Give Christian men a break

Craig lets the pendulum swing the other way and challenges women who cheers from the sidelines when Mark Driscoll tells of Christian men.

Not a family church - cheeky post script

That's right: our morning service isn't Cornerstone, it's Crossroads House ;-)

Crossroads myths III: Not a family church

"Family church" often means something like: suburban, middle-class and dominated by a certain type of family-friendly ethos. We're not that kind of family church. There's a place for that kind of family church, but it's also alienating to many people who don't fit the suburban family mode... including many families!

But it's not true to say that Crossroads is 'not a family church'.  We have about two dozen kids in the church. We have a morning service - 'Crossroads House' - that has all the normal stuff: kids talks, creche, even a soon-to-be-unveiled Sunday School. It's not very nice to all these young families to suggest that they somehow don't belong at Crossroads.

Crossroads myths II

Crossroads concentrates too much on evangelism.

Can you focus too much on evangelism? I don't know if that's a very wise thing to say. It is possible to focus on evangelism to the detriment of other things, of course. That's a better way to express this myth, perhaps.

In the past we have given the wrong impression that every Christian must be an evangelist and that only certain types of activities are valuable to the church and the church's mission. We have in the past neglected the importance of loving care and nurture of our relationship with God and our fellow believers.

Of course, neglecting your relationship with God and your love for the church actually undermines your commitment to evangelism in the end. And that is what we found out.

But is this still a fair criticism of Crossroads? No, I don't think so. We do two 'missions' each year. We see a few non-Christians come along to our meetings. We see one or two conversions every year. We are deeply committed to evangelism. But we are neither exclusively focused on it, nor astonishingly fruitful in it.

Crossroads has grown and changed a lot since it began in 2000. I fear that some of our critics haven't. I fear some of them are still stuck in the year 2000 or something.

In 2005-2006 Crossroads spent about 6 months on a careful consultation process to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. If anything, we could be accused of focusing too much on pastoral care! You can read the report of that process here .

Crossroads myths

Oh that's David Jones' church, right?

Well yes and no.

Yes it is the church that David Jones planted. Yes David Jones is the 'moderator' of Crossroads as far as the Presbyterian Church of Tasmania is concerned. No, he is not the pastor of the church. 

David stopped being the pastor of Crossroads in 2003. But he planted a church called 'Cornerstone'. It's the 'C' that trips you up. Two churches beginning with 'C', it's very difficult to get a grip on, I know.

Ugly realities of church planting

It's exciting to think about planting new churches. A lot of young man warrior for Jesus types in Sydney are pretty keen for it after Mark Driscoll glassed them last month.

But church planting has many ugly realities. One reality is that it's hard and it hurts and you make mistakes and sometimes you fail.

Another hard reality is that it requires planning and funding and organisation and assessment and forms and stuff. An ugly reality indeed. Yet if we want to be wise in our service of the Lord, we ought to pay attention to this stuff too. Ed Stetzer has a bunch of links to reports on church planting best practices which are probably worth a read for those considering church planting.

Sigh. Happy reading.

Tassie's Tim Keller

I did some walk-up evangelism at the markets with Kerri today. She has apologetics powers.

What basis do you have for your belief in heaven and hell? a sceptical agnostic asks.

Thoughtful pause.
What basis do you have for your belief that after we die we just turn to dust? she responds.

I just nod my head and feel wise. 

Teams and committees have six action shoes

Did you know that Edward De Bono had Six Action Shoes too?

  1. Navy shoes: Formal, routine, procedure.
  2. Grey sneakers: Exploration, investigation.
  3. Brown brogues: Practicality.
  4. Orange gumboots: Emergency and danger.
  5. Pink slippers: Care and sensitivity.
  6. Purple riding boots: Authority and command.
It is good to keep these in mind during team and committee meetings. Firstly, it reminds us that our goal is to decide what actions we should do next. We are not just here to talk and worry. We are here to plan what that next thing we will actually do is. Then to write that down and go home.

Secondly, it forces us to clarify what type of actions we are capable of or willing to do. No use discussing the pastoral concerns (pink slippers) of someone at length if we are not in able to or willing to to care for them one on one. No use arguing about what rules should be made (navy)  if we are not in charge of procedure.

