Books I have read: Building a Strategic Church

Building a Strategic Church

David Beer was one of those church leaders you wanted to learn from, one who I had the privilege of meeting and hearing speak several times.  In Building a Strategic Church he allows us to sit in a coffee shop with him and chat about lots of different areas of church ministry.

The book covers a huge number of areas with eleven chapters, each subdivided into little sections only a few pages long:

  • Why be strategic?
  • Strong leadership
  • Team spirit
  • Relational structures
  • Application preaching
  • Training and equipping
  • Exponential thinking
  • Generous attitude
  • Involvement with the local community
  • A caring heart
  • Putting it all together

After serving as Senior Pastor at Frinton Free Church (a church with approximately 600 members) he went on to head up the Purpose Driven Church movement in Europe.  This does mean that some parts of the book come across as overly American and reliant on the acrostics and structures that come from Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church.

The book left me wanting more in several areas, I would want to bounce ideas with David Beer, understanding why he does things in certain ways, and what he thinks about some of my ideas.  If you’re looking for a helpful overview to the how of church then look no further.

Dibden Minis, Kids & Youth – 2013 in summary

DibdenBrand_Logo(colour)

The children’s and youth ministry I help to lead has had a fantastic 2013, check out these facts to give you a flavour for what’s been happening:

  • 197 children attended our Monsters Stink holiday club – the biggest summer holiday activity for children in Hampshire
  • 78 assemblies, 29 RE lessons, 104 lunch club sessions and 8 pupils mentored weekly in local schools
  • 150 year 6 children helped with transition to secondary school
  • 225 children visited the church for RE
  • 388 tweets on Twitter
  • 97 Facebook Likes for Dibden Minis
  • 100 Facebook Likes for Dibden Kids
  • 129 Facebook Likes for Dibden Youth
  • 25 young people went to Soul Survivor with 6 young people becoming a Christian
  • 30 young people went to Fairthorne Manor
  • 290 attendances at iDen and jDen
  • 769 attendances at Uncover Tuesdays
  • 13 services led by the Youth Worship Group
  • 50 at the Dibden Youth Christmas Social
  • Over 23,000 watched a testimony video the week before Easter on Facebook
  • 13 young people got Confirmed
  • 1,601 attendances on a Sunday morning and evening
  • 2,115 attendances at Dibden Minis
  • Over 5,420 volunteer hours given, excluding Steph Gray’s time, saving over £50,000 in staffing

Books I have read: Shine on, Star of Bethlehem

Shine on, star of Bethlehem

Years ago when I was first in ministry I picked up a copy of Shine on, Star of Bethlehem by Geoffrey Duncan.  The book is a huge worship resource for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

Geoffrey Duncan is well known for producing great prayer and worship anthologies, and this Christmas resource does not disappoint.  What makes this resource so helpful is the variety – both in terms of content – be it welcoming prayers to final blessings to full orders of services; but also in terms of style and age – I’ve felt very comfortable using this with children and young people as well as with older adults.

This is one of the resources I come back to time and time again during the Christmas season – if you don’t have it I recommend you get hold of it.

Books I have read: Leading on Empty

Leading on Empty

This week I’ve been reading Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.  I was recommended this book by one of my previous colleagues who had been really encouraged by Cordeiro’s honesty and attitude.  The book starts by reflecting on his experience of burnout and how he realised that his life was not sustainable and needed to change.

For me the most helpful aspect of the book was his honesty both as he reflected with what he needed to change – that it ran deep within himself; and the depth at which Cordeiro explained practically how he managed this – especially with the Personal Retreat Days – something I will certainly be taking on board as we move into 2014.

The concept of a dashboard which helps to measure vital systems essential for health and success was interesting, he used: Faith life; marriage life; family life; office life; computer life; ministry life; financial life; social life; attitudinal life; author’s life; speaker’s life and physical life.  I found Cordeiro’s thoughts on the different questions we ask ourselves in our 20s, our 30s, our 40s, our 50s, our 60s and our 70s helpful to realise that after ten years in ministry who I am, and the questions I ask of myself have changed during this period.

