Reason To Celebrate!

In January I ran a whole series of posts on the theme “new”, including Play With Something New, All Things New, A New Old Song and A New Wooden BoxCelebration!

Well I’m delighted to report I have a new job! Well, contract. And…business too!

A bit of background: I work at EBC 1.5 days a week as Creative Arts Director, and the rest of my week is spent in the music industry, working with artists, publishers and labels on their royalties. Now in an almost perfectly divine symmetry, I’ve this month set up my own company to manage this…which means I can contract out some of my time…to the church.

So this May I’ll be starting a six month project with EBC to overhaul and refine our communications.

How we got here?

Another bit of background: As I’ve blogged about on this site regularly, we’ve spent a lot of time as a church refining our Sunday services. From the music, to the media content, to the publicity, to the language used when speaking, we even refine down to timings, orders and transitions so the Sunday service experience for any attender is something memorable, effective, and hopefully challenging and inspiring enough that they want to come back for more.

What has struck me more and more over the past few months is, while we’ve got to a stage where our worship services are consistently great, our attention to detail and systems have not been applied to …well pretty much any of our other communications. So our emails, website, social media, paper (lots of paper) while by no means bad are just not co-ordinated, generally have a disparate feel and are overseen separately by several different people.

What to do?

So my new project is to examine all we do in terms of communication output and refine it. We’ll be creating and implementing a new logo for EBC, and setting an overall theme in terms of fonts, colours and presentation so all of our output is consistent, easily identifiable as coming from EBC and beautiful! Our staff emails will all have consistent footers, in a similar font, our website will be much more user friendly especially for first time visitors. And we will finally properly bring ourselves into the 21st century with properly set up and managed social media presence.

I am really looking forward to this challenge, and what I want to do is update regularly here, as I believe it’s another important part of communicating the message for and from the church. So expect to be reading much more about colours, identity and style guides in addition to the ideas and observations already being shared here.

Celebration!

This post also marks EBC passing the 500 regular attender mark, which is a major milestone in church attendance and growth (there were 300 of us in 2008). And finally, I realise this is my 100th post on this site…just before our anniversary (I started it on my birthday in 2014), so yay me! Let’s celebrate!

Thank You

As I was taught when I was younger, manners cost nothing, and it’s generally polite to say please and thank you. And as I write this post, from my Salvation Army days I have the song “I nearly forgot to say thank you” going around my head…Oscar

This Sunday we are celebrating with our annual (ish) EBC Heroes day, where we recognise all of those who volunteer in our church. My role as Creative Arts Director and Worship Leader, as well as fairly regularly leading services means I am pretty visible in church, being on stage most Sundays. But it goes without saying there are many, many volunteers and staff who do so much behind the scenes.

Besides Sunday services our children’s work, youth work, older people’s work, our cafe and Messy Church, clusters, social events and small groups all rely on volunteers. I may be paid to lead on a Sunday, but it would be pointless without the rest of the band, our tech team manning the sound and lights, operations staff to sort out the words and the caretaker to open up the building.

And we, all of us, do make a point of regularly thanking our teams, whether by email, cards, chocolate or dinner…nothing is assumed or taken for granted. But as we have this one big celebration every year we can more publicly acknowledge, thank and celebrate all of the time and effort that our volunteers offer.

Nominations

We have nominations so members of our congregation can actually put forward any unsung heroes that they know of, and we also have some categories ourselves which we as a staff team nominate. So we have the “Feeding the 5,000” award for catering and refreshments, the “Bridging the Gap” award for those who work with young and old people and the “Edward Scissorhands” award for copious amounts of cutting out, as well as recognition for long service, reliable service and all round good egg.

It’s run like a mini oscar ceremony with red carpet, guest presenters, everybody on stage in suit and tie (which is unusual in our church) and of course awards. But it’s more than recognising just the small number of volunteers who “win” awards. It’s all about saying thank you. It’s all about the recognition that we can’t do it on our own. It’s all about acknowledging the local church is the hope of the world, and grows, blesses and cares in the community because of it’s congregation.

Who can you thank?

So next time you’re sat in church, look around and see what everyone, and I mean everyone is doing. And maybe after the service, as well as thanking the minister for his excellent talk (or not as the case may be…), see if you can thank the band, or the organist, or the choir, or the tea lady, or the welcomer, or the sound team…all of those volunteers who make Sunday happen. They’ll appreciate it. We appreciate it. And we appreciate all of you, so much, who help us, support us, and enable us to do what we do at church.

