PDJ being harsh and funny about cyberchurch and megachurch

I could put 'I love you' up on PhillipJensen.com. But what would that mean? Only that I know how to spell. When you have pastors saying 'I love you' to 10 000 people, that is phoney. This is where Australian cynicism is right. [loose quote]

From here.

Writing and using a values statement

My latest for Geneva's website.

I'm a big believer in the Values Statement. Have you used one before?

'Pastor' Jones

Phillip Jensen preaching in the US:

By using the wrong words, we laid open for another generation to come and pervert the gospel.. That is why I freak out when I hear Baptists in your country talk about their 'sanctuaries'. And what about 'Pastor Jones' and 'Pastor Smith'? What's wrong with Bill Jones and Fred Smith? They're good old fashioned names. If that's your name, use your name. Don't let people put you into a special category of human beings - men, women and clergy. You're a brother in Christ or a sister in Christ. That's what you are. And the quality of your teaching is the way by which you lead people, not by your status as the teacher. [quoted loosely]

Amen! I really don't like the 'Pastor' title. Admittedly it's the best, because it's technically a functional, Scriptural title. Much better than the disguting 'Reverend'. I love this passage from the Presbyterian 'Second Book of Discipline' (1578):
All these should take the titles and names only (lest they be exalted and puffed up in themselves) which the scriptures give unto them, as those which import labour, travail, and work; and are names of offices and service, and not of idleness, dignity, worldly honour or preeminence, which by Christ our Master is expressly reproved and forbidden.
If only the Presbyterian Church had paid attention!

But back to 'Pastor Mike'. I don't like it, still. It sounds clumsy. And I just don't like titles. Dirty things.

State of the blogsphere

Justin Taylor links to this article.

It's an interesting read. A few things rung true:

  • "Today, millions of blog start-ups still exist on the web, but much of the blogosphere is beginning to look like a graveyard. "Sorry I haven't posted lately" is the first line of many a front-page post."
  • " I told him I wanted to see the pictures. He said, "They're on FaceBook." My response: "I don't have FaceBook. Can you send me the pics on email?" His answer: "No. Get a FaceBook.".... Why keep up a blog for friends and family? FaceBook is much simpler.
I don't agree so much with the last three observations:
  1. The Solidifying Reading Patterns of Blog Readers
  2. The Difficulty of Beginning a Successful Blog without an Already-Existing Platform
  3. The Building of Blog Congregations at the Expense of Blog Conversation
As for number 3 - I found that Google Reader, far from hindering me subscribing to new blogs, has made me feel more free to add new blogs, because I don't have to have another tab open in my browser! What about you?

And the final two, I don't think apply as much here in Australia. We can't really entertain the prospect of becoming a megablog here. So for us, 'successful blog' looks slightly different. As a result, more, 'smaller' blogs start and remain, I think.

Audio for Gospel Growth=People Growth

Including Don Carson and Phillip Jensen. Here.

Just listening to PDJ's Biblical Theology of Ministry 2. It's classic Phillip rambling: he talks about the entire Matthias Media back catalogue and the history of Anglicanism in Australia and  test cricket for about twenty minutes before he gets to the point. Hysterically funny and totally awesome.

P. S. Well done Matthias Media for making these available for free. The shape of things to come?

Andrew Reid to be Vicar at Holy Trinity Doncaster

Announced here.

Groovy Al Plantinga quote

On Boxed Sets.

Interview with Carson on theological education

Including some sharp reflections on church-based study and the importance of in-church training and apprenticeships.

A few funny Carson moments:

"All things being equal - and most of the time they aren't"
"I don't keep up with my Chemistry. I read a couple of scientific journals a month to talk to scientists, but I don't keep up with my Chemistry"


David Allen's journey to GTD

And his role as a minister in the New-Age church "Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness"

Have you looked at this lately?

Evangel Cathedral.

Pimp my event checklist

I'm not a super details person. I'm not good at craft or interior design. I know enough about graphic design to ask other people to do it for me. I don't like errands.

So I feel a bit uneasy about events. There are so many fiddly things. And so many aesthetic, deatils, so many things that once people arrive a certain type of person tells you all the things you 'could have' done.

It struck me the other day that I need a checklist. That will help me feel better prepared when working up an event, that I have covered all the bases.

Please help me out by adding suggestions of your own.

General checklist

  • Laminate
  • Design and print in advance
  • Bring blue tack, gaffa tape,
  • Bring pens and textas
  • Scissors
  • Lighter
  • Cash
  • 2-3 hard copies of everything relevant to the event
Information table
  • Flier racks
  • Clipboards
  • Specific fliers
  • General fliers
  • Decorations on table?
  • Recepticle (for donations/contact details etc)
  • Check out the venue in advance at the same time of day
  • Get access to it well in advance of opening time
  • Try it out with a crowd of people, music and public speaking
  • Lanyards
  • T-shirts
  • Sign up sheets / roster - several copies
  • Who's in charge?
  • Basic TODO list
  • Roving inviters for events near public places
  • Greeters outside room (and outside building if room hard to find)
  • Ushers inside the room
  • Places for workers to congregate/rest without looking sloppy
  • Places for attenders to congregate without blocking access
  • Attractive seats for workers
  • Is the interior and exterior lighting good?
  • Additional atmospheric lights
  • Appropriate, attractive stage lights
  • Atmospheric room lighting, but still easy to read the Bible

Walls and tables

  • Should they be covered with sheets?
  • Decorations on walls
  • Does it need a vaccuum?
  • Does it need stuff removed/covered with drop sheets?
  • Are the toilets clean and equipped?
  • Ashtrays and rubbish bins
  • Signs, visible from each direction - from street, from people
  • Toilets signed
  • Other information signed - free/cost of food and drink, event timetable, creche
  • Lecturn for speaker
  • Music stands, seats and other things for musicians
  • Attractive stage arrangement - not cluttered with music stands, bags, tables
  • Drinking water for speaker
  • Small side table
  • Decorations for stage
  • Signage for lecturn
  • Standard background slie (for during meeting)
  • Welcome slide
  • Farewell slide
Music and sound
  • Live or recorded music organised for entrance and exit
  • CCLI and other APRA (public peforming license) for live and recorded music
  • Music loud enough to be heard once a crowd is in the room
  • Microphone
  • Echo absorbed where possible by floor rugs etc
  • Additional cables and plugs

Facebook and evangelism

I don't do many Christian updates on Facebook. And I don't use my profile updates to advertise stuff at church every week. And I don't import my Christian Refelections blog into by profile. Because I have stacks of non-Christian friends/family/acquaintances with whom I have stacks of light-touch interaction on Facebook.

We 'like' each others' updates and sometimes say 'Oh you like that movie do you - so do I!'. This would all be lost if I totally "Christianised" my Facebook usage.

I started a second blog about a year ago - Boxed Sets - because I don't like blending Christian and random everyday stuff on blogs for some reason. But I figured I had plenty of random stuff to say. And gradually, slowly but surely the readership of Boxed Set has increased. Espcially on Facebook.

It's this sucker that I import into my profile. And it has a way way higher readership and comment interaction as a Facebook Note than it does as a blog.

And so now I'm thinking of ways to share, gentle, reflective, occasional, relevant Christian content into Boxed Sets.

Fun, huh?

Uni Fellowship of Christians sermons

We have a huge backlog of stuff, from Pete Woodcock, Graeme Goldsworthy, Michael Jensen, myself and over 150 from Sam Green. Enjoy.

Should church leaders have distance/time out from their congregation?

A thread of discussion resulting from this post.

Some GTD thoughts III: Contexts

For jml, the vast majority of his actions are at the computer. And most of the time he has access to the internet and phone.

The contexts @Errands, @Phone, @ Home really cover the fringe cases, rather than most of his actions.

What are contexts? Really they are 'things required to do an action'. Maybe different contexts are needed:

@Braindead - separate them so you don't waste time on them when you are at peak performance, and so that you can be productive when you are braindead.
@Really don't want to do it - you need ultimate self-control and determination to just get these done quickly.
@Personal - separate personal computer work from work computer work.
@Big time for single action - It's a single action, but it requires focussed, long-term time. Perhaps you can even note how many 'blocks' of time it takes to do this one action. That way you could have 'Rake lawns 1/3' 'Rake lawns 2/3' 'Rake lawns '3/3' before it's done?

