Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Banks... hmmm...

OK, so another week another bank. Actually my rants about banks have gone quiet for a while.

I have been trying to complete our end of year balance sheet and I&E sheet. One of our bank accounts in the UK should have internet banking but doesn't. I have called the bank a few times. Each time they say they have sent out the 'welcome pack' and we should have it. We don't. Today they said 'Ah, its too long now, you will have to re-apply'.

It shouldn't be a big deal, but it is because my partner in the UK moved house at the back end of the year and two of the statements were lost in the move. So... aiiiieee... oh well.

I've also been preparing budgets for projects this week... along with gantt charts for the project planning. I feel like I am trying to put together a jigsaw to get the projects to interleave correctly. Well, more like trying to put together six jigsaws at the same time. Now, if you ask my family they will tell you I don't like jigsaws. I rarely do them. I find them frustrating. I found this planning frustrating. Oh well... another week...

In between I have been discussing stories with a script writer for a series of short films we hope to make in 2009. That was enjoyable, though I actually prefer the next stages of film making [shooting and editing] more than the story planning. And that brings me back to the start. We need funding for these films, the funder needs our end of year balance sheets and I&E , and I cannot complete that till I get the bank reconciled and I cannot do that till the bank gets Internet banking working for me...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Publicity, success and failure

This morning I was sitting reading some information from a big Christian organisation. It was the organisation that my son works with. He has been visiting us for 3 months and today he returns. We may not see him for 2 years. Its always hard for parents to say goodbye, but saying it to your 21 year old son, knowing its likely he will be 23 when you next see him was difficult for me.

As I looked at the publicity for this Christian group I remarked to my son that though we needed it we don't have anything like this. 'Oh, you must be a more spiritual group', he replied. Christian publicity is always jam packed with success stories. Cover to cover. We're so busy we don't have time to write our success stories. Even if we did it would feel uncomfortable. Not that we aren't successful in the way that other Christian groups measure things. Earlier in the year we did some calculations and found we had more interactions with our audience than the most successful Christian TV station in the region. But we don't write such things generally. Why? Partly because we don't have time and partly because we don't think it was the way of the person we follow.

Yesterday I was looking at the description for a new sound mixer on the Internet. Along with the specification there were quotes from many of the 'power users' of the system. One of the target audiences for this mixer were 'houses of worship' and the audio director of a large California church was singing its praises. Specifically he liked the ability to integrate to the recording system and produce a 'best of worship' each month. The technology was neat, but I didn't know what to feel about the thought of a monthly 'best of worship' album. I sat and wondered what the carpenter of Nazareth would have made of this. What fishermen called from their nets would make of this.

When we share the love of God with people who don't know His grace we are challenged to consider how to do it. Some people don't think about the how, they just rush in like a bull in a china shop claiming their way is justified in the Scriptures. Others mix and match so that the style is barely discernibly different from the culture of the people they are trying to communicate with. In a sense if God says 'do it this way' then regardless of what we feel we should 'do it this way'. But I think Scripture shows us clearly that God wants us to be friends not automata. I have a pinochio string puppet in my office that I use to illustrate that difference. Friends talk. They discuss. Abraham remonstrated with God over the people he was concerned about. He was a friend of God.

We are planning a video series now, hopefully to complete within the next 24 months. A series of stories that communicates the love of God in a way that will encourage people to think and to respond to Him. Its taking a lot of discussion and planning. There are two aspects to this - the planning of the content and filming and finding sponsors to help with the costs. The first part is interesting, the second part a chore. A necessary chore. Not that I dislike meeting people and telling them about what God is doing, but I feel distracted from all the rest of what we have to do. And our publicity is nothing compared to the group my son works with. We are small. We struggle and struggle to do what we do and frequently feel we are failures more than successes. We are overwhelmed with what we have to do in the areas of administration and technical support.

As I sit here thinking and chatting with our Father I wonder... what did He feel when he let His son go to this earth knowing it would be 33 years before He was with Him again? He was not overwhelmed with the work like we feel, yet he couldn't sit back and wait for his return, He still had work to do. I wonder about His measurement of success... no colour brochures, no history of success followed by success. Indeed read the Scriptures prior to His son coming and it reads like the script for a disaster movie with sparks of success followed by troughs of failures.

When we say we follow His son, I wonder how much we really do. And the trouble is... I like successes: I tend to be enamoured by the big flashy offices of the successful Christians... and I sometimes feel like chucking it all in and joining one of the success stories, even though I know in many ways they are only a veneer. I am tired of spirituality being measured in terms of 'blessing'. Job is one of my favourite books. I am fearful of following the Messiah. His road led to death. That's how God measures success. And its painful.

Next weekend is the time eastern Christians remember the death and resurrection of the Messiah. His success was to leave behind a small group of frightened failures... failures who turned the world upside down as they communicated the simple truth - God loves us. He always has done and always will do so. Nothing we do can change that. He doesn't ask us to do anything. He doesn't measure our successes and failures. He just asks us to turn to Him. He did it all. 2000 years ago.

Today we walk with Him. And He walks with us. Success or failure. And we need to communicate the simple truth with our generation: God loves us. He always has done and always will do so. Nothing we do can change that. He doesn't ask us to do anything. He did it all. 2000 years ago.