Articles for the Month of September 2012

Online book launch

Do please participate in helping me to make my latest experiment in online publication work better. I want to explore how authors and readers can engage more and at greater depth through using online communications. My book Not Only a Father is not only available as a paperback on Amazon, but also the full text is online at using a WordPress plugin that allows commenting and discussion at paragraph rather than post level.

However, my publisher (the NZ Baptist Research Society) has no funds for promotion, and as yet few people have responded to my efforts on Facebook or here so the discussion is still sparse. I would like to do an Online Book Launch to (roughly) coincide with the physical one. So I am asking a number of bloggers to agree to mention the book (especially the free online version) in a post in the first two weeks of October (the physical launch is 10th October). I am also trying to find people willing to read a few paragraphs and post a comment (naturally if you want to read more I’d be delighted ;)

I wonder if you’d be willing to share in this in some way? I’ll mention everyone who does in posts (and leaves a URL) here, which since I am hosting the September BS Carnival tomorrow so this should give you extra Google mojo as a bonus ;)

Those who have already begun include:1


  1. If your name/URL is missing please let me know, I’ll try to keep this up to date, but am fallible :( []

All Black church leadership (lesson eight)

World War I recruitment poster (1915)

Ian Foster’s eighth point went like this:

  • Courage is contagious
    you doing something right/well can inspire others
    at times we need heroes/role models to follow

In some ways this is the positive opposite of #6, and underlines the real importance of leaders modeling the behaviours they want to see in others. I think in churches this applies particularly in finding ways to allow/encourage people to share with each other what they do. Unless John knows how Jim manages to gently speak about Jesus over lunch at his work John may never try…

All Black church leadership (lesson seven)

  1. Trust your plan/each other
    review regularly
    open and honest communication
    if you are all to trust you all have to do your job reliably

There are obvious connections here:

  • Churches often fail to “really” review their objectives, or the extent to which they are actually working towards the stated goals.
  • Open communication, which “should” be one of our strengths is often a weakness, and in its absence the rumour mills seem to work overtime (the problem here is that often the people making decisions forget (or don’t really think about) who is “in the loop” and/or how to ensure the others are up to date. (This ties back to the vision thing, and how often this needs repeating and reinforcing in different ways.)
  • If we want to rely on people doing their job reliably, we need to reinforce their value and the value of what they do. This does not need a major production, but more frequent small reinforcement. Too often the non-public or less visible workers can feel taken for granted…

All Black church leadership (lessons five and six)

Daniel’s Answer to the King by Briton Rivière (1840–1920)

  1. Attitude is everything
    it’s infectious
    in rugby you have to want to go into collisions
    inspire your mate
  2. Perseverance
    there will be obstacles and failures
    your opponent is also preparing as thoroughly as you

On the infectious nature of attitude one element he stressed was that if a player is not willing to go all out into hard tackles the others know it and it will affect their play, at the very least the way they respond to him. The story of Daniel provides one of many biblical examples of how one person’s attitude can strengthen and encourage others. Again Russell Watts (pastor of Ranui Baptist Church, a church that aims to baptise a new convert every week)  speaking in the evening exemplified this, he expects his people to chat about Jesus, God and the empowering Spirit all the time, his own infectious witness provides an example of this attitude others will follow.

All Black church leadership (lessons three and four)

Sébastien Chabal by .elf (not the ABs, but hey it’s a dramatic photo)

  1. Zero to 100 each week
    Processes/habits are important
    Physical/mental recovery
    What’s the edge this week? (For the ABs this suggests particular motivational videos, like watching what went wrong or right last game.)
  2. Little things matter big
    Everyone’s role is vital
    There’s a small margin between winning and losing

These two obviously transfer to church, except does your church only think of the pastor for #3? What about #2 (the team first) perhaps we could think more about how the whole team, worship, Sunday school, welcomers… get from 0-100 each week…

Which leads into #4, if everyone’s role is vital then we need to remember and take time to appreciate and thank people. Faithful welcoming or newsletter copying as well as the more “glamorous” and obvious contributions.

On vision and team (Tim’s reflections)

All Black Haka (Photo by Kiwi Flickr)

I’ll also post my responses to Ian Foster‘s points rather than just make this a listing.

On vision it seems to me that while most NZ Baptist church leaders have got and run with the need for a clear vision. We have often been less good at the vital follow up work. It neither matches Ian’s advice, example or Scripture to simple work out and announce a vision. It must be shared, and for this there must be buy in, and usually for buy in people need to feel involved.

