Church and stuff

When thinking about how to run a church that is friendly to newcomers we often look to the best and coolest new programs. We allocate special welcomer people with shiny introductory packs. We even have people on the door who shake hands with everyone as they come in.

I think this falls short for two reasons…
Firstly a large proportion of people I believe choose a church because it is a loving welcoming community.

They look for a place where people have a genuine love and care for each other. These things speak powerfully to a new Christian or non Christian visitor. I reached this conclusion while chatting to a couple of people (independently) last week. I asked them for the reasons why they choose/joined their particular church.

In both cases the reason given had nothing to do neither with programs, nor great Bible teaching, “inspiring worship” or fearsome evangelistic zeal. They choose their church because they felt welcomed into a loving caring environment. In my past church experience we have worked at having great teaching but neglected to work at having a warm loving environment where newcomers and members could feel at home.

You might be feeling a little smug at this point “My church does community very well thank-you very much.” But I’d want to bring you to my second reason… Often we do community in a way that isn’t welcoming.

I’ll explain what I mean with a question. “How easily and readily is a new person incorporated into your community?” So often I have seen communities and been to churches that reassemble impenetrable fortresses where trying to join the “in crowd” is like your Grandma turning up to a rock concert.

I’ve visited churches in Hobart even where I know many of the people but still feel very much left out of the clique and in group (maybe cause I’m not cool). It should also be noted that I’m generally an outgoing person.

To address the situation I have two action points. Firstly we’d do well to learn from some more of the (dare I say it) Pentecostal churches that are warm and friendly and really work at having more caring environments. Secondly we must work on opening our cliques up to new people, watch for them and welcome them in.

supportMIKE wants you to think about how to do church community better.



Americans might be particularly familiar with the dangerous Australian wildlife.
For example I found this little puppy under the fence in my "backyard" just the other day.


Kinder Surprise... an epic tale of woe

I bought a Kinder Surprise… and I got this toy...

I mean what on earth? It Looks like something a crazy person dreamed up. what are those wheel things for? Kinder Surprise what WERE you thinking... have you gone insane?? Are you smoking crack??

You can tell I was upset... I wrote a letter (in big pencil print with spelling mistakes and smudges)

...put it in an envelope (addressed to Mr Kinder Surprise)

...And posted it (this is my "Mum wouldn't approve" look)

I’ll let you know how it turns out...


Cars, being a nerd and other stuff

I’m thinking of taking a break from my blog for a bit while I sort out some talks I have to write for an evangelistic camp next month. Apologies if my updates are a little spasmodic.

Things that you can pray about in the meantime

  • Finally getting all the paper work sorted for next year.
  • That Christians will be generous and give me and FOCUS the money for next year.
  • For the talks I have to write and for me not to get stressed out about them.
  • For people that I have spoken to and will speak to with regard to working for FOCUS next year.
  • For Christine and I to work hard on our relationship especially for me as I think about the future.

Today I have...
  • Been out helping a mate get his car Dyno Tuned* (see pic). Most people who read this probably don’t know I’m into cars and to a certian exstent I'm not… anyway the chances are that you won’t know what a dyno is or a dyno is... guessing anyone?
  • Written the protocol for editing out website content (finally)
  • Thought about making some progress on the talks (they are about half done)
  • Filled in some more forms for work next year.
  • Chatted with an old school mate.
  • Helped my parents battle computer issues.
  • Helped Nixter battle Skype issues.
  • Battled some more preference settings on Adium (like msn messenger only 1000 times better)
  • Updated this blog
  • Talked to Christine.. twice
  • Gotten angry because AAPT doesn't have a good usage meter for their ADSL plans.

*For the record we got the car (A heavily “modified” Mitsubishi Gallant VR4 with a 4G63 motor) doing 169 kw @ the wheels with 18psi boost… now stick that in your pipe and smoke it.



Is coming to Australia... WOOT*

*(Ask Nikki (here) for a defination of "woot")


This weekends progress...

