Sunday, March 25, 2018

How to cut off a service hijacker?

What do you do, if leading a church service, it gets hijacked?
I'm not talking about terrorists or a gun-toting-crazy...

I'm talking about those who, when invited to share, go into a full-blown take-over-the-service rant.

What do you do then?

Once the leader realises that they are at the dawn of a hijacking, they have three options.

The first is to do nothing. Show patience. Pray silently that their point, even if it's longwinded, will go somewhere productive. 

For some people, this will be the only time and place where they will feel comfortable enough to speak up and be listened to.

Other hijacks are more insidious.

For these people, you can either shut them down or redirect.

You can, in the gentlest way possible, affirm their answer, quickly summising their point, saying that you're moving on to others who want to share.

Otherwise you could exercise the technique that you'd be really interested in hearing their complete point, while cutting them short, but you'll be glad to chat with them further after the service.

Of course, this means you'll need to make space to talk at the conclusion of the service. This may not always be practical.

But, there's a secret in successfully pulling off the shut down or redirection.

Two breaths.

The person should get to share two breaths once you've recognised what's going on.


Because you don't want to be known as someone who will shut down input which you're not enthralled with.

Leading a public sharing time can be a delicate balancing act, but any interruption to an answer should, if nothing else, still communicate gratitude, inclusion and grace.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Communion should have crumbs

Communion comes in many forms.
The minister and church's theology of communion will shape this form.

If you fall into the category that communion is symbolic, then I think you need to explain and use the symbols which the Lord's Supper allows.

One powerful symbol within communion is the physical breaking of the bread.

I get perturbed when communion occurs and the elements are, at least in a sense, representative of what happened to Jesus or a significant identifier to the passion of Jesus, neglected and it seems silly to reject the most visceral enactment of the body being broken.

In short, I think there's significance in seeing and hearing the loaf being wretched apart, especially if it takes a bit of effort to tear it in two.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Giving vs Stewardship

Last week I led a bible study about stewardship and the topic got me thinking about the difference between stewardship and giving.

In short, giving - as the name implies - is about giving away what is yours to someone or something else. Giving is about letting go of what is yours.

Stewardship, meanwhile, is about using what is yours to share with others, not nessesarily giving away your time, talents or possessions, but expanding their reach to include or influence others.

God invites us to be both generous givers and good stewards.
The church needs its members to be both.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

There should be a guarantee to sit in the chair for 18 months

Leadership positions within a church transition.

Senior ministers.
Assistant minister.
Youth ministers.
Children's ministry workers.
Family ministers.
Pastoral care workers.
Head elder/Chair of Church Council.
Cleaner/Propert warden.

For any number of reasons there's a turnover of people. It's unavoidable.

But the timing isn't always unavoidable.

Ideally, for two vital lay-positions, their occupancy should go unchanged 18 months either side of an important change...

The chairperson of the leadership team/church council/elders and the treasurer should be established and committed while a church gets a new senior minister.


Because the new minister will need these two for a variety of information about the (true) state of the church and the culture of the congregation, putting aside any pastoral support these people can provide.

With these two offices assured, the new minister is spared the stress of advertising for a role, and potentially fielding questions, about a role they're somewhat unfamiliar with in that specific context. 

Furthermore, this reduces the workload and stress from a new minister if these offices are unoccupied for a period of time.

If nothing else, this assures any potential minister that a prospective church is adequately prepared for an incoming minister and that the key people in place between ministers will stick around in the immediate future.