Thank you.

Nothing New

So we’re almost in April, the clocks change this weekend, and summer is almost upon us. Hurrah! This means I have the enviable responsibility of creating new rotas for the Summer term, and also the opportunity to revise our song lists for another four months.music pile

Now this is something I have talked about before here as well as our song list, which is generally quite small but revised often. When I come to revise the list, I look at what we’ve done over the previous term, and I also collate ideas from others about songs they have heard, songs which will suit our church and songs which may be speaking to us as a congregation. I generally listen to a lot of music, and when there is a new release from Hillsong or Passion, I tend to get hold of it, partly for my own personal worship, but also for inspiration for new songs for our church.

I also read a lot of blogs, and scan the CCLI charts to see what is popular in case there is anything I’ve missed. So I had a look at the US CLLI list, and the top 10 included 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, This is amazing grace by Phil Wickham and Jeremy Riddle, and Oceans from Hillsong. In fact, from the top 25 there were only four songs we didn’t have on our list.

Let’s do the Timewarp

What really surprised me was looking at the UK CCLI list. Sure enough, 10,000 Reasons was on there, as was Mighty to Save and How Great is our God. But generally it was all stuck in a bit of an 80’s timewarp. Sure, there were some great songs on there (which we still use also), such as Faithful One, Blessed Be Your Name and How Deep the Father’s Love. But there were also still such classics as Shine Jesus Shine, Be Still and Lord I Lift Your Name on High.

Now I’m not saying these are bad songs, I acknowledge we probably run a fairly progressive church in terms of our music and media, and I don’t have any issue with hymns and older songs if they are right for the service and/or context…we have both on our list and always will. And I know everyone has favourites…I am still the biggest Level 42 fan, and just this week have been revelling in the latest release from 70’s AOR rockers Toto! But what troubles me is that these lists seem to stay so static (I check them every term, and I worked with Kingsway UK on a project some years back)…when there is so much great music out there. I don’t advocate throwing everything out and starting from fresh, but I also don’t agree that we just stick with what we’ve always done. A change will do you good…

Church and Culture

I was at a conference last week on Church and Culture hosted by Mecklenburg Church, and something (among the many things) they did as a church was take their congregational songs and rework them into a more contemporary arrangement…yes, we were introduced to breakbeat worship. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t convinced…but then it probably isn’t supposed to appeal to me and my culture. And they didn’t do it every week, or for every song. The point is, they were doing something different to reach out to a completely new demographic. And we do the same in our own way, we use contemporary secular songs, we use media from today’s TV and films, we have a worship team…this blog is here to share all of those ideas with a wider audience.

If we haven’t updated the songs we use on a Sunday for 30, 40, 150 years…are we serving others, or are we just serving ourselves? Do we use Shine Jesus Shine because it’s the best song to worship to, or to illustrate a point…or is it just the leader’s favourite? If we as churches are never looking to change our music, our culture, our outreach, then we will continue to shrink and decline as we are seen as more and more irrelevant in today’s culture. And please don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to knock Graham Kendrick or dismiss the effect which one song can have on a person…

I spent most of January looking at “new“, and at the end of April we will have our new songlist for the summer. It will include some songs from the new Passion album, it will include the new old song I talked about here, it will also have hymns, old songs and classics. I just hope the next time the CCLI UK report is updated, it will see some of the same changes.

Mother’s Day Ideas

dead-flowers

Now I know this post is titled Mother’s Day Ideas, but if you’re looking for suggestions for the ideal bouquet, where to buy the cheapest chocolates and tips on how to cook the perfect roast (you are at least taking your mum out for lunch, aren’t you?), this is the wrong place.

But what I can give you is a small selection of clips and skits which can be used in your church, either to publicise your upcoming Mother’s Day Service (you are going to celebrate the mums on Mother’s Day, aren’t you?), or as a great opener, discussion starter, or just a celebration of mums…which, lets be frank, is just what Mother’s Day is all about)

Now this has been doing the rounds on Facebook this week…a really cute little short which should raise plenty of smiles (and nods of appreciation from the mums…)

We are thinking of using this next one as publicity (and a reminder…you did remember it’s Mother’s Day next week?) for our special next Sunday. Great idea, brilliant content, and I would say it appeals to the men in the congregation as much as the women. My wife put me onto this one, she thought it was great (and who am I to argue?)

