An Arctic Adventure

Arctic Adventure

I wrote this open-ended game/simulation with an obvious Easter application a very long time ago. It is intended to be light-hearted and fun, with increasing gravity, until the punchline at points 9 and 10.

  1. Introduce the game as follows. “Arctic Expeditions is pleased to offer you the adventure of a lifetime. A fortnight inside the Arctic circle. All travel and accommodation is arranged in advance.”
  2. Discuss among the Group for a few minutes – make a list of the things you would you need to take with you on this adventure: e.g. what kind of camping equipment, clothes, food, satellite radio etc?
  3. So now you have arrived in for your first few days in the Arctic. The snowmobiles have dropped you will all your equipment.
  4. Discuss among the Group for a few minutes – what kinds of things will you want to do in those first few days ? All ideas, sensible and silly, welcomed of course.
  5. Announce “I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the weather has deteriorated. There is a blizzard blowing outside, temperatures are now so cold that it is dangerous to go outside for any length of time. (you might refer to the snowstorms over the last month as just a glimpse of the ferocious conditions) The good news is that you have plenty of food and drink and fuel for the heaters to last for the rest of your stay and the snowmobiles are on their way to rescue you.”
  6. Discuss among the Group – how will you cope with this terrible weather?
  7. Announce “I have some more bad news for you. The heaters have broken down. So the temperature is dropping inside the tent. But the good news is that as long as you can keep eating and drinking you will be able to survive the cold. And the snowmobiles are on their way.”
  8. Discuss among the Group – what can you do now?
  9. Announce “Arctic Expeditions are very sad to inform you that the storm is so bad that the snowmobiles have broken down and are now stuck in the snow. The good news is that replacement snowmobiles are on their way and will be with you in 13 days. The bad news is that you have only 10 days of minimum rations of food left. And without the heating, in that bitter cold, if you don’t eat then within a day you will fall into a coma and the next day you will be dead. We hope you will enjoy the rest of your holiday and are truly sorry that help will not be able to reach you in time.” (A little calculation is needed here. Arrange the number of days of food according to the number of people in the Group, and the time it will take for help to arrive, such that the food will run out before help arrives, but if the Group was one fewer person, then there would be enough food for the rest all to survive.)
  10. Ask the Group – what are you going to do? Discuss.

Retell the story of Lawrence “Titus” Oates, who was suffering from gangrene and frostbite on the Scott’s Terra Nova Antarctic expedition. So to save His friends, Oates sacrificed his life by walking out of the tent to certain death into a blizzard at -40 degrees C on 17th March 1912, saying  “I am just going outside and may be some time”,

Lead on to Jesus’s words in John 15:13 “ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Explain the significance of Christ’s sacrifice on Good Friday in any way you consider appropriate for the Group.

The first time I used this with an all-age teens and adults group, a sergeant with the Met Police who had been on the front line of the Kilburn riots summed it up by saying, “We all know what we ought to do. But would any of us have the guts to do it?”

 

Leading and Serving – training for church leadership teams

Folk sometimes ask how we train our church leadership teams. I have used the following booklet with various churches in a whole-day workshop.

It is here as an A5 booklet which I give to all participants. You are welcome to use or edit this in any ways you like, but acknowledging authorship would be nice.

Leading and serving A5 gunton

I also give people copies of the BU Guideline documents mentioned:

C17 Help I‟m a Charity Trustee

C18 Help I‟m a Deacon

Amongst other helpful Guidelines booklets you might also enjoy:

C19 Help I‟m a Church Secretary

C20 Help I‟m a Church Treasurer

 

This is the content of the workshops.

Gunton Baptist Church
Leaders Day 28th October 2011

 

 

Programme

 

10 am Welcome and worship

10.20   Session 1. Models for church leadership

11.15   Coffee

11.30   Session 2. Being Deacons and being Charity Trustees

12.30   Session 3. Responsibilities of church leaders

1 pm    Lunch

2          Session 4. Our Leadership Team – strengths and weaknesses

2.45     Session 5. Where do we go from here?

3.45     Tea

4.00     Communion and prayer

4.30     Close

 

 

 

Rev. Peter Thomas is minister of North Springfield Baptist Church.
He has been a minister for 25 years and has studied at Cambridge  (BA, MA, PGCE) and London Bible College (BA, MA). You can find sermons and studies including his future book on ministry and leadership online at www.pbthomas.com.


1. Models for Church Leadership

 

So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. (Col 1:28-29)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul’s example of ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible gives us many examples for ministry, leadership and pastoral care. In this session we will look at a number of passages and seek to apply them to our own situations as deacons and minister.

 

When it comes to your turn please be ready to read the passage (or key verses) to us and pick out one or two key points from it and suggest one or two specific ways in which you think the passage applies to our situation. We will only have two or three minutes each – so lengthy sermons are not required.