Pro life article by a pro choice person

Published in the New York Magazine:

The Abortion Distortion.

Bulk group text messaging?

Yes or no?

Makes me feel a little unclean, when it comes from people and especially when it comes from organisations. What do you think?

Negative tendencies of Pentecostalism

Joe quotes from J I Packer:

  1. Superiority
  2. Divergent
  3. Experience based
  4. Counter-intellectual
  5. Intro-spiritual
  6. Meritocratic
  7. Miracle crazed
  8. Eden idealism
  9. Angelic engrossment
  10. Majority mentality

Don't have music autoplaying on your site

Rants Nathan.


EV (Central Coast Evangelical) Church has a new building and a new website

Farewell to that dark, small font website and say hello to this precious thing.

Congrats guys.

Some GTD thoughts II: Projects

We decided that projects need not be broken down into actions that go onto separate action lists. Sometimes the Projects List itself is enough of a trigger.

And rarely do we work through distinct items from distinct projects one after the other. For many projects it pays off to devote a significant chunk to several actions related to that one project.

After all you have to adjust your mind to get it into thinking about that Project and how this one action relates to the whole.

Some GTD thoughts I: Weekly Review

I am a huge fan of the Getting Things Done organisational system.

But like any system it needs its tweaks.

Weekly Review

For example, jml and I were talking about how gruelling and exhausting a full weekly review is.

I don't enjoy it. Something must be wrong. I dread it.

We concluded that the crucial thing is getting the Inbox to empty a few times a week - if not once a day. I suggested that checking Someday/Maybe and higher-altitude vision/goals stuff could be put in the calendar for a less frequent basis - monthly, quarterly.

I haven't done a full weekly review on a weekly basis for years.

I also suggested that other things could be done more regularly, during braindead slots - checking Waiting For, scanning overall system etc.

Thanks for blogging thanks for reading

Someone emailed me personally and thanked me for blogging. That was very human, kind and thoughtful I thought.

Thanks to all you other bloggers for taking the time and risking to share your thoughts with the world.

And thanks to readers and especially commenters for helping make Christian Reflections what it is.

With love.

Did you know that Brian Vaatstra had a blog?

It's here.
Brian is the senior pastor of probably one of the largest churches in Tasmania. And probably one of the largest Christian Reformed Churches in Australia. Over the last ten years Kingston Christian Reformed Church has planted four sattelite churches.

He's also the chairman of Vision 100, the Tasmanian church planting network.

Brian kind of likes staying under the radar. He is also possibly a cyborg, at least given the enormous capacity he has for hard work.

And he has a blog.

In the early 70s Peter Jensen and Paul Barnett wrote a book

About Pentecostalism called Quest for Power.

Joe has been giving permission to publish it serially on his blog, Talking Pentecostalism.

Here's the section on healing.

Geneva website forums

Hmm. Not sure how they'll go, but Mark Haddly reckons they'll work. Mark will post new topics for discussion and then close them down once they get stale.

The first forum is inviting suggestions about what kind of online resources you would like.

The Geneva forums are accessible only once you log in to the website.

Just finished writing Geneva assessment letters

To the three people Dave McDonald and I interviewed at In the Chute.

It's a great process and something that I wish I'd been able to benefit from. It stops people from doing dumb things that they shouldn't do and helps people do things they should do in the best possible way (I hope).

I love idea of providing church planters with ongoing coaching. For years, MTS has provided coaching for ministry apprentices before they go to Bible College. But after Bible College it's a lot more patchy whether or not people have a mentor. They have to take the initiatiave to seek one out.

How awesome for new churches and church planters to have an organisation providing committed coaches to encourage, inspire, challenge and provide accountability.

Just finished Resurrection of the Son of God

Very fun read. Definitely will return to it in the future and use it in uni evangelism.

Now onto Warranted Christian Belief by big Al Plantinga.

What created Christian belief?

A belief that built upon Jewish belief, but mutated it in unique ways? A single person resurrected in history, a physical but transformed body, a division between the resurrection of the messiah and then the final resurrection etc?

The empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus are obviously a good explanation.

Any other explanation - dreams, visions, religious hysteria, cultish deceit - must still account for the emergence of the unique Christian beliefs themselves. Often sceptical accounts of the rise of Christianity don't reckon enough with how remarkable and unique the Christian belief system is:

The real problem is something that any first-century historian should recognize: that whatever it was that the early Christians were expecting, wanting, hoping, and praying for, this was not what they said, after Easter, had happened. (p. 699)

So argues N. T. Wright in The Resurrection of the Son of God, Chapter 18 "Easter and History"

Murray posts on Melbourne evangelicalism

And complementarianism.

Rise of SVM

I've linked to Steve Addison's blog posts from the Uni Fellowship of Christians newsfeed.

Reflections on church planting in 1990s

"Murray reviews some of the failures of the fashion for church planting in the 1990s. He remains convinced that church planting offers 'fresh ways to incarnate the gospel in a changing context' (5). But it needs to be:

  • Planting that reflects deeply and continually on the cultural context in which churches are planted.
  • Planting that pays attention to the criticisms of those for whom present forms of church are not working.
  • Planting that attempts to incarnate the gospel into areas and people groups beyond the reach of existing churches.
  • Planting that refuses unthinkingly to replicate models of church or imperialistically to impose models on communities.
  • Planting that encourages creative engagement with diverse communities and allows this to inspire theological and ecclesiological developments. (5)

Churches, says Murray, are normally planted too quickly rather than too slowly. People rush ahead without adequate consultation and preparation. The planting church needs to be prepared. 'There are three priorities: preparing the church to become a planting church, clarifying expectations, and selecting and equipping the planting team.' (111)"

From Tim Chester's review of an interesting new book on church planting: Stuart Murray, Planting Churches: A Framework for Practitioners

Have you seen these things not being done in church plants? I know that I have.

Has Colin Gunton's project failed?

Mark Thompson posts a very interesting discussion.

Interview: Guy Mason

Christian Reflections: Do you listen to any sermon podcasts? If so, who are you listening to at the moment?

Guy Mason: Yeh – lets just say I have worn through three pairs of headphones for my iphone in the last 12 months! My wife and I also take time together to watch messages online – we often pause throughout to discuss key points. I find that really helpful.

I listen to a quite a range – I love hearing how different people approach the bible, culture and communication. In the last week I've listened to a conference series by John Piper called 'God is the Gospel,' and a lecture by Tim Keller for Google 'The Reason for God.'

CR:  Does Docklands have plans for planting a daughter church? When and how might that happen?

GM: When we planted City on a Hill (known then as Docklands Church) we made a commitment to not just plant a church but to plant a church planting church.

We were encouraged to see growth in our first year, so much so that we were able to plant a second service, which is also growing strong and bearing fruit.

We are now praying and preparing for our next step. There are many options to consider (e.g, more services, new site, multi-site, etc). All these options have varying pros/cons and depend largely on venue options (not easy in Docklands), funding, leadership and volunteer capacity. That aside, it seems likely there will be some new and exciting steps made early 2010! More info to come 

CR:  Did you have actually a falling out with Al Stewart and Andrew Heard? Why are you going separate ways?

GM: Absolutely. We had a WWF style punch on in Steve Chong's carpark! It was awesome. Andrew landed some great body slams, and Al gave some brutal head butts. In the end Naomi (Steve's wife) knocked everyone out with one killer close line.

Jokes aside – I respect Al and Andrew immensely and believe they are great men of faith. In fact, Al Stewart is coming down to Melbourne to preach at City on a Hill (January 17) at both our services. I also believe 'Geneva' is a great initiative that will be an important plank in God's work in Australia.

I think Al summed it up well went he said on this site, 'We just found that in hammering out the details... we had different philosophies of ministry about how we'd go about things: not different theology, but different ways of building a network.'

CR: What are some of the unique challenges and benefits of ministry in Melbourne?

GM: Melbourne is an amazing city. It is the fastest growing and expected to be the biggest by 2050. It is also a diverse city made up of people from all around the globe, making it a dynamic and exciting place to live.

