You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins

After reading Jeff Goins‘ new book, You Are A Writer, you’ll come out of the closet. The little writing closet that you hide away in of course.

you-are-a-writer-final-570x760
By: Jeff Goins

Jeff is a prolific blogger (goinswriter.com) who writes about writing. This book is an extension of those posts with a few juicy bits added.

Jeff loves giving; you can tell by the way he writes. In this case Jeff is giving advice on writing and how to get your writing out into the world for people to connect with. This advice is aimed at writers and wannabe writers who are too afraid to show their work to others (yeah, that’s me and probably you).

Throughout Jeff seeks to inspire and give practical tips on how to get started in this writing caper. In his fast-paced, sharp, and punchy style the reader is drawn into his personal stories and advice. It’s a great read and could be completed in one sitting if you’re keen.

If you’re teetering on the edge of wanting to launch yourself more seriously into writing but aren’t sure how to do it then this book answers your fears.

In fact, it’s all about fear according to Jeff. Fear is what stops us from doing those things we want so desperately to do. We are fearful of taking risk and in this case we are fearful of others reading our work and laughing, or criticising, or actually liking it!

The two main areas that Jeff writes about are:

Writing. It’s hard, it’s great, it takes practice, and it becomes you. Jeff wants you to find your voice and get you to start believing in yourself. You need to think of yourself as a pro. That’s simple enough isn’t it? Just say you’re a writer and begin writing.

Platform Building. Jeff gives tips on what to do to be heard. In this busy information filled world it’s not easy for our ideas to stick. Jeff tells you how to make it happen. Through a bit of effort and consistency in your use of social media and blogging you can raise your platform just like he did.

This, however, does require a mind shift. The key ingredients to this whole argument are:

  1. Choose Yourself. You’ve got to be the initiator and change your attitude to your writing. It’s no longer a hobby. You’re a pro. Stop waiting around for someone else to pick you on his or her team, start a team yourself. Practice, work hard, and put yourself out there. That’s what Jeff’s saying.
  2. Overcome The Fear. Seth Godin calls it “The Resistance”. It’s that fear factor in the back of your head, or perhaps it’s on your shoulder, stopping you from becoming a real writer (Hang on, that’s right, you’re already a real writer). This fear is costing you. It’s costing you time and energy, it’s stopping you from pursuing your dreams. It’s costing you from taking risk. It’s time to get over that fear and begin.

Perhaps we’ll let Jeff say it in his own words:

“We’re afraid of the cost. Worried we don’t have what it takes. Anxious of the road it takes to get to greatness. So we play it safe and abide by the rules. Before we start, we sabotage our work and subvert our genius” (p13-14).

“Real artists risk failure every time they release their work into the world. If your words are going to matter, you will have to do the same. You will have to let go. Until you do, you’re not creating art. You’re just screwing around. Remember: The fear of something is always scarier than the thing itself. Yes, there is pain and rejection. But the greatest failure is to never risk at all” (p32).

So, what’d I think?

First, I think it is a great book and well worth the time to read. It didn’t take very long and is packed with inspirational advice about writing. I was certainly encouraged to get cracking on a few writing projects I want to complete.

Second, I don’t think it matters whether you’re a writer or not. Much of the book is really aimed at anyone who’s creative, wants to be more productive, or in leadership. The principles in this book can help you launch yourself upon the world. Hopefully for the good!

Third, as I opened with, there are thousands of closet writers. Read this book and come out. I know I will be.

Fourth, if you’ve read a bit of Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt and the like then you will probably notice a fair bit of overlap. Much of the content within is described by Godin and Hyatt in their works. Jeff says it another way and specifically about writing – I think that’s great.

Fifth, if you’re still not won over to buy the book and you’ve actually read this far then my final point would be that you need to show him some sympathy. Go and buy the book. He’s a wranga after all, they need all the help they can get. 😉

You can find more information or purchase Jeff’s book at http://youareawriter.com/.

Top 3 Books For Youth Ministry

Late last night I was texted asking for what my top 3 book recommendations were on the topic of Youth Ministry. I thought I’d share them here for interest sake:

  1. Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
  2. Fruit That Will Last by Tim Hawkins
  3. Leaders That Will Last by Tim Hawkins

I’ve also added a fourth in my response as years ago Al Stewart put out a little primer on youth ministry called No Guts, No Glory worth reading.

I’d recommend these books to anyone beginning in youth ministry or a good refresher for those who’ve been in it for a while.

What are your favourites? What would you recommend if you were asked for your top 3?

Marriage Advice

marriage advice
By: pudgeefeet

Make sure you change the toilet roll when it’s finished.