And then finally, a slightly longer (and all together great) short from the Skit Guys and their Mom Goggles…premise: they are looking after the kids for the weekend, and when they put on their Mom Goggles they see the world…differently. Very funny, very touching, I properly Laughed Out Loud at points…this is going to go down a storm in our services.

We’re also going to be treating mums with special cakes, hopefully a bit of silver service from our youth, chocolate, hand cream and George Clooney. Well, that’s the intention…if George turns up.

Of course we should be celebrating our mums every day of the year, but in case you need reminding again…Mother’s Day is next Sunday (you haven’t forgotten, have you?)

Expect the Expected

Henry Ford started manufacturing the Model T in 1908, and while it wasn’t the first mass produced car, Ford did implement manufacturing techniques and refined the assembly line process to make cars more accessible to the general public rather than the rich persons plaything. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model T’s, and they were all black…as Henry Ford famously said,Any colour as long as it's black...

“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black”

 

Do you ever find church can feel a bit like that? We follow the same tried and tested formula, perform the same rituals, sing the same songs (hymns) by the same people in the same order, week after week after week. Even forward thinking churches can fall into following a routine, as it’s “normal” for a Sunday. Like the Model T, Sundays can all come in the one colour…we expect the expected.

This past Sunday we held our regular All Age Sunday which always happens at the end of the month. This has meant in the past always having a kids song, breaking the talk up into smaller parts, maybe a children’s story or some sort of interaction…again, falling into a tried and tested routine.

But this Sunday we got our youth group to lead the whole service….from the welcome to the notices to the story to the prayers at the end. And Amy our wonderful youth worker did the talk, which was amazing. And it was all great. It was really good. And it was only 45 minutes long.

So we came away saying “wasn’t it great” and “didn’t they do well” and ” fantastic talk” and other backslapping, positive things. And then we said “it was a bit short” and “the talk could have been longer” and ” probably room for another song” and other similar observations.

Which got me thinking…well, why? Why does it have to be an hour long? Why do we start with three songs? Is the talk (or sermon) the most important part of the service? Why Sunday morning…and so on and so on…

Too long or too short?

I can think of many films which have perfect endings…and then carry on for another half an hour (I can think of many sermons which have done the same….) We in the UK are used to series of six episodes…so when Top Gear has a run which only lasts four episodes, I feel somewhat cheated…where are my missing two episodes?!

And albums used to be around 50 minutes long as that was as much time as you could fit on the two sides of a vinyl record…around 8 – 10 songs. So when all of these classic albums were re-released on CD, you again felt cheated as you knew there was an extra thirty minutes of space…no, wasted space on the CD. And then record companies started filling the space with bonus tracks, remixes…live versions…and so we bought them again, and again, and again.

Nothing wrong with order

Now I’m all for a template, we need to have service orders so everybody knows what is happening, and lets be honest, if your services are radically different from week to week, everybody (including you) is going to come away confused. But at the same time, be willing to change, try and think differently, do mix it up from time to time, and always always always make sure there is space for God to take control…

Having a slightly shorter service meant more people stayed afterwards…we shared coffee and cake (as we usually do) but giving an extra (and unexpected) 15 minutes from finishing early meant the congregation felt less pressured (or knew they had more time) so they hung around. And talked about how good the service was, how well everybody had done, how great to have some different faces leading. Which in my book is a good thing.

Ford Model T’s aren’t still all black…

Also available in green...

 

Horizontal Design

I fully acknowledge I am a bit of an Apple fan boy…my phone has been exclusively an iPhone since about 2009, we have several iPods, iPads, an Apple TV and four! MacBooks between us… There is even an old 90’s Performa in the loft from my university days…when Mac’s came in beige and had less storage than my phone (1.2 gigabyte hard drive anyone?) But there is a reason so many of us choose Macs…they look great, are highly functional, and as the adage goes…”they just work”. Apple Heaven?

There’s been a lot of discussion this week amongst the Apple fans as Jony Ive has done an extensive interview with The New Yorker. Now I read the Jony Ive book last Christmas, and it was a great read; very interesting and inspirational…I highly recommend it. The interview in The New Yorker is possibly the most informative piece of writing on the inner workings of the Apple design studio (the Jony Ive book was pieced together from snippets of interviews and research), and just highlights how central Jony Ive and the creative team are to all of Apple’s output.

