Interview: Al Stewart

Christian Reflections: Do you listen to any sermon podcasts? If so, who are you listening to at the moment?
Al: I probably listen to Tim Keller more than I listen to anyone else, especially given that I plan to be back speaking to CBD office workers next year. I'm trying to sharpen up on apologetics etc by listening to the master.

What does Geneva mean?
Al: Geneva is named after the city where Calvin did most of his ministry... he raised up hundreds of missionaries and church planters... to other cities and countries. "Geneva" is to be... a network of networks, to help recruit, assess, train, and resource church planters, we're keen to do this in cooperation with other like minded people around the nation. we can do more working together than in competition.

What will its relationship be to the Sydney Diocese? Is it really just an Anglican thing?
Al: No it's not just an Anglican thing, we've got a meeting of about 20 guys from around the country at the end of September... So far FIEC have said they want to be involved, we've got Presbyterians, Baptists, CRCs and we're keen to work with other Reformed Evangelical people. Sydney Diocese will be one of the players, but it's wider than just the Anglicans.

Did you actually have a falling out with Steve Chong and Guy Mason? Why are you going separate ways?
Al: No not a falling out... Guy and Steve, Andrew Heard and Mikey Lynch and I are still mates. In fact I'm having lunch with Steve on Wednesday, and I had a great time at RICE last week. 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.

I still pray for Guy and Steve, and I'm sure God will bless their ministries, they're great young blokes, and there's plenty of sinners to go around in Australia. What I mean is we're reaching such a tiny proportion of the population there's plenty of room for us all to get on with gospel work, and not be critical of one another.

Aren't you the Bishop of Wollongong? Have you had any experience in church planting yourself?
Al: I'll be the Bishop of Wollongong until the end of the year... Then I'll be moving... back to Sydney to take a position with EM, and with responsiblity to get church planting happening in the Sydney region. This will be one hat I'm wearing, the Geneva network will be the other hat.

Me and church planting? ... I've started a night church in Mt Druitt, been involved in setting up approx 7 church plants at St Matts during the 90s, been the pastor of a plant into UNSW, and been a... member of a church plant while I was at Youth Works. We've managed to get 4 or 5 startup plants happening in the Wollongong region... I've been doing itinerant evangelistic speaking all this time, and I'm keen to move back to more frontline evangelism... in partnership with City Bible Forum.... I don't think I'm an expert, but I'm keen to get back to the front line, and I have had a lot of experience in coaching and helping to resource young guys starting out.

What are three new ministries or church plants in Australia that you think are worth watching?
There are lots of different models at work around the country:

  • Holy Trinity Adelaide is... working out their own model of how to start new congregations. They are starting with larger teams of people and resourcing the plants strongly at the start.
  • Wayne Pickford (with Church Army) has headed up a team that's done great work at Berkley in the Illawarra... They've been using adopt-a-block and really started from scratch.
  • Hans Kristenson's church Resolved is another new effort, Hans has planted a church in the Newtown area in Sydney,
  • Phil Campbell and the Presbyterians in Brisbane are using a different model again.
  • and of course Guy Mason in Melbourne is doing a great job in a great venue, a pub at Docklands.
There are a few other guys in small communities who haven't yet got to start a public meeting, so I'm not sure if they want their work advertised yet.

Our aim is that Geneva will provide a forum where people will be able to swap ideas, talk with each other, both on line, and in person.

Critique and recommendations for campus ministry

I just read an insightful critique of campus ministry in America. Some juicy quotes can be found on the University Fellowship of Christians 2010 site.

Here's just a sample:

Missions means aggressive progress
It is this area – progressing as a campus mission – in which even the largest college ministries seem to struggle.
On the opposite side of the concern about impatience with
new college ministries, there is a danger of established ministries becoming complacent. Just as newer ministries are often too harshly judged based on their small size, some better established ministries seem to assume too quickly that their relatively large size, longevity, or level of support automatically indicates health and quality. But many large or long‐lasting ministries still may lack the very things I noted in the last chapter, such as strategy, collaboration, successful 
preparation of students for post‐college life, and health. 

