Have you found the new blog location?

It's easy to not get around to finding the new blog address... not putting it in your feed reader. So here's a little prompt:

I'm now being hosted by The Geneva Push.

The RSS feed is: http://www.thegenevapush.com/christian-reflections/rss.xml

This blog has moved

I'm now being hosted by The Geneva Push.

The RSS feed is: http://www.thegenevapush.com/christian-reflections/rss.xml

Why've I moved?

  1. I think it's good for Geneva to have a really human element.
  2. I think hosting a personal blog is a great way for us to support grass-roots media, rather than just the church whose pastor has a blog on the site that he never really updates!
  3. I hope it might draw a different type of person to the Geneva site.
  4. The media guy for Geneva was asking me (as the 'young techie guy' on the committee :-P ) to write more 'filter the web' articles for the site anyway. I felt that I it'd be dumb to double up on what Christian Relfections is already doing... and that the people who'd be interested in that kind of content would already be subscribed to Christian Reflections.
But don't worry, it's still my blog, it doesn't belong to The Man, now.

In fact, Geneva is an important part of my life and ministry. I think Geneva is a very exciting, relevant, important thing for me, my peers, and those who will go into ministry after me. So if you like getting to know 'Mikey' through Christian Reflections, you'll know that Geneva is a part of who Mikey is.

Hope this helps you understand the move a little better and looking forward to seeing you over at the new site.

Christian Reflections has moved

I'll now be hosted by the Geneva Push site - see you there!

A Tour of Hunter Church's Uni Package

A good program and a fun extended meatphor - different programs = different tickets.

It's important, isn't it, to provide a range of ways for someone to become a part of a new group, find their place, meet people. I think we need to keep thinking how well we do this, as a church and as campus ministries.

What integration events, programs, camps and ideas does your church use regularly? What works best?

Grumpy about Avatar

Seems like when I hear Tasmanian Christians get grumpy about Avatar, it's cause it's too blockbuster, and cliched and simply CG eye-candy.

Seems like all the noise I've heard on the net from American Christians getting grumpy about Avatar (like Driscoll and Southern Baptist Seminary) it's more because it's about nature worship and anti-capitalism.

So there's some truth to both. Although I reckon the Tassie Christians are being a little snobby and the American Christians are being a lot reactionary (I'm aware of the fact that comparing a State of 500 000 and a country of 300 million is ridiculous, btw).

I reckon you'd have to be a bit silly to think anyone will be moved and influenced deeply by Avatar's anti-capitalist message and even sillier to think Avatar is a powerful advertisement for animism. In reality, these things are merely the background presuppositions that give the film some thin semblance of a narrative. It's not really about either thing, as far as I'm concerned.

In my mind, the film is a documentary. And a beautiful portrayal of a wonderful, fantastic world. As a celebration of human imagination and a display of our deep longing for paradise, it's a huge success. As a vehicle for animistic or primitivist ideology its ordinary and definitely not something for Christians to get too worried about.

What we hunger for in suffering

Fi tries to nail down some of the things we are longing to know while we suffer:

  • there was some good reason for my trouble. Even if I've been wronged, I want to know that there is a bigger picture that brings sense to all this, that there is some good reaching over it all. I want to know that my suffering didn't just come from randomness, negligence or cruelty.

  • something good will come of my suffering. I don't want to go through all the pain and it be for nothing.

  • it won't always be like this. I want to know that, one day, it will be well, and it will be good.

It's a good list. There's real value, I think in prising things apart so we can see what's going on in our experience. Sometimes our 'sicknesses of the soul' can be better treated once they are carefully diagnosed.

Needless to say, preachers need to work hard at this.

Positive relationship with the university

One of our values for student committee members is: "We are not a parasite, we are dilligent in our studies and involvement in the University community"

I'm always on the lookout for ways to help students and graduates integrate their faith and studies.

Here's a post from Scott McKnight which speaks at length about these issues: Missional Campus Ministry.

His charter for campus ministry is that we help students:

"1. Come to faith. This is rather obvious, without a commitment to the gospel there is no faith to defend. Campus ministries must be concerned with presenting the gospel and living the gospel.

