Monday, April 29, 2019

Explain & jargon > Jargon & explain

Anything in ancient Greek.

In church we know how to insert a term of church jargon. 
This is especially so within sermons.

Usually, the term is dropped and then (hopefully!) explained.

But we have the order backwards.

I think a far better practice would be to explain the phrase we are going to use and then say what the term is.

This works since it allows people to absorb the meaning and application of a term before being bombarded by a bunch of sylables. 

For those of lower literacy and less church exoericpence, this would be of great benefit.

And, as a bonus, I suspect they they will be far more likely to engage with and learn the term since the instant disengagement caused by foreign terms is avoided.

Friday, April 26, 2019

You must provide service off-ramps

Sometimes church services to go over time.

Famously, when I was new to ministry, I ran a morning service which spiralled into a lunchtime service.

I still get nightmares about it.

If there are no time pressures after the service, a leader might be lead to continue singing or have a time of prayer, extending the service will beyond the usual conclusion time.

One thing I saw a while back, done brilliantly, was for the leader to give people permission to leave at the usual time. 

Knowing the service would go long, they concluded the service in the usual manner, providing the space for those who need to leave to do so, and seamlessly giving those who wanted to stay the option.

It was a really good practice, because it showed awareness that the service was going to go long, but also validated the genuine need some might have to leave - no matter what that reason is.

At or around the designated time, every service should have an off-ramp, with a conclusion and a blessing, no matter what is going to happen after those words are spoken.

In order to honour those who attend with others things going on, it only seems fair.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What do you do when a prayer is hijacked?

Can you stop someone saying a prayer?
Is there a right to interrupt?
What if a pontificating prayer won’t stop?

These questions went through my mind a few weeks back when, seemingly, someone hijacked a time of open prayer.

They went on...
And on...
In a mini sermonette/rant...

And I wondered... What does the leader do???

I suppose, if it’s a once off, then someone can be forgiven for getting carried away during open prayer. It happens. Maybe they’re new and punchy prayers aren’t the way they do things at their church.

But, what if someone has a reputation for lengthy, even unhelpful, prayer diatribes?

Do you use a prayer blocker, who may gently squeeze their arm or whisper in their ear to allow others a turn?
Is that really practical?
What if they get ignored?

Is the only solution a large AMEN from the front?
In some case, I suspect, it may be the only way out of the situation...

Saturday, April 20, 2019

How unforgiveness is like a bad case of road rage

A few weeks ago, at the church I attend with my girls, we were in small groups talking about forgiveness.

While chatting about the reason we need to forgive others, I stumbled over a decent analogy.

I mentioned that we need to forgive others, otherwise we become like the angry driver, who when cut off in traffic, doesn’t just beep the other driver, but follows them.

Ultimately, we stop going to your destination, following the path we want to go, and and journey is dictated by the one we have, in our mind, been wronged by.

In short, we not go where they are going, not where we were going.

I think this mirrors unforgiveness well since it encapsulated the trap of harbouring a grudge.

It controls you.
It leads you.
It stops you from doing what you can or should be doing.

Frankly, you loose freedom with unforgiveness.

This is the danger of unforgiveness, since the venom we intend to inflict on others slowly infects ourselves.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What do you do if you don’t like your minister?

NOTE: I’m writing this beside a beach on Fiji since I’m in my honeymoon. Apologies for the lack of posts lately, I’ve been very busy with the wedding and university.

Over a dozen years in youth ministry, across four churches, I’d worked with a number of ministers. Fortunetly, Ive liked most of the ministers I’ve worked beside.

I’ve heard of plenty of nightmares though.

Ministers who have been lazy.
Ministers who have been demanding.
Ministers who have been controlling.
Ministers who have been stuck in their ways.

Dare I say, people within the churches I’ve worked for haven’t always been great fans of the way I’ve done things.

To a point, this is just luck and an occupational hazard of working for a church.

But, I’ve also liked the vast majority of ministers at the churches I’ve attended for any significant length of time.

Again, I’ve heard plenty of nightmares.

Ministers who are boring.
Ministers who don’t provide care.
Ministers who use power plays.
Ministers who manipulate others.

Dare I say, there have been members of churches who I’ve rubbed the wrong way. No doubt.

What do you do when, as a congregant, you don’t like your minister?

Ideally, this wouldn’t happen too often because, if your searching for a church to attend, you’d only select a church with a minister you, at least, semi-like. Furthermore, any church you attend, when they select a new ministry agent, will select someone personable.

But, what if you’re stuck at a church with a minister you genuinely don’t like?

Say, your minister goes on long service leave, a study sabbatical or retires and you loathe the fill in?

Or, worse still, their permanent replacement, in your opinion - having given them plenty of time and chances - is a douche?

How does it effect your discipleship?
How does it effect your zeal for evangelism?

Do you connect with their sermons less?
To what degree is your willingness to serve diminished?

Can you invite someone to church, but warn that your minister, in your view, is rubbish?

Are you obligated to describe your minister in glowing terms, allowing any newcomer to decide for themselves?

Of course, every congregant of a church will not be best mates with their minister, but the whole dilemma adds a degree of pressure for those ministers who are a little socially awkward or prickly (and these absolutely exist!).