Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reading on My iPhone

One of the unexpected benefits of owning an iPhone is that I now have more time to read the Bible and other books.

Sure, the first couple of months were full of finding new apps, tweeting more regularly, facebooking from anywhere, etc. But a couple of the apps have actually helped me to be more productive. *SHOCK*

I'll write another post about the iPhone apps I use for GTD, but this one is about reading.

So, maybe it turns out I wasn't always reading books because I didn't always have books with me. Sitting in a waiting room, in a cafe, at a park, while my son is climbing over the play structure at the mall, etc. But I do always have my iPhone with me.

First, I read the Bible with You Version (FREE). The iPhone app still isn't what I'd like it to be. I want to easily highlight specific words or multiple verses. I want to be able to take notes and make comments in an intuitive way. But, I can read the Bible, in the version of my choosing (except there's no Greek or Hebrew!) wherever I want. I can download Bible versions to reside on my iPhone, so I can read scripture even when I don't have a wireless signal. I can highlight the things that jump out at me. I can quickly find specific text references. I can use the nifty read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year function to tell me what part of the Holy Scriptures God should be speaking through today (just kidding).

If you don't have an iPhone, you can still use You Version online. It's an okay free online Bible program. Although, frankly, what I want from an online Bible site is good exegetical resources.

Second, I now use Kindle for iPhone (FREE). Just download the free app onto your iPhone, buy Kindle books at Amazon.com, and *POOF* they show up on your iPhone. I've found the Kindle app to be intuitive. I can highlight, make notes, copy and paste into other applications... And my notes and highlights are sync'd with all my other Kindle devices (umm... I don't actually have any others. I'm just sayin' I could if I did.).

And it turns out you can read your Kindle books on a PC, too (but not a Mac, yet) with a free Kindle reader download.

From time to time, authors offer their new books on Kindle for FREE.

Some church-related ones FREE on 11/20/2009:

Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing:
How Leaders Can Overcome Costly Mistakes

by Geoff Surratt

by Steve Chalke

Halley's Bible Handbook with the New International Version
by Henry H. Halley

Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands

by Nancy Ortberg

The Dude Abides
by Cathleen Falsani

Sin Boldly:
a Field Guide for Grace

by Cathleen Falsani

See all of Amazon's new FREE Kindle books.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Spouses Working and Resting in Sync

Here's a novel concept:
  • Everything that benefits the family counts as work.
  • Both spouses "work" the same hours.
  • Both spouses STOP "working" at the same time.
  • Make a schedule and stick to it.
Let me tell you why this is such a novel concept for me.

I'm a half-time pastor (I work Tues, Thurs, half of Fri), a part-time web designer, and a half-time stay-at-home dad. My wife is a full-time teacher.

For the last couple of years, I've struggled with feeling "useful" because I'm just sitting at home half of the time. My wife struggles with feeling "useful" because she's not as involved in the life of the boy as she'd like to be.

As a stay-at-home parent, I can keep the house moderately clean, feed the boy, take him to gymnastics, and blow off any real interaction with him while I watch shows off the DVR and surf the web the rest of the day. There. I've done my part. Right?

Then, when my wife comes home (remember, she's actually been working all day), she rests while I'm putting supper on the table. Then I rest while she's doing more teacher stuff. Until it's time for her to go to bed, at which time I may do some web design or ministry stuff or Facebook.

This fragmented arrangement, where we work and rest out of sync with each other, has sometimes led to self-doubt about our usefulness, resentments about us-time v. me-time, some mild labor disputes about who's doing more, reinforcement of workaholic tendencies, etc.

Now, imagine we did something different.

When my wife leaves for work, I start "working." I do the dishes (with the boy). I tidy up (with the boy). I do laundry (with the boy). I school the boy. I play with the boy (actually focusing all my attention on him when I interact with him). I shop (with the boy). I work through my GTD lists. I do web design when he's napping. I fix meals (with the boy).

When my wife arrives home from work, she pitches in with supper and child-rearing. We both continue "working" at the home and family until the boy goes to bed...

Then? We're DONE!

The rest of the time is rest time... connecting time, tv time, internet time, pleasure reading time, whatever.