2. Understand the faith. This really means understanding the essence of the faith and developing an ability to separate the essential from the peripheral. It also requires a background that places the faith within historic Christian thinking. What is, to borrow an illustration from Keith Drury, written in pencil, what is written in ink, and what is written in blood. This provides the breathing room to actually engage and eventually integrate. (Read his story and use it to start a conversation. I've found it a powerful tool.)

3. Own the faith. Move past a faith that is defined by boundaries and propositions to a faith that is believed and owned. Understand what is meant by the core Christian doctrines and why they are important. This is an ongoing process.

4. Integrate the faith. A faith that is possessed, understood, and owned (or at least where progress in being made on understanding and owning) is capable of integration and defense."

Andrew Heard on baptism

Sam Hilton linked to this article months ago and I have been meaning to link to it ever since.

There's some really good comments here to help infant and believer-baptism people understand one another, and admit the weaknesses of their own view:

I think it is important to note from the start that both sides of this debate are faced with very few NT statements that support one view or the other.
Believer's baptists might find it an extraordinary thing to lump them in with infant baptists at this point. Baptists make much of the fact that infant baptism is not commanded anywhere in Scripture and so is apparently lacking in any biblical support. It is certainly true that there is no command to baptise infants but the point that needs to be strongly
stated on the other side is that it is equally true that there is not one single NT verse that says we are to wait for the infants of believers to reach a certain age before baptising them. Not one.
It may be said in reply that there are many statements concerning baptism that strongly imply we ought to wait until a child reaches adulthood before baptising. Perhaps so, but it must be acknowledge that these statements at best may only 'imply' such a practice and don't actually command it. Therefore they need to be applied with caution. This is especially so because of the context they are given in.
Consider a very popular starting point in the debate, the words of Peter at Pentecost. "Repent and be baptised everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 2:38)... His context is the missionary situation surrounded by Jewish adults who had yet to make a first response to Christ. It goes beyond his intent and his focus to insist that he was here deliberately laying down a principle that must be applied to a completely new situation – the situation of what to do with children born to those who have responded to the gospel....

The fact is, there is no scripture that says we are to wait until the infants of believers get to a certain age before we baptise them, not one scripture at all. If we insist on only baptising children when they reach a certain age we do it without any explicit and direct statement from the Bible on it. The same of course can be said with the baptism of
infants. There is no direct statement that says we are to baptise infants. My point is simply this - the Scriptures are silent both ways. Any practice we develop therefore will necessarily be based on principles drawn from texts written for other situations. We are wise therefore to apply them and hold them with humility.
I believe far better relationships between godly Baptists and godly infant baptists would be encouraged if everyone were to acknowledge this simple point.

I'm a cautious advocate of infant baptism for these kinds of reasons. It seems arbitrary to delay baptism until later, it seems misleading to somehow think of kids born to Christians as not part of the church in some sense, it seems important to acknowledge that their rejection of the gospel is different to the rejection of someone hearing it for the first time as an adult...

Slightly different note (and making for a slightly longer post): This article is one example of why I reckon Andrew Heard is such a great asset to The Geneva Push. The guy is very sharp and theologically insightful. He's not just a surfy guy with a big church (although it's sad that we love listening to Americans tell us about their big churches, but get a little annoyed when Australians start doing it!). Andrew is able to provide a strong and deep theological mind for the Geneva network, which is a major bonus, I reckon.

7:30am student committee meetings

Coco Pops.

Youth Ministry Stereotype

Pretty funny. H/T Dave Miers on this one.

I liked the 'always someone breakng their arm, did you really tell them to pull the fire alarm?' and the bit about the messy car and the house smelling like feet. Lol.

Prolly some overlap between youth workers and uni evangelists so I need to listen up a little, I guess. I am working pretty hard to brand and plan the uni mission in a deliberately 'we're not a youth group' way. But still.

Some advice on piracy

If you're a regular reader, you'll know that I feel uncomfortable about a neat and simple distinction between piracy and theft. I don't think it should be assumed that copyright law is always correct in its understanding of theft.

Here's some advice on the topic on AFES' webSalt.

There's some good advice here, but it draws the link to tightly and also only recommend cheap ways of buying Microsoft software, rather than recommending open source stuff.