Always text or call when you are running late.

Regularly eat meals together.

Remember and celebrate special days and anniversaries.

In the case of an emergency – buy flowers.

Acknowledge your faults (incl. communication, body odour, and habits).

Go to bed at the same time.

Enjoy your life together.

My Theological Library

Library_books_oldbooks
By: Pouya sh

A month ago we moved house. It’s not really the most enjoyable of experiences but it’s something that has to be done when the time comes. The process of moving house meant that I had to move all the books that i have. I’m an avid reader and aim to read a book each fortnight (on average over the course of a year). The “industry” I’m in also lends itself to be around books. Ministry requires reading, preaching requires reading, studying requires reading. This means I’ve a growing collecting of around 700 books on the shelves and when the library reaches this point it’s probably time to get it sorted out.

I did toy with the idea of working the Dewey system or using the Library of Congress numbers but decided that might be a bit extreme. In the end the best advice came from Andy Naselli’s post on “Why you should organise your theological library and a way how”. I’ve adjusted some of what he’s suggested but used the main categories to organise mine. My library is obviously not as big as his so it doesn’t need as much detail as what he has laid out. But here it is:

1. Biblical Theology

  • Languages (NT Greek)
  • Hermenuetics (how to interpret the Bible etc.)
  • Commentaries (on each book of the Bible)
  • OT & NT introductions, theologies, and overviews

2. Historical Theology

  • Biographies
  • Church & Christian History
  • “Works” by old dead guys

3. Systematic Theology

  • Bible doctrine (the sort of topics in a general systematic theology book)
  • Apologetics
  • Philosophy

4. Practical Theology

  • Christian Living (all those great books people pick up at the front of Christian bookstores ;))
  • Preaching
  • Leadership
  • Youth Ministry
  • Church
  • Pastoral Ministry
  • Missions

At this stage all sub-categories are mixed in together in the broad categories. I’m not convinced this works for the Practical Theology section but it’ll take too much time sorting it out at the moment.

Comments? Suggestions? How do you sort yours?

Thinking Through Baptism

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
By: Davezelenka

The beginning of this year has seen me start reading through some of the issues related to believer’s baptism vs. infant baptism. A few months ago I baptised a couple of young people at church and it sparked the realisation that I’d never investigated “the other side” (infant baptism). In any case, these holidays I’ve taken the time to read two books on the topic thus far and I’ve at least 3-4 to go.

The books I’ve read are:

  1. Troubled Waters: Re-thinking the theology of baptism by Ben Witherington.
  2. Baptism: Three views ed. by David Wright.

A few initial comments on these books:

  • They’re both great books on baptism and I’m glad to have chosen these as the first two to read. They’ve covered all the issues that differentiate the baptist and infant views.
  • Witherington is rather persuasive in his thoughts about the importance of infants and children. Not convinced this means that they should be baptised so young and without making a decision for themselves but puts the issue on the table well.
  • The point above is linked to the very real question of whether children of Christian parents are saved or not. This has practical and theological ramifications and Witherington does well to persuade here.
  • The importance of baptism seems to be undermined a little when Witherington questions it’s importance in the NT. This is odd considering he writes a whole book on baptism anyway. Certainly the weight of the NT on baptism is a consideration in whether one should make a larger than life issue out of it.
  • Acts seems to be be main book for where the main arguments come from in this book. I did wonder whether it was relied on too heavily or not.
  • The three views book is excellent with two particular scholars, B. Ware and S. Ferguson going at each other.
  • Ware, a proponent of the baptist view, is more convincing here. Ferguson spends heaps of time explaining the covenants, which is good but isn’t so convincing re baptism and the NT.
  • Ware is thorough in his exegetical points whereas the other two aren’t as much. The third view, a middle ground view that includes both views by A. Lane, is interesting but quite inventive and too reliant on historical grounds and not the NT.

Overall, these are two good books to begin with. It’ll be time to crack on with a few more in the coming weeks.

Priorities

Seeing that I couldn’t get to sleep last night I plugged the iPod in and listened to Mikey’s talk on Priorities.

I thought his dulcet tones would gradually put me to sleep, but alas, I listened to it all.

And…loved it.

Anyone between the ages of 17-25 should listen to this. It is wise and biblically thought through advice on something that almost every young adult I know struggles with. From organising your time to commitment levels to being able to think through the next few years to dealing with what’s next. There are some great tips laid out here which you don’t realise until you’re about 28.

Rather than reading Getting Things Done just listen to Mikey.

Get on it.

