Blogging uni ministry consultations

Over on the University Fellowship of Christians 2010 website, just under the 'About' post, you'll find my latest discoveries from consulting with campus missionaries around the world.

Digital pastor

Steve gives some examples.

I kind of like the idea. What it does is forces us to change the way we think about technology. It is simply no longer 'just support to ministry', because ministry 'goes on in the real world'. Technology is a part of communication and relationships. It is now a fundamental part of ministry.

I think many churches need to wake up and stop putting technology into the 'that's nice but it doesn't really matter' camp.

I'm in the system

I even have a snazzy AFES page now.

Initial steps of fundraising

I've started looking for financial partners for my ministry next year with the University Fellowship of Christians.

In addition to smaller supporters, I'm praying that God will provide ten contributors of $5 000 to $10 000 per annum for three years. I've had a few good openings, a few rejections. Will keep digging.

I'm kind of enjoying it, in a perverse sort of way. It's kind of a cross between high stakes black jack, extreme sports and Facebook.

It's also really encouraging to have someone say they can't give you money because they're already giving massive amounts to church planting in Asia or orphanages in India.

Met your love on the internet?

In our church of 120 people, we have one married couple, one engaged couple and one dating couple who met through the internet. How normal is that?

Church based versus campus based: the bottom line

Bill Bosker concluded, rightly in my opinion that there is no way of avoiding all the weaknesses of campus based theological education without losing some of its strengths.

Pros and cons of church based theological education


  • Trains people for ministry while they are actually in ministry.
  • Better context for testing gifts and character.
  • Trains students in skills for ministry.
  • Makes theological education more accessible.
  • Take the local church seriously.
  • Encourages multiplication.
  • Cost efficient.
  • Engages the gifts of those in the local situation.
  • Very difficult for local leaders to provide a thorough education, both in time and expertise.
  • Can produce narrow training, shaped by the strengths and weaknesses of the local pastor.
  • Doesn't expose students to the wider church.
  • Loss of rigour.
  • Encourages independency.

Pros and cons of campus based theological education

At a church planting conference here in Hobart in early February, Bill Bosker a pastor of Kingston Christian Reformed Church and amember of the CRCA Theological College Committee, shared some thoughts:


  • Efficient form of knowledge transfer.
  • Good context for indepth focus, especially for history, systematics and language study.
  • Reminder that we need pastors who think theologically about their ministry.
  • An aid for wider denominational cohesion.
  • A good context for mentoring.
  • Exposure to different models of ministry.
  • Someone may do well in at theological college but be lousy at ministry.
  • There is not a strong practical element to theological study.
  • We remove students from local church ministry for years.
  • It is expensive.
  • It can easily be driven by accreditation requirements.

Some potential problems with short sermons

Stu lists some good ones.

There are pros and cons to short and long sermons and no simple answer. I think it is unhelpful when young preachers are told too strongly to only preach for 20-25mins.

Pete Woodcock

Stu has been blogging about preaching. He has recently blogged about Pete Woodcock. You really must take the time to listen to some Pete. Here's a couple of sermons from the 2006 Tasmanian MTS Challenge Conference:

A church planting movement

Steve Addison asks what it looks like. Good quote:

How you disciple the newest believer will determine whether a church planting movement is the outcome.

The church fills the vacuum

What happens when you downplay or ignore the Ascension is that, basically, the church expands to fill the vacuum. If Jesus is not someone other than the church – while of course at the same time being present with his people through his Spirit – then we have created a high road to triumphalism of the worst kind.

H/T Andrew Katay

The Mystics

 Full series now online

Maybe we have a too narrow view of what is 'essential' in church life?

Andrew Katay's blog is fast becoming one of my favourite blogs out there.

This post and ensuing discussion is very sharp.

Don't forward that funny email

I hope we all obey this law.

University Fellowship of Christians 2010

I have just rolled out a website for the University Fellowship of Christians 2010.