Interview: Will Henderson QLD church planter

Over the next few days, I'll be conducting some interviews with characters around the country involved in church planting; asking the hard-hitting questions and getting to the bottom of things. Think of it as Today Tonight, except for Christians ;-)

First up, we have Will Henderson from Brisbane:

Christian Reflections: Do you listen to any sermon podcasts? If so, who are you listening to at the moment?
Will: Andrew Heard – CCEC, Matt Chandler – The Village Church, Gateway Church…

CR: What have you been doing, what are you about to do?
Will: Just arrived back in Brisbane to plant a new church in the city, Engage City Church.  Prior to that I spent a year working in U.S. learning all I could.  Before that I undertook a four year church revitalization which was blessed to rejuvenate the existing church and plant a daughter, International Church.

CR: What will your relationship be to A29? To RICE? To GENEVA?
Will: I was affiliated as a Church Planter with Acts 29 in 2008.  So much has happened since then in Australia! I would love to be in relationship with both RICE and GENEVA and serve in any way possible.

CR: You've been in ministry in Australia in the past, haven't you? What lessons have you learned reflecting on the past?
Will: Jesus.  It is all about Jesus and following Him in His mission to seek and save the lost.  The mission has been set and we need to be loving and firm as we lead and guide our people to follow Him and join in His work in our communities.

The big battle is to regularly take the time to step out of working in ministry and work on it by defining reality and making the necessary hard calls required to move ahead.

It is my job to gather, equip and resource the team.  The buck stops with me.

Church planting is not the goal.  Church planting is a by product of following Jesus and sharing Him with others.

CR: In general, churches grow much bigger and quicker in the US than in QLD. How do you think you'll find the adjustment?
Will: No worries mate, I've had a healthy dose of reality working as a leader in an Aussie ministry over the past ten years.

CR: What are three ministries or church plants in Australia that you think are worth watching?
Will: Easy - Acts 29 Australia, RICE and FIEC's Geneva initiative.  All of them are gospel centered, Biblically solid evangelical networks desiring to see Aussies reached for Jesus.

From pastor church to team church

Dominic talks about the adjustments he might need to make to enable the church to grow and members to step up and take greater responsibility.

Block Cinema 5: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

We screened this last night and it was the best yet.

Our free, community cinema has taken a lot longer than I thought to get some momentum going. We started off with 12 people and last night we had over 25 people there. Among those were four people from the South Hobart community, one guy we contacted through the soup give away and a bunch of other people's mate.

The film itself is a masterpiece, so beautiful and weird and sad.

Some key turning points for Block Cinema have been:

  • Some of the Tuesday Crossroads crew putting in extra effort to make the SoHo Community Centre really atmospheric and preparing nice nibblies (for Akira we even had sushi, tempura prawns and pocky).
  • The woman who coordinates the SoHo newsletter (sent to every home) found out about us and asked if she could advertise us in the newsletter. She said that members of the community had talked about wanting a community cinema in the past.
  • The Tuesday Crossroads gradually figuring out the role of hospitality in the mission of the church.
  • Inclusion in the What's On calendar the youth section (Attitude) of the Hobart newspaper.

Editorialising: RICE en:trust

There hasn't been much up in the circles I blog in discussing and assessing RICE's new en:trust church planting organisation. So I thought I'd weigh in with a couple of thoughts as someone who doesn't know the ins and outs. Please feel free to add your thoughts and to correct me if I'm wrong:

  1. It's exciting and encouraging to see new things get started. We have been blessed by Steve Chong's ability to gather, inspire, mobilise and network. He has managed to Chong together a great package here.
  2. It seems to be very focused on coaching from overseas celebrities and with the exception of Steve Timmis, they're all Americans (I think). I don't know if that is ideal, to have a coaching framework built around people who don't live and minister here in Australia.
  3. Like everything with RICE, there is the potential danger for some people to get involved because of the razzamatazz rather than the gospel.
  4. It seems fitting for some leading figures in Sydney church planting to be an ABC, rather than a white guy.
  5. RICE will benefit from ongoing meaningful, vulnerable investment in relationships with Australians outside of their network (not saying that they aren't already - just that it's the risk of any movement to become self-contained).
  6. They've gotten this up and running so quickly - props to the the RICE work ethic! It's a joy to see a group who are able to pull together an impressive program so quickly and get on with getting church planting actually happening. When exactly does Steve sleep - in the year of Jubilee?
Please share your thoughts, but understand that I am writing as a personal friend of Steve and RICE, so I am not inviting or condoning a tall poppy harvest.

