Natural Church Development

We did this at Crossroads in 2006 and again this year. Both times 'Functional Structures' or 'Efficient Structures' was exceptionally high. This time 'Empowering Leadership' was next. Last time it was 'Need Oriented Evangelism'

Our lowest last time was 'Holistic Small Groups' (we didn't have any small groups at that stage) and second lowest last time was 'Passionate Spirituality'. This time our two lowest were 'Inspiring Worship Service' and 'Passionate Spirituality'.

Has anyone else done this in their church? What did you think?

Some of it's pretty funny... like they've predicted that if we up all our 8 areas to 65+ we will be a church of 699 people in ten years :-)  It'd be pretty yucky if you built your whole church planning around NCD, I reckon.

I reckon our 'scores' for 'Worship' and 'Spirituality' were also majorly skewed by vocab, theology and culture. People in our church would react pretty badly to 'experience God' and 'worship God' sort of terminology for theological reasons. We would respond badly to 'inspirational' sort of language for cultural reasons.

I wonder what the high-scoring NCD churches in Australia actually look like? I wonder if they'd be churches I'd actually want to join? I wonder what kind of culture they would have?

Love to hear your thoughts and insights and experiences.

The bounce-the-ball-before-serving prayer

We've already prayed for the preacher before he gets up to speak. But he needs a little more time to collect his thoughts. So he says another little prayer, 30 seconds after the previous prayer. Who is listening to this prayer? He's not, he's just giving himself a breathing gap. We're not. Perhaps the angels in heaven?

Get non-Christians to play music at church?

Al asks the question.

What do you think? My leaning is towards 'No', partly just on gut. It feels wrong. I do feel music is part of the decisively Christian part of our gatherings in a way that washing up isn't. I also share the concerns of one of the people commenting on Al's post, that we want Christian mindset to govern the approach to the music.

Have you heard about how Ghostface Keller has even employed professional non-Christians to do music in his gatherings? What do you think of that?!!

Looking forward to PTOB on Hebrews

Coming out in the Pillar NT Commentary very soon.

71 contacts made so far

And I'm hoping for another ten new contacts at the Citywide Gathering tonight. We'll see.

Now starting to reflect how to do better next year.

I think we should prolly have a big giveaway each day of the TUU O week and try to get contacts from people as they stand in line. Don't want to do scabby sausies and home brand sauce, need to have an X Factor, but I reckon that'll be a good way to scoop up people traveling in packs.

I think also that 100 is about the limit of the number of new conacts we can make  if we go for Christians. I wonder if there is a way to divide up time so we also are going for non-Christian contacts during O week?

I would also like to make sure we recruit people in October-November to be part of the O week team for the following year.

We made 26 new contacts yesterday

And we have our first public meeting today.

Some numbers questions (ironically appearing after my 'Well Done' post):

  • I wonder what kind of stats other AFES ministries get in one day of making new contacts? I imagine USYD and UNSW probably accidentally make 26 contacts while waiting to collect their advertising material from the printers.
  • I wonder how many will turn up today? My guesstimate was 40 today and 80 on Thursday night. Alan's was 60 at each. Who'll win?
  • I wonder what kind of numbers are turning up at other AFES meetings today?

Well done good and faithful servant

I need to constantly struggle to live in the light of the final Well Done.

I struggle because I am driven, results-oriented person who wants to live in the light of what is seen.

I appreciate remembering the hope of this Well Done for many reasons. One is that I don't have a Christian Dad, so there are many aspects of my life and work that he does not really value. It's hard for a kid to not make his parents proud. The final Well Done from my heavenly Dad will be a great thing.

Blog poll: have your say

Hey everyone, thanks very much for reading and commenting, I appreciate it and hope it's worth your while.

I haven't done this for a few years, so I thought I'd open up for your to give me some feedback:

  • What would you like more of? Less of?
  • What would help you read Christian Reflections? What's annoying?
  • What would you like to know about me? My Ministry? What I think about...?
  • Other suggestions?
And a few census questions for our corporate sponsors to whom we sell the information, protected by privacy notifications that we hide in fine print somewhere on the blog site (in the archive section):
  • How did you find out Christian Reflections?
  • How often do you read?
  • Where are you from?
Thanks very much for your time, once again!


