A while ago, I learned about parkour (which is French for ‘Free Running’). Parkour is, essentially, combining running with gymnastics, with a little bit of climbing thrown in. The internet is full of videos of people who practice it. Parkour can look a little odd to an outsider to be sure, but it’s a really interesting skill set.
The most remarkable thing about it isn’t the general athleticism required (though that is certainly incredible). When someone watches a parkour maneuver for the first time, they usually want to ask how they ‘planned’ the trick. They’re surprised to find out that for a vast majority of the stunts and tricks, there wasn’t a plan. The athlete just made it up as they going. The most incredible thing about parkour is that is it essentially athletic improvisation.
Pastors and church members like plans. I know I do. Plans offer security and stability. Plans can also limit what churches or Christians can do in their spiritual lives. Here are a few things I think we can learn from Parkour for our spiritual lives. Continue reading
One of the core skills of being a church member is being able to offer care and comfort to others. And contrary to cultural precedent, this is not the sole responsibility of the pastor. In fact, most “pastoral” care can be offered by non-clergy or laity.
The problem is that many church goers feel under equipped or ill-prepared for those conversations. (As a side note, so do I, despite having literally hundreds of hours of pastoral care visits). So I wanted to offer a few basic steps to offering care to someone you know in your church. These won’t make you a counselor or therapist, but they should help you be a better friend and church member. Some of them are fairly obvious, but worth restating. Continue reading
One of the most iconic movies of my generation is ‘The Karate Kid’. It’s not just a good martial arts movie; it’s just a great film. The film shows us the life of Daniel, who is a kid who finds himself in a new high school, which comes with a new breed a bullies. Daniel’s situation grows so bad that the maintenance man of his apartment complex, Mr Miyagi, offers to take Daniel-san under his wing and train him in karate.
Daniel shows up excited to learn. His excitement quickly dissipates when he finds out that his training will begin after he does some chores. Daniel’s would-be mentor has him sand his back deck, wash and wax his car, and paint his fence. After three days of hard work and no training, Daniel has had enough. He confronts Mr Miyagi about the lack of training. Just as Daniel is about to walk away from everything, the wise old mentor asks Daniel to do all of the motions that he had over the last three days; painting the fence, sanding the floor, and famously wax on, wax off. With little warning, Mr Miyagi begins to throws kicks and punches at Daniel-san, who instinctively begins to throw near perfect blocks, deflecting the attacks.
Turns out, he had been training this whole time.
I think God is a lot like Mr Miyagi some times. Continue reading
The other night, I had the chance to go to a dueling piano bar with some colleagues. Here’s how the whole thing works: there are two piano players who take requests. They go back and forth taking the lead on playing these songs. Usually they both play during a song, but sometimes one will take a break.
There were some great lessons in leadership that I watched on display there, and I wanted to share them with you. Continue reading
When I was ten, I got my first Swiss Army knife. It came with a two-inch blade, screwdriver bits, a nail file, bottle opener, and a can opener. It was awesome. I felt like I could do any and everything suddenly. Who needs all of those different screwdrivers from the hardware store? Why even bother getting another can opener? Not only do I have all of those in one tool, but I have all of them IN MY POCKET!
So you can imagine my disappointment when it began to dawn on me that sometimes you do need different screwdrivers.
There are a lot of pastors that try to be a ‘Swiss Army’ pastor. Maybe they feel like the church needs them to be, or they want to be that indispensible, or some combination of both. I think the job of ‘pastor’ is fairly susceptible to developing this ‘all things to all people’ mentality. For starters, there are a wide variety of tasks and skills that pastor need to have in order to do their job well. I mean, a day can consist of researching 6th century Mesopotamia for a sermon, visiting homebound, and helping draft a budget proposal, all before a worship team meeting later that night.
So here are some thoughts on pastors being the churches Swiss Army Knives of ministry: Continue reading