Surviving a lifetime of ministry

Chris has posted some notes on a Peter Corney lecture, including these great sections:

Get a mentor (but be honest, you won't be totally 100% open and honest with them so don't promise it! He then sidetracked to make an interesting point about how all humans crave intimacy, with others and ultimately with God. But the road to intimacy is vulnerability, and all people are afraid of vulnerability and therefore aren't good at intimacy. I thought this was an exceedingly interesting observation that I'll think and blog more about no doubt.)


Watch your appetite (if you're eating too much, drinking too much, watching too much tv, ask yourself what your trying to escape from, and deal with it).


Make a list of things you will never do/you will always do (eg. I will never harbour resentments, I will always admit quickly when I'm wrong, I will always be honest, I will always remember I'm preaching for God, not the approval of man).

Peter Corney was a mighty ministry man @ St Hill's Anglican in Melbourne. He wrote the book on welcoming.

Chandler warns against imitating US pastors


Gosh this dude reminds me of George McFly.

(H/T Murray)

Genesis 50 - Andrew Heard

Listened to this while doing the dishes this morning. It's like an exegesis-application waltz: expound-apply-apply, expound-apply-apply.
There's a lot of good quality drops in the dark cellar of the EV website, go check it out.

Tassie's new godly man crush

We have the best preachers in the world, right here in Australia. Why does anyone need to download American preachers?

David Jones exclaimed at last weekend's Ministry Challenge Conference. David was just one of many Tasmanians who discovered Greg Lee.

Here are some Greg gems:
  • Core groups for new church plants should be 80-100 people, rather than 20-40.
  • Spiritual gifts are not about what you are good at or what you enjoy (who would choose the gifts of 'involuntary suffering'!), but rather 'What does the church need?
  • Romans 12:1 is about giving your life for the ministry of the kingdom, but in the first place, it is about offering your life to God in godliness.
  • Rather than only delegating what you can't do yourself, rather only do what you can't delegate.
  • Church planters, need to be evangelistic, risk takers, those who love people, restless, confident, take responsibility. But many successful Australian church planters lack one or two of these.
  • The different between staff and volunteers is that staff have time, gifts and training, whereas volunteers may only have one or two of these.
The sermons should be online at soon. I'll let you know.

Phillip speaks about the ups and downs in long ministries

Mark Dever interviews Phillip Jensen - short version from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

  • First five years are very positive.
  • 5-10 years is very negative.
  • 10+ years is positive in a more realistic way - although if the church is declining, they are still postive (for good or for bad!).
  • Taking a study leave/sabbatical in the 5-10 year period can be very helpful to help you stick at it.
  • The long-term growing ministries are often the result of ministers who continue to grow and develop their own thinking, ministry and life.

Response to the 18 Theses?

It does seem, from a distance, that this years' St Andrews' Cathedral training conference offered many correctives to Driscoll's visit in 2008. For example:

Phillip Jensen interviews John Woodhouse from Moore College on Vimeo.

Michael Kellahan offers a sober assessment of both last year and this years' material, avoiding anything falsely adversarial like the title of this blog post.

The big reason I welcome the input Michael reports from this year is pastoral. I grieve for the many young idealists who will storm out to plant churches, thinking that somehow because they have a Driscoll podcast that they'll plant a big church - and the self doubt and shattered dreams they may well face. I have great sympathy for the Aussies coming back from Acts 29 internships to face the great difficulties of planting churches in Australian soil, after the more fruitful American context.

It's good for us, pastorally, to be reminded of the way the mustard seed grows.

Korn Kristian

Korn guitarist admits Jesus is first.

SALT is lookin good

Just got the latest SALT magazine in the mail. Gosh it looks good. While I'm at it, gosh the AFES website looks good too.