Thirdly, it allows us to focus discussion around the relevant issues. If the main issue is one of getting the job done (brown brogues), then we shouldn't be too worry about exactly how it is done (navy shoes). If our job is to deal swiftly with a report of sexual abuse (orange gumboots) we could cause a great deal of further problems by dwelling too long on everybody's feelings (pink slippers).


Phillip Jensen's initial thoughts on Mark Driscoll's critique of Australian Christianity is a pleasure to read and a blessing to read. Check it out.

Why does God allow suffering?

Here's what I had to say at Crossroads last Sunday. Three more weeks of our Spirituality and Suffering series to go.

Cultural analysis of the Warrane front yard

Jimbo walks around Warrane , loving the city, learning from the city, watching with spiritual eyes.

Model plane enthusiasts are not a 'tribe'

Some missiologists are so keen to help people in the West to see that they are in a mission field that anything and everything becomes a tribe. This is a very loose and annoying use of the word 'tribe'.

'Missional' is a revolting word

Missionary does all the work just fine. Missional is a stupid make-believe word.

Some thoughts of provoking spiritual conversations

1. Be serious.

2. Be curious.

3. Answer questions with questions. 

4. Be willing to lose, be willing to say less, expect more.

5. Give people information to use.

6. Go for sound bytes not downloads.

7. Speak subjectively.

No need for cultural awareness?

Gordo has a pet peeve:

A current pet peeve of mine is people who want to insist that we be culturally savvy in our understanding of our own culture and the culture of the Bible, and that this needs to happen before we can really get the message from the text. It seems to me a subtle attempt to deaden and dull the immediacy of God's living word. 

But I sense a false either/or thing going on here... or else he's being flat out naive about how meaning works.

It would be boring at Mars Hill too...

I was chatting to my friend Matt the other day. Matt is as cool as a Christian can be without falling away. We were chatting about podcasting sermons and that conversation has prompted me to make this point. It's obvious to me, but maybe it's not obvious to others:

You'd have to be on rosters at Mars Hill and Bethlehem Baptist too. You'd probably be in a small group where you didn't get on with the leader at those churches too. Some days you wouldn't feel like going to church even if your preacher was awesome.

It's perfectly polite to ignore people on internet chat

You don't have to put your status as 'busy' or 'away'. You can simply ignore. 

There is no requirement for you to respond if someone says 'hi' to you on chat. Just ignore. For all they know you are fighting off a pack of wild dogs who have broken into your home. Just ignore.

Some people avoid chat at all costs for fear of being interrupted. Some people waste masses of time because they feel that they have to respond to someone who strikes up a chat. You don't need to. Just ignore.

All my friends who work in IT seem to have their chat on 'available' almost all the time. But they are simply happy to ignore.

As far as I'm concerned, the only netiquette issue here is, if someone does ignore you, then you shouldn't get offended and you shouldn't say 'you there?'. After all, for all you know they are fighting off a pack of wild dogs who have broken into their home.

Do you download Aussie preachers?

Please share some links. I try to take the time to listen Dominic Steele and Greg Lee

Non-biblical solutions to the problem of evil

  1. Atheism: Deny that God exists.
  2. Idealism: Deny that evil truly exists.
  3. Pantheism: Deny that God is only good.
  4. Polytheism: Deny that God(s) is all powerful.
From P. Kreeft and R. K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics

Song list for church plant

Craig has a great idea to plan out the first 25 songs of a new church plant 's public meetings. I agree that this would be a great benefit to a new music team.

I do wonder though, if the church plant is being all man-warrior like Driscoll says, shouldn't we have some Eye of the Tiger or Seven Nation Army?

Easy to read apologetics book

Luke would like to know what book to give to a philosophically minded guy who doesn't have great English. You can give suggestions on the Toilet Block Tuesday Facebook Group .

Crowded House values

I think it is very helpful to think about and interact with the stuff that Steve Timmuis et al are doing in the North of England.

You can listen to Steve speaking at the Multiplying Churches conference in Launceston back in 2006 on the Crossroads website.

