How we look at the world and what we miss

I've just started following this blog, as Fi's recommendation:

And suddenly I was struck by the disjunction of it. I wondered if the leaf-blowing man was mesmerized by his occupation. It seemed unlikely — thankless, unending undertaking that it is this time of year. I imagined him tranquillized, rather, his mind left to wander over the other gardening jobs that faced him that day; his concerns, perhaps, for his friends' marriage; a dozen daydreams of what he might rather be doing. For him, I suppose the cascading leaves represented not captivating art, but a toilsome obstacle preventing his progress towards more interesting tasks.

Attractive pro-life campaign

I saw the Not Born Yet ads on tellie last night. They are really well produced ads and have a very positive tone to them. The website is also very nicely put together.

The organisation that produced them is called Emily's Voice, I gather. Does anyone know anything about them?

CBTE @ Mars Hill

Getting the feeling that the Mars Hill staff are finding it tough doing church-based study.

This is one of several tweets/blogs from the Mars Hill crew where I've gotten that vibe.

What is Geneva? Part IV

An Australian movement

We are committed to being truly indigenous and contextualised. We acknowledge the heritage of evangelical ministry in Australia and plan to build on and cooperate with the existing networks, institutions and denominations who have gone before us. We are led by men who have already shown long-term commitment to Australian Christianity. We wish to empower and mobilise new ministry among the many diverse cultures here in Australia in the way that will benefit them in the long term.

What is Geneva? Part III

The thinking man's movement

We are committed to being theologically deep and strategically driven. We will be driven by theology and encourage others to plant with a robust philosophy of ministry. We are wanting a long term impact all over the country. We are in it for the long haul.

Detailed info for In the Chute

2pm, Monday 7th December until Lunch, Wednesday 9th December.

We have at least 3 goals for the 'in the chute' conference in December:

1. To equip and encourage church planters:

  • We'll have Bible input each day from Al Stewart on 1 Timothy.
  • Mark Dever, from Capitol Hill Baptist and 9 Marks Ministries will speak on the issue of keeping focused on the main game and open up for an extended Q&A via video chat direct from Washington DC. Mark has a huge breadth of experience to tap into.
  • Brigadier Jim Wallace, former head of the Australian SAS will speak to us on "Leadership lessons from the Special Forces".
  • We'll have panel time with a variety of Australian planters on how to get started and build your initial core group.
  • Paul Dale (Church by the Bridge) will speak on getting past the launch stage into building for growth - structures, strategies and lessons.
  • Wayne Pickford (Church Army) will run a seminar on "adopt-a-block" and lessons learned at Berkley near Port Kembla. Wayne has grown a vibrant ministry in a very tough area, very few people have been able to do this in Australia.
  • Andrew and Cathie Heard (Central Coast Evangelical Church) will be running a seminar on how a marriage survives and grows through planting - a must for couples.
  • Other Electives will include - budgets and finances in the early stages; Look, feel and vibe in a church plant; maintaining a missional focus, etc.

2. Assessment of potential Church planters:

  • During In the Chute we'll also be assessing people as church planters. The assessment process has been adapted with permission from Acts 29, and involves submitting questionnaires, documents and a sermon before hand. Potential planters (usually couples) will be interviewed by a team of people experienced in ministry, and then advised on how to proceed.
  • The assessment process takes some work for you to prepare, that's because we're serious about helping you work out where you can be most useful in serving Jesus.
  • You can register to be assessed as you register for In the Chute.

3. Launch the Geneva Network:

In the Chute will also the opportunity to be involved in the Launch of The Geneva Push. We are aiming to build a network of church planters who will encourage each other, share info and ideas. And above all…. Get on with it!

What is Geneva? Part II

Getting on with it

Geneva partners already include networks who are getting on with the job. We will keep planting churches whether Geneva existed or not. We are not all talk and we are not waiting around. Come and join as as we march ahead.

What is Geneva? Part I


We have older, experienced pastors who have slogged it out in the Aussie mission field for decades. But these guys don't want to hog the platform and hold onto the power. They want to invest their time and energy and wisdom in the next generation. Why go it alone when you can have grizzly, tough old dudes backing you all the way?

Some advice for wives

From Love and Respect by Eggerichs:

  • Write him a note telling him that you value his efforts in going to work each day
  • Tell him that you know he would be willing to die for you
  • Be gracious when he makes bad decisions
  • Admit that you can sin and thank him for his perception and godly counsel
  • Tell him you like him and spend time alongside him in silence (as he plays sport or watches TV)
  • Let him acknowledge his sexual temptations without fearing he'll be unfaithful or without shaming him
Guys - do you like list?
Girls - give it a go and tell us how you get on!

Anonymous comments welcome ;-)

Some advice for husbands

From Love and Respect by Eggerichs:

  • Suggest the unexpected - park on teh bluff and watch the sunset
  • Say 'Let's talk' and ask her what she's feeling and your body language shows you want to talk (eye contact, relaxed body language)
  • See something that needs to be done and do it without a lot of hassle
  • Try to keep the relationship 'up-to-date', resolving unresolved things and never say 'Forget it'
  • Call her to let her know your plans
  • Speak highly of her and be physically affectionate toward her in public
Girls - do you like list?
Guys - give it a go and tell us how you get on!

Anonymous comments welcome ;-)

Advice on using Google Reader when it gets overloaded

Nathan shares.

Google Reader collects together all the latest posts from the blogs you choose. It's way better than going to blog after blog to see what people have written. If you haven't joined yet, you probably should.

Evangelical Euphemisms: He's a dear brother

"He's eccentric."

Evangelical euphemisms: that works fine in his context

"I don't really agree with anything he says, but I can't deny that his ministry is going really well."

Evangelical euphemisms: He's doing a great work over there.

"I don't really know anything about his ministry, but I like the guy."

Luke wants to recruit a team

For his international students mission.

A great goal to have. What advice would you give?

Farewell Crossroads (sort of)

Crossroads did a formal farewell of Nikki and I as pastor and pastor's wife tonight. We then had everyone back to our house for a barbecue, far too much gourmet cheese and Cath's tiramisu and frog in the pond for the kids. The Koreans also love the frog in the pond.

We were made to feel very loved and valued and appreciated. The church bought us fancy wine glasses and me a fishing rod. Kate Gross gave a very moving speech. Nikki and I managed not to cry (but only just).

Our goal for 2006-2010 was to "Establish a God-glorifying, theologically sound and contextually sensitive church and Ensure that the whole church understands and owns the church's mission".  At the start of 2006 I wrote:
I don't know what exactly the future holds. I can imagine that God is preparing us for major growth in spiritual maturity and evangelistic effectiveness. But then maybe not. But whether or not the statistics change much, we will be a church which is healthier, more stable, more mature and therefore more pleasing to God.... Will Crossroads stay a Presbyterian church? Who will lead the mum's groups? What about evangelising international students? Are we going to move out of the cinema? I want to urge all of us to do our best to leave those questions to one side. I want to encourage you to capture to vision wholesale. Whatever the outcome is, I want you to help me make it happen. Some of us may even choose to leave the church once it is established but that shouldn't affect our commitment to helping it happen.

Praise be to God that, in his own way and contrary to our particular schemes, this is exactly what has happened! I am stepping down as a pastor of Crossroads full of of joy and wonder.