 


Role Models

 

  1. The Good Shepherd

    Psalm 23:1-6

    John 10:11, 14-15

  2. Setting a good example

    1 Corinthians 11:1

    1 Timothy 4:12

    Hebrews 13:7

  3. Masterbuilders            

    1 Corinthians 3:5-10

  4. Servants of all

    Mark 10:42-45

    Galatians 1:10

The tasks of leadership

 

  1. Keeping watch over the flock

    Acts 20:26-31

    Hebrews 13:17

  2. Building up the body

    Ephesians 4:11-16

  3. Sound teachers

    Titus 2:1-7

    2 Timothy 2:24-25

  4. Steering the ship

    Romans 12:8

    1 Timothy 5:17


Leadership and character

 

  1. Qualifications for elders

    Titus 1:6-9

  2. Qualifications for deacons

    1 Timothy 3:1-10

  3. With integrity

    2 Corinthians 4:1-5

    1 Timothy 6:11

    Acts 20: 32-35

  4. Through hardships

    2 Corinthians 6:3-11

    2 Corinthians 4:7-11

  5. Serving in God’s strength

    2 Timothy 1:6

Jesus’s example washing His disciples’ feet John 13:1-17

 

2. Being Deacons and being Charity Trustees

 

This session is based on the Guidelines booklets from the BU

C17 Help I‟m a Charity Trustee

C18 Help I‟m a Deacon

 

Amongst other helpful Guidelines booklets you might also enjoy:

C19 Help I‟m a Church Secretary

C20 Help I‟m a Church Treasurer

 

All these are on the website www.baptist.org.uk/resources/downloads

____________________________________________________________

3. Responsibilities of Church Leaders

 

The list below (1-15) comes from Paul Beasley-Murray’s book Dynamic Leadership. It is his list of responsibilities which Church Leaders should share with the minister. It is followed by five core responsibilities of charity trustees

Tasks as Deacons

 

  1. Visiting. Calling on members in their homes: eg, the sick, the widowed, members of one’s fellowship group, etc.
  2. Leading in public prayer. At the Communion Table, but also taking an active role in prayer meetings of all kinds.
  3. Counselling. As ‘elder'(!) statesmen, counselling individuals on personal and spiritual problems.
  4. Teaching. Involvement not only in leading fellowship groups, but also in (specialist) groups.
  5. Supporting activity leaders. Taking an active interest in the Sunday school and other organisations. Listening to the leaders and encouraging them in their work.
  6. Leadership. Seeing visions and dreaming dreams; producing ideas and showing initiative; setting the pace with the pastor.
  7. Administration. A management team, looking after the day-to-day business of the church, freeing the minister for ministry.
  8. Supporting members in ‘full-time’ service. Not leaving ongoing support to particular interest groups, but taking a special responsibility for those we have set apart.
  9. Practical service. Seeing to the practical needs of the building and of the fellowship — ‘doers’.
  10. Representation. Representing the various age and interest groups in the church, so that the leadership automatically has the finger on the pulse of the church.
  11. Interviewing. Interviewing people for membership, and then maintaining an ongoing pastoral brief for them.
  12. Wider church responsibilities. Representing the church on various ecumenical and denominational committees.
  13. Caring for the minister and his family. Exercising pastoral care for a family which otherwise might not be cared for.
  14. BEING a man or woman of God in personal discipleship and spirituality, and setting an example.
  15. BEING men and women of God together in fellowship and prayer, and setting an example.

Tasks as Charity Trustees

  1. Managing the finances of the church, including accounts, budget and reserves policy,
  2. Taking care of the fabric of the church: church buildings, manse, equipment etc
  3. Overseeing all the activities of the church, with ultimate responsibility for them
  4. Responsibility for policies: child protection, health and safety, equality, charity law etc
  5. Responsibility as employers for any staff, and caring for the minister

 

EXERCISE   Against each of the tasks 1-20 put a score as follows:

3 – any task you are good at or spend lots of time on;

2 – any task you are not very good at or don’t spend much time on;

1 – any task you spend no time at all on.

Finally, put a star against the THREE most important tasks.


For reference – Elders and Deacons

 

Some Churches make a distinction between the “spiritual” activities of church leadership entrusted to Minister and ELDERS and the practical aspects of church life directed by DEACONS. One church divides the responsibilities of leadership in the following ways.

The Elders:

DIRECTION of the church, vision building, prayer life;
SERVICES, timings, worship styles, teaching, special services;
HOMEGROUPS oversight, selecting leaders, study materials;
PASTORAL CARE of members, congregation and contacts;

CHURCH DISCIPLINE, recommending additions and deletions;

RELATIONSHIPS with other churches;

STAFF: workload and use of ministry time, pastoral care of staff.

The Deacons:

FINANCE, fundraising, special projects, mission support, administration of finance;
PREMISES, maintenance, finance, permission for use, Health and Safety, cleaners;
EQUIPMENT, maintenance, development, finance;

ADULT ORGANISATIONS, leadership, patterns of activities, seasonal events etc;
YOUTH ORGANISATIONS, leadership, patterns of activities: Family Church, Youth Events and activities, Preschool;

WORLD MISSION

PUBLICITY.

The Elders and Deacons together:

MAJOR developments in any areas of the life of the church;

MAJOR long term strategy;

SELECTING STAFF: Minister and others

EVANGELISM strategy, events and activities.

 

Church Officers, Secretary and Treasurer also have specific personal responsibilities in some of the areas above.

 

The Nature of Association

As a Trustee and Council Member of the Eastern Baptist Association I recently spent a fascinating day immersed in the language of charities recently being trained on Charity Law and Governance. Two comments there prompted me to reflect further on the nature and the life of our regional Baptist Associations.

