Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fear of verbatim

As part of a pastoral course we were required to do a verbatim. That is, we had to make a record of a pastoral conversation, then bring it in to be scrutinized by or peers.
The idea filled me with trepidation, but I couldn't quite tell why.
I brought in a fairly intense conversation from my workplace, though at the time of the conversation I felt fine about it. But after the verbatim I welled up tears, and a couple of hours later when my wife asked about it I was cagey and aggressive and then sobbed uncontrollably for some time.
I just figured out why.

Last year I had to report someone for covering allegations of abuse and for abusive behavior themselves. This person was always changing their story, always shifting..basically always lying. And so at the end there I got into the practice of trying to keep exact notes of our conversations..much like a verbatim.
Of course no one has an exact memory, and so as you make notes you are reconstructing the conversation. As you reconstruct, you are faced with the choice of remembering yourself in the best it worst light. In the abusive situation, I tended toward viewing myself in the worst light. I realize now that I did the same with the verbatim, portraying myself as the worst possible pastor, because who wants to construct themselves to look good?
And then there is the panel of your peers...who assess and judge the situation from outside,
Very much like the stressful situation of explaining yourself to a bishop/mediator/warden who doesn't seem inclined to believe claims of abuse.
So now I know... Verbatims trigger me... Not quite sure how I will get through another semester of them

Friday, November 7, 2014

I've been feeling spread a bit thin lately.
Doing two part-time ministry jobs. I crunched the numbers, and it made me realise why I'm feeling a bit thin.

2 Jobs...
5 days a week...
6 different talks/ teaching elements to prepare each week...
to present 8 times to 8-10 completely separate groups of people...
total pastoral responsibility for 350 people....
but only 50 are stable...
the others churn every 3 months...
so about 1250 people a year....
which means I can give each of you about 1.8 minutes of my time each week....

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ministry expectations

Miracles should be expected of the clergy, otherwise it may seem the job could be done without them

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I sit at my desk. (ie. A table at the local cafe).
I have my UBS 3 Greek new testament open. Bruce Metzger's textual commentary. Commentaries from longenecker, Hays, Silva, martyn. A big fat book of Doug Campbell. My laptop is open and receiving notes. My brow is furrowed in thought.

Someone taps me on the shoulder. A paishoner.
She smiles
"Just taking a break?"

I don't know what to say

Monday, May 20, 2013

Athletic Preaching

What does it take to win in a sport?
I want to propose 3 things
1. General fitness
2. Specific skills
3. A game plan

What about winning preaching? I suspect that much of our preparation to preach is like category 3. A plan for the game day. Sunday looms, and we must find something to say.
I suspect the best preachers, however, are putting more time into 1. and 2.

1. General fitness. Though sometimes poo-pooed as unspiritual and worldly, effective preachers need some general, non-specific skills.
Can I speak loud enough for people to hear?
Can I speak clearly enough for people to understand?
Can I read a complex text and understand it?
Do I have at least some grasp of logic, literature, poetry, philosophy?
How are my interpersonal skills and empathy?
Some exercise in these areas (outside of sermons) will lift your preaching game. And deficiency in any one of them will severely limit your 'game plan'

2. Specific skills
I would want to throw into this one general bible knowledge, wide and deep theological reading, growth in language proficiency, consistent wrestling in prayer, rigorous theological and ethical reflection, humility, confession, grace.

Pushing yourself with these 'skills' will make you a better player, week in, week out. Rehearsing these skills (outside of sermon preparation) will mean that difficult manoeuvres and plays will become second nature on game day.

Of course, both general fitness and special skills aren't enough to win a tough game.
And both general fitness and skills can be built by playing a lot of games.
That is generally how ametuers play social games.
Is that how you would like people to view your preaching?
As something you do to entertain yourself?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Glenn Davies for Archbishop

You may have missed the launching of two websites that are dedicated to the promotion of Glenn Davies as the next Archbishop of Sydney.

To tell you the truth, I rarely hear ministers saying positive things about their Bishops. But with Glenn, everything I have heard is that he is an excellent leader, biblically solid, but who also deals very well with conflict and difference. If he were elected, I think we would be blessed with a leader who could move the WHOLE Diocese forward in it's mission, rather than simply one part of it.

If nothing else, the websites are worth visiting because they have links to many of the articles he has published over the years.
Take a look

Friday, May 3, 2013

Apologetics and strength

How do you answer friends objections to Jesus, when you are massively ahead when it comes to information and argument? Without them feeling like you have bludgeoned them?