A few days ago, I told friends on my Facebook page they could ask me any question. They did. I answered some yesterday and here are a few more today:

Amanda wanted to know how we balanced busy schedules and serving in churches, especially with young kids:

First of all, since I worked for a church, serving was actually pretty easy. Built right in to my schedule…and because of that, it was easy for my family to be there since I was there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Sundays or mission trips and service weekends and all that jazz. I’m not sure that we had to have a balance compared to others who worked in other careers.

I do think the issue is one of priorities. You have to decide what are your non-negotiables and simply adhere to those. This is easier said than done, because the unintended message of churches seems to go like, “Women, you need to be in a women’s group. Men, you need to be involved in a men’s group. Students in your groups, senior citizens and all that in your groups. Everybody needs to be here Sunday morning for corporate worship. Then you need to serve somewhere. Then you need to have a ministry somewhere. Oh, and by the way, you might want to use some vacation time for that mission trip. Don’t forget the service project this weekend, either. One last thing, everybody needs to be in a small group community and/or Sunday School class.”

I do think churches need to be proactive and cut their offerings and expectations. Most folks I know somehow feel guilty for not engaging in those things even though they work all day and have hobbies and other stuff they like to do as families or individuals.

But I think each family needs to determine their priorities and make decisions based on that. So, for example, one might say, “we’d rather be in a small group together as our most important priority. Right now that means we’ll skip the men’s/women’s only small group and Sunday School. We also believe in congregational worship as a priority and we’ll be there each week. Past that, I’d rather play on a softball team and have some down time on the weekends this year since it’s been so busy at work. That’s all we have room for.” And then GUILT-FREE skip the things that aren’t priority. Those aren’t static and you might need to reevaluate every six months or so…and you might change from your small group to leading a high school group and move to bi-weekly worship to commit to getting to know your neighbors with a brunch every other week. Stuff like that. But your family’s priorities make you unique and I think that, by intent rather than default, you make decisions based on your family.

Lionel asked a two-part question that boils down to spiritual growth and what is our part vs. what is God’s part:

This question tripped me up (and many others, I might add) a bit during my oral ordination exam so I’ve had time to revisit it over and over. It comes up a lot, actually.

Here’s what I know: Scripture is clear that we are to “press on” and “be diligent” and “put on” and so it goes. We certainly have a responsibility to be disciplined (although I’m now taken to using the phrase “observing rhythms” rather than “discipline”…just a subtle shift given current English usage).

Here’s another thing I know: God causes growth.

Here’s yet another thing I know: We can become hard-hearted and quench the Spirit.

What I try to do is avoid the “either/or” kind of statements and think in more “both/and” terms. So, to me, it isn’t so much that we put in 50% of the effort and God then causes 50% of the growth. To me, it’s much more of a circular deal: I put in some degree of observing rhythms of prayer, study, worship, etc. and God causes growth, to which causes me to more naturally observe more rhythms, and God causes more growth. So, I see them both feeding each other. It isn’t quite linear or either/or.

Both/and. Which means I’ve sufficiently muddied the water a bit. As you can tell, middle-age me is taking the “just trust God and do the next thing” view pretty seriously. If I didn’t read the question correctly, let me know.

Kevin wanted to know if the current boom in craft-beer microbreweries would lead to a glut in the market:

Just because the craft beer industry is booming and making me happy doesn’t mean I understand the economics of it all. So, I don’t know.

Here’s what I think: Many of the craft beer folks in Dallas have a good thing going. They are making a tidy profit in a niche market. There seems to be room for a lot, and I think the ones good at it will last and knock off the ones who aren’t so good eventually. Where it will get tricky is when these really good small breweries making a tidy profit will try to get to the next level. You gotta sink a lot of money into bottling and trucking and all that jazz and there’s significant risk involved.

My hope is that some (I’m looking at you, Peticolas, Rabbit Hole, Grapevine and Deep Ellum) know their limits and enjoy just being an excellent small-to-medium sized business so we can enjoy them for a long time. My fear is that we’ll lose one or two to the risk of them trying to become the next Shiner.

For right now, though, there’s plenty of room for more quality small breweries.