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 afes.org.au/_donate 

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.

We're doing DiSC profiles with AFES Hobart Staff

I'm a Di = Dominant major, influence minor.

I like results, action and enthusiasm. If you get in my way I will run you down.

Reformed University Fellowship

I've linked to their useful website from the Uni Fellowship of Christian newsfeed.

H/T Mark Dever interview with Aaron Messner on campus ministry.

Paddy Benn's blog

Is here. I've just subscribed. Paddy Benn could be a swashbuckler if he weren't an evangelist.

Stu on church, and why it does not mean gathering

A controversial post from Stu.

In general, I think the Knox-Robinson view of church is right, and builds on a pretty standard Protestant theology of the Universal and Local Church. It adds greater biblical and theological and in fact biblical-theological clarity to these earlier formulations.

But I agree that the church-as-gathering theology needs some qualifiers. For one, I reckon 'a local church is not A church but THE church' is one of the most unclear ways of making a point in the universe.

Whenever we make too big a fuss about 'using words properly', it's important to acknowledge, as Stu does, that different languages have different ranges of meanings... and so English 'church' can mean building and so forth.... Although he seems to make the opposite point in this post!

Also, saying 'church doesn't have a mission, it is the end goal' is not very clear. An end goal can also have subsidiary functions. In the case of the church, God doesn't gather to himself a people who get cryogenically frozen. He gathers to himself a people who are active in loving him and one another. Part of being the end goal is being active in serving God, his people and purposes.

Some reflections on different types of small groups

Rick guest blogs on Ed Stetzer's blog.

I want the 'fellowship groups' to be a key part of the Uni Fellowship's mission, even though I'm not super excited about small groups personally, so I'm learning a lot and hoping to find the right people to hand the ministry to... and then get out of the way!

I've been wondering about whether or not to unsubscribe from Stetzer's blog for a few months. As the number of links I've given him over the last few weeks shows, he's back in the game. Well done Ed!

Take an inventory

Have you ever taken a full inventory of your church property?

Take a full inventory. Then give yourself permission to:

  • Chuck things out (I know of more than one minister who has to find sneaky ways of throwing things out so parishoners don't find out!)
  • Buy new things that'll look nice
  • Buy new things that'll make things go smoother
  • Store everything neatly so you can actually find them when you need them
  • Pass things on to those who would use them better
  • What else?
Check out jml's Meditations on the Garbage Bin for more wisdom.

Ed Stetzer is starting Wayne's World

Or rather The Exchange, (are definite articles back in? Are we saying goodbye to vague one-word titles like 'Connect' and 'Engage'?). He writes:

Doing a "web show" feels a bit like I should be broadcasting from a basement in Aurora, IL, but I have hopes that we can be some encouragement to pastors and leaders... My main agenda is simple: to help pastors and church leaders in a setting that includes questions and dialogue. If I had my way, I would personally coach and encourage every pastor or leader. But, since they actaully want me to lead a research team here at LifeWay, I am somewhat limited in my capacity. with this new show, I can talk through some common themes and interact with Christian leaders as we "provoke one another to love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).


Great value of hospitality

RD has a nice post.

H/T Craig.

Google Reader will now give you updates to any website

Jason writes "Google is eating the internet!"

Here's the article.

Once again, if you haven't already, you really should use Google Reader or some equivalent to help you read your blogs. Rather than having to open up a bunch of windows to check each blog one by one, Google Reader just collates all the latest updates of the blogs you tell it to subscribe to.

Can anyone pin this down for me?

Someone, I thought it was Packer, did a breakdown of the doctrine of revelation that runs kind of like the famous song:

  1. God has spoken
  2. It is written
  3. God still speaks
Or something. Can anyone tell me who did it? And where I can find it?

Listening = being affected by what others say

A nice definition from What's Best Next:

Listening is not simply, or mainly, hearing what the other person is saying. It is thinking about what they are saying, and doing so from their point of view.

Implication: This includes a willingness to be influenced by others. If you are generally unaffected by what other people say, you aren't listening.

H/T Bron for sharing this on Google Reader!