I think this is both a strength and challenge in ministry. City on a Hill reaches a range of people who come from different cultures and hold a plethora of views and opinions about Jesus and the church. As such being 'all things to all people' is complex. We work hard to engage our culture, pray earnestly and proclaim the Scriptures faithfully.

Melbourne is also largely secular. I wont bore you with the statistics, but lets just say its not good. This does however present great opportunity for mission and church planting. We continually remind ourselves that Melbourne is our mission field and are called to be a 'city on a hill' in our workplace, university, home, etc. Personally, I love that kind of challenge and pray God would convert, build up and send many more to this great city.

CR: What are three ministries or church plants in Australia that you think are worth watching?

GM: Well – I'd love you to be watching and more importantly praying for City on a Hill. We are two years in and God has done great things – and we are excited about the future. We have lots to learn and would value all the help and support we can get. Recently, we have also launched a ministry for homeless (Many Rooms) and are about to kick off an internship program for emerging leaders (Engage).

Kirkplace – Steve Chong is great friend who planted Kirkplace around the same time as me. He loves Jesus and is passionate about the kingdom.

Engage – I met Will Henderson in Seattle and was encouraged to hear he was coming back down under to start a church in Brisbane. From what I can gather he is still in the core group building stage.

Tribe – Dave Hughes is heading this up. He is in the preparation stage and is reaching people in Narre Warren, Victoria.

CR: What plans do you have for building a church-planting network in Melbourne?

In 2010, I will be launching a church-planting program called 'Advance.' Advance will give young blokes who are passionate about Jesus and mission the opportunity to:

-  Connect with other emerging church planters/leaders

-  Receive coaching from local, national and international church planters/leaders

- Pray for Melbourne and the work of mission in our city

- Explore God's calling into leadership and church planting

Applications open soon. For more info email guymason@cityonahill.com.au

Briefcases the only solution?

Surely there are many occasions when you need to transport a bunch of manila folders? Is the briefcase the only solution?

I'm renowned for being mega oragnised and mega scrappy. The nice way of putting it, is I'm 'hard on things' (as Jolly said the other day). This means I treat things badly. There's always a coffee ring or a crack or a dogear within a day or two with me.

So I finally got round to trying to find a way of protecting my manila folders when I trasported them in my backpack or satchel (old school, punkrcok canvas bag, thank you very much, not some nasty Krumpler man bag).

It was amazingly hard to find hard, protective manila-folder sized folders. I found one. It's now cracking (I'm hard on things you see). So I need another. It's gonna be a hunt again.

Do I need to buy a special briefcase backpack? Is that what normal people who transport manila folders and ride bikes do? Does anyone know the answer to this?

How do grownups do this?

Don't waste your time

A practical article from big Al.

  • "We may spend an extra 10 to 15 hours on a talk that will only improve it by a few percentage points. I am not endorsing under preparation, I am against over preparation."
  • "I've heard it suggested that you should stand up while you are on the phone. This is very effective in limiting the time of phone calls. I've also heard that meetings should be held without chairs. "
  • "No one ever said on his or her deathbed, "I wish I watched more TV."
  • "It's easier to be "evangelising the world", rather than actually going to see that one individual who needs to be spoken to. If we're being paid to grow a particular church, or reach a particular area, get out and do it. Online communication is great, and powerful, but often the most important piece of hardware you own for your computer is the off button – use it and then get out and see people face to face."
  • "Each pastor in full time ministry should be made to listen to the song "Cat's in the cradle" at least once a week. "
  • "Our activism, our obsession with planning and strategic action, our outright 'workaholism' show a lack of understanding of and faith in the sovereignty of God. We need to believe in God's sovereignty, God's election, that as we sit and watch the Simpson's with our kids, the gospel marches on. "
Have you got time management suggestions?

The future of The Geneva Push - Al Stewart

  • About a dozen people have been assessed these few days. And it's gone well. It's not just 'pass or fail' but 'how has God wired you up so that we can figure out how you can best serve him?'.
  • We will contact each person who has been assessed and talk to you about recommendations. You won't just get a bureaucratic form or number, but we'll talk you through it.
  • We'll work at putting a network together around the country.
  • We want to work with networks and individuals in each state. Each state will be different. South Australia won't be the same as Victoria, Tassie etc. If you have ideas about what will work, let us know.
  • Keep communicate to each other, the forums will start up on the website next week.
  • We want to work out how events serve people in each state.
  • December 6-8 we will have In the Chute in Canberra, partnership with AFES. Don Carson will be preaching at that.

Future of The Geneva Push - Andrew Heard

  • We've have a real burden for our country, to see it won for Christ. We've been praying and working for that for many years.
  • We need churches that are grounded and growing. Grounded in the true gospel - the Reformed gospel is the gospel in the greatest clarity. And then growing to pass this on to the next generation.
  • Humanly speaking, the way to do this is through leadership. Men leading the charge who are themselves grounded and growing. That's what we're about. 
  • How do you get leaders like that? In fellowship together around the word. There's no one grounding me now to keep going in theology and mission. But there's like a big hook in my heart and guts that is attached to cords connected to men who have influenced my ministry in the past and every now and then they tug.
  • I want to see people around me come to life in Christ. For the glory of God. In the passion to grow there's a great temptation to be drawn to all kind of things that will help you do that - management, speaking styles, new techniques. We need a deeply embedded hook to a fellowship of people that will keep us grounded.
  • We want leaders to be culturally savvy in the way they resource the church in the context they're in. How do you grow past 100? How do you keep thinking missionally? How do you assess from the past (but in a fellowship keeps us grounded for it all).

Ministry wives and bitterness

They can be very prone to bitterness because the husband dumps the problems of conflict when he comes home. He later works through the resolution process, but doesn't necessarily include her in that process.

Hardships in church planting part 4

  • When things aren't working. To drag it on isn't kind and it doesn't help.
  • When you go into church planting. Work it all out, write it all down. Avoid mismatches of expectations. Ask for outsider help.
  • It can be extreme when you pick up people from the 'church wilderness', the theological diversity. You can't let theological issues slide, simply because you don't think were important. It's far better to write position papers on hot topics. Don't leave vacuums, because you know what happens to vacuums!
  • Be aware that you are sinful and keep repenting and trust in God. Invest in your marriage and family life.
  • If you have an unresolved conflict with your wife, cancel your upcoming meeting with any female pastors. Shut down any temptations to confide in or deal with these issues outside your marriage.
  • God if it wasn't for you, I'd have stuffed up this ministry years ago.

Hardships in church planting part 3

  • Separate conflict resolution from strategic planning.
  • Personal hardships can be really hard in church planting. But they can be great for the church. Humbling the pastor, motivating the church in prayer, the church being engaged in each others' lives.
  • Writing your own constitution is horribly draining. The Geneva 'Church in a Box' product will be very helpful for those planting independent churches. It is very valuable to think through the whole logic between how your church is structured.
  • Being physically or emotionally weak is how God teaches you to trust him and makes you pray more. Power in weakness, thorn in the flesh, clay vessels.
  • Team work is very difficult and important learn how to do really well.
  • Make sure you listen to referees when people apply for your staff, call them up. Listen to what they say and what they don't say.
  • Ask staff about future plans. Are they really on board here? Or do they want to move on to do their own thing?
  • Patrick Lencioni The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are very helpful. The number one team for all staff members is the team they look up to - the overall staff team. They all need to want all the minsitries go well.

Hardships in church planting part 2

  • Mother churches need to be generous and sacrificial. The daughter church won't understand the sacrifices you have to make.
  • Marital tensions create stress on the church, because people band towards one side of the conflict or the other.
  • Hardest situations of all is the conflict between leaders. Make sure you have an external body to deal with allegations against the leadership.
  • Don't get paranoid and try to pre-empt suspicions that people might have. Be willing to be reactive to questions. And trust that most of God's people will have the wisdom to discern the truth behind mutterings.
  • Pastorally, it is so valuable to keep working through the Bible and letting it teach, lead, comfort.
  • It's not about our own glory, it's about finishing the race. There's no promise that we'll be finishing in glory and punching the air.

