Online Sermons Pros and Cons

Now that we’re back in the groove of church life I have been pondering whether we should record our Sunday gigs and make them available online.

I think this practice has pros and cons and I am still undecided, but leaning towards ‘no’.

I guess this is bucking the trend where you can access just about everyone’s stuff online these days, so let me express my reservations.

1. A sermon is usually intended for a specific community at a specific time and it may well be teaching for our church rather than a generic message that every man and his dog can access and listen to. That’s not insurmountable, but I am aware that I am speaking to a unique group of people and my message may mean less (or something quite different) to those outside of that group.

2. I wing it a fair bit and sometimes say stuff off the cuff that fits fine with my own community but I’m not convinced I’d want running wild on the net.

3. I might tell a story that I wouldn’t want out there. It might be about me, or it might be about someone else. While I ‘change the names to protect the innocent’ I still would be wary of that.

On the pro side:

1. It is a sharing of resources and I am more than happy to share learning.

2. It is a way those who can’t make it can tune into what we are doing. I am wondering if a passworded approach for ‘members’ could be a way to go

Actually at the moment there is more ‘gut’ resistance than reasonable and explainable objections…

What do you think?

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

I actually download 4 or 5 sermon podcasts each week myself, so I am conscious of the value, but just not sure if its the way we should go…

The Rhythm of Life

We’ve been back from holidays 5 weeks now and its been good to settle into a steady rhythm of life. The first two weeks were quite weird as we adjusted to normal living, but we seem to have found our way again and are travelling well.

In getting back into church leadership one of the challenges has been the whole deal of teaching and the time it takes. I try to never spend more than 8 hours on a talk these days, but even that seems like a lot to me when I consider it to be half of the paid time I have allocated.

Previously when I worked several jobs simultaneously I used to just blur the edges and roll everything together. So long as the job got done I wasn’t counting hours or worried about short changing anyone. But in that time there was more similarity between the roles.

Now I hold two quite distinct paid roles and they don’t overlap very readily.

On Mondays and Fridays I like to put on my church leader hat while Tue-Thurs is when I pick up a shovel. Saturday is my day off from both and Sundays is a mix of church and relaxing. Life rarely works out as simply and discrete as I described it above ad inevitably I do some church stuff on Tues/Wed/Thur and occasionally a retic job pops up on a Monday or Friday that just needs attending to.

But for now that approach works well.

People have said to me ‘I guess while you’re digging a trench you can think about church stuff anyway?’ Oddly enough that’s not the case. As mundane as physical work may be I rarely find myself in a place to be dreaming or imagining and more often than not all that’s going thru my head when I’m digging are the words ‘dig… dig… dig…’

So it means that almost all of my focused thinking re church gets done on the days when I am not ‘reticing’ as I simply can’t find the mental space to do it while I am working and then in the evenings I am usually quite wiped out. I have found it hard to cope with being less tuned in at times, yet I am also appreciative of the fact that this is where 99% of people actually live.

While full time paid pastors get large swathes of time during the day to think thru the questions of church direction and strategy the part timers who work other jobs don’t have that luxury. While its frustrating at times, it helps me stay in touch with the average person is when it comes to church involvement. If people work hard during the day then chances are they haven’t got a lot emotional energy to give when they come to church meetings on an evening or a weekend.

It changes the way you look at church and leadership, but it also reshapes the way you look at life!

And Suddenly Death

I don’t know about you but I tend to assume I have 80 good years and if I don’t get that many then I’ve been cheated.

This week we had a tragedy in our church when one of our friends and church leaders died suddenly in the early hours of Monday morning at the age of 52. John was a gracious and wonderful man and will be missed greatly by all who knew him. It has rocked our community and I can only imagine how devastating it has been for his family.

I lay awake for a couple of hours that night pondering many things, one of which was my assumption that ’80 years is my birthright’ or what I am entitled to. Its a curious assumption… I don’t know why I see things that way.

My brother in law was recently diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease and barring a miracle he will slowly deteriorate over the next 5 or 6 years until he can no longer function. He hasn’t hit fifty yet… Then there’s an ex student currently battling some pretty heavy cancer in his late 30’s.

I am noticing that old age isn’t a ‘given’ and despite my expectations I may not get there either. I don’t think it changes anything in how I live day to day, but it does cause me to be grateful for the time I have rather than to simply take it for granted and fritter the days away, or complain about stuff that doesn’t really matter anyway.

A sudden and unexpected death catches us all off guard and in some ways its good to jolted and reminded that there are no guarantees in this life.

What has been really good is to see the way the church has swung into action to offer support and care for one of their community in need. If one measure of a church is their love for one another then I think it has been a very good week in that regard.

And yet while I ponder this and consider my own mortality, a really good bloke is dead and his family is without him. I don’t think there are ever any easy answers to questions of ‘why’ or ‘what’ in these times and we will be disappointed and frustrated if we try and make sense of the mystery that is both life and death.