Below are the Crowded House movement's values. For the purposes of this post, please avoid overly critical or nit-picking comments. There is a time for that, but I want to promote a thread of generous discussion here. Here are the values:

The Crowded House is a family of church planting networks. Our congregations are committed to working together within, and between, networks around the following shared aspirations. They are a statement of our distinctives and are not intended to be a judgment on those with gospel commitment who do things differently.

In obedience to Christ and for his glory, we are committed to:

1. The priority of the gospel
('community in mission')

We are committed to filling ordinary life with gospel intentionality, pastoring one another with the gospel and sharing the gospel with unbelievers. We challenge one another to be sacrificial, servant-hearted, risk-taking and flexible because the gospel has priority over our comfort, preferences, security and traditions. We will not let Christian activity be just one part of our lives.

2. Mission through community

We are committed to communicating the gospel message in the context of a gospel community. As we build relationships with people and share the gospel message, we want to introduce them to Christian community. We want people to experience church as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter. We will not put on evangelistic missions outside the context of a Christian community.

3. home as the primary location of church

We want a reproducible model of church without any trappings that might impede freedom and flexibility. We are committed to homes as a context for all or most of church life with home shaping the ethos of church. When congregations use other buildings, those buildings will not be viewed as the main focus of mission.

4. sharing our lives as extended family

We are committed to sharing our lives in Christian community, caring for one another, discipling one another and resolving conflict. We expect one another to make decisions with regard to the implications for the church and to make significant decisions in consultation with the church. We will not let conflict continue unresolved, nor view church simply as a meeting you attend.

5. inclusive communities

We are committed to welcoming broken people and making church accessible to unbelievers. We want to offer a sense of belonging, and be communities of grace in which people can be open and vulnerable. We will not let our welcome be dependent on adherence to any cultural norms not demanded by the gospel.

6. working for city renewal

We are committed to working for neighbourhood and city renewal – redressing injustice, pursuing reconciliation and welcoming the marginalized. We celebrate the diversity of cultures in our local contexts while recognising the need for gospel renewal. We encourage one another to glorify God and serve others through the workplace, business, community projects, government and artistic endeavour. We will not make a division between spiritual and non-spiritual activities.

7. growing by starting churches and church planting networks

We are committed to starting new congregations. We will work together within, between and beyond our networks of missionary congregations. Our vision is to collaborate in a wider church planting movement to litter the world with communities of light. We will not develop into single, large congregations, nor become insular.

8. prayer as a missionary activity

Recognising that God is the primary agent and orchestrator of mission, we view prayer as a missionary activity. We want prayer to be both a regular community discipline, and an impromptu response to needs and opportunities. We will not assume we are in control of mission, nor rob God of his glory by boasting of our achievements.

9. everyone exercising gospel ministry

We are committed to every Christian seeing themselves as a missionary and exercising gospel ministry in every aspect of life. We shape activities around gospel opportunities, and the gifts and passions of church members. Leadership is not about control, but setting a missional vision by modelling and teaching the gospel so creating a culture in which everyone flourishes in ministry. We will not make distinctions between full-time and nonfull-time ministers.

10. shaped by the Bible

We want our lives and our life together to be formed and shaped by the Bible's story of redemption. We believe the Bible to be the reliable, authoritative and sufficient word of God, and are therefore committed to good Bible learning. We will not act on the basis of tradition, habit or pragmatism without reflection on the Bible. We will not see Bible teaching as an end in itself, but as that which must shape our thinking and action.

Team meetings and committees need checklists

A checklist of things to discuss every month, quarter, half a year, year, two years... otherwise you make decisions to do things and then when the time comes round you've forgotten. Or you resolve to do something regularly and you forget after the first time.

Tuesday Crossroads has a Facebook group

And this group will soon be bigger than the lame Crossroads Church Facebook group. Soon we will rule the world. My vision is that this will be regularly updated with interesting or stupid stuff. It will be a group worth visiting, rather than just joining and then ignoring, like the 'I hate the new 90210' group.

Faux drama in sermons

"Who can possibly fulfill these promises? Who can it be? Gosh we can't guess!

