Category Archives: Inspi(re)ality

“I don’t want to sound cynical, because (as a member of the clergy) I love what I do. Only it’s not what I expected. I thought I would spend hours in a leather chair, reading books, writing sermons, keeping appointments with souls who sought my counsel…I thought I would pray more. Instead, I answer telephone calls, oversee budgets, pay bills, proofread bulletins, and take the church cat to the vet.”

“Everybody wants to change the world…nobody wants to do the dishes.” -Shane Claiborne

If you are like me, when I first started out in ministry I had all these lofty ideas about changing the world. You’ve read the Bible, you’ve heard the stories and you’ve signed on for this great thing called ministry. But somewhere along the way, you realized that it is different than what you expected. You’ve been inspired, but now you’ve hit reality. And the life and calling you thought you had are very different than the one you actually have.

This is a blog series on practical ministry stuff for other preachers and ministers and local church volunteers. I’d like to write down somewhere some of the stuff that I’ve learned and am learning, and I’d also like to try and pass it on to people who are serving in ministry. Each week I spend writing a sermon, planning a series, doing funerals, trying to get out in the community, visiting people in the hospital or prison, dealing with criticism, learning to play and enjoy my family with proper boundaries between Church and home…all of these things I still consistently struggle with. And because I’m relatively young and new at this whole ministry experience, I have not yet forgotten what I did not know.

Because of luck of the draw, I’ve been blessed with great mentors and friendships with people who are brilliant leaders, pastors, thinkers and preachers. I’ve been blessed to work at two large and healthy churches that care about the right things, and have had regular access to tremendous resources and people who have taught me more than I could have ever learned any other way. This is an attempt to try and collect ministerial wisdom from a variety of sources, and pass on some of these pieces of wisdom that I have learned, and am in the process of learning, to my friends in ministry in other places in the world. This blog series will try and cover everything from how to plan a sermon series to how to do a funeral. Don’t think I’m trying to say I’ve got ministry figured out, but I do know some people that are a lot further on this journey and have been helpful to me. I plan to have several different video interviews on here with people who I’ve learned a lot from, like Rick Atchley and Jeff Childers, to Chris Seidman & Randy Harris and a local funeral director (they’re not the same person) as well as a local hospital chaplain, a local prison chaplain and several others.

The hope is that for the people who are serving in a ministry in other places in the country and world, this can be a place of collecting resources for us that will help us in serving the Kingdom of God. I’d also like to invite other ministers and volunteers to weigh in, let people know what you think would work in your context and what wouldn’t and why. I’d love for this series to be a way for people serving the Kingdom of God in their different capacities to be able to help coach each other through different hard spots.

Inspi(re)ality: Being a Grown-Up in Ministry

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“When I was a child I thought as a I child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.” -Paul

When I first started working at a church, I was pretty set on wearing jeans to the office. And I didn’t want anyone to ever use the word “professional” to describe me. Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

And I understand the reasoning for not wanting to be a “professional” in ministry, but too often what we really mean is not being mature. So I’ve asked my friend Steven Hovater to talk about what it looks like to serve a church “professionally.”

Steven lives in Tullahoma Tennessee with his wife Kelly and three rowdy daughters. He values community, discipleship, and the creative work of God, so these things tend to show up in his preaching at the Church of Christ at Cedar Lane

Here’s Steven:

I get it. You didn’t go into ministry for the regular hours, tidy dress code, and opportunities to be an amateur accountant. You don’t see your primary work as being done at a desk, and you hate going to meetings.

Further, I get that there are good reasons for not wanting to let the secular world dictate what ministry looks like. There are good reasons that ministry should look differently than jobs molded by the pragmatic production cultures of twentieth century America. Those cultures don’t have a place for wasting time by lavishing care on widows and orphans. Nor do they honor prophets who speak truth, even when it brings the house down, nor time for stewing over a text, or listening to a problem that will remain unsolved. We cannot allow ministry to become about acquiring respect on the terms of the world. We’re not simply “employees”, and the church is never simply our “employer”. Ministers should always come to work dressed in a little camel hair, with a packed lunch of locusts. We should always be at least weird enough to remind the church that the normal world is broken. I get that, and so I want you to know that I’m with you in your struggle against The Man. Fight on, Brother/Sister. Fight on.