With recommendations such as “This is a must-read for all leaders” by Bill Hybels it certainly isn’t one to ignore, and whilst there is nothing that you probably haven’t heard before, it will certainly encourage you and challenge you to make your life more sustainable instead of constantly leading on empty.

Jesus Didn’t Do It All

Jesus is coming“Jesus didn’t do it all. Jesus didn’t meet every need. He left people waiting in line to be healed. He left one town to preach to another. He hid away to pray. He got tired. He never interacted with the vast majority of people on the planet. He spent thirty years in training and only three years in ministry. He did not try to do it all. And yet, he did everything God asked him to do”.

Kevin DeYoung from Crazy Busy.

Ricky Gervais’ Greatest Writing Lesson

Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais is one of the most brilliant comedic writers around, he created the award winning series The Office, hosted the Golden Globes twice and much more.  But he learned his most valuable writing lesson when he was 13-years-old, while trying to get back at a teacher.

In the first installment of Fast Company‘s “Creation Stories” — a series that aims to “entertain while shedding some light on the creative process” — Gervais explains his writing process. He describes that while writing “the most boring story in the world,” he actually learned a valuable lesson: “Write what you know.”

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What’s the best writing or preaching advice you’ve heard?  Watch the video, and let me know in the comments below.

The Technology Tornado

Tornado

I loved The Technology Tornado post on the Simply Youth Ministry newsletter this last week:

This area has been a particular struggle in our own marriage, and one that we have by no means figured out. We’ve had many talks and constantly wrestle with what boundaries work for our relationship. In this day and age you can’t completely disconnect from the world, but nor should you be so distracted by constant email pings and texts that you’re not present for your family. This technology conversation has a lot of gray areas and so it takes a fair amount of effort and communication to hash out.

Here’s the main goal: Don’t allow screen time to replace face time.

People need attention. They need you to be focused on them, listening, alert, and engaged. There is no formula or set of rules that you can follow to guarantee you’ll be great at paying attention. And chances are that as the capabilities of technology expand and integrate more and more into our daily lives, this will be an area you’ll have to work on a lot.

As you talk with your spouse and family about technology, be sure to listen to each other’s opinions and work together to create boundaries that fit your unique needs.

Here are some things we’ve enacted in our own marriage and family life:

1) No technology at meal times. Phones are off or on vibrate, they are not sitting on the dinner table. Computers and iPads are closed and put away.

 2) No charging devices in the bedroom. It’s really hard to have quality time when things keep buzzing, dinging, and drawing our attention away from each other. Plug in and charge the electronics in another room.

3) Work email goes to a work computer. For us it helped to not have ministry emails dinging into Jake’s phone. It kept him constantly “at work” even though he was home.

 4) The freedom to say no. We each have the freedom to express frustration if we feel the other one is being sucked too much into the technology tornado.

5) One Sabbath day. Technology is turned off and totally ignored one day a week. (In theory! We admit, this one is hard to do.)

Have fun using these new ways to limit the control technology has on your life!

Thank you for loving students,

Jake and Melissa Kircher

@jakekircher      @MKircher83

The “Chips” Principle

Kurt Johnston

I loved this article from Kurt, on the Simply Youth Ministry mailout last week:

I think I first heard about the “chips” principle when I was working for former pastor and current leadership guru John Maxwell.

The concept is a simple one: In church ministry you are constantly putting “chips” in your pocket, or taking them out. When you find yourself out of chips, you are out of luck and potentially out of a job. So you never want to run out of chips!

You get chips when you earn trust, when you handle an upset parent properly, when you help out another ministry, when you say “yes” to something the senior pastor asks of you, and so on.

You lose chips when you break trust, come home from camp late, say a joke from stage you shouldn’t have, whine to your senior pastor about your schedule, ignore a parent’s concerns, and so on.

