The best feedback you can get… “it seemed a bit weird”

Like the tip of an ice-berg, the feedback that you (or something you did) seemed a “bit weird” is some of the best feedback you can get. Why? Because it reveals that you and your listener were on a very different worldview. Here is a person who sees the world in a very different way to you… so different that the thing you did din’t make sense to them. Gold!!

So what’s under that tip of the ice-berg?

Is it their peculiarity? Or is it yours?
Is it their attention span? Or is it your idea of what’s engaging?
Is it the structure they couldn’t follow? Or the content within the structure?
Is it the tone they felt your used? Or was it the tone you tried to use?
Was there something going on you didn’t know about? Or were you assuming they knew the context better than they did?
Did they hear what you actually said? Or did you say something you didn’t mean?

The feedback that it was a “bit weird” is — if you can upturn that ice-berg — a gold mine of self-understanding!


Paul, the Areopagus & the Why of evangelism

We all find evangelism hard. Admitting that is the first step to dealing with it. But what’s the second step? What gets in the way of people taking the next step with their acquaintances, friends and family?

Our Mission Pastor, Sam Hilton recently gave an excellent talk from Acts 17 that highlighted 3 big reasons. I’d recommend you listen to it. If you’re training an MTSer, it would be a great resource to listen and review together.

  1. We don’t understand the non-Christian world-view enough
  2. We don’t get distressed about people’s idolatry enough
  3. We get caught in the same idolatry, and don’t long for God’s glory enough

Have a listen here.


Why most people get the ‘T’ in MTS wrong…

The Ministry Training Strategy ( is an awesome and much needed part of the Australian Christian landscape. But… most people think the ‘T’ in MTS is about being a Trainee… they think it’s the Ministry Trainee Strategy… and they’re wrong.

MTS is very keen on young men and women doing a two-year full-time hands-on word-ministry placement before further theological training and/or Pastoral Leadership roles. The MTS Movement wants to see thousands of people do these Traineeships. But MTS is not primarily about Trainees… the ‘T’ is MTS is really the Ministry Trainer Strategy.

MTS is about young men and women becoming Ministry Trainers – for the rest of their life.

Let me put this another way… if you were an MTSer and you’re not currently training (or recruiting) someone into full-time gospel-leadership… you’ve stopped being part of the Strategy, you’ve missed the point of MTS… that you’re never meant to leave, you’re never meant to stop calling others into full-time gospel-leadership. Your MTS involvement was never meant to end.

Are you a trainee who dropped out, or are you a trainer who’s still part of the strategy?


p.s. If you do want to get back on the Trainer “horse”, grab some keen Christians from your ministry and come along to the MTS Mission Minded Conference in Sept 11-13 2015.

When they say, “Church needs some people to NOT do full-time ministry”…

It seems like a sound argument… If 100% of Christians tried to do paid-ministry, there’d be no-one to pay them. Therefore the church needs people who will faithfully decide to not do paid-ministry. Right?

Even though the statement is “true” it fails on three counts.

  1. It’s putting the cart before the horse. You don’t make a decision about entering paid-ministry on the basis of whether other people are doing it. You offer your life to God, you work it out with him – regardless of what other people are doing. What if God actually wants lots of people going into paid ministry!?!?
  2. No-where near 100% of people are going into full-time ministry. In fact, only about 50% of people who start on the road to paid-ministry end up in paid-ministry. Our church has a congregation of uni-students & grads, and only about %4 of them start on the road to full-time paid ministry!
    But think about all the other churches around Australia where students and grads are NOT being challenged to consider paid-ministry!!! That 4% ends up closer to 1%.
    Your church may not need more paid-ministers, but Jesus’ church does. So train at your church and take it to other churches.
  3. The argument implies that people who choose to “stay in the workforce” will be just as helpful to the gospel by being able to pay for others DOING paid-ministry (as compared to going into paid-ministry themselves).
    Anecdotally, this is false. If it were true, wouldn’t these people be making the same financial sacrifices those entering FT ministry make? The average MTS Scholarship is about $25-$30k. If you really believe the argument above, doesn’t that mean you should invest every cent you earn above $25k into gospel workers – people who are doing MTS?