City on a Hill is looking to spread out

Guy blogs about the plan to move the morning service to a bigger venue, with better facilities for kids, and to God-willing, move towards two evening service as James Squire.

Another series on Ruth

Engage City Church, the new A29 church in Brisbane, is doing a series on Ruth:

Ruth - Always Welcome from Will Henderson on Vimeo.

I reckon the amount of churches that preached on Ruth in the three years before 2007, when Mars Hill did, and the amount that preached on it afterwards would be a telling statistic...

Toby Michael Lynch

10:28am Friday 19th February by Caesarean Section.

3.94kg = 8lbs 13oz

Looks a lot like Esther as a baby. Feeding well. Nikki happy.

Guy Sebastian was recording in New York last year

I hung out with a pastor while I was in Manhattan who spent some time with him while he was over there.

H/T Izaac.

Ministry Challenge 2009 sermons now online

Greg Lee and David Jones.

Listen here.

Nikki's going in for a Caesar tomorrow

For baby Lynch number 3. We know it's a boy and we have a short list of names.

I wanted Connor, but Nikki thought Connor Lynch sounded too IRA.

Names I like but would never use are:

  • Michael Jnr and American variations, like Michael x Lynch where 'x' is the functional first name.
  • Fyodor
  • Felix
  • Telemachus
  • Vito
  • Henri
  • Yves
  • Giacomo
  • River
Crazy time to be having a kid (see previous post), please pray!

This week with the uni mission we have

Handed out over 500 fliers to first year students as they walked into orientation for Teaching, Med, Nursing, Business, Music etc

Handed 500 letters and fliers from Uni Fellowship of Christians and FOCUS to all residential college students.

Called half our current students databse and invitedthem back for 2010.

That's just UTAS' Orientation Week. Next week is TUU O Week. The Big Mother. We're talking Societies Day Stall, clipboards and contacts, bulk SMS, social events (organised by student committee), Tuesday Lunchtime Fellowship, small Fellowship Groups startup and Thursday night Citywide Gathering.

No big deal. Like the great Bon Jovi once sung: I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Split staff meeting manila folder into three

I believe a major committee or staff meeting needs its own system. As far as GTD is concerned, it's a distinct person, like companies are legal persons.

So I've had a calendar, inbox, todo, projects list and so forth for staff meeting and major leadership teams for years.

But this year I've decided to actually divide those things across several manila folders to give a little more order.

I feel it's a really positive step. Thanks for your support.

Moving March 2nd

Watch this space!

New FOCUS Hobart website

It is so beautiful and so Asian international student. Very fun. Very social media.

Well done Luke.

From French missio prayer letter

"Thanks for your prayers. Our son didn't get his Bible confiscated while on school camp this year."

Driscoll at Advance, Melbourne

Video here.

H/T Murray

NewDirections Community Church

Does anyone know anything about them? I've never heard of them before.

I saw their ads for 'choosing your faith' seminars on the TV. Seems like a sneaky way to pretend to be all 'we all have our own faiths' when really you're trying to evangelise.


Phillip on city ministry vs country ministry

Izaac records a classic PDJ line:

God loves people more than sheep. We need to send people where there's more people than sheep.

That's gonna get a fair few upset. The magic of his rhetoric, makes me laugh, makes me squirm, makes me think.

I know, I know, it's not the only point to make. I know the qualifiers. But it's a good point to make. And isn't it fun that there's people like Phillip in the world, who are naughty enough to make it so darn bluntly?!!?

Other things I appreciate but am happy to enjoy the bad version of

The following are things I can deal with the following without complaining (unless the complaining is fun). And I can appreciate the better quality version and was probably appreciate the better quality version before you were. And I can even enjoy them. And I know Christians and churches who happily enjoy them:

  • Top 40 music,
  • Cask wine,
  • Hollywood blockbusters,
  • Dialup internet,
  • Pulp fiction,
  • TV crime shows,
  • Victoria Bitter,
  • Cricket,
  • Instant coffee,
  • Anglican prayer book services,
  • Dominos pizza,
  • Bain marie Asian food.
  • (others?)
And I think you should learn to too.

