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28/10/2010 / John Hanna

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As you may have guessed I will not be blogging at this address again.

I hope you found this blog helpful over the last six months.

My last year of college and my work has caused me to blog elsewhere.

Thanks for reading.

God Bless


31/08/2010 / John Hanna

Prayer Letters: September

Available soon

31/07/2010 / John Hanna

Prayer Letters: August

August marks my birthday

August prayer letter:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

Come to me is an invitation to trust Jesus personally, not merely to believe historical facts about him. All who labor and are heavy laden refers in the immediate context to those oppressed by the burden of religious legalism imposed on people by the scribes and Pharisees. But the wider application is that Jesus provides “rest for your souls” (v. 29)—that is, eternal rest for all who seek forgiveness of their sins and freedom from the crushing legalistic burden and guilt of trying to earn salvation by good works.


  • Blog. Praise God for the views.
  • Dance Aerobics. Praise God for helping the organisers as they prepared for this DBC outreach.
  • New role. Praise God for my new role of part-time Pastoral Assistant at DBC.
  • Professional Placement. Praise God for helping me on my professional placement at DBC.


  • Blog. Ask God to use this blog for his glory and help me as I post.
  • Cover. Ask God to help me as I prepare for the 8 and 15 August at DBC.
  • DBC. Pray for the DBC leadership for next year.
  • Saintfield Baptist Church. Pray for the SBC leadership as I return in the incoming months that I might be able to glorify God there.
  • IBC. Ask God to help me to prepare for final year.
  • Fees. Ask God to continue to help me find and pay the fee shortfall.
  • Friend. Pray for my friend, that God will show them how great they are and how much they’ve achieved for him, without realising it.
  • Mum. Ask God to help my mum’s health.
  • Future. Ask God to continue to guide me.
  • Rest. Ask God to help me to rest and prepare for my new role.

Related Internet links

ESV Online

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13/07/2010 / John Hanna

Paul the octopus

Paul the octopus

Many things are taught as part of the ministry preparation course at IBC, however how to deal with a ‘psychic octopus’ called Paul is not one of them.

Paul (hatched January 2006) is a common octopus living in a tank at a Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, who is an animal oracle and now retired predictor of football matches, usually international matches in which Germany was playing. He came to worldwide attention with his accurate predictions in the 2010 World Cup.

His predictions have thus been 100% (8/8) correct for the 2010 World Cup and 86% (12/14) correct overall. Paul was retired after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But even though Paul the psychic octopus (retired) has stopped working, the superstition created by him will be around us for some time to come, Paul the apostle (not the octopus) has some words to remember:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Col. 2:8)

See to it that no one takes you captive (Gk. sylagōgeō, commonly used of the plundering of cargo from a ship). The false teacher(s) in Colossae pose a very real threat to the church.philosophy. The Greek for this word includes the article (tēs philosophias), suggesting that the ringleaders of the faction called their teaching “the philosophy.” When Paul speaks of “filling” and “fullness” in this letter (see v. 10), he is clearly echoing the jargon of the erring teachers, and he may be doing the same here. The term “philosophy” was used much more broadly in the ancient world than it is today. Josephus, for instance, could call the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees “philosophies.” Even a magician could be called a philosopher. Paul is not making a blanket condemnation of the traditional Greek philosophical schools (e.g., Platonism, Stoicism, Aristotelianism, etc.). His remarks are focused on the particular factional teaching being disseminated at Colossae. He makes the incisive claim that this teaching is not only empty deceit but that it has been inspired by the elemental spirits (Gk. stoicheiaof the worldStoicheia is sometimes translated “the basic principles” of the world and then interpreted to be something like the fundamental principles of pagan religion. In the ancient world, however, the termstoicheia was widely used for spirits in Persian religious texts, magical papyri, astrological documents, and some Jewish texts. Paul is likely using it here to refer to demonic spirits; it is the equivalent of “rulers and authorities” (vv. 10, 15). Although the false teaching is handed down as human tradition, it can ultimately be traced to the influence of demonic forces. The fundamental problem with this philosophy is that it is not in accord with Jesus Christ and the gospel proclaimed by him and the apostle Paul.

Related Internet links

  • BBC News / World / Europe / ‘Psychic octopus’ Paul retires triumphant
  • ESV Online / Col. 2:8
12/07/2010 / John Hanna

Leaders Who Last

Leaders Who Last

Leaders Who Last is book published by Re:Lit addressing why only 30% of leaders last.

Powerful yet concise, Leaders Who Last instructs, warns, inspires, and challenges leaders to a new way to live, lead, and make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

If the Christian life is like a race, we must admit that too many Christian leaders stumble, burn out, or veer off the track. Clearly it is not automatic that a leader will finish well.

Based on Dave Kraft’s thirty-five years of leading, teaching leadership, and coaching dozens of Christian leaders, Leaders Who Last moves through three stages of leadership: foundations, formation, and fruitfulness. Concise, anecdotal, and packed with wisdom, this book will help you aim your ambitions, refine your character, and position yourself to be an effective leader who endures.

