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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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Macro-Faith: At A Store Near You
Rev. John Simpson, General Superintendent
Baptist Union of Victoria, Australia
MF (especially designed for caring pastors with moderate computer skills) is a Windows wonder. At long last the intricacies of pastoral leadership have been simplified to maximise your day.
User friendly MF will alleviate all the headaches which go with Christian service. Once you have mastered this God given ministry gift, stress will be history, your prayer life a breeze and cantankerous church meetings a thing of the past.
And it is no wonder. The program is adaptable to every possible church situation. It is simply a matter of going into the setup file and selecting the appropriate defaults to reflect your own unique situation. Once this is done you move into a fresh stage of leadership, influence and satisfaction.
For example, with the people default you only have to nominate your membership size, adherents, irregulars and desired outreach goals. MF will offer you an immediate one year growth strategy which can be refined through adding your post code and stipend details.
Since many pastors spend hours wondering about what to do next, MF will free up these wasted hours of contemplation with this instant planner. As an aside, if you combine the people and prophecy functions, you can produce ministry schedules right up to when the Lord returns.
If you insert your church directory details, MF will pinpoint those gifted for ministry, the gatekeepers and, of course, the problem people for you. In what takes less than the blink of the pastoral eye, MF will suggest a hundred ways (more if you request it) on how to encourage the gifted, free up the gatekeepers and turn the trouble makers into firm allies.
It is a whiz in identifying those who present themselves as believers but who have not actually made any real Christian commitment. This discernment capacity will save you from the embarrassment of eagerly nominating non Christian elders and deacons. It may even prompt you to preach for commitment a little more often.
While on the subject of preaching, MF is a jewel. Indicate your preferred length of sermon, delivery style, favourite hobby horse and pulpit position and you will be rewarded with a full year's set of sermon outlines complete with illustrations which MF selects to suit your congregation (provided you have remembered to code in your church's socio-economic status). Not only that, you can pick the way you want your sermon to finish.
The options are various. Most will go for the Joshua model (choose you this day) but the Agrippa choice is there too (are you almost persuaded?) along with the Enoch option (you might be here today but you could be gone tomorrow).
But that's not all. With MF's theological selection window, you can actually pitch your delivery with even greater authenticity and endorse your congregation's preferred biblical and theological position.
The choices are straight forward enough. Take your pick and tell MF about your flavour: fundamentalist, evangelical, conservative, evangelical-conservative, charismatic, evangelical-charismatic, pentecostal normative, pentecostal excessive, liberal, social justice, liberal-social justice, evangelical-social justice, high rollers and snake handlers.
Depending on your selection, MF will provide you with the correct version of the Bible for your congregation. Pulling down the texts to add to your instant sermon is a joy. For example, if you select fundamentalist you will be given all texts in the KJV. Evangelical-conservatives receive the NIV while the social justice choice produces the Jerusalem Bible. MF gives the Pentecostal Normatives the Good News but the Pentecostal Excessives get only the book of Acts. The rest is optional. The Snake Handlers get the last half dozen verses of Mark.
Distance from the GPO and the average age of the diaconate will give you a set of ministry priorities which are guaranteed to revolutionise your outreach activities. No more of those long, tedious church conferences where your members strained to hear divine guidance. MF has put an end to this poor stewardship of time and energy.
How often did people agree anyway? Has your church grown since? Those letter box drops which were a nightmare to organise (never enough volunteers) and the cold turkey door knock raids at last light were only for the very brave or truly innocent. With MF you are linked in to a user friendly line of evangelism which avoids the usual nasties of confrontation, impertinent questions and simple solutions.
And what does MF do for church services? Forget those tense battles over the selection of music for worship. MF brings the grand traditionalists and the sanctified jinglers into deep and caring understanding. It all has to do with numbers and age groupings entered easily when you code in the church directory.
MF plans the order of service (another great time saver) and then, according to congregational age breakdown, chooses just the right concoction of hymns and songs, old and new. Just when the oldies have had enough of foot tapping, hand clapping, musically confusing and theologically unencumbered ditties, the service moves on automatically to "Abide with me." It is a classy balancing feature exclusive to MF. And the music is tailored to the sermon already chosen for the morning.
As for ongoing pastoral care, MF brings in a brand new day. It has broken free from the time consuming and awkward practice of establishing personal relationships through home visits. With just a few more dollars, all church members can be linked in by modems to the pastor's computer.
Prayer points, health needs and items for praise can now be immediately passed around the congregation without any one ever having to go outside. Just get MF to dial up and the pastor can monitor the latest joy or dilemma from a favourite lounge chair, study desk or even bed.
In activating the fellowship tab, MF can actually run the entire morning's service without the need for the congregation to congregate. Just enlist the help of the modem and you can down load the music, sermon and announcements at any time on Sunday morning.
If you wish you can small talk with other church members by Faith-Mail. The thought of the entire church being bonded in fellowship while in their own homes as they gather around their computer screens is a vision of intimacy and unity which the old saints would not have ever dreamt about. But the day is almost here.
MF preserves all the other great features of pastoral computing: the sense of mastery which can never be gained in any other aspect of church life, the delicious privilege of staying with a project until the right word is found and put in its place, the release from stress which a good run at the keyboard offers like no other pastoral pursuit, the remarkable sense of accomplishment (difficult to come by usually) when the printer produces your latest creation.
And it consumes even more time with a much greater feeling of really going places pastorally.
All you need now is MF! Keep an eye open for it!
Rev. John Simpson
This article is reprinted by
permission of the author. It originally appeared in Ministry Perspectives,
a publication of the Baptist Union of Victoria, Australia.
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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:16 PM