This edition is especially exciting because it's all about identity, with lots of articles ranging from theological themes - being, believing and belonging in the people of God - practical topics - Freaks and Cliques: Identity and accepatance and the grace of God - and heaps in between.

Shout out to the SALT team!

Cornerstone Presbyterian Church website

Cornerstone is the daughter church of Crossroads, planted in 2001 by David Jones and a team, including Dan Shepheard and Paul Chew.

They have had one of the worst websites in Christendom for the last three years, but things have changed.

Vision 100 IT has just flicked the switch on their new Drupal site, with plans to improve it's design and content even more.

Especially worth checking out is their enormous sermon backlog, including stacks of David Jones sermons.

It's a big day for the entire internet

I have changed the Christian Reflections blog template.

(Are you happy Dave?)

What computer experts are actually doing

Jason just posted this flowchart.

Often asking for help is being lazy, isn't it? Whether it's troubleshooting a computer or figuring out what to do with some other problem in our lives or ministries, we like the expert (or pastor) because we can just ask them what to do, rather than troubleshooting.

This is bad because:

  • We should treasure experts and only use them when we need to.
  • We should treasure experts and therefore not distract them from focused, high level work, rather than constantly distracted with low-level work.
  • Often the problem is just a freak problem and there is noone who knows an obvious answer. The expert doesn't know the answer, they are just gonna be quicker and decisive than you are. Quit wasting their time and learn to be fast and decisive yourself.
  • We should seek to expand our own abilities and problem solving skills, and troubleshooting is one way to do this.
  • 'Delegating upwards' to more skilled people is just ugly and ruins chain of command. Denzel Washington wouldn't approve.

Stu's review of Xpose Preaching

In which he calls me 'the mini Don Carson'. Thanks mate.

Tuesday Crossroads Soup Giveaway

We decided to do a soup giveaway in a central square in Hobart. Our mission was to be 'nice' to Hobart. We chose 3-5pm to grab the after-school crowd cause I have a theory that rebellious highschoolers will find a good 'uni' church more helpful than a church youth group.

We got everything designed nicely and printed and laminated. We even got lanyaryds.

Josh reports on the event, with photos and everything.

We gave away around 70 litres of soup and 200 rolls. We served spicy tomato and lentil, creamy potato and leek and curried zucchini and pumpkin. Along the way we had lots of chats and people were very happy to grab a flier to find out who we were. People were very appreciative of us taking the effort.

The team were hardworking, cheerful and uncomplaining. They really enjoyed the event and were encouraged. I think it has really helped reinforce that our church is more than just our Tuesday night meeting.

Nice quote about eating together

"To break real bread is to break the loveless hold of hell upon the world, and, by just that much, to set the secular free."
-The Supper of the Lamb, A Culinary Reflection, by Robert F Capon (p. 115)

(H/T Margaret)

Turning communters into settlers

Jon Tyson, an Aussie church planter in Manhattan, has just posted on the beautiful Redeemer Church Planting Centre website:

1. The intense, challenging nature of the city causes people to revaluate ultimate things, and a clear, compelling message of the gospel is appealing to the newly spiritually open.

2. Cities can be a lonely place, even though people are surrounded by literally millions of others. When the church shows hospitality, love of neighbor, outreach and concrete acts of hospitality, the lonely can find they have a place in a new kind of family. This new kind of urban family often acts as a real relational force that functions as a family tribe, that gives meaning and coherence to the urban life.

3. People are living more fragmented lives than ever. The beauty of the Christian story is that God is making all things new. Individual hearts, communities, art, business, commerce, entertainment, families, neighborhoods, and even the world. Being able to integrate a career with gospel mission, community with acts of justice, and personal transformation with a balanced view, people get swept into the story that is larger than themselves.

Ultimately we would love to hear, "I simply cannot leave New York, I could never give up the spirituality the city offers me, the deep relationships I have formed in this community, and the holistic vision for city renewal that pulls me into a larger story."

Where to leave gospel tracts?

Every time you go to a gas station, leave a tract in the credit card slot at the pump. The next person will have to take it out to put his credit card in, and will appreciate having something to read while he's filling his gas tank.... Every time you go to the grocery store, discreetly go down the beer aisle, placing tracts in the top slot in beer cases.
(The Way of the Master training manual, p. 37-38)


Friendship Evangelism is a betrayal of trust?

