Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Idolatry of Mnistry

If we only rejoice in God because of what He is doing through us and not because of what He has already done for us, we cherish our ministry more than Him. If our awe for what He is doing through us surpasses our awe for what He has done for us, we have made ministry our god. - Eric Geiger

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

A walk is really good for you

If you've been unfortunate enough to get my status updates via social media for the last 10 months you will have noticed that my health has been a concern. There are still some strange sensations going on in this ageing body but in other ways so much has improved.

A year ago I went to the NFL at wembley. I struggled walking up the incline that is at the end of Wembley Way. I pretended to the people with me that I wanted to look around and take photos. Truth was my legs were like lead and I just couldn't move them anymore. I left early knowing I had to climb a few sets of stairs to get up to Wembley Park tube. I literally had to pull myself up the final flights using my arms and the bannister. Finally I decided that I had to see the doc.

I finally saw a neurologist who basically told me that there was nothing essentially wrong with my muscles and I had to start doing a little more exercise. He said: You are over 50 jhave a very sedentary life style and if you don't use it you will lose it! He also said if you are bedridden in hospital for 10 days you would lose 10% of your muscle mass and take 6 moths to get it back.

That's when I simply started walking. Nothing rediculous I started with 10,000 steps. Since January I choose to walk when possible. Things have changed totally. There have been a number of milestones but returning to wembley a year later with the same people with no problems whatsoever interms of climbing stairs etc. Just reminded me how far I've come.

You don't have to join a gym and pay a fortune just walk a bit more. I won't be running a marathon any time soon but I can function in day to day life and enjoy trips to watch some sport which I honestly thought was going to be a thing of the past.

As I said I've still got very weird sensations but I'm in a much better place thanks to something as simple as a walk!

Friday, September 23, 2016

A rant to my fellow church leaders about children's ministry

I find myself having very similar conversations with church leaders here in the uk over and over again and their reluctance on some of these issues confuses me. One such conversation is around providing a dedicated children's church for the duration of the service and the other going to multiple services.

Obviously I am biased as we at MKCC have been doing multiple services for at least 20 years and been providing for our children through Discovery Kids for over 10 years.

Here are some reasons for providing children's church for the whole length of your service.

1. Children learn about Jesus on their level

Ok I guess you can do that during the 45 minutes of the preach.

2. Children can sing songs & worship Jesus in a way that's relevant to them

We can sing songs that communicate truth that they can understand and relate to in a musical style that connects with them. Please don't give me this family worship thing. I've been in church all my life from being a baby. I had little comics (christian ones of course - about Tim and someone if I remember correctly) to keep me quiet. Now they have iPads etc. It's not family worship it's how do we keep them quiet!

3. Parents can actually relax and enjoy church

I remember when we first started providing a children's programme for the full length of the service. We did not make it compulsory (and still don't ) and allowed parents to take children into our service and join the Discovery Kids during the preach (we don't allow that anymore). Within a week or two everyone was checking the children in at the start of the service. I can guarantee that 99.9% of parents will welcome it with open arms and the 0.1% well they are gluttons for punishment! (Just a wee joke). Now in the summer where Discovery Kids take a 4 week break parents can't cope and don't come to church lol

4. Children will look forward to church

We have kids that drag their parents to church. Being brought up in church having to sit through what seemed like a millennium to me, actually 90 minutes, and being thumped for dropping my pencil on the stupid wooden floor, church was not fun. The thump or should I say clip round the ear made a bigger noise than my falling pencil. God didn't make children to sit still on a chair for 90 minutes.

5. The congregation is less distracted as there is less noise

It's not the number one reason but it is a reason. My childhood memories kick in again. On dropping your pencil on the wooden floor was not enough to distract then if the clip round the ear was too hard the said child would start to cry. So the parent would then have to clump over the wooden floor dragging the crying child behind them the cries getting louder as you neared the door. Because the child knew that an even worse fate was beyond them doors. ( ok I know that this sort of thing doesn't happen now but I was born in the 60s) So now no one was listening to the preacher or worship leader. 

6. It is so much more accessible & reassuring for new guests.

So it's my first time in church with little Johnny who's 5. I sit through the first part of the service then during one of the songs some strange dressed up character appears and asks all the children to follow him as he prances round the church. The kids form a line and disappear to who knows where! Really? Wouldn't it be better to have a secure place where they can go to with clearly identified volunteers with maybe tshirts. With a robust check in and out procedure so that they know where there child is, who they are with and that they are safe!

Discovery Kids has been one of the biggest growth engines of MKCC without a doubt so why do pastors and churches fight against it.

1. It will need more volunteers and you don't have enough for what you already do and you don't realise there will be people sitting in your church with a passion for kids who will step up. Discovery Kids has the biggest volunteer team in MKCC and has the most young people serving in it. 

2. It will probably need a very high capacity volunteer or even a paid member of staff to lead it. It staggers me that in the UK a children's pastor seems to be at the bottom of so many pastors and churches list. When will they realise that the investment in a great children's pastor will reap so many rewards and add more to your church than the pastors pa will, that he really doesn't need. Discovery Kids has 3 full time and one part time members of staff. More than any other department or area!

3. It will cost money. It staggers me that churches will spend tens of thousands of pounds in upgrading lights, video screens and projectors but make the children's department bake cakes to raise money to buy some new crayons! 

4. It's difficult to transition the children into "big" church when they are older. This one does my head in. Reaching teenage years is always a challenge but I really believe our experience is that a greater percentage of our kids make a good transition. Many of them have experienced Discovery kids from the age of 2 through to 12. So the are desperate to serve, to become a junior leader, into whom we train and encourage. But if they are going to struggle in our services at the age of twelve why make them totally out of it for the 10 years before that.

Please pastors & churches get with the plot invest in the kids in your church & see your church grow

Rant no 1 over:)

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Heart of Worship

On my walk today I was brought to tears by the following part of a message by John Piper - The Heart of Worship. It was given in 2009 at The Worship God Conference.
The New Testament is stunningly silent about forms of worship. The Old Testament is not stunningly silent. It is very verbal. I mean, you have got down to the threads and the colours of the threads and the tassels and days and months and seasons and endless detail of how to do it in that regime. And it is gone. Jesus is now the temple. Jesus is now the priest. Jesus is now the blood and the sacrifice. And all the geography is irrelevant and the buildings are irrelevant. I think it is a stunningly silent, frighteningly silent.
The word most commonly used for worship in the Old Testament proskuneo in the Septuagint. Proskuneo is prevalent in the gospels, prevalent in Revelation and virtually absent in the epistles. There are two little exceptions in Hebrews and one in 1 Corinthians where a person falls down.
Why is the main word for worship in the Old Testament gone out of the Church, but there in the Gospels and there in Revelation? And here is the reason I think: Jesus was there in the gospels physically and people could fall down in front of him and they did over and over again. So you got a lot of uses of the word. They ran up. They fell down. They worshipped him. In Revelation, he is right there on the throne. People are really falling down. He is right there. They are falling down. And that word is gone. It is gone. It is not in the epistles. Why? Because he is not anywhere. He is everywhere. You can meet this Jesus in worship anywhere. You don’t go anywhere. You don’t have to move one millimeter of your body to meet this Jesus while you are in a bed dying with cancer.

There is an incredibly strong de-externalization, internalization, intensification of worship onto the heart in the New Testament.