Archive for April, 2011

Lessons in Ministry Transition

Posted: April 30, 2011 in Church

I’m about ten months into a new ministry and I’ve made quite a few mistakes. Here are some lessons I’ve learned that apply not only to a new ministry transition, but can help improve an existing ministry. (To be frank, looking at this list, these are all “no brainer” issues – but sometimes I’m pretty brainless and need to learn this all over again.)

One more thing: these are raw notes and when I use the second person (“you”) I’m preaching to myself.

Communicate
Dream, plan, think. These are all good things, but unless they are communicated nothing will happen and you will alienate the very people necessary to make it happen. Part of communicating is listening. Ask open ended questions. Listen to people and keep yer trap shut!

Use email, texts, facebook, snail mail, telephone and even (gasp) face to face conversations.

Communicate regularly, consistently and constantly with your leadership team (dude – frankly, you suck at this, fix it).

Keep the Big Picture
Know where you’re heading. Set some long and short term goals. Review this list monthly to see how you’re doing and possibly revise the goals. Specifically, set some 90 day goals. Check them monthly, revise as needed and keep adding month to month (if you’re still working on the same goal 90 days from now, you might need to run a diagnostic on your ministry and see where the misfire is).

Filter out the Noise
Let’s face it, everyone has an idea about how your ministry ought to be run. Give them a chance and they’ll tell you (and some will tell you whether you give them a chance or not). Listen to people. Get ideas. But remember your vision and goals. Take time regularly to sift through it all, filter the noise. Identify the signals which are consistently good and tap into those people. Don’t completely tune out the other waves (you never know where a good idea or a legitimate criticism will come from) but focus on the strong signals and good stations.

Change with a Purpose
Change is often hard, but it is necessary. A pond, lake or sea which has no outlet (in other words, doesn’t experience a constant change in the water) goes stagnant. But change cannot be arbitrary. Just because an idea sounds good doesn’t mean it should be acted upon, or at least not acted upon now. Go back to the vision. Go back to the goals. Make sure the ideas you implement and changes you make bring you closer to these things.

People will accept change better if they see clearly where it’s going and why.

End
Well, that’s it. Just some raw notes on ministry transition.

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Where Are They Now

Posted: April 28, 2011 in History

There is (or was – I no longer have TV) a show called, “Where Are They Now” which revealed what celebrities of the past are doing doing now.  With few exceptions I don’t really care about “has been” celebs.  Cultures – now that’s a different thing.

Throughout history cultures have constantly been overwhelmed or subsumed by larger or more powerful cultures.  However, there are a quite a few cultures which have mysteriously vanished.  They accomplished some amazing feats, then disappeared.  I love a good mystery.

So, what are the Top Ten Civilizations That Mysteriously Disappeared?

An Inconvenient Truth

Posted: April 23, 2011 in Technology

I think I must face the fact that my iPod Classic is no longer useful.  This saddens me.  It’s not even a year and a half old, but it will not sync properly (consistently ejecting prematurely from the computer, lossing data, needing to be reset & reformatted) and frequently skips to the next song after only a few seconds of play.

I realize it’s been dropped a few times and has the scuff marks to show for it, however, my previous iPod 4th Gen. is still going strong despite repeatedly being dropped not only by myself but by my daughter to whom I gave the device when my wife gave me my Classic.  And that’s another reason I’m bummed.  This was an anniversary gift.

I neither can nor am inclined to replace this device.  I suppose I should just get an adapter to play music from my Blackberry Storm2 through my Jeep’s stereo system since it doesn’t connect with the iTrip.

I really did like that iPod.  Alas it has ceased to function properly.

The Darkest Day Ever

Posted: April 23, 2011 in Faith

The overcast sky seems appropriate.  There’s a threat of rain, as if the heavens themselves wish to weep.  This too is appropriate.  I have often thought of the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter as the darkest day.  What must it have been like for the followers of Jesus?

To be sure, Friday was traumatic.  Their teacher, their master, had been betrayed by one of his own followers, betrayed again by his own people, brutally tortured then unmercifully executed.  The sky turned black making it literally the darkest day.  But for all the trauma, the day was a busy one.  I doubt I am the only one who feels worse after the initial shock of calamity.