"Mrs Smith: What a blessing. We had him at our church too. He advocates non-confronttional evangelism.

Christian: Yes. I like that. It's what I've been using with Erik. We've become good buddies over the years.

Mrs Smith: I like that approach too. It's so much better than shoving the gospel down people's throats.

Christian: True. That can alienate them. I'm waiting for the right time to bring up the subject of God with Erik. It's been two years now. I don't want to make him feel uncomfortable. Erik came to one of the meetings, and he really seemed to enjoy it. That's the good thing about non-confrontational evangelism. Maybe today he will bring up the subject. I never do, because I don't want to offend him. I'm just a good friend, and I think that's the right approach....

Friendship evangelism that doesn't seek a way to quickly tell people about their eternal fate is the ultimate betrayal of trust. How can we call ourselves a friend of someone we don't bother to warn of terrible danger? Friends don't let friends got to hell."
(The Way of the Master training booklet, p. 14-15)


Problems and solution?

Dorothy Sayers cites the following in her weird and wonderful The Mind of the Maker:

I am informed by philologists that the 'rise to power' of these two words, 'problem' and 'solution' as the dominating terms of public debate, is an affair of the last two centuries, and especially of the nineteenth, having synchronised, so they say, with a parallel 'rise to power' of the word 'happiness' - for reasons which doubtless exist and would be interesting to discover. Like 'happiness', our term terms 'problem' and 'solution' are not to be found in the bible - a point which gives to that wonderful literature a singular charm and cogency.... On the whole, the influence of these words i malign and becomes increasingly so. They have deluded poor men with Messianic expectations... which are fatal to steadfast persistence in good workmanship and to well-doing in general.... Let the valiant citizen never be ashamed to confess that he has no 'solution of the social problem' to offer his fellow-men. Let him offer them rather the service of his skill, his vigilane, his fortitude and his probity. For the matter in question is not, primarily, a 'problem', for the answer to it a 'solution'.
- L. P. Jacks: Stevenson Lectures (1926-27)

I find it quite enlightening and so I share it with you.

Just filled out staff report to our eldership

And here's some of my basic projects over the last couple of months:

  • MTS Training with Jake Bevan
  • Preaching and prayer
  • Apprentice Training meeting with Hobart apprentices
  • 1:1 with Nick Mollison, Andrew Davies, Mike Jolly
  • Jake Franklin Hall chaplain
  • Cold contact
  • Fliering/letterboxing
  • TBT
  • TBTeam
  • Block Cinema oversight
  • TBT comedy night
  • TBT mission research and preparation
  • TBT Soup Giveaway oversight
  • Preaching @ The Branch and consultation with their elders/deacons
  • Preaching @ 'BOOST' in Launceston
  • Arrangements for videos for Vision 100 website
  • Ministry Challenge Conference
  • Vision 100 IT
  • Vision 100 Committee (as secretary)
  • Vision 100 Leaders Conference planning
  • Steering Committee
  • Attending Crossroads House
  • Selecting DVDs for 'F' Word series
  • Blogging
  • MTS Tasmania oversight
  •  Preaching @ MYC
  • Preaching @ Xpose Preaching Conference in Melbourne
  • Fundraising for Uni Fellowship of Christians
  • Introducing Christianity courses
  • Input in GENEVA Australian Church Planting network

What is GENEVA?

Standing for [the next] GENeration of EVAngelicals, Andrew Heard and Al Stewart clarify it's vision in a letter sent out recently:

Geneva will be run by a board of Australian church planters which will include Al Stewart, Andrew Heard and Mikey Lynch... The passion of Geneva is to establish not just culturally relevant growing church plants but ones that are grounded deeply in reformed theology and so able to be kept from simple pragmatism and fads. This core value is critical for establishing churches that are best able to pass on a vibrant gospel to future generations.

Geneva will have its first conference in Dec 7-9. It will be for anyone who has just started a church or is interested in planting a church in the next three years. That conference will include our first assessment process...