The similarity between Ministry and Magic…

…it’s only cool until you know how its done.

Every kid who’s seen a magic trick starts imagining themselves as a magician. That’s why toy stores sell those starter-magic kits. But if they sold so many, wouldn’t there me so many more magicians?

The reality is, as soon as a kid realises that the magic trick is more trick than magic, they quickly lose interest. Doing magic is only cool when it’s amazing. When you’re just hiding a card in the other hand, it’s boring.

Inviting young men and women to consider a lifetime of gospel ministry is a bit like that. They see you doing “impressive” and “amazing” Christian ministry…. they hear the bible knowledge and wisdom… wow! But when they start doing it, they soon realise that ministry is hard work, taking hours of preparation time, years of just reading the bible one your own and with others. Regurgitating the same wisdom you’ve been given over the years. It loses it’s shine.

Which is sad, because ministry really is the closest thing to real magic in the end. By the grace of God, we see people move from death to life. God uses us to raise the dead, proclaim forgiveness of sins, melt hearts of stone, rejoice for eternity. Amazing.

Introducing a new Safe Ministry Training Course that your church will actually want to use

Our church has always wanted two things;

  1. We want to make it easy for people to get their hands dirty in ministry.
  2. We want to make it safe for kids, teenagers and adults by training volunteers and leaders well.

However, over the past 12 months we’ve had to make sure we were doing 2 other things;

  1. We want to fulfil the legal obligations surrounding the new Working with Children Check.
  2. We wanted to be eligible for insurance cover (through our insurer EA Insurance).

So, with these goals in mind, I’ve spent the last 9 months developing a Website; We launched this tool last week. is for all churches… it focuses on training the average punter in your church… the youth group team, the Sunday school teachers, the helpers, the leaders. Rather than burdening them with hours of training, it just gives them the basics very clearly and makes sure they know who to talk to if they have any issues.

Over the past few years at HBC, we’ve had over 400 volunteers do the basic training online. They get to do it in their own time, and it means we’ve had a culture of careful and safe leading.

The extra feature offered through is the automatic WWCC verification. When a volunteer does the training, the site automatically checks their WWCC number and sends the verification to their church leader.

If you’re interested in using at your church, please go there and get in contact with us.


How should you instill in people a godly ambition to take on more responsibility?

It’s helpful when people “step-up” and take on more responsibility. It allows leaders to delegate more and start new things and keep things going. But how should we motivate people to step-up? Rewards? Notoriety? Offer to meet up with them 1:1? Offer them more time with “the staff”? (that might back-fire)

I reckon its the idea of stewardship. Paul says “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” He says this in the context of avoiding sexual immorality, but the principle he goes back to is much bigger than that. It’s the idea that Jesus owns you; your body, your energy, your time. You don’t have to choose what to do with your day. You have to choose what to do with Jesus’ day. Jesus entrusts 24hrs of time to you every day… 168hrs every week. 

What are you going to do with Jesus’ time? What are you going to do with the body Jesus has loaned to you?

Lets do something great!

Good delegation creates new opportunities

There’s an important aspect to delegating something… After you delegate it… STOP DOING IT!!
If you’ve delegated a task or responsibility to someone, you can check how they’re going, you can ask them to keep you updated, you can give the suggestions about how they can get it done, but you can’t do it any more.
The whole point is delegating isn’t just to bring more people “in”, rather the big point of delegating is to free yourself up to do OTHER things.
Good delegation should create new opportunities… for you to do other good things.

Recruit recruiters… or run out of time

Some people just do the ministry their given.
Some people can do the ministry and they recruit people to expand their ministry.
Some people recruit recruiters. They find other people who will ask other people to join them in that ministry. When you recruit recruiters, they give them a big field to run in, they expect them to have their own team of people who help them.
This is one of those gifts Paul would suggest we should desire for ourselves.