But…

We still need to have a little talk about what it means to be a professional in ministry. We don’t talk about it enough. Maybe it’s because of our desire to avoid being too secular for reasons like those outlined above. Or maybe we have bought into a set of old assumptions. For instance, in some corners of the church, ministers still try to maintain the impenetrable holy facades and suicidal workloads from a set of unquestioned professional expectations inherited from the last century.

For whatever reason, we often fail to engage in balanced discussions of our professional expectations. And yet, failing to describe our professional expectations and ethics never prevents those expectations from existing. Instead, it leaves those expectations to grow wild in all their conflict-generating splendor. Or, having successfully hidden ourselves in unquestionable priestly garments, we fail to meet reasonable, baseline obligations. When we do that, we foster frustrations that can eventually undo our partnerships with God’s people. Worse, we may abuse the church’s willingness to support us, thus wasting decades of holy time and thousands of consecrated dollars doing bad work in the name of God. A healthy professionalism honors our calling from God and our partnership with the church by translating the concept of being good stewards into concrete expectations and behaviors.

And so, the big question is: “What marks a healthy professionalism among ministers?” This deserves a much broader discussion, but let me suggest four commitments that can begin to form the core:

1. The commitment to doing your job with excellence, and improving over time. God has gifted you with raw talents and skills that can be used in your ministry. You are absolutely ethically responsible for making use of those gifts as well as you can. Beyond that, it is important to continually refine your capacities so that you’re not only giving God your best right now, but making sure that your entire body of work will demonstrate intentional growth. Part of ministry is encouraging people to be intentional about growing. Model that. Don’t just be a steward of the gift you already have, but what that gift could turn into.

2. A commitment to impartial service, regardless of what people can or cannot do for you, how much power they have, or how much you like them. I’m not saying you have to be the one that addresses every pastoral crises—the work has to be spread around and shouldn’t all depend on you. But, if you want to be a professional in ministry, your pastoral ministry has to be broader than your social group, influential leaders, and people who make it easy for you. This is an incredibly important professional ethic because it places a check on why you do the things you do, making your work more intentional and less dependent on your whims.

3. A commitment to a healthy work ethic that takes seriously your obligation to be a good steward of your ministry, as well as of your own health and family. By now we all know the dangers of burnout, even though some continue to recklessly ignore them. However, what I see among many peers in my generation is far, far on the other side of the spectrum, and a mix of bad work habits and laziness keeps them from doing consistent hard work. Don’t ignore your own need for rest: keep Sabbath. Don’t rob your family by taking what they need from you and giving it to the Church. But don’t rob the Church either, wasting time and calling it work. Work hard, and learn to work well.

4. A commitment to doing the little things that come with your job which are unimportant to you but not to others. I want to be careful here—all work is not created equal, and you can spend so much energy doing busy-work tasks that you leave important things undone. You can’t let people pull your priorities out of alignment. But understand: doing little things communicates big values. Showing up on time tells people that you respect them. Responding to people shows that you’re listening to them. Keeping your receipts and meeting your budget tells the accountants you respect their work and take stewardship seriously. Blowing those things off sends the opposite messages.

I’m reasonably confident that at least half of what I’ve written is completely misguided, that there are a dozen commitments that might be more important than the ones I’ve listed, and that the whole premise of this article is theologically dangerous. But Storment asked me to write to rookies, and I’m reasonably confident of one last thing: If I could have heard (and I mean really heard) something like this fifteen years ago, my work in the church would have been healthier. I hope it’s helpful to you.

Inspi(re)ality: Before You Go

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One of the conversations I have at least once a week, is with a minister thinking about leaving their church to go to a new church. I always refer them to Wade Hodges ebooks. Wade is the preaching minster at the Preston Road Church of Christ and for this blog series he adapted the following from his ebook: Before You Go: A Few Sneaky-Good Questions Every Minister Should Answer Before Moving to a New Church.

Last week he talked about when the right time to leave a church is, adapted from his book When to Leave. If you’re interested in purchasing both. You can  download both When To Leave and Before You Go as one ebook here.

Here’s Wade:

How Do You Know When You’ve Found The Right One?

“Every time I fall in love I feel a little sick to my stomach.  I’m going to marry the one who makes me the sickest.”-Someone Funny

“You’ll know when you know.”-A Four-Time Divorcee

In Before You Go, I spend quite a bit of time coaching readers on to how to tell if a church isn’t a good fit, rather than helping them figure out which one is the right fit. My goal in writing it was to help ministers avoid making unwise decisions, due either to lack of information about the church or lack of personal insight.