Inspired by Greg Lee and mdae possible by the generosity of Crossroads, I'm going to take a sabbatical from 4th November to 17th January.

Here's a video about sabbaticals from a non-Christian pov:

(H/T Gordo)

What am I going to do? Here are some of my thoughts and plans:


  • Go camping with the family, possibly at Freycinet.
  • Go to Strahan for a couple of days. I love the West Coast of Tassie, especially the mountainous mining moonscape and gravel footy oval of Queenstown.
  • Learn to fish/squid. I like the idea of fishing in the zombie-shanty-town Lakes District of Tassie.
  • Go for lots of bike rides.
  • Go to the PCYC gym.
  • Write some short stories. Maybe start another novel.
  • Cook things, including fish.
  • Help Nikki in the garden.
  • Watch a lot of boxed sets.
  • Read all the books that jml keeps telling me I need to read: Infinite Jest, Gravity's Rainbow, House of Leaves and Notre Dame De Paris.
  • Do some Tai Chi exercises, without the Chi.
  • Eat food at Al's house.
  • Do a couple of overnight solo retreats to my dad's shack at Opossum Bay.
  • Hang out with friends and family lots.
Renewal (couple of days each week)
  • Learn Hebrew.
  • Step my Greek up a notch.
  • Read Volume I of Church Dogmatics.
  • Read some Tertullian, cause Fi said I'd like him.
  • Read The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark and The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins.
  • Read The Resurrection of the Son of God by N. T. Wright.
  • Read some Alvin Plantinga and Con Van Til.
  • Visit other churches around Hobart.
  • Go to In the Chute.

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Unconditional respect

I'm skimming through Love and Resepct by E. Eggerichs.

The interesting move it makes is to pair together unconditional love (the primary female need) with unconditional respect (the primary male need), as seen in Ephesiasn 5:33.

It's very helpful to place these side-by-side, I think. It shows that respect, for guys, fits into the same relational 'box' as love does for girls. And it's helpful to show the importance and challenge of both loving and respecting even when you don't think the other person deserves it.

Here's one little quote:

Those of you who have a son, consider how sad he may be never to hear from his wife, 'I really respect you'... If his marriage is typical, after the first year, he will know his wife loves him but will feel she neither likes him nor admires him for who he is as a human being. If the pattern is like most, she will spend her energy seeking to help change him by her loving criticism and complaints, whih eventually feel like contempt to him.

Is that a helpful insight? What do you think?

Casual sex replaces prostitution?

Challies has this sad and thought-provoking reflection from SuperFreakonomics:

The authors draw out all kinds of interesting conclusions about prostitution and especially about how prostitution has changed over the years. For example, they show that the wages for prostitutes have fallen drastically over the past hundred years. The reason is pure economics and goes back to the law of competition. "Who poses the greatest competition to a prostitute? Simple: any woman who is willing to have sex with a man for free. It is no secret that sexual mores have evolved substantially in recent decades. The phrase 'casual sex' didn't exist a century ago (to say nothing of 'friends with benefits'). Sex outside of marriage was much harder to come by and carried significantly higher penalties than it does today." In other words, in decades past women held closely to their virginity and were unlikely to give it away to anyone but their husbands. Today a man has, in the words of the authors, "a much greater supply of unpaid sex." According to the laws of supply and demand, prices must then fall. In our generation only 5% of men lose their virginity to a prostitute; in days past it ran as high as 20%. Today more than 70% of men have sex before marriage; in days past it was just 33%. Premarital sex has proven a free substitute for prostitution. Once the domain of the professional (at one time one in every fifty American women in their twenties was a prostitute!) premarital sex is now the realm of any woman. This has driven down wages through a strange but sad kind of free market force. I guess this gives us something to think about the next time we hear about the falling levels of prostitution. Though we rejoice when prostitutes find another line of work, it does not necessarily mean that we have cured one of society's ills. It may point to changing market forces based in turn on declining morality.


Social Issues Executive website

Just about the best thing in the universe.

You can now subscribe to their Social Issues Briefings by RSS.

We need good ethical thinking to do evangelism well in Australia, I'm convinced of it.

Robbie sings about Jesus

I love Robbie.

Now he's singing about Jesus.

Go figure.

H/T Sam Green.

Summerleas Christian Church now online

Summerleas is a church plant of Kingston Christian Reformed Church.

My older brother, Dave Lynch began working there as the pastor at the start of this year. Their vision is to be an organic church, that expresses and communicates the gospel through genuine Christian community.

Check out their website and sermon catalogue.

What would the doctor think?

He went on the record saying that he didn't believe in sermon recordings because preaching was a special, live event. But now we have a Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermon library.

Maybe it's time for you to go on a fast from USA preachers and listen to some good, restrained, UK preaching. Lloyd-Jones is fantastic.

And if you're still not convinced, don't forget that Ghostface Keller prepared for his ministry in New York by listening to stacks of Lloyd-Jones!

Dave Miers is at Willlow Creek Leadership Summit

Listening to Bono and Keller and Tony Blair!

Follow his tweets.

Straight men fantasizing about lesbians is misogynist

Warning: adult themes.

It's a weird thing, and pop culture is full of it: straight men fantasizing about lesbians. Why is it?

  • It's probably about male insecurity. These fantasies have no competing male. Rather they have additional women to implicitly/potentially shower affection on the man.
  • It's probably got hardly anything to do with lesbianism. It's a fantasy that's not actually interested in female desire. In fact these fantasies presuppose bisexual women who are open to a menage a trois - that is, open to serving male sexuality. If the dream-women excluded and rejected men, the appeal would probably evaporate.
So in that sense, these fantasies are misogynist. If I am right then they are a particular, perverse form of the objectification of the female body and the use of female desire to satisfy male insecurity.

The prostitute of Revelation is Jerusalem

So writes suggests Bruce Lowe.

Peter Jensen's Synod Address

This goes forever and is so mighty.

Worth listening to, even if you're not an Anglican.

Reflections on writing about yourself

Don Miller reflects on writing a memoir, and by extension, about any writing about yourself:

1. Confession: There is something in me that wants to be known by others. I share my life to have other people read about it, put down the book, look me in the eye and say "you exist."

2. Confession: Half the time, if not more than half, I am full of bullshit. I share what will make me look good. If I am vulnerable, I share just enough vulnerability to be perceived as vulnerable, rather than to actually humiliate myself so that others can talk more openly about their own insecurities. I also leak in my accomplishments, and I've become a master at it. I don't even know I am doing it half the time, and the other half I strategically list my accomplishments so that they come off as dismissive or "in passing."

3. Justification: By exploring my own feelings about life, I am actually exploring the human condition, and in writing I try to find something interesting about "us" rather than "me" and so by reading about me, people are actually reading about themselves. I believe this is actually true of the memoirist. If they really wrote all about themselves, nobody would care.

Theological reflections on music in church

Michael Jensen shares some thoughts:

Part I

Sample quote:

But does this mean that church musicians are aesthetic relativists? I don't think it can mean this. We don't want to offer short-cuts here - ie, that the organ is a more sacred instrument than the electric guitar. That is just silly. No: what I mean is this. Without prescribing what the outcome is, I would expect that as music is pressed into the service of congregational singing and worship of God, it will be transformed as music. And this means that the church will continually be generating fresh styles as it puts the music it hears to holy purposes.

