I was honored to join Robert Hatfield for a 3rd year for PiT's Holiday Gift Guide.Read More
One of the things God has blessed me with was the ability to know stuff about technology that most other people don't know. I don't say this because I'm an expert (because I'm not), I say this because every day I come across someone who surprises me with either their knowledge or lack thereof about technology.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Youth Ministry Workshop at the Freed-Hardeman Lectureships this past week - and I was on the other side of the table. I know a lot of stuff about technology - maybe too much. But I learned about new ways of doing things, new apps, new ways to create apps - stuff I had literally never heard before.
So my new podcast I (re)started about 2 weeks ago is just that. It's about technology - both the tools we can use and the lessons we can learn from it in ministry. It's called Ministry Bits, and you don't have to go too far to listen.
There are lots of people in the ministry that you and I know that are good at a lot of different things. Some are good at graphics. Some are good at using technology to preach and teach. So how can we use their knowledge to make our ministries better? We can see how they did it.
If we want to be like Christ, we need to do the things he did. If we want to use technology effectively in our ministries, then we need to do the things that effective people do.
Ministry Bits is an attempt to cobble together all this knowledge into one weekly podcast, so that everyone can listen and benefit. We will have guests in the coming weeks talk about perspectives on technology in ministry, reading, writing, and teaching and preaching in ministry. I hope that you the listener will benefit greatly from their knowledge and experience. We'll have shows on apps, workflows, and gadgets to use in ministry.
Thank you in advance for supporting the new podcast. It's going to be a great ride.
You can check out Ministry Bits right here on the website, or you can subscribe with iTunes in your favorite podcast client for easy listening. Shows run 25-30 minutes, no more. Your time is valuable. If you have a request, a comment, or would even like to be on the show, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't you hate it when people say that to you? It's almost like they don't care. It's like they don't sympathize with us about our worries. But...that's exactly what Jesus said to do - not worry about it.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I'm a worrier. I worry about things non-stop. But as our pulpit minister Kyle Bolton pointed out in his sermon yesterday, there are some things we need to know about worrying, and some specific points Jesus makes in Matthew 6.25-34.
Worrying is illogical (v 25). Mr. Spock on Star Trek would say this. Worrying is highly illogical.
Worrying is a distraction (v 26). We are distracted by so many things in life, and worrying about things is a distraction to us being able to serve God to our full potential. If God can take care of the birds, why can't he take care of us, his greatest creation?
Worrying is useless (v 27). What good will worrying do? What will it accomplish? Will worrying solve problems? No!
Worrying is pointless (v 28-30). Have you ever seen Caffeine-Free Diet Mountain Dew? Neither have I. But apparently, it exists. What's the point of drinking a drink like Mountain Dew with no sugar and no caffeine? If you are the type of person that drinks that, you don't drink it for the lack of those things, you drink it in spite of and because of those things. Just like Caffeine-Free Mountain Dew, worrying is pointless. Why even bother with it?
Worrying is faithless (v 31-32). This one hits me hard. If we as Christians are supposed to be the "called out" and distinctive in this world, why do we worry about trivial things so much? When we worry, it demonstrates a lack of faith.
Worry is out of focus (v 33). If we would put the first things first (i.e. God, Jesus, and His church), then all the small things in our lives would fall into place.
Worry is borrowed trouble (v 34). Most of worrying is completely unfounded, meaning what we worry about usually never comes to pass. Think about that. When we worry, we are just borrowing trouble from the next day, week, or month - and friends, this day has enough trouble on its own.
Take one day at a time.
Refuse to borrow trouble.
And don't worry...be happy!
I love to grill. Like, hardcore. When my wife and I had a grill that worked (we've been "grill-less" and too busy to buy one lately), we'd grill out every other night.
When I was in college, however, we couldn't have grills in the dorms. Something about setting off smoke detectors and being a "fire hazard." Whatever.
So I got a George Foreman grill. Biggest mistake ever.
This funky clamshell cooking apparatus had such promise. It was going to be the savior to my college grilling problems. I had dreams of cooking hamburgers and steaks for my friends, and us having one of those dorm parties that makes all the other dorms jealous.
It worked fine for a week. Then reality set in.
For some reason, the GF Grill didn't want to get hot anymore. It would literally take 4 hours to cook a burger to medium rare. I believe the hottest the grill got was like 85 degrees. It was like sitting my meat outside on the sidewalk or by the pool. In fact, it got so bad that I would start to put my various meats in the grill to keep them cool.