Kraft’s brief, down-to-earth guide to Christian leadership will inspire readers to finish the race well-to hit the tape in full stride with an energetic burst of speed and receive their commendation from God.

Related Internet links

12/07/2010 / John Hanna

“The Loyal Orders”

"The Loyal Orders"

It’s the Twelfth (also called Orangemen’s Day or, in Belfast, Orangefest) and I want to highlight a discussion paper published by the ABCI entitled “The Loyal Orders”. This is what the preface says:

Balance is indispensable. Without it no one could sit on a chair, stand upright, walk down the street or do any of the thousand and one other things taken for granted and that are essential for general well-being. What is true is in the physical realm is equally true in the spiritual. Balance is indispensable. Thus in the consideration of those religious groups with whom churches committed to Scripture may fellowship and co-operate, all groups must be considered and not just those from one particular point of view. There is a need to consider “Protestant” groups every bit as much a “Roman Catholic” groups. In the cultural context of Ireland this leads inevitably to a consideration of the “loyal orders”.

Since their inception, and in spite of their chequered history, the various Loyal Orders have woven their way into the very fibre of Protestantism in Northern Ireland. So much so that in the minds of many they are virtually synonymous, Protestantism is the Loyal Orders, the Loyal Orders are Protestantism. This has led to a deep reticence on the part of many to confront this issue at all. However it is of the essence of the Baptist position that everything should be brought to the bar of God’s Word no matter how difficult that may be. This is the great distinguishing mark of our Baptist principles.

We must be clear as to the questions being addressed in this paper. The issue is not whether it is possible to be a member of these organisations and be a Christian. It is readily acknowledged that there are true and sincere believers within the ranks of these organisations. Rather the issues being addressed are whether it is in accordance with the teaching of God’s word for:

  1. a believer in the Lord Jesus to be in membership in these groupings; and
  2. Baptist churches to have links with the Orders.

~ “The Loyal Orders”

Related Internet links

12/07/2010 / John Hanna

If you could say one thing to the next generation of church leaders, what would it be?

If you could say one thing to the next generation of church leaders, what would it be?

John Piper says that older leaders should give freedom in ministry to younger people who have the same core vision, and that younger people should be careful to listen to the advice of the older generation.

Related Internet links

  • Desiring God / Blog / If Piper Could Say One Thing to Rising Church Leaders
08/07/2010 / John Hanna

What do you do when different generations in your church have different opinions about how to do ministry?

Some older folk seem to want to tie the younger generation’s desire for gospel ministry to church programs instead of letting us “go.” Advice?

John Piper says that older leaders should give freedom in ministry to younger people who have the same core vision, and that younger people should be careful to listen to the advice of the older generation.

Related Internet Links

  • Desiring God / Resource Library / Ask Pastor John / What do you do when different generations in your church have different opinions about how to do ministry?
03/07/2010 / John Hanna

Nine ways to revitalise a Sunday school

This is what Steve Gladen says about how to revitalise a Sunday school:

Here are some practical steps to improve the health of your Sunday school or on-site small groups –

  1. Strategically set up your room. Use round tables with participants facing one another instead of the traditional classroom setting with everyone facing the teacher.  Using round tables accomplishes two things. First, it will facilitate stronger discussion since people will be face-to-face. Second, it will help you indentify a table leader if you don’t already have table leaders identified. If your church can’t afford round tables, just set your chairs up in circles or horseshoes (with open end of the horseshoe to the front of the classroom).
  2. Understand ratios. If your class size is over ten people, then you will need to start thinking about who can help you build health into class members. If one of your goals is to know the spiritual health of each person in your class, and then encourage them to take their spiritual next step; realistically you can’t know and follow-up on each person. Raise table leaders or people who have a passion for discipleship so everyone is encouraged to grow.
  3. Build consistency at the table. Once you set your room in tables, circles of chairs, or horseshoes, you will start to see people sitting with the same folks. Encourage that so they can get to know one another. When a group of new people come into the class, start a new table. People will not dive beneath the surface level conversation and feel safe enough to share what’s really going on in their lives unless they build authentic relationships with one another. This will only happen over time.
  4. Set the table for evangelism. And it will build attendance accountability. First, if your tables or circles seat eight, don’t fill the table full of eight people. Fill it with five or six and ask class members who they could invite to fill the table. Also, once you are seated in smaller circles, attendance accountability is a natural by-product. Why? When a group of six is sitting together it is pretty hard tonot notice when someone is missing! This will build an organic accountability through your classroom.
  5. Know your sheep; help your sheep know themselves. Plan a time for everyone to take a Spiritual Health Assessment and build a Personal Health Plan.  When your class members take the Spiritual Health Assessment, they will see which biblical purpose (Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Evangelism and Worship) is their strength and which area they need to grow in. Then, table members can help each other to build an individual planner to help class members grow in their spiritual formation.
  6. Build spiritual accountability. Once people have identified areas in their life that need growth, have them pair up with someone who will help them by asking the question, “Did you accomplish what you set out to do?” This check up should be done as a natural part of the relationship. No set time, but the question should happen at least monthly. The Sunday school teacher and the table leader don’t need to know “what” everyone is working on, just that everyone has a “who” that is checking in with them.
  7. Know your limits. Realize what you can do in the class time and what needs to be done outside of class hour. Generally in a Sunday school hour you can you can only do discipleship. You can do some fellowship and maybe you can take a class hour to only do worship. Here is the key, though. You can’t and shouldn’t do all the purposes in your Sunday school hour. Instead, determine what you can do during class time and have tables or a group of tables work together to do a purpose outside of class time. Release your people to develop themselves. If you keep everything in the classroom, you will suppress creativity and the Holy Spirit!
  8. Think transformation, not just information. Sunday school originally started in England to teach literacy to children on Sunday because they worked in the factory Monday through Friday, sometimes through Saturday. Thus, Sunday school. Over time, biblical teaching was added and, eventually, the secular teachings were dropped as Labor laws were created and enforced and public school education became a part of life. Once you understand the roots of a movement, you can see why so much emphasis is placed on “teaching”. Teaching is not a bad thing, but another phase needs to be added to round out the missing piece of discipleship or spiritual formation—application.
  9. Don’t underestimate the power of discussion. When you give people time for discussion, you are helping them work through the biblical teaching. Once you have set the truth, let them chew on it. Discussion gives class members the opportunity to talk through issues and create their own plan with input from others. Accountability starts to form between class members (whether they realize it or not). Your greatest challenge as a teacher is to give your class time to discuss and own the principles you have taught. I would work on a 60/40 format – 60% teaching and 40% time to apply it.