Still, the question remains: How do you know when you’ve found the right church and can celebrate saying “yes” to a great new opportunity?

It depends on what we mean by the “right” church. “Right” doesn’t mean perfect. It doesn’t mean trouble-free. It doesn’t mean you won’t be in for a few unpleasant surprises a couple of weeks after you’ve unpacked the moving van.

However . . .

If they have a vision based on an honest assessment of their strengths, weaknesses, and history and you can’t help but feel attracted to their vision because of your strengths, weaknesses, and history, then it may be the right church for you.

If it’s obvious they’re not looking for you to be the solution to their problems, but rather are looking for someone like you to come strengthen their team with your specific gifts, then it may be the right church for you.

If after hearing about their past mistakes, current problems, and potential difficulties, you still feel drawn to them, and maybe even worried that you would forever regret passing on the opportunity to join them on their journey, then it may be the right church for you.

If you sense that you will be loved and accepted as a broken human being who is still trying to figure out how to follow Jesus even though it’s your job to stand up and tell others about him, then it may be the right church for you.

If they are diligent in listening to and addressing the concerns of your spouse during the interview process, and if your spouse feels like they “get it,” then it may be the right church for you.

If you sense that the members of the leadership team are the kind of people you would want to be friends with even if you weren’t their pastor, then it may be the right church for you.

If you would attend the church even if you didn’t work there, then it may be the right church for you. (This one is huge. I’m amazed at how many ministers wouldn’t attend their church if they weren’t paid to be there.)

None of this guarantees you won’t end up scratching your head a few years later at the mess you’ve chosen to join. But if you ask enough of the right questions throughout the interview process, you can take comfort in knowing you’ve reduced the chances of being blindsided by something you should have seen coming.

Inspi(re)ality #13: When To Leave Your Church

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One of the questions I get asked often is by young ministers who are thinking of leaving their current church for greener pastures. I always refer them to Wade Hodges ebooks. Wade is the preaching minster at the Preston Road Church of Christ and for this blog series he adapted the following from his ebook When To Leave: How To Know It’s Time To Move On (Before You Stay Way Too Long) 

Meet Wade:

How I Stayed Way Too Long (Twice)

Once upon a time there was a pastor who moved to a small church when he was 25 years old and stayed there for 40 years until he retired.

No, this isn’t the beginning of a pastoral fairy tale. I can think of several pastors, like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Bob Russell, who have served only one church throughout their distinguished careers. Warren and Hybels started the churches they currently serve. Russell moved to his church as a young preacher and during his forty year tenure helped it grow from 120 members into one of the largest churches in America.

I admire those guys.

For the longest time, I aspired to be one of them.

When I signed on to work with my first church at the tender age of 23, I had Bob Russell in mind as I dreamed of helping a struggling church of 75 people become one of the largest churches in the world during my 40 year  career.

Six years later I still had Russell in mind when I accepted a call to work with a church of 750 in need of a “turnaround.” Her glory days were well in the rear-view mirror, but there were reasons to believe in a hopeful future. I moved there at the still naive age of 30 and figured I had the next 35 years to make a name for myself.

Six years later, at the seasoned age of 36, I had Warren and Hybels in mind when I embarked on an adventure to plant a church I could pastor for the next thirty years.

At age 38, I was writing books and counseling pastors on how to have a more realistic appraisal of their gifts and vision for ministry, while also trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. (Six months ago, I was graciously given an opportunity to return to a full-time preaching ministry with a great church. I hope I took my own advice about ministry transitions!)

I stayed at my first two churches longer than I should have. Maybe a couple of years too long in both cases.

As I was staying too long at both churches, I would have told you that I was trying to be faithful. Faithful to God, to the church, to my conviction that one shouldn’t run away from a difficult ministry assignment, and faithful to good ole conventional wisdom.

One of my guiding principles was a proverb I picked up from one of my favorite college professors: A lot of hard work is wasted for lack of a little more.

I couldn’t stomach the possibility of quitting only a couple of months before a major breakthrough. It would be like bailing out of a marathon at the 25 mile marker. One reason I stayed way too long was because I didn’t want to waste a lot of hard work for lack of a little more.

I was also fearful that whoever followed me would step in, take advantage of all the hard work I had done, and be wildly successful. This was a terrible, immature attitude, and it got me forever barred from the John-the-Baptist-Prepare-the-Way-for-Someone-Else-Club, but I didn’t want another minister enjoying the fruit of my labor because I quit too soon.

