Radio advertising is a cheapish option… does it work?

The Uni Fellowship of Christians (UTAS), were successful with a $20 000 grant application, to experiment with a whole bunch of O Week ideas to, God-willing, boost our impact during O Week significantly. With this money we are trialling a whole range of things we normally don't do, because we haven't had the time, money or energy, to see which things help and which things are a waste of time and money.

One of the things we are trying out is radio advertising. We are going to have an advert on the community radio station which broadcasts out of UTAS, and on the local Christian radio station.

For around $500 per station we get

  • a 30 second ad produced for us — we provide copy they do the rest
  • a week of radio play
  • 3 times a day

Not bad eh? 

Now I have no idea how many of our target people actually actually listen to these stations... nor how effective this kind of promotion will be in raising awareness. But I'm keen to give it a shot. 

And if it has some kind of effect, we'll add it to our regular suite of promotions.

Here's the advert that Edge Radio produced for us.

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Why leaders can sometimes be better handymen than team members

This isn't always the case, but I've noticed it often enough to be baffled by it.

As a leader, there are many times when a team member will come to me with a problem and I find that I am able to solve it.

Weirdly this happens in areas where I do not consider myself to be especially skilled: fixing mechanisms in roll-up banners, budgeting, plumbing, solving a last minute scheduling drama.

I often solve the problem and feel secretly chuffed about how awesome I am. And then I feel like a fraud. Something's not right. I'm not that awesome at this. So what's going on here?

I think the reason is that as the leader, I'm often more invested in the solution than the team member:

  • I'm ultimately responsible for the budget and so don't want to pay for a new banner.
  • I see the value of this event for the big picture and so am very invested in it coming off well.

And this extra incentive drives me to try just that little harder to fix something. It's not that I'm actually a better handyman. I'm just more desperate.

This observation provides a fresh angle in on delegation and empowerment. The goal of leadership development and delegation is to build a degree of ownership that drives my team members to care about the outcome as much as I do and so go that extra step to keep things on track.

If I can help my team members feel the pressure to manage our financial resources well, so that we can stretch to put on a new staff member, or not be hobbled down the track by a budget in deficit, then they will more likely work hard to keep costs down.

If I can help them really see how crucial this event is for the momentum of the ministry, then they will push hard to make it work.

Cool huh?

And that's why I need to resist the urge to be the mighty Mikey handman. Because if I Bob The Builder every problem that comes my way, I miss out on opportunity to build ownership among my team, for the sake of a little ego boost.

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The National Christian Reflections Pop-up Blog Tour

Ever wanted to hear Mikey Lynch carry out in person those Christian reflections that have made his blog the most popular resource on the Geneva Push website?

Imagine a lo-fi conference you actually want to go to: sitting in a comfortable room in your home city, with some tasty food, fresh coffee and heaps of practical and provocative content.

Keep an ear out, as special guests will also be contributing to various blog tour events in 2016. 

The Blog Tour provides a unique community and training experience for engaged, ministry-minded Christians, as well as pastors, ministry and elders, that is memorable, fun and deeply stimulating.
It also doubles as a fund-raising event for Mikey's work on campus, as all profits go towards his mission support.

Rory Shiner, from Providence Church (WA) says:

"I've been meaning to write a blog post called: "Why the Perth Blog Tour night was the best ministry encouragement night I've been to in a very long time." I think a few things (venue, vibe, material) were in it's favour, but in particular the seamless moving from pragmatics to principles to theology to culture etc. I think we have too many "I've been ask to talk about (e.g.) time management so I am going to spend most of the time giving a generic biblical theology and then run out of time to say anything about the advertised topic). It was a model of moving between stuff seamlessly and engagingly.

Mikey Lynch (Director of Hobart campus ministry, and a founding director of Geneva Push) will be providing juicy, thought-provoking material across the following topics:

  • Evangelism
  • Preaching
  • Leadership
  • Productivity
  • Cultural engagement
  • Theology

Choose your preferred topics upon registration to help shape the night's content.