  1. As finances are limited, many charities are increasingly mobilising volunteers to achieve things which previously they raised money and paid people to do. Successful charities are those who are mobilising the enthusiasm and efforts of their members.
  2. Our Baptist Associations are generally bodies made up of members which are themselves organisations. So constitutionally the members of the EBA are the Churches of the EBA, and by extension the ministers and the members of the churches.

Consequently, we should remember that the Baptist churches in the East of England are not the “supporters” or the “funding sources” of EBA. Nor are the churches the “clients” or the “service users” of the EBA. The Churches are the “members of the EBA.” That is not only their legal status in our constitution, but more importantly that is our theology and our ecclesiology. EBA is not just our RM team, nor Council, but it is the Association made up of all our churches. Churches, ministers and members all belong to EBA and EBA belongs to every one of them. This says two things to me.

We need to do everything we can to ensure that every minister, every church and every church member thinks and talks of the Eastern Baptist Association as “us” and not “them”. We do not want churches, ministers or Christians to think of EBA as something separate from themselves. We want churches, ministers, and Christians to think of themselves as members of EBA and by membership we do not want people to think of the nebulous relationship they might have with a motoring association, but rather what it means to belong to a football team or an orchestra.

To reinforce this understanding, we must make sure in all our thinking, talking and writing (e.g. on website, publicity, emails or prayer letters) that we only ever use “EBA” to refer to that body which is made up of all our member churches. We must avoid any implication that EBA is some kind of body or organisation distinct from the churches.

The finance EBA can generate from our members is limited by factors outside our control, and at the same time the workload of our RM Team is overwhelming. So, as well as encouraging greater giving from our churches we need to be looking for ways for EBA to do things by mobilising member churches, ministers and believers, rather than by paying staff to do them. In a church the role of the Minister (and the wider leadership team) is not to do all the works of the ministry themselves, but rather to “equip (God’s) people for works of service.” (Ephesians 4:12) Equally, in our role in leading EBA, RMs and Council need to give attention (as we already do, but perhaps could more) to enabling and encouraging churches, ministers and members to be actively involved in the work of EBA. This would be not only a pragmatic response to limited finances, but more importantly a proper expression of the shared life of our Association. As one example, this might mean RMs enlisting ministers and non-ministers for tasks which RMs have traditionally done, and spending time training and supervising others in those tasks rather than doing the work themselves.
I can make a case for these reflections to be equally applicable to BUGB.

The Whole Story – a Sermon Series and a Whole Lot More

All ministers want to encourage our congregations in the habits of daily devotional reading and personal Bible Study. To this end each week we publish the Bible passages for the following Sunday’s sermons. From time to time we let everybody choose from the wide variety of styles of Bible reading notes to try out – it is usually possible to get out-of-date issues of dated notes free or very cheaply. We give space in our services and Home Groups for folk to share what they have been learning and what God has been saying to them in their personal readings. But the most effective way I have found to draw people into personal Bible reading and study is a programme I developed called “The Whole Story”.

The idea is to inspire everybody to set aside time each day for personal Bible reading by integrating that into the teaching programme of the church across sermons and Home Group studies. At a suitable time in the year, everybody is invited to join in the exciting challenge of reading the entire New Testament over thirteen weeks. The Participants’ Guide sets a portion of the New Testament to read each day. Then the sermon on the following Sunday Morning and the Home Group Study for that week each unpack a major theme from the New Testament books covered in that week’s set readings.

First created in 2009, The Whole Story has been used successfully by a number of churches of different sizes in varying settings. Many people are encouraged because everybody in the church is reading the same thing and this inspires some to explore daily Bible reading for the first time. Publicity launching the programme highlights the advantages of reading through the whole of the New Testament with these words.

On top of the great value of reading each passage you also gain:

  • The Big Picture – an overview of all the books of the New Testament;
  • Where does it fit? See familiar passages in their wider context;
  • Filling the gaps – reading parts of the New Testament you haven’t read for years, or maybe have never read;
  • The whole book – you will read all but ten of the books in a single reading each;
  • The satisfaction of completing the whole of the New Testament, especially if you have not read every part before;
  • Discover the benefits of the habit of reading the Bible every day.

The Participants’ Guide which is given free to everybody is a simple 28 page A5 booklet giving a pattern of daily readings which take around 15-20 minutes, interweaving Gospels and Letters. Participants are invited to jot down a verse which strikes them from each reading, together with a few thoughts from the passage. People can be encouraged to share these thoughts in services or Home Groups. The Guide also includes the questions for the Home Group Studies for that week, which individuals are invited to think about for themselves or discuss with friends even if they do not go to a Home Group.

Here is the programme for the Sermons and Studies fitting in with the daily readings.

Week 1            Sermon: Eleven Great Reasons to Read the Bible

Study: Matthew The Teachings of Jesus

Week 2            Sermon: Galatians The One True Gospel

Study: Philippians Everyday Christian Living

Week 3            Sermon: 2 Thessalonians Do Not Let Anyone Deceive You

Study: Acts: The Earliest Church

Week 4            Sermon: Colossians Mature in Christ

Study: Hebrews How Great Christ Is!