This year I will be doing the consulting and strategic planning.

I will also be seeking to raise $100 000, both for my stipend and for strengthening the ministry across the board. I think we need really good quality materials, administrative support and a future staff fund all in place.

I pray that some of you will join in partnership with me by praying and giving financially... or point me in the direction of visionary and generous people who might be interested in finding out more about what we're up to.

Murray picks up the Reformed Charismatic discussion

Over on his blog.

The ethics of torture

Michael Jensen has raised an important discussion of why torture might be univerally wrong.

Sermon subtext: ritual reinforcement

Listening to Ghostface Keller on Preaching Christ to a postmodern world talking about a common subtext in preaching - "Aren't We Good?"

This, he says, is ritual reinforcement, it is the setting of boundaries and the establishment of who's in and who's out.

The church community which tends towards this subtext doesn't actually want to be taught, changed and challenged. Instead they want to be reminded again of what they already believe. They want the jargon. They want the familiar. They want the critique of the outsider.

Many this is a sharp observation!

Some interesting thoughts and questions about Oz29

A husband and wife* in Melbourne blogs her thoughts about the first few meetings in Melbourne.

* Sorry to Arthur that I've helped perpetuate the misunderstanding that Tamie wrote all three posts.

Mission-oriented work schedule review

Well it's been five months since I set some goals here. How's it been going?

1. I said I wanted to spend 15 hours on evangelism and 15 hours on study and preparation. I feared I'd spend too much time on admin and ministry meetings. I've done ok at this resolution. But consistency requires careful review every week. An unprepared week is a week of admin and ministry meetings.

2. I came up with a breakdown of how to spend the 15 hours on evangelism:

  • Cold contact/community surveys - 5 hours
  • Fliering/letterboxing/phonecalling - 2 hours
  • Taking the time to chat to people in shops/on the street - 2 hours
  • Investing in non-Christian friendships - 2 hours
  • Following up church contacts/running evangelistic courses - 2 hours
  • Cultural involvement - 2 hours
I've come to admit that I'm just not a 'chat to people in the shops and on the street' guy. I just don't enjoy it, can't motivate myself to do it. To keep trying, I think, will just produce more guilt, failure and avoidance. There's plenty of time in 'following up church contacts' and non-Christian friendships:
  • Cold contact/community surveys - 5 hours
  • Fliering/letterboxing/phonecalling - 2 hours
  • Investing in non-Christian friendships - 3 hours
  • Following up church contacts/running evangelistic courses - 3 hours
  • Cultural involvement - 2 hours.
To be honest, I'm pretty lousy at followup too. I can easily waste a good opportunity by not being prompt in following it up. I need to pray for God's wisdom and strength to be more focused on this one. It's awful isn't it? God opens a door and I do nothing about it :-(

3. I wanted to be better at loving people and following up contacts. I'm still hopeless at this. Phonecalls. Appointments. Visiting almost-strangers. Yuck. Hate it.

With all of this stuff, you need to resolve to do it weekly, even daily. And if you don't act on it, your life gets full of stuff. Good stuff. Ooze of ministry meetings and stuff. You gotta keep sharp. And God gives us grace to serve him and brings blessing to other despite our weaknesses.

Phillip Jensen on the Reformed Charismatics

Current watching this:

Phillip Jensen and Kel Richards - Reformed charismatics? from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

Oz29 Melbourne meeting

Murray gives an update.

Gospel Coalition versus Mars Hill Global

I love the humble clear-headedness of Carson's limitations to the reach of The Gospel Coalition:

But when it comes to overseas chapters, we won't do that. I'm sure that in due course there will be The Gospel Coalition Network: Czech Republic. But we don't want to go in that direction. First, we don't want to project one more instance of American hegemony. Second, we realize that institutionally we're pretty committed not only to knowing the gospel well, but also to thinking through how to articulate it here in our space and time.