It enables you to be content wherever you are. It enables you to find joy in more things. It enables you to accept and enjoy the hospitality of anyone. It enables you to think a little less about yourself.

Nathan reckons bad coffee is a sin

I disagree with him. So he blogged, disagreeing with me.

I'm still right.

Bible College makes you a better preacher

I've watched about half a dozen of my peers preach, go to college, come back and preach way better than when they left.

Normal Christian life: just surviving

Archie preaches perseverence.

Very important, with a renewed interest in passionate spirituality, to not slip into a revivalistic legalism: unless I'm on fire and planting churches and so on and on, I'm not a Christian.

The powerful work of God is to keep us pressing on as Christians.

H/T Al Bain

Engage Church, Brisbane launches today

Be praying for these guys!

Hauerwas on Matthew's gospel

Tim Chester gives a couple of reviews of Hauerwas' contribution to the Brazos Commentary series. These commentaries are a fun idea. They are theologicans/ethicists and so on, writing commentaries.

Hauerwas is a kooky pacificst ethicist. But he is fun and stretching to read.

Review 1
Review 2

GTD + Evangelism = Lionel Windsor

Great, practical article from Sola Panel:

I thought that the next thing I needed to do in this relationship was to speak more clearly about Jesus. But then I realized that, actually, I couldn't easily speak about Jesus without opportunities to have longer conversations with him. So the next thing to do (or so I thought) was to invite his kids around so the kids could play and we could get to know them better. But I haven't done it yet. Why not? Because (and here's the blindingly obvious bit) I can't invite them around until my wife and I have agreed on some possible dates.

Justin updates us on new York St service

Read all about it.

Keller on big issues for Western Church

Groovy post from Ghostface Keller:

  1. Extensive culture-making ops in the USA
  2. Rise of Islam
  3. Non-Western Christianity
  4. Growing cultural remoteness of the gospel
  5. End of prosperity?

This blog is on the move...

More details soon.

Keller + Nooma = Prodigal God DVD

Tim Chester writes:
I can’t praise this resource too much – it’s magnificent. The presentation of the DVD is beautiful and the content is dynamite.... Imagine the best of a Keller sermon combined with a Nooma video and you’ll have a good idea what it’s like.

Check out the promo here:

Prodigal God from Beacon Church on Vimeo.

Free booklet on singleness and loneliness

Single and Lonely: Finding the Intimacy You Desire

H/T Justin Taylor

Superstition versus sovereignty

Sarah has a thoughtful post

Predicting success in school teachers

Gordo links to the following article which says the following a good ways to discover potential success of a teacher:

  • History of perseverence
  • Life satisfaction
  • Past performance

Uni Fellowship of Christians O Week Fund Drive Closes tonight

One of our graduates has offered to match all donations made by 12th February up to $10 000.

By God's grace we have already have $6 000 in donations (x2 = $12 000).

So, if you are in a position to, and keen to support our mission on the UTAS campus, please consider giving a once-off contribution of $50, $100 or $200 at 

If you do it tonight, your donation will double!

Staring down the barrel of O Week

Day off. Still in my pyjamas at 1pm. Eating Mie Goreng, drinking instant coffee and reading a book.

What have I become?

You should be able to happily drink instant coffee

  • If you are offered it.
  • If you are at a conference site or a church that only offers it.
  • If you need to run to a tight budget at home.
  • Back to the conference thing - I'd say, don't bring your own coffee. But if you must, make sure you bring lots and make it for a lot of people. To bring a small plunger to make a little coffee for yourself is like ducking outside to puff on a Winnie Blue.
I reckon it's good for you to drink instant coffee at least once a month.

PS: Get a load of C. S. Lewis on this :
.... Your patient's mother... is a good example. She would be astonished—one day, I hope, will be—to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? Glubose has this old woman well in hand. She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sign and a smile "Oh please, please...all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast". You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others....
The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the "All-I-want" state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted. But she never finds any servant or any friend who can do these simple things "properly"—because her "properly" conceals an insatiable demand for the exact, and almost impossible, palatal pleasures which she imagines she remembers from the past; a past described by
her as "the days when you could get good servants" but known to us as the days when her senses were more easily pleased and she had pleasures of other kinds which made her less dependent on those of the table. Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled....
Now your patient is his mother's son.... Males are best turned into gluttons with the help of their vanity. They ought to be made to think themselves very knowing about food, to pique themselves on having found the only restaurant in the town where steaks are really "properly" cooked. What begins as vanity can then be gradually turned into habit. But, however you approach it, the great thing is to bring him into the state in which the denial of any one indulgence—it matters not which, champagne or tea, sole
colbert or cigarettes—"puts him out", for then his charity, justice, and obedience are all at your mercy.