What are they afraid of?

If you can help Christians answer this question for themselves, for their own lives and their own ministry involvement, you help them take a big step towards maturity as they face fear with the god who provides and promises to look after them, even while their worst fears come true before their eyes.
I reckon this is the big question to get people to answer for themselves as they approach thinking about doing MTS and a life of full-time ministry. If they can identify their deepest fears about giving their life to the work of the gospel, it might not make the decision easier, but it will afford them the chance to grow in their love and dependence on God.
Don’t ask it straight off the bat… You gotta work to get that deep.

The best way to help MTSers develop self-assessment habits

Just one question, asked again and again… “Why?”

“When you did that lesson, why did you do it that way?”, “Why did you talk to him rather than her?”, “Why did you sit there?”, “Why did you change your plans?”, “Why didn’t you change your plans?”, “Why do you think you’re feeling low?”, etc.
Everything a trainee does, regardless of whether it went well or poorly, can be brought back to the question, “Why?”
In fact it’s especially important to ask when things go well. You’d be surprised the amount of un-Christian, un-reasoned “that’s just the way we always did it” that goes on!

How do you know if they’re doing it with gospel motivations and values? You need to ask them “Why?”

If you get devastated when your ministry fails, was it your idol?

Don’t think so highly of your ministry that you get wiped out when it doesn’t work. So… the kids didn’t come along. So… the person didn’t think it was valuable to meet with you. So… they decided to go to another church. Ok. In the big scheme of things, is it that bad? It’s not. So… If you’re getting so upset about it… Was it maybe a bit of an idol for you? Was your “ministry success” a bit of an idol to you? And now that idol has been shown to be hollow, is that why you’re devastated?
Your ministry is not the most important in the world… Or this city… Or this church. There’s other ministries going on. Get over yourself and get back on the horse.

Why you should move people from front-of-house via back-of-house

Different sorts of people put their hand up to be “out the front” at church. And, to some extent, the very fact they’ve put their hand up for that might be a reason to raise some eyebrows – but that’s unfair.

Still, you don’t want to end up with people out the front of your church like this… @CelebWorshipLdr (“It’s always awkward when you do a hard-hitting upbeat song, and no one claps for you after. #worship“)

Our idea has been to implement a pathway for new people… front-of-house via back-of-house.

The idea is that music team members learn the behind the scenes skills and processes first. They prove themselves able to turn up early and on time. They show their faithfulness in doing it for other people. They display their humility in being unseen and rarely acknowledged. They develop an understanding of the sound-tech needs and pressures. They get the idea that the band and the sound team are not two teams… they are one team; like the forwards and the backs in a rugby team.

Once again, everything in ministry comes back to rugby.

MTS training is all about #2… Developees not Employees

There are two very different categories of thinking when it comes to taking on MTS Trainees. First, you and your staff team, and your elders, and your key leaders, and everyone in your church needs to be convinced that your MTSers are NOT employees. They are different to staff. A church has staff for the sake of the church, for the sake of the kingdom’s growth through that church. Staff don’t do what they want, they don’t do what will help them grow as a person. Staff do whatever is needed.
And that’s why staff and MTSers might appear so similar. Often MTSers can be seen doing jobs that just need to get done. But that shouldn’t be WHY they’re doing it.
MTSers are not Employees, they are more like Developees.
Yes. I just made that word up. But it describes the real purpose behind taking on an MTSer. Taking on an MTSer is when a church takes on the relational, financial and ministry COST of developing a person towards becoming a Christian leader.
Is it costing your church’s effectiveness by letting an MTSer take on a particular role, task or job? If its not, then it’s worth asking… Is taking on this MTSer primarily good for you or good for them?