Faithfulness can be a great disguise for darker motives. Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #13: When To Leave Your Church

Inspi(re)ality #11: Entering A Crisis Moment

Inspi(re)ality is a series for people who serve/volunteer/work in any kind of ministry setting. It is a year long series about the practical things we face in ministry, as well as why doing these things matter. Today’s blog is a guest post from Jordan Hubbard. Jordan serves as Senior Minister at the Belton Church of Christ in Belton, TX., he spent over a decade in student ministry before stepping into preaching ministry. Here’s Jordan:

“OK. That’s it. He’s gone. Time of death is 8:20.”

The hospice nurse said these words and at this moment, every eye in the room turned to the young minister in the room. What Louis’ family didn’t know was that the young minister was just as confused and stunned as they were.

“What am I supposed to do with THIS?” I asked myself.

I received my ministry training with some pastoral care training. I started ministry as a youth minister. The typical pastoral concerns for youth ministry involved counseling with parents and students about relationships, decisions, planning the future, processing hurts, and dealing with developmental issues. When I stepped into pulpit ministry, I moved to a small town with an older population. Now I dealt with a different set of pastoral concerns. Nothing in my youth ministry training and experience prepared me for one of the most pastoral ministries I would be called upon to perform: Helping people die.

Pastors and ministers stand in the gap representing Christ in some of the most difficult and crucial times of life. Dying is a time when individuals and families reach out for the presence of God, and often that means they will be reaching out to you. Here are some thoughts about how we can help people and families in the last days, hours and moments before death. I do not consider myself an expert in any way and so I am including alongside mine the thoughts of one of my friends and mentors, Joe Baisden, a veteran of over 50 years of ministry.

  1. Pray often– When entering a situation where people are close to death, there is no “right way” to do things. The best preparation for this is to rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide and lead. Silently pray and ask, “What is most beneficial to the person and to the family?”
  2. Put aside your agenda– This is difficult for ministers to do. Instead of coming in with a playbook, the minister must come in as a servant to the person and family. Do what is best for them, not what makes you feel better about yourself. It might be that the individual or family does not want you around. Do not stay if you are not wanted. In other cases, the family will want you to sit with them through the entire process. Respect their wishes and not your agenda.
  3. Listen– A conversation with the dying should be driven by them and not you. If they are ready to talk about death, you can ask the question, “How do you feel about going on?” It might be that they are not ready to talk about death. It is okay to listen to them talk about their family or about their life. Don’t be afraid to be silent. Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #11: Entering A Crisis Moment

Inspi(re)ality #10: Doing the Graveside and Funeral Ceremony

This is another post in a year long series about both the nuts and bolts of practical ministry and how it relates to the reason we got into ministry in the first place. For the past couple of weeks Randy Piersall has been giving advice on best practices he’s seen with ministers doing funerals. In case you missed it, Randy is a local funeral home director and one of the best people that I’ve seen at entering into people’s grief and standing with them. He’s shared tips on how to do funerals with dozens of young ministers, and today I’ve asked him to give some practical tips on the actual funeral ceremony and graveside. Here’s Randy:

This is the last in my series of three blogs on funeral service and what a minister does for a family during this time of loss.  This last blog will focus primarily on the funeral service and graveside and will probably be a little more detail oriented and practical than my previous blogs.

When I began my career in this industry there were very defined traditions and nearly every funeral, regardless of faith had similar traits.  There would be a viewing or visitation, a service where the minister would have a “message” and where many times a final viewing would take place, and there would be a committal or graveside service and they would occur in that order, typically over a three or four day period of time.  Today, a family may or may not have a visitation and the body may or may not be present for that visitation.  The service is typically focused on the person’s life and if they had a faith, that faith is interwoven into the message about the impact that person had on others. (so the service is focused on the person more than providing a religious message)  Many times now there is a committal or graveside service which is more of a family affair than something for the community to take part in.  These aspects of a funeral can take place in any order and can occur all in one day or spread out over a number of days depending on the family.