Which means that, while church musicians ought to be open to repeating what they hear around them, they ought also to be encouraged to innovate and develop their musical style as a reflection of what they are doing.....
A preacher I greatly admire once said to me when I put the relativist/pragmatic argument forward that no, there was definitely a style for church music. He said it was 'folk music'. Now, I think there is something in this - though I am not quite sure what he meant by 'folk'! That is, a style of music that achieves a marriage between the words of praise and the use in congregational singing can never be arbitrary, though it may vary enormously over time and place. It will be 'folk', I guess, if it is in the service of the people.

Part II

Sample quote;

The Psalms give us this theme of longing and desire for God. We Christians recognise that the popular song is a ready-made vehicle for the expression of longing and desire for God, because we instantly think of this when we hear it.

However, this is where the pitfalls lie, too. Since the 1930s the popular song has revealed itself to be capable of quite complex and even profound expressions of grown-up and mature emotions. But it has also been the musical vehicle for short-cuts to emotional fruition. It has lent itself to cheesiness - to the trite, the cheap, the quick, and the disposable. It has a tendency to be an adolescent form of music for expressing adolescent experiences - challenging no-one about anything. It can be extremely limited as a mode.

And while the popular song expresses much of what we might want to say to God, it doesn't capture all of the gestures and attitudes that are available to us...

Better Gatherings

What a beautiful website and a great idea:

The Anglican Diocese of Sydney's website for church meetings.

How to ask for ministry money

Ask Them Face to Face

This is the key. James 4:2 says "we have not because we ask not." The word "ask" is used in the gospels 113 times. God wants to teach us about asking: Him and others. I have looked at surveys as to why people give and the number one reason is always because someone asked them! It is not unspiritual or fleshly to ask. It is good, Biblical, and faithbuilding to ask. Let's not hide behind our fears. Let's walk toward them and render them powerless! The worst thing that they could say is, "No".

If you instead choose to cut corners, take the quick, easy route and just send a fund request letter out or make a group presentation you might have a 10% response rate. If you send a letter followed by a phone call asking for support, you might get 25% of people to say yes. But, if you are willing to sit down eyeball to eyeball with others and lay out the incredible ministry vision God has called you to, usually well over half of the folks pull their checkbooks out to join you as ministry partners! This approach takes time and money and courage, but it communicates to the donor that they (and your vision) are so important to you that you must meet with them in person. Don't be fooled: HOW you go about securing their commitment will determine the amount, consistency, and longevity of their giving. My research shows that ministries who train their staff to ask for the gift (in person) raise their full budget in half the time than groups who simply share the need, but don't ask. We have not….because we ask not. Sound familiar?

From Crux


Keller's sermons are free.

H/T Craig

Alan Reader to join Uni Fellowship team in 2010

Alan Reader is a great guy, even though he likes soccer, and he's pretty bright for a drummer.

He's going to be joining us in the campus mission in 2010 as an MTS apprentice. It'll be a real pleasure to be working with Alan. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Useful Facebook Tips for Campus Pastors

A Facebook Group that emails out advice on marketing well.

H/T Crux

The word-fast for the month


I over-use this word. I need to go on a fast.

H/T Fiona H

Block Cinema

Sam asked me a bunch of questions about Block Cinema, so I said I'd post them here.


  • A monthly community cinema, in the same place where our Tuesday night service meets.
  • It's free.
  • We show arty films or defining classics from across the history of cinema. We don't just show a film cause it's good. It's gotta be important in some way.
  • Films we've shown this year: Raging Bull, The Big Sleep, Quiet City, Akira, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Shining. Annie Hall is on next week.
  • We warn Christians with weak consciences to check out about the films in advance, cause some are explicit in one way or another.
  • We do up some nice finger food. We try to theme the food where possible (sushi and wasabi peas for Akira, bagels and cream cheese for Annie Hall).
  • There's no Christian spin on the whole thing. Instead we have some fliers about our church and upcoming events on a table up the back. I may say a word or two about events our church is running, but I don't labour it.
  • The bottom of our flier has, in small print, 'Brought to you by Crossroads Church, but don't worry, there's no strings attached'. It seems over the top, but both Christians and non-Christians have appreciated it.
  • I give an introduction to the films, with a few words about their importance and their themes and the questions they should raise for the viewer.
  • I was expecting a huge turnout really easily, but it has grown much slower than I thought. We began with 12 people, and we now have 25-35 people. This is now about 1/3 visitors, many of whom are 'cold contacts' as well as friends of church goers. It looks to keep building momentum.
  • Those who've come from South Hobart have alread adopted it as 'their very own cinema night'.
  • I wanted us to do something to make contact with the community. Some 'good deed' that fitted within our unique gifts and interests as a church. Cultural enrichment seemed to be a good deed we could do for a suburb (South Hobart) and in fact a city that is quite village-like and culturally sophisticated. Cultural enrichment is higher up the hierarchy of needs than soup for the homeless but it still is a good deed. Think about the cultural poverty of East Germany for a case in point.
  • There have been very successful film groups in the past - 'Cinema Afterdark' would regularly get 30-50 people back in the late 90s and the UTAS Cinema Society was also similarly popular. At the start of this year there were no such groups running.
  • Interestingly, I wasn't the only one who perceived this need. A month after I'd begun planning Block Cinema, a pub in North Hobart also began advertising a cult cinema night.
  • This whole thing was an act of 'pre-evangelism', a woeful title, but one that most you will probably understand. I prefer the word 'hospitality', both because it is more biblical and because it is less cynical.
  • Our hope was to both make contact with new people, build relationships with existing friends/contacts who haven't come to church yet and provide another point of contact with those already are going to church.
  • We have sought out permission to screen from distributors. Mostly this has been Village Roadshow or Madman so far. Except for the lo-fi film Quiet City we were in direct contact with the film company in New York City and they were really excited we were showing their film. They asked that we ask people for feedback and let them know how it was received.
  • Permission to screen, once-off, costs between $100 and $200 per film. Although Quiet City was free and we tried to get permission for 36th Chamber, but the Hong Kong distributor wanted $600.
  • We advertise in the local community newsletter (the editor of this loves Block Cinema and comes whenever she can with friends), Facebook, the main Hobart newspaper - in the Youth Section (the editor of this section - Attitude - also loves the idea) and with fliers and posters around the city.
  • We are going to have a donation box next year, so that regulars can contribute to the cost if they want to.
  • CCLI, the Christian copyright people, do a Video License. But it's only for in-house screenings. You can't advertise publically.
  • I've asked two guys in our Tuesday service to really own it. They organise all the set up and pack down. They've also gradually improved the atmosphere of the events. I'm still choosing the films at the moment.
  • I've asked another guy to design a flier that we can re-use to advertise the next three films. This gets a brand recognised and saves us from having to muck around with permission to use film graphics.

Yes Man review

I have just reviewed Jim Carrey's film Yes Man over on my other blog.

This would be a really great film to watch and discuss in a church context, I reckon. It challenges us in ways that are good for our spiritual lives and good for our involvement in God's mission.

