By australianmissionary

The Sin of Choosing Busyness over Effectiveness

IMG_0691 copyWhy am I feeling the Lord’s conviction after traveling over 160 miles a day three times last week meeting Pastors?

That’s the question I kept asking myself last Sunday during the morning service.

A few months ago God led me to start meeting with Churches outside of my general area, and last week accomplished that [1]. Yet I couldn’t get rid of the feeling the Lord wasn’t honored wtih those trips.

It took a while for me to realize what the problem was…my heart was focused on being busy instead of being effective.

Out of the Churches visited last week, I was able to meet with two pastors [2]. So lots of information was given out, but few visits achieved the goal of personally sharing my burden  for Australia

These inneffective trips are of course my own fault

  1. For not scheduling specific times to meet with the Pastors when I knew they would be there
  2. Calling that day to remind them I was coming
  3. Asking if it would be possible to meet with the pastor that day [3]
  4. Or scheduling a meeting with them that fit better into their schedule a few weeks later

My mind was so excited about visiting twenty Chuches last week (being busy in ministry) it overlooked the importance of effectiveness (actually meeting with Pastors).

Sadly our culture, and fast-paced life places an emphasis on just being busy

Changing this emphasis means creating a mindset that embraces effectiveness instead of just busyness.

For me that means:

  1. Only visiting three Churches a day (four max)
  2. Communicate often about the day I am coming, and when I will be there
  3. Call the office to see if the Pastor will actually be in the ofice
  4. Call and email that morning before leaving

This style of communication can becoming annoying over time (over-communicating) but it ensures my time or energy is used effectively.

So what does effectiveness look like?

This morning I met with two pastors, and scheduled a lunch meeting with another on Tuesday…and it only took 45 miles [4].

Yesterday two Pastors I was going to visit contacted me to say they won’t be there this week, and I scheduled them for October.

Yes this means more time at home and less time on the road, but I’m grateful for the reminder that ministry done effectively beats just being busy every day of the week.

  1. Visiting Eden, Burlington, and Mt Airy  ↩
  2. meetings had been scheduled with four but two others weren’t able to meet with me  ↩
  3. with more than one the pastor was out of town without my knoweldge  ↩
  4. I did stay local today, but plan to branch out in the next two days  ↩

The Life and Death of Entertaining John

IMG_0339During my Sophomore year in College I was able to create a cultural phenomenon known as “Skit Announcments” with a close friend. These were basically two-minute comedy routines that grabbed peoples attention, and reminded them about upcoming events.

At first everything was fine…but then the skit announcements took on a life of thier own.

  1. There had to be one every day in chapel
  2. Some individuals didn’t practice them beforehand
  3. They got longer and longer [1]
  4. And eventually the skit announcements no longer acheived their goal of getting peoples attention

The greatest problem with Skit Announcements is they went to my head

The thing is once you’ve entertained a large group of people (and hear their laughter) that experience is incredibly addictive.

So Entertaining John was born

This is a nickname I give myself when putting on an act to make people laugh. Today it’s only used for drama’s or skits, but during College Entertaining John became my personality.

  1. My only goal in life was to make people laugh
  2. Lunch became a comedy showcase that drew lots of attention
  3. Every skit or joke had to be funnier or more ridiculous [2]
  4. Things like class or grades were secondary to entertaining others

Entertaining John actually had a very good run (my Sophomore and Junior year) but as the Senior year begame I started to realize something…

Entertaining John wasn’t fun anymore
And more frightening…he was no longer effective

Gone were the days when my comedy routines led to hysterical laughter and a large crowd during lunchtime

This revelation along with other issues [3] meant some big changes needed to be made. I can still remember the Wendesday evening when entertaining john was put out of his misery [4].

This is obviously for the best since there is a need for maturity in ministry, and addiction to the approval of others can destroy your life.

However every once in a while Entertaining John gets to come out again. Yesterday was one of those moments when I took part in a five minute drama during the morning Church service.

I’m not going to lie…it was fun hearing people laugh at my acting again.