Segregated Departments

Many organisations have design teams alongside marketing, development, sales etc…but often they don’t properly hook up together. If you read the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs (again, another great read), it was apparent when Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 that it wasn’t working…they had a desktop computers department, laptop department, computer monitors, printers, handhelds….and none of them were talking to each other. Hence the design, compatibility and infrastructure were completely disparate…hence the near bankruptcy of the company. What Steve and Jony did was to simplify and reunite all of this…initially the company shelved everything and went back to making four main products…a professional desktop and laptop, and a consumer desktop and laptop.

What is especially apparent from this New Yorker interview though is how central Jony Ive and the design department is to everything Apple does. They oversee from beginning to end, and control and integrate design into the whole Apple experience…from the case to the keys to the software…they even pay special attention to the design of the box so the unboxing experience is a special event in itself.

It struck me that we as churches should pay attention to this. I talked a while back about templates and orders, and how every church has a template even if they don’t realise it. But it is also incredibly important to have a central, horizontal design to our church services. What do I mean by this?

Service Elements and Orders

When putting a church service together, there are several different elements which are pieced together. They may include prayer, music, bible readings or liturgy, drama, announcements, an all age or kids section and a talk or sermon. We may include media, some sort of interaction, sometimes communion and a benediction. I am sure your services will have some or all of these elements at some point. But when it comes to putting them into an order of service, how do you approach it? Do you follow a similar pattern each week: welcome, song, prayer, song, announcements, sermon, song, prayer. Do you make an attempt to try and join the songs with the theme of the talk, or reading? Does your worship leader attempt to create a set which works together musically, in key, tempo and style? And who is in charge of putting this together: the service leader, the minister, the worship leader? Or someone in the office who types up the service order?

As you can see from the examples above, assembling service elements like this is a very vertical, blocky form of construction. We all know of churches who have the hymn/prayer/hymn sandwich as it is called. Which is not to say it is wrong. But if we took this horizontal design approach to all we do, I believe we can construct a much better order of service:

So the opening song or welcome or Opener sets the theme or background to the service…this transitions smoothly into the songs which are also transitioned musically into the next section…maybe a drama or media which illustrates or highlights a question which is going to be tackled in the talk. The talk answers the question and then leaves the congregation with a challenge…this transitions into a time of response…the band come to the stage during prayer and start to play…moving into an end time of worship, which finishes on a prayer or benediction and then an invite to personal prayer and/or coffee.

You can see this overview of a service (which is something you would experience most weeks at our church EBC) contains all of the elements mentioned above, but there is more of a horizontal thought as to how the different elements and sections fit together, link, interact and complement and support the whole message. Part of the reason Microsoft’s Zune never really took off was because it wasn’t a very appealing package….it played songs as well as the iPod, but didn’t look very good. Similarly there are many phones which look stunning, but the software embedded in them is buggy, counter intuitive and slows you down. This can be applied to websites, books, shop signs….and church services. Good design is pointless if it doesn’t work, and the best machinery, software and technology are pointless if no one understands how to work them. This is one of the reasons Apple do so well, as the design is thought about and integrated from the start, and again from the New Yorker article it is clear the involvement happens every step of the way through to completion.

1,000’s of possibilities

There are many different ways of putting a service together, and I don’t believe there is one “correct” way. However, I do believe with just small amount of horizontal design, and thinking this way from the start to the end, it is possible to make service orders, not matter what elements or style, far more impactive to the congregation who are attending them. And this is also easy to do if there is one person responsible for putting the order and elements together…be it a service leader, producer…whatever or whoever, just one person will be able to join the dots. This doesn’t mean they’re responsible for creating all of the elements…but they are able to have the horizontal overview and control.

So next time you’re putting together a service order, try to think of the whole experience from end to end…a horizontal design.

5 Observations from Joint Church Services

We have just this weekend had a great joint service with our friends at FBC. This is the second event we have done together, and it was great! So I though it would be a great opportunity to look at how we worked together, and maybe some pointers for other congregations who are dipping their toes into churches together or joint events. I have used the acronym of the 5 C’s…just because it panned out that way….

Common Ground

Together!