Inerrant autograph text, not just codex

Writes B.(ig) B.(ad) Warfield:

We affirm that we have the autographic text; and not only we but all men may see it if they will; and that God has not permitted the Bible to become so hopelessly corrupt that its restoration to its original text is impossible. As a matter of fact, the great body of the Bible is, in its autgraphical text, in the worst copies of the original texts in circulation; practically the whole of it is in its autographic text in the best texts in circulation; and he who will may today read the autographic text in large stretches of Scripture without legitimate doubt.

Cited by J. S. Sexton on page 31 (footnote) of Themelios 34.1

Evangelistic sections on websites?

What do you think? Something about them has never really gelled for me. I don't know exactly why. Perhaps it's that I am guessing that the average Aussie will not be interested in a 'what is the Christian message?' page.

Perhaps something that is more FAQs-ish would work better?

A pagan sniffing around your website is looking for something a bit more juicy, with a bit more gestalt, than just 'Who was Jesus, anyway?'

Have you guys come across anything you've liked to look of?

Different levels of righteousness

Even wondered about those parts of the Bible that talk about so and so being 'righteous and blameless'?

Sola Panel has a really clear post on the topic.

Especially interesting is how Psalm 14 (quoted in Romans 3:10-12) is not actually a proof text that noone at all is righteous:

Psalm 14 by itself doesn't prove this point, but according to Paul, when you see Psalm 14 as part of the Bible's overall story, the picture adds up that there is no-one who conforms to the ultimate standard


New University Fellowship of Christians website

You can now find us here.

Creating value

Alex sent me this TED talk:

I found it pretty moving, in a funny sort of way. One of the roles of leaders is to work at creating value and this video shows the importance of that.

Always cool are the positive reflections on the power of social media like Facebook at enhancing the value of the ordinary and everyday.

Portrait of an 'elder brother'

Speaking about the parable of the prodigal son, Ghostface Keller writes:

Elders brothers have an undercurrent of anger toward life circumstances, hold grudges long and bitterly, look down at people of other races, religions, and lifestyles, experience life as a joyless, crushing drudgery, have little intimacy and joy in their prayer lives, and have a deep insecurity that makes them overly sensitive to criticism and rejection yet fierce and merciless in condemning others.


Bono V Cave

Greg Clarke asks who would win if they had a fist fight? on the Eternity website.

Why don't people come to the prayer meeting?

They should, if they really believed in prayer.

Let's turn the tables and not just blame the congregation. If the church leaders really believed in prayer meetings then perhaps:
  • We'd spend as much time preparing for prayer meetings as we do for Sunday sermons.
  • We'd get really good quality advertising and plug it really regularly, visibly, thoughtfully.
  • We'd make sure the whole event was planned really well, like we do our Sunday services - with good music, ushering, snacks, food.
  • We'd involve people in the organising and running of the evenings, so that there were a group of people who owned the meeting. We'd give some of our best people to the task.
  • We'd 'work the phones' to make sure people attended, like we would for a major conference. We'd call people up if they didn't attend, like we do when they don't come to Bible Study.
I suspect that because we don't do any of these things, that's why we don't have many people come to our prayer meetings.

And if we're not prepared to do any of these things, we should also stop guilt tripping people.

Do you pray village prayers to a village god?

A cool John Stott quote from this address by Mark Dever at the Matthias Media US Conference.

Distinctions in church planters and their training

PDJ outlines the differences between a church planter (who plants multiple churches) a church founder (who plants a church and then spend his lifetime pastoring it) and a church sponsor (a senior pastor who encourages church plants)

This article is a must-read:

Playing one round of golf does not normally qualify you as "a golfer".  It is the person who regularly plays golf that deserves the dubious title of "golfer". So it is a little strange to call somebody who has only planted one church a "Church Planter".  While he is planting the church the name may be appropriate but generally somebody who is a "Church Planter" plants more than one church.  In this he differs from a "Church Founder" or a "Church Sponsor"....

It may seem from this that, while the church planter needs a firm grasp of the gospel, he does not necessarily need the same depth of understanding as the founder or the sponsor.  And there is some truth in that observation.  The pastor is going to preach, teach and lead the same group of people for years.   All will experience the depth or shallowness of his theological education.  The church planter will soon move on before people realise his inadequacies.


Yet he too must have some depth of understanding.  It is not simple to adapt the gospel method to different situations without adapting the gospel truth.  It requires a sophisticated grasp of the essentials and the non-essentials.  In particular he will have to understand the doctrine of the church lest he lays some faulty foundations for others to build upon.  It is therefore important that he is either following a clear template or has thought out the theology of the church with great clarity.  Preferably the latter, so that he can adapt to the different situations in which he is planting.

Not belonging to Facebook

These so-called "refuseniks" have to be cared for — nay, protected — by their Facebook-using friends. Like Natasha Hawkins, 28, a dancer. Listen to the acts of charity forced on her peers:
They labor to send e-mails to share photographs, reexplain personal news that has been publicized on a Facebook news feed and wonder whether she knows about upcoming auditions or performances of other companies.

One woman interviewed for this article was so ashamed that she refused to give her name out of shame at not being a part of Facebook (well, she claimed it was because she was a private person, but what does that even mean?). The tone of the Post's article is only a little tut-tutting to these people, who should probably just man up and join to make it easier for us all to go look at what they look like and giggle. Only a little, that is, until this part:

Pew researchers point to a new but very small study they conducted to show that resisters and adopters 18 to 29 have demographic differences: Social networkers are more likely to have an annual income of $75,000 or more, and nonusers are more likely to have only a high school education.
H/T Christine, who posted the link on Facebook

If all you do is preach you've got it wrong

So writes Ghostface Keller:

I have often seen many men spend a great amount of time on preparing and preaching lengthy, dense, expository messages, while giving far less time and energy to the learning of leadership and pastoral nurture. It takes lots of experience and effort to help a body of people make a unified decision, or to regularly raise up new lay leaders, or to motivate and engage your people in evangelism, or to think strategically about the stewardship of your people's spiritual gifts, or even to discern what they are. It takes lots of experience and effort to know how to help a sufferer without being either too passive or too directive, or to know when to confront a doubter and when to just listen patiently. Pastors in many of our Reformed churches do not seem to be as energized to learn to be great leaders and shepherds, but rather have more of an eye to being great teachers and preachers.

H/T Al.

lessons from a 4 year old

I was doing a bible study with a girl today on 1 Peter 1, and we were blowing out about how much we forget about heaven (and our inheritance there that can never "perish, spoil or fade"), how far off it can seem and how we get so tangled up in our lives here.

Our little boy Xavier (4 1/2) talks about heaven a fair bit at the moment, and for him its a concrete thing that *will* come, maybe in a couple of weeks, maybe tomorrow. The questions he asks are concrete, like "how much chocolate will there be in heaven?" and "what do you think Jesus will look like when we meet him?" and "what will Jesus say to me when I get there?", to which I give frustratingly abstract answers. Although he's struggling not to sin, he lives with the certainty that heaven is in his future, even more sure than the holiday we've planned for a few weeks time or the baby being born.

I'm going to model my thinking about the certainty of heaven and my trust in God's plans for this world and eternity on Xavi....he's understands it much more biblically than me.

Pilgrim Hill - Christian hostel

Crossroads pastor Dan Shepheard calls this 'the craziest idea that is actually going to happen' - Pilgrim Hill.

The plan is for a Christian hostel, in the style of Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri.

It's up the top of the mad, rocky, windy road in the hills of Huonville - a place filled with hippies and apple farmers.