[dramatic pause]

But then a man came in the first century AD and that man said things noone else has said .... that man was Jesus."

Sometimes this kind of rhetoric can be great; it helps us get the flow of salvation history. But sometimes it just feels fake. We need some other ways to reach the climax of our sermons without being camp.

It's 'girlish' to preach about sinfulness too much

Blocher sums up Kierkegaard as follows:
Our temptation may be to exaggerate the situation [of human depravity] out of apocalyptic zeal; the more we condemn the world, the more prophetic we feel, or are considered. Kierkegaard sensed in some traditional articles on original sin, couched in extremely harsh words, 'an almost feminine passion', 'the fanaticism of a girl in love'. Kierkegaard's irony cannot easily be faulted; compared with our own 'evangelical' habits, the balance and sobriety of Scripture are admirable.

Was sin possible in the Garden of Eden?

Henri Blocher, in his book that only he, Don Carson and God fully understand, writes:
This is why I would even question the usual way of speaking of sin's possibility in Eden. On the surface, nothing could be more obvious; since it happened, it must previously have been possible. But is the application of this logic justified? Actually, it presupposes a continuity, a homogenous field of virtualities and actualities... whereas applying the logic to the first intrusion of sin involves a subtle, hidden denial of the discontinuity of sin, that is, of its radical strangeness. Certainly sin was not impossible; the human being was not immutable. In that sense, one could speak of a merely theoretical possibility of sin. But a [not] real possibility, to borrow Kierkegaard's significant phrase.

Theological Fight Club

Crossroads' training meeting used to be called Fightclub so this made me smile. We have a lot of influence here at Crossroads!

God doesn't suffer

One big reason people want to say that God suffers is because of the cross of Christ. It is important therefore to understand the doctrine of the two natures of Christ (see part II).

It was the human nature that suffered and died and came under the judgment of God, not the divine nature of Christ. But because Christ was truly one person, it is true to say that the God-man died, suffered and came under the judgment of God.

Gerald Bray sums it up this way:

Once again the answer must be that on the cross the divine person of the Son of God suffered and died for us in his human nature, which he had assumed in the womb of Mary. The mystery of the incarnation is that the immortal person took on a mortal nature, in order to make it possible for him to suffer and die on our behalf. To claim, as some modern theologians have done, that the divine nature died at Calvary is absurd. Not only would it automatically entail the death of the entire Trinity, thereby making a nonsense of the atoning sacrifice offered to the Father, but it would involve God's essence in a logical contradiction. It would suggest that somehow God's essence could become sin, which goes against the entire witness of Scripture to the perfection and goodness of God's being. (The Doctrine of God, p. 100)

Tattoo of the week?

Shane is the punk rocker Anglican pastor of the Newtown-Marrickville area in Sydney. It made me laugh when he published this post .

Lesson learned helping plant a church real young Part 5

Having a clear plan and mission and all that stuff may not seem to be all that important, but 5 years down the track, if you haven't tied that stuff down, it can be easy for the church to get a bit aimless as new members join and old ones leave... we forget what we were about at first and we don't know why!

Lessons learned helping plant a church young Part 4

  1. One year actually isn't a long time.
  2. If something doesn't happen immediately, it may still happen.
  3. Cautious people can be really valuable, they are not the enemy.
  4. People can take time to catch up to you as a leader: give them time.

Miracles, storytelling and God

Dorothy L. Sayers writes in The Mind of the Maker:
Yet it will not altogether do to say that neither conversion nor coincidence is ever permissible in a story. Both may legitimately be introduced on one condition, that is, that they are an integral part of the Idea. If it is a story about  a coincidence or about a conversion, then the Energy that introduces them will be performing the will of the Idea, and the Power will proceed from that unity of purpose. This amounts to saying that, under these circumstances, the will of the creator becomes a character in the story; just as, theologically, all miracles depend on the assumption that God is a character in history.

Lessons learned planting a church young, Part 3

It's important to develop some clear, formal hierarchy amongst the leadership team. There needs to be a leader amongst the leaders, I think, but it's very awkward to do this when you're pretty young and self-conscious. It's so easy to lead in a heavy-handed way one minute and in a self-conscious and nervous way the next. It's also easy to respond defensively to another person's leadership. Clear boundaries and expectations help.

