Volume 6 Number 5

1. What is the key social unit of focus for Christianity? The family? The church? The individual?

Traditionally evangelicals have focused on the family. Is this correct? Jesus does sometimes lower the importance of the family in favour of spiritual realities. He also lowers the importance of the family in favour of caring for the outcast.

2. "Nothing is more annoying to non-Christians than the Christian presumption that without religion, morality would cease to exist" A. Lohrey, "Voting for Jesus", The Quarterly Essay, p. 69.

We must be very clear whether we are saying
a) Without religion morality would cease to exist
b) Without religion philosophically justifiable morality would cease to exist

3. Matthew 6 and Hebrews 13 connect love of money, contentment and fear for security. I would often speak about covetousness and love of money together.
The connection is more obvious in subsistence cultures. But even in the first world, we find our sense of security in our pleasures and luxuries. Desire for luxury is rarely as simply as brute hedonism.

4. Crossroads' evangelism focus group asked a wide range of peopel for their input on evangelism. The comments of one seasoned evangelist was that people at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder prefer tradition and stability in church, rather than trendy, contemporary church. The reason give was because the rest of their lives are such a mess, they want something safe and predictable from church.

5. In sermon review sheets, don't get to ask questions like:
-What new things did you learn?
-How were you changed or encouraged as a result of this message?

6. If we only do sermon reviews, we may slip into thinking that everything is the preachers' fault.
In addition to doing sermon reviews, it would be good to occasionally do listener reviews. After all, if I fall asleep or drift off during a sermon, it may be my fault not the preachers.
I like the idea of spurring on the congregation to growing in their listening skills, just as we spur on the preacher to grow in their preaching skills.

7. Sometimes when encouraging other pastors to engage with and learn from their cultural context, we imply that they must all be relation people can just informally lock into philosophical conversations out and about. But some pastors find this friendship model very straining.

Another mode is the learner model. Rather than trying to initiate an informal chat in the marketplace, you can just ask people permission for you to ask them questions about their values and so forth.
Often these sorts of surveys and interviews are done as a thinly veiled evnagelistic method. But as a genuine means of getting into relational contact with non-Chrsitians they are a real alternative to the friendship approach.

8. Instead of saying:
"Our society's definition of faith is totally different to the biblical one"


"The Bible's definition of faith is counter-cultural"

9. It's not enough just to avoid Christian subculture. I need to ask, what does a Hobart Christian actually look like in positive terms? How will we contribute a unique element to the heavenly choir when Christ returns?

10. Does Saddleback Church really have 'Saddleback Sam' as a hodge-podge profile of what non-Christians in their area are like? That's trippin.

11. I can't remember where I read or heard this: "The ancient Israelites went to church only 3 times a year, and when they did it was for a huge feast!"

Volume 6 Number 4 - Part II

Another idea someone emailed to me. This time about planning for giving one's spiritual bio at church:

"Could this be done in such a way that it indirectly affirms the importance of genuine, life-sharing relationships with friends and family and Christian family that we were talking about?

Could we find our four testimony writers by asking for people who want to commit to spending some real time preparing and praying about it, and who would like to use it as an opportunity to invite friends and family, both Christian and non-Christian, along - just as they might for a baptism? I'm not talking about a pressure thing, just thinking it is a cool opportunity that might really appeal to some people.... It could be an event. If you were giving your testimony, you could invite people who are special to you, who care about you enough to come because even if Christianity means nothing to them, it means everything to you, who would be interested in meeting your Christian friends....

Could we offer the testimony-givers a Preachers Workshop style opportunity to meet together in July to compare drafts and pray about those they are inviting/have invited? ...or meet one on one with an Elder to workshop it and pray?

There are so many ways to approach a testimony, and it would also be good to think about it from a story-telling point of view. It doesn't have to be chronological, but people always seem to automatically take a straight approach... but there are so many exciting possibilities!

We could run a SPECIAL month long group, open to anyone and everyone, which meets weekly in August to work on writing testimonies. One week could be a Benny or JML or Des (or all three, or someone else) talking about different approaches to get them excited; one week could be reading each other's work and giving feedback; one week could be everyone presenting their finished work to the group; one could be talking about how the testimonies might be used. For some, that might be sending it to am non-Christian friend or relative, or an influential Christian friend or relative who would be encouraged to hear the part they played. Others might want to do the whole testimony-event-main-meeting-invite-your-world-type thing, others might be content to just call it practise for when next someone asks how they became a Christian. (Or they could ALL be a pretty exhibition on the walls of the cinema... endless possibilities!) Every week could also involve a hearty slab of prayer. If, out of this, comes a number of testimonies spread out over a number of public meetings, that would be awesome, if not, other good stuff will have come out of it so who cares.

Hmmm. What do you think? Does this surpass the original plan? It may be a more "organic" and inclusive approach... With the initial idea it might be hard to find people who are simultaneously (a) willing and able to write it (b) keen to invite friends and family (c) willing to do the public speaking thing "

Volume 6 Number 5

"Hi Mikey,
I have just got a few reflections I thought I might share with you which have come from my ringing around the churches for MTS Challenge Conference expereince. I am sure these would not apply to crossroads, but I thought they were 'things that we shouldn't let slip'. Bear in mind that these come from a Christian trying to contact other Christians - how much more should the following be the case if we are to win outsiders:
1. Ensure that the church is in the phone book, and preferably on the net too. The web page should have a phone contact that meet the below, and should give the pastors name, the street address, and time of meetings.
2. Ensure that the phone number given does not lead to an answering service. If there is a church office phone it should be diverted when not staffed. A mobile number may be preferable.
3. The pastor should not be (in my opinion) the hardest person in the church to contact. If he is so tied up with church responsibilites that he cannot speak to outsiders, then he is too busy 'waiting on tables' and should delegate.
4. Contacting a church (office, postor whatever) should be a friendly experience. Outsiders contacting a church should not be treated with an undue level of suspicion. Perhaps we could learn from worldly businesses in this regard which seem know how to be polite to customers.
5. Perhaps one of the reasons communitee awareness of the Anglicans & Salvos is so good is partly because they are very contactable.
(this is partly me just wanting to vent my frustration... ;o)

Volume 6 Number 4

1. For those preachers convinced in the value of question times as a way of learning and responding to the word of God:
a) sometimes preach shorter sermons (less than 40 mins in our church's case),
b) consider holding a forum-style discussion rather than just preacher-answers-questions arrangement
c) have a panel to answer questions/ask questions/react to the sermon, rather than just one person

2. I heard someone recently say that church attendance and growth sky-rocketed during the 1950s in Australia largely due to the growth and Establishment of suburbia. The churches of the day catered to their bourgeois values.

3. Rosters and other church maintenance tasks, finance committees etc, if run badly can absorb massive amounts of time and energy. They can cause bitterness, exhaustion. They can take keen servant-hearted Christians away from other forms of service. They can even lead to these things in the long-term being run badly, or unimaginatively.

Church leaders should put their money where their mouth is: if we say all gifts are valued and the more visible gifts deserve no special treatment, then we should pour energy into praying form training, reviewing, supporting, guiding, encouraging overseeing our maintenance roster people.

4. I attended a conference evening session where three speaks spoke for 40 mins each. Goes to show what you can do in 3 hours.