture lesson...
How long do we agonise over wording in the youth group talk...
When, from the view "the audience" will have, it will be near inconsequential detailing?

If we took the time to look at what we're "producing" from the standpoint of the congregation, would we strive for less minute perfection and more 5-meters-away-quality?

Monday, August 24, 2015

The mindset that appreciates the less-than-perfect

The other drummer misses a beat...
The alternate singer doesn't quite hit that note...
That youth minister down the road stumbles during the joint Christmas service address...
Someone else at church has problems with their microphone...

None of the above scenarios are a disaster.  Far from it. In fact, most are barely glitches when looking at the big picture.

But I wonder if some in attendance, who could also fill the role, get a sinister, internal, joy when they see someone else falter? 

If so, how is this best dealt with?

Surely you can't apologise to the person. This would bring to light that you not only noticed their misstep but come across as either judgemental or self righteous.

Of course, you should bring that attitude to God in repentance.

Ideally, it's a change of heart which is required, desiring the best for those around you and viewing the efforts of theirs in the absolute best light.

Then, even if everything doesn't run flawlessly, you're in a far better place to, not only overlook the problem, but be able to see, appreciate, and genuinely communicate the positive things which were ministered to you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Calling once the phone is silent

When a crisis hits, and someone enters a difficult season of life, everyone works the phones to offer support, condolences or help.

But, all too quickly, the phone stops ringing.

And the silence can be deafening.

This is when the second most important wave of calls needs to be made.

A week later...
A fortnight on...
One month after the funeral...
On significant anniversaries...

Whilst the conversation doesn't need to be long, it does need to remind the person that they are not forgotten and that the offer of prayer, support and help are still ongoing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Know who pays the bill

A lot of things in life come with a cost...

A lot of things in ministry cost...

But the cost isn't always horded. Sometimes it's shared...
With your spouse.
With your family.
With your work mate.
With your church.

At times, when you're going to bear the cost of a decision alone, the choice is upon your shoulders alone because you're the one who'll solely pick up the tab. 

But, when the ramifications of a decision spread beyond you alone, then the choice must be weighed up by those who'll need to foot the bill.

The challenge is determining who are going to be the ones who'll need to pay for your choices

Monday, August 10, 2015

Count by the month, not week

Undeniably, church attendance in the West has dropped. And it's still dropping.

I wonder if one contributing factor, although certainly not the main one, is the way we track church attendance.

As I mentioned here, the realistic expectation for families to attend church each week is near unreasonable.

Sure, a few blessed families will attend 50 weeks a year, but the realism of families being at church 25 weeks per annum must be faced.

So, when it comes to counting bumbs-on-seats, should we calculate by the month instead of by the week?

If we want an accurate representation of our congregations numbers, and those whom are regularly connected with our church, then I think this method will be far closer in reflecting the true number (or at least those who would consider a church "theirs")...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Setting the equation

When it comes to high school scripture, increasingly, there are some topics (mostly revolving around sexuality) which schools want you to avoid directly speaking on.

One way around directly answering the common queries about sexuality, which will inevitably arise with teens, is to set the equation, but leave the answer blank.

What do I mean?

Say, for example, you're asked about to hot-button issue of gay marriage...

Now, instead of launching into a diatribe of mainline Christian thought sprinkled with your own opinion, instead, you can simply pose a series of questions which need to be thought through...

What is equality?
What is marriage?
Is marriage a human right?
Can the definition of marriage be changed?
Do we still need marriage?
Who should be able to say what marriage is?
What is the place of the church and government in deciding what people can or cannot do?

If the students can engage with such questions, it will not only clarify what they think about a contentious topic, but the teens are then in a far better place to wrestle with what the bible and church have to contribute.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How > Should

I've written about the place of life application in sermons a number of times (like here, here and here).

But the form of application usually takes one of two routes with one far more preferable than the other.

One option is to tell people what they SHOULD do in light of what the bible says.

The danger in this is that it can lead to legalism and promote guilt.

The second option is to share with people HOW they can use what the bible says.

This, alternatively, opens up an avenue for the listener to feel empowered (or at least slightly more confident) in living out what the sermon was all about.

The trouble is, churches can push the former over the later because telling someone how the gospel can change their lives is more difficult to measure than a black-and-white instruction to follow.