Trying to define 'missional' once for all

Ed Stetzer shares plans for draft a manifesto, I kid you not.

Hmm. Personally I think 'missional' is an extremely ugly, silly word. The idea behind it is good, but not especially amazingly revolutionary. Not sure if it's worth the effort to nail down in a manifesto.

And 'missional' is one of those concepts that you're not allowed to criticise without people accusing you that you haven't understood it, which is  a bit annoying.

Why your church plant should plan to buy a building

Andrew Heard's mammoth article on the Geneva website.

Plenty of food for thought here, and plenty of sacred cows turned into hamburgers. Delicious.

When is it ok to stop signing off in a message thread?

Seems like people stop signing off much quicker with Facebook messages (btw if you have my email address I would much much much much much prefer you to email me please. Why choose to use the crappier messaging system?). Sometimes FB messages don't get a sign off at all.

When do you stop signing off? I'd probably only stop if the thread become 'document attached' or 'see you then'. Even then, a lot of people would go for the initial, right?

No phone number on websites


Contact forms on websites.


Naughty TUU.com.au

Otherwise a nice, trendy Quicksilver Triple J sort of website.

Some random hints and tips about fundraising

I've been very thankful to God for the success of the fundraising success in preparation for Uni Fellowship this year. In the process I've learned stacks of stuff and I thought I'd share some odds and ends:

  1. Don't see it as an interference in your ministry. As if if you could just get it out of the way you could get on with the real ministry. You won't do a very good job if you try to just get it out of the way. But more importantly, fundraising is pretty closely related to the rest of your ministry. In some ways standard pastors miss out by not needing to fundraise (in fact the best pastors do 'fundraise' in the way they manage their church budget). Fundraising involves setting vision, building a team of supporters, prayerful dependence on God. The skills involved in fundraising are very similar to the skills involved in evangelism.
  2. Work the phones. There's a place for nice brochures and visiting churches and face to face meetings. But the bread and butter of fundraising is phonecalls. Learn to love it. Buy a really nice phone if that'll help you do it. I've actually found that fundraising has helped me embrace phonecalls. I never really liked them in ministry before. I understood their importance in fundraising and somehow feel more energised to use them in the rest of my minsitry. Real estate sales trainers advise sales staff to spend 45 minutes every day on the phone. Fundraisers and evangelists should do similar, I think.
  3. Learn as much as you can from wherever you can. Don't just attend the obligatory training seminar. Much less rely on your own intuition. Read the books (two I've been suggested are Friend Raising and People Raising), ask others, talk to business people.
  4. Ask big. I heard a story about a guy who asked a potential supporter for backing. The potential patron asked 'How much would you like?' 'Five thousand dollars,' the missio replied. And patron said yes. Later, as the missio was walking out the door, the patron said 'By the way, I would've given you ten, if you'd asked'. Ouch! The lesson is dare to ask big. The worst that can happen is that people will say no. Aim for fewer big donors, rather than millions of $500pa or $1 000pa donors. Those donors are very precious too, but seek big donations as well.
  5. Get good at writing grant applications. I suggest you find the most pedantic and detailed organisation and apply to them. They will force you to write a great application. Then you can re use that for less demanding trusts and impress with your thoughtfulness.
  6. Keep in touch in really good ways. I'm not super persuaded about relying merely on prayer letters and 6 monthly newsletters. If you are going to do them, do them really well. But more important is giving them gestalt: give them some of the fliers and badges and things you are actually using in your ministry. And also, give them relationship. The bigger the sponsor (if they are an individual), the more invested they are in what you are doing. Seek their advice in other ways.
  7. Have a diverse strategy. In addition to seeking regular supporters, here are some other things you can do:
  • Ask some supportive churches to do a once-off mission offering each year.
  • Get one patron to match dollar for dollar donations. Then invite people to give once-off donations.
  • Do a fundraising dinner or party or concert.
  • Sell muffins.
  • Apply to local businesses with Christians owners for grants.
  • Think of appropriate ways to seek donations in-kind (food, office equipment, etc).

Our MTS apprentice is all grown up and left the nest

Give Alan advice on being a good housemate here.

Totally uncontextualised

I feel like a Southern Baptist missionary in Canada, or something.