Week 5            Sermon: Ephesians God’s New Community

Study: John Knowing God as Father

Week 6            Sermon: Philemon Forgiveness

Study: 1 Thessalonians The Return of the Lord

Week 7            Sermon: James James on Prayer

Study: 1 Corinthians Spiritual Gifts and the Body of Christ

Week 8            Sermon: 2 Corinthians The Marks of Ministry

Study: Mark The Good News of God’s Kingdom

Week 9            Sermon: 1 Peter A Call to Holiness

Study: Acts: The Spreading Flame

Week 10          Sermon: Jude Warnings Against Godless Men

Study: Romans Right with God

Week 11          Sermon: Titus

Study: Luke: Poverty and riches

Week 12          Sermon: 2 Timothy Guard the Gospel

Study: 1 John Love One Another

Week 13          Sermon: Luke on women

Study: Revelation Christ Triumphant!

End of course  Sermon: 1 Timothy Three Trustworthy Sayings

Most of the sermons preached in this programme are online at www.pbthomas.com/blog under the category of The Whole Story.

The full text of the Participants’ Guide can be downloaded as a pdf file

The Whole Story Participants Guide PDF

 

Anybody is welcome to print copies and use without cost but respect for copyright and acknowledgement of authorship would be nice.

The Whole Story – A Sermon Series and a Whole Lot More

All ministers want to encourage our congregations in the habits of daily devotional reading and personal Bible Study. To this end each week we publish the Bible passages for the following Sunday’s sermons. From time to time we let everybody choose from the wide variety of styles of Bible reading notes to try out – it is usually possible to get out-of-date issues of dated notes free or very cheaply. We give space in our services and Home Groups for folk to share what they have been learning and what God has been saying to them in their personal readings. But the most effective way I have found to draw people into personal Bible reading and study is a programme I developed called “The Whole Story”.

The idea is to inspire everybody to set aside time each day for personal Bible reading by integrating that into the teaching programme of the church across sermons and Home Group studies. At a suitable time in the year, everybody is invited to join in the exciting challenge of reading the entire New Testament over thirteen weeks. The Participants’ Guide sets a portion of the New Testament to read each day. Then the sermon on the following Sunday Morning and the Home Group Study for that week each unpack a major theme from the New Testament books covered in that week’s set readings.

First created in 2009, The Whole Story has been used successfully by a number of churches of different sizes in varying settings. Many people are encouraged because everybody in the church is reading the same thing and this inspires some to explore daily Bible reading for the first time. Publicity launching the programme highlights the advantages of reading through the whole of the New Testament with these words.

On top of the great value of reading each passage you also gain:

  • The Big Picture – an overview of all the books of the New Testament;
  • Where does it fit? See familiar passages in their wider context;
  • Filling the gaps – reading parts of the New Testament you haven’t read for years, or maybe have never read;
  • The whole book – you will read all but ten of the books in a single reading each;
  • The satisfaction of completing the whole of the New Testament, especially if you have not read every part before;
  • Discover the benefits of the habit of reading the Bible every day.

The Participants’ Guide which is given free to everybody is a simple 28 page A5 booklet giving a pattern of daily readings which take around 15-20 minutes, interweaving Gospels and Letters. Participants are invited to jot down a verse which strikes them from each reading, together with a few thoughts from the passage. People can be encouraged to share these thoughts in services or Home Groups. The Guide also includes the questions for the Home Group Studies for that week, which individuals are invited to think about for themselves or discuss with friends even if they do not go to a Home Group.

Here is the programme for the Sermons and Studies fitting in with the daily readings.

Week 1            Sermon: Eleven Great Reasons to Read the Bible

Study: Matthew The Teachings of Jesus

Week 2            Sermon: Galatians The One True Gospel

Study: Philippians Everyday Christian Living

Week 3            Sermon: 2 Thessalonians Do Not Let Anyone Deceive You

Study: Acts: The Earliest Church

Week 4            Sermon: Colossians Mature in Christ

Study: Hebrews How Great Christ Is!

Week 5            Sermon: Ephesians God’s New Community

Study: John Knowing God as Father

Week 6            Sermon: Philemon Forgiveness

Study: 1 Thessalonians The Return of the Lord

Week 7            Sermon: James James on Prayer

Study: 1 Corinthians Spiritual Gifts and the Body of Christ

Week 8            Sermon: 2 Corinthians The Marks of Ministry

Study: Mark The Good News of God’s Kingdom

Week 9            Sermon: 1 Peter A Call to Holiness

Study: Acts: The Spreading Flame

Week 10          Sermon: Jude Warnings Against Godless Men

Study: Romans Right with God

Week 11          Sermon: Titus

Study: Luke: Poverty and riches

Week 12          Sermon: 2 Timothy Guard the Gospel

Study: 1 John Love One Another

Week 13          Sermon: Luke on women

Study: Revelation Christ Triumphant!

End of course  Sermon: 1 Timothy Three Trustworthy Sayings

Most of the sermons preached in this programme are online at www.pbthomas.com/blog under the category of The Whole Story.

The full text of the Participants’ Guide can be downloaded as a pdf file from here.

Anybody is welcome to print copies and use without cost but respect for copyright and acknowledgement of authorship would be nice.