Honk if you love your Church


The Lord gives each one of us special gifts or talents in life. These can either be used for our own glory (getting people to laugh at me) or His (illustrating a truth of Scripture).

The important thing is making sure we keep that talent under control. And every once in a while that means taking it out back, and putting it out of it’s misery

  1. Some lasted six minutes  ↩
  2. thankfully none of my humor was in poor taste, but I was incredibly immature  ↩
  3. Senior year leaves little time for being ridiculous  ↩
  4. I buried him beside silly john, and mean john  ↩

Why I Love Ten-Minute Ministry Presentations

IMG_0023Recently I was part of a Missions Conference where on the last evening each Missionary was asked to share their ministry in ten to twelve minutes.

As you can imagine this was quite difficult, especially for someone like me who takes twelve minutes to say hello.

This shortened presentation was a blessing however, because it forced us (Missionaries) to share the burden God has placed upon our hearts in a direct way.

You see it’s very common for Missionaries to share things that focus peoples minds on the spiritual need.

  1. Things like their personal testimony
  2. Stories from the mission field
  3. Pictures of people they have ministered to
  4. Facts about the need of people in that Country
  5. Or history and culture of that mission field

These things aren’t bad at all…in fact they make the ministry presentation more powerful. But I find myself sometimes focusing so much on the testimonies, stories, pictures, or history that little time is spend on the actual spiritual need.

Sadly some missionaries even rely on these things to “sell their ministry [1] instead of allowing the Holy Spirit do the work [2]

Which is why every once in a while it’s a good thing to just let God do the work.

  1. No jokes
  2. No stories from the mission field
  3. No testimony of how God led you there
  4. No pictures of you doing ministry
  5. Just play a nine minute video of what the Lord is doing in Melbourne, thank the people, and sit down

Because in the end it isn’t all of that extra stuff that lays a burden on individuals hearts, but the spiritual need.

Oh that doesn’t mean Missionaries shouldn’t enjoy spending a half-hour presenting their ministry. But maybe the best thing we can do sometimes is just sit down, and let God do the work.

  1. Lead people to remember theirs more than others, which leads to financial gifts  ↩
  2. I have even found myself doing this at times, it’s easy to fall into this trap since the Economy means less Churches or individuals are able to give financially.  ↩

How To Bring Structure to Children Who Have None

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt an early age I learned that God had given me a love for working with young children. This has created a burden to see all kids accept Christ, but there is a special one for a specific group of children in Melbourne.

Most of them come from an area of the city that is filled with crime, poverty, and broken families [1]. This results in the children having little structure or discipline in their lives, which means they can’t succeed in the normal school system.

While some of them do struggle with academics, most of their challenges are social…

  1. A little boy after I told him he couldn’t draw an ugly picture of his classmate threw down his chair, kicked open the door, and proceeded to give me the look of death while using profanity
  2. A girl who wanted a pink marker instead of asking screamed at the top of her lungs, I want a pink one
  3. Any games involving competition like basketball would end in a fight
  4. Substitute teachers didn’t want to fill in there because the children were so much trouble

The Lord allowed me to help there as a volunteer teachers aid [2] in English and Art classes (proof God has a sense of humor).

Bringing structure into this kind of environment is challenging since most discipline strategies have little effect, even the dreaded “naughty chair” didn’t bring the desired result!

Unfortunately this led to staff and teachers relying on yelling or threats in order to bring structure.

I don’t really blame them for this because it was easy for everyone (myself included) to become frustrated by the students lack of discipline. However this actually made the problem worse because we displayed very unhealthy responses to stress (portraying anger).

What these children needed more than a list of rules is to see someone who actually responded to the challenges of life without losing their temper

I’m not saying of course that there shouldn’t be rules in their lives. But it’s vitally important that young people have someone living out a pattern of healthy responses in front of them.

In my opinion the core problem with these kids has little do with their school environment, many of them are surrounded by friends and family who respond to everything with anger, profanity, or violence.

They must be not only taught there is a better way, but shown what that better way looks like.