The leadership team leader needs to say often:

I'll listen to you and do everything I can to make you flourish, even if it interferes with my plans.

The leadership team member needs to say often:

We are behind you and support you and will do everything we can to make you successful, even if we disagree with you.

Why should you buy several copies of Reason for God, then give them away to others...

Seumas makes a good case.

Lessons learned from planting a church while very young Part 2

After a while you realise how relationships with other Christians can be. It's good for your godliness, good for your perspective, good for your soul.

You should try to be around other Christians. Not ones who are part of the same movement, the same mindset, the same outlook. But people who are just Christians. And you should be around them in contexts where they will get in your way and interfere with what you do.

It's good for you to learn to really love them and value them and have to compromise because of them. That's a good thing about denominational networks. They are based on confession and heritage rather than ministry philosophy.

Lessons learned from planting churches while very young Part 1

I was part of the leadership team that planted Crossroads Presbyterian Church back in 2000-2001 and Hobart Central Christian Church in 2002 (closed down in 2005). Most of us had just started to shave and learned how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

One thing I learned about having a church full of very young leaders is that everybody is still figuring everything out.

Most of us still don't have diaries and still forget our girlfriend's birthday, let alone who was going to write the kitchen roster or who had the keys to the hired hall.

Most of us found responsibility a challenge and even after a while a drag and a burden. There was noone in the church who could just do a job, faithfully, easily, longterm without dropping the ball. We were all still getting the hang of making lunch each morning before work.

It can be good to go to church more than once a week

I know there may be some readers who are in some multi-service church culture where that's the norm. It can, of course, go too far the other way, so that you are so busy going to services you have little time or energy for anything else!

Here in Tassie, it's not really the norm. I think it's a shame. 

If you have the option to hear a gifted preacher several times every week and the option to gather together with Christians in deliberate spiritual activity several times every week, wouldn't you want to take it, if you could manage it?

Watch someone plant a church from scratch

I've told Jimbo he's gotta start a blog to gather prayer supporters and, God-willing, a launch team to help him plant a church in Warrane, Hobart, Tasmania.

Please go over and comment... welcome him to the blogsphere!

Driscoll's 18 Theses audio online

You can actually hear how Driscoll tore us all apart on the Sydney website 

Enjoy the pain.

Camp Amitie

This month, from 13th-24th is the big first-year contacts time for French student ministry - the "Groups Bibliques Universitaires" (GBU) . 

Please be praying for this time and for the many Aussies who are involved in that mission. Western Europe is one of those rich but spiritually needy places that we must remember to earnestly pray for.

Crossroads' State of the Union address

"Getting Stuff Achieved" Sin Bin

Ok all you users of 'Getting Stuff Achieved' (my paraphrase to avoid spamming):

How are we going with staying organised? What is the first good habit to go when you get busy? The weekly review? The breaking down of activities into projects? The getting the inbox to empty?

I find the weekly review is a hard one to keep on top of. As Luke's gmail status reads: "weekly review takes a week"!

Please contribute confessions, hints and questions.

'en emoi' in Galatians 1:16 and 2:20

Is it 'in me' = 'in the sphere of my soul'


Is it 'to me' = 'with respect to me'


I'm leaning towards the latter.

Romans 8:31-39 and Isaiah 50

See the echoes of Isaiah 50:4-11.

'I was alive apart from the law' in Romans 7

From Mark Seifrid's chapter on Romans in The Dictionary of the Use of the Old Testament in the New :

He speaks in absolute terms of "death" and "life" for the one who encounters the law because in this passage he presents the human being solely in encounter with the law. Just as in 6:15-23 he considers human beings in themselves without bringing into view their union with Christ (yet, of course, under the power of the gospel), he here considers human beings in themselves without bringing into view their union with Adam (yet, of course, under the power of sin). Apart from the commandment, Paul was once "alive" insofar as he is viewed as an individual apart from his connection with Adam.

Mission: vanilla bean or just imitation vanilla essence?