Jolly has just explained to me that there's really two O Weeks. To confuse the two is to make the 'Fresher Error', which is what they'd call it at the residential college where we worked.

  1. The first O Week (week of the 15th this year) is the official, UTAS O Week. It's seminars.
  2. The second O Week (week of 22nd this year) is the social, TUU O Week. It's beer barrells and Societies Day.
Until just this moment, I have been making the Fresher Error. I repent. I need to contextualise. (Puts on Mumford & Sons and begins to figure out how to use Twitter).

Dissing John Harrower, 'the happy clapper'

An example of pretty lame reporting from local Hobart newspaper, The Mercury.

One may not like everything John Harrower has done, but I think he has been a great blessing to the Tasmania Diocese, and the dissing he's received is, I think, sometimes a sign that he is doing the right thing!

Who's gonna donate us hundreds of drinks and pastries?

I'm gonna ask some businesses to donate us a 200 drinks and 200 pastries for Societies Day for O Week as Uni Fellowship of Christians begins for the year. Who do you reckon will do it?

Who do you reckon is the ideal? Who else should I ask?

Charlie's Juice - Problem with them is they're a New Zealand company.
Nudie Juice - Problem with them is they don't seem to have a distributor in Tassie anymore.
Cascade - Tassie company, but maybe they've already exhausted their sponsorships with alcoholic stuff.

Zum - Established business, perhaps keen to contribute to the community?
Jackman and McRoss - Don't know much about the business. But similar to Zum.
Jean-Pascal - one of their pastry chefs is a Christian, but the owner is French ;-)
La Torta 310 - New business, maybe can't afford it, maybe trying to make their mark?
Golden Tulip - Christian owners, but they are Dutch ;-)

The New Media Frontier (Eds. Reynolds and Overton)

'Blogging, vlogging and podcasting for Christ'. Looks like an interesting read.

Summer of 69: Col Marshall on history of MTS

From NSW's Spur 09 MTS Conference:

Summer of '69 from Colin Marshall on Vimeo.

Briefing Lounge interview with Al re: Geneva

Listen here

Read here

Ground rules for staff meeting

Here are some I'm thinking of for our Uni Fellowship of Christians staff meetings:

  1. Arrive to start at decided time. If you need to make coffees or toasties, arrive earlier.
  2. Mobiles off. Landline answering machine on. Laptops closed. If you need to write TODOs in your phone, write them down on paper and plug them in later.
  3. Listen attentively to others at all times. Never conduct secondary conversations.
  4. If you want to raise additional issues or ideas, send them to the team leader before the meeting begins.
  5. Be supportive of the team leader making decisions and understanding his vision, rather than correcting his decisions.
Can you suggest others? I don't want efficiency or organisational advice. I'm more after courtesy advice.

O Week advice?

I've been asking people for O Week advice. What works? Waht doesn't? What's the best way to make contacts that actually stick? What's the waste of time?

A lot of people are still working hard with the cold-contact business of wandering around the campus and the queues of the Christian Union free BBQs and getting contact details for people interested in stuff.

But some other campuses seem to be a little less focussed on getting a mass of contact details, and more on advertising smart - with postcards sent to uni housing, nice looking fliers and a good public presence.

What's your advice?

We're gonna get bulk SMS this year

It would be too expensive and annoying to do lots, but, judging how much students use their phones (and how lame they can be at using email) it would be foolish not to use it.

So we're going to send out SMSs to advertise big events - our monthly Citywide Gathering, our missions, our MYC. We're going with Global SMS, I think. Ask Alan.

Two notes from a Driscoll sermon

Nikki has a Mars Hill podcast on her iPod. I often listen to Driscoll while I go for a bike ride in the morning. This morning it was Jesus is Man (Luke 3).

A couple of notes:

  1. Driscoll talked about Jesus not starting his ministry until 30 and then said that this is a good, normal time to expect to start church planting. 'I started at 25 but I was ridiculous.'
  2. Throughout this series, it's pretty clear that Driscoll hasn't nailed the main biblical meaning of 'Son of God', he reads 'God the Son' into it each time. Most of the time, in the Bible, 'Son of God' means something different to 'God the Son'; often it is close in meaning to 'Messiah'.