Youth Influencers

By: MxonerSkittleDip
By: MxonerSkittleDip

The term “youth leader” is regularly used in all works regarding youth ministry. It describes a person who has been set apart for a special ministry within a church toward young people. A youth leader’s role is wide and can incorporate a variety of things. Most likely this term’s used to describe a person who’s in some form or another looking after young people within the context of a church program or event.

I use this term, “Youth Leader”, and in many ways it makes a lot of sense to continue to use it. Yet, I also find it difficult to determine who’s a youth leader and who’s not within my context. Some young adults, who are not “official” youth leaders work more with young people than the youth leaders themselves. For example, I wouldn’t call our worship leaders “youth leaders”, yet they find themselves dealing with the young people of our church more than the actual youth leaders themselves.

I think this can cause an issue. A mindset can set in where people who don’t think of themselves as youth leaders, or aren’t given the official title, are classed as secondary helpers in the area of youth ministry. In many respects there becomes a two-tiered ministry – on one level there is the official youth group nights and small groups while on another level (quite often seen to be below the first) are the areas of the church community where young people themselves contribute to and interact with other members of the church (who aren’t “official” youth leaders).

In thinking about this, and also having to get my head around it while I’ve been writing some Electronic Communication Guidelines, I think a better term for all people who interact with young people in the church would be “Youth Influencers”. This term captures those who aren’t deemed to be “official” youth leaders, who don’t turn up to the youth ministry events per se, but, it includes those who deal with young people week to week. It also recognises that many people within the church can shape and mould young people, whether they are classed as leaders or not.

If youth ministries were to expand their terminology I think there could be a greater involvement and take up by people to be involved in the lives of young people. Some people don’t like to be thought of as leaders, or, they don’t have the time commitment to be active “youth ministry” leaders. Yet, this would be an opportunity to recognise those who have influence over young people in our churches and establish a culture of people investing in people.

Integrating Youth Ministry Into The Church

How is the youth ministry at your church viewed?

youth_ministry_logo_sy83
St Peters Youth Ministry

Quite often young ministry is considered a must but it is also seen as the baby to a lot of the other ministries within the church. Sometimes i get the feeling that as long as there is some sort of youth group happening and there are some people we can call youth leaders then the church can promote itself as looking out for the needs of young people.

This, however, doesn’t capture how youth ministry fits into the whole church. Ideally, a good youth ministry should be able to be integrated into other ministries, where it would be acceptable for young people to participate, help out, and even lead. For example, it should be quite easy for young people to not only attend youth group on a Friday night, but also feel comfortable enough to be attending a service, or a small group or even a whole church event.

Finding and working this culture of integration between ages is hard, yet, it seems to be an ideal way for maturity to occur throughout the age groups of a church.

Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado

outlive-your-lifeMax Lucado, Out Live Your Life (Nashville, USA: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 173 pages.

I like Max Lucado. I’ve now read a few books of his and always find them full of good illustrations, biblical truth, and words worth pondering. Out Live Your Life is no different.

Lucado’s latest centres around encouraging people to start thinking big and taking risks in their life. He wants his readers to be shaken out of the possible rut that they are currently in and start looking at doing things that will be of benefit to others.

What Lucado isn’t pushing his readers to do is simply join some cause and begin promoting it. He would prefer us to have a look at what the early church did and follow their example in meeting together, focussing on Jesus and serving others. From beginning to end Lucado takes the reader on a journey through the first eleven chapters of the book of Acts and brings to life some of the stories and teaching within.

The whole book is positive, which in many cases is nice to hear. It is primarily hitting the good works band-wagon of justice and helping others – this of course is not a bad thing and i think Lucado deals with this well. He doesn’t want the Christian witness within these good works to be forgotten or neglected, therefore he forces the reader to be reminded of Jesus and the cross. Rather than making this some abstract theory he grounds these two things nicely together in the sermon’s of Peter and John at the beginning of Acts.

I found the book a good read. I would say it’s a 7/10. For what i expected it to be i thought it hit the mark. I think that it has a simple yet profound message of “do something good for others”.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

7 Evernote Tips For Youth Pastors

Evernote is one of the most used apps on my phone and computer.

Here’s seven tips on why Youth Pastors should be using it.

7-evernote-tips-for-youth-pastors

1. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor Organise Events

Anything from camps to small group socials to the stock standard youth night. Evernote helps you keep organised and plan an event coming up.

Writing lists, storing information about what needs to purchased, and delegating which leader is responsible for what. All these things can be stored in various notes.

The helpful tagging option allows you to bring up all the notes about “Awesome Camp”, which can then include details about registration, budget, what to buy, and the contact details for the campsite itself. There are a number of ways to put together a particular youth event but having them all in one central place is helpful.