This year there will be two kinds of events running (see below for more information about cities near you):

Feast ($45 plus Eventbrite booking fee): includes a delicious dinner and 3 sessions worth of meaty content.


Coffee break ($25 plus Eventbrite booking fee): includes premium hot beverages and tasty dessert snacks, 1 session and Q&A.

All profits will go towards Mikey's mission work with AFES.

The roadshow that is the National Christian Reflections Pop-Up Blog Tour will be trundling into a town near you...



Thursday, 28th Jan (7:30-9:30pm).
Coffee Break ($25)
Wellspring Anglican Church loft, Sandy Bay.


Thursday 9th June (5:30-9:30pm)
Feast ($45)
Wellspring Anglican Church loft, Sandy Bay.




Watch this space for details.



Also featuring Rory Shiner, pastor of Providence Church.
Monday, 9th May (9am-3pm).
Topic: The Productive Pastor
Feast ($45)
Venue TBA




Also featuring Luke Hansard, founder of FOCUS, Hobart and Network Team Leader of The Vision 100 Network.
Tuesday, 7th June (5:30-9:30pm).
Feast ($45)
Venue TBA.




Monday 7th November (5:30-9:30pm).
Feast ($45)
Venue: Mentone Baptist Church building, 36 Harpley St, Cheltenham



More about Mikey

Mikey graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Arts in 2002. In 2000 he became one of the founding leaders of Crossroads Presbyterian Church where he was the lead pastor for 7 years from 2003.

Mikey now works as the Campus Director of the University Fellowship of Christians, University of Tasmania, Hobart. Mikey is the chairman of The Vision 100 Network (Tasmania) and a founding director of Geneva Push (national) - both church planting networks. He is also the network coordinator of the Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) in Tasmania and a chaplain at Jane Franklin Hall.

Mikey's ministry has focused on preaching to unchurched uni students and graduates. He is also passionate about identifying and developing future Christian leaders. Mikey is married to Nikki and is the father of Xavier, Esther and Toby. He loves cooking, fishing, reading and has recently taken up rollerblading again.

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Why the argument from silence about the NT teaching on work doesn’t work

A common line that gets thrown around is: "The New Testament hardly says anything about work". From this it is concluded that work should be relatively unimportant for the Christian. There are explicit commands about working to provide for ourselves, not be a burden on others, give to the poor and support gospel ministry. But that's about it.

Of course Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 contain teaching about how slaves are to serve their masters. However, it is rightly observed that this is a very unique class of 'work'—if it is helpful to think of it in that category at all. Rather, the work of a slave is really the life circumstances of a slave—listed alongside marriage, age, gender and ethnicity, not alongside farming and tax collecting. To apply these texts directly and generally to all Christians is not to make the most direct application. We need to consider why such instructions are only explicitly applied to slaves, and we have no similar passage for general Christians in other forms of employment.

So should the biblically faithful Christian only be concerned about their paid employment in so far as it makes it possible for them to provide for themselves and give to the poor and to gospel ministry?

The problem with this whole train of thought is at least twofold:

1.  It begs the question

Almost everyone in this discussion is begging the question by framing the whole discussion around 'what does the Bible say about Christians and work'?

We shouldn't assume that the category of 'work'—as opposed to leisure, volunteering, hobbies, ministry and so on—is the best biblical caregory. Did the people in ancient agrarian societies think of work-leisure-rest in the way modern, post-industrial Christians do? I don't think there's much evidence that they did.

As a result, trying to group together our biblical information around word groups related to employment or 'work' is far too narrow.

For a farmer, work is all caught up in their leisure and home and family and role in society—how much more for a slave!

Perhaps better to ask: "What does the Bible have to say about how we should conduct ourselves in our lives?" For this is true for work and play, rest and family, hobbies and ministry.

2. Argument from silence

It is risky to make too much of what the Bible doesn't say. We have no record of the Apostle Paul laughing or playing music or writing strategic plans. That doesn't mean he didn't do these things. Nor does it mean that therefore the emphasis of the New Testament is that we should not bother with these things. It's just means that in the descriptions of the Apostle Paul we cannot find strong explicit ground for these things.

