Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Theologically infectious footprints

We all have a theological footprint and we have the power to imprint ours upon others.

You teach and, arguably more importantly, show those around you your understand about God, Jesus and faith.


Anyone who is aware that you are a Christian can, and will, examine your theological footprint.

This is even more true for those in ministry.
Now, your footprint is infectious.

To those in your bible study.
To those in the youth group.
To those you teach scripture to.
To those who hear you preach.

But, this transference is amplified again for those in Christian leadership.

Those on church councils and decision making bodies.
Those teaching in bible collages.

For, more often than not, theology trickles down from the head.
Good theology can infuse across entire denominations.
Poor theology will inject a toxin which will be increasingly difficult to diagnose and remove.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Contagions within the classroom and church

Within the classroom emotion is contagious. 

If the teacher is excited, then they will display enthusiasm, which is then observed by the students, which then increases their enjoyment, thus raising their engagement, which is observed by the teacher, which then increases their level of excitement...


If a teacher is unenthusiastic, then they will be sluggish in their lessons, which will be observed by students, which will decrease their enjoyment, creating disengagement, which is observed by the teacher, lowering their enthusiasm for teaching the class...

This equation is true both within the classroom and the church.

Just as enthusiasm is contagious at school, spiritual fevor is caught by the congregation.

Just as boredom infiltrates all within the class, spiritual lethargy spreads throughout a church.

When I think of many ministers, I wonder how many realise the contagion they are able to spread by their very presence and enjoyment in what they are doing.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Doing less means you value more

100 church services attended down to 40.
40 bible studies lead down to 4.
10 funerals attended down to 0.
35 sermons down to 0.
100 scripture lessons down to 0.
40 weeks of youth group and kids club down to 0.

This is how my annual ministry schedule has changed since 2016.

Over the last few years the biggest change has been the following... now I get to choose.

I now choose if I go to church.
I now choose if I volunteer to lead a bible study.
I’m now free to decide how free I am to invest in something new.

Before, I didn’t get a choice.

As much as I enjoyed my job, a lot of what I did was mandatory.

This is the difference between vocational ministry and volunteers - choice.

This has done two things in my mind.

First, it has increased my appreciation for anyone who volunteers in a ministry. I never truely understood the commitment and cost to vulunteers. 

Second, I’m more selective in what I choose to do. When in ministry I would leap at every chance to get involved and snatch at any new ministry avenue. Now, I’m able to be far more discerning. Again, this has increased my appreciation for those who discerningly choose to get involved.

Truthfully, I suspect I would never have reached this place if I stayed in the bubble of paid ministry...

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

5500 words which have made me more sympathetic to my leaders more

I’m currently doing a education/ancient history double degree, having upped my workload to three subjects this semester. As a consequence I’ve been dreading the number 5500. That’s how many words I’ve had to write across two assignments over the last five days.

Over the last two weeks I haven’t done a single church related activity.
No church services.
Not attending bible study.

My life has felt like nothing but reasearch, stressing, planning and writing for the past fortnight.

I even had to take a day off work.

Over the last fortnight I’ve become the very thing I used to hate - A flakey university student.

I used to hate it whenever my youth group leaders would skip events due to pressing university assignments.

I thought they were just unorganised and flakey.

Now I would be that leader.

And, if I was still in ministry, I would be vastly more sympathetic.

When I did my theology degree, I coasted through.
No worries.
Little stress.
Barely an insignificance.

Now, I’m neck-deep in assignments and have a far greater appreciation for university students.

Maybe every youth minister should undergo a stressful season of assignments and exams in order to know, or remember, what their leaders are going through.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Bringing more than you intend

The disciples were, often, slow in understanding what Jesus was teaching about. This is especially true for the parables Jesus told.

Aside from the genre requiring a discerning ear, the simple stories reveal a deeper meaning surrounding the character of God and His Kingdom.

But when it comes to the teachings of Jesus, we need to be aware of what we bring to the table.

Our theology.
Our experiences.
Our expectations.
Our language.
Our doubts.

All these play a role in the way we interact with the bible, including the parables.

We need to be aware of the baggage we bring to the bible.

These will taint the way we read and how we interact with the words.
These will affect what we take away.
These will colour the level we are willing to obey.
These will raise up questions which the bible may not by seeking to answer.

Our challenge is to try and leave our baggage aside from the biblical text and let it speak for itself, just as the audience who listened to Jesus needed to do.