Planters who are assessed to have the gifts and aptitudes for planting grounded and growing church plants will then be invited to join an ongoing coaching/training and mentoring program. As well as specialist input from our most experienced Australian planters and Bible teachers there will also be input from some of the best OS planters and thinkers such as Mark Driscoll.

Additionally, and perhaps most significantly, each Geneva planter will be linked up with an established planter already a few years down the path of planting with the intention that these planters become personal mentors and coaches to walk with Geneva planters through the early years of planting.

Already the church planters of FIEC network have given Geneva their ringing endorsement and are now intending to use Geneva as their assessment and coaching structure. This ensures others connecting with Geneva will have a wealth of Australian expertise to draw on.

God is your patron

A challenge to not let our view of God be shaped too much by our cultural assumptions.

I really just linked to it cause it has a picture of Vito Corleone.

I dislike the look of emails without paragraph spaces and capital letters

dear reader
this is an example of the kind of letter i think looks ugly.
i mean i'm not gonna get too annoyed by it or anything but i do think that capitalisation does improve the look fo an email. the first letter of the email, the 'h' in 'hi' looks so much better if it's capitalised, it gets things off to a good start.
also, i don't like it when an email just begins with my name (eg mike, got your email. yes that will be fine).

Report from FIEC conference

Big Sam Hilton reports on the FIEC Conference over at the Hunter Church blog.

The man sulk [reader warning: confessional post]

Guys complain that girls expect them to read their minds. But when guys get sullen and moody, they expect girls to read their minds.

Let me rephrase that, when I get moody, I expect Nikki to read my mind.

Perfectly reasonable, right? Anyway, when I read Manhood by Steve Biddulph a year or two ago, one of the things that struck me was a comment that over time, men become bad at expressing their preferences. I think that's true of me.

And the more simple and childish the preference, the harder I find to express it and the more moody I get as a result and the more I wish Nikki could read my mind so that I wouldn't have to be the one to express it.

So I like getting takeaway food as a family every now and then. But it feels kinda embarrassing to ask for it often. But, as silly as it sounds, I've resolved to try hard to express my preference for take away food.

Jesus All About Life by Murray Smith part 1

Steve is the leader of RICE and the founding pastor of Kirkplace Presbyterian. The pastor for training at Kirkplace, Murray Smith, has recently written an evangelistic book for young people as a part of the Jesus All About Life campaign in Sydney.

So Steve asked me if I'd review the book. It's hard to say no to Steve. He probably uses hypnosis.

Here's some initial thoughts:

  1. The book design is great. I like the paper size, cover design and matte pages. I don't like the grungy, faded design bits so much, that feels a bit too trendy, but man, it's pretty nice.
  2. The writing style is very personable and engaging and clear, without being over-the-top 'relevant youth pastor' writing.
  3. The angle in, speaking about the good things God gives us, is well chosen and appealing.
  4. Man it feels long! I know there's only a little bit of text on each page, but it feels long. Would anyone actually read all this? On the other hand, it does cover heaps of ground, including heaps of apologetics stuff.

Tassie network blog aggregator

Aw yeah.

Way of the Master take down: Ministry Challenge Conference

You don't need to be an expert in apologetics. Instead, you'll learn the forgotten biblical principle of bypassing the intellect (the place of argument) and speaking directly to the conscience (the place of knowledge of right and wrong) - the way Jesus did.
- The Way of the Master Study Guide
I'll be doing a critique of The Way of the Master evangelism method on the Friday morning of Ministry Challenge.

Social media killing church websites

This article asks. I think you need both. You can't just hide on a website, you also need a Facebook page (not Facebook group, I reckon).

Social media will do a better job than a badly designed, and badly used website. But if your church thinks and plans how to use and incorporate its website into church life and communication it is still a valuable place. It's the church's internet home turf. That's a valuable thing, I think.

Peter Adam on Australian land rights

Here's the article.

Peter Adam on compensation to the Aborigines


Multiplying services and church planting: yes and no

A basic form of church planting is multiplying services. It's one of the basic ways to grow your church and reach new people. But is it really church planting? Yes and No.

