Today Head Heart Hand Media are shooting the first ten episodes of CrossReference, a series of short teaching films on Christ in the Old Testament. Here’s a little idea of what was involved in yesterday’s set-up. You can see more photos on our Facebook page.
Is working with your hands better than working with your head? More and more depressed office workers are answering yes, reversing the decades-long trend away from manual labor.
Columnist and broadcaster Giles Coren recently swapped his PC and keyboard for working on a small farm with vegetables and chickens – and found it “immensely satisfying.” In a BBC report he complains that “modern life has been blighted by a series of alienating processes, often carried out on mobile phone, laptop and e-mail. In this way, his chosen career – journalism – has been stripped of its sense of adventure and human contact.” He says:
“Even 15 years ago when I started as a reporter, you left the office to do a story. You went to investigate, visited people and used the cuttings library. Now I just sit… and Google. It’s terrible, I wish I was a fireman.”
Despite his columnist’s salary, he is jealous of those whose jobs have a clear purpose like the gardener and cleaner.
“My gardener Brian comes in to do the garden every two weeks. He takes his shirt off in the summer and smokes a rollie. I can see him through the window, but I’m sitting indoors, staring at the screen to pay for this guy – it’s the classic middle-class paradox.”
Pastors often feel something similar, especially those who have entered pastoral ministry after working in industry, or engineering, or such like. “So many hours, and so much effort, for so little evident return. Think I’ll go back to laying bricks, mending engines, or sweeping floors. At least I would have a wall, or a car, or a pile of dust to point to at the end of the day!”
But whether we work with our heads or our hands we will never find full satisfaction in our work – even ministry work. The divine curse on our labor affects both head-workers and hand-workers (Gen. 3:17-19). We will encounter thorns and thistles in our offices as well as on our farms, in our cubicles as well as in our yards.
And in a way we should be thankful for that. God cursed the labor he provided for us so that we would not make it a god and find our satisfaction in it rather than in Him.
However, I think it’s still a great idea for knowledge workers, like pastors, to have a hands-on project, something involving manual labor, on the side. It does give the mind a break, and it does give a sense of accomplishment in the midst of often discouraging circumstances. So why not plant a vegetable garden, take woodwork classes, paint a room, or make tents (Acts 18:3).
I even knew a pastor (who shall remain nameless) who took flower-arranging classes…and showed his handiwork to visitors! Hmmm…I think I’ll stick with Tae Kwon Do. I prefer breaking boards to plucking petals.
I shall live for God, not the ministrySeeing the grace of the Gospel in a car break-in
“Without remaining resolved in steadfast surrender to God, ministers living for the ministry will either leave the ministry, or, what’s worse, the ministry will leave them.” This article by Burk Parsons could revolutionize your ministry. It certainly challenged me.
You’ll want to check out Brian Croft’s nicely re-vamped Practical Shepherding blog. Get a sample of his practical and grace-filled writing with this post.
Discipleship and Planting Churches
My friend and colleague, Bill Vandoodewaard, has penned an encouraging article for Reformed church planters.
No time to read?
Matt Perman with some good quotes to motivate the hard work of reading in pastoral ministry.
Books on Covenant Theology
A helpful booklist here from Proclamation Trust. My favorite, and one of five ministry-transforming books in my life, is The Christ of the Covenants, by O P Robertson.
9 Marks Journal on how to leave your congregation…well.
Do small groups fit Reformed Ecclesiology?
Michael Ives raises some good questions. We don’t need to answer his question in the negative to profit from some of the concerns here.
Five Steps to easy preaching
I’m looking for popular-level, up-to-date books and booklets for:
(1) Two couples who recently suffered miscarriages
(2) A mother who suddenly lost her young 10-year-old daughter.
What do Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Jerry Brown and John Boehner have in common? It’s not just that they are all rising political stars; it’s that their ascent has been fueled by refusing to use the usual exaggerated vocabulary and soaring oratory of political “stars.”
In The rise of the plain language leader, Joshua Freeman argues that voters have reacted against President Obama’s “grandiloquent rhetoric” and Sarah Palin’s “painful, packaged zingers,” and are demanding plain, simple, sober, and blunt talk. He says, “Austerity is not just the budgetary buzzword; it’s the new rhetorical style as well.” He goes on:
The more purple the prose with which you paint, the more suspicious the public is likely to be of the meaning behind the words. Pack in too many turns of phrase, and voters will start to look at you the way men look at women who wear too much makeup.
…Now, even members of the public who aren’t outright suspicious of flowery flourishes have quietly reached the broader conclusion that talk, no matter how stirring, just doesn’t get you very far. Metaphors are nice, poetry is pretty, but inspiration seems, well, a little bit frivolous when unemployment is at 9.5% and China is outcompeting us.
Such societal shifts impact and influence our congregations as well. For a while I’ve been persuaded that the more preachers work at impressing their hearers with their stylish phrases, multiplied adjectives, and oratorical flourishes, the less effective the sermons. It’s just too much make-up.
Let’s strip off the lipstick, the mascara, and the face-glitter and get back to plain, simple, sober, and blunt preaching. Does that mean cold, dull, and boring sermons? On the contrary; it’s such stripped down sermons that bring the saving power of the cross into sinners’ lives (1 Cor. 1:17).