Hyperlink in .doc and .xls

Is horrible. We hates it.

It's so 90s: "In the future everyone will have the internet"

At least, as a default thing it fill me with dread.

Phillip Jensen on emotions in the Christian life

Sermons now online.

They have great introductions, reflecting on the introduction between reason and emotion.

Just listened to his sermon on 'Fear'. Phillip makes the point that we can't say that godly fear is just 'awe' or 'respect'. God truly is frightening... and sometimes being properly afraid of objectively frightening things is a really good thing!

New MTS website

It's a beauitful thing. Well done guys!

MTS has had a hard time with websites in the last few years. They had a horrible old orange thing. Then they had a new thing that they just kind of stickytaped over the top of the horrible old orange thing... and stickytaped other things onto the front page.

But this thing is nice. And all the old MTS training papers are available online as far as I can see.

Why Tony Payne restrains himself re: Global Warming

[The voice in my head] says that he wants me to stay silent because whatever action Christians should take on global warming, they should take it as citizens, making their own judgements about the truth, practicality and utility of the various claims, views and courses of action being put forward. He reckons that while God commands us to be good and loving citizens, and to act with justice, compassion, honesty, kindness, integrity, prudence and grace, he doesn't reveal in the Scriptures what particular course of action these virtues will motivate in any given instance. He doesn't tell us which party to vote for or which economic policy to support. He doesn't reveal whether smaller government or bigger government is the better way to achieve the goods of prosperity and justice. There isn't a biblical teaching on de-regulation or public transport policy. Christian citizens will make different judgements on these matters, usually depending on whether they have a left-leaning or right-leaning cast of mind.
From here.

What do I do with my kids?

Basic question a parent of young kids asks when they come to church, but, from my experience visitng churches over long service leave, not something that the average church does well.

When I arrive at a church with my young kids, it's one of the first things I want someone to tell me. I want the usher to tell me. I want the MC of the meeting to tell me. I want the handout to tell me.

But instead, I got told where the toilets were. I'd rather figure that one out for myself. Tell me what to do with my kids?

Here's what I want to know:

  • Where do they go for creche/Sunday school?
  • Who will look after them? Who's in charge of the looker-afterers?
  • When do my kids go there? Can I dump them there straight away? Or do I wait for a special signal during the service?
  • What will happen if my kid freaks out? Will someone page me or something?

Dribbling through the Psalms

I'm giving a go at memorising them. I'm up to Psalm 18

 If I read the Psalms normally, I just gloss over. It's all the same at first glance, like listening to Californian skate punk. Miry depths this, enemies like lions that, praise the Lord with the lyre the other. Potsherd. Selah.

But memorising forces you to slow down.

Here's a little verse that jumped out at me, something filled with great meaning from the point of view of the New Testament:

You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.
Psalm 18:35

Interview with David Jones

He's trying not to laugh at a few points - his son and daughter in law are doing the filming:

Video Briefing 3: Who are you in ministry? from Vision100 on Vimeo.

When is it a church?

My latest article for Geneva:

If the church is found wherever two or three gather around Christ, why not call growth group church? Why not call family devotion church? Why not call the AFES ministry church?

Some people might quite like the idea of that. But it has some grave problems:

Are Christians members of multiple churches all at once? Do you appoint elders to each of these groups? Do restrictions about gender roles apply to each gathering equally? What about 1 Corinthians 14:35 that creates a distinction between speaking in church and at home? Besides, in practice even the radicals have a defined group of people they consider to be a distinct church.

William Lane Craig on arguments for God

I've linked to this article from the Uni Fellowship of Christians newsfeed.