MTS training is all about… #1 Character

Everything we do as Christians has something to do with character, right? But MTS training shouldn’t just have something to do with character… Character needs to be the primary goal.
In other words, the character of the trainee needs to be the focus, the priority, the significant deciding factor in working out questions like; Should we take this trainee on? What will we get this trainee doing?
If a church doesn’t keep the trainee’s Christian character-development central, they will quickly become a dogs-body; doing what the church needs first, rather than what will develop the trainee.

Keep letting young eagles fly

This is a a great description of a really important principle. The phrase comes from Larry Osborne’s Sticky Teams. It’s the idea that young men (and women) are some of your most energetic, enthusiastic, inventive, risk-taking individuals around.
So let them fly! Let them go! Give them big responsibilities! Let them run the camp, mc church, start a new thing, preach a series, run a mission!
Sure… Most of the time they won’t do as good a job as someone who’s had some more experience at it. And sure, we don’t give these huge things to recent converts. But this is what will happen…
1. Every so often, they will do a better job than everyone else. It will set a new bar to aim for. They’ll break through some barrier and help you grow.
2. They will grow even more thru the experience. Your church will be a more mature bunch of people simply because you gave that guy the chance to have a go.
Think back to when you started in ministry… Would you have given those responsibilities to yourself??? But aren’t you a more mature Christian now because someone let you have a big paddock to play in?

Don’t over-spiritualise nerves

Feeling nervous is a common thing, especially in ministry when so much of ministry is in front of people and so much of ministry is handling the word of truth. So don’t over spiritualise nerves.

feeling nervous is not necessarily a sign of godliness, and not feeling nervous is not necessarily a sign of arrogance.

Don’t look down on the person without nerves; rather praise God for blessing them with less anxiety. And don’t look down on the person who has nerves, as they may just realise the foolishness of their human attempt to be part of a deeply spiritual event.

Model self criticism

As we train and equip young leaders, we want them to grow in the skill of self-criticism. That’s a pretty tough skill to learn – cause you have to have a go, make mistakes, grow the “eyes” to see the mistakes, and have the humility to own the mistakes and create new ways to deal with it.

So as you get your developing leaders or MTSers to do that, don’t forget to model it yourself.

In 1:1s, in staff meeting, have the guts and the humility to do your own self-criticism. take them through your thing; be it an event or a sermon and let them watch you tear it apart yourself.

And if you want to go one step further, ask them to get in on the action.

Answer questions from your grid

Most questions get asked because of wrong assumptions. They’re still good questions. They’re not stupid questions. But people ask them because what you’re telling them doesn’t fit with their existing believes, and they assume you’re wrong.

So that’s why the best answers to questions (especially in public “question time” type things, or in walk-up situations) don’t immediately answer the question.

Instead, before you answer, start with your own system or grid. Two Ways to Live is a great one to start with.

Are they asking about sin? Talk about box 2.

Are they talking about knowing God? Talk about box 1, and then box 4.

Are they talking about life after death? Talk about box 5.

This doesn’t cover everything, but the principle is that there’s usually some important element they haven’t got that’s led to the question. So start with your system, and move to their issue.

One great question answer-er I knew once said, “There’s only about 10 questions, but those same questions keep getting asked in different ways”

A different definition of coaching

Another Manager-tools concept that’s been helpful… taking the idea of a sports coach, who kinda’ walks around and keeps pushing players forward. He’s not the guy who trains you in how to tackle or pass, there are trainers for that. The coach calls you aside and says, “Son, let’s talk about your game. What are you going to work on this year? Are you going for a first stringer position, or are you content in the 2nd grade team?”

It’s pretty american, but there’s something good there. It’s empowering people to make decisions, work out a plan, stick to it, and see through to the results.

I’ve tried something like this a few times. It’s gone well. I’ve asked guys what they think they would like to do. I’ve asked them how they think they’re going to make that happen. And as we’ve caught up, I’ve asked them where they’re up to. What stage are they at? What do they need to do next? Who do they need to call?

One guy even started calling me “coach”!