Hardships in church planting part 1

  • Venues are really difficult. You are a bonus to your landlords and they don't want to do extra thinking about you.
  • Some say you should start raising money for a building from the first year. Start building in a culture of working towards a building. You'll need to eventually and it's hard to start thinking about it later.
  • Early days, gathering a core, while you are possibly working elsewhere, can be savagely exhauting. [Lots of people at this conference seem to be talking about pulling over on the highway to have a snooze, because they're so tired].
  • You may need to hold the reigns tightly at first, until you know who you really want to work with. That can be exhausting.
  • It's like swimming back from being seriously stuck out in the surf, take a breath before you get thrown back under.
  • You are carrying lots of insecurities, comparing yourself to other churches. Keep your expectations of your mother church low and be thankful. You gotta be prepared to mow lawns for a living. Better to promise less than you deliver in the context of coaching church planters.

Great Spong quote on liberalism

The only churches that grow today are those that do not, in fact, understand the issues, and can therefore traffic in certainty. They represent both the fundamentalistic Protestant groups and the rigidly controlled conservative Catholic traditions. The churches that do attempt to interact with the emerging world are for the most part the liberal Protestant mainline churches that shrink every day in membership and the silent liberal Catholic minority that attracts very few adherents. Both are, almost by definition, fuzzy, imprecise and relatively unappealing. They might claim to be honest, but for the most part they have no real message. They tinker with words, redefine concepts, and retreat slowly behind the rear guard protection of a few pseudo-radical thinkers. No one seems yet ready to invest the energy necessary to the task of reformulating the Christian story.
- quote by Al Stewart

Three dangers for evangelicals and the Bible

  1. The Bible becomes a shibboleth: we wave it around but it doesn't shape what we do. We put our faith in leadership manuals.
  2. We easily slip into 'most of Scripture is profitable'. Luther:

    If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.

    Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.

  3. Just reading an exegetical essay week by week is not enough. It's the evangelical version of penance is to sit through those sermons. If your content and your emotional delivery are not the same, people won't listen and they won't believe you. Yeah God is powerful and could use the exegetical essay. But could God even work with us rather than in spite of use?
- Al Stewart

Al Stewart on 2Timothy 3

  • Does Paul say, 'Spend your life trying to win unconverted religious people'? (verse 5). I seriously doubt it's worth spending our time on those who don't want to hear and try to stop gospel ministry, just so that we can win over an antiquated building and spend our life managing that.
  • I printed out some stuff on the commentaries about Jannes and Jambres in the Jewish tradition. But then I remembered that Paul said 'Don't bother with Jewish myths' so I'm not going to read it to you.
  • People in the church and paid ministry will cause you more damage than those outside the church.
  • You can't train someone in ministry if you only see them for an hour a week in staff meeting.

Marriage and ministry part 2

  • Work hard at having a relaxed home, a relaxed place for your husband.
  • I finished work at 6pm and we had dinner together every night except 2 nights. One of the blessings of ministry is that you can do that when other dads can't. Work hard to talk with the kids over the dinner table.
  • We used TV with the kids when they were very little. But later on, created a rule: no TV Monday-Friday or during the day on weekends.
  • First three days of holidays fighting, three days to solve, and only a week left to actually rest! Holidays are not the time to relax. It's time to step up the energy required to be nice to each other. Treat each other like a member of church that we're trying to woo to church community! Having to be nice to each other, you started to like each other :-)
  • We work at all our other relationships and presume on marraige that they're on-sde so you don't need to work on it. Don't drop everything and 'be yourself'!

Marriage and church planting

Andrew and Cathy Heard:

  • Hard to avoid bickering and fighting - especially just before Sunday or on day off.
  • We found it really valuable to have a day off without kids!
  • Very hard for wives home with kids to not feel jealous, missing out on the excitement of church planting, being stuck at home. The grass is not greener on the other side! Church leadership has its own 'hanging out the washing' jobs and raising kids has excitement and fun too. Wives have more choice in some areas about what to do with their time than husbands do at time. Design a life that you enjoy!
  • Informing your wife about what's going on, helps wives being emotionally involved, even if they can't be physically involved.

Paul Dale 12 things we can do to hamper growth

  1. Go solo: you will be a bottleneck to growing your church. Get alongside you people who love Jesus passionately, whose lives are being transformed, whose love for the gospel flows out of them. They might not be the most competent or successful. You are part of a body. You are not over them, you are with them.
  2. Be vague: if you can't clearly articulate what you're about as a church and your people can't articulate what you're about, that will inhibit your growth. CBTB mission - live for Jesus and love like Jesus. Too many churches are too vague. 'Grow God's kingdom'. But how? What's unique about this church? How are you going to do it? That will help you know which ministries to start. Don't just leave it in the filing cabinet.
  3. Consumers and flirts: if you're not clear on expectations your church will never grow. It might grow numerically, but not as a real church. We've had to work hard at explaining what it means to belong to a church.
  4. Be tired: If every service is the same, you will look tired and you won't grow. Keep evaluating what you're doing and why you're doing it. Know your demographics and how to market, brand and structure. As the church grows, those things change. The services will look differently.
  5. Control your leaders: There's a danger in any church planting thing for the peopel to follow you as the leader. I've had to work really, really hard not to micromanage. There's stuff I'd never have thought of. There's stuff where I'm not so sure, but I try to work it out.
  6. Avoid accountability: In all of our bravado about church planting, whether we're caring for the souls of the planters themselves and their families. As I meet with other pastors, they have no one caring for their soul and their marriage. Make sure you have accountability in place, somebody who will initiate that.
  7. Build an empire: Kirribilli is a very transient population. That's a really good thing. It reminds me that church planting is not about an empire, bu equipping and sending out disciples of Jesus Christ. To have the mindset: 'I've got them for 2 years. How can I prepare to send them out?'. It may mean the church never grows past a certain number. That's ok. We're sending out lots of workers into the harvest. It stops you getting competitive, or getting angry that someone stole one of your members, or worrying.
  8. Look inwards: Lose your evangelistic edge. Keep evangelism and mission on the agenda. As a church planter, the danger is you get swamped with more and more admin stuff and more teaching and more discipleship and you lose your evangelistic edge as well. Who are my contacts? Who am I reaching out to?
  9. Poor communication: You can hamper growth by not communicating with your people what you're doing and why you're doing it. The personality of church planters is that they have 101 ideas. You're running down this track and no one understands where or why? Bulletin, e-news, verbal in church, members meetings etc. Over the last 5 years, I'm much better as pastoring small churches, than a larger church. We now have 7 staff. The danger is the staff discuss everything and know we're they're going, but the people don't. Find the people in church who communciate for a job and ask them how you could do better.
  10. Plateau, don't plant: You might get weary of starting something new on a regular basis. But planting mobilises people and causes them to step up and fill in gaps. There's a danger of thinking you're successful. If you're really about growing the kingdom, your eyes will be on those who are not coming. Breakfast church? Wednesday night? In a pub? It is hard work. Make sure you sell the vision for two new churches: the church that is going and the church that is sending. Both need to work hard.
  11. Be proud: The lack of prayer in our churches and our people. The lack of corporate prayer. When we stop praying we becoming self-sufficient. We need to seek the glory of the Lord.
  12. Seek your own glory.

Paul Dale on humility

We're called to be humble, not proud. Cultivate humility in your life, ministry, marriages, relationships. Daily keep going back to your saviour. Recognise you are a sinner saved by grace. Call yourself a servant: just a slave of God. Your life is not your alone, you are called by the Lord Jesus.

Don't compare youself with other people, but you're thankful for God's work in their life, and you're not jealous. You look for signs of grace in others and other churches.

Pride is something the devil takes hold of and it can destroy your ministry.

If God chooses to use you to grow his church, all glory to him. If he uses others, all glory to him.

Al Stewart on doing less

Most conferences give you a list of things to do. This talk's different. Do less. What is that we do in our lives and church lives that we really should stop doing, if we were 'operationally focussed'?

Al Stewart on 2Timothy 2 part 2

Al is great at the sound bite:

  • There's a subtle pressure to change the way we do things and what we say to get results.
  • It's easy to get tired in ministry, as you get older. But often guys stay in leadership. You retire, you just forget to tell anyone.
  • The greatest problem on earth today is not terrorism, but people with too much time on their hands.
  • It's hard to be gentle with people, especially when they're idiots.

