Friday, July 29, 2016

Are you known as a Jesus preacher?

A while ago I wrote about preaching hobby-horses.

As a minister increasingly rides their topic-of-choice then they can aquire the label as a (insert topic) preacher.

But, I wonder, how many ministers would feel comfortable being a "Jesus preacher?"
How many, if they were brutally honest, would rather be renown for preaching the fundamental gospel then their hobby-horse?

In theory, this shouldn't be a difficult question...

Until it means that you're known for Jesus more than being popular.
Or... and this would often suck me in... Fun.
Or relevant to today's culture.
Or the innovative/engaging ministry strategy you use.
Or the subject you've majored in.
Of the topic you're an "expert" in.

I ask because, even if the minister might not want something other than Jesus to be their main focus, their continued rhetoric draws the focus away from the primary gospel message. 

Ironically, this would be something they'd desperately want to avoid.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The second generation challenge

I'm not, culturally, second generation.

But, in many ways, I am liturgically.

In my denomination, I'm the first of a generation free from foundational denominational allegiances.
I've been the first to jump from the established youth/young adult focused evening service to the more traditional morning service.
I've been the first to try and break into young adult and family ministry circles.

And, liturgically, these present many of the similar challenges which face those of a cultural second generation.

How do you move forward when you're entering something already established?
How do you make changes in the face of longstanding tradition?
How do you plot the next step when it doesn't look like the one that is treasured, yet unsatisfying?

These are the challenges that await those who are on the cusp of the next liturgical transition and must be kept in mind by those who minister to young adults and those who are the ministers and elders of a church which the emerging generation are breaking into.

Friday, July 22, 2016

What forces the church into Code Red

Double Red. Red. Yellow. Blue. Gray.

In the world of a star fleet every alert signal isn't the same.

In the world of ministry every church member isn't the same.

There... I said it.

While all people are made in the image of God, welcomed and recipients of God's grace, some people will leave a far larger impact and, thus, a larger hole when they depart a church.

If you're around churches long enough, you'll see plenty of people leave.

And, as I said earlier, every person isn't the same.

For some, their departure will be welcomed. They were divisive. They were disruptive to what God is doing and where the church is headed.

For some, their departure will be inevitable. They were heading toward a life stage which will take them elsewhere.

For some, their departure will be disappointing. They were members of the church, but didn't solidly buy in or contribute as much as you'd hoped.

For others, their departure is gut-wrenching. They were rusted on. They were heavily involved. Seemingly, they were at the church whenever the doors were open. You never imagined that they would every leave.

And, when the later leave the church, it's a code red. Double red even.

I've been in a situation when a rusted on member of a youth ministry has left.

It hurt.

She was someone who I thought would be at the church for decades...
She was someone who I thought God would build the ministry, and church, around...

And she told me that the church wasn't for her anymore.

When she left we went into double red.
Everything was honestly examined.
Including myself.

For, nothing should force you to deeply look at what you're doing than the departure of a rusted-on church member.

Ideally, if done right, the process, whilst painful, can be one which results in improved processes, new growth and renewed purpose.

All you need to do is be able to stare down the reasons for the code red...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why leaving a church should be like buying condoms

I mentioned to someone today that leaving a church should be like buying condoms.

Oddly, they needed further explanation...
Perhaps you do to.

As I mentioned here, buying condoms should be something you're prepared to do while looking a human in the eye.

Why? Because using condoms is a mature action and one which you should be mature enough to be able to look someone in the eye and defend, especially if you're buying them for a good reason.

Leaving a church should, ideally, work the same way.

If you're leaving church for a good reason - you've changed life stages, you're stepping out into your own faith community, you're desiring to serve in a context which your church doesn't/can't provide, your church leadership is focusing on a theological (non-heretical) slant which you're not following, the church has cast a new vision/direction which you can't buy into, you're going on the man-hunt - then you should be prepared to have a face-to-face conversation with the church leadership.

It's a sign of maturity.

If you're leaving for a healthy reason, then it relieves those in leadership from thinking that they're solely to blame, and they deserve to be spared that anxiety.

Furthermore, if you leave well - giving clear reasons, wishing the church and its leadership well and promising not to bad-mouth the church - then you can depart as a friend, with their blessing.

And that, when it comes to church departures, is the perfect outcome.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

You MUST be the fundraising champion

People who work in ministry don't have overflowing wallets. Nowhere near. If you're in ministry for financial gains, you'll be disappointed.

Every Friday I'd go home with a fist full of shrapnel and the only thing, financially, overflowing from my time in ministry was the spare coins in the glovebox in my car.

BUT... Those in ministry have a financial duty...

Buy fundraising everything.


Raffle tickets...
40-Hour famine sponsorships...

One thing I would go out of my way to do was flog the fundraising wares of any kid at church.

If I didn't buy the whole box of chocolates, then I'd make sure to pimp out the chokkies until the box was empty.

Not only would I sponsor the kid for the 40-Hour famine, but I'd make sure that the teen was at the morning service and would leave with a sponsor-book full of pledges.


Because I want kids to, not only, feel comfortable in bringing their fundraising endeavours to church, but open an opportunity for them to share the stories of what they're fundraising for AND the church should be utmost prepared to support any good cause that their young people are involved in.

Any time a kid trundles through the door with a box of fundraising chocolates, supper is instantly supplemented... No excuse.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The ministry of silence

A while ago I read this blog post about remaining silent which really resonated with me.

In the past I've moved on from working at four churches and been involved in numerous other ministries. 

And, I'd like to think, in the main, that I've remained silent about their problems.

I haven't ripped them apart to congregants.
I haven't made snarky comments of social media.

I've remained silent.

And, sometimes, that's the best thing you can do.

Even if it's not easy...
Even if it's not what you want to do...
Even if you think they deserve a good slamming...

Sometimes you need to exercise the ministry of silence.

Silence against critics...
Silence when you aren't in agreement with a decision...
Silence when your voice will bring division...

For, as it says in Ecclesiastes, there's a time to be silent and a time to speak.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

This Sunday won't be the Best-Sunday-Ever!!!

In my new job, reading gas meters, they recently modified the descriptions for dogs inside properties. Now, every dog is classified as savage. Big dogs. Small dogs. Loud dogs. Quiet dogs. I'm-going-to-lick-you-to-death dogs. I'm-going-to-rip-your-throat-out dogs.

Every dog.

Of course, this is done as an OHS precaution, but, obviously, every dog isn't savage.

In fact, due to the overstating of the danger of the dogs, now I'm at greater risk since I'm unsure which property has a hell-hound behind the gate and which has the playful puppy called Spot. 

I mention this, especially in a ministry context, because every event will not be amazing and every Sunday won't be the best ever.

Yet, all too often, we advertise that they will be.

And, in doing so, we actually weaken the effectiveness of our message.


Because we promote something which a) won't be the case for everyone and b) can't be the case every time.

Worse still, the problem is completely avoidable.

Are you excited about an event? Just promote that...
Are you expecting it to be really good? Just say that...
Are you expecting God to be at work? Just share that...
Are you expecting this Sunday to be exceptional due to a guest speaker or a different element of the service? Shout that loud and proud...

But, keep your "amazing" and "best-service-ever" exclamations for when they'll actually pay off.