Sermon series on Sex

A new Trinity church plant in Mount Barker

A New Church - You're Welcome from Trinity Mount Barker on Vimeo.

How to organise something using email

Here's a few basic hints:

  1. Put the actions in bold and have short paragraphs.
  2. If you are trying to agree on a date/time for something, provide several options and ask everyone to 'Reply All' with their preferences. If they can make none of the suggested dates, ask them to propose 2-3 preferences.
  3. Keep a record of the replies in a text file on your desktop as the replies come in.
  4. After a few days, email personally (forwarding the original thread) those people who have not yet replied.
  5. Avoid asking open questions ('who wants to bring what?') to a group email. Instead operate like a wedding gift register and give people the specific options, perhaps even suggesting who does what.
  6. Once all the info is in, send out a brief and clear email that is clear in the subject line and the body of the email what exactly has been decided.

New Love Project - ideas to love your neighbour

This nice website generate simple ideas to be nice to others.

H/T Crux

American and Australian experiences of the internet

Mark Haddley, Geneva's new media manager has shared some reflections with me on the different 'experiences of the internet' and the need for a unique strategy for Geneva to best serve Australians:

1. Connectivity - the majority of Americans have access to far higher bandwidths in a greater variety of advanced forms. Cable was standard five years ago and is currently being replaced in various cities by fibre optic; wireless in the form of WiMAX can be relied upon in most country areas.

2. Ubiquity - the above has led to internet services being integrated into many more devices and contexts than Australians currently experience. Web browsing via the mobile phone has been a common experience for a number of years; e-readers have made significant inroads into the reading community; Amazon operates as an online department store, selling toilet paper and groceries etc. 

The upshot is that Americans are far more likely to look to an internet platform for a solution to a problem than Australians. It is an expectation that networks will provide an increasingly mediated community that can be checked in with regularly, from portable devices at any point. And the number of people involved means that there is no shortage of personal contacts to talk to when they do...

So, my belief is that when Acts 29 gave interested parties outside of the US access to the City, they did not consider that they would have to encourage people to use it. They were simply providing an approved platform for what is happening at most levels of society already in the US. Australians, however, are not that committed to their devices, though Gen Y is shifting that somewhat. Consequently they needed reasons to use such a device and when they arrived at it and found it did not contain relevant content or community they did not stay around. 

Now, it may be that this was simply a product that arrived too soon for the Australian market. Alternatively, it may have been too narrowly focussed given that it's dominant community is American, or too strange given that the majority of its users are already used to things like Twitter parlance. Whatever the case, the aim of The Geneva Push will be to build up an online network that reflects current Australian access and usage, provides content that is specific to our context and links people regularly with respected local church planters. 

My gut feeling, though, is that it is more likely to be a 'push' experience (we send the content out via a number of channels) rather than a 'pull' experience (people are drawn in by our flashy services) for at least the first 12-18 months, until the community builds something of a self-sustaining critical mass.

The Geneva Push FAQs

Here are some FAQs and how the Geneva team have tried to answer them:

  • What is The Geneva Push?
    • The Geneva push is a church planting network. We're aiming to assist church planting in two ways: to help recruit, assess, train and support church planters, as they get things started; and also to work with existing networks, churches, denomination around the country to help us cooperate in reaching Australia for the gospel. We'll offer support for existing networks and Geneva Push planters will be able to work with these other networks or denominations as they choose.
  • Who will The Geneva Push appeal to?
    • Men who know they're in for a massive challenge in planting a new church. They will recognise there is much to be gain by hooking up with a bunch of other young men going through the exact same pain, as well as connecting with a crowd of older men who are a few years down the track and know what mistakes to avoid and what things to do to really build healthy churches that are 'grounded' and 'growing'. The Geneva Push should also appeal to men who see they can give as well as get. As a group we can do much more than we can alone. We hope The Geneva Push will build a network of planters who will multiply more planters.
  • What does the 'Geneva' refer to?
    • The Geneva Push 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. The Geneva Push aims to be a network of networks. It will help recruit, assess, train, and resource church planters 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?
    • No it's not just an Anglican thing. The first step The Geneva Push has taken to ensure this was to organise a meeting of 23 key men in church planting from around the country to take part in a National Church Planter's Summit in September 2009. It included representatives from The Church Army, The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, Church Planting Australia, The Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students, The Ministry Training Strategy and Moore Theological College, as well as key Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists,  Reformed Church and Independent pastors from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and the ACT.  We're also keen to work with other Reformed Evangelical people. The Sydney Diocese will be one of the players, but it's wider than just the Anglicans.
  • How crucial is a national approach to church planting – why not let local areas develop local solutions?
    • A national movement gives a big vision, and this has a profound influence on local ministry. A national movement also provides easy access to ideas and leaders around the country, which is both humbling and empowering. Finally, and in some ways, least importantly, a national movement can provide some resources that are difficult for more local things to put together.
  • Crossing state and denominational boundaries, TPG is clearly going to have a diverse membership. What will hold it together – practically? Spiritually?
    • A strong doctrinal statement, humility, a desire for fellowship, wise and gentle leadership, mutual regard, a generally shared philosophy of ministry and God the Holy Spirit. Practically speaking, The Geneva Push will provide mentors for assessed church planters, a well-resourced online community, regular training days and national conferences.
  • There are other church planting networks in Australia. What will stop church planting becoming the new battlefield for Christian groups?
    • Christians fight when are just sitting around with nothing constructive to do. Groups that look inward end up fighting with each other. The best way to stop Christians fighting with each other over church planting is to get them passionate about mission, and busy with that. When you've looking outward you don't fight with one another. When it comes to mission, the vast majority of Australians remain unreached. The Geneva Push is ready to get on with the mission, cooperate with like minded people as we are able, and not fight with people who believe the same things as us.
  • What steps have you taken to make sure that it is a body of use to every denomination?
    • The best kind of church planting happens from the ground up - young men who are keen to just go for it. But The Geneva Push is working hard to back that energy with the support of some great denominational structures and leaders from around the country. We will be offering things deliberately aimed at assessment and ministry coaching, we won't be dealing with denominational stuff like setting salaries and superannuation etc. We'll work together to put on training events, organise mentoring, providing practical resources and an accessible, supportive community. We'll also have a job market available so that members and advertise job positions or jobs wanted.

PDJ on abortion

A great video, delivered with sensitivity and thoughtfulness.

Abortion from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

One thing that stood out to me was Phillip taking care to speak of an embryo as 'human' and 'living' without necessarily talking of an embryo as 'a human' or 'a baby'.

He wasn't doing this to soften the fact that abortion is, at any point, the killing of a human life. The distinction is a fine one, but it helps articulate the discomfort we feel when pro-lifers talk about killing a 12 week old embryo with the same moral and emotional significance as killing a three year old infant.

Service templates

Sola Panel has been publishing some church meeting templates. Good idea to have some kind of service template and to vary it. It forces you to be deliberate about what you do in church.

Template 1: The Standard Meeting
Template 2: Standard Meeting Variation
Template 3: Earlier Sermon
Template 4: The Two-Parter
Template 5: More singing and prayer

"The problem is that evangelicals don't have an ecclesiology"

No, I think our problem is that we don't have your ecclesiology

Michael Bird writes.