Al Stewart on 2Timothy 2 part 1

  • I love Christian ministry. Even when I'm whingeing about it to Cathy, I love whingeing about it.
  • Where do you think the next generation of church planters are gonna come from? We gotta raise them up. We just gotta do it.
  • Soldiers expect life to be tough. As gospel ministers, how do you think of yourself? Outsiders normally think of you as a religious social worker. We ought to think of ourselves as 'soliders of Jesus Christ'.
  • As I feel sorry for myself and whinge about having a late night and confront someone about something tough and have to go to some denominational meeting that sucks the life out of you... Paul's talking about being martyred, I can probably cope with a few hard things. Dry your eyes princess. Maybe we have gone a bit soft if we are watching our super too closely and fussing about how many bathrooms the rectory has.
  • In gospel ministry, the list of things you don't care about should be very long. You still gotta have a life and hobbies and things. You gotta be focussed. (But note, young married men: your families are not another distraction, they are the first members of your congregation).

Dever didn't really speak heaps about the US scene

That would've been interesting, oh well. Did he decide not to speak much about that? Or was the time taken up talking about other things?

Internships at Capitol Hill

  • They run for 5 months and then new interns come on. Strange how brief they are, for those used to 2 year MTS apprenticeships!
  • The focus of the study is on ecclesiology.
  • They have to write a paper each day.

Dever on normal way to grow as a Christian

You are not called to manage your own spiritual portfolio.

Sunday morning worship, prayer on Sunday evening. That's the context in which we grow as a Christian.

Dever on evangelistic programs

I don't think they work very well.

We do have them, for example Christianity Explored. They put in a tonne of effort and maybe get three or four people along. At church, we have a few score non-Christians in the service.

But every week, our members are interacting with thousands. Seems better to train them to articulate the gospel and praying for them and encouraging them.

We get people up in the church and get them to share what they're doing during the week, and then we pray for them.

I want to do whatever I can to encourage a culture of evangelism, rather than a huge amount of time in an event.

Dever starting work at Capitol Hill

Before I became a pastor, I asked their permission to simply attend the church for two or three months, to get a feel for their traditions and understand how much it might cost to change this or that.

Dever on modeling concern for others following Christ

I hang around after services as long as I can, to talk to people, to model a concern for serving people.

Dever on contextualisation

If you think that contextualisation is getting people to like you, you haven't understood contextualisation. you know you've contextualised well, when the offence of the gospel is clear.

Dever on social welfare

There are a few things that the church as the church has to do: preaching, prayer, ordinanances, church discipline. Other things, like caring for poor unbelievers, are things that Christians have to do, but the church as the church doesn't have to do.

That's why it's tempting to focus on common grace good deeds. People like us feeding the hungry. The problem with trying to do things that make unbelievers like you is that unbelievers hate God.

Dever on differences between Australian and American church scene

  1. Things in America are bigger. More Christians and even more churchgoers - 50% Americans will attend some kind of relgious service in any one week.
  2. More public respect for religion... indeed more public respect, period :-)
  3. The denominations are bigger and active and healthy.
  4. In Australia there are different tribes that don't really talk to each other. There seems to be more cooperation in US.
  5. More personality cults in the US.

Dever disses vision statements

Not so big on vision statements, because they tend to be reductionistic and limit the full scope of the Bible. They lead us to focus on hobby horses. Better to instead work really hard on preaching through the Bible and letting God's Word set the agenda for the church.

MD on basics for church planters

As a church planter, you need to be more comfortable with risk, and other things, than a regular pastor. But the most important things for church planter are the most important things for a pastor:

  • You are all to be a minister of the word. Not build church by programs or personal relationships. Spend a lot of time to study God's word. Have a special concern for the gospel itself.
  • Be very clear on what it means to be converted and to be a member of the church. Perhaps it's a little easier in Australia for people to recognise that they are not Christians? But in the US we need to work hard at that, so people don't assume they know what it means to be a Christian.
  • Don't be slow or backward to raise serious issues that are basic. Everything you do in the Christian life is a matter of working out these basics.

Dever link up @ In the Chute

He's gonna give us some thoughts about the US Christian scene - important for us to understand, now that the internet has effectively dried up the Pacific...

TB on the value of clear pathways into church involvement

New people love nothing more than to see clearly how to become involved in the life of the church.

TB on the danger of ministering to subcultures

Part of them maturing in Christ is getting them to welcome people outside their subculture.

TB on ministering to burnt out Pentecostals

We do a lot of on guidance, the sufficiency of Scripture, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts.

You can take someone out of a Pentecostal church, but it's a long process to take it out of them. They're getting to know a God they've never known before. They're learning to read the Bible again, pray again. They doubt if they're really Christians.

PD on dangers in Kirribilli culture

We're failing at really repenting of materialism and consumerism.

PD on planting congregations

18 months ago, we had three Sunday services, we were about to plant again and we thought 'Should we plant outside Kirribilli? No. There's more here. Who aren't we reaching here?' For example, a lot of burned out Pentecostals, we weren't reaching.

We'll keep planting in Kirribilli. We'll plant again in 2010. No more place in our our church building, so we'll have to use another venue. But we'll keep trying to reach Kirribilli...

PD (through tears) on the humbling of God

If God had grown CBTB and I was at my strongest, he would not be glorified.

PD shaves his legs

When he's not planting churches he does triathlons.

TB on community gatekeepers

One of the first guys I met, he knew everyone: All the fireies, the surfies, the fishos. I just followed him around like a puppie.

[I'm a fisho]

PD on persauding church members in a new direction

They're people. Don't send an email. Don't Facebook. Meet with them. Talk to them. Listen to them.

Advantage of planting a daughter church

One of the advantages of starting a daughter church is for the mother church to clarify its own vision. If you fail in this, of course you're gonna lose people. Give people a reason to stay as well as a reason to leave.

- Andrew Heard

WP on buying a building in working class areas

When a new church starts, people will take what they can, because they know they church won't be around long.

Buying a building shows that you're planning to stick around.

TB on being underground church

  • Martin Robinson in his book on church planting says, if you can't do it in the core group while you're still underground, you probably won't do it when you go public.
  • Better to find the right size core, and the right type core, rather than just setting the particular date for the launch.
  • The minute you launch public and all the logistics are demanded, everyone works their cakes off [what does this mean? I love it] to make it work. Everyone working, and then some people in the seats. You need to picture what kind of gathering you need and then that dictates how big your core needs to be.
  • It's easier to get to 50 while underground than it is launching with 12 and struggling to get 50 in public. (Andrew Heard's reflection: the issue here, is managing expectations. If you launch a public thing people will expect a certain size and quality - of course they haven't got xyz, they're not at that stage yet).


PD on planting from a mother church

If you're going to plant from a mother church, make sure the senior minister is completely on board with everything you're doing. He's still going to be your senior minister for quite some time. Needed to work out financial relationships, common activities and planter-senior pastor relationship.

Andrew Heard reflects: You either need to find someone who's really secure in his ministry, or really exhausted in his ministry.

WP on putting 'community' in the church name

You put the word 'community' in your church name and then you can't put it on your T-shirts. The only person who could wear that T-shirt is Pamela Anderson.

Cultural style of our church gatherings

One of our blindnesses is how much our gatherings have a culture.

There are segments of our community that simply cannot come into our cultural type of church. Unless you step back from it and really work hard - reshaping, rethinking, recasting many cultural forms, you won't reach them.

- Andrew Heard

We've got Mentos mints in little bowls on our tables in the conference

I've finished mine. I want to nick the ones from the table behind me.

Lot of praying @ In the Chute

Half an hour at the start of the day. Fifteen minutes before dinner.

So good to be kicking this whole thing off with big dirty slabs of big kingdom prayers.

WP on Aussie guys

For Aussie guys church is like a museum and everyone's always talking about Moses in the wilderness for forty years. Always. Don't talk about Moses in the wilderness cause that's the only thing they'll remember.


In the Chute evening panel

Wayne Pickford (WP)
Paul Dale (PD)
Tim Baldwin (TB)

Where do I plant?

  1. Begins with a guy with a passion. Like a good marriage, if it ticks all the boxes, go with your heart.
  2. There might be a group crying out for a leader
  3. There might be a needy or strategic area that we need to find someone for.
- Andrew Heard

To plant a church that never reaches viability

Can so burn you that it's hard to get back into ministry again for ten years. We want to help prevent that.
- Andrew Heard.