How on earth can we possibly have the pomposity to claim that we know how to do it best in Hong Kong? We recognize that those things are going to have to emerge from those areas. (from Christianity Today)

This puts words to my grave discomfort with Mars Hill Global.

Got an a big, bold, hairy, crazy evangelistic idea?

Vision 100 Tasmania is offering grants of up to $1K to make it a reality.

Keller does multiple-movement consultation in London

NewFrontiers, Co-missions, Crowded House, Tim Keller and a lot of free, downloadable audio.

Fuller explanation of the London City Mission Consultations here.

(H/T David Jones)

Plans for University Fellowship of Christians MYC

I've been asked to preach five sermons (I think five) at MYC this year. The conference topic is holiness. Here's my plan:

  1. Holiness
  2. Money
  3. Parents
  4. Sex
  5. Mission

Don't short-circuit thorough exegesis

Bruce Love posted a series on the Prodigal Son as a test case for doing thorough exegesis before using something evangelistically.

The gospel crushes machismo

Steve Addison posted a fascinating summary of research into the effect of evangelical conversion on gender roles:

What happens to the macho value system when the husband converts to evangelical Protestantism?

The answer? He swears off the traditional masculine vices like drinking and partying most of the weekend and reintegrates himself into the household. He assumes the role of husband and father he may have neglected since the early days of his marriage and participates actively in the church community.

For many men, no longer having to maintain the facade of unrelieved masculinity and bravado is a great relief; the private world of household and loved ones is preferable to the public world of men.

God is at home what he is in Christ

The homoousian asserts that God is eternally in himself what he is in Jesus Christ and therefore, that there is no dark unknown God behind the back of Jesus Christ, but only he who is made known to us in Jesus Christ.
(T. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith, p. 135)

jml's wisdom of the rubbish bin

Can be read, re-read, meditated upon, discussed and memorised here.

I like his comments. They express something that I think ministries and ministry offices (not to mention ministry websites and ministry homes) should strive for.

How much meaningless and valueless stuff do our ministries retain?

Some cautions for multi-site

I'm positive about multi-site. Our church is multi-site. But I'm not positive about video-venues. To be honest, I'm not even particularly positive about preaching the same sermon over and over again at separate services.

At Crossroads we preach different sermons, with different preachers. Even when Crossroads first moved to three services, I prepared and preached three sermons myself.

In this video, from Exponential Conference, Ed Stetzer and Al Hirsch share some concerns with multi-site. My favourite comment:

It's easy to create a new venue. It's hard to create a new Andy Stanley.

That cat will need his axe if he's gonna scat an out sermon at the gig this Sunday

Con-making-linguistics-sexy Campbell suggests we adopt a bit more jazz jargon.

Quick list of online apologetics stuff

An email I sent to someone looking for good stuff online:

The funniest (to the point of kinda ungodly) things online are definitely the articles by American librarian J P Holding

Greg Clarke and John Dickson are now running The Centre for Public Christianity.

There is also a great campus ministry in the US called Veritas Forum. links to zillions of debates, articles and all sorts of things.

Luke Isham recently did a roundup on too.

If you begin with googling those, you should find other stuff soon enough.

God bless


C J Mahaney on productivity

Get the full series here.

H/T Wayne.

Is multi-site church biblical?

Nine Marks asks the question, in detail, in their eJournal.

Kirkplace Presbyterian

Their website is looking nice an clean. I watched a video of Steve preaching @ KYCK. Good stuff.

Grass roots Navy Seals for Jesus

There's a Bible study @ James Burleigh's house that been started by keen young Christian blokes that goes for hours, involves eating a variety of made-from-scratch curries and being spiritual honest with one another.

I've heard that there's a crew of the sons-of-evangelical-leaders in Sydney, including Al Stewart's kid, Rob Smith's kid and Simon Manchester's kid who are also firing each other up and getting angry at everything.

My favourite is the shortlived group Mr Meaty.

James Poland's son, Michael (great name) is doing something similar in Launceston: Nathan reports.

