• How to Make Announcements in Church Without Boring Everyone to Tears

    I remember being at a church where anyone who had an announcement could get up and share. Because people were giving their own announcements they all had to justify why everyone in the congregation should go to the the thing being announced. One time, I kid you not, the announcements went longer than the sermon!

    Good announcements in church very rarely happen without thinking about how and what we are trying to communicate. In fact good communication doesn’t happen in church unless there is a lot of thought put into it. I have been helped in thinking through church communication by a book called Less Clutter. Less Noise.: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures and Bake Sales by Kem Meyer. Here are some pointers that I found helpful when thinking about announcements and communication in church:

    “Stick to the facts. Don’t over-sell, over-explain or overcontrol. Just provide the information someone needs to self-sort and self-decide. People don’t need a page on the philosophy of each ministry, activity or event. They do need to know who it’s for, what it is, when it happens and how to get there or sign up.

    Stick to the point. Start with the end in mind before you’re about to do something. If you know the purpose behind your letter, brochure, meeting, etc., it makes it easier for you to stay on track and focused. Otherwise, it’s hard to recognize your own excess. Do you want people to show up or respond? What are you asking them to do? If you can’t answer that question easily, they won’t be able to either.

    Consider the crowd. Does your announcement (bulletin or verbal) apply to everyone or just a handful of people? If it’s not affecting the masses, it’s just going to land like dead weight. Don’t punish the crowd to keep a few people happy (even if they are the most vocal). Find a way to deliver your news in appropriate venues.”

    What have you found works and doesn’t work for you in communicating to your church?

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  • How to Talk About Change in Your Church

    People, especially church people, hate change. We don’t like change because we are comfortable with the way things are. But what if what you are doing needs a significant overhaul? What if things are broken and need fixing?

    One of the questions leaders have is how do you introduce change especially when people are generally resistant to change. Here is what Andy Stanley has to say about how  to introduce change:

    “The most ineffective way to begin a conversation about change is to talk about what needs to change. You should never begin a conversation about change by addressing where you are now. You should always begin with where you want to be. When you begin a conversation about change by discussing what needs to change, you generally begin with something that someone is emotionally invested in. That’s a recipe for failure. Or termination. During my first two years of college, I knew I needed to change my study habits. Actually, I didn’t need to change them; I needed to have some. Anyway. Nothing changed until I decided to go to graduate school. Once I got a clear picture of a preferred future, my behavior changed. That’s what vision does. It allows me to see where I am in relation to where I need to be. Reminding me of where I am and then telling me I need to change is neither compelling nor inspiring. But pointing me toward a preferred future and helping me discover what I need to do now in order to get there … that’s different. So the best place to begin any conversation about change is the future. What could be. What should be. Perhaps what must be!”

    Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

    What great advice! Make the people taste the vision and point out the things we need to get there!

    How will you use in this piece of advice in your church?

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  • Why all Christians Can be Courageous

    Fear is a commodity that is highly traded in our world. We are told to be scared of terrorists, persecution, bacteria etc. But one of the biggest things we fear is people. It is hard to lovingly confront someone even if you are right. It is hard to stand up to people and take a stand. But all Christians can and should be courageous.

    In Joshua 1 we find an Israel that had every reason to be afraid. Their leader Moses is now dead, they are about to declare war on a number of nations, they had just seen a whole generation of people die in the desert. But God tells them to be strong and courageous 4 times in chapter one. But why should they be strong and courageous?