All of that to say, families have more opinions and options than ever regarding how to handle the funeral service of a loved one.  As a minister it’s important that you have an open mind regarding the wishes of the family and understand that these decisions that are made about how to honor their loved one are incredibly personal.  I resolved early on in my career as a funeral director, that my goal was to make each service as unique as the life it represents and to honor the wishes of the family to the best of my ability.  So, my focus is not to guide a family in the direction “I” want them to go, but rather to educate them on the options they have and allow them to make informed decisions about what works best for their family.  I would encourage you as a minister to follow a similar approach. Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #10: Doing the Graveside and Funeral Ceremony

Inspi(re)ality #6: A Theology of Funerals

This is another post in a year long series on practical ministry tips and tools. For the next few weeks we will have a few different people sharing tips on how to do a funeral. The following is a guest post by Josh Graves on the Theology of Funerals. Josh serves as the Preaching Minister at the Otter Creek Church of Christ in Nashville. He is the author of the Feast and co-author with Chris Seidman of Heaven On Earth, due out in November.

Josh is a very good friend and one of the most hopeful people I know. His theology of Resurrection inspires every aspect of his ministry, including how he enters deeply into times of death. Josh blogs at www.Joshuagraves.com

The Christian funeral is a sacred moment when people of faith (because all people are technically people of some sort of faith) come together to make sense of their lives, God, and perhaps what lies beyond death. Some practical theological observations for the minister and leader serving the role of pastor or officiate. Jonathan asked me to frame the theology, so I’ll refrain from chasing other paths.

1. The body matters in Christian theology. Despite what some of our old and new worship music suggests, the body matters as much as the soul. In I Cor. 15, for instance, Paul saves his theology of resurrection and the body as the antidote for the disease of destruction and divisiveness plaguing the Christian communities in Corinth. A proper understanding of the body and the future of the kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus bodily resurrection is an inauguration or a new commentary of God’s ultimate hope for the body. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he says, in Luke, he’ll refrain from taking the Lord’s Supper (a bodily activity) until all people are with him at the great banquet party (Lk. 22:17). Jesus wasn’t a ghost or hologram. He was a resurrected Jewish prophet, the son of God, who definitively embodied God’s passion to redeem creation and the bodies within it. After all, it’s in these bodies that God made us in God’s own image. God has vested interest in something that ultimately connects back to God. This is not to suggest that “cremation” is a sin. God made you from dust once, God will do it again. But, having the body present is helpful in talking about resurrection. It’s difficult to evoke the imagination of resurrection without a body. Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #6: A Theology of Funerals

Inspi(re)ality #5: Hospitals Visits

This is another post in a year long series on practical ministry tips and tools. The following is a guest post by Ben Siburt. Ben served several years as a hospital chaplain and over a decade in full time church work, and is currently the Executive minister (think Old Testament High Priest) at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. He’s also a good friend and one of the more gifted people I know at entering into spaces where people are hurting:

I think it is impossible to ever carry the label of expert in the arena of hospital visitation. If you ever are in need of some humility, then spend time visiting people in the hospital. I remember several times that I would label as less than pastorally sensitive. Like the time I walked into a room of someone who was in a tragic car wreck that cost them the life of a family member and broke both of their legs and pelvis. The first phrase out of my mouth was a question and it was, “How are you doing?”

That is high quality pastoral presence and ministry, or simply a really dumb question. The look on the patient’s face told me clearly it was option B. My list of blunders and times of picking the wrong thing to say could fill weeks and weeks of this blog. I spent a summer working as a chaplain intern in Houston’s Medical Center and 5 years as an intern and part-time chaplain at Abilene’s Hendrick Hospital. My ten years in full-time church ministry has seen many hospital rooms. Most recently I speak as a family member who just completed a three-year journey of watching my dad die of cancer.

Jonathan has already provided great truth about this poignant aspect of ministry, and so I will add a few additional truths that hopefully are helpful. Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #5: Hospitals Visits

Inspi(re)ality #4: Hospital Visits

So just a few days ago I walked into a Hospice room of a Highland Church member . It was someone who had made a dent in their little area of the world, he had lived well, and  was dearly loved by his family and friends, and now they were gathered around saying goodbye as best as they could.

And as soon as I walked in the room I knew I was in a holy place. As in, It was set apart, unlike the rest of the hectic world right waiting right outside that hallway.

So this is the 3rd post in a year long blog series on practical ministry ideas for other preachers and ministers and local church volunteers. Over the next several months, expect to see many guests posts from other ministers and teachers and preachers about how they’ve learned to do certain aspects of ministry, starting next week. Ben Siburt, Highland’s Executive minister and former hospital chaplain will give some tips from what he’s learned.

I believe this is one of the most important aspects of ministry, but it’s also one of the more delicate ones too.