This week I have been working hard. My blog has slowed a little, as has my traffic which has allowed me to breath a little more freely. I spent a large ammount of time working on the talks for the camp in October and I'm very happy with the progress.

I also soldered these very nice cables together for my little home theatre system. Here's how I did it...

First we strip the cable separate the core from the shield.

Second solder the core and shield to the pin

A lot of cables... lots of time and *cough* money

What to do with them all...

If you would like any hints and tips on how to DIY I am now a master craftsman and happy to take questions.

For your complete cable needs supportMIKE is your local home theatre wire soldering specialist. (say that three times fast)


How to be better at Evangelism Part 3*

Pray more - more often and more passionately.

If you start by praying for deeper relationships, if you start actively getting to know people better, you will end up loving them more, desiring their salvation more, praying for them more often and praying for them more passionately.

If you have deeper relationships with Christians it will be more natural to pray with each other for one another's friends and family. In doing so you will end up growing in your relationship with God and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

(*My good friend Emma (aka "The Poo") guest posts about evangelism for the final time. Thankyou Emma.)


Stop. Look. Listen and speak...

Most people would know about Steve Irwin’s death earlier this week. Fewer people will know about Peter Brock’s untimely death. For my international readers "Brockie" was the most popular and well known Australian motor sport identity.

What I noticed was the level of public grief for these two celebrities. Their deaths shocked us, left us numb. This shouldn’t surprise because we convince ourselves that death has no part in everyday life. We spend stacks of money on the anti-ageing cream and hair dye to cover the fact we’re slowly dying. Death rarely enters our suburbs, let alone our streets or homes. It is a stranger—an unwelcome one.

When death does break into our circle of celebrity or family, it comes as a rude shock. It's unfair, it's not time (it's never time) it's too soon, it's too much, it's more than we can bear. Seeing a celebrity die reminds us that we are truly fragile that even power wealth health and prosperity cannot protect us from the final realities of this life.

As I walked around this week I noticed society struggles to come to terms with these deaths. I over heard this just yesterday.

“I mean what can you do or say... I guess he went out doing the very thing that he loved.”
If doing the thing you love most is life is all there is, it is the pinnacle of your existence, then I’d agree that is definitely it is the best way to die… But is this all there is? It seems to fall short and is… well inadequate. My feeling is that people comments (for example my mate’s) show this. It just doesn’t explain the pain, the death, the finality of it all.

At this point I want to say affirmatively that there is a point. There is far more to life than just the here and now and the pursuit of what I love. God exists and he himself gives life, meaning and purpose. He gives me the reason to live. It is him I live for not the endless pursuit of enjoyment and doing what I want. It’s him to whom I owe my life in this world and the next. Now what about you?


How to be better at evangelism... Part 2*

Have deeper relationships with those inside the church.

The more your church is your family, not just on Sundays, the more your friends and family outside the church will get to know that family. As you yourself get to know your Christian brothers and sisters better, you will probably end up meeting and befriending more of their friends and family as well. A relative who might never have been to church on a Sunday may end up having so much contact with Christians that they begin to see the body of Christ in action all the same. Don't segregate your church family from the rest of your life, let them overlap and intertwine.

(*My good friend Emma (aka "The Poo") guest posts about evangelism. Thankyou Emma.)


How to be better at evangelism... Part 1*

Have deeper relationships with those outside the church.
The better you know someone, the easier it is to pray for them, to care for them, to understand them, to love them. The more you are driven by love, the more you accident prone you will be when it comes to accidentally evangelising.

If you have a deeper relationship with a person, discussions of faith will hopefully become inevitable rather than uncomfortable. Friends want to know how each other tick, and they naturally share their lives with each other. Whereas it would be strange to talk about God with a work colleague or your boss, it would be natural in context of friendship. More meaningful relationships often lead to evangelistic opportunities that are not even initiated by the Christian.

