Tag Archives: community

Simply say “Hello”

On a resent flight with my family I was walking my nearly two-and-a-half year old daughter down the aisle to our seats. These days we select to sit in the very last row of the plane in an attempt to not annoy too many passengers when the kids are restless. 

As we were boarding, Anabelle was leading the way down the aisle and as she did so she was making a point of saying hello to every person she passed. Aside from being super cute I found it interesting to watch the reactions of our fellow passengers as Anabelle said hello. The general reaction was one of complete shock and surprise that someone actually said hello to them on an airplane! 

I don’t know about you but for me it seems that the standard etiquette on an airplane is to sit down, face forward and try not to bother anyone else around you – which includes saying hello. Of course we usually give a smile and the occasional ‘hi’ to those we’re sharing a row with, but overall we don’t talk to each other, the rule seems to be quite clear that you keep to yourself. And that’s fair enough I guess. 

However it was great to see Anabelle shake this all up simply by being a happy child that wanted to greet her fellow passengers. There were one or two who gave her a huge smile and bent down to talk to her. There were those that simply ignored her with a bothersome look on their face (the kind that says “oh great a kid on the flight, they better not be noisy…”). And then there were those that were totally taken by surprise and had to double take, “did I really hear someone say hello to me?” and by the time they turned around to see who it was, Anabelle had moved on to greeting the next person down the aisle. 

 It’s amazing how one simple gesture in a situation where it’s unexpected can make such a difference… It made the plane a nicer place even if only for a moment and made me wonder when the last time was that I had done something to brighten someone else’s day. 

It’s the little things, the simple things, that can make all the difference – when was the last time you said ‘hello’ and brightened someone’s day?

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Filed under About Me, Family, fun, Humour, Parenting

An Open Question to the Church

First up, I’m not anti-church or anti-God. I LOVE God and His Church.

But why does it seem that we (as the Church, myself included) set up young pastors to fail?

This has been bugging me and I’d love to know what you think.

Here’s how it seems to go:

A young person shares the call of God on their life to become a vocational minister/pastor.

We rejoice with them and send them off to Bible college/seminary because they need to prepare for ministry. There’s nothing wrong with that but here’s where things start to go awry…

These potential world changers are challenged and taught all about what they need to believe and why in order to be a pastor. Not bad in and of itself but the concepts and study are rarely taught with real world application or consideration of how to actually teach these concepts in today’s world. So it becomes a purely intellectual exercise and seems to squash the passion and zeal that was once present in these young lives.

The ones who make it through college with even a flicker of the passion and zeal

they went in with are then put on as staff in church “institutions” who force them to conform to the “this is how its done” philosophy. They are not released to follow God’s leading, to try things, make mistakes and forge their own way.

Then almost by default, we give them the role of “youth pastors”

and give them the freedom to do whatever they need to because, somehow, we think that its ok for “crazy stuff” to happen “over there” in youth ministry. After all no one here understands young people, but we want to “keep them around”  and we expect them to “change” into “us” once they hit 18 anyway and join “real church”…

We also assume that youth ministry is simply a stepping stone to “real ministry” and so after (insert average life span of youth pastor here) years or so we ask the pastor to change roles and join “real church”. So we drag him or her into a role they probably don’t want and then we expect them to simply forget the entire way they’ve been doing ministry for the last however many years because that’s not “real ministry”. We don’t let them be creative, we force them to do it how it’s always been done because that’s the way the congregation expects it.

Then comes the dichotomy of expectations

The youth they used to hang out with are sad to see them go but excited to know that they’re part of “real church” now and that means that just maybe they might begin to feel welcomed into an environment that’s been so foreign to them all their lives. So they turn up with great expectations, hoping to see a change, hoping that they can finally begin to connect with what’s going on because after all they know him/her and can relate to them.

Over time they begin to see that he/she seems to be acting just like every one else and they’re totally wreaked. And so is the pastor! They love these young people, they’ve grown up with them and watched them grow. And now they too want to know where the guy/girl they trusted and confided in has gone? Why has he/she changed so much… is this how “real church” is supposed to be, am I not welcome unless I change and become what I perceive as being old?

Meanwhile

the pastor has little choice but to follow the path of those that went before them. If they want to keep their position they need to “tow the company line” and not “rock the boat”.

They try and try to open discussions and dialogue, to look at ways they can encompass everyone’s needs, pleading with leaders to be open to change for the sake of the greater good.

People listen at first, they seem to agree but when push comes to shove most of them will change their mind citing differences of “ministry philosophy” or simply telling them straight up that “this isn’t what we do here”. So what is he/she supposed to do with that?

