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Your gift to the world

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I’ve spent the last couple of nights listening to Michael Moynagh talking about the fresh expressions movement in the UK and how they are seeing some wonderful new communities of faith emerge through the work that they are doing there.

He began by exploring how these new projects and communities can emerge and then delved into what discipleship looks like in this space.

So what lies at the heart of this story?
Michael outlined what I thought were the two most important factors in working towards creating these new communities of faith:
1. At the heart of all such mission is a deep desire to listen to the needs of the community; and
2. Consider then the most loving way to meet those needs in a means most relevant to those being served. Read More

Church – It’s not the size that counts, but what you do with it.

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the right metrics are for determining if Church or faith is “successful”.

As one of my friends reminded me the other day “I don’t think we should be applying KPI’s and business metrics to the Church!” And he’s right, but the reality is we do.

I was reminded of this on The Weekly with Charlie Pickering as he interviewed the former Australian Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes. He commented on the need for targets (as opposed to quotas) for employment of women and disabled workers, stating “If we don’t count things, then they simply don’t count”.

So what is it that we should be counting, to honestly reflect whether church and faith is doing what it’s intended for? What are the things that truly “count” when it comes to counting how successful our faith is? Read More

Pit, Potiphar, Prison, Palace – working your way out of adversity for God’s sake

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I had the great privilege to teach a grade 2 Religious Instruction class this week on the story of Joseph (Gen 37-47).

  • How Joseph, as the favourite of his father, and the despised of his brothers, was thrown into a dried up well while his brothers decided whether to kill or sell him.
  • How following his sale to traders, Joseph was taken to Egypt (37:1-28) where he became the slave of a man named Potiphar.How in Potiphar’s service he worked so diligently that he was promoted to master of the house, before malicious lies (cue question from super intelligent grade 2: “What lies were they Mr Paul?” Reply: “Adult lies”. Question “What type of adult lies?” Reply: “Google it when you get home kids!”) resulted in his return to prison (39:1-21).
  • How despite these circumstances, Joseph took the decision to continue to serve and as the result of his heart, attitude and God’s favour, ended up in charge of the prison (39:22).
  • How in this context, he came into contact with Pharaoh’s former baker and cup bearer who were imprisoned and both had dreams which they couldn’t understand.
  • How, because of Joseph’s connectedness to God and his willingness to serve, he was able to interpret their dreams and ask them to remember him if they got out of prison. While this didn’t happen immediately, another 2 years passed with Joseph in jail, he was eventually remembered when the Pharaoh had an uninterpretable dream (41:1-36) and the cup bearer remembered Joseph.
  • How Joseph was able to explain, through God’s provision, what the dream meant to Pharaoh and outline a potential plan to deal with it’s consequences.
  • How at Joseph’s proposed plan, the Pharaoh recognised Joseph’s continued willingness to seek the common good and appointed him to this position.
  • How this enabled him to reconnect with and ultimately save his family as they came to Egypt in search of food in the midst of a famine.

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Changing the world, one cup at a time

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I had the chance to catch up with Adam James from Cup from Above last week and chat with him about how there is no such thing as random chance and how the world can be changed one cup of coffee at a time.

It’s amazing what God can do when we look at the whole of our circumstances with His eyes of possibility for the world.

If you know of any other great stories like this that need to be told, let me know!

Who do you say that I am?

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I recently attended a conference where the central theme was an exploration of Jesus; who he was, when he lived, what he said and did, what has his impact been through history and today.

At the commencement of the event, we were given 5 minutes and asked to write down all of the things that we thought we knew about Jesus. For some in the audience a lot of time would have been spent writing tomes of information acquired over a lifetime of study and devotion to following and getting to know Jesus. For others, there might have been snatches of information dredged up from Sunday school and maybe the occasional appearance of Jesus on The Family Guy or their experience of church and religion.

Having completed this task, we were then asked to seal these ideas in an envelope and spend the rest of the conference exploring Jesus having laid aside all of this built up knowledge.  Read More

Listening for loves sake

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Following on from my exploration into the state of the Church in Australia, I found some further, very current research, commissioned by World Vision Australia looking at the perception of the Church in the Australian community. This research took a series of questions to 104 Churches and just over 1,000 representative Aussies to see what they thought about the exact same issues facing our country.

While there were some very interesting findings about social issues and engagement with social policy, there were two areas that stood out to me. Read More

A spiritual health check for Australia

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I recently attended a lecture by Alan Hirsch where he was outlining the work that he is doing in the USA, helping Churches shift towards becoming missional movements.

As part of his presentation he outlined that in the USA they have what he terms the 60-40 Window. What he means by this is that within the American population, 60% have no interest in connecting with the current expression of Church that is represented by 95% of Christian Churches. Consequently, while Churches strive to reach out to the 40% who might be interested, 60% of the population has been abandoned.  Read More

A note from the Marketing Department

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I met with a friend this morning to catch up after not having seen him in a while. We were talking about how his role as a chaplain. He then began to tell me about the opportunity that he’d been given to talk with a group about considering their personal “branding”. Using a whole bunch of different images of well known people, he asked the group to reflect on what they thought of each person’s “brand”.