Saturday, there was nothing to do.  It was the Sabbath, which seems to make it all the worse.  The greatest prophet since Elijah, maybe even Moses had been executed.  And they were to worship on the Sabbath?  How could they?  It perhaps seemed as if heaven mocked them.  It was the Sabbath.  There was nothing going on and nothing to do … except hide in fear that the authorities, be they the Sanhedrin or the Romans, would being to seek out Jesus followers and deal similarly with them.  Nothing to do but hide and wallow in their misery.

Imagine the thoughts of those, like Mary Magdalene, of whom Jesus had said their sins were forgiven them.  Did his death mean they no longer were, or worse, never had been?

We have the luxury of looking back and seeing both Friday and Saturday in light of the Resurrection.  The followers of Christ had no such luxury.  To them, this was the darkest day ever.

Community Good Friday Service

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Church, Faith

Today was our community Good Friday service.  It was nice to see the various churches and denominations in our community coming together to worship Jesus Christ.  The event was arranged by the Phelps County Ministerial Association.  The Methodist Church in Holdrege hosted the event.  The call to worship was given by one of the pastors of the Evangelical Free church in town.  Scripture reading was done by the Lutherans and Assemblies of God.  The Baptist minister preached and the benediction was offered by the Episcopal minister.  The pastor of the Presbyterian church was present, but didn’t have an official role in this service and the Catholic priest was out of town.

In attendance were people from all the denominations.  Several of us ministers gathered afterwards at the back of the sanctuary and one commented that it was good to see all the family together like a family reunion.

As I sat in the service, listening to a choir (ecumenical group) sing, a sense of the enormity of what Christ did on the cross washed over me.  As I gazed at the front of the sanctuary it seemed, superimposed over the pipe organ and beaten bronze cross, I could see an image of what took place that day.  My skin crawled at what we all had caused to be necessary.  I bowed my head and once again begged God’s forgiveness for my sins and thanked Him for his grace and mercy.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

Maundy Thursday

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Church

Autonomy is both the great blessing and curse of Baptist churches.  The various Baptist organizations, associations and conventions are not denominations in the pure sense.  Ultimate power rests at the church level, not with the body.  The organization cannot tell a church what to believe or how to practice.

Baptists generally are non-liturgical and do not observe the traditional church calendar.  We’ve sort of thrown the baby out with the bathwater I think (but that’s another post for another time.) Growing up in Baptists churches, the liturgical year was unknown to me when I graduated from high school.  We had no candles at advent, no Lenten or Maundy Thursday services, and Pentecost was a dirty word as it might lead people to Pentecostalism.  During my time with Covenant Players I discovered a bit about the liturgical calendar as I served in various churches with people from various backgrounds.  During college I learned much more as I sought my own faith expression (and this led me down some very strange roads, but again, a post for another time).

While I said that Baptist churches are generally non-liturgical, there are always exceptions.  It’s part of that autonomy thing.  Baptist churches vary widely from each other.  The Baptist church where I now serve as Associate Pastor is perhaps a bit odd in that we have elements of liturgicalism (is that a word?) in our observance.  We change the colors in the sanctuary to coincide with the seasons of the church year.  Advent, with its candles and meanings is a rathe big deal here.  This year we held a Lent service and last night was the first Maundy Thursday service I’ve ever experienced in a Baptist church.  I dare say it wasn’t a traditional (or liturgical) Maundy Thursday service.  In fine Baptist tradition we took it, tweaked it, and made it our own.

The service began the service with the blowing of the shofar. Pastor Darren presented the message in the form of a dramatic monologue, playing the part of one of the apostles.  He taught about the passover meal, washing of feet, and Jesus institution of what we Baptists call the “Lord’s Supper” (AKA: Communion).  We ended our service by taking communion.

It was a great service helping us, again, pause and focus on the awesome grace of God in the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Amazon Kindle Feedback

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Technology

I have a third generation Kindle (wifi only). My experience is mostly positive. My kindle does have a nasty habit of rebooting for no apparent reason while I’m reading. It also periodically refuses to wake up necessitating I hold the power switch over to force reboot it.

Other than those two pesky issues, it’s great. While I have purchased several books (and downloaded many more free one) I use a program called Calibre to convert all my old .lit and .rtf books so they’re usable on the Kindle. Since I tend to read multiple books simultaneously (both for business and pleasure) I love being able to have almost my entire library at my fingertips without carrying a suitcase of books everywhere I go.

If if weren’t for the two problems mentioned above, I’d say the Kindle was about perfect.