Geneva needs GTD

Citywide Gathering

We're starting up an evening meeting for Uni Fellowship of Christians this year, for a couple of reasons:

  • The common lunch hour has basically vanished.
  • Heaps of students work part time and so aren't hanging round.
  • Heaps of students don't strongly identify with the campus as their space - campus life is less lively.
  • Student social life is nightlife. It would be a shame to be a daytime organisation.
  • There is more freedom in the evening to have music, hang out afterwards and so on.
  • Since UTAS is the only uni in Hobart, and a very large uni in a fairly small city, an evening meeting reminds us we are, in a sense, ministering to the wider population.
  • An evening meeting can swallow up the other UTAS campuses - Conservatorium, Med School. Art School.
It's weekly for the first three weeks of semester to provide lots of ops for new students to connect. It's monthly thereafter, so as not to overbuden students with commitments or compete with the local church.

City On A Hill's new Preaching series video

Can be viewed on Facebook.

I reckon Bella Swan would like this.

John Woodhouse: sovereignty over strategy

Great challenge from the principal of Moore College:

I am astonished at how glibly we sometimes speak of gospel work — as though leadership skills, ministry strategies or entrepreneurial flair is what is needed to make the gospel effective. Leadership is not what makes the blind see. Strategies do not make the deaf hear. Entrepreneurs do not make the dead walk!
It is God who calls out his elect, chosen by him before the foundation of the world. They could not have saved themselves and nor could we have saved them no matter how clever we are. And he hardens the heart of others in their chosen state of lostness.

H/T Mark D. Thompson (another Moore College lecturer with a fun theological blog)

Different types of consultation

I came across these distinctions years ago, when we were doing the Crossroads reboot. It's a list of ways you can involved a people in decision making. It might help clarify things in your wider church, in your ministry team or in the government department you work for:

  • Collaboration: People actively involved in the entire process. The leaders share the decision making.

  • Participation: Input is sought from people at each step of the process, from the initial idea through to the final outcome. The leaders facilitate involvement, but the final decisions rest with them.

  • Involvement: Input is sought from people at certain points in the process. The leaders lead the process and use the input to inform their decisions.

  • Reaction: Input is sought from people after the decisions have been made or are about to be made. The leaders direct this process and the input affects the final decision.

Great sermons to launch the year @ Crossroads

I'm just a punter at Crossroads now and the church is in good hands. It's very enjoyable appreciating that Crossroads is Jesus' church, not 'my church'.

Dan preached this awesome sermon on Sunday night for our combined Lord's Supper Service. Great application, measured and appropriate use of humour, and a little bit of cheeky Greek (don't tell em it's verbal aspect and they'll eat it by the boxful!). Great the way Dan can weave so much depth into a sermon, without saying much 'The theologican call it blah blah' or 'In the Greek is says blah blah'. Master.

Bernie, aka Bern Notice, did his first Crossroads preach at Tuesday Crossroads. Ripper. Deep, eye to the outsider, powerful metaphors. Nice stuff.

John Piper on C. S. Lewis

Don't you just want to stop doing what you should be doing and instead read/listen to this?

It begins:

Why has he been so significant for me, even though he is not Reformed in his doctrine, and could barely be called an evangelical by typical American uses of that word?

He doesn't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, 1 and defaults to logical arguments more naturally than to biblical exegesis. He doesn't treat the Reformation with respect, but thinks it could have been avoided, and calls aspects of if farcical. 2 He steadfastly refused in public or in letters to explain why he was not a Roman Catholic but remained in the Church of England. 3 He makes room for at least some people to be saved through imperfect representations of Christ in other religions. 4 He made a strong logical, but I think unbiblical, case for free will to explain why there is suffering in the world. 5 He speaks of the atonement with reverence, but puts little significance on any of the explanations for how it actually saves sinners. 6

Amen. Can't wait to hear what he says!

Geneva church planter panel

Good stuff to be heard here.

Some funny Facebook caricatures

From Nathan's blog.

Christ Community Church West

Dave McDonald and I interviewed the Yellands at Geneva's In The Chute conference.

Here's their lovely, blood-red website. Edward Cullen would like it, I reckon.

Phillip Jensen on 9Marks

The latest Dever interview with PDJ.

Phillip interviews so well and there are some real gems in here.