Naturally, everyone had a view and there were some strong opinions about what the people stood for. He then asked them to reflect on how these views had been shaped and whether they actually knew these individuals. Everyone responded that they didn’t know any of the people personally, but had just gone on what they’d heard, read or seen in the media. He then put the challenge to them about whether they were actively shaping their own personal brand or just letting it happen, being shaped by the forces around them.  Read More

Ripples of change

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I had a meeting yesterday afternoon with a group of leaders from all kinds of different organisations and denominations to talk about the challenges that we face in affecting change through our various roles.

One of the most consistent questions that was raised, centred around the challenge of affecting change where resistance, opposition or even simply apathy existed in the leadership and management above or inherently within the organisation.

As we discussed these difficulties and the various endeavours that had been undertaken to overcome them, three things became clear to me:

1. The biggest contribution that we can make is to consistently work to affect the greatest influence that we can on the people around us
2. God’s Spirit is ultimately the one at work in all things to breathe existence into dust and life into dry bones
3. We need to be prepared to play a long game and work out how our egos will cope if and when our ideas are implemented by those above and around us without receiving any of the credit

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Who is your Jesus and how is he shaping you?

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I was asked to do some searching this week and come up with some videos that explored the question of who is Jesus.

As I swam through the ocean of material that is the internet, I was met with a whole series of different images, ideas and suggestions. There were the obligatory random vox pops, the heavily evangelistic message clips and of course the plethora of skeptic/denier videos.

In the midst of all of this I realised, from each of the productions, that the image that was being portrayed was the product of the deeply held ideas and beliefs of their creators. Regardless of whether or not I agreed with the portrayal that had been created, this was how they saw Jesus and thought was best to communicate his life and ministry with the world. Each of these productions flowed from the worldview of the individuals putting them forward. And as I evaluated them, I realised that I too was doing the same, I was judging the worth of each insight on the basis of how I perceived Jesus.

Don’t die daddy!

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“Daddy, don’t die today” is how every day is beginning at my house at the moment. As either my daughter, who’s 5, or I leave the house for the day. This is the mantra.

My response is pretty consistent, “I’ll do my best not to, but there’s no guarantees.”
And this is how my day began as I left the house on Monday to conduct the memorial service for a friend and colleague of mine who died, at age 40, from complications connected with her breast cancer treatment.

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Surviving the rebellion

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Some of my work colleagues were this week discussing the challenges of undertaking “knowledge work” and how to survive it.

Knowledge work is an idea coined by Peter Drucker which means work that consists primarily of creating, using and communicating knowledge, as opposed to manual labour. Any work whose focus consists of generating ideas, communicating and leading is knowledge work.

This means that essentially, it’s work that can follow you everywhere you go. It’s not limited to set times, locations or activities. It can be anywhere, everywhere and all the time.

As I followed the thread of the conversation I recalled a sermon that I’d heard that argued that there shouldn’t actually be a thing called work-life balance. We shouldn’t be compartmentalising our lives so as to distinguish one part as work from the other but should actually work towards integrating our work into the rest of our lives to ensure that we remain whole. Read More

Embracing love, releasing fear

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I found myself in a conversation with an older lady yesterday at work. After we’d discussed why she’d ended up in hospital, she moved the conversation onto all of the bad news, doom and gloom that is in the media at the moment. Young children accidentally run over, terrorist attacks in Sydney and now France, airplanes disappearing, being blown up or crashed by bad weather.
She expressed her fear at what was happening in the world and seeming lack of any way that these things could be combated.
I also recalled a conversation that I had with a friend of my wife’s towards the end of last year. She was travelling overseas without her family and, in light of all of the goings on around the globe had a very real sense of fear and dread about making the journey as she may never see her family again.
In a world constantly bombarded by news of the next horror or catastrophe, how are we to navigate the fear that sometimes rises within us that the next person to die could be us or our family? That our next journey might be our last?

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Proof of God: the power of love

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Over the last couple of months my family and I have been through a tumultuous time with the birth of our third child. Not only was this addition to our family quite unexpected, but just as we were getting our heads around the reality of it, she was born with a previously undetected cleft palate and small chin requiring her to have a permanent breathing and feeding tubes in her nose for up to the first 9 months of her young life.

Confronted by this new set of unknowns and dramatic changes to our loosely set plans, we struggled to fathom where God was in the midst of all this.

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Walking the road of life

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Having had some experience in my workplace with the use of finger labyrinths as a meditation device, I was keen to attend the recent Postcard Radio event, giving the opportunity to walk a labyrinth.

Rev Rick Zweck gave us a wonderful introduction to the use of labyrinths throughout history, and across the world, drawing a wonderful link between a pilgrimage walk and that of the labyrinth. Read More

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Your gift to the world

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I’ve spent the last couple of nights listening to Michael Moynagh talking about the fresh expressions movement in the UK and how they are seeing some wonderful new communities of…