Monthly Archives: July 2009

10 Advantages of Doing Ministry Without a Ministry Strategy

I’m a firm believer that if you want to do anything well in life you need to plan ahead. You need to know what you want to achieve in order to know how you can achieve it.

I also believe that ministry should be no different, we have a duty to God to represent Him as best we can. I like to use the term “excellence” when referring to ministry, because it captures our desire to serve God with our very best while taking into account our fallen nature and imperfections. We want to be “excellent” in all we do therefore we must seek God and plan ahead.

I came across this post yesterday by Tony Morgan and have borrowed his top 10 list becasue I think its spot on (please visit his site and give him some link love :-))

10 Advantages of Doing Ministry Without a Ministry Strategy

  1. You give the loudest person the opportunity to decide what happens at your church.
  2. Sharp leaders who are accustomed to serving in organisations with clearly defined plans for future growth won’t stick around your church. That means more ministry for you!
  3. You’ll get to hone your debating skills as people argue about what to do next.
  4. More meetings! Where there’s no strategy, the meetings flourish.
  5. Some people call them church splits. We like to call them church plants. More mother churches!
  6. You don’t have to worry about celebrating success, because no one even knows what success looks like. It’s just better to keep that a secret.
  7. Rather than trying to discern God’s will for your ministry, you can just rely on dumb luck.
  8. You don’t have to pray as much, because there’s nothing to pray for. As an added bonus, that means you don’t have to develop as much faith either—whatever happens…happens.
  9. You can count your offerings a lot faster, because people will save their financial gifts for organisations that actually have a plan for the money they receive.
  10. Your lack of ministry strategy, which is a ministry strategy, will do just fine in Nothing, Arizona (see Tony’s post re Nothing Arizona).

What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Have you expereinced this in your life/church? Is having a plan or strategy for ministry important, why/why not?

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Hope vs Wishing – are we confused?

dandelionI was having a conversation the other day about the way (I think) we misuse the word “hope” in our society. It seems to me that we confuse the word “hope” with “wish” when speaking about things we’d like to happen or not happen.

In my opinion “wish” is usually self-focused, its about wanting something to work out the way we want it to, to suit us and our perception of how things should be. “Hope” on the other hand is based on things that are usually out of our control yet based in truth and that more than likely will come to pass.

I wanted to know what the definition of each word is, so I surfed over to Dictionary.com and found the following:

Wish:
1. to want; desire; long for (usually followed by an infinitive or a clause): I wish to travel. I wish that it were morning.

2. to desire (a person or thing) to be (as specified): to wish the problem settled.

Hope:
1. to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

2. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best

I think the biggest difference I see is that “hope” brings with it a confidence that something will happen and this is usually based on a proven track record or a known truth while “wish” is really based on nothing other than a want or desire or a whimsical notion of  “if only… then”. 

For example I may want a great result in an exam. Hoping for that great result is within reason when its based on the truth that I’ve paid attention in class, studied hard and prepared for the exam. If I haven’t done the above then the best I can do is “wish” for a good result because, lets face it, the odds are against me. I know this is far from definitive and I’m no language expert believe me, but I raise this difference because I believe that it’s affecting our ability to effectively share the Gospel. 

The Gospel is all about “Hope”, Jesus came to give us hope and that hope is based in the truth of who God is and the promises He has given to us. If “hope” is confused with “wish” as I suggest, doesn’t that mean there’s a greater risk of people misunderstanding the Gospel message? Does it also mean that we can be lazy, not prepare (study God’s Word, seek His will, serve Him and others) and just hope (more like wish) that God will work things out in our lives? Could that be why so many “christians” are missing the point of serving God? It’s an interesting idea I think, and something I’d like to throw out there for comment.

What do you think? Do we confuse “hope” with “wish” today and can/does this effect how people relate to the Gospel message and God?

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What music is God using to rock your world?

music noteI LOVE music! I love the feeling you get when you hear a really great song and your foot just starts to tap and it’s not long before you want to let loose and really enjoy the music. I’m a musician and I love to play music as well as listen to it.

Its widely acknowledged that music has an amazing way of connecting people to events, places, other people and of course to God. Ask anyone what they remember about a special occasion and more often than not they can tell you what song was playing at the time.