And if that wasn't enough, when it did work, there was this handy little grease tray THAT DIDN'T ATTACH to the grill. If you know anything about Foreman Grills, they're kind of set on this downslope so all the unhealthy grease just slides right off your food and into this little tray so you can have the illusion of being healthy. But if the little grease tray was one micron off, all your grease from your food would be like a waterfall of nastiness spilling out into your countertop and floor.
The grease tray design was bad enough. The grill didn't work properly either, so about 11 days and 50 bucks later, it was retired to the closet. I was too embarrassed to even bring it back to Target.
So what's my point this morning? Don't be a George Foreman Grill.
Don't promise the world and then not deliver. Specifically, for youth ministers, don't make grand plans and promises you can't keep. Keep it real, be realistic with your goals for the ministry you work for.
Don't be lazy. In a couple of weeks, school will start back. It's what youth ministers refer to as the "Happy Month." You need to take a break, yes, and perhaps even a vacation, but don't look at August-September-October as the "easy months." Be aggressive and get some things done. Organize your youth storage room so you won't perpetually be looking for stuff come May. Write out a report for your leadership on the events of the summer, letting them know just how awesome you are. Maybe, after school has settled in, you plan an extra even for your teens. Look far in advance to any camps and retreats that need speakers booked and events planned. Don't be ineffective after a period of work like a George Foreman Grill.
Realize your ineffectiveness. Is an event or tradition that you have not having the same effect for your youth group or church? Maybe it's time to take a hard look at what is doing a good job of getting people to Jesus in your ministry. It's so easy to do the same things over and over, year after year, but what about when things become ineffective in leading people to Christ? What about when you start to become ineffective? It may be time to look at a break, a vacation, go to a conference, or even, in the last resort, a move. We as youth ministers can become burnt our very quickly if we don't watch ourselves.
Don't be a George Foreman Grill. Don't be broken, badly designed, and ineffective at what you do. Always be striving for the best to get people to Christ.
(And I swear if anyone comes on here and says "I loved my GF Grill, it was the greatest!" I'm going to punch you in the face.)
You want to know what I have to say about someone that tells me 'not to take personally' comments, criticisms, gripes, moans, or complaints about the ministry I work for?
Because for me (and you may be different), there is no way for me not to take things personally.
When a kid says, "I don't like the color of the summer camp shirt," I take it personally.
When another kid complains that there wasn't anything to drink to go along with the doughnuts I brought to class that morning, I take it personally.
When anyone makes a snide or unthoughtful comment about an event that I spent months planning every detail, I take it personally.
You see, some people in ministry (pulpit, family, youth, or otherwise) can step back and take themselves out of that situation, turn off a switch when they go home from work and forget about all the things that were said that day.
And I'm betting that's most ministers of all types out there.
Comments, arguments, moans, complaints are not like water off a duck to me. With some people, yes, because some people will do nothing but complain. I'm talking about others. Other people, parents, and the very teens in the youth group. To me every complaint is like a stab with a needle. It hurts for a while, it doesn't bleed much, but it leaves a mark.
No one can run the perfect, flawless ministry. No one can go without mistakes. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's okay of you take the ministry you work for a little personally. It's okay to take work home with you sometimes. It's okay to be emotionally involved - frankly, I don't see how all ministers don't get emotionally involved.
In ministry, everything is personal. Jesus even took things personally and showed emotion because of it. We can't hold everything in. We'll eventually explode.
If you're one of those ministers who is able to shrug things off, then I commend you. And to a certain extent, everyone has to learn to do that. But as my wife told me, I think that getting involved and being passionate about the work we do makes us better ministers, even if we can't detach ourselves sometimes.
Albert Mohler has an excellent post on his site about Christian leaders who may be ignoring modern technology in their ministries. Very telling.
Leaders who talk about the real world as opposed to the digital world are making a mistake, a category error. While we are right to prioritize real face-to-face conversations and to find comfort and grounding in stable authorities like the printed book, the digital world is itself a real world, just real in a different way.
Real communication is happening in the digital world, on the Web, and on the smart phone in your pocket. Real information is being shared and globally disseminated, faster than ever before. Real conversations are taking place, through voice, words and images, connecting people and conversations all over the world.
If the leader is not leading in the digital world, his leadership is, by definition, limited to those who also ignore or neglect that world, and that population is shrinking every minute. The clock is ticking.