The lack of explicit teaching in the New Testament around the value of medical research or political service does not necessarily say thing one way or the other about their value.

At the very most, it shows us that these things as distinct things are not explicit priorities for the New Testament. To argue that playing music or laughing should be a major, focal concern for the Christian would be a hard case to make.

Of course one point 1 (above) is taken into account, the Bible actually says a lot more about these things than we might think by a narrow investigation of words related to work and employment. As an outworking of the Golden Rule and Great Commandments there is much that motivates us to diligently love our neighbours in a whole range of ways, including through our jobs.

Beyond this, the argument from silence can massively neglect the way in which the 39 books of the Old Testament serve as an assumed background to the much smaller 27 books of the New Testament.

Sometimes it seems that when it comes to work, some Christians work off a kind of 'regulative principle hermeneutic': unless it is explicitly taught in the New Testament, it is not relevant. This is a thin way to reach our Bibles.

Rather, the broad sweep of realities that the Old Testament builds up for us informs the way in which we understand the smaller number of texts we find in the New Testament. And so Genesis and Ecclesiastes, for example, both inform how we live out our godly lives as Christians—including our work.

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Mirrors 4th December 2015

1. You have probably already read this. But if you haven’t you probably should: What ISIS Really Wants 

2. In this Sydney Morning Herald piece, the non-Christian Richard Glover expresses the bewilderment many Christians are feeling: why are people be so outraged and furious about standard, conservative Christianity? 

3. This article discusses the current anti-discrimination case against the bishops of the Catholic Church of Tasmania. It also unpacks the legal issues involved in this case. 

4. There was lots in here I could relate to - a good encouragement to work at maintaining healthy friendships. 

5. Nathan Campbell does a good job of pondering how we might think biblically about outraged public reactions to things.

6. Some honest and spiritual reflections on coming to terms with a life involving a disabled child.

7. Advice on talking to Roman Catholics about Jesus. It's probably not going to be clear or helpful for them to fixate on using the language 'are you a Christsian?'.

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Mirrors 27th November 2015

1. So apparently it is now 5 years between graduating from uni and landing landing full-time, permanent work. That doesn’t sound so fun. 

2. At least after 5 years uni students are getting work. What about in the future when almost everything will be done by robots? How will we make sure that the rest of us are properly provided for? How accurate is this video do you think?

3. I’m a Christian but I’m not… went viral a few months back. There’s lots of stuff here I’d want to agree with. Until I begin to wonder whether I really do agree at all.  But worst of all is the almost total lack of Jesus in this entire thing. 

4. When did Steve McAlpine’s blog become so wonderful? He is the ‘it’ Aussie blogger at the moment I reckon. This post on helping prepare Christian teenagers to interact in a society that is hostile to Christian sexual ethics is terrific. 

5. A bunch of helpful training videos from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission 

6. Is it a big deal whether or not Christians choose to sometimes refer to God as ‘she’? 

7. Ten things you should know about the gender pay gap. 

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Passive sabotage: doing a task with alligator arms

We watched this video of Patrick Lencioni summarising the 5 disfunctions of a team in our staff retreat today. It was a fruitful time of training and discussion.

The bit that I really fell in love with was when he was describing the kind of behaviours people engage in when they are not really committed to a team.

Rarely do people actively sabotage a team they are not committed to, Lencioni argues. Rather we passively sabotage. He vividly describes it as ‘doing a task with alligator arms’ (ie small and fiddly and ineffective). See the video below at 23 minutes:

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God didn’t choose a random nation he created one

In question time at this year's Tasmanian MYC, my colleague Sam Green gave a great answer to a question about Israel. 

Often we ask 'Why did God choose one nation among many? Why did he choose only one nation?" and so on.

It is true that God speaks of Israel as 'a chosen nation'. And there are many answers to this question of why he chose this nation and only this nation. The LORD clearly says it's not becasue they were great or wise, but simply because he chose to show his favour to them.