Here are some of the problems with multiplying services:

  • You run the risk of just duplicating what you are already doing, rather than doing the hard planning, contextualisation and planning for outreach.
  • Multiplying services can place a limitation on leadership development. All leaders of the new service still sit under the leaders, eldership, parish council of the existing service. There is a glass ceiling to full responsibility.
  • The new service rarely has the full range of duties and services of a new church. This makes it easier to start a new service, but stops the new service from developing a robust life of its own.
  • The leader of the new service need not be as much of a pioneering leader, because the new service may ride the wave of the existing service's momentum. Focusing on starting new services can let us off the hook of recruiting pioneering leaders.

Tassie evangelism blog

I didn't even know about Tell Aussies until Daniel applied for a Vision 100 Grand Plans Grant.

I'm really encouraged by this kind of initiative-taking and keeness. Looks like there a many awesome things afoot in Launceston - who would've thought?

New prefixes for church

This article suggested the following, 'in the future':


I think they're kinda cute.

H/T Doozy

University Fellowship of Christians 2010

I'm planning praying and fundraising for leading University Fellowship Christians on the Hobart campus of UTAS next year. Here's the website.

I'm picturing a significant change in structure for next year:

  • Put some fresh ideas, design and energy into contact first years, during O Week and through schools and youth groups, including a February overnight camp.
  • Move the preaching meeting to a monthly, evening meeting.
  • Beef up a small group ministry. I'm not thinking cell group Bible studies, but 'gospel communities'.
  • Work very, very hard at teaching and promoting friendship evangelism.
  • Detailed and demanding student leadership pact. In-depth leadership meetings weekly.
  • Multiple-event "Mission Week" outreach each semester.

Carson on the gospel and good deeds

A lecture linked to here.

Carson even criticises the vision statement of the people who invited him to speak to them! Ouch.

Suggestions for four 5-10 min videos

We're thinking about showing some good stand-alone 5-10min videos during a church mission in a few months. Any suggestions of some good content from John Dickson, Phillip Jensen, Dominice Steele or others? We don't have internet access in our church building, so it's gotta be easy to download. They are for evangelistic meetings, so they gotta be engaging, good quality, stand-alone vids.

RICE29: Sydney church planting intensives

Steve and his RICE force have just announced their plans for en:trust, the new, church planting arm of RICE, which is becoming a bit like Tetsuo at the end of Akira (at 1 min 20) with more and more branches developing.

We're looking at a dinner training session with Matt Chandler and Mark Dever, followed by a string of church planter training seminars with people like Driscoll, Kauflin, Scott Thomas, Jamie Munson, Ed Stetzer and Steve Timmis. Forget about it. Awesome.

But here's the fun bit: limited to 30 registrations. Get in there. Get the T-shirt. Go Akira!

How to grow a church

Andrew has begun a series on How to grow a church. This is an important issue. GENEVA stresses as one of its goals to plant grounded and growing churches, for, as Andrew says, if a church doesn't grow, then church planting just multiplies plateaued and frustrated churches that are unable to themselves plant.

A thing I have heard Phillip Jensen say multiple times is that 'it's easy to grow a church, what's hard is growing disciples' or something similar. I have found this quite discouraging, actually, because I find it quite hard to grow a church.

The statement is misleading, because any sphere of expertise is difficult, whether disciple-making, church growth sociology or nuclear physics.

But Phillip's point, as Andrew also stresses in his post, is that we must be interested in the growth that the Lord gives, not mere numberical increase.

Sometimes a bunch of flowers is just a bunch of flowers

But sometimes it's taking the time to ask How are you?

And sometimes it's just doing the vacuuming.

Sometimes it's actually snuggling in front of the television, rather than falling asleep in front of the television.

And sometimes it's actually buying a bunch of flowers.

Justin lays out his plans for an evening congregation

This will be fun to watch.

The smell of hell

Justin has written a powerful post about the whole Kyle and Jackie O mess.

Michael Jensen wonders whether a 'the public' have had enough and a preferring decency in public behaviour.

New free national Christian magazine is about to appear

Eternity. A publication to provide coverage and communication for GENEVA? I hope so.