    In vs. 6 God says: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” The Israelites should be courageous because God promised their inheritance, and God is faithful and keeps his promises.
    And continuing in vs. 7 God says “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” The Israelites should be courageous because they have the very words of God!
    And in vs. 9 God says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Why should they be courageous? Because God is with them wherever they go.
    God is Faithful to His promises, He has a track record for proving it, and He is always with us.
    These words to Joshua apply to us as well.
    In the New Testament:
    • God promised to bring a Saviour, and He did. He’s given us the Spirit to give us words, and His words will go out from our mouths and ‘never return empty’ (Isaiah). And so we can be courageous for God because he keeps his promises!
    • We remember that we have the word of God in the Bible that encourages us and spurs us on!
    • And in Matthew 28 God is with us wherever we go! Imagine that, the God of the universe is with you! Who should you fear if he is on your side?
    Application – how do these three points help us?
    • God gives us words, by His Spirit, and His words never return empty – take confidence in this.
    • God’s word is with us and if we are doing things in accordance with his word we are smack bang in the middle of his will for our lives. So therefore we have courage when we are doing what he call us to do!
    • Whenever we enter into situations where we need courage we are never alone God is with us!.
    The world tells us to look for courage inside yourself. The Bible tells us to look to God for our courage.
    If you look to God for courage you can be courageous irrespective of how you feel at the time. 
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  • When Poor Preaching Destroys the Biblical View on Gender

    Every few years there is a debate on the gender roles in Christianity. This is a good and necessary discussion to have.

    It has been said by complementarian Male pastors that a lot of women feel forced to step up into a role that they don’t feel comfortable taking on because the men in that role are doing a poor job. This idea was confirmed to me by Clare Smith, a woman with a PhD in New Testament. This is an excerpt from her book God’s Good Design:

    I have never felt that I have nothing to contribute. Because of this, as well as being convinced it is not God’s will for me to do so, I have never felt the need to teach the Bible to men or to be a leading elder in a church. I have had to ask myself if I wanted to do so — because invitations have come — but making the decision not to do so has not been a difficult one. I realize this is not always the case for some women who say they feel ‘called’ to those ministries.

    My decision has been difficult only when — if I can be brutally honest, brothers — I hear inept preaching from a man. I do not mean your average run-of-the-mill preaching, where the preacher loves the Lord and loves his word but there is something lacking in the power or passion or application of that word. I mean preaching where the clarity of God’s word is obscured, or where error is proclaimed as truth, or where the preacher preaches himself and not our wonderful Saviour. It is then that I feel the rub of the different God-given responsibilities of men and women that prevent women from preaching to mixed congregations.

    Of course, I realize the pride inherent in such a complaint. And I realize it is not only women who struggle with poor preaching. But perhaps this is a good place to remind those brothers who are preachers that you serve your sisters, in a way that you do not serve your brothers, by being the best preacher you can be — because if there is no lack in the pulpit, your sisters will be less tempted to want to fill it.”

    Clare Smith God’s Good Design pg 230-231

    Does that sting?

    One of the biggest questions I get asked about what the Bible says about gender is “What if a man sucks at preaching/leadership and there is a woman that is better?” Great question. The answer is not for the Bible to be thrown out but for men to step up and lead and preach well.

    Pastors’ are you tempting women to enter into unbiblical roles for them because you aren’t preaching or leading well?

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  • Who Is Leading Your Church?

    Senior leadership teams of a church, whether they be a parish council, a staff team, an elder board or something else, are crucial for healthy, high functioning churches.

    I have been reading a book by Tony Morgan called Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team. He says this about senior leadership teams in churches:

    The reality is, the decision about who will be on your senior leadership team is probably the biggest determining factor of health and success for your church. This decision is much bigger than those about discipleship strategies, series plans, buildings, budgets, etc. Determining who is on your senior leadership team will shape every other decision.

    Did you see how crucial senior leadership teams are? They are “probably the biggest determining factor of health and success for your church” Now of course Tony is speaking here on a human level. He would be the first to admit that God grows his church and so we need to be careful before we think all that we need to do to grow a church is to get the right people in the right positions. It is God who gives the growth. But God does work through humans and our good and bad decisions and so we need to think carefully about who is on our senior leadership teams.