Geneva opportunities

At the moment, Geneva is still a bit like a new church building. Still making it up as we go... But:

  • Shared conference with AFES and Don Carson next December.
  • MTS is working on church planting apprenticeship with
  • Contacts made with a range of denominations in a range of states
  • Local conference and events around the country.
  • A potential major patron for the ministry with lots of zeros involved.
  • Exploring contacts with SMBC and other colleges.
  • Organise a retreats for planters and coaches.

Tomorrow's timetable for In the Chute

8:30am - Video link up with Mark Dever
11am - 2Timothy 2 with Al Stewart
11:30am - Buildling structures to grow, Paul Dale
12:15pm - Lunch
2-3:30pm - Workshops/Assessments
3:30-4:30pm - Afternoon team
4:30-6pm - Workshops/Assessments
6:30pm - Dinner
7:15pm - Jim Wallace

History of EV part 8

  • There's not a lot of big things I would have changed, in hindsight. I would have trusted God more, rather than worry so much.
  • In my training experience, I learnt to take a long view of ministry, not to freak out and get defensive, to stay stable.
  • Although there was a time when I did freak out. In on church council meeting, I got really angry one night. 'Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life god requires'. But that hasn't happened often. I am able to absorb a lot of conflict.
  • It's too hard to do succession plan, when I may have ten years more of ministry. But I've begun to talk with a couple of people about what might happen. It's a hard one. One of the keys to succession for independent church work, is to be associated with a good Bible College, so that the church looks to that Bible College. Church in Melbourne, of 6-7000 has been through two leadership transitions. Good things to learn from them.

Control versus Growth

The more control, the less growth, and vice-versa.

In general, we dial it in a little too far up the control end.

In church planting, you have to, by necessity, dial it in futher down the growth end.

- Andrew Heard

Andrew Heard on finances

I don't have the same degree of accountability with people about their finances in the same way as I do about their church attendance or sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend. This is because of the many warnings in the Bible about money - don't let your left hand know what your right hand was doing.

We only get pledges as a piece of information, not as a way to hold people accountability spiritually.

We still can talk much more about money than we normally do in the Australian church, I think. There are times where you can talk publically and in general terms, about how much you are going to give to a particular project.

History of EV part 7

  • Change only comes with conflict. It's only when you open conflict up that people get to hear the truth. As long as they are not smashed, but loved and listened to.

History of EV part 6

  • Moved to a different school 18 months ago. Hard move at one month's notice. It seems that schools are less and less willing to house churches.
  • It's very hard to grow a ministry long term in public facilities. Constantly getting thrown out of facilities. Spent about $90Kpa on rent (dead money)
  • Another value of a building is identity. There's a reality about humanness (although God can break through these limitations). A building is recognised, gives profile. It was very difficult when we had to hold a funeral, for example. (Al Stewart - it can mean it's like you don't exist during the week).
  • There's a sense we're asking them to tithe their mortgages. Over and above regular giving, contribute the money they are giving to their own family home.
  • The church bought a small house earlier on, to get property and facilities onto the budget. It was used as office and youth group. It was an enforced saving plan. Over the years that has been increased.
  • Five years ago the church bought a 5 acre block. People freak. Within 12 months, it just slid into the budget.
  • When we planned to put the building fundraising drive to the congregation, the GFC hit in August. It was a challenge to trust God in that. We believe in miracles. I've never seen a church as broadly captured by our vision as we saw last year.
  • People are more ready to give than we think they are. But it's more than just standing up and saying 'Give'. You need to give a simple, clear, big thing to give to. Explain why it's worth giving to

History of EV part 5

  • The next big thing, was multiplying services. The problem with one main meeting is that people get bound together. They get united in one family. Family is powerful but it is destructive to growth. People become friendly strangers. They are not intimate, but alienating to visitors.
  • Big thing was starting a second morning meeting. There was a lot of arguing about it, but it was the right thing. Every step of the way we have fought tenaciously to get there. We have to argue, debate, wrestle with people, find out who the early adopters are, who the late adopters, find the middle group... because if you win them over you've won the day.

History of EV part 4

  • Hit 200 people around 2 years in. Most ministers are shepherds. But to grow beyond 200, we need to become ranchers. Shepherds answer phones and go to hospitals and everything. We go into ministry because we have a heart for people and the gospel. We want to be shepherds and we should. But unless we become a rancher over a group of shepherds, we'll never grow.
  • Being a shepherd makes you feel significant, needed and important. It's hard to let go. Others want the senior minister to serve them as well. Every 2 years in the ministry, I've had to go through a retraining process, and rethinking who I am. That has been very painful.
  • If you're at 50-60 and you're not visiting people strategically, you might not go past 100. (Al Stewart : 'When you're small, you gotta be hungry and chase those new sheep.'). In the early years, you gotta do everything. But if you're not thinking how to move back from doing everything, you never will. Cathy was very good at this. She'd tell me to go away for a day or two, step out of the urgency, get some perspective read and reflect.
  • On our budget from the start, we paid for an MTS apprentice. From the start, we wanted to be a multi-staff church. We broke lots of moulds in the first 8-10 months.

Big goals for EV part 3

  • Build opportunities - only a small percentage of people are self-starters. We mustn't imagine that if we just capture everyone in the greatness of the gospel they'll just suddenly go out an evangelise. We need to create scaffolding to enable them to be mission minded. Not many will do it themselves. This helps them express, reinforce and expand the growing commitment to mission. 

People go through a process in conversion to maturity. They might come to something once the first year, two things the next year, a whole bunch of things, including church, much later. Keep working at that.

Big goals for EV part 2

  • Building capacity - aim for 10%, so that the gospel is pervasive and the movement 'tips'. I have a little speech that just spills out, about the 10% vision. You can't reach 30 000 with 4 people. You need to build teams, stepping back, delegating, raising up others. Who's your second staff? Children's? Office? That decision will help/hinder you ability to build capacity. They're the decisions where leaders fail, those simple, small ones. We need to see where we're going, analysing where things were at and knowing how to get there. We need to keep working at those things. I used to go away in those early years, for three days on a yacht.
In our context, the focus was not youth or children's ministry, but training the adults in conviction to lead all those other ministries. So our next person was a training/nurture to equip them. In other situations, you may decide the engine room is the children's ministry - like Frank Retief in South Africa.

Big goals for EV part 1

  • Building conviction - through Bible teaching. Not just on a piece of paper. Through people like Al Stewart, Phillip Jensen, Col Marshall have so shaped me that this is just how I've been formed. Not just leadership skills/ministry skills but conviction. New membership classes are not just about sharing the vision, but teaching them the Bible so that they'd be kingdom-minded. That's the engine room. On Sunday, I lose touch with everything else, I just want them to see Christ and get the kingdom. With every meeting (planning, budget, everything) we start with 30 minutes of Bible.
  • Building a culture - It's the culture that shape people, not laws. Need to create a culture so that people catch it in the air. With every decision we made, we asked if it would help or hinder that culture. Become a culture-driven church, not a leadership-driven church. At one time we didn't do play groups or church soccer teams, because at that time it would have diluted what were about. We're about Bible teaching. Go and join a secular group! The culture is now entrenched.

History of EV part 3

  • After 12 months we gave back seed funding to a another church. We wanted the church plant to realise that they weren't welfare. 80 adults at this stage. Ever since they've been able to cover costs. 50 people ought to cover a full time pastor. We need to help people see that they need to be giving to the gospel.
  • People who come out of our church just think church planting is normal.

History or EV part 2

  • Started with a core group, Feb 1996 with one other couple. 4 adults and two kids.
  • One of the costs of planting was that their children had to grow up in a youth group with no other Christians. Thankfully there's now 280+ youth.
  • Invited another 8 people, 6 said yes, the other 2 said no, but came 8 months later. Started as a Bible study in a lounge room.
  • We found the living room too awkward for people to bring their friends and so moved to a school room a few months later. Grew to 30 people there and then went public in August. 30 adults and 20 kids at launch.
  • Great publicity was given when the local bishop opposed them. This attracted ten more people: 'If he was against you, we figured you'd be alright!". Maybe a good strategy? :-)
  • At this time Andrew was still working part time ("one of the worst years of my life") - running a night church in Sydney with 250 people (weddings, growth groups etc).