All the while the church rolls on

people turn up, money is given, laughs are shared and no one notices all the young people leaving out the back door… “they’re just young” they say, “they’ll come back… well actually you know I’m not that fussed really, because they wanted to change everything, and I like it how it is…”

So that young world changer

has now either become a frustrated, passive status quo accepting pastor because he/she wants to keep their job and stay in ministry, or they’ve left the ministry and are struggling to deal with the feelings of guilt and remorse for not attending church and not being able to find a place that thinks church is more than just keeping people happy…

Only a few of them are able to find a place that is ready and willing to change the way it does things in order to continue to reach a world that changes every day…

Why?

But that’s just the way I see it…

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Tithe Journal #7

This post is part of the Tithe Experiment series
Giving (01/04/10)

$250 to tithe account

Needs

We’re still trying to work out what the best option is with buying our house from my dad. There are a few different options and we need to decide what’s going to be better for us and my mum and dad in the long run. They have been so generous to us, buying this house for us because we couldn’t afford it but now that dad’s retired we need to make sure they are taken care of as well.

I’m beginning to worry again about how we’re going to make ends meet as our expenses increase as we look to take on a mortgage and pay doctor’s bills and all the costs of a new baby. I know that God is faithful, I’m trying to learn to live that everyday.

Study is going well, I’m working on my first essay with the second due soon after. I’d really appreciate your prayers as I write these essays.

Sam is doing well with her pregnancy and as we near the last trimester we’d love your prayers for her and the baby’s good health. We’d also love your prayers for Sam’s energy and ability to keep up with Anabelle while also getting the rest she needs.

Anabelle’s been getting up at 4am now that we’ve gone off daylight savings time and its been hard on us as you can imagine. Please pray that Anabelle sleeps til 6am and we all manage to get enough sleep! 🙂 

God’s Provision

I really shouldn’t worry so much because we continue to see God’s hand at work in our lives. God continues to provide for all our needs, I need to learn not to look too far ahead and get ahead of God, often He waits for us to trust Him and seems to act at the last minute – learning to live totally by faith is difficult but so worth it!

We were able to get a great deal on a much needed trampoline for Anabelle and save our bed some punishment 😉

Study is going well – I know that I’m a morning person so getting up early with Anabelle has given me time to read and study

God’s also been teaching me and changing my ways of thinking.  It’s easy to be discouraged when I don’t see material provision but I’m finding that God’s biggest provision is often in reshaping my thinking. As I learn to trust Him more I find that I’m worrying less (or at least trying to worry less) and my thoughts turn to remembering His faithfulness rather than my worries. It’s a big shift and it’s still hard to do but I thank God for it!

We really appreciate all the encouragement, feedback and prayers, so thank you all! As always we’d love to hear from you so please feel free to say hi 🙂

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Children, Church & Craziness

I’d love your advice! 

If you have children, previously had young children, or simply have great ideas I want to hear from you! 

I’d love to know your tips for keeping children connected during a church service. 

Understandably our nearly two year old daughter is full of energy and loves to be part of what’s going on. She’s a good girl but doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s not ok to yell “YAY!!!” at the top of your lungs and clap her hands during a prayer for the sick or call out to her friend at the top of her voice when she spots her across the room. And you can forget about sitting still too, the world is just too big a place to sit still and not explore. 

I love these qualities in her but I also realise that they can be disruptive to our and other’s experience of church. I know she’s young but we’d love to help her connect with what’s going on and help her learn through the process. We’re new at this and pretty much clueless right now :-). 

What should we do, what’s worked for you in the past, how have you dealt with this situation? 

So hit me up, I’m ready for your awesome ideas on helping children to be part of church!

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Tithe Journal #5 & 6

This post is part of the Tithe Experiment series

The last month’s been a little crazy hence this combined journal entry; I just didn’t get around to posting one two weeks ago. 

28/02/10 Car died today, we think it’s the distributor; I need to source another one. So grateful to have a mechanic in the family who could tow me home and work on the car. 

01/03/10 Finding it challenging to trust God with providing for us. As the husband and father, and the sole bread-winner I feel responsible for providing for my family. I’m ok if I seem to go without but I don’t want my wife and daughter to have to… it’s a daily struggle to hand that over to God and wait for Him to provide. It’s a real lesson in humility and one that I need to learn – even if it’s the hard way I guess. There’s something deep with a man that drives him to provide for his family and he doesn’t want to fail that task.

04/03/10 Pay day. $250 to tithe account

08/03/10 Car was finally fixed today, it’s been an interesting week. Turns out it was the computer not the distributor but it took a lot of trial and error to work that out. Again SO grateful that my uncle fixed it for the cost of parts, it would have cost a lot to have it done at the shop. 