 

 

Rev Peter Thomas is Minister of North Springfield Baptist Church in Chelmsford. He is a Council Member and Trustee of the Eastern Baptist Association and Treasurer of The College of Baptist Ministers.

Ministry FAQ

The life of a minister is filled with all kinds of tasks from the political to the pastoral to the practical, for which no pattern of ministerial formation can prepare us. Three decades of experience as minister, supervisor and mentor have provided me with a number of examples. I also invited the good people of the Facebook Groups of “Baptist Collaboration” and “Baptist Ministers in the UK” to share their own experiences, and I have quoted their words anonymously below.

It is not the things Ministers know we need to know that are important: the known unknowns. Rather it is the things we discover too late that we did not know but we really did need to know: the “unknown unknowns.” Here, then, is a catalogue of just some of the challenging issues faced by most ministers at one time or another, which range from the trivial to the vital and from the intentionally humorous to the tragically serious. This list may be of particular help to Ministers in Training and Newly Accredited Ministers. The categories covered are Finance, Premises, Practical Ministry Skills, Managing Time and Space, Diplomacy and Church Politics, Pastoral Skills, Wisdom, Leadership, Administration and Handling Conflict.

In due course this document will be expanded to incorporate suggestions of resources which help provide answers to these Ministry FAQs.

 

FINANCE

How can I understand church accounts? Which bits matter and which do not?

What is a Reserves Policy and why does every church have to have one?

What is an Independent Examination of church accounts? What should and shouldn’t it cover? And why do all churches have to have them?

What is a Pension Cessation Event and why must we do everything possible to avoid one?

“What to do when a tenant of the buildings (pre-school) goes bankrupt and the bailiffs are called in!”

Ministers taxes: how should I fill in my tax form, what can I claim as expenses from church and from HMRC and how do I claim them?

 

PREMISES

Can somebody point me to an idiot’s guide to Elf and Safety?

What do I need to know about “The importance of listed buildings and maintaining them”?

What do ministers need to know about Planning and Building Regulations?

Where can I gain the practical skills every minister seems to need? E.g. “Plumbing”  “Electrics” How to unblock a drain.”  “How to fix the church boiler they inevitably don’t make parts for anymore”  “laying carpet, putting up shelves, fixing the coffee machine, the weird places cock stops were placed in the 60s, how to break into your own church safe. All alongside where to keep a secret stash of loo paper.” “Rescuing old ladies who have locked themselves in toilets… Negotiating the price of scrap and salvage…” “How to source rare light bulbs that haven’t been produced in the last fifty years.   They are light bulbs that are only meant to need changing every decade, so of course, about once a year.”

“What is the correct course of action when you discover the church boiler has exploded and has begun to flood the church hall and you don’t know where the mains water stopcock is … when alone in the building and you are having an extended debate with yourself about how long you keep your finger in the hole in the pipe limiting but not preventing the flood before you go and find a phone to call for help?”

 

PRACTICAL MINISTRY SKILLS

How do I master the church photocopier, printer, data projector, PA system etc?

How can I learn to produce notice sheets, leaflets, posters, booklets easily and cheaply without breaking every rule of graphic design?

Do I really have to learn how to use PowerPoint?  (Yes, you do!)

Where can I acquire “A complete guide to all known medical complaints.” “And unknown as well….” “and the corresponding catalogue of all medicines, prescribed, over the counter and alternative, and medical procedures, associated with every ailment.”?

Who will teach me how to do baptisms without putting my back out?

Is there a guide to the practicalities of scattering ashes on hilltops on windy days?

What should I do with the paperwork the undertaker gives you?

What is the etiquette of which coffin to process first and which is placed on the plinth in a cremation of husband and wife?

Where do you find out about “Negotiating funeral etiquette for a variety of different cultures.” (The same goes for weddings)?

What are the minister’s legal position, rights and responsibilities, e.g in issues such as confidentiality (since there is no such thing as “the sanctity of the confessional”)?

 

MANAGING TIME AND SPACE

What is “The meaning of Sabbath” for ministers?

How should ministers manage their day and their week?

“Boundaries and time off.” How do you protect your time off?

How do we help the church to recognise the need for priorities?

“How do we reply to emails/text messages, being available while having your own life?”

How do ministers avoid “the tyranny of the urgent” and focus on what is important?

How do ministers learn when to stop and when to rest?

How can I look after my own mental health and not getting too involve in the difficulties of others to the extent that I become ill too?

What are “terms of appointment” and why it is a good idea to press the church to stick to them?
DIPLOMACY and CHURCH POLITICS

“How can I make people agree on the colour of the curtains”/ carpets/ chairs/ walls/ wallpaper?

“How (can I) work the church heating, and stop people turning the thermostat up to 30 when they come in because they feel a bit cold and of course that makes it heat up quicker. Then we are all sweating and passing out before the end of the service because it feels like we are in the Sahara desert!”?

“How to explain to your very sensitive, but ever so slightly eccentric pianist why it would not be alright to put up a large floral patio umbrella over the piano stool and piano for the Church Anniversary service, to keep the sun out of her eyes.”

Why is it so important never, ever, to move, never mind remove objects and artifacts which seem to be of no value but actually have enormous importance in certain people’s eyes?