    Steve Gladen has been leading the Small Group Team at Saddleback Church since 1998 and currently oversees 3,500 adult small groups at Saddleback Church. Steve also founded the Purpose Driven Small Group Network, a free network of small group point people to make sure no one stands alone. His website He has co-written several books including: 250 Big Ideas for Small Groups, Building Healthy Small Groups in Your Church, and Don’t Lead Alone.

    Related Internet Links

    • Pastors Blogs /  Ministry Toolbox / Nine ways to revitalize a Sunday school
    03/07/2010 / John Hanna

    Eleven ideas for researching your community

    This is what Rick Warren recommends for ministry leaders who want to research the community around their church:

    As ministry leaders, we need to take research seriously. The more you know about the people in your community, the better you will be able to meet their needs.

    How do you find out about those who live in your area? Chris Forbes, co-author of the recently published book, Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits, offers these ideas –

      1. Media Representatives. Sales people who work for newspapers, radio and television stations, outdoor advertisers, know a lot about your community. Talk to them and also learn about the available communication channels in your marketplace.
      2. Book Stores. Read books and reports of religious surveys. Increasingly, books containing reports of religious research are published each year. Become familiar with the available research that is most similar to your target community.
      3. Site Visits. Take a ‘windshield survey’ by driving through the neighborhoods where you want to launch a new ministry. Site visits are a good time to PrayerWalk. Pray for the needs of the people as you learn about them.
      4. In-depth Interviews. Talk to community leaders, business, nonprofit groups, anyone who deals with the public locally. Make it a point to get to know the “gatekeepers” of your targeted community.
      5. Internet Search Engines. Don’t leave your house looking for research until you have spent time searching the internet for community information. So much is available online it would be a mistake to not take full advantage of what you can find on the web.
      6. Libraries. Get to know your local librarian, he/she knows where to find resources you might overlook like, the Sourcebook of Zip Code Demographics, a handy reference guide with the specifics about people in your community.
      7. Government Agencies.Your local school board, chamber of commerce, economic development authority often publish important statistics that are relevant to your ministry.
      8. Demographic Services. There are many companies that package demographic information at a relatively low cost, some specifically designed with the needs of a ministry in mind. If your church is affiliated with a denomination, check your denominational office for available demographic data.
      9. Original Research Projects. You can conduct your own original surveys, interviews, and focus groups. A simple door-to-door survey could offer tremendous new insights about your community’s receptivity to the gospel. When we started Saddleback, a door-to-door survey was one of the most important things we did.
      10. Persona Profiles. Use the information you gain in your research to create a profile of the people you want to reach. We developed a profile for Saddleback Sam, but you’ll want to develop a profile specific to the people as they are in your community.
      11. Other churches. You might interview other pastors in the area to get a consensus on the spiritual climate of your community. Pastors who’ve served a dozen years in a community should be very aware of local issues and spiritual trends in an area. Before I moved to California to start our church I contacted each of the evangelical pastors in the Saddleback Valley to hear their assessment of the valley’s spiritual needs.

                          The bottom line is this, no one should know more about your people than you do.


                          Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times best seller The Purpose Driven Life andThe Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for ministers.

                          Related Internet Links

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