But Sam pointed out that in the first place, God didn't choose a nation at random among many existing nations. Rather, he CREATED a new nation out of his promise to the one man (and him nearly dead): Abraham.

So it's not that God chose a nation, God made a new nation of his very own. He created something new.

And in this way his election of Israel is much closer to the New Testament doctrine of new birth. And in this way, as Romans 4 points out, the creating of Israel actually gives hope to all other nations.

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Chronic illness and serving God - Charlotte Elliot

At church last night, our pastor told the story of Charlotte Elliott, author of 'Just As I Am'. She became sick at the age of 30 and remained ill the rest of her life. And yet from her sick bed she wrote many hymns for the Invalid's Hymnbook (!) including the Billy Graham Crusade classic 'Just As I Am'. She wrote:

My Heavenly Father knows, and He alone, what it is, day after day, and hour after hour, to fight against bodily feelings of almost overpowering weakness and languor and exhaustion, to resolve, as He enables me to do, not to yield to the slothfulness, the depression, the irritability, such as a body causes me to long to indulge, but to rise every morning determined on taking this for my motto, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.

And her brother, a Christian minister wrote of her:

In the course of a long ministry I hope I have been permitted to see some fruit for my labours; but I feel far more has been done by a single hymn of my sister's

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How a former pastor (or ministry team leader) can stay at their church after a transition

It's received wisdom in my ministry circles for the pastor to change churches when they step down. I've heard plenty of sad stories about former pastors sticking around and there being all sorts of difficulties, until the former pastor eventually leaves.

The same is true with other ministry teams for parachurch ministries and ministry organisations - it is very difficult to make this transition.

And yet it's not impossible for the former leader to stick around and everything to go fine. It happens in non-church contexts all the time, it has no doubt happened historically in traditional churches and it seems to happen a bit in Pentecostal churches.

My personal experience

I have had a positive experience of this change this twice:

  1. I helped plant Crossroads Presbyterian Church. Dan Shepheard join our staff in 2008 with a view to taking over leadership. He worked in 2008 under my leadership. In 2009 he took over senior leadership but I remained on the staff team. In 2010 stopped serving as a staff member and as an elder, began working for AFES, but remained a member of the church.
  2. In 2010 I became Campus Director of AFES Hobart. Samuel Green, who was formerly both Campus Director and leader of the Uni Fellowship ('local'/English first language group), handed these roles to me, but remained the Tasmanian Regional Director.

Both transitions were challenging, but but 'worked'. We went into the change with lots of thought, lots of prayer, lots of communication. And by God's kindness they went great.

For the leader stepping down

Nothing is so serious in the future of this ministry that it justified the former pastor interfering. The former pastoring interfering will always be the worst of two evils.

For the person taking over

Honour and respect the previous leader, rather than seek to conform them to the new way of doing things. Be willing to 'grandfather in' all sorts of exceptions to honour the place of the former leader - especially if they stay on the staff team.

Thom Rainer's advice

This post was sparked by reading Thom Rainer's blog post on the subject. I think we pretty much did everything on this list:

  1. Don't expect former pastor to sever all relationships.
  2. If the relationship is healthy the advantages of keeping the former leader are many.
  3. The former pastor should take an extended break from attending the church.
  4. The longer the tenure, the longer the break should be.
  5. The former pastor should not keep trying to be the pastor of members.
  6. The former pastor should not be perceived to be second-guessing the new pastor.
  7. The new pastor should not denigrate the ministry of the former pastor.