    The wrong person(s) in a senior leadership team can frustrate the growth of a church and the right person(s) can make a church flourish as Tony says:

     I’ve seen firsthand how the right person can propel a church forward. I’ve also seen how the wrong person—though talented and gifted by God—can truly disrupt culture and growth. There is simply too much at stake for a church not to do everything within its power to make sure they understand who needs to hold the senior leadership positions in their church.”

    I love that sentence There is simply too much at stake for a church not to do everything within its power to make sure they understand who needs to hold the senior leadership positions in their church.” There is a lot at stake isn’t there? If your church has the wrong people in positions of leadership and the work of the church is hampered and as a knock on effect evangelism, pastoral care and the like doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen in the manner in which it should there are eternal consequences.

    Pastor, are you going to have the courage to build the right senior leadership team for your church? If you do some people will be offended and some people may leave. But the stakes are far too high for you not to get the right people in the right positions on your senior leadership team.

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  • A Quick Leadership Lesson from Bill Hybels

    One of the biggest questions a leader has to ask is ‘What should I focus on?’ As a leader there are always so many things competing for your time.

    Last year I read Axiom by Bill Hybels and he has a great little piece of advice for leaders. You can’t focus on everything so pick six things that you will focus on for six weeks that will bring the greatest impact to your organisation. Then purposely neglect everything else.

    I think this is a brilliant idea. It gives you laser like focus and it gives you goals that should be attainable and that if they are achieved will bring the greatest impact in your organisation.

    What are the top six contributions I could make in the next six weeks?

    Choose them, execute them and make an impact!

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  • How Old Should the Archbishop of Sydney be?

    The election of a new Archbishop for the diocese of Sydney is happening next year. This is huge news and we should all be praying that God would choose the right man for the job.

    I came across this survey from the Australian Church Record. It is about the age of the next Archbishop of Sydney. Surely if you were going to put out a survey on what you want in the next Archbishop his age would not be your first concern? Surely his theology would be wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t you then think  about other matters like his leadership ability, his pastoral skill, his ability to deal with the media and those of other theological persuasions before how many years he has been on earth?

    I am not an Anglican but the next Archbishop of Sydney affects every reformed evangelical in in Sydney in some way or another. Here is my shopping list for the next Archbishop of Sydney:

    The next Archbishop should be a man who is solid theologically:  He should be reformed, hold to the inerrancy of the scriptures and be complimentarian. He not only needs to hold to great theology he needs to be able to think theologically.

    The next Archbishop should be a man who is courageous  he needs to be a man who holds onto the truth of the Scriptures and solid theology come what may. This requires tonnes of courage.

    The next Archbishop should be a man who can communicate graciously and effectively:  As part of the job the new  Archbishop will have to communicate with the media and Christians of other theological persuasions as well as the usual preaching to different kinds of congregations. This will require a great ability to communicate.

    The next Archbishop should be a leader: thousands of people worldwide will be looking to this man for leadership therefore leadership needs to be one of his strengths.

    The next Archbishop should be a man who is godly: a leader of a church must be a man who “must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable,able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:2-7). Therefore, those who are electing the next Archbishop need to be able to discern whether this man has these qualities.

    The next Archbishop of Sydney is crucial appointment please be in prayer that Sydney Anglicans would choose a man to lead them who is God’s man for the job.

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  • Successful People Plan

    One of the things that doesn’t come naturally to me is planning. I am a spur of the moment guy which is fun for me and not so fun for those people around me who aren’t like me. But leaders and successful people plan and so I try to plan well and I try to lead Resolved in planning for the future.

    The other day I read through Proverbs to see what it said about planning. Here are a few verses that hit me as I was studying this great book:

    1. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
    2. “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.” (Proverbs 4:26).
    3. “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21).
    4. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14).
    5. “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.” (Proverbs 14:8).
    6. “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22).
    7. “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:1-3).
    8. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).
    9. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 16:25).
    10. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33).
    11. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21).
    12. “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Proverbs 20:5).
    13. “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” (Proverbs 20:18).
    14. “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 20:24).
    15. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5).
    16. “For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 24:6).