Because people are more vulnerable in the hospital than they are at almost any time in their lives.

They probably aren’t wearing makeup, they don’t have their suit or skinny jeans on (they’ve been given a reverse apron) and they have little control over their environment or what the doctors are doing to their body. They are sick. And for a follower of Jesus, you know he loved to hang around with that demographic.

Because there is something about the hospital that takes all the pretense out of life isn’t there? When Leslie and I had our miscarriage last year, we had to spend two days in the hospital, and while I had visited hundreds of people there, and had been there for two previous births, this was different. Because no one really says they’re fine in a hospital do they? You’re probably worried and scared , you’re tired and people keep coming in to check on you, and chances are you’re dealing with quite a bit of physical pain as well. And then your preacher walks in.

So that is their shoes. And in order to do this, we’ve got to realize that who you are going to visit might not be their normal, pleasant self.

So a couple of tips that I’ve gotten that have served me well: Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #4: Hospital Visits

Inspi(re)ality #3: The Wedding Rehearsal

It’s interesting that at the end of the Gospel of John, John writes that he’s not telling us everything. He only writes what will help people have faith in Jesus, because if he were to write everything there wouldn’t be enough books in the world to hold it in. And so it’s really significant that John is the only Gospel that tells us about Jesus at a Wedding.

All the other gospels open with stories about Jesus’ Baptism and Temptation, but not John. Instead John opens up his book by telling us about Jesus at a wedding. And He calls it a sign.

Which is what I think all weddings are.

Think about it, Weddings are the only time a lot of people will ever step in a church or hear a minister talk about God. And to be fair, if you have to pick between them coming to a wedding or a church service, weddings shouldn’t be a bad first step for anyone. At least the Gospel of John thought so.

But I’ll get back to that.

So last week was about how I’ve learned to do weddings, but this week is the most important part for pulling one off successfully. This is about how to do the Rehearsal. Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #3: The Wedding Rehearsal

Inspi(re)ality #2: Writing a Wedding

Today is the first of a series that is going to go about a year that I introduced a little last week. I’m excited about this series, but it’s going to be a bit different than what I normally write. Most of the time people who are just entering into ministry, or a different season of ministry have these great ideas about what the future holds. We’ve got dreams and ideals, we’ve gone to school, we’ve read our Bible and we’ve been inspired. And then we run into the reality of day-to-day ministry. And a lot of times churches, because of this, take in young preachers and spit out insurance agents.

But I’d like to help that if I can.

So I’m calling this longer series Inspire(ality). Because I think one of the great blessings of ministering in a church is that people often invite us into difficult places in their live, or that we get to help shape a group of people toward God’s purposes in the world. It’s all very inspiring. But then we hit reality. And it can be daunting for those of us who are just being thrown in without any help.

So this series is going to be for other preachers and ministers and local church volunteers who are just learning the ropes of day-to-day ministry, as well as those who have done it for a while and want to share and learn other tools people are using in different places.  I want to write about some of the things that I’ve learned and am learning. And I want to kick this off by talking about how to write a wedding. I was a Young Singles Minister for several years. I’ve done a ton of weddings, and it’s one of my favorite parts of ministry.

There is nothing quite like doing a wedding. It seems like every time I do a wedding, hundreds of verses in the Bible start to make more sense. All the time God talks about covenants in the Old Testament,  or all the wedding stories in the New Testament begins to come into focus when we perform these kinds of ceremonies.

The truth is we live in a pretty superficial culture that doesn’t often like to step back and think about things that deeply matter.

But when it comes to a wedding, people who never pause to think about God, stop and watch a modern day parable. Weddings are different than most any other part of your ministry,

So how do we do weddings?

The Interview

The first step, hopefully, is to do or make sure that the couple has had pre-marital counseling done. I’ll write more in a few months about this part, and I’m going to try to video interview a great counselor for some tips, but for now, just make sure that some preliminary work is done before the wedding. With a divorce rate of about 50/50, it’s scary to think that couples spend 10x the amount of time on the wedding that they do on preparation for actually being married.

So I start writing a Wedding with a list of questions. I’m attaching the document of questions I ask each couple to this blog, but the big idea here is to find out two things: 1) Their story, and 2)the format and tone of the service. Do they want special things, like a sand ceremony/communion? Do they have the music picked out yet, if so what is it? How many Groosmen and Bridesmaids? When do these people come in, and to what song?  Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #2: Writing a Wedding