Why is it absolutely essential never, ever to put up a plaque in memory of anybody, especially not previous ministers, because those plaques and equally objects they may be attached to like pulpits, pianos or flower stands, will then be immovable parts of the fixtures and fittings until the Lord returns?

“What to do with books that churches have hoarded for years without feeling guilty, if even book aid don’t want them. At least we can add them to recycle banks.” “And what about the three icky blonde Jesus pictures from the 1950s.”? One answer: “You put them in the damp room at the far end of the church until they are white with mould and everyone begs you to throw them out. It takes from two to four years depending on the level of dampness in my experience”

What can you do when you have tiny premises and no storage space and the problem is not getting rid of stuff you don’t want but rather try to find a way to prevent the church wombles “tidying away” things you really want to keep?

How do you stop people from donating to church their broken crockery, worn out sofas, tatty old books and anything else they can’t face parting with?

How do we best deal with “the quirks of people and local histories. Relationship issues can be horribly complex and varied. One big surprise was discovering there was still local feeling because two villages had been on opposite sides in the civil war!”

“How can you deal with the ‘Hyacinth Bucket’ characters in the congregation?”

What should you do with all the books on excellence in preaching the congregation keep giving you? (Give them in return copies of “101 Things to do during a dull sermon”)

(There is a whole book to be written on how to negotiate with organists / musicians / singers / worship leaders.)

PASTORAL SKILLS

How do you develop the skills of “Furniture shifting; talking, smiling, eating, drinking simultaneously while being pastoral”?

How do you cope with “Drinking tea which is too strong, or milky or sweet without spitting it out or making faces?”

“How can you lose weight while doing pastoral visits?”

How can I develop the spiritual gift of “Mind reading ….  you know everyone’s problems without being told and react accordingly.”?

Do we ever find ways to deal with difficult pastoral situations without it hurting? e.g. death of a child, self harm, abuse, anorexia, mental health issues?

 

WISDOM

How can ministers achieve “the art of being right all the time” which seems to be what everybody expects of us?

“How to say ‘no’!”?

“How do I please all people, all the time?

How do I learn plate juggling … of the metaphorical kind?

How long does it take to learn that “you cannot lead people where they do not want to go”?

How do I recognise when its time to move on rather than stick it out with the vision you believe God has given you?

“How do you deal with a church leadership that don’t listen to you because you are “young and/or inexperienced.”

How do you choose which battles to fight?

How can we learn to recognise the danger of winning the battle but by doing so losing the war.

How do we know when to walk away?

 

LEADERSHIP

What is the best way to introduce change to the church?

How should we manage staff, and do so in Christ-like rather than secular business ways, yet at the same time introducing appropriate good practice?

What is the difference between managing volunteers and managing staff?

“How do we work out when change would be helpful – or how to figure out when its best to leave people where they are?”

What is the difference between leadership and management?

How do we know when it is right to take a risk on others?

 

ADMINISTRATION

What are policies? What policy should churches have on which policies to have?

Where do I learn how to write policies?

What should I do if the church won’t adhere to their own policies?

What are the difference between Trust Deeds, Constitutions and Church Rules and why do we need to have them?

What are the correct processes for changing Trust Deeds, Constitutions and Church Rules?

How can I change Trust Deeds, Constitutions and Church Rules without splitting the church?

Where can I find the BU Guidelines documents and why should all churches read them and stick to them.

What are the rules and processes for churches which are applying for Home Mission Grants including and how on earth do we fill in the dreaded GD1B form correctly?

Why is it so important to know what our church rules and constitution say and how do I know which bits I can get away with ignoring and which bits I dare not.

How do we answer a county council survey on the use of the church hall when the first question is “Can any group use the hall regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.?” without opening the church to litigation from the Equalities Commission?

What is the difference between Deacons and Charity Trustees and why does it matter so much that Deacons know the difference?

What are Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Loyalty and why do they matter?

How much law do I really need to know to run a charity and a small business?

What do church need to know about Data Protection and in what ways are many churches breaking those laws?

 

HANDLING CONFLICT

Where can I learn about conflict management in theory and in practice?

How should we deal with awkward people / deacons / worship leaders / those who have been in the church forever?

“How do you deal with the ‘power families’ in the church?”

“How do you deal with a leader who shows no fruit of any kind of spiritual life, even in their speaking?”

“Dealing with a Deacon Possessed Church. … How to deal with someone who believes that the Church cannot possibly function without them dictating every move and deciding every standard in every single aspect of church life. … What to do when that person sets about trying to get rid of you when you try to gently point out the flaws in this thinking and start challenging the status quo.”  (And how not to become that person yourself, of course.)?

“How to deal with a very longstanding deacon who has decided to step down but you know will be busting to find out what’s going on and will now be able to ambush us in church meetings ..benign negativity that stops do much?”

What to do when said deacon is no longer able to fulfill the role, and stands down, and everyone is convinced that the church is about to fall apart!

“How to deal with bullying from church members?”

“How not to bully church members?”

How do you recognise bullying deacons and what do you do when you do?

“How can we manage conflict without resorting to external mediators”

“How should we handle conflict when it becomes personal?”

