Ministry Inside.8

1. Just read Jcoffeemagic.jpgohn Ortberg’s reflections on reading. Very good and very refreshing, particularly if you feel behind in your reading.

2. You might watch this video on strategic listening by business author and consultant Tom Peters. Those of us who are ministers really need to pay attention to what he is saying about the critical importance of learning to listen. You can find the video here.

3. I am reading The Drama of Scripture by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen. Excellent! I am reading this as a part of my preparation for a series of messages this fall on the big story in Scripture. During the months of June/July/August, I will be preparing for this series, which will begin sometime after Labor Day. Years ago, I learned that it was much easier to present a series of messages by preparing months in advance instead of living from week to week. Some people preach only “microwave” messages. On Monday or Tuesday they decide what they are going to preach the following Sunday. Then they scramble for a few days to prepare the message. There is not much time to let it “cook.” Now that is a difficult way to live from week to week.

I have found it to be far easier and more satisfying to use the crock pot as my primary image for preaching instead of the microwave. With “crock pot preaching,” messages are begun far in advance. There is time to read, think, and simply let ideas and thoughts soak. Yes, this takes some discipline, but this allows one the time to really think through what is going to be presented. It is also a much less stressful way of living.

4. A very significant article, “The End of Men,” has just been published in the July/August (2010) edition of The Atlantic Journal. Note these opening lines:

“Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, post-industrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way—and its vast cultural consequences.”

5. Do your church members express gratitude to one another? Far too often, men and women serve for years and never hear the words “thank you” for what they are doing. For example, here is a group of people who regularly prepare meals at church gatherings. They do this as volunteers not receiving one dime of compensation for the hours they work to prepare this meal for several hundred people. Then at the meal, one person expresses his frustration with the group because they ran out of iced tea. Then another complains because he likes black-eyed peas rather than the green beans that they served. No thanks. No gratitude expressed. Just demands. This happens far too often in many church gatherings.

There is an incredible power in simply expressing heartfelt gratitude. Church leaders could inject something very powerful into their congregation’s culture by intentionally looking for people to thank.


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4 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.8

  1. Hi…thanks for the interesting image – the crockpot & the microwave. Or is it the crockpot vs the microwave? I’m striving for the slowcooking method but wonder how/where to find the time. I also have a fulltime job outside the church, whihc adds a bit of a complication. Weekly sermons unfortunately tend to be more “microwave” at this point. I guess that’s where being is a liturgical church is helpful. I’m not scrambling each week for a text to preach on…the lectionary is its own kind of slowcooker. Thank you too for the Lynn Anderson book = it arrived today.

  2. Shelley, you make a very good point regarding finding the time. (What with working a fulltime job outside the church, time must be a very big factor.)
    Being a liturgical church has to be very helpful in this regard. As you say, you are not scrambling each week for a text to preach.

    Something that has helped me, Shelley, is to try to find a way to let things cook slowly while I am doing other things related to ministry, family, etc. For example, I preached through much of 2 Corinthians 1-5 last year (Paul reflecting on the essence of Christian ministry). I found that by simply reading this text each day several months in advance (maybe spending 15-20 minutes a day reading), something began to “cook.” At times when I was mowing or in the grocery store or doing something else, I would stumble upon an image or story that seemed to fit. I wasn’t really looking for anything at the time. I think the fact that something was slowly cooking enabled me to see connections that I might otherwise have not seen.

    I really don’t mean to give you advice. Besides, it sounds like you have a very challenging schedule. I’m just trying to communicate what has been helpful to me. 🙂

  3. Jim,

    Thanks for linking to the article on reading. I am constantly reading, but always feel behind or out
    of the loop. It is helpful to remember to focus on depth.

    Last year I did a series on Scripture as narrative and it has impacted everything for me. I know this
    will be a blessing to the Crestview Church.

    • Kevin, so good to hear from you. Hope you are doing well.

      Please let me know of any particular resource that was helpful to you in your series last year.

      I appreciate you very much and have great respect for you and Jill.