Andrew Heardy tweets the low-down on FIEC conference

Sounds great.

Adam's fall was more mighty than Christ's salvation?

I was at this event where a self-proclaimed Pelagian argued that all people must have benefited from Christ's death, or else it would mean that Adam's fall was more mighty. After all, according to a Reformed view, Adam's fall affected everyone, but Christ's salvation only affects some.

Here are four attempted answers:

  1. Christ's salvation achieves more than just the salvation of the elect. Christ's salvation brings about an entire new creation.
  2. Christ saves all of his 'race', just as Adam kills all of his 'race'. That is, the elect are the proper point of comparison to the fallen human race.
  3. Christ's death has the capacity to save all. Whether or not it gets applied to all does not cancel out the fact that it has the great capactiy to cover the entire fallen human race.
  4. Christ's salvation brings about a great reversal of the corruption and death of many sins. Adam's sin was simply one act that had great consequences. Yes it had great ramifications, but the act itself was still merely one sin. Whereas Christ's act stepped into the flood of many sins.

Dominic Steele blowing stuff up

"Don't go to Katoomba at Easter time"
"Family is more important to Christians than Jesus at Christmas time"
"Easter should be a bigger event in the church than Christmas"
"There's a message here for monks: they are wrong"

Imagine a church that parties | Talk 7 of 7 from Christians in the Media, Sydney on Vimeo.

I think he is wielding nunchucks and a bo staff during this sermon.

The reason we need preaching

And not merely Bible reading, says John Stott, is because:

Scripture is partially closed. We need preaching to open it up.

6 ways to live evangelistically

From Ed Stetzer:

  1. Look at people with eternity in mind. We need to see them as God does and care for them like it counts.

  2. Show some hospitality. Believers should be the people that everyone else wants to be around. Remember, you're the ambassador for Christ so get into the lives of people living outside the kingdom.

  3. Watch for a chance to serve. People give away all of their energy on family, work, and menial chores. Look for ways that you can care for your neighbors--even if it is just cooking a simple dinner for them.

  4. Visit someone new. Look around and find someone who needs a friend. Maybe it's visiting in a nursing home or rocking babies in the NICU. Make your days count with people who feel they don't.

  5. Whatever you do, don't do it alone! Take your family, your small group, or the whole church. And be sure to take the kids. They're ready to change the world, so let them.

  6. Love like Jesus. He lived a robust life of caring for the lost. He did it by meeting their needs and telling them the truth.

If you're looking to take your small group through what it means to be missional, this is a great place to start.

Preparing for Sovereign Grace Sydney

Dave has just flicked the switch on his website. Prayin for ya mate.

Creative ideas for making contact with others in day to day life

My favourite in this list is bring extra stuff when you go out in public:

It's happened to you. You are at the pool or the park and someone didn't bring something they needed. Maybe it's a water bottle. Maybe it's bug spray or sunscreen. I was golfing several weeks ago and someone needed a Tums. I had one. When you go somewhere, bring extra consumables and be aware of folks around you who might be suffering from forgetting something or a lack of planning. Be over-prepared and generous.

A great list that challenges us to be kind and thoughtful and outward looking in our day to day lives. If we aren't, how do we expect to find opportunities to share the gospel?

H/T Al.

Is writing making us dumber?

Plato tells the story about how the technology of writing can be feared:

Thoth has invented writing and proudly offers it as a gift to the king of Egypt, declaring it "an elixir of memory and wisdom". But the king is horrified, and tells him: "This invention will induce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it, because they will not need to exercise their memories, being able to rely on what is written…rather than, from within, their own unaided powers to call things to mind. So it's not a remedy for memory, but for reminding, that you have discovered. And as for wisdom, you are equipping your pupils with only a semblance of it, not with truth."

Now we talk about the internet making us dumb. I'm not trying to make a point, but it's a cute quote, eh?

H/T Gordo.

Change to Jesus All About Life adverts

Sydney Anglicans reports that the campaign in Sydney will declare 'Jesus has the answers'.

I actually was pretty impressed with the original ads and am not immediately grabbed by this new slogan. But then again, I didn't formally get involved in the Tassie campaign either.

We'll see. We'll see.