Monday, July 16, 2018

We shouldn’t just major on conversion or discipleship


Jesus invites His church to make both.

But, these are not the same thing and they are not done the same way.

Conversion, in a Christian sense, is about actually becoming a Christian. It is about giving control of your life to Jesus, taking the mantle of authority off your own head.

Discipleship, on the other hand, is the seeking to live your life the way Jesus showed and taught.

One is an event.
The other is a process.

One has a date.
The other is day-by-day.

One is a 180 degree turn from the direction your life is going.
The other is an ongoing journey in the same direction.

In general, churches will focus stronger on conversion or discipleship and, thus, do one more effectively than the other.

Churches will either stress gospel presentations and alter calls or bible study membership and authentic fellowship.

The irony is, we need to do both well.

If we just push conversion then, eventually, any converts we produce will feel unconnected, unsupported and move elsewhere.

Equally, if we major on discipleship, then our churches will be in danger of becoming stagnant cliques.

To be a healthy, growing, Christian community, we need to do both, or else our churches will be in danger of becoming a nursery or a retirement home.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Why picking a scene should be asked more in church

Thinking of a personal example can be challenging. Especially at short notice.

Sharing a way you might apply a biblical concept can be tough. Especially if it is a sensitive or convicting area.

Yet, these are common questions posed during most bible studies and sermons.

What if, at least at times, we engaged people in a slightly less personal, and thus less threatening, way?

One novel way might be, particularly when introducing a topic, to invite people to try and think of a scene or character in a movie or tv show who would apply to the topic.

This might allow introverts a less challenging way to engage and contribute.

But, there should be one rule for anyone wanting to invite media engagement - you need to have one example you can think of, preferably two.


Because if you can’t think of two examples, then the question might be too difficult to answer.

Furthermore, with a few responses, you can give an example to show them what you’re inviting them to think of, and then have another answer when sharing begins.

Since we live in a society so entrenched in our consumption of media, it’s a good idea to actively seek engagement with these narratives to show how biblical principals can be applied.

At worst, it might stretch those within our churches to engage with the things which they watch deeper and through the lens of scripture.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How important are you showing that your small groups are?

One of the secrets for effective discipleship, not to mention church member engagement and retention, is a group of believers who meet regularly to study the bible, pray, share life with and hold each other accountable. While these things happen on a Sunday, the best place for them to occur are within a smaller setting.

Ministers know this.
Churches know this.
Larger churches depend on this.

Yet, you’d never know it from the way many churches behave.

They don’t push the importance of small groups.
They don’t explain the significance to new believers.
They don’t show their importance by publishing when and where they are.
They don’t provide space in their services to advertise them.
They don’t share what is happening within their small groups.
They rarely have someone dedicated to oversee them.

So, the message sent is, they are a luxurious extra which don’t really matter.

If we measure the importance of something by the way they are publicised or the amount of time they are given up the front on a Sunday, then it could be argued that many churches value their rosters or the protocol required to send in a notice more than their small groups.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Why I haven’t watched a single espisode of 13 Reasons Why but every youth minister should

I’ve never watched an episode of 13 Reasons Why. I don’t have to anymore.

Over the last few days I haven’t had to frantically try to find out if someone within my ministry has a connection to two teens killed by their father in the neighbouring suburb. Now there’s no need.

I no longer feel the need to keep up to date about wider church or Christian controversies.

Since leaving ministry a few years ago, things have changed. I now don’t need to have my finger on the pulse of youth trends, especially of disturbing ones, or be concerned with the way global or local incidents might effect people within my church or ministry.

As my vocation has changed a lot of ministry induced quirks have fallen away.

I wonder how many people going into relational ministry have these mindsets and if a church would evaluate this when looking to hire someone.

Personally, if I was looking to hire a minister, a question I pose would be connected with a rising influence within their ministry scope, a local event or Christian talking point - like the Royal Commission into institutional sexual abuse, and hear what opinion they have and how it might apply to their ministry context.

I think it’s these qualities, as much as any, which help shape a quality ministry agent.

They know.
They care.
The research.
They read.
The keep up to date.

The reason?

You don’t want to be caught off guard or thrown about by a punch you don’t see coming.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The powerful message of pronounciation

Earlier this week I wrote the following about the above video on Tiny Bible Bits...

John 10:3 - The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 
The video below is from the broardcasters of the World Cup and has been making its way around social media in Australia.
In short it is about the importance of names, the significance of correct pronunciation and the effort required to get it right.
The hosts acknowledge, in a multicultural society, the honour that is shown when you ensure that you pronounce someone’s name correctly. 
Why? Because our names, and the people behind them, matter.
Jesus tells us that The Father knows your name.
He is familiar with it.
He calls it out.
Because the Good Shepherd not only knows the name of His sheep, but each member of His flock personally.

As someone who worked in a very multicultural denomination who’s churches regularly house multiple congregations spanning two cultural groups, I’ve seen a few people apply the message of this video to ministry.

The importance we put in learning and using someone’s name matters because it displays the importance they have, to us personally, within the church and as someone made in God’s image.

For our efforts to correctly pronounce a name sends a message - you matter.

This is true within the church.
This is true within the classroom.
This is true within sport.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Making space for #SpiritualParentingWins

Over the weekend something very exciting happened.
For the first time I heard my eldest child really pray.

Not in church...
Not with prompting...
Not with a suggested script or structure...

But it wasn’t over something massive like world peace.

Instead, it was over her fish being safely transferred from the container they were being kept in back to their newly cleansed fish tank.

Honestly, it took me by surprise and took a few seconds to work out what was going on.

But it was incredible.

I wish I could tell... everyone.
But, in general, churches don’t really give space to celebrate these kinds of spiritual parenting wins.

Which is a massive shame.

Churches should be the very place that we enter and comfortably share the spiritual milestones of our kids.

Yet, all too often, it’s not.

Churches don’t invite parents to share where God has been evident amongst their family.
Churches don’t share stories of spiritual parenting wins.
Churches don’t alert parents to opportunities of faith development and exploration.

When I was in ministry, I didn’t.

Which was a disservice to the families in those churches.
And a disservice to their kids.
And a massive missed opportunity for the congregation.