We are similar churches in terms of ethos, locality and congregation, which naturally draws us together. When planning for this joint service, we looked at the things we had, and did, in common and aimed to meet in the middle as far as possible. As I’ve discussed before, all churches and church services have a template whether they realise it or not. Our services are not very far apart in terms of order and content, so we had a straightforward starting place. Rachael and I were leading the music together (as we had before last summer), so we compared song lists and picked out those songs common to us both, as well as a couple which were new or we were wanting to introduce to the congregations.

Communication

This is crucial in all aspects, as we are two different churches in two different locations planning other services and events as well as running the day to day. So regular emails and planned meetings were the order of the day, and we had been planning for this one joint service from about November, having earlier penciled in the date we would be holding it. We put point leaders in place, so we would know well in advance who would be responsible for the main aspects of the service.

Community

This was and is all about coming together; we may be two different churches in different locations, but having a joint service is all about sharing what we do together, growing our congregations and learning together. Over the course of our joint events so far I have made many new friends and experienced different ways of working, worshiping and communicating together. We also planned to have a big lunch after the service that all were invited to (and expected to) attend. Community is also a long term relationship, which leads us into…

Commitment

We have held two joint events so far, a great summer celebration followed by a barbecue, and this service where the weather wasn’t quite warm enough for barbecues but we did get to play outside once we’d eaten together. And we are now gearing up to a joint weekend away in May with combined music teams, leaders and congregations. We are committed to doing this together, and I hope we will continue to meet regularly and have big shared events (and smaller joint gatherings) in the future, as they work so well; they encourage, uplift, and share our numerous resources.

Celebration

After all of the hard work, planning and execution, it’s great to kick back over food and drink and just enjoy how well it worked. Job well done! We will have a debrief, review what worked well, what needed tweaking, and what we do next. And, to just celebrate a job done well!

Have you had any experience of joint church events?

A New Wooden Box

So this Sunday I was delighted we had a couple of new band members, Yatrik and Anouch. I’m always keen to grow the team, and they did great. And aside from all I’m about to say, the church is always encouraged and happy to see new faces on the stage!

Not the most graceful of instruments to play...

Not the most graceful of instruments to play…

What was of most interest to me though was what Yatrik was playing. He’s a keyboard player, and a bit of a drummer (which I intend to make full use of at a later date), but he’d mentioned he had a Cajon he plays. And as this Sunday was a communion service (as are all of our second Sundays), I thought the Cajon would be a great addition to our more contemplative band lineup for the week. Now accepted that the Cajon is not the most graceful of instruments to play, and a lifetime of percussing on it will probably result in a really bad back. But the sound it produces is really superb, and we amplified it through our system but putting a bass drum mic in the sound hole at the back…instant sub bass along with some snare slaps from the wire at the top. We were delighted in rehearsal!

What’s That Box?

I had so much feedback from the congregation, as did Colin (who was leading) and Yatrik. “Where did the drums come from”?, “Was there a percussionist?”, “What was the box you were sitting on?”, “How does it work?”, “How do you spell that?” and so on. It was amazing the effect having a different instrument on stage had to the congregation.

We didn’t do anything else drastically different, the band lineup was keys, bass and four vocals (some great harmonies as well), and the song selection was from our usual list…nothing “new” there. But the impact from making as small a change as having a Cajon in the band made a significant difference to those who were listening/singing/worshipping.

So this January, as we continue to look at goals and new things for the year, why don’t you try something different in your music team? You may not have someone talented enough to play a wooden box, but maybe you could have an all acoustic week, or an all electric week? Try something more hymnal with some harmonies, or if you regularly have a choir, put in a contemporary song. Guitarists, try a higher capo or different pedal. Bass players, experiment higher or lower on the neck. Drummers, buy a Cajon, use a shaker, change your set up. Don’t play!

A Change Will Do You Good

Change is always good, and as I’ve discussed before, we revise our song list every term, use different band lineups every week and mix up the different sorts of media, drama and interactions which we use in our services. But all of theses changes are subtle and none too drastic…in order to keep the congregation with us.

So this Sunday, why don’t you try something new? See what a difference just a small change could make to your services.

I want to add that Anouch had a great voice, which received plenty of great comments as well!