History of EV part 1

1991 - Andrew and Cathy wanted to plant a church.
1996 - They started.
2009 - 5 services (Saturday night, three Sunday mornings, one Sunday night). Each targets a different group. Each has its own identity. About 1200 attend on a Sunday, which makes about 1800 would see EV as their church. About 900 adults. Next week going to move into their new facilities, after planning for ten years. $6.4mill building. Seen hundreds of people converted. Constantly people getting converted. 18 staff and a huge crowd of volunteers.

"What we've done, we've done by God's hand. We done in answer to prayers over 40 years. It's a testimony to God's goodness. Not by might, not by power, but by God's Spirit"

It's important to extract principles

Because we mustn't simply copy what they are doing, but work out how it applies in our situation.

- Tim Baldwin

A good thing about Andrew Heard's ministry is

A ministry philosophy that I hadn't really seen before.

It's worth picking his brains and understanding the theological principles from them.

But it can be hard, because sometimes they do things out of intuition.

- Tim Baldwin

Tim Baldwin on Central Coast Evangelical (EV)

I've heard lots about EV before I joined: They're growing but'... 'all transfer growth', 'watering down the gospel' etc

When other churches grow and ours aren't so we try to think of other reasons why. So we say it's all 'transfer growth'.

Often the transfer growth is good, because they're moving out of churches that aren't giving them the gospel. But at EV I have also seen not only transfer growth where people get converted and matured and active in ministry, but also lots of conversions from outside.

Chris Ekins gathering contacts in Foster

I wanted to get to know as many people as I can as quick as I can. So I joined two soccer teams. So I was permanently sore all winter. We're starting to see a litle fruit from that.

Tim Baldwin interviewing Chris Ekins

TB: So it's ok to make dumb decisions and then change them?
CE: I hope so!

Cross the pain barrier

Al Stewart:

Perhaps we don't see a lot of fruit sometimes is that we don't cross the pain barrier sometimes in our evangelism?

Al Stewart - 2Timothy 1

Crunching through some delicious Bible exposition:

  1. Either you're ashamed of the gospel or you suffer for the gospel.
  2. The Pastoral Letters are very important because they are a link from the apostles to us - the apostles passing the pattern of ministry on to the next generation. We must beware of those who want to undermine the Pastoral Letters.
  3. Usually Timothy is called Timid Timothy. I'm not convinced of that. Paul's saying: 'I'm about to be martyred, but step up and take my place'. I'd call him psychologically healthy!
  4. Quoting from "Tortured for Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand (about Christians in Communist Romania): 'Everybody was happy: we were happy preaching and they were happy beating us'. There's one other funny story in the book, but I won't use it, in case I need it some other time.
  5. Those scary opportunities where we're tempted to be ashamed always sneak up on us.
  6. I was at my last confirmation, where a lady stood up who was converted when she was 76: 'I've got so much to learn, I'm in such a hurry'.

Blogging In the Chute

Turns out the conference centre has Wi Fi. So I'll be blogging it over the next few days. Enjoy.

I heard that John Woodhouse says

8/10 Moore College applicants say that J. I. Packer's book, Knowing God is their favourite Christian book other than Bible.

I wonder if that's still the case?

What do you say to a de facto couple with kids

When one of them gets converted?

Dirty Don gives a nifty answer.

Going to Sydney this morning

I'm gonna drink enough coffee to melt our faces with Nick. We'll start by going to Mecca Espresso in the CBD. Then we'll have lunch with Bron and Maisy.

Then I'm going to St Cuthbert's Anglican with Ben Pfahlert from MTS. I'm crashing at his place tonight.

Then tomorrow we are going to Geneva's Down the Drain conference. I'll be MCing three or four of the sessions and doing three church planter assessments. I've gotta work on that stuff on the plane this morning.

Matt Chandler is going into surgery

He had a seizure and they discovered a tumour in his brain, I think.

He has written on his blog, prior to going into surgery.

Another dear friend, founding elder of Crossroads and hero of the faith here in Hobart has been in the ICU after having a heart attack a week ago. He seemed much better yesterday, but it's still a long way to go.

Heavy stuff.

Savvy advice on funding proposal

A good friend of mine gave this savvy advice for submitting a funding proposal to a businessman:

One idea however would be to include your nice flyer in a printed nicely presented proposal letter etc and post in A4 envelope. Then send it all by email the afternoon when the mail should have arrived and refer to the hard copies he should have received. This is a chance for him to read it in hard copy, which he'd much prefer than reading it all in electronic email attachments (he's not a fan of big attachments), and then also a chance for you to include the nice looking flyer, and your business card etc. The photo of you in the flyer will help him to visualise who he's supporting, which is important.

Good suggestions, don't you think?

There aren't actually three ways to live

Keller makes the rhetorical point that we need to apply the gospel both to wordly sinfulness and religious sinfulness - "to good people and bad people". That's very helpful. He says "There are actually three ways to live".

It's a helpful reminder, but it's not ultimately true. That's obvious, but sometimes we don't realise the obvious when we hear a powerful speaker say something.

So there you go. Religion is really a subset of rebellion against God.

So there are really only two ways to live: continue in our rebellion against God and face his wrath, or submit to Jesus as Lord and trust in him for eternal salvation.

Izaac's on Geneva's website

Check it out.

John Piper ruined Twitter (and Facebook)


H/T Nathan

Hating on Logos (and all Bible software really)

I've been using Logos for the last six months and I've found it kind of crappy.

Besides, I'm not particularly convinced that Bible software is all that helpful most of the time. It's a great way to stop using your original languages and, for that matter, you brain. I agree with Con on this:

The risk of using software is that you can short-cut the learning process, just as you will with an interlinear (see my second post). You need to struggle to remember words and grammar, rather than just get a quick answer (By the way, this need only apply to your 'Greek reading time', not every time you use the software). So, if you're disciplined, go ahead and use the software for your Greek reading. But if you can't be trusted not to cheat, then close your laptop, and get out a paper Greek New Testament. If you can find one.

A problem with software is that it doesn't tell you which words you should already know. You think you don't know a word, so you get the quick answer, then think, 'oh yeah, I knew that'. A vocabulary tool like Sakae Kubo's book is better in this regard, but I'll address vocab revision/learning in a future post.

Anyway, it's nice to hear some of the criticisms of Logos voiced here:

a business model which charges often-ridiculous prices for public domain books, and book sets which contain an inordinate amount of chaff, I have consistently found the intricacies of the software off-putting. Logos has never been easy to use. It's complex, counter-intuitive, challenging software. Consequently, I seldom use Logos for anything but simple Bible searches.

Glad I'm not the only one who hates on Logos.

History of Cumberland Uni Church part 4

The saga continues. Anakin Skywalker has now become Darth Vader but on the bright side, there's no more JaJa Binx.

Some good reflections here about the difference between (and not necessarily the equivalence of kingdom growth and local church growth):

So was Uni Church a failure? As I think about individual people I'm forced to conclude that CUC was not a failure. As always, I think about myself first, and the way God has used the people and Bible teaching, and example of each other striving to live the gospel out, to greatly encourage and strengthen me in living out the gospel message. I think too of the way God has grown new followers of Jesus. I have sentimentally been looking at old photos and keep being surprised at the number of people who have become Christians and then moved on, that I had forgotten about. That's quite astounding really, that in a church whose weekly attendance over six years has rarely touched thirty, that I could actually lose count of the number of people God brought to faith in Jesus. Our goals that we set were at least in part being met: we were reaching Cumberland campus with the gospel, we were encouraging students to persevere and we were training men and women for long term ministry.

You see, I was wrong (and let's face it, a little bitter) when earlier in the series I wrote of the godly spin-doctoring we performed as each person chose to leave our congregation, we would inevitably rebadge this leaving as "being sent". But I've changed my mind. We did send them. God through our feeble efforts as a church had raised up people who were going out with the gospel. Furthermore, we didn't ask them to stay. We could have but we didn't. No, we sent them. And knowing the people they are, who were going to serve mightily in other long-term ministries, if we'd begged them to stay they probably would have. Though no doubt we needed them, Uni Church was a sending a church.