Pete Woodcock: motivation by the sight of God

The freeze frame is classic Pete:

See here for Pete Woodcock sermon roundup

Christian culture likes smoking pipes and hookahs

While at seminary.

Why you should go to seminary

Interview with Ed Stetzer:

Perhaps first and foremost, our culture in America no longer has the "home field advantage" of everyone holding to a Christian worldview. For church leaders who want to take their congregations on the journey of reaching and changing people, formal training in seminary can prepare their minds through theological courses and their hearts through the study of church history.

I realize some people are suspicious of seminary because they feel it institutionalizes the work of ministry. I would say to them, "You're right. Sometimes it does do that." Seminary can make us into ministry professionals who are more concerned with the organization of congregational life than the people of the church. But I would push back against that attitude and say that most graduates will tell you the education they received has helped to shape a proper theology, ecclesiology, and missiology.

Seminary also offers something personal that we tend to lose as pastors and planters: camaraderie. As a planter, I was constantly around people and, at the same time, I was utterly alone. The time spent in seminary gives you the opportunity to learn how to seek out strong friendships and remain accountable in them. It is a side benefit to the education but a helpful one nonetheless.

That being said, I think that seminaries alone cannot provide all the pastors and church planters needed to reach North America and the world for the gospel.

We need to give people permission to pastor and plant churches even if they have not been to seminary.  And, I believe, seminaries need to find ways to help equip those already on the field serving in mission and ministry.

The Geneva Push in Christianity Today Australia


Reflections on letterboxing and junk mail

There is no consistent, attractive and meaningful symbol for 'no junk mail'. The closest and most elegant is using the Australia Post symbol. The most consistent symbol is actually the colours gold and black, as most No Junk Mail signs are gold and black.

No Circulars is the most old fashioned and bizarre sign.

I start putting advertising in No Junk Mail letterboxes when the signs are starting to get so worn that some words are not fully visible. If you really don't want Junk Mail, at least go to the effort of updating your scabby sign.

I don't really like political No Junk Mail signs. Nor do I like polite ones - 'No Junk Mail - Thank you!' I don't mind really angry ones - 'Warning! If you put any junk mail here we will post it back to you and you'll have to pay the 55c postage!' They're kind of fun.

I don't like letterboxes in the door itself. I don't like having to walk all the way up to your house and then risk trying to shove things through your door while you are trying to open it!

My favourite No Junk Mail signs are these really simple, black and white ones. I don't know who produces them so I can't find an image to show you.

Some really rich, posh, new houses don't have No Junk Mail signs. Is this because these people are so rich that they don't want to stoop to caring about their mail? Or do they like reading junk mail?

I'm not sure what I think about the fancy, posh, gold plaque No Advertising Material signs that are designed to totally blend in as a 'feature'.

My sermons @ the University Fellowship of Christians

I've been speaking the last three weeks @ the University Fellowship's lunchtime meetings.

I will be taking on the leadership of the University Fellowship next year as my full-time job.

These sermons linked are linked to from the University Fellowship 2010 site.

Great report on 2009 Ministry Challenge Conference

On the Vision 100 website.

An inquiry into queer sexuality

I gave this sermon on Tuesday night. None of our regular 'church tourists' came, but four non-Christians did. All four of them were very positive about the church and the sermon and were very keen to come back next week.

Listen to the sermon here.

Will blogs the Fresh Expressions conference

Day 1: Brian McLaren
Day 2: a range of other speakers and reflections
Brian McLaren on Australian Anglicanism

Dever interviews Shai Linne

Christian rapper from Philly.

Making Christian v Atheist debates like a Rolling Stones doco

H/T Luke

Sex with angels in Jude 6-7

...Early Jewish and Christian commentators agree that what is on view [in Genesis 6:1-4] is a transgression of the boundary between the divine and human realms, angels consorting with human beings.... This being so, the 'unnatural lust' of [Jude] verse 7 (literally 'going after strange flesh') probably refers, not to homosexuality as such, but to the fact that 'the sin of the men of Sodom... reaches its peak when they sought intercourse with angels sent to Lot'.
B. Webb, 'Homosexuality in Scripture'

The Nines videos now online

A whole pizza menu of pastors speaking for nine minutes about things they think are awesome.

The existence of God - by Nathan Hill

A good friend of mine, Nathan Hill, recently gave this evangelistic message in Launceston:

The Existence of God from Daniel Chapman on Vimeo.

Launceston is buzzing with new evangelistic enterprises at the moment, for which I'm very thankful.

Listening to David Jones on Titus 3

This morning.

David is originally from Wales, ministered in London for over a decade and has been working in Hobart as a part of the Vision 100 network for the last fifteen years.

David played a very significant role in my conversion and my growth as a pastor and preacher. No matter what he's doing, you can always suggest that it's time to go and get a coffee and 9/10 times he'll drop it and come with you.

David preaches unlike anyone else. Structures like Lloyd-Jones, yells like a Welshman, interacts with culture like an emerging 'practitioner'.

H/T Daniel

Words have a range of meanings: Calvin on Titus 3:7

7 That being justified by his grace If we understand "regeneration" in its strict and ordinary meaning, it might be thought that the Apostle employs the word "justified" instead of "regenerated;" and this is sometimes the meaning of it, but very seldom; yet there is no necessity which constrains us to depart from its strict and more natural signification. The design of Paul is, to ascribe to the grace of God all that we are, and all that we have, so that we may not exalt ourselves proudly against others. Thus he now extols the mercy of God, by ascribing to it entirely the cause of our salvation. But because he had spoken of the vices of unbelievers, it would have been improper to leave out the grace of regeneration, which is the medicine for curing them.

Still this does not prevent him from returning immediately to praise divine mercy; and he even mingles both blessings together — that our sins have been freely pardoned, and that we have been renewed so as to obey God. This, at least, is evident, that Paul maintains that "justification," is the free gift of God; and the only question is, what he means by the word justified. The contest seems to demand that its meaning shall be extended further than to the imputation of righteousness; and in this larger sense it is seldom (as I have said) employed by Paul; yet there is nothing that hinders the meaning of it from being limited to the forgiveness of sins.

So he's drawing a strong connection between 'Regeneration' in 3:5 and 'Justification' in 3:7. And he's saying that 'Justification' can sometimes have a broader sense, which captures not only the declaring-right, but also the transformed life which flow from that.

I think that's what he's saying.

The rise, fall and rise of Steve Jobs

Geeks will find this post boring. Non-geeks will, I hope, find this post intriguing.

On the way home from church this morning, were talking about how lame and annoying Macs were in the early nineties. I recalled something I'd heard about Steve Jobs being the one who made Apple awesome and that's why IT managers all want to be Steve Jobs.

Well, according the Wikipedia:

In the late 1970s, Jobs, with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, created one of the first commercially successful personal computers. In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse-driven graphical user interface.[11] After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher education and business markets. NeXT's subsequent 1997 buyout by Apple Computer Inc. brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded, and he has served as its CEO since then. Steve Jobs was listed as Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Businessman of 2007.[12]
See the comments section of this post for all the extra trivia that geeks will no doubt add.

Evangelistic sermon on Faith

Here's a sermon I preached last Sunday. Two things to note:

  1. It's only 21mins long.
  2. Rather than critiquing and redefining a non-rational/pluralistic view of faith, I try to build a working definition of 'faith' in phrases like ' I wish I had your faith'. In these contexts, I reckon faith means something pretty close to 'hope'.