  1. In 2011 two cars drove down the road firing bullets at one another two blocks from thier school  ↩
  2. which basically means I was crowd control  ↩

Why I Miss Board Game Nights



Out of all the things I miss from Melbourne one of the greatest is board games.

Not because of my success at them [1] but the opportunities they give for community, and deeper relationships.

In 2010 I came to an Australian Church plant as their Associate Pastor. After about three weeks of getting to know people, a young couple asked if I was interested in playing board games.  The next Sunday evening I came over to find Settlers of Catan set up on their dining room table [2].

I was a bit concerned since all the other young adults there had played Settlers many times, while I had never played it before. The husband assured me this wasn’t a problem.

Sadly I didn’t see the little smile on his face as he said this.

One of the goals with Settlers is to obtain a certain number of the same cards, so trading items is a big part of the game.

When they put me between the husband and his wife I didn’t think much about it. However it didn’t take long to realize none of the trades he made with me was in my favor (no matter how much he said they were).

It wasn’t till the game was almost over though that I realized his wife’s deals that seemed good, were much worse for me than his.

Over the years those games nights became precious because they allowed me to be JB for a few hours [3].

JB is what people call me when I have fully embraced my entertaining side. It basically involves making people laugh, and eating lots of chocolate.

We all have that entertaining side but it’s rarely seen.

  1. Because there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done
  2. There is a need for maturity and professionalism in daily life
  3. Only those who we really trust can see our entertaining side
  4. And there is always the danger of going too far and embarrassing ourselves (or someone we care about)

I will be the first person in the world to say self-control is desperately needed when it comes to our entertaining persona…however it’s incredibly liberating to let it come out for a few hours over a board game.

  1. I always come in last  ↩
  2. A strategy board game that takes about two hours to play  ↩
  3. JB stands for “Johnny Boy” and no you aren’t allowed to call me that  ↩

My First Australian Cuppa

One thing I love about Melbourne is their emphasis on spending time with friends or loved ones and having a real conversation. This is seen in lots of ways, but never more than when experiencing a “cuppa.”

This is an Australian tradition which basically involves drinking a cup of coffee or tea with biscuits (cookies) while you have a long talk (usually more than an hour). It can be done at home, but it isn’t unusual to have one at the local coffee shop.

Since relationships are very important to Aussies they treasure having a cuppa with friends. In fact turning down a cup of coffee or tea is viewed as a slap in the face. However if they offer you International Roast brand coffee, you must report them to the local authorities, and have their citizenship revoked [1].

This form of connection was challenging for me since I didn’t drink coffee. Of course the Australians still allowed me to take part in the cuppa conversations (I was given water) but it just didn’t seem the same.

Then came the night I was at a Church dinner and the pastors wife offered me a cappuccino. As she did this it seemed to get very quiet in the room as everyone turned to see my reaction [2]. Not wanting to be rude I accepted her offer, and haven’t looked back since.

From that time cappuccinos and cuppas became a huge part of my ministry, to the point that everyone at the local coffee shop knew my name and order, all I had to do was hand them money!

Of course I don’t miss cuppas just because of the coffee (I can drink that at home).

  1. it’s about the connection that takes place through a long talk with a friend.
  2. Slowing down enough to relax and enjoy life
  3. Ministering to the needs of one another in a direct way
  4. Being able to share the Gospel and explain it in a one on one conversation
  5. And having a transparently honest conversation that brings Glory to God

In a perfect world we would slow down and have those kinds of conversations all of the time, sadly we don’t live in a perfect world.

Which is why we have create our own cuppa experiences. Times in our day or week when we can connect in meaningful conversation with those in our community.

I’m not saying it’s easy or simple to do this, but I can guarantee that it’s incredibly meaningful to the other person.

It’s amazing how much a cup of coffee and “so how are things with you?” can make.

  1. That probably doesn’t make any sense to you, but trust me if an Australian ever reads this they will laugh hysterically  ↩
  2. in my mind they did this in dramatic slow-motion  ↩