Because I want you to have lots of chips in your pockets as you minister in your setting, let me share the three things that I’ve discovered consistently put the most chips in the pockets of youth workers:

  • LONGEVITY—Nothing puts more chips in your pocket than simply sticking around for a while! When you weather storms and turn down other opportunities for “greener pastures,” you put tons of chips in your pocket. In the revolving-door world of youth ministry, staying committed to the teenagers in your church for a prolonged period of time gives you chips galore…which you’ll need when you have to cash some in because you played the cinnamon challenge game at camp.
  • ATTITUDE—Sometimes it’s not what you do but how you do it that puts chips in your pocket! Agreeing to emcee the senior adult potluck doesn’t automatically win you favor. Agreeing to do it enthusiastically, and expressing gratitude that you were asked, is what earns you chips. And you’ll need those chips because you will have to cash some in if you ask a room full of 80-year-olds to play Twister! It’s been said that your attitude determines your altitude. I like that, and have found it to be true.
  • COMPETENCE—For most churches your involvement in their youth ministry, whether paid or volunteer, is a skill-based opportunity. You add chips to your pocket every time you do something well (unless of course, your attitude stinks). You add even more chips to your pocket when you consistently do something well that others on your youth team can’t. So look for ways to do what you do well and do it often! This will give you lots of chips that you will need to cash in when you miscount and leave a student at a rest station on your youth group road trip.

How full are your pockets?

Thanks for loving students,
Kurt Johnston

7 Ways to Stop Gossip

  • Don’t repeat something you don’t know is true firsthand…secondhand knowledge is not enough to justify repeating. You will get something wrong and it will hurt others.
  • Don’t repeat unless its helpful to do so and you have a vested interest in the situation, the people involved, and permission to share…doing so in the name of a prayer request is not a good excuse…
  • Don’t “confess” other people’s sins. Even if the wrong included you and you feel the need to confess, share your story, but not someone else’s.
  • If you must tell, and have passed the test on the first three suggestions, tell only what happened and not your commentary or “I think this is probably what happened” or why you think it happened…
  • Choose to pray for others every time you are tempted to tell their story…instead of telling their story…
  • When someone tells you something you don’t need to know, don’t allow curiosity to be your guide…follow your heart. Stop the person and tell them you don’t want to know! Remember, if they will spread gossip about others they will spread it about you!
  • Keep the circle of confession limited to the people involved or to no more than needed for accountability purposes. The wider the circle and the more the story is repeated the more likely things will turn into gossip.

Books I have read: Who Stole My Church

who-stole-my-church

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading Who Stole My Church by Gordon MacDonald.  Travelling back from the Digital Children conference at Cliff College I had a chance to finish it on the train.  The concept of the book is a story, a narrative of an imaginary church in a New England town which examines issues and tensions that are experienced as a church goes on a journey of change.

During the narrative we see the Pastor of the Church meeting with a group of older people for a “Discovery Group” exploring their concerns and frustrations with change ranging from worship, name of the church, prayer, mission and more.  Through the story I could recognise many of the characters in the people I have met in the four churches I have worked in.  It reminded me of the fables that Patrick Lencioni has so brilliantly written.

I borrowed this book from my library but enjoyed it so much that I’ve added it to my wish list.  It is a book that I would come back to several times to think how am I sharing vision, how am I enabling people to fill ownership of decisions, and some really interesting thoughts on how to bring different generations together in church something that I will reflect on more here on the blog in the coming days.

Work Hard, Rest Hard

Kevin DeYoung has written a blog post on working hard and resting hard – I’ve got much more serious in this in the past year or so.  It has made a big difference in my mental health:

People like to say life is a marathon, not a sprint, but it’s actually more like a track workout. We run hard and then rest hard. We charge a hill and then chug some Gatorade. We do some stairs, then some 200s, and then a few 400s. In between, we rest. Without it, we’d never finish the workout. If we want to keep going, we have to learn how to stop. Just like the Isra­elites had in their calendar, we need downtime each day, and a respite each week, and seasons of refreshment throughout the year.

Which is why it’s so concerning that our lives are getting more and more rhythm-less. We don’t have healthy routines. We can’t keep our feasting and fasting apart. Evening and morning have lost their feel. Everything is blurred together. The faucet is a constant drip. Life becomes a malaise, until we can’t take any more and spiral into illness, burnout, or depres­sion. We can’t run incessantly and expect to run very well.

Read the rest here.