Once the event is done and it’s time to debrief this is where notes can be kept and help you improve the next time it comes around.

2. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor In Designing The Youth Ministry Programme

Young people and youth leaders are full of ideas about youth events. Nearly every week there will be one person that comes up to me and says, “We should do […insert event here…] next term.”

Evernote enables you to store information about future youth ministry activities. This can include details of what it is, contact information, and the links to the websites. When coming to organise the next term’s programme this will make the process a lot easier. Pull your phone out, have a look at what’s there, think about whether it achieves what you’re after and put in on the planner. Easy.

A local roller-skating rink posts me information every now and then with their information for youth groups. All I do is take a picture of it, store it in Evernote, and boom. It’s sorted and searchable for when I need it.

3. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor Remember A Good Game

Games + Youth Ministry = Fun times.

How many times do you find yourself, perhaps at the end of a night, where there is 15 minutes to spare and you’ve run out of games?

No Youth Pastor should be without a few games up their sleeve. They’re the bread and butter of many traditional youth groups and youth ministries. Evernote allows you to store heaps and heap and heaps of games on your phone and computer, easily accessed in seconds.

Storing games you’ve come up with yourself, finding a few gems on the net, and even taking a few notes from games some of your leaders come up, can all be stored in Evernote. Tagging them into what kind of games, i.e. Adventure, Messy, Group, Ice-Breaker and the like becomes extremely helpful too.

4. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Remember Conversations With Young People, Parents And Leaders

Last year I held a Parent Afternoon Tea and jotted down some of the feedback given. There were a few new ideas floating around and also some encouraging things being said about the youth ministry. At the end of our time together I took a photo of the discussion notes, uploaded them to Evernote, and they became searchable using their technology. This has helped me remember what we talked about and we we could implement in the future.

After a conversation with a Youth Leader I type out some brief bullet point notes in Evernote so that I remember what was said and the action points decided upon. This helps me to know where my Youth Leaders are at with a variety of matters and also helps me in following up the next time we catch up.

This is so much more useful than some form of text file stored on the computer. Here I have them all in note form and in my hand.

5. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Store Contact Details Of Other Youth Pastors, Young People, Leaders, And Churches

The amount of ‘networking’ events for those in Christian ministry is quite extraordinary. Every week there are multiple emails promoting different organisations, churches, and leadership events. It gets confusing and tiring.

Anyway, Evernote helps me to store the contact details of those I actually want to stay in touch with. Sometimes it might be the dreaded business card (Does anyone actually use these anymore?) , take a pic, snap, upload, sorted. Sometimes it is simply me entering the information of the person right in front of them, or even handing the phone over and asking them to enter it themselves.

Having knowledge and contact details of those in my area, those I wish to continue a working relationship with, and organisations who could be helpful for our youth ministry is handy to have. you never know when you might be of support to someone or they to you. Having their details on hand and in an easy to find place is awesome.

This could easily apply to people in the youth ministry, church, and others.

6. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor With All That Ridiculous Administration

Every job has administration, the Youth Pastor can’t avoid it either. However, Evernote provides a great solution in storing what’s important and also the not so important.

I get sent a fair few things via snail mail and these things can easily be scanned and uploaded to Evernote directly. It was only the other week where I read an article in one of the Christian papers and then took a picture of it for Evernote and future use.

But there is other stuff too. Receipts and invoices, important emails you want to keep in one place, and even those rare thank you notes you receive from people. These can all g into Evernote, be made searchable, and like that you’ve cut down on paper, reduced the need for a filing cabinet and stored them forever.

7. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Write Talks For Youth Ministry

Every youth ministry should have some form of talk that is Bible-based and aimed at encouraging, equipping, or evangelising youth people. I regularly do them, as do my Youth Leaders.

With Evernote I can write up that talk in plain text then take my phone with me to the front of the group and go bang. Granted, I do prefer paper for that purpose but if I was to ever lose or have my talk stolen by one of our members then I can easily retrieve it on me device.

Evernote provides heaps of editing options to helps highlight important things to say and remember for delivery. Using the search and tagging function also provides good reference for the future. For example, when speaking on the Rich Young Ruler from Luke 18:1-18 I can have my notes in Evernote and tag them, “Youth Talk”, “Jesus”, “Wealth”, “Gospel”, “Cost”, “Works” etc.

In sum, Evernote is a great app for Youth Pastors to use and enables them to be better organised, which I think produces a better Youth Pastor. It helps in ‘doing’ ministry, and we all know we need help sometimes. There are plenty of other things I’m sure we could come up with. But hey, seven is a godly number. Let’s leave it there.

Are you a youth pastor that uses Evernote? How does it help you?