The Toilet Brush Christmas Tree

Just this past week we completed our annual Community carols, a tradition we have had for many years now, which is growing year on year. We bring together several of the local primary school choirs together to perform some Christmas songs to their friends and family, which we chain together with carols, a generally silly Christmas theme and a short talk. This year the theme was Weird Christmas.

Did you know Germany created the first artificial Christmas tree? But, what was it made out of?Toilet Brush Tree

  1. Hedgehogs?
  2. Feathers?
  3. Toilet Brushes?

Now the correct answer is 2), feathers. They dyed goose feathers green and attached them to rudimentary branches. But, answer 3) is also vaguely correct. The Addis company, who made (and still do) toilet brushes employed the same factory equipment to make fake Christmas trees…in fact if you look at many of the artificial trees we have today, you can see the resemblance. And as if to prove the point, Amy our youth worker and I presented out schools with an extremely authentic and hard to find antique toilet brush Christmas tree. I can guarantee you will not find another one of these in the shops!

We also looked at weird facts about Santa (did you know there’s a Santa Winter Games every year in Sweden, and the Chicago Tribune holds an annual “Scared of Santa” photo competition?), Weird Food (did you know KFC has marketed it’s fried chicken as a delicacy to the Japanese, and that in Greenland there is a dish called Kiviak which is made by stuffing 500 auks (cute penguins) into a seal carcass, smothering it all in whale fat and then burying it for 7 months. The aroma and flavour is akin to a strong stilton apparently….)

And then our final round was Christmas injuries. Can you believe 4 people broke their arms last year in cracker pulling incidents, several were injured by out of control Scalectrix cars, and over a 141 (I am sure men) had injuries from not removing the pins from their new shirts….

But Why?

You may ask, what is the point of all of this? I would say, its Christmas! We share the event with primary school children, and for many it is possibly their first experience of church. And if the statistics are to be believed, then a majority of them may not even associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus. So if we can find a way of including them, sharing Christmas traditions and messages with them, and making it as interactive as possible, for them and their families, then at the very least they will leave with a positive impression of us as a church, and also some stories as to why Christmas is Christmas and what we believe.

Both nights were really warmly received, the six choirs (we had three schools each night) did some great singing of a variety of Christmas songs, and we already have the schools booking in for next year…what an endorsement!

Same for Sundays

I apply the same mentality to planning this as I do Sunday services: humour, real life and common experiences will always go a long way to communicating to any audience.

So this Christmas, or next year, I encourage you to think of creative and interesting ways to communicate the Christmas message to all ages. And if you need some help, drop me a line! I have many years of material stored up in my archives!

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

OK, I admit, I am a Christmas addict! I Love Love Love Christmas…getting the family together, all of the food, carols, and of course decorations! Now I know today is the 2nd of December….but we couldn’t wait…so our decorations went up in the Kerslake house this weekend…yes, it was still November!

In years past we have looked at gifts and giving at Christmas, the colours of Christmas and their meaning, we did Simple Christmas which examined the main message once all of the trimmings and sparkles had been stripped out. This coming Sunday we start our Christmas series for 2014, and this year we have themed it on the phrase and song Waiting Here for You. This Sunday we’re using Come thou long expected Jesus, and the video above (from the SkitGuys) is superb.

Christmas is all about anticipation, whether it’s looking forward to holidays, getting the family together, or trying not to peak at the presents under the tree! And not just at Christmas, as we plan ahead we are waiting for holidays, birthdays, surprises…we even wait for the weekend to arrive! But waiting isn’t a bad thing, it can be a good thing because of what God does in the waiting.

Jesus’ coming had been foretold all through the old testament, but there were 400 years of silence between the last prophet in the old testament and Jesus arrival in the new testament. 400 years! My mum thinks I’ve forgotten about her if I don’t ring for a week or two…can you imagine what 400 years of silence is like?! And yet believers stayed faithful, scriptures were passed through the generations, and Jesus’ coming was anticipated, believed in and waited for.

While God rarely comes at our appointed time, He always comes at the right time. It’s easy to bale on God at the first sign of trouble, to worry, make new plans and take shortcuts. But there is another way, the quiet way of rest and trust.

We couldn’t even wait to put our decorations up, and are so excited for Christmas day when we can give our kids their presents, pull our family and friends together and enjoy the celebration. But that is only 23 days away…I cannot begin to imagine what 400 years of patience and waiting looks like.

How good are you at waiting?