Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Would the need to poop ever be a sermon stopper?

I mentioned in my pre-sermon checklist the importance to poop before you preach. No one wants to be, at worst, uncomfortable while speaking.

But, I wonder what would happen if you were preaching, or leading a church service, and the urge to poop struck?

Sure, I'd hope you'd be able to tough it out (I was going to say suck it up, but that didn't sound quite right). But, what if you couldn't...

What if the feeling was beyond an urge?

Would you stop what you were doing?

Ideally, if you were leading a service then you could just get someone, between service elements, to sub in for you and take over off the cuff.

But, this is far more difficult mid-sermon.

If you're on the verge of a poo explosion ten minutes in?

As a sign of authenticity and genuineness you could just announce your need and duck out for a few minutes.

Alternatively, you could try to grant yourself a communal or spiritual window by asking the congregation to share with the person next to them or prayerfully consider a point for a few moments.

Of course, with these options you run the risk of your absence being noticed and needing to be stealthy in your departure.

From a congregational standpoint, how would you feel if your preacher took a poop break?

Would it be funny?
Would it be awkward?
Would you feel more empathy for the preacher?
Alternatively, would you feel disgusted, offended or removed from a "spiritual" moment?

No matter, one course of action couldn't be for the preacher to poop themselves in the pulpit. 


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Praying for the new academic year

This morning at church the service leader did something I can't recall happening during a service I've attended and something I'm unsure ever occurred for me to do while in ministry.

They prayed for the children entering a new school year while they were in the service.

As a parent of a child going into another school year, it was really nice.

It reinforced for us as a family, but also for the children themselves, that we are a significant part of the community.

I liked how the church went out of their way to pray for the children, schools (even individually named) and the staff at the schools.

Usually, this kind of courtesy may be extended to the schools where a church teaches scripture, but this seemed to come purely from the place of wanting to bless the children and schools.

It was a really nice part of the service and reminded me that small gestures like this can have significant value for community building.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Giving a leg-up in open prayer

Awkward silences.

These can happen during church services.

Some are due to the moving of the Spirit when convicting people of their personal or communal sin. These are positive awkward silences.

Then there are the awkward silences which happen at the start of "open prayer."

The worst kind of these have little to do with the Spirit, or hesitant courtesy birthed from the desire to let others go first, instead it comes from a poor explanation of what is about to happen.

Maybe the leader just assumes that everyone knows how open prayer works and are comfortable with it...
Perhaps they just expect that there will be enough extroverts to get the prayer-ball rolling...

But, sometimes people need help.

Or, at least, a clear explanation.

Open prayer, ideally, should have someone recognised who will start and conclude the prayer. 

Better yet, a few launching points to get them comfortable would be grand.

I don't know why we toss open the doors of prayer, but all too often, don't give people enough structure or assistance in order to make what can, and should be, a meaningful experience run smoothly.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The departure video shouldn't be a eulogy.

Due to life stage and vocation transitions I've farewelled a number of churches. 
Over the last few decades I've seen a lot of others leave churches.

Some have been ministers or other staff members.
Some have been longtime members.
Some have been moving away or going on a mission assignment.

I don't think I've ever had a farewell video/PowerPoint presentation made about me. 
But I've seen a few.

It reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with a close friend from bible college.

He was in the process of making a video package for a couple who had got married and we're moving on to a new church.

Ultimately, he had to stop what he was doing and start again.


Because he realised that it looked like they had died.

Just like me, working for a church, he had seen his fair share of eulogising videos from funerals and it occurred to him that his video looked identical.

This is the danger of departures for those organising the farewells - they become too much like funerals.

Admittedly, they can/should be tinged with sadness. But, it should be measured appropriately.

No matter how long someone has been a member of the community, especially now that they can be kept in contact with/stalked via social media/networks, they aren't dying.

We should remember that, since we don't want to replicate a funeral.

And, if we falsely ratchet up the sorrow for a departure then we leave less appropriate mourning for permanent departures.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How I failed my scriputre classes

My eldest finished her first year of schooling sat year.
With that being the case, she also finished her first year of scripture.

For the most part, she really enjoyed it.

And it made me feel like I missed a massive opportunity.

Even deep into the summer school holidays, I'll still overhear my daughter singing songs she learnt in scripture.

I robbed my scripture kids of that chance.

Admittedly, I didn't teach many kindergarten classes over my decade-plus of scripture teaching, but, no matter which years I fronted, I avoided the musical components of the lesson like the plague.

I'd like to say that it only had to do with my lack of musical prowess. But the real reason is far darker.


I didn't like the songs.
I didn't want to sing them.
I didn't want to be heard singing them.

I was wrong.

I should have sucked it up.
Someone should have told me that it's an important part of the lesson.
I should have put the needs of the students above my own.
Just like I'd be prepared to do with teens, I should have left my dignity at the door.

But I didn't.

And, the more I hear my daughter sing songs from her scripture classes, the more I realise that my needs weren't the ones which should have been at the forefront of my mind and I denied them one of the most powerful ways young children learn about God.

Monday, January 15, 2018

When you DIY then you can adequately judge others work

Over the last month I've been knocking off another subject of my education degree, this time on the utilisation of technology in the classroom.

While looking at designing lessons, there was a strong suggestion that the best way to learn how to create an effective lesson and be throughly comfortable with the intergration of of the technology you use, is to create as much of it yourself as you can.

With the plethora of prepackaged lessons this could, quite easily, be a step you choose to omit.

Because lesson creation is time consuming.
And what you create might bomb.

Any ministry worker faces the exact same challenges.

Sermons take time... And you can just download a transcript.
Youth group curriculums take time... And you can just purchase a term program.
Kids talks, with a great hook and an exciting craft, take time... And you can search the web for a million ideas.

But, what you find won't be yours and it won't be as good a fit for your context.

So, while you'll save time, you might not do as effective ministry.

Now, I get it, everyone gets busy and seasons sometimes demand that you use your time in other places than preparation-from-scratch. But, if you want to be truely proficient at preaching/teaching and good at identifying great resources, then this talent and eye is best developed with hands on, creating, experience.