History of EV Church

This a really fun interview from In The Chute, with Al Stewart asking Andrew Heard all about the history of Central Coast-EV Church.

When people ask 'Why get involved in Geneva?' one of the big reasons I give is - 'Because of Al and Andrew'. I think this interview demonstrates something of the immense value of these guys and their warm, complementary, respectful relationship.

Quick daily staff meetings

I'm going to be doing this with my staff from now until after O Week. We've got the office to set up, databases to clean up and the start of the year to prepare for.

I've never done this before. But I reckon brief, 1/2 hour touch-base, re-focus, answer-any-questions staff meetings will be really rewarding.

I think I may have them up my sleeve as something to use at particular seasons. Anyone else testify to their value?

Please make your full feed available on RSS

It's annoying not being about to read the whole thing in Google Reader or equivalent.

That means Crux, From the Dean and maybe one or two others out there...

Redeemer's approach to multi site

Keller spells out the differences in Redeemer's strategy.

Must admit it sounds much nicer than the video venue thing. I really don't like that.

Fourteen years of Mars Hill

 Driscoll talks about some of the problems with the way it started and shares some very funny old photos.

Plantinga's beef with evidentialism

If the Holy Spirit overcomes the blinding power of sin, surely we can be persuaded to believe on the basis of evidence, like Josh McDowell or Richard Swinburne offers? Big Al says:

I don't think so. Even discounting the effects of sin on our apprehension of the historical case, that case isn't strong enough to produce warranted belief that the main lines of Christian teaching are true - at most, it could produce the warranted belief that the main lines of Christian teaching aren't particularly improbable.
Warranted Christian Belief (p. 271)

Celebrate reason


Just processed my projects in preparation for starting back to work

Have gone from 5 to 30.

But it's nice to it all nailed down. Far better than a bunch of Notes To Self in a manila folder.

Text files on your desktop

Simple way to keep lists, TODOs, movies to watch, RSVPs other things that simply don't require software that's any more powerful.

In fact the brute simplicity of a text editer is that it actually frees you up to not have to think about formatting and filing and complicating. It's the computer version of scribbling a note-to-self.

Do you use text files on your desktop? What for?

Social conservatism in Pixar films

So this post argues:

There is something conservative about much of Pixar's output, but when I say conservative, I mean a small "c" conservative that sees the world along the same lines as Edmund Burke: "A disposition to preserve." I'm going to call this "social conservatism," by which I don't mean the religious or moral conservatism of modern political discourse, but a conservatism that is interested in preserving traditional social features - in particular, the idea of "family" - but which sees such preservation as ultimately futile. The family will dissolve, eventually, and so we must do what we can to keep it going as long as possible. It is a worldview based not on progression but on loss.

New building for Hunter Bible Church?

In this video we get a glimpse at a possible building for Hunter Bible Church, Newscastle, and hear Greg Lee unpack some of the reasons owning a building can be good for a church.

A possible HBC building? from David Moore on Vimeo.

Man I hate that 'Greater Things' song.

Con is starting to like preaching without notes

He explains here.

I thing it can work well both ways, but I agree that there are some great benefits to going notes-free, or more-or-less notes-free.

How do you do it? I think you need to move away from thinking a sermon needs every sentence mapped out, and instead think in bigger blocks. If you know your material well, you could speak impromptu on this or that element. So why not thw whole thing? I think that's the best way to approach it.

'Fundamentalist' is not really much of a charge

Alvin Plantinga writes:

The full meaning of the term, therefore, (in this use), can be given by something like 'stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine'.
 It is therefore hard to take seriously... as a charge. The alleged charge means only that these views are rather more conservative than those of the objector, together with the expression of a certain distaste for the views or those who hold them. But how is that an objection to anything, and why should it warrant the contempt and contumely that goes with the term?
(Warranted Christian Belief, p. 245)

Fun with Malachi 2:15

You Hebrew nerds out there might have a stab at this one some time. So far my Hebrew skills extend to the alphabet, the rule of the shewa and a growing exasperation with the Masoretes...