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Ideas for making contacts and following up from ‘Cru’ (Campus Crusade for Christ)

I've enjoyed reading and listening to some material on how American uni ministries have made the most of new contacts in the first few weeks of the uni year - it comes from the blog of a guy named Tim Casteel:

Some things that stood out to me because they differend in various ways from how we've done things here:

  1. Involve lots of local church people to volunteer to help increase your O Week workforce
  2. Have LIVE data entry - so that some people are plugging in details at the same moment that others are making contacts.
  3. Chase a new contact SEVEN times, over the course of a week before giving up.
  4. Hold social nights on campus each night you do contacting during the day - so there is something to invite people to straight away - with free pizza, brief explanation about the Christian group, a testimony etc.
  5. Invite people BACK to the place where you held the social night the following week - and run first year small groups in that context for the first few weeks of semester.
  6. Aim to meet with every new contact face to face in the first few weeks of semester.
  7. Have multiple contact tables all over the campus.
  8. Create a really festive 'party' fun vibe for students and staff who are doing the immediate phone/SMS/email follow up of new contacts.
  9. The role of the staff is especially to go between all the teams and boost morale - reminding them why it's worth it.
  10. Use a brief, simple survey of people's 'Spiritual interest' so that you get Christians, non-Christians, interested and non-interested to fill them out.
  11. Ask 'Would you like to join a group?' and give options Yes, No and Maybe so students don't have to commit then and there.
  12. Have little incentives for people to fill out the surveys - something decently attractive and free!
  13. Ask those who fill out each form to write their name on it afterwards, too.
  14. Provide free snacks and drinks for all those doing the work, during the day.

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Mirrors 30th October 2015

1. A visual journey through the book of Romans, from Lionel Windsor.

2. A survey of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) staff to student ratio across the United States:

  • % of uni students involved in Cru (between 0.10%-0.60%, but mainly ~0.30%)
  • ratio of staff:total student numbers (between 7000-16 000)
  • ratio of staff:students in Cru (between 1:12 and 1:40)
  • numbers of staff raised up and sent out 

3. I've felt weird about using off-shore virtual assistants, so it's nice to see some Christian, Australian-based options. Sam Jensen is now offering this service. Has anyone used this kind of thing before? I've not yet tried it out.

4. 30 questions to ask your kid after school instead of 'How was your day?'.

5. In this podcast, Thom Rainer interiews Lee Strobel and Matt Mittelberg about evangelism and local church leadership. I love the practical, do-able ideas they give on building evangelistic culture in the local church. I love how evident it is that these guys are just sincerely passionate about evangelism. I love that Lee Strobel sounds like Alan Alda from MASH.

6. Six costs of real friendships.

7. Steve McAlpine's critique of The Suburban Captivity of the Church.

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Renewing an Existing Ministry - Down to Earth Tips

Ministry renewal stuff often focus on the transformative stuff — prayer and vision and modeling and qualitative change. These things are absolutely true. And all these things will help when seeking to breathe fresh life into a plateaued ministry or repot a dying church.

In this post, though, I’d like to add some more hard, down-to-earth tips that I observe often happen in these kinds of renwals. They are the fruit of prayer and vision and all that. But I suspect that sometimes the order can be reversed and these things can stimulate things and so stir up that more ‘soft’ stuff.

1. Work Harder

Seasons of renewal bring a resolve to work harder, even among those who are already working hard. Stagnation is often marked by a freezing of possibility. And so our imagination shrinks. It doesn’t mean that these ministries aren’t busy and people aren’t working hard - they are often slowly grinding into dust!

And yet, those who bring renewal often come in and double or triple efforts. They stretch themselves and those around them. And they also speed up or simplify complicated and demanding things that were previously absorbing everyone’s time and energy.

2. Set a High Bar When You’re Struggling to Get Anyone

The viscious cycle of desperation means that we struggle to find anyone to fill our gaps in ministry, and so we lower the bar of spiritual maturity and practical skill. But if we’re not careful this just makes things worse.

Of course our expectations need to match reality. And yet often effective renewal brings a fresh resolve to stand by values and ideals - such as spiritual maturity and ministry quality. Better to work with a smaller team, do less and do it right, than limp along in compromise.

3. Replace Managers with Leaders

Ministries can run very well with a lot of managers who keep their various responsiblities ticking. In fact the elders and ministers can be functionally nothing more than managers overseeing the meager growth, comfortable plateau or slow decline of their church.