Steve Timmis to leader EU29

Steve Timmis is going to head up the Europe branch of Acts 29. I wonder how this is perceived in the conservative evangelical scene in the UK?

Mouse schmouse

I'm downloading Quicksilver right now. It means you can launch programs from your keyboard without lots of mucking around.

I believe in keyboard shortcuts of all kinds. You should take the time.

In fact I'm even gonna add a monthly checklist item to learn new keyboard shortcuts.

The necessity of church-wide one to one training and discipleship

Tony argues persuasively for the imperative of recruiting and empowering men to do the work of pastoring:

You would need to start with 10 of your most mature Christian men, and meet intensively with them two at a time for the first two months (while keeping in touch with everyone else by phone and email). You would train these 10 in how to read the Bible and pray with one or two other people, and with children. Their job would then be twofold: to 'pastor' their wives and families through regular Bible reading and prayer, and to each meet with four other men to train and encourage them to do the same.

Mr Meaty reviews Block Cinema

And shares how he took another step towards becoming a man.

I was kinda bummed with how small it was, but glad that everyone's determination was heightened, not sapped. 'This is a really good idea, let's make it twice as big next time'.

If you've seen Raging Bull, then you might enjoy searching for 'Fred Flinstone Raging Bull' on You Tube. I never noticed just how much he looks like Robert De Niro.

Sola Panel has heard

And is making changes.

Thanks to Paul and Karen for their hard work on this blog.

Tips for better use of email

Steve has a great list here. Some include:

1. Check email sparingly. Three times a day, max.
5. Keep email replies short.
6. Automate the repetitive. Use a program like TextExpand to speed up typing regular phrases.
8. When you are replying to emails, just do that, not several other things.

What do you think of his list? What tips do you have?

Ways to help churches grow

Andrew Katay suggests three basic steps to helping churches grow:

  1. Thorough consultation with the church about its strengths and weakeness.
  2. Ongoing external coaching for the church leadership.
  3. Monthly minister clusters for ministers to talk through these issues with each other.
I think these are excellent ideas. And honestly, one of the big reasons we don't do this is because we are so defensive of our ministries and don't want to be critiqued by anybody.

It's that very defensiveness that makes me dislike Andrew's suggestion that a denomination imposes such a structure on the church. Many would simply resent it. Others would be oppressed by inappropriate 'clusters'.

Rather, this is something that ministers should pursue for themselves. It is lousy how people who have experienced the value MTS or some other internship before Bible College fail to pursue ongoing mentoring after college. Lousy and irresponsible.

H/T Craig

Issues if Oz 29 becomes a long-term movement

During our meeting in Melbourne on Friday, we discussed some things that would be important to ensure the health of the Oz 29 movement:

  1. Beginning slowly and establishing strong foundations in both shared theology and also shared ministry mind. Especially because the founding team are pulled together from different places, we mustn't take a shortcut here.
  2. Building good relationships with denominations and other networks. We are not wanting to set up a denomination, so we need to make sure that we can point new churches in the direction of organisations that will help them with infrastructure, legal necessities, church discipline, mediation and other things.

Keller channeling Lloyd-Jones

When someone says 'I know God forgives me, but I can't forgive myself', they are not quite accurate.

It's more accurate to say that their real god in life hasn't forgiven them - parental expectation, personal moral ideals or something else.


Stu is doing a series of false models of expository preaching.

Number 1 is the commentary-of-every-verse expositor.

These posts are goo, provatice, sharp, daring you to comment on them!

Oz 29 may have found an official name

We had a meeting in Docklands, Melbourne at Guy Mason's place. We didn't eat Maccas with Guy, but we did eat some Timtams and some very good pizza. Was a good meeting, firming up our longterm vision, familiarity with one another and plans for the next few months.

And I think we may have figured out a name. But I'm not telling you... yet.

Hope you are planning to join us in Melbourne and/or Sydney for the launch of this church planting network - week of November 30, 2009.