For example, I know that I had tears of joy in my eyes as my wife Samantha walked down the aisle to Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve on our wedding day, that right before our daughter Anabelle was born, as I was waiting to enter the operating theatre, Sweet Child of Mine was playing on the radio, and that Jesus Freak by DC Talk was playing when I made the decision to really give God 100% of my life when I was fifteen.

Music is such a powerful tool in connecting humans to God. The Bible is full of songs and music used by every day people to express themselves and connect with God. Happy songs, sad songs, songs of victory, celebration and lament. Music plays such a large role in our Christian lives, not only in our church services but in our day to day activities. Music allows us to connect with God, to remember His attributes and His character, to allow us to express our need, desire, love and devotion to Him and it teaches us the truths of scripture.

At the moment in my car I’m listening to the latest CD from Tim Hughes and God is using it to teach me and encourage me. Actually truth be told its really challenging me in the way I think and connect with God through music. It’s an interesting time and I’m really thankful for the new things I’m learning… but that’s for another post 🙂

So tell me blogosphere: what music is God using to rock your world right now and why?

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Birthday Reflections

CakeToday is my birthday!! I’ve officially been alive for three decades (that’s 30 years), for some of you that’s a long way away for others it’s been a long time 😉

I find that birthdays are a great time for me to sit and reflect on my life, to look back at all the things I’ve experienced and think about how they have shaped the person I am today. I find this time extremely valuable, it helps me keep things in perspective and most of all it reminds me to be thankful to God for His work in my life.

My relationship with God is the most valuable thing I have in this world. I have the opportunity to speak with, learn from and connect with the Creator of the universe. A God who loves me more than I could ever comprehend, who takes me as I am but loves me too much to leave me that way. A God who has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11), who longs for me to realise that His ways are the best ways. A God who spared nothing to restore my broken relationship with Him. A God who is patient, loving and gracious, forgiving of my stuff ups and has a gentle hand of correction. God who is the beginning and the end of all things, incomprehensible yet can be know personally… what an amazing God!

As I look back on my life I can see God at work. Sure I have regrets, I’ve done some stupid things and I have lived with the consequences, but I can testify that God does work all things for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Today I want to publicly declare that God is good! That I am so thankful to Him for all the things he has brought into my life to teach, guide and lead me in His service. All the good, all the bad and all the in-between He has used to shape me into the man I am today, and for that I thank Him.

God isn’t finished with me yet and I will serve and follow Him until the day I take my last breath. Here’s to another 30 years of following my Lord and Saviour!

Thank you God for Your loving kindness, your endless mercy and amazing grace! Teach me to be a faithful follower of You, my life belongs to You, now and forever. Amen

comments?

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Survival Guide: How to stay focused while waiting for God

find milanMy life feels like it’s in a holding pattern, circling the airport waiting to land,  it’s frustrating to say the least. I have followed God’s call out of ministries that I love (youth and worship) and am now working in the secular world to pay the bills. It’s not where I want to be, I know it’s not my life’s call but for now it’s where I am. If you’d like to know more please feel free to read about it here, here and here.

It’s hard waiting for God, I prayed for patience and God is teaching it to me that’s for sure! But this isn’t another mopey, “woe is me post”, this is a Survival Guide: How to stay focused while waiting for God.

Here are my five tips for staying focused while waiting for God:

Tip number 1: Don’t Look Back and Dwell

It’s way too easy to look back at the ‘good old days’ and feel even worse about your current situation. It’s healthy and even necessary to look back but don’t dwell there. The purpose of looking back is to remind us of God’s faithfulness to us, to see how He has led us through similar times and to strengthen our faith that He will do it again. So by all means look back, but don’t stay there too long. Get in, get energised and get back to today

Tip number 2: Focus on the Here and Now

“We can’t change the past we can only affect the future”. I can’t remember where I heard that phrase but its totally true. We must learn from the past and apply that knowledge to today in order to make a difference in the future. What’s done is done, what’s been has been we cant relive it no matter how hard we try but we can learn from it in order to make today and tomorrow better. Focus on what God has for you to do today, wherever you might be. Ministry happens anywhere and everywhere, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re sitting in an office cubicle that God hasn’t got work for you to do. Focus on the here and now, God isn’t finished with you yet!

Tip number 3: Think Big

It’s easy to be self absorbed and down when you feel like your life is on hold. That doesn’t help anyone. We need to think BIG! Take the time to plan your future, where do you want to be in one, three, five, ten years from now? Figure out what you need to do to get there (study, jobs, skills, etc) and then make it happen. You don’t want the biggest obstacle to you achieving your dreams to be you! (Read that again, slowly). Thinking big allows God to open our minds to possibilities He has for us that we might not have ever imagined. Seek God, pray and think big!