Its October and thats Scary

I sat down to plan for the coming months this morning.....we've got long service leave, road trips, things around the house and baby number 3 to plan for. In the process I finally realised that its October, and we have four more weeks working for Crossroads. I've been ignoring the immediate reality of it because its just too weird to contemplate.

For the last 8 or 9 years, Crossroads has been our lives. Its caused us so much joy and pain and been one of God's big ways of humbling us and growing us as Christians. The spiritual health and growth of Crossroads and the gospel going out from it is such a central part of our existence, its been our focus in life, our love.

To be honest I'm totally paralyzed right now thinking about my failures, everything we should've been for people, everything we haven't done or haven't finished. But through this I think God is starting to show me that all the fruit that we've seen borne, people being saved, baby christians growing up, leaders raised up, friends enduring hardships, all the good things have been done by God's grace and not by us. I feel so priveleged to witness Mike handing over a church intact, strong, healthy and growing (man, we even sing and have a board of management now) to Dan, that this is the way the journey is ending for us and not in burn-out or disaster (as have so often been a threat to us).

So, I spose I'm going to have to stop planning what baby furniture to buy and which end of the state to venture to, and start planning how on earth I'm going to say thank you to everyone.....October comes before November.

Hot key to get to gmail search bar


Steps to promote a ministry or event

Thanks to Guy Mason, promoter par excellence:

1. Create the brand

  • What's the concept? What field? Philosophy? Values? People? Age range?
  • Who is the target group and what are their relationship networks?
  • What is the image? Logo? Briefing? Style guide?
2. Design the material
  • The website - what elements are needed?
  • Facebook and twitter plans.
  • T-shirts, lanyards and so forth for the event.
  • What print media do we need to contact? What relationships can be make the most of?
  • Prepare the media release: a one page brief, quotes, bios, times for photo ops, 5 VIP invites
  • Plan for press conferencs.
  • What TV opportunities are there?
  • Develop ad for radio promotion.
I think he kept talking after this point, but I couldn't keep up!

Big, radical themes in Luke's gospel

Tim Chester has an awesome post here about some great themes of Luke:

  • inclusion and reversals
  • the importance of God's word
  • the dangers of wealth

New book on Amyraldianism and Limited Atonement

I've always found the Reformed reluctance to accept Limited Atonement odd. For people who are already happy to hold together the sovereign will of God with the moral responsibility of humanity, it seems really bizarre that they are unable to hold together the universal sufficiency of Christ's death but it's efficiency only for the elect. I just don't understand where the initial discomfort which makes this position appealing comes from.

Anyways, Mark Thompson, from Moore College reports on a new book on the topic (including a definition of Amyraldianism and Limited Atonement!).

Resolved have a website

Newtown church plant, Resolved is now online in radioactive green.

The Geneva

Function: noun
Date: 1563
1 : a vigorous effort to attain an end : drive: a : a military assault or offensive b : an advance that overcomes obstacles c : a campaign to promote a product

from Miriam-Websters

Geneva - from Sydney to Perth

One lesson learned during the two days, was that each state and city has a very unique situation, with unique pressures, theological questions, denominational favlours and political obstacles.

The Geneva Push must serve and learn from this diversity: a true challenge.

We met a guy at the Tuesday Crossroads soup give away

And chatted to him on the first day. He came back for more soup and chats on the second day.

He came along to Block Cinema for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotletss Mind and The Shining.

And then he came to Tuesday Crossroads for a sermon in the Sex Series: Faithfulness - exclusivness and devotion.

Thoughts about using Facebook well for ministry groups

See the Tuesday Crossroads Facebook page for an example of these principles in action:

  1. Use a Page, not a Group.
  2. Amid the flood of information and all the stuff that starts up and fizzles online, be willing to persevere before seeing the fruit - it might take a few months for the site to really work.
  3. Update regularly and at different times of day.
  4. Invite people to become a fan regularly.
  5. Create an integrated web of information - link to stuff from your main church website, link to stuff from your blog and so on.
  6. Encourage individuals to use the Page - ask them to take photos and post them, ask them to advertsie events using the Page, ask them to share the Page on their profile every now and then.
  7. Speak about the site as a part of your church life at your church services.
  8. Make sure you all the Page's wall to show both admin and other people's posts.
  9. Invite key members to also become admins.
  10. Make sure you have a Profile image for the page and for any events. Search 'stock photos' if you can't find one. To save upload a flier design PDF as an image, you need to first save it as a JPG or something.
  11. Make sure your Profile image is 250px wide and high so that it fits as a thumbnail.
  12. Give people profile updates that they can interact with, for example, ask questions.
  13. Don't expect the Page to become a central hub of interaction for your church. Don't waste time trying to get Discussion boards happening or anything. It's a public place, not a living room. Embrace it, with its limitations.
  14. When you create events, disable Videos and Photos unless you are actually gonna post them. It makes the Event page less busy.
  15. When you create events, check the box 'show in search results' and 'Hide guests who are not attending'.
  16. Sadly Page owners cannot message all guests to an event. You have to add someone else as 'Events admin' and ask them to do it :-(

Any non-Christian friends?

Nathan, teacher @ a Christian school, recognises the problem in his students.

Web design = credibility

Steve has posted a very challenging observation (citing someone else):

One interesting finding of these studies is that users really do judge a book by its cover… or rather, a website by its design. Elements such as layout, consistency, typography, color and style all affect how users perceive your website and what kind of image you project. Your website should project not only a good image but also the right one for your audience.

Other factors that influence credibility are: the quality of the website's content, amount of errors, rate of updates, ease of use and trustworthiness of authors.

This articulates a subconscious reaction and really teaches us an important lesson.

Justin blogs about Sydney people profile

Justin has done a series of posts about the profile of the people they are trying to reach with the gospel.

The introduction to the series is here.

In the Chute: only 70 spaces left

Don't um and ah for too long about whether or not you are going to go to In The Chute in December 2009. We're filling up fast.

This will be one of the big conference for 2009 and this is an opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a big new era of Christianity in Australia.

Come and pick Andrew Heard's encyclopaedic brain, rub Al Stewart's lucky bald head, meet peers from around the country, realise how many people are just getting on with the business of reaching the country and get the info and encouragement to play your part.

Register today.

Geneva Summit - Wednesday

On Wednesday, we had our first legal 'directors meeting' over breakfast. Al, Andrew and myself are the founding directors of The Geneva Push, a company limited by guarantee.

Andrew opened the day with a Bible study on Ephesians 3 which descended into a discussion about the nature of church and disciple making, a quite complex and at times, heated, discussion.

We spent went through a strategic plan, reinforcing that Geneva itself will not plant churches, but will rather resource and encourage church planting.

Mark Haddley, who will begin working as Geneva's new media manager, shared his plans for our online presence. Mark has worked with Sydney Anglican media in the past and has his head screwed on well regarding this stuff. The plan is to have a range of information, interaction and portable community dimensions to our online presence.

We will have a website and aritcles and audio/video content. But we will also find ways to integrate blogs, twitter and Facebook to enable a rich interaction between planters and mentors. For the old-school there will still be a Jurassic-age email bulletin service to keep them in the loop. Keep watching and @thegenevapush.