 

AND FINALLY

“What is the Church Anniversary FOR?” (Somebody very helpfully replied, “The flower arrangers. I’m pretty certain it’s for them.”)

“How do you deal with a deacon who comments … so are you growing your hair? I know other ministers who have had comments about the suitability of their clothes. On elderly lady when asked about dress code for a funeral then asked what I was going to wear. Navy was the reply at which point she turned to her daughter and said…she always wears bright colours.” Another commented “I preached at another church and was slipped a note at the end – ‘for a new cardigan’”

“How to do we learn to accept that we won’t be prepared for everything?”

The College of Baptist Ministers has a new website and blog

I have spent a bit of time recently creating a new website and blog for The College of Baptist Ministers.

The site is packed with interesting articles and useful resources for ministers (including some of mine) as well as “official” documents from CBM including our Ethics for Ministry, our Guidelines for a Regular Review of Ministry and our Nine-stranded Approach to Continuing Ministerial Development.

Do visit www.collegeofbaptistministers.com    (note – .org is the old site, .com is the new site)

If you want to know more about CBM, just ask :)

Preparing for Believer’s Baptism

Most churches use some kind of course to prepare candidates for Believer’s Baptism. Here is the course I wrote many years ago and have adapted through the years.

bapprep-nsbc

Annual Review of Ministry

The College of Baptist Ministers, of which I am Treasurer, has been working on a pattern for an annual review of ministry which we wish to advocate to churches and ministers. Here is the current draft – all comments welcome.

INTRODUCTION TO AN ANNUAL REVIEW OF MINISTRY

Many Ministers already benefit from an Annual Review of their Ministry. To avoid overtones of employment, management or performance, we describe the process as Review and not as Appraisal. In response to requests, CBM offers these Guidelines for a suggested process for an Annual Review of Ministry as one aid to becoming the best ministers we can be.

In his book, Living Out The Call (see Book 1 page 42) Paul Beasley-Murray quotes the following theological basis for Ministry Review from the United Methodist Church of America.

“Evaluation is natural to the human experience. Evaluation is one of God’s ways of bringing the history of the past into dialogue with the hope for the future. Without confession of sin there is no reconciliation; without the counting of blessings there is no thanksgiving; without the acknowledgement of accomplishments there is no celebration; without awareness of potential there is no hope; without hope there is no desire for growth; without desire for growth the past will dwarf the future. We are called into new growth and new ministries by taking a realistic and hopeful look at what we have been and what we can still become. Surrounded by God’s grace and the crowd of witnesses in the faith, we can look at our past unafraid and from its insights eagerly face the future with new possibilities.

They suggest that a periodic Review of Ministry will help Ministers in at least the following ways.

  • to affirm their gifts, achievements and personality;
  • to step back and take stock (especially with reference to previous goals and unexpected happenings);
  • to reflect on (a) their personal aspirations and needs; (b) their effectiveness in their daily work;
  • to improve skills, insights and gifts;
  • to identify areas for profession and personal development;
  • to recognise challenges, identify achievable goals and determine appropriate strategies for future action.”

So an Annual Review can affirm the Minister and say “well done”. It can support the Minister in their calling and personal life. It can review previously set objectives and set future goals. It can provide a safe environment for discussing problems and, where necessary, to express dissatisfaction by either minister or church. It can identify training needs and at the same time new opportunities. Yet the purpose of the Review is not only to consider things which the Minister might approach differently but also to explore ways in which the church might do things differently, and not least ways in which Church and Leadership can share the tasks of ministry and affirm and support the Minister more effectively. The Review of Ministry should be a positive process. If there is any element of criticism then it should be constructive criticism with the well-being of the Minister and of the Church in mind.

Ministers rightly consider themselves accountable to God. We are servants of Christ, not servants of the church. A Review of Ministry, roughly every year and timed not to clash with major events in the Christian Year or the Church programme, is an appropriate way to express that accountability, but for that to be most effective CBM strongly recommend that an external Facilitator is invited to bring their experience and wisdom and steer the Review process.

 

 SUGGESTED ROLE OF THE FACILITATOR

The Facilitator will be a person with understanding and direct experience of Christian ministry who would carry the full confidence of both minister and church leadership.

The Facilitator will ensure that both Minister and Leadership have understood each other correctly. He/she will help the Leadership to understand the unique challenges of ministry in order better to support the Minister. At the same time help the Facilitator will help the Minister to appreciate any concerns the Leadership might express. The Facilitator is not there to inspect, appraise or evaluate the ministry in any sense.

The Facilitator will help Minister and Leadership together to discern priorities, explore ways forward and identify appropriate outcomes for any issues.

One understandable anxiety of ministers is that a Review of Ministry could be a tool which the Church or Church Leadership could use to micro-manage the minister. The Facilitator will be responsible for ensuring that the Minister is always seen and treated as an Office Holder and not as an employee. The Facilitator is there to make sure that the Minister will find the Review to be a safe and enriching process.