Graham has a new blog for reflections on mission and ministry. His first post has a report of Steve Addison 's material from the recent CRCA ministers and wives conference.

Steve Addison sets out some differences between "mission flavoured" and "mission shaped" churches. Interesting stuff.

Evangelical 'camps'

Mark Noll gives a taxonomy of strands within evangelicalism that can be discerned even in the original awakenings of the 1740s:
  1. Doctrinal precision camp - usually associated with the "Calvinist internationale",
  2. Practice and results camp - more concerned with right living and right experience, rather than right doctrine,
  3. Just get on and preach the gospel camp - The urgency and importance of the central gospel mission allows you to work with a range of other groups,
  4. Denominational alignment camp - strong evangelical emphasis but yet strong identification with a church tradition as well.
So then, which one are you?

Jesuit lawyer lecture

My mother-in-law invited me to hear Frank Brennan speak for the Catholic Church's 'Spirituality in the Pub' on Wednesday night. I invited jml and he invited James. There was about 100 people there and Frank was very, very engaging.

jml has written extensive notes and reflections on the evening. Go and check it out.

How do you live as a Christian in the non-Christian music scene?

Michael Tinker wants to start a conversation on this topic.

Sola Panels have come off in outer space!

The Briefing's blog, Sola Panel is currently and weirdly diverting to some geek's blog, presumably some guy who had a part in setting up the blog for the Matthias Media guys?

This makes me think two things:

  1. At first I thought that the Sola Panel crew had gone all Blue Like Jazz, all intuitive and lateral-thinking and decided to get someone onto their team who would just post really personal, natural blog posts! Oh if only they had decided to go for something so wacky...
  2. It's kinda reassuring in an Aussie, tall-poppy-syndrome sort of way to even know that the 'big guys' get really crummy technical hitches.

Looking for pioneers and team leaders

I have been thinking, since the gathering of the MTS Network Coordinators back at the start of winter, that MTS needs to deliberately put energy into finding pioneers and team leaders, not just finding and training anyone and everyone. We need to do both, of course, but much more thought and energy ad emphasis could be put on the unique things about finding and training the pioneer and team leaders.

I have been amazed how many big evangelical churches have associate pastors or uni pastors doing all the MTS apprenticeship training. It's one of the thing that gets handed off by the senior minister as the church gets bigger. (Crossroads Canberra is an exception here).

This seems to be a really bad idea. If associate pastors train apprentices, I reckon you are more than likely to only ever produce associate pastors. At the very least it sends that sort of message.

I wonder what set of investments, emphases, training materials and events MTS might focus on in order to ensure that we are raising up pioneers and team leaders?

Mark Driscoll loves the Sydney Anglicans only he knows how

Gordon Cheng has posted detailed notes of Mark Driscoll's 18-point critique of Australian Christianity, an address that he delivered at St Andrew's Cathedral this week. Mike Jolly has posted some pictures too, just to help you picture the setting.

I hope the burden of what he had to say is heard. I hope that his failure to communicate in perfect Sydney Anglican-ese doesn't prove too much of a barrier.

Whitefield's failings

Here are some criticisms Mark Noll has of George Whitfield in his The Rise of Evangelicalism. He is especially reflecting on the enduring mark he might have made on American evangelicalism:

  • 'Extraordinary disregard for inherited church traditions' (along with 'a breathtaking entrepreneurial spirit'),
  • A tendency towards 'insubstantial castle-building, it was much easier for him to begin things than to follow through,
  • 'Whitfield was winsomely naive and casually judgmental in ways that continue to mark at least some strands of evangelicalism in America',
  • 'All-or-nothing commitment to evangelism at the expense of well-considered Christian social ethics'.

I love my elders

I feel sorry for you if you don't have elders in your church. I love my elders.

Last night I had the need to lay some pretty stern and negative words on our eldership and ask them to share with me in bearing responsibility for some problems in the life of our church.

They listened with earnestness and love and they were very willing to respond with shared dismay, apology, repentance and resolve. The whole experience gave energy to the evening's elders' meeting, rather than sapping energy.

It is lovely when spiritual rebuke can be taken as it really is: a blessing. I love my elders.