  • God made Adam and Eve one. Even thought he had a surfeit of the creative Spirit and could have made more wives if he had wanted to. Marriage is created to perpetuate godly children [so Calvin].
  • God made Adam and Eve one in flesh ['residue' read as 'flesh'] and spirit. Marriage is created to perpetuate godly children [so NIV].
  • God made the nation one people and keeps them as his spiritual remnant. He intended the nation to produce godly children.
  • God made the people one, even though he had a residue of Spirit available for the nations. He intended the nation to produce godly children.
  • When Abraham was the one, alone, he had multiple wives. But if you had any residue of sense you'd see he did that with the goal of securing the child of the promise.
Oh dear...

Thinking more about God's glory and purposes

For those who are interesting in infuriating theological details in blog comments, my previous post has a decent discussion going.

How central is Christ to God's plans? Did God decide to gather all things up in Christ before he planned for the fall? Should we see God's love for the world as a central motivation for his actions?

Keller audio from Global Cities conference


Arminian in the pulpit?

PDJ says no way:

Sometimes, however, the 'boring' verdict tells more about the hearer's willingness to listen to God's word than the preacher's ability to teach it.  It is important not only for ministers but also for congregation members to understand the aims and goals of preaching and preachers.

Calvinists must never be seduced into Arminian style preaching in response to the 'boring' criticism.  For the style of preaching expresses the theology that lies behind it and Arminian theology is significantly different to Calvinist theology.  The Arminian concentration on human responsibility has an immediacy and relevance to the hearer.  It is always interesting to hear a sermon about yourself.  There is no topic more interesting to the human heart than 'me'.

However, in an attempt to be relevant, lively, challenging, interesting and exciting, Calvinists must not ignore the profound weaknesses in Arminian preaching.  For the difference has deep pastoral consequences – even deeper and more important than boredom.

Advance: Melbourne leadership training

City on a Hill's leadership training plans have just been unveiled.

Giving feedback to hackers

We plan to regularly publish resources for Univeristy Fellowship of Christians Alumni on our Alumni Resources Feed.

This article is about the best way to conduct computer code reviews. I hope you enjoy it.

Looking for $10 000 from personal supporters

To be able to start the year with office space and staff. This would be a massive boost to the the ministry, by allowing staff to focus on the important work of evangelism and working with students. It would also be a great morale boost to everyone involved.

Thankfully one alumnus donated $10 000 towards this, which is very awesome and, I hope, inspiring!

So I'm still looking for $10 000 from personal supporters - either once off donations or ongoing partnership. Let's break that down:

1x $100/wk ($5 000) + 2 x $50/wk ($2 500)


2 x $50/wk ($2 500) + 5 x $20/wk ($1 000).

Please be praying and contributing.

Challies is writing a book about technology

I was thinking a book like that needs writing.

I hope this is it, or close to it.

Os Guinness' defence of Francis Schaeffer

Against the criticisms of his son, Franky Schaeffer.

It's a fascinating and sad story, the story of Franky Schaeffer. It was interesting and helpful to read Guinness' response.

God's glory as the primary thing?

Michael Bird has this to say in his review of Tom Schreiner's New Testament Theology (Themelios 34:1, emphasis mine):

The only major criticism I have of the volume is Schreiner's theological centre of God working out his salvation plan so that he would be magnified in Christ. First.... Schreiner's centre is a synthetic interpretation and an inference drawn from the texts, but does not directly manifest itself in the NT. Something akin to God's salvation revealed through Jesus Christ would have a better claim to being the centre in my reckoning.

Second... I think it is important to add that God's self-magnification relates intimately to God's love as well. For instance, in Ps 115:1... God's glory is something placed in service of his covenant love. God's love and glory are complementary aspects of his character and actions, so we can properly say that God's glory and God's love are different sides of the same coin... Thus, while God's self-magnification is a genuine biblical theme, we should stress also the inter-permeation of God's self-giving loving with Gd's concern for his own glory, and so disarm suspicions that God's self-magnification is a form od divine self-interest.
I think this is a helpful correction to the welcome emphasis on God's glory in John Piper's writing, for example.

Driscoll quote for the New Year

It's not a sin. But neither's eating a lawnmower. It's just dumb.