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Category Archives: ministry

Multiplying Gospel Workers with MTS and KCC Oxygen

imageThe Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) group is a platinum sponsor of the Oxygen14 Conference.

During Wednesday lunch MTS launched their vision for preparing and training 500 ministry apprentices in 2016. This is double the number of apprentices trained in 2013. In order to reach this goal, training partners are needed.

Who can be a training partner? Typically it’s someone already in vocational ministry. So ministers, pastors, youth workers, those in children’s ministry etc. It is also Christian workers in University campus based roles and a variety of other Christian networks and organisations. If you’re in ministry now, in almost any context, you were trained, so God can use you to train someone else. Why not consider taking on an apprentice for 2015 or 2016?

The reason most will stall at this point is the prohibitive cost of paying for an apprentice and fulfilling legal compliance. The good news is that recent changes in the structure of the MTS program mean that Churches and ministry organisations only to raise $4,000 per year to fund and train an apprentice. A variety of support has been made available including compliance, curriculum, payroll, and recruiting conferences greatly reducing the cost and overhead burden faced when taking on a trainee or apprentice.

Is your Church or ministry ready to invest in the multiplication of gospel workers in Australia? Why not check out MTS?

 
 

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Wreaking Ball Christians

What sort of ball?

What sort of ball?

 

Conjures up a weird mental image doesn’t it? But this isn’t a reference to a recent song by a wayward pop princess. I’m referring to the old-fashioned way buildings were demolished by swinging an enormous chunk of metal into them to smash them into smithereens. David Murrow wrote a post, “How to wreak your pastor“. It has some great advice, and, sadly, is right on target in the scenarios and examples he uses.

However, the attitude Murrow discusses doesn’t only affect pastors or paid vocational workers in a Church. It also affects the myriad of volunteers who are the real workers in every Church. People who, on top of being parents and holding down a job are investing greatly to run or help out with kids programs, music, hospitality, visitation and administration. On top of all the “free advice” pastors get, there is also the “feedback” and “observations” they receive about how some volunteer isn’t performing to the standard of the complainant.

This narky attitude can demoralise the volunteer who comes under scrutiny and repeatedly is a cause of people dropping out and falling away from Church. That’s not to say that we should be pandering everyone who stacks a chair or picks up a broom, but we also need to check our motivation behind our “feedback.” If it’s not a serious moral or legal failure and isn’t resulting in an undermining of the values and vision of the Church, then let it go! If, for whatever reason you still can’t stand a situation, please DON’T, as Murrow suggests, “ask the Lord if he may be leading you to attend a different church” – instead, get involved and help out yourself?! Leaving because you can’t get your own way, is infantile and gutless.

Alternatively, you could, as Murrow says for the pastor, offer to catch up with the person in question, take them out to lunch and spend some time getting to know them, praying with them and encouraging them. Don’t be a passive aggressive whiner. Realise that your opinion comes from someone who isn’t perfect, doesn’t always know all the facts or all the challenges involved in the ministry you’re so concerned about. There is every likelihood that you are dead wrong.

I was once in a ministry where I was regularly offered the type of advice Murrow mentions. It is exhausting to constantly get kicked in the guts that way. On the other hand, I’m currently in a ministry, where on 2 separate occasions in the last two weeks I’ve been invited out for catch ups by people in our Church that were exactly that: catchups! One was over a coffee, the other lunch, just yesterday. In both cases the people were simply trying to encourage me, see how I was doing and spend time getting to know me. It was such an encouragement!

After all Christians are meant to build each up not wreak and demolish.

 

Related Post:

Don’t Like Your Church? Then Leave. Or …

 

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There’s no fire without Oxygen

Paul told Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God” (1 Tim 1:6).

The flame of passion, enthusiasm, perseverance, faithfulness, and integrity in Christian ministry needs have a fresh supply of “oxygen” to keep it alive. We know, as Bunyan aptly illustrated with the House of the Interpreter in Pilgrim’s Progress, that supply comes from God himself. The means God uses to effect that supply is, more often than not, other Christian practitioners provoking, encouraging and strengthening each other.

KCC’s Oxygen is an Australian national interdenominational ministry conference for anyone in Christian service. Their objective is to refresh those in ministry as they refresh each other and continue in the work of the gospel.

Don Carson is one of the key note speakers this year. Here’s a taster of what to expect if you go. Will you be going to Oxygen this year?

 

 
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Posted by on 26/03/2014 in leadership, ministry

 

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It takes a Church to grow a Church

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Simply, the reason many Christian Churches are dying or, at least, not multiplying their congregations, is because they are not ready to make the changes required and endure the struggle and discomfort necessary that comes with growth. Like begets like and everything reproduces after its own kind. So a church will reproduce a church. But if the Church is focused on maintaining the things as they are then the death knell has already sounded.

When a Church forms as a community around the gospel of Jesus, the way that they work out and live out that gospel does 2 things.

1. Their transparent struggle with failure and inconsistency demonstrates their need for Jesus’ gospel.

2. Their mutual care for each other in the midst of that struggle demonstrates how Jesus’ gospel is good news in the first place.