    There are a few things that I glean from these verses:

    • God is absolutely Sovereign and all planning we do is done with the acknowledgement that he can do whatever he wants with us and our plans
    • We plan in humility knowing God is the one who will ultimately make our plans succeed or fail.
    • Good planning takes time. The successful planner ponders and reflects as they plan
    •  The successful planner plans in consultation with others
    • The successful person plans

    What about you what do you get out of these verses about planning?

    Do you plan well? If so why/why not?

    “Those who don’t plan plan to fail.” – John L. Beckley

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  • What is Your Church Doing to Raise and Train up the Next Generation of Leaders?

    Below is a photo of the Catalyst Crew and I taken a few weeks ago. Catalyst is a program that we run at Resolved for university students to train them to be next generation of leaders of the church.

    Catalyst started because I was challenged by Mark Dever (sorry to name drop) to start training the next generation of leaders. When He challenged me to start some kind of training program I said “I don’t have time right now.” To which he replied “You’ll never have time.” After this conversation I  felt compelled to start training the next generation of leaders. So I planned out what we were going to do, I got some guys together and we started at the start of this year.
    All we do at Catalyst each week  is read a section of the Bible (we went through Romans this year), talk about a section of a book or an article that we have all read during the week and work on a ministry skill i.e. how to have a pastoral conversation. (If you want the program of what we did this year email me at hans@resolved.org.au) There was some legwork in planning all this out and putting it together but I am glad I have done it and I am looking forward to Catalyst starting again next year.
    What is your church doing to raise and train up the next generation of leaders? What if you got some young keen beans together for a few hours each week and you read a section of the Bible together, you talked about a section of a great book (maybe Knowing God by Packer)  and you trained them in a ministry skill?
    Would it take time? Sure but what are you going to do with your time? Read more blogs?
    Would it be hard work? Well if you call reading the Bible and great books with people hard work I guess so.
    Would your church reap the benefits in the future? Definitely!
    What are you doing to train the next generation of leaders for the church?
    This post is dedicated to Rachel, Coen, Hannah, Alie and Steph for being the first Catalyst group. You guys are awesome and I am so looking forward to next year! I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through you both next year and into the future!
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  • Five reasons why you should go to the In The Chute Conference

    I love being a Geneva Church planter. In fact if anyone tells me they are even thinking about planting a church the first thing I say is “You gotta get in touch with the Geneva guys!” Every year The Geneva Push puts on it’s yearly conference called In The Chute. It is always an amazing time. So in light of the upcoming conference I want to give you my five reasons why you should go to In The Chute.

    1. It is a refreshing time. As church leaders we need to get away and be taught ourselves so we are refreshed by God and his word. The teaching at Geneva events is always top notch and is always encouraging and refreshing.
    2. Don Carson will be speaking. If you have never heard of Don Carson he (along with Tim Keller) runs The Gospel Coalition and is one of the most influential men in Evangelicalism. Don is an amazing speaker who will stretch, rebuke
      and encourage you as he preaches and teaches.
    3. The topic for this years conference is The Church. I have written on the mission of the church here. I think what the church is and does is one of the most important topics for contemporary Christianity. It is going to be amazing hearing from Don Carson on this topic.
    4. You learn from other church leaders about what is working for them. It is great to get together with other planters and church leaders and compare notes on what is and isn’t working for them.
    5. You get to listen and learn from older more experienced guys. I love hearing from a guy 1, 5 , 10 or 20 years down the track because I hear that what I am going through is pretty standard. I also get to reap the wisdom that God has given them through the years. At In The Chute I always get time with older more experienced pastors and try to learn everything I can from them.

    There you have it. There are my five reasons why you should go to the In The Chute this year. If you want to sign up for it go here.

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