Leaders who bring renewal bring a new role description to ministry leaders. Rather than simply managing activities, running meetings, sending communciations and delivering reports - elders, staff and ministry team leaders are expected to actually lead. This means setting vision, evaluating progress against vision, coaching team members, delegating and recruiting new leaders.

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Mirrors 23rd October 2015

1. An example of in-depth contextualisation and how tricky it can be - why a white feminist decided to stop wearing dreadlocks.

2. "A person gets a flier about Easter services in 2013. In 2014 we forgot to flier that street. They get another Easter flier in 2015. Why do we expct many people to come from getting 1 flier every 2 years?" - Bernard Cane has lots of good stuff to say about diligent and integrated outreach and promotions in this seminar.

3. Brian Harris gives his ethical and pstoral reflections on the same sex marriage debate. The section on James Nelson's spectrum of responses to homosexuality in the church is helpful: rejecting punitive, rejecting non punitive, qualified acceptance and full acceptance.

4. Someone recently recommended this tool to me: I've so far found it a really helpful to speed up the process of trying to find convenient times to meet people. 

5. For organising group meetings, is the go-to tool of choice.

6. Why being a pastor-scholar is nearly impossible. Love the dose of realism here!

7. Dominic Steele has posted all the video interviews he did at last year's and this year's Nexus Conference.  

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My review of The Martian

I wrote a review of The Martian for Gospel Coalition Australia.

Most of all, The Martian is a wonderful celebration of humanity — our ingenuity and resilience. I found the film’s climax infectiously joyous rather than cheap or sentimental. On a deeper level, the film was able to celebrate humanity without becoming atheistic. For all the delicious irreverence and resourcefulness of Watney and his colleagues back on Earth, the script does not push them into shaking their fists at God and declaring god-like independence. In fact the film has some charming displays of folk religion along the way. Not only is The Martian a better film than Scott’s 2012 sci-fi horror Prometheus, but its universe is more recognisable than the cruel, atheistic world of that film.

Read the full review here.

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Christian Reflections Blog Tour Survey Results

I've done the Christian Reflections National Pop-Up Blog Tour for 2 years now. I figured it was time for a major assessment of how it's going and how it could be improved/developed.

1. What I Like About the Blog Tour

I've really loved doing these events - it's been a great way to catch up with friends and supporters around the country and make new contacts. It's also been a great way to see different cities and suburbs.

As the results show, people really appreciate the evenings - so I think it gives people something they benefit from.

And also the events have consistently brought around $2 000 back into my ministry at UTAS, which is awesome as well!

I like how the blog tour connects a bunch of thoughtful, ministry-minded Christians, from a range of churches and a range of ages - both paid and unpaid. It gives all these people a fun opportunity to dig deep into practical ministry philosophy in a great environment.

2. What the Survey Revealed

  • It was eye opening to me to realise that 120 people had attended at least one blog tour event over the last two years! So even though the events were generally smallish (around 15 people) - the overall reach of the tour was fairly broad.
  • 33 people replied to the survey - which is well above the standard reponse rate to surveys like this apparently! So that in itself demonstrates buy-in.
  • People from Brisbane, Wollongong and Newcastle were slow to reply to the survey. Too busy chilling out and surfing I guess?
  • Most people heard about the events through myself or the local hosts (45%) or through a friend (30%) and a smaller chunk heard via Facebook (24%) - 2 others heard via a denominational email list.
  • We got a Net Promoter Score of 21- which is pretty good. Anything above zero is considered 'good' and above 50 is 'excellent' so I'll take 21!
  • In terms of things that people were most interested in for future events, the most significant things were 'Fresh Interesting Content' (81%), Nice or Convenient Venue (37%) and Free book or other product (37%).
  • I gave the options of 4 possible formats - 3 sessions plus dinner for $45, 2 sessions and a light snack for $30, 1 session and a coffee for $20 or a webinar for $10. 53% opted for 3 sessions. 50% opted for 2 sessions.
  • When asked if they would be willing to host the event for their ministry leaders as a whole, 47% said Yes and 33% said Maybe.