Sometimes like in Acts 15 the vision does not come initially from the leaders (the conclusion James announces there was almost certainly not what he would have wanted when the “Jerusalem council” started. But he and the others listened and prayed until the conclusion was clear, articulated pretty much by one respected “elder”, Peter (another who was perhaps “on the other side” when the meeting started, cf. Gal 2), and then announced by James. Like in Acts, or in the All Blacks, it is worth taking time and listening so that the final “vision” is shared. “We all agree to make sacrifices for it” in Ian’s words.

Unless the vision is repeatedly reinforced people will forget or drift off to follow their personal goals. Russell Watts (pastor of Ranui Baptist Church, a church that aims to baptise a new convert every week) exemplified this as he spoke about efforts to ensure that all his people remember to gossip the gospel1 all the time. Since in our “secular” Western world this no longer comes naturally he keeps finding neat simple ways to remind people, or draw attention to examples.

On “team first” I have little to add, except to underline how surprised I was that “humility” should be listed as the first quality mentioned when an All Black coach is asked what makes Richie McCaw a great captain. Rugby stars and humility are not naturally associated in my mind ;) Though it seems they should have been!

  1. My term not his. Russell is not a great one for programs, and is not really sold on “evangelism” in the style of the Open Air Campaigners, but he does believe we should all let slip comments in our daily conversations that witness to God at work and the gospel. More on this probably in a future post. []

All Black church leadership (lessons one and two)

Richie McCaw from Wikipedia

Ryan asked about the main points in Ian Foster’s talk, seems fair enough :)

  1. You must have vision
    This was the “obvious” stuff about needing a clear purpose and goal, but also the sometimes less noticed fact that we also need “buy-in” to that vision, unless the vision is a common one the team will falter. But if there is real buy-in then people will sacrifice to achieve the goal.
  2. Team first
    In rugby even the most brilliant player is only really useful if they put the team first. This does not come naturally but needs training and encouragement. It also depends on example. (He cited Richie McCaw, suggesting that this on top of his “humility” were what made him a great All Black and a great captain.)

More later, it’s time to make breakfast for the team now ;)

How to preach like an All Black

Photo from the Stuff article on Ian Foster

Yesterday one of several highlights of a rich day put on by the BoP Baptist Association1 was Ian Foster, Assistant Coach of the All Blacks speaking on things he has learned about leadership in a highly competitive environment (coaching the most successful sports team in the world) and how they might apply to churches.

As well as his 9 powerful points, he had a throwaway. The 12 minute rule, which he’s learned from communications experts. Don’t talk for more than 12 minutes before getting people to in some way apply, assimilate or otherwise process what you’ve said. Just brilliant, the teachers in the audience spotted the relevance immediately.

So, how could you practice it in church?

  1. really short sermons (speak less than half as much get twice the response) win/win.
  2. short sermon intro followed by small groups (this may be difficult in a big church if so try #1 :)

Incidentally if you are stuck for sermon ideas, take a leaf out of Stephen Tyrell’s book, throw in a question Sunday, instead of a sermon answer questions (submitted in advance), ours lasted two weeks, and also uncovered a range of topics that need more than a (yes, less than 12 minutes each) quick answer during pastor’s question time. What a good way to cut sermon preparation time, keep in touch with pastoral needs, and get several ideas for future series that will scratch were (at least some of) your people are itching :)

  1. Really, if more people knew just how inspiring they were BoP Association Meetings would be packed out. []

Biblical studies carnival: Warning notice

Please take note, of this warning, and pass it on to those who may be concerned!

I am “responsible”1 for the next BS Carnival. Unless you want your favourite blogs, or indeed (horror of horrors) your own blog “represented” by only those posts I found most entertaining (which let’s face it given my sense of humour might be none) you would need to get worthy (or of course as usual, unworthy) nominations to me well before the end of the month.

Please pass on this serious warning!

NB the Carnival will be going live at just after midnight as the months change here at GST/GMT +12.

  1. This term may not be entirely appropriate ;) but you will be able to judge for yourselves in a couple of weeks! []

God vs. lawns (Jim West take notes!)

The pic Jason used… I’d have preferred St Francis myself ;)

Jason Goroncy’s mother-in-law has a superb sense of humour, revealed in God and the great heresy of lawn care since Jim West (if he’s not blogging about “total depravity” is forever telling us on Facebook that he is off to mow his lawns. So, I’ve mentioned Jim in the title in the hopes he reads Jason’s mum-in-law’s wise words and returns to God’s side.