New students brochure

Nick from St John's designed an awesome brochure for new students starting at UTAS in 2010. I wish I wasn't a part of this ministry, so that I could get this brochure and then join it!

Fundraising for my new work with the University Fellowship of Christians is going really well. I've now got a little over $70K in donations or pledges. The last $30K will enable us to lease and set up office space and hire a 1-2 day/week admin staff. It's a funny thing, setting a big vision, like raising $100K. You know it's possible, but when it starts to come together you still get the shock of 'Whoah, this is actually going to really happen!'.

I'm very thankful to the people who have been generously supportive of all of this and hope that a few more people will sign on in these last few weeks of 2009, either for ongoing financial partnership, or once-off contributions.

Thinking carefully about parachurch

Arthur and Tamie are blogging through these issues at the moment.

In Australian Christian circles that have been strongly influenced by the Knox-Robinson thesis of church, there is an awful lack of thoughtfulness about parachurch organisations - whether small groups, uni ministries, Bible Colleges or denominations.

Knox-Robinson thesis is, as Andrew Heard says, 'a desert island theology of church'. It's not a complete definition and it's irresponsible to brandish it around recklessly. Just because people 'gather around Christ in the word' at small group or campus ministry doesn't make it a church in every way that a local church is. Just because Acts 29 and the Anglican denomination are both networks of local churches, doesn't mean that they are both equally denominations, either.

The Brag Shelf

Christian single men take note.

Keller says young ministers shouldn't go to the city

But to the country.

To not eat, smoke, laugh, take herbal baths. To eat a lot of peaches. To be slippin and a sliding, playing domino.

Props to anyone who can add some further lyrics from songs about living in or moving to the country.

Mounce blogs about the ESV vs TNIV


Personally, I'm much more of an NIV guy and I don't like NIV dissing much - or TNIV dissing for that matter. The vast majority of 'bad translation' in the NIV doesn't even need to be commented on in a sermon, you can just paraphrase as you explain. When you do need to 'correct it', you should be brief and very courteous (let's not forget that a international team of experts created the NIV!).

I have a lot of sympathy for a decent amount of the gender-neutral translation, although the TNIV does go too far and make Hebrews 2, for example, kind of meaningless. Still, I agree with Mounce that assuming gender-neutral stuff always involved feminism is mean-spirited.

I've looked at the Holman a bit and quite like it. But still don't feel too bothered with the NIV, actually.

H/T Alan

Benny's A29 bootcamp review now online

On Sola Panel.

Tim Keller wants to save your yuppie soul

Article in New York magazine.
H/T John Tyson from Trinity Grace

Swiss ban minarets

The Swiss have banned the building of minarets in their country:

But Martin Baltisser, the SVP's general secretary, told the BBC: "This was a vote against minarets as symbols of Islamic power."

H/T Experimental Theology

Pastor as resident theologian

Sojourn's Daniel Montgomery's 'breakout session' from the recent Louisville bootcamp.

In the Chute final rego details

76 registered.
18 candidates for church planting assessment.
10-12 candidates we reckon will actually complete the pre-assessment paperwork and actually be assessed.

I'll be doing assessment interviews with David McDonald from Crossroads Canberra, cause we kind of go to the same church :-P

I'm really looking forward to hearing Mark Dever and Al Stewart and Andrew Heard speak. Not so excited about Jim Wallace to be honest.

Reckon the biggest highlight will be to meet and chat and scheme with everyone.

Starting small

My first article for Geneva.

Is idolatry the major definition of sin?

Stu asks the hard questions.

I've posted comments over there, so I won't repeat them here. But I both share his concerns with the new dominance of this image for sin and yet think that there is something more biblical about it than previous, secular definitions that focussed on selfishness rather than false gods.

Positive characteristics of Pentecostalism

Joe reports J. I. Packer's twelve point list on his blog, Talking Pentecostalism.

Like a solo flute

The evangelists have told their stories up to this point not only with a steady crescendo of drama and narrative tension... but also with a persistent build-up of scriptural quotation, allusion, reference and echo. A glance at the biblical references in the margins of Mark 11-15 will make the point. Even the burial narrative has strong biblical resonances. After this, the resurrection narratives convey the naked feeling of a solo flute piping a new melody after the orchestra has fallen silent. Granted that the evangelists felt so free, as our own scholarly traditions have insisted, to develop, expand, explain, theologize and above all biblicize their sources, why did they refuse to do so, here of all places?
N. T. Wright, Resurrection of the Son of God, p. 600.


City on a Hill (formerly Docklands) now online

Nice looking website, don't you think?

I love the cartoony Melbourne skyline with animated lights and sun and aeroplanes. Very cute. I like that they've started a pastors' blog. I like the 'Sunday Services' page tells you how to get there via train, car and tram with cute icons for each. The structure to the site is pretty clear and easy.

I don't like the fact that I can't choose to open things off the menu bar in different tabs. It's all animated within the site itself. I don't like that you can't scroll down on the first page, or that the frame for the site doesn't change when you navigate to different parts. The information on the site could also be more integrated, with the information about the preaching series being linked to the recordings of the sermons.

Obviously everything will get tweaked in the coming weeks, but it's a nice start. Well done guys.

Benny Pfahlert attended the A29 Oz Conference

And wrote up a review, in typical Pfahlert style. Here's some highlights (I quote):

  • They spent a lot of time talking about 'The Message,' or what Acts 29 thought was 'the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.' I was very impressed and could see that they are Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone and Scriptures Alone people. They understood and clearly articulated what was the difference between THE Gospel and the FRUITS of the Gospel. I was very encouraged.
  • The Acts 29 blokes were earthy, tough, straight talkers.
  • Acts29 are unashamedly complementarian. Thank the Lord for the 'man up' message of these brothers. Too many organisations have custard in the spine on this issue which results in less Australian blokes reached in the long haul.
  • They're on about the great commission primarily. They see making disciples as the primary activity, that, when blessed by God, gives birth secondarily to a church, i.e. a group of believers. They're after conversion growth not transfer growth.
  • I got no hint of them having Pentecostal or Charismatic theology, in fact, they considered anything even remotely "gospel plus" as anathema. They spoke vigorously against prosperity teaching and wordless incarnational evangelism. They were very serious about reaching out without selling out.
  • American generosity. Acts 29 said repeatedly, "We have come to serve." I believe them. They don't want "Acts 29" badged churches. They genuinely want to share their tools and resources.
Here are some of his questions:
  • There was not a lot of expository preaching; this is understandable as most talks were topical, but when there was a reasonably long section to deal with e.g. 1 Peter 5:1-5, the speaker skipped across it. Not a big deal, but a difference I noted in comparison to my heritage.
  • They spoke repeatedly about contextualization i.e. taking time to be truly missional... Ironically I did not feel that the Acts 29 leaders did this with regards to working out what was the best way to recruit and train church planters in Australia.
  • Dave Fandy used the word "calling" erroneously to refer to being called by God to plant a church.... Half the world's Christians use the word "Calling" erroneously, but I raise it because it surprised me. Acts 29 were so careful with their use of language, and if there's a word you want to use carefully in ministry recruitment, it is the word "calling."
  • Speaker choice. It is very curious to me that the Australian church planters put on the ticket at the conference were Steve Chong (Kirkplace Presbyterian Church, Sydney) and Will Henderson (Engage City Church, Brisbane). These two men were godly, humble saints, but neither of them have had much experience in church planting (nor claimed to be experts). Steve began in January 08 and Will's church launched on 15th Nov 09. I would have liked to have heard from one of the nations best practitioners who was long in the tooth.
  • Acts 29 do not understand ministry apprenticeships nor the role they've played in Australian church history. When I explained MTS Apprenticeships to both the International Director and the Aus/NZ Director, it was like someone pressed 'pause' on their screen savers (their faces). When I finished my 60 second description of the MTS recruiting strategy (MTS Challenge à MTS Apprenticeship à theological education à MTS Trainer), they simply got back onto talking about what they do in the States. It was like two ships in the night.
I think the full thing should be appearing on Sola Panel sometime soon.

Why I didn't sign the Manhattan declaration

Challies says he agrees with John MacArthur:

John MacArthur offers this explanation as to why he will not sign. "It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct 'communities.' Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as 'historic lines of ecclesial differences' rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity. … [It would] relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time.