Lessons from the cheese box

This morning I opened the fridge door and immediately spotted that the box that we keep our cheese in had moved shelves. My family had been staying for the weekend and had looked after our kids while we were out, so they had obviously put it back in a different place. I was intrigued by my response: I was both offended and surprised.

The offence came from my immediate reaction: “What’s the cheese box doing there? That’s not where it lives!” and the surprise, “Hmm, it looks neater there – perhaps that’s a better spot”.

As I shut the fridge door I felt God whisper to me, “That’s your response when people do things differently to you”. I knew He was talking about the ‘offended’ response. Ouch.

As part of a leadership training course I’m attending, we’ve spent time looking at how well we foster new leaders. I’ve started asking myself these sorts of questions:

Do I encourage others into new leadership roles or am I fearful of what that might mean for me?

Do I always ‘need’ to be involved in new initiatives or am I happy to see others bring them into fruition?

Do I gladly embrace new ways of doing things suggested by other people or do I do so half-heartedly, grumbling in my heart that it will never work and ‘knowing’ that mine is the better way?

Am I seeking to raise up other leaders who will be able to take over the roles I am currently in, or am I holding on too tightly?

To read the rest of this article please click here.

Gender-specific teaching in services?

I had a really interesting chat with someone just over a week ago. I was interviewing Carl Beech for the new website I write for daily – www.christian.co.uk. I had worked with him recently, editing a new set of bible study notes for guys, so I knew a little about him – and that our conversation should make for an interesting article! 😉 He was talking about the various elements to our Sunday morning meetings that guys can struggle with (okay there were a fair few generalisations and assumptions made, but that is necessary in such a short space) and I found myself agreeing with most (but not quite all – I am an individual after all!) ;D of what he said. He talked about the language of our worship songs – which fascinates me because I am a worship leader. But the issue that has got me pondering most is the teaching styles within our Sunday morning meetings.

“Most blokes think they are experts in everything. They have an opinion on just about everything and yet are forced to sit through a monologue preach. We can come out with brilliantly biblical teaching but the guys are thinking ‘what does that mean for me? I’ve got to make someone redundant on Mon – how does it practically relate to me?’

“I realise this wouldn’t be possible for every sermon but there is a place for seminars, gender-specific teaching, topical stuff that will get people going – I use these approaches and never fail to create a response.”

Now this is something I have never considered. We have been part of the leadership team of our church since it was a tiny church plant, and have spent a long time discussing and planning our Sunday mornings as we believe they are our shop window as it were – showcasing what we are about and the elements that are most important to us. It would be a really radical step to sometimes split into male and female groups to listen and engage with teaching specific to our gender. I’m not sure we would do it on a Sunday morning, as there are considerations such as what visitors would do (could it make them feel uncomfortable?), what about the people that really hate splitting into gender-specific groups (and believe me they are out there – I used to be one of them!). But to dismiss the idea offhand would be a little foolhardy.

Our church has regular guys breakfasts, during which the men enjoy some hearty grub and the chance to chat just as guys together. And our women have just enjoyed a ladies day in which we had lunch and then one of our own women spoke. It was as I looked around during the two ministry times during that day that I realised how much more open the women were being in this female-only environment. I guess they must have felt more at ease, and better able to share their struggles and emotions in a ‘safe place’ with other women. While we don’t all have the same background (some are married, others single, some have children, others not etc) there is a certain level of shared experience and that did allow us to go deeper than we often do on a Sunday morning.

Whether the Sunday morning meeting is the place for gender-specific teaching and experiences I’m still not sure but I’m certainly still thinking about it ten days on from speaking to Carl! What do you think?

(For a look at the full interview with Carl Beech please click here.)