Sunday, October 29, 2017

Are periods or mental illness too offensive for Facebook?

Last wast week I posted a Tiny Bible Bit, which you can read below and it was fairly popular, so Facebook told me, performing better that 95% of my posts.

So, I decided to fork out a few dollars and pay for the post to go to a wider audience.

And... It was rejected by Facebook.

Take a read of the post below and then guess why...

Mark 5:25-26 - And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

I'm not talking about punctuation.
The other one.

For some of you reading this, they will just be a part of your life. For others, they will be quite foreign.

If you search YouTube for people, primarily men (unsurprisingly!), being clueless about the menstrual cycle then you'll be inundated with results.

I'm guessing, in the first century, the knowledge men held about the female anatomy, never mind the condition suffered by the woman who approached Jesus, was just as foreign.

As a woman, she was an outsider.
With her condition, she was an outcast.
As a patient, she was a mystery.

As a person, before Jesus, she was important enough to stop for and heal.

What might be an equivalent, misunderstood, condition today?
Bipolar disorder?

No matter what it might be, remember that those we misunderstand, shun or avoid are welcomed by Jesus. 
They are important enough for Him to stop for.
They are significant enough for Him to transform.

Perhaps we should be more open to engage with those with mental illness because they are the very people reaching out for Jesus.

To quote Facebook "Your advert wasn't approved because it doesn't follow our advertising policies, which apply to an advert's content, its audience and the destination it links to. We don't allow advert's that use profanity, or refer to viewers attributes (eg race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, name) or harass viewers.

So, why do you think I was rejected?

Is the word period profane?
Is the mesural cycle offensive?
Did I offend clueless men?
Is mental illness a taboo topic?

I don't know, but it seemed to strike a cord for quite a few, and (in a slice of irony I find funny) especially liked by women.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What to do about the person who MUST answer every question

Some people are super extroverted. 
Few of them reside in churches. 
But they do exist.

And some people are super-charged bible study extroverts.

They feel the need to answer every question... Usually first.
They have an innate drive to add a comment... Even if it occurs prior to fully engaging their brain.

I've been in bible studies with these people.
I've lead bible studies with these people.
I've overseen youth ministries which have included, both as participants and leaders, these people.

At times they are wonderful.
They stimulate discussion.
They keep the study progressing.
They, usually, far exceede silence.

But, they can also, unhelpfully, dominate.
They can be a distraction.
They can steal the train of thought of others or deprive them of feeling that they need to contribute.

So, what do you do with the always-answering extrovert?

As the youth minister, if a leader was dominating their group then I just asked them to slow down. Count to ten before you answer. Intentionally wait for someone else to respond first for every second question. 

As a leader, if a participant is overpowering others giving their input, then there's a few simple things you can do. 

First, you can split people into pairs and ask them to talk about the question, then, intentionally, don't ask for mr/mrs talkalot pairing to respond first.

Second, similar to the first option, you could specifically ask for an induvidual to respond first, or a type of induvidual (such as gender or life stage).

But, always remember, any group should be welcome and enclusive for all. Even those who love to chatter away.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Celebrate the story of the church sleeper

I've done it a few times.
From the back of the church, I've seen the telltale head bobble.
From the front of the servie, it hasn't gone unnoticed.

Given enough time and life stages, everyone will almost drift off to sleep during church.

Kids are tiring.
Jobs are tiring.
Study is tiring.
Modern life is tiring.

One danger is to judge those who are evidently fighting against the sleep monster during church.

I think there's a better response.

Celebrate the sleeper.
Pray for the sleeper.


Because, chances are, you don't know the story of why they are tired... EXCEPT that, even in their tiredness, they turned up to church.

So, celebrate that the mother with the sick or restless baby turned up.
Celebrate that the student who had to stay up late to finish the assignment turned up.
Celebrate that the middle aged man, when things are really stressful at work, still turned up.

For, it shows, that for them, even in their tiredness, church still mattered.
It shows, even with their tiredness, that they dragged themselves out of bed, because church attendance matters.

This should be celebrated.

Because, one day, it will be you.

And, like them, you'll have the choice about turning up to church. 

And, if you don't judge them, then your church might become somewhere where you'd be more likely to get dress and turn up while exhausted.

What would you rather... The church sleeper stayed home?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Should you utilise the church spy?

During my ministry career I switched churches on three occasions. 
Over the last two decades I've seen around a dozen ministry agents come and go - both as a congregation member and as the only other staff member.

In ministry, people transition.
Additionally, in ministry, people know many others within churches.

My pondering is about church spies. 
Should you use them?

Should a prospective or incoming minister "get the goss" on the new church or secure the "inside word" on where they are going?
Should they, like I did at times, chat to the outgoing ministry agent?
Should they, innocently or not, connect with a member of the congregation?
Should they check the responses the interview panel gave with the real "lay of the land?"

As a professional, it makes perfect sense to go in with as much information as possible.

But, do you threaten to poison the well before you arrive?
Do you expose yourself to unhelpful, or even untrue, preconceived ideas?
Shouldn't those in a new church deserve, more or less, a clean slate with an incoming minister?

Frankly, I rathered going into a place with my eyes open.

But, interacting with someone - be it the church council chair, treasures, secretary, lay leader, church gatekeeper, or ill-regular attendee - might work better if you don't go in wearing the lenses of your church mole.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Our problem is not the cost of living

As a resident of Sydney, I live in one of the most expensive places on the entire globe. On top of that, I live in one of the wealthier parts of the city.

Now, under no circumstances am I obscenely rich, but in the lottery of birthplaces, I lucked out.

This morning at church I was having a chat with a few, similar to me, parents of young kids.

It was noted, as privileged as we all are, we don't really compare to some of our neighbours.

As someone who reads gas meters across properties in Sydney, I see some truely incredible units and houses. 

My lifestyle doesn't even compare.

One of the parents at church observed, wisely, that the real expense in Sydney (one mirrored in much of the West) isn't the basic cost of living.

Our problems are driven by the cost of want.

Our wants are expensive.
Our wants keep us in debt.
Our wants ensure that we always need to work longer and earn more.

Food. Water. Shelter. Basic comfort.
For many of us, with hard work, these are within reach.

Our wants, especially in a keeping-up-with-the-Jones'/projecting-a-perfectly-filtered-life-on-social-media culture, are the genesis for our obsession with money and the basis which leads us towards currency idolatry.