Tip number 4: Be Proactive

Get on with your life and get going. Trust that God has a plan for you and He wants to teach you something right here, right now. Take those classes, do those courses, connect with God regularly so that when He calls you won’t miss it. Quit moping and get going!

Tip number 5: Know that God is Good

I remember a phrase we would repeat in Sunday School and Church; “God is good, All the time… All the time, God is Good!” And you know what, it’s completely, 100% correct! God never changes, He has been good to you in the past and He will be good to you in the future. Life might suck, things are tough but remember God is ALWAYS good. Trust Him, seek Him, serve Him… be ready to move when He calls…you won’t be disappointed

If you’re like me, waiting for God, be encouraged that God isn’t finished with you yet. Follow the tips, give them a go and see how it changes your perspective. I’m still waiting, I don’t know what’s next but I want to be ready when God calls, I don’t want to miss it!

Have you had to wait for God? How did you get through it? Are you waiting right now?

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Church Online #2

Online01Yesterday I posted about my first online church expereince and since then I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I really enjoyed my online experience and as I mentioned in that post, online/network/campus churches are not very common in Australia yet. I know of a few places that have a few different campuses but none of them are  functioning as well as the ones in the USA seem to be.

It’s a new idea here in Australia so that’s one reason why I haven’t heard much about them. Another is that with Australia’s relatively small population and even smaller Christian demographic I think it would be quite hard to get people to cooperate in a network/campus style endeavour.

The whole idea makes a lot of sense to me, it seems smart to pool your resources in order to be as effective as possible in reaching others for Christ, discipling believers and sharing God’s love with those in our communities. Unfortunately history shows us that Christians don’t really like to work together all that much. We’re more interested in holding on to and building our little corners of the world, much to our detriment. The Gospel is for everyone, the whole world, and those of us entrusted to share that message are the very ones who keep it to ourselves and cant even share with fellow believers of different denominations… what kind of example is that? Alas I digress…

I’m really keen to explore this online/network/campus church idea, especailly in Australia. So this is a call out to all of you in the online world to help me out on my quest for knowledge 🙂

Here’s what I’d like to know from you:

Have you ever been or are you a part of an online church or network/campus church, especially in Australia

If you are can you share with me your expereince of how you find attending a church you know is part of a wider network of churches with the same vision purpose and goals?

If you attend online church, do you also attend a ‘physical’ church, why/why not?

Any leaders out there of an online/network/campus church how does serving differ from a traditional church (if any)?

Thanks everyone, I’m hoping to have a lot of comments to read

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Church Online

Lifechurch1

I tired something new last night… I attend a church service online. It’s the first time I had sat through this kind of service, I’ve heard about it a lot but never got round to actually ‘attending’ one. Regular readers of my blog would know that Sam and I are taking a bit of a break from regularly attending any one church at the moment. I’ve needed time to recover from being really over committed and following my decision to step out of my worship director role in order to continue to respect my Godly leaders.

Sam and I sat together and attended Lifechurch.tv’s online campus last night. I have a lot of respect for Lifechurch’s senior pastor Craig Groeschel and I love his book “IT”. He’s someone who knows how to connect with God and how to share God with others. Living in Australia, the idea of online and campus churches is a new one but it seems to be the way forward in the US and around the world.

The basic idea is that instead of having a mega church in one location, churches plant local churches in their area and become a network or campus church of a particular group. These churches have their own campus pastors and ministries including worship teams, but the sermon is where things are different. The message for the day is preached live at one campus and then broadcast via satellite to all the other campuses meaning that everyone gets the same message at the same time no matter which campus they are attending. This allows a network of churches to share the same vision, goals and ideals yet have a wider reach than if they were all located in the same place.

It’s an interesting idea and Sam and I really appreciated that we could attend church together via the internet. All in all it was a great experience, the worship time was great and the message also. Being a Gen X and Gen Y we didn’t find attending church online weird at all and its something that I think we will do more often.

I’d love to know what it’s like to attend a campus church and have the message live on screen rather than a person on the stage… I’m really interested to know how it all works and what people’s experience has been attending these types of services…

Any one attend this type of service or visited online churches? I’d love to hear your experiences (good and bad) about it.

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