I have the privilege of conducting the funeral on Monday and I hope it doesn’t sound odd to say that I am looking forward to it. While it will be a time of sadness I always find it inspiring to celebrate the life of someone who has lived well and about whom it’d be hard to speak a bad word.

Knowing More and Knowing Less

These days I regularly have unsettling experiences as I read the Bible, where I find myself wondering ‘what is all that about?!’

I just had one this morning as I was using sacred space where a passage that I once would have ‘understood clearly’ no longer made as much sense.

It is a bit disorienting to have this happen regularly, yet its also a sign that the grids thru which I am reading scripture have changed. For the last 5 or 6 years I have often found myself in a state of dissonance where I ‘know’ what I was taught as a young person, but now as an older person I am either discontent with or questioning the answers/interpretation that was offered.

I don’t think its a bad thing – in fact I think its a natural and healthy thing – but my tradition is not especially good at questioning (we are better at knowing) so it is almost a discipline to sit with a passage and accept that I don’t know what its saying and today I don’t have time to dig further into it.

Makes me realise why Barth was keen to sum things up in ‘Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so’. I have referred to Alan Jamieson‘s book ‘A Churchless Faith’ before and appreciated his insights into how EPC churches tend to deal in certainty and do not like questioning – this has certainly been my experience – and yet if people are to mature in faith they must be allowed to enter and experience mystery and uncertainty.

I sense we are generally afraid of questioning in case during the quest people lose faith altogether, but maybe we need to trust that God is bigger and stronger than we have allowed him to be and can walk with people thru the haze and grow them deeper because of the experience.

I find it a little annoying regularly discovering that so many of my pre-learned biblical interpretations no longer feel satisfying, but then I’m enjoying the journey too.

Its Been a While…

Its been a while since I’ve written anything of substance on here – a reflection of a life that has some re-ordered priorities these days.

Its at times like these that I consider giving blogging away – as if there is nothing left to say and truth is maybe there is nothing ‘new’ to say. But occasionally I have moments of inspiration and I need somewhere to dump them, so I am not going to give it up any time soon.

Anyway here’s a few random reflections of life now that we are back and in the swing of everyday life again…

– Currently I am working 2 days / week at Quinns Community Baptist Church as the team leader and the other 3 days are spent in my own business (Brighton Reticulation) Oddly I enjoy these roles equally but that’s probably because I don’t see the calling of the retic bloke as being any different to the church leader bloke. I am realising that there is a limit to what you can do in 2 days/week leading a community but that’s probably not bad as it means we have to share the workload. At this stage I am very happy to keep going in this mode. The last time I was paid 2 days a week by a church I was a workaholic youth pastor who pretty much did nothing else so I achieved a lot, but also had a flimsy marriage. These days I’m not a workaholic and while I’m prepared to go hard, I’m not ever going back to those crazy days. My drivenness is much less and I think I am a healthier person for it.

– We have pretty much stopped watching TV. We got out of the habit while we were away and it has stuck. I still take up residence in the chair in front of the tv, but now I tend to read. There is very little on the telly that I actually enjoy but before going we would sometimes use it to veg. I imagine that would be an easy habit to cultivate again…

– My life is now very very local. Our faith community and my business all happen in a very small cluster of suburbs – Clarkson and north – so that is both good and bad. Having had the ND role with Forge I was involved nationally and travelled often and my other hat of coach to Baptist youth pastors kept me in the loop of all that was going on in the wider state scene (even if it was a bit Baptist!) I’m not sure how I will cope with being so localised. It might be more enjoyable. I might get bored. Currently I don’t have time to get bored so that is good.

– I just discovered another family are leaving our street in the next 6 weeks. And then another of the long termers leave in 6 months… I am pondering what it means to live in the midst of such rapid transience and to try and remain stable. We came to Brighton with a very local focus of mission – ie. street and suburb, but I am wondering if that was too narrow now. I know that in the broader community (Clarkson north) I know a heap of people, but my street and suburb is shifting quickly. Interesting…

– We haven’t just seen our street change, but we have also lost one family of very close friends and two others who were part of our Upstream community are getting ready to leave. Losing 3 sets of close friends is a huge bugger and leaves us a little sad. We are looking forwards to getting to know the people in QCBC better, but there is no substitute for friends you have know for 10-20 years and with whom friendship has become strong and easy.

– Its been good to get back on my Sunbeam Coffee Machine. It kicks the Breville’s butt! Having said that the little Breville did a sterling job while we were away.

Oddly enough I am off down town today to have lunch with the Forge WA crew – one of my rare trips south of Joondalup!


We all know things are changing but this gives us a clue as to just how much.

Some points of agreement:

– I find myself using the net for entertainment much more than TV these days

– I use my phone for probably half of my time online

An funnily enough although I use facebook a lot I am not on twitter. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad decision but it probably depends on what you hope to accomplish. At the moment facebook does it for me.