This arrangement honors the dignity of all the work being done (inside and outside the home). It resolves the labor disputes. It draws a clear line between life and work. It puts your connecting time in sync.

I gotta tell you... now that we're doing this, our house is a lot cleaner; the boy is happier; we both feel more useful; and we both connect better with each other when we're working together and resting together.

Would it work for you? How could it work if one partner worked nights? Could this be a first step to healing a fragmented life?

Friday, June 19, 2009

David Allen - 45 Minutes of GTD

Getting Things Done. 45 minutes of teaching from the master himself.

Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Start New Ministries

We all want church members to find their spiritual gifts, their passions, and their place in building God's kingdom and reaching the community. Or do we?

If we really want these things to happen, we need a process (or processes) for making them happen. If the members have the "what" and "why," we should readily give them the "how."

Let's say a church member comes up to you and tells you God has given them a "burden" for a new ministry for the youth of the community. And the more you listen, the more you think this ministry would actually be valuable to the community. And then you start thinking that it could mesh very well with your church vision.

Do you have a process to empower this person? Do all the members know (or have access to) that process? They should.

Here's just a sample process for how to start new ministries:

How to Start New Ministries

Because the church is the Body of Christ, each member is interdependent. No one should try to start a church-based ministry without (or in spite of) church support.

At each step of the way, you'll need to find support and buy-in:
  1. be clear on the community need and your spiritual gifts
  2. talk to your pastor about your ministry vision
  3. ask your pastor if it fits the vision of the church
  4. find at least one potential ministry partner
  5. write out a proposal, including...
    • ministry need and vision
    • who would do what (spiritual gifts, roles)
    • who would this ministry report to?
    • resources (time and money) required
    • how/when could it become self-sustaining?
    • start-up timeline
  6. show your plan to your pastor
  7. ask for your plan to go to the church board
  8. church board would give final approval (or disapproval)
  9. be willing to try hard and fail a lot
My advice is to print this up on a brightly-colored piece of paper and put it on bulletin boards, in the literature racks, and in every ministry process playbook (you use playbooks, right?).

Once people know they're allowed to start new ministries, they might actually try. And someone might be successful. You may have the birth of a new leader. And the world might be changed for Christ.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Efficiency v. Effectiveness - CAGEMATCH!

You may have noticed in my little blurb about me that "I'm on a journey toward becoming a more effective and efficient pastor."

Stephen R. Covey says:
"While you can think in terms of efficiency in dealing with time, a principle-centered person thinks in terms of effectiveness in dealing with people.”
I've too often made the mistake of trying to be efficient with people... putting the end results first or trying to make facetime as brief (i.e. efficient) as possible. Someone walks up to my desk to talk (about something actually important) and I've thought that I can "listen," check my e-mail, file papers, give "obvious" (duh!) answers, and still be effective. Um... no. Notsomuch.

Being efficient with people is not effective.

The goal here is to be efficient with time so you can take the time (however long it takes) to be effective with people.

This is something I've heard before (note 1, 2 previous entries on being fully present). But I find, as a naturally task-oriented person, that my default position is to ignore the relationship in the midst of getting things done.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Simple Church

When we started our new church from scratch, one of our core convictions was that church be more simple. This doesn't mean simplistic. It doesn't mean that we plan to ignore any of the purposes of the church. But what it does mean is that 1) we know our discipleship process, 2) we create core ministries to move people through the discipleship process, and 3) we say no to everything else.

We believe that discipleship is about restoring a right relationship with God, our families, and our community. The way we go about this is through:
  1. Conversation With God - in our worship service, called The Conversation
  2. Commitment to Growth - in our discipleship classes, called The Class
  3. Connection with Others - in our small groups, called Connection Groups
  4. Compassionate Service - in ministry partnerships [we don't have a good name yet]
As you can see, this process fulfills the purposes of the church. It moves people from perimeter to core. It develops them from spectators to participants. Each core ministry provides an obvious gateway to the next level of discipleship.

So far, it's working out pretty well. We'll be launching our Connection Groups later this year sometime.

But I think we need to communicate it better. We'll make a note of it this weekend, I'm sure.