We spent the rest of our time discussion the doctrinal statement, the In the Chute conference, and sharing our current perceptions, commitments, levels of interest. People were very interested in have a national conference, rather than simply state conferences. There was even interest in moving that conference to a different capital city each year.

The conference was pretty mighty and the general levels of interest and enthusiasm very high. We are all heading back to the 'real world'. This is an important point, I reckon: since Geneva is a servant of networks, you don't need to wait for a Geneva badge or a bunch of small print documents before you get involved. If you want to align yourself to our vision and values then that's all there is to it - just get on with preaching, praying, planting, recruiting. That's the Push, man, there's nothing more to it.

Geneva Summit - some controversies

  • Church planting always creates difficulties with other local churches. It's the same old story, but it doesn't make it any less difficult: Don't plant in my back yard! You'll take people from my church. Why don't we look after the existing churches first?
  • Noone was entirely sure what's the full story with Acts 29 Australia and the November 2009 Boot Camp.There has been a fair bit of miscommunication, but we do want to work in friendship with Acts 29 and we do wish Will Henderson well.
  • We explained once more that Guy Mason and Steve Chong decided to do their own things, rather than join in with Geneva, for philosophy of ministry reasons. We did invite them both to come to the summit.
  • We wrestled with how best to rephrase Acts 29's statement on ''We are Missional". Andrew expressed discomfort with the statement "We are faithful to our changing cultural context". He suggested "We take heed of ...". There was worry that this was too soft, suggesting that we might sit at a distance, aware but disengaged. Phil Campbell proposed: "Keenly aware of our cultural ontext... so as to engage..." or something like that.
  • I proposed that we frame a positive statement about the goodness of the created world. I think we should put this as a part of our doctrine of creation, rather than as a part of our mission. This will correct the perceived/implied dualism in our church culture, but also stand apart from the tendency in some circles to see secular work/cultural renewal as a central part of our mission.
  • Geneva will not sanction only one style or approach of church planting. Although the leaders may have their own opinions, and may at times share these, we are not merely championing one style.

Geneva Church Planting Summit - an overview of Tuesday

We were in a nice hotel near the airport with salt and pepper squid for lunch and a flatscreen TV in our rooms. That was lovely. I watched a documentary on the making of Human Frailty by Hunters and Collectors on Tuesday night.

There were 25 people from every state and territory except for Northern Territory. These included Dave MacDonald from Crossroads Canberra, Richard Chin (AFES National Director), Peter Kaldor (City Bible Forum), Col Marshall (MTS - but planning to move on next year), Ben Pfahlert (MTS), Archie Poulos (Moore College), Tim Scheuer (Church Army), Ben Underwood (church planter in WA), Pete Barson (Creek Rd Presbyterian Church QLD), Phil Campbell (Michelton Presbyterian Church, QLD), Andrew Downes (Aldinga Baptist Church, SA), Ray Williams (Churches Planting Churches [?], SA), Steve Addison (church planting guru and blogger from Victoria), John Diacos (Scotts Presbyterian Church, VIC), Nigel Gordon (Provdence [?] Church plant, WA), Steve McAlpine (Crowded House, WA), Kanishka Raffel (St Matthews, WA).

After opening with a brief Bible study from Al Stewart, we spent most of Tuesday hearing from people about the state of play around the country. Interspersed with prayer and coffee. Some highglights:

  • Steve Addison gave us all promo copies of his new book Movements (it has a cool chapter 'Why Sydney Anglicans are Unpopular') . It's a great, dense, but readable little book. Worth checking out. Some of his great lines: "I get nervous when people talk about 'missional initiatives' rather than church plants. Especially when denominational money is behind it.". "Love Al Hirsch, but I haven't seen any conversion/multiplication from the emerging church in Australia. What they have done, however, is shake us all up in how we think about church". "Immigrants get converted and reinvigorate the church". "Prosperity secularises us and so we don't see church planting movements so often."
  • Richard Chin explained that AFES was extremely supportive of church planting and could recognise where new churches were needed around the campuses in Australia. But he underscored why AFES does not plant churches: it's an integrity issue. We cannot raise support for an inter-denominational venture, and then hold a monopoly with one church.
  • The sharing slipped into 'ministry expo' mode for a while, as Ben Pfahlert, Tim Scheuer and Mark Russel (Church Army UK) gave ministry 'sells' for what they are doing. This got us off-track from the purpose of the day. On the negative side, I find Tim Sheuer's 'new' conviction that we must make disciples kinda strangely 'old' and the fixation of evangelising people in 2 weeks a bit discouraging, rather than inspiring.
  • Mark Russell had the priceless line: 'The parish system is the condom of the Anglican Church: it prevents all natural growth.'
  • Michelton Presbyterian Church and its sattellite churches have beautiful websites.
  • The WA guys are starting up a local network for church planting called 121 degrees (the bearing from Jerusalem to Perth). It's cool to see local expressions of church planting networks kicking into gear. Nigel Gordon also has an Acts 29 church planting mentor.
  • Dave Macdonald confessed that Crossroads Canberra have been so intent on reaching the campus and sending people around Australia and the world, that they have never really articulated a vision for Canberra until just recently.
  • Archie Poulos, spoke of MTC's move away from residential-only study - they've resisted the change for a long time, but that's just the way the world is going.
On Tuesday night I gave a short sermon from Ephesians 2 and then Al outlined our plans for The Geneva Push:
  • A servant of networks (not simply a franchise, with 'Geneva' networks in each capital city or anything). Geneva won't dissolve FIEC or Vision 100 or 121 Degrees. Rather it will maximise impact by being a rallying point for church planters - to build energy, raise profile and provide resources.
  • Some draft Core Values were floated:
  1. Theologically driven,
  2. Theology leads to ministry philosophy,
  3. Entrepreneurial,
  4. Unembarrassed male leadership,
  5. Value, support and train our leaders - willigness to take risks, permission to fail,
  6. Substance over style,
  7. Quietly determined for long-term impact,
  8. Committed to do whatever it takes to grow the gospel beyond where we are at present...

Five tips for atheist bloggers

I've been trying to link to this post for a few days but the site was down.

Turns out Nathan got so much traffic from atheists commenting, that his domain provider shut him down (the comment count is now on 221).

His list is pretty good I reckon:

  1. Stop being so smug.
  2. Don't assume every piece of Christian evangelism is directed at you – we want the undecideds, not the decided-uns.
  3. Admit that the debate about God's existence is complex – and that it can, depending on your presuppositions, be quite possible for intelligent and rational people to intelligently believe in an intervening deity who communicates through a book.
  4. Admit that the scientific method – which by its nature relies on induction rather than deduction (starting with a hypothesis and testing it rather than observing facts and forming a hypothesis) – is as open to abuse as any religious belief, and is neither objective nor infallible.
  5. Try to deal with the actual notions of God seriously believed in by millions of people rather than inventing strawmen (or spaghetti monsters) to dismiss the concepts of God – and deal with the Bible paying attention to context and the broader Christological narrative rather than quoting obscure Old Testament laws. By all means quote the laws when they are applied incorrectly by "Christians" – but understand how they're meant to work before dealing with the Christians described in point 3.
Well done Nathan, keep up the good work.

How ironic that angry atheists have flooded his comments :-/