3. What I'm Thinking for 2016 

  • A big challenge is to reach beyond the people who already like me or love the events, to people who don't. Helping my primary audience (those who already like Christian Reflections) reach a secondary audience is a really big thing.
  • I'm going to approach pastors about possibly hosting the Blog Tour event as an in-house training event - that way they either pay in bulk for people to attend, or strongly encourage all their leaders to attend. This would guarantee a higher base attendance.
  • I'm going to stick largely with the 3 sessions and dinner for $45, although maybe do the 2 sessions and light snack for $30 in one or two places.
  • I'm toying with maybe producing some kind of mini-book that could be available for free to registrants and then maybe sold cheap afterwards?
  • I may still do 1 or 2 webinars and see what happens.
  • I'm toying with visiting Melbourne again, plus Perth and maybe maybe Adelaide or Canberra?
  • I think Mexican food has run its course, so I'll be thinking of a new food angle.

Open to ideas and suggestions from readers about what director the blog tour could take into the future.

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5 great proverbs on preaching preparation

At the recent Challenge RAW Conference in Hobart, Al Bain shared a great quote from Alistair Begg on preaching preparation:

  • Think yourself empty,
  • Read yourself full,
  • Write yourself clear,
  • Pray yourself hot,
  • Be yourself
  • But don't preach yourself

Have you  heard that before? I reckon it's a very helpful outline. Except the 'pray yourself hot' is a bit odd. Listening to God's word to me gets me much hotter than my feeble words back to God. 

I also think his 'be yourself but don't preach yourself' is a much more helpful maxim than the mildly anti-human lyric from 'May The Mind of Christ' song:

And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

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A personal history in books 2: L’Etranger

I read this in Grade 12 French. That was actually also the same year that I became a Christian. I don't think we actually read it in class. I think I just found it in a storage cupboard. Pity. Grade 12 French would've been better if we read more literature.

It's a bleak, hollow book. The existentialist man is just kind of permanently stoned, wandering around disengaged, disenchanted and dull. He objectively observes swimming, his dead mother, annoying bright sunlight, killing an Arab. 

Although super-famous,'The Outsider' never really grabbed me. Much later I read La Nausee by Sartre, and that grabbed me much more. I think the conceit of the apathetic modernist man can make for great novels and films. But it can also be implausible and dumb. For me, The Outsider is the latter.

I kept the Elizabeth College copy of the book and several years later, through pangs of earnest young Christian conscience, I resolved to sell most of my books (to free myself up from worldly clutter) and return those books that belonged to others.

So I met with my former French teacher, Maria Giudici, and told her I'd become a Christian and offered the book back. She said I should just keep it. So I did.

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Helping parents of young kids engage with night sessions at church camp

I heard a cool idea that Hunter Bible Church tried at their church camp this year, to help parents engage in night sessions at their church camp:

  • Put a sheet on each accommodation door with names and ages of sleeping kids, plus mobile number of a parent;
  • Have a roster of 2 roving people who walk between rooms and listen out for any crying/waking kids - then text/call parents.

I thought it was a cool system, that lessens the number of people absent from evening sessions of church camps.

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A personal history in books 1: A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man

I found this on my parent's bookshelf when I was 15. It belonged to my Mum. From the first page I realised this was the kind of book I wanted to read. And so began a love of modernist fiction. My Mum died about a year later, and so this copy is a special token for me, who keeps little memorabilia.

I love the vivid soup of stream of conscious writing. I love the way it captures childhood and adolescence. I love traveling to a this smoky world of turn of the century Ireland.

There is a shockingly vivid and awful (in both senses of the word) Roman Catholic sermon on 5 senses' experience in Hell. There is a striking description of sexual awakening. There is a sustained, pretentious philosophical discussion of aesthetics.

It's a winner. And it won me over to James Joyce. I have since read Dubliners, Ulysses and Finegans Wake.

via Blog - Christian Reflections (NB: to comment go to