Been doing some savvy shopping this last month. It seems that God has been providing exactly what we need, right on time. For instance we were talking about how we might afford a chest freezer so we could buy in bulk and freeze extra meals in order to save money and the next day one came up for sale on the bulletin board at work which we were able to buy really cheap. Anyone have any tips on where to get discount/bulk food items in Canberra?

Money has been tight as we’ve had some unforseen expenses and haven’t been able to add to the savings this past month. We’re going to have to revisit the budget to see where else we can make some savings. No idea where that will be though… 

In all honesty I’ve been feeling pretty down the last month. The worry over how we’re going to get by has been a concern for me lately (actually reading back it seems to be a recurring theme). A single income, one child under two and another on the way, medical bills, rent, food, fuel, study costs are all mounting up and getting me down. Not to mention the need to buy our house sooner rather than later… it’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders and I’m finding it hard to deal with right now. I like the security having savings brings and we’re quickly going through ours and that worries me. The biggest thing is that we’re not making extravagant purchases, it’s all every day living… would appreciate your prayers… 

17/03/10 Our health insurance premiums are going up again… we have to keep our current one until after the baby is born, then we’ll need to shop around for a better deal, if there is one… Anyone have any tips on good Aussie family hospital cover? 

18/03/10 Pay day $100 to tithe account. I know this is less than usual but even this is more than we can afford right now – I’m trusting that God will honour it as it’s given sacrificially. 

Thank you to all of you who are journeying with us, praying for us and supporting us, we deeply appreciate it. We’d value you prayers, especially in regard to sticking to our commitment for the year and trusting that God will provide. As always we’d love to hear from you so please keep in touch.

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Fellowship and Community #2

The other day I posted this and asked for your views on fellowship and community.

Today I offer my thoughts on the subject

Community implies being part of something without having to really ‘get involved’ and participate fully. For instance I live in a community but I don’t have to do anything to be part of it other than simply live where I live. I don’t have to attend meetings, get involved with the committees, join the PTA etc yet I’m still part of the community. There are a lot of people living in my community who I haven’t met and probably wont because we simply have no need to in our daily lives. We happily go about our business, say G’day when required and leave it at that.

Fellowship implies something deeper. It implies that conscious action is required in order to be in fellowship with someone else. For example in The Lord of the Rings the “Fellowship of the Ring” swear to work together for a common cause, to travel together, fight together and ultimately to reach the goal for which they were formed. They all agreed to live and act a certain way despite their very different backgrounds.

So for me, fellowship means that we are working together to achieve the same purpose, pooling our collective resources to learn from each other, rely on each other and to help each other succeed.  Unlike community if we are inactive then we’re not in true fellowship because fellowship is “moving” somewhere, it’s headed in a certain direction, aiming to achieve a common purpose or goal.

Within the church context I think we may misuse these terms. In it’s simplest form we use community to describe those “out there”, those not part of our church and fellowship to describe those “in here”, us, inside the church, that meet on Sundays and worship together.

Technically and based on my definitions above I think this is correct. The church is a gathering of people who have come together for a common purpose, to rely on each other, learn and grow together and succeed. We ‘fellowship’ together at our Sunday service because we are there for a common goal, we sing together learn together, take communion together, pray together etc. In theory this is true, but in reality we may have to concede that maybe our ‘gatherings’ are more like community than fellowship.

I think simply gathering on a Sunday for a worship service isn’t real fellowship, it’s more like community. If we don’t stop and take the time to go deeper with people and with God before, during or after the service then I think we can liken the experience to a sporting match. We all gather at a certain place at a certain time with lots of other people. We know roughly what to expect, how long it’s going to take and what the process is for participating. We keep to ourselves or the group we ‘came with’ being polite to those near us but not going deeper than surface level.

For me the key is intentionality. Fellowship must be intentional, driven, focused and with purpose. True fellowship requires us to delve below the surface to make ourselves vulnerable and open to others, to give of ourselves in order to meet another’s need and lets be honest this is often uncomfortable and why we find it so hard to do.

So let’s not confuse fellowship with community. Let’s be intentional in our actions, services, ministries, work, etc so that we may build deeper relationships with others and minister Jesus to them.

Agree/disagree? Your thoughts?

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Fellowship and Community

I need your help.

I was having a discussion with a friend about the church and its use of the words “fellowship” and “community” to describe what it does and the “atmosphere” it feels it creates for those that attend etc.

We mentioned that often the church uses those words interchangeably (e.g. “we enjoy great fellowship here at…” or “we enjoy great community here at…”) and to be honest I don’t think you can.

I think there is a distinct difference between the use and meaning of “fellowship” to that of “community” and to use them out of context begins to give false impressions of the church to those who attend and to those who don’t.

I have my thoughts on the differences but before I post them I’d like to hear from you.

What does “fellowship” and “community” mean in the context of the church?

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