As Tim Chester says, (Total Church, chapter 5, Church Planting) how the Church congregation lives as a community is what makes the gospel plausible (or not). He quotes Lesslie Newbigin as saying: the congregation is the hermeneutic of the gospel. Both of them echoing what Jesus already said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

To which we can also add, “or not”.

There is a type of individualism that is obsessed with self-protection and self-preservation that it avoids being transparent about personal need and eschews any humility of service that prioritizes others needs ahead of their own. But its a symptom that is seen corporately when Churches do things in a way that is self-serving or so obscure and unintelligible that anyone from outside either can’t get in or sees no reason to want to.

Somewhere along the line, a Church moves from making new disciples of Jesus to simply upgrading the ones they already have. Their interest is focused on keeping existing members happy or comfortable and most of their energy and resources are spent on filling rosters, roles and responsibilities to keep up something from the past. The suggestion or thought of doing evangelism or being mission minded is almost an insult. Don’t they have enough demands on their time already? How can they care for their family. make a living and keep up with all those time hungry rostered responsibilities and then do something new on top? It’s an unreasonable expectation. Maybe they should consider moving Churches before they burn out. And so goes yet another failed Church.

While all that’s happening, they are seen as boring, irrelevant bigots out of touch with reality by those they should be trying to (and actually) reaching.

If instead, a Church decides that the uncertainty of having an unfilled roster or not maintaining a legacy to some (now) empty tradition is worth the price of living with others in a way that makes sense of the gospel then that gospel plausibility can be recovered. What if the Church lived and interacted as a community with their community where mutual discipleship was a priority (serving one another and doing all the other “one another” verbs mentioned in the New Testament)? That would involve some sacrifice, struggle and personal discomfort. But it would not be inconsistent with Jesus’ call for a disciple to take up their cross and follow him. Like will beget like, and something different to before will be reproduced. What if?

 

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2012 in review

WordPress.com stats engine prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog.

Overall it was a much slower year than 2011 with ess than half the number of posts. This was mainly due to a major upset that occurred in January of 2012. I wanted to allow some time to think through the events before writing about them. The problem was that I spent a lot of time thinking about that and little else. After January 16 2013, it will be a year since I received the news and I think that’s enough space to start discussing and processing my observations and learning from. I’ll be writing about ethnic ministry in Australia, church culture (not ethnic, sociological and theological), leadership and polity in independent churches (and how they recruit pastoral staff), and will also look at some things I’ve learned (and trying! to put into practice) about preaching after doing it for more than 20 years.

Here’s an excerpt of the WordPress Report:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Compare it to the 2011 in review

 
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Posted by on 31/12/2012 in ministry

 

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Be a better pastor by attending School Career Day

I’ve just got back from a little presentation in my daughter’s primary school class on “People in our Community.” Several parents had come along to the class to tell the children what they did for a job and how they served the community in their job. It was tempting to feel a little sheepish about being a mere Pastor when compared to the Barrister, Doctor, Psychologist and Marine Rescue Officer, however, thankfully my identity does not revolve around my work but my relationship to Christ! As I was listening to each speaker and later spoke with some of them about their work it struck me that Career Day had a lot more to teach me than just what the other parents do for a living.

It is all to easy as a Pastor to become cloistered and cut off from the real world. Spending time in the study preparing for preaching is paramount but those to whom you preach do not have that liberty. When you preach or counsel you need to apply the gospel to where they live. If you know nothing of their world, how will you make that connection? As you invest much time preparing to preach, what good is it, if upon completion of your sermon, the Barrister, Retail Consultant, Stay at Home Mum, Plumber and Doctor shrug their shoulders and say, “So what?!

Likewise if your ministry is addressed to others in ministry, if you can’t show them how to serve their people where they live, then what?

Now, I’m not arguing for a completely pragmatic approach that only responds or reacts to felt needs or anything like that. What I’m saying is that to be precise in your preaching and counselling you need to know something of what people are dealing with. The Foreign Exchange Dealer that is constantly on edge due to the volatility in fiscal markets; the Barrister that is upset at how people view their role as a defence lawyer in a negative light; the Doctor that is exhausted from working ridiculous hours trying to fit in as many patients as possible; the Plumber that hasn’t had a weekend off since starting his apprenticeship and so on. Bearing in mind also, that stress from struggles are not necessarily directly related to the field or industry where someone is working – I’m talking in generics for the sake of this blog post – but that’s something you need to avoid in your preaching and counsel!

How do you serve them? How does the gospel speak into their life and circumstances? Specifically? You won’t find out by playing around on Twitter as you finish reading yet another e-book on the theory of Pentateuch authorship. Things like Career Day give you a chance to learn about the people in your Church and what fills their week. It helps you understand why they do what they do and whether they enjoy it, find it challenging or stressful. How do they deal with some of the harsher elements of their job? e.g. People in medical and service industries are often faced with death and trauma – how do they deal with that?

I had originally gone along to Career Day as a favour to my daughter to make her feel important that Daddy had come to her class. And, I think that happened ;) But, I think the other thing that happened was a great reality check for me in my ministry as a Pastor. I should quickly add, that this is the sort of thing you also find out by visiting the people in your congregation and getting to know them. This is just another way of doing that. What are some other ways you can get to know your congregation and serve them better as their Pastor?

 

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