Another accidental side effect will probably be an increase in your circle of friends - as you get to know your friends better, you will get to know the important people in their life better as well - and vice versa. On one hand, you will have more people to show Christ's love to. On the other, you will have more Christian friends who know your non Christian friends to help you do it.

(*My good friend Emma (aka "The Poo") guest posts about evangelism. Thankyou Emma.)


Writings on the wall

My friend Benny has a poetry exibition at the Nourish Cafe in Elizabeth Street. On till the 31st of September. My other mate Nick did the graphics which are equally cool.

Drop in and have a read of all the poems like this one...
Beach Horizons

And God said, “Let the waters under the Heavens
be gathered together in one place
and let the dry land appear.”
Genesis 1:9

dad said
lets go find a rock
spots of sun to dangle rods -
flathead signal when they're ready.

mum said
have a careful look
under clouds and under grit -
cowries follow children home.

she sat quiet on the sand
passed her toes
through water cool
smiled at all the meeting.


Tiny Teddy mega shoot

Things on my blog have been more serious lately so today I set this up (see below). I’d like to rebuke myself for being silly and childish… but I enjoyed doing it ohhhh soooooo much. I hope you do to.

"Welcome to Happy's house, a place where the sun shines in and out."

The box says there are six houses to collect... hmmm

I glued the house together with liquid nails. If a job is worth doing it's worth doing properly.

Christine supervised me as I did the cutting out (she's a teacher).

Update I came home this afternoon to find all the tiny teddy heads had been bitten off... no prizes for guessing who did that.


Men should lead…please. Further reflections

As promised I thought I’d post about my own struggles to apply these clear Biblical principles to my life.

There were many excuses I had for not being a leader. I didn’t like putting forward my opinion publicly where it could get shot down. I was and still am particularly sensitive to criticism. Similarly I used to lack the confidence in myself and my own abilities in spite of the fact people told me otherwise.

To make matters worse the male leadership models I grew up with in weren’t particularly styled in a way that I wanted to imitate. Consequently when I became a Christian I was heavily influenced by the blokes around me at the time. We were by all accounts fairly extreme and took what the Bible said seriously.

This was certainly the case with the roles of men and women. I was a bloke and it was my job to lead. However in an earnest sense to apply these principals and correct against the prevailing feminist view of relationships, I and many others ended up over correcting. Consequently many of the girls at our church were crushed, some left and we began to get a reputation for being ultra-conservative.

In my own life I had begun to date a girl. Things initally went well however once we were engaged and began looking at marriage the problems began. I tried to the best of my ability to lead her, asking her to submit to me in areas I thought were important. I asked for her to submit to me in areas that didn’t matter and wound up being incredibly selfish and unloving.I made many mistakes. The relationship unsurprisingly broke down and while it wasn’t totally my fault, I still bore ultimate responsibility for what happened.

So what has changed you ask? I wouldn’t say that my theological conviction has changed nor my certainty that men should lead in God’s created order. The application of it however has changed a great deal. I have spent the last two years thinking carefully about the whole issue, sorting out what battles are worth having. More importantly what battles aren’t worth having. I have been greatly changed and humbled. I have sort forgiveness from my ex and from God. I believe that I’m far better person for it. Our church has also undergone a time of repentance for the mistakes we made.

What does this now look like practically in the future? By God’s grace I won’t seek to crush my wife* into submission. Rather seek to earn her love and respect and engage in selfless action (just as Christ did for the church), laying down my life. I would seek to put my wife’s needs first, putting aside my wants, investing time, surrendering money and effort to work at the relationship. I would treat her with great tenderness, sensitivity not misusing my position to abuse, frustrate and embitter.

There would be an acknowledgement of equality in our relationship, at the same time recognizing the different roles we each have to play. My responsibility as the leader would mean ultimately I am accountable to God for the decisions we make together as a couple.

May God help all godly married men to be like this.

*More about single blokes leading later.


Men should lead...

... but not like this...

smooth work fellas.