 

A PROCESS FOR AN ANNUAL REVIEW OF MINISTRY

  1. Appointment of an appropriate external Facilitator acceptable both to the Minister and to the Church Leadership.
  2. The church Leadership (e.g. Elders, Deacons or Trustees) will appoint one or two of their number to attend the Review Meeting with the Minister and the Facilitator.
  3. Review Questionnaire – possible questions/topics we can include are suggested below.
    1. Minister completes a Review Questionnaire which will be confidential to the Facilitator.
    2. The member(s) of the Church Leadership who are appointed to attend the Review Meeting also submit a more brief single response to the Review Questionnaire which will be confidential to the Facilitator. Those who will attend the Review Meeting may informally canvas other members of the Leadership for their comments. However it would not be appropriate for the Leadership to hold a formal “pre-Review” meeting to discuss their response.
  4. The Facilitator seeks clarification on any issues arising from the Review Questionnaires if necessary.
  5. The Facilitator draws up the agenda for the Review Meeting and circulates.
  6. The Facilitator chairs the Review Meeting which will last no more than two hours, involving herself/himself, the Minister and the delegated member(s) of the Leadership Team. At that meeting it will not be appropriate for the Leadership representative(s) to raise any issues for discussion which the Facilitator has not included on the agenda. It would be very unfair for that meeting to contain any surprises. The Facilitator will however be free to raise issues not mentioned by Minister or Leadership if he/she is led to do so.
  7. Facilitator offers a draft summary Review Report from the Review Meeting to the Minister. This will list topics discussed but the focus will be on agreed outcomes and next steps.
  8. After the Minister has responded to the draft, the Facilitator sends the finalised summary Review Report to the Leadership Team. This will be the only feedback from the meeting to the wider Leadership Team – all discussion in the meeting itself will remain confidential to those present. The Review will be confidential to the Minister and Leadership Team – any of its content will only be shared with the wider church with the full agreement of the Minister.
  9. The Facilitator or the Minister will inform their Regional Minister that the Review has taken place, The Minister may choose to send their RM a copy of the Review Report, or may choose not to, and nothing should be inferred from the Minister’s choice in that regard either way.

 

MINISTRY REVIEW QUESTIONNAIRE

A variety of possibilities are available. The Baptist Union is developing a form for Ministry Review and Ministers may choose to use that form. If Ministers wish to consider an alternative, CBM commends the outline below. In addition to the Review Questionnaire, the Minister will provide the Facilitator (and possibly, at the Minister’s choice, the Leadership Representatives) with an up-to-date copy of their Continuing Ministerial Development Portfolio. Whatever form is used, it should be expected that completing the Review Questionnaire should only require a few hours work, although Ministers should feel free to write more if they find it helpful to do so. The Questionnaire’s primary purpose should be to inform the Agenda for the Review Meeting, rather than provide a comprehensive record of the ministry of the previous year.

Suggested Pattern of a Review Questionnaire taken from Paul Beasley-Murray’s book, Living Out The Call

  1. Statement of purpose: “With all the other members of the ministry team, to excite fresh hope and faith in God, encouraging God’s people to embrace others with love of another kind, enabling individuals to change and grow, and empowering the church for witness and service. With all the other members of the ministry team, to implement the mission policy of the church as agreed in the church’s development plan. To……” [The basis of this should be the job specification given to you]
  2. Review of last year’s objectives and general review of last year. This is your opportunity to give an account of yourself. What, with God’s help, did you achieve? What has encouraged you? What has frustrated you?
  3. Review of last year’s training and development: Courses you have attended; books you have read etc. How have you grown as a disciple of Jesus? How have you developed as a leader in God’s church?
  4. Key objectives for the coming year: These objectives will need to be agreed and should link with the church’s priorities.
  5. Standards of performance: What did you feel you did well? What could have been done better?
  6. Development plans: How do you hope to grow and develop as a leader in God’s church over the next 12 months?
  7. Further long-term development: What are your long-term goals?

(Living Out The Call 1, 45)

Ministers may wish to address other questions as well. Issues to consider could include spirituality, relationships with God and with family, physical and emotional well-being, work-life balance, hopes and fears for the future and longer term aims, levels of satisfaction and fulfilment, and indeed anything which the Minister wishes to use the Review process to raise with the church in the presence of the Facilitator.

The College of Baptist Ministers warmly commends this practice of an Annual Review of Ministry to all Ministers.

CBM Board: Paul Beasley-Murray, Paul Goodliff, Stephen Asibuo, Peter Thomas   October 2016

 

 

Prepared To Give An Answer

Just to say that my new book “Prepared To Give An Answer” has now been published.

Christians want to share their faith with their friends but many are scared that they won’t know what to say. By preparing ourselves to give an answer, every Christian can be more confident, wise, bold and effective in talking about Jesus.

PART 1 – QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK

What is salvation?

What is the point of life?

How can we have a relationship with God?

How should we respond to the Good News?

Didn’t he used to be dead?

What makes you believe that God exists?

Just how did God make the world?

Can we trust the New Testament?

Is Jesus the only way to God?

How can we believe in God in a world so full of suffering?

What happens when we die?

PART 2 – TALKING ABOUT JESUS

Be prepared to give an answer

Why we don’t and why we should talk about Jesus

Preaching the gospel necessarily includes using words

Praying about talking about Jesus

Sharing my story

Ambassadors for Christ

Afterword – Taking every opportunity

Paperback 140 pages ISBN: 9781784563790

Order your copy from http://www.fast-print.net/bookshop/1942/prepared-to-give-an-answer