Sydney and preaching...

Earlier in the year a mate who recently moved to Sydney made the following observations. I thought I'd throw them out there to see what the feeling was like.

One thing I have really noticed about Sydney more broadly: preaching takes a quite different shape. Most sermons are short (25 mins) but cover as much biblical material as our 40 minute sermons. This seems at first to be more efficient, until you realise that it is (generally) because they have not illustrated or applied the passage very much. Sermons are more like lectures than at home, and there is less evidence of "preaching to the heart". This is not necessarily because people do not like it, but just have not heard it. In fact, preachers like David Jones are well-liked by people once they have heard him.

I suspect this culture is (again, broadly) due to two beliefs: 1) positively, that the mere explanation of the Bible is sufficient to move people to repentance and faith; and 2) negatively, that extrapolating on the text in application is dangerous.

I agree with the underlying motive: to preserve doctrinal purity. But I think it makes too little of the fact that many preachers in the Bible, not least of all Jesus and Paul, often illustrate and extrapolate on OT texts to drive their message home to their listeners. I also think it is just poor communication.

I also think it is the product of a wider, "slow and steady wins the race" approach which, although it has lots going for it, has a tendancy to infantalise people. For example, many of the guys in first year at college have only preached a handful of sermons in their lives and who are scared silly of preparing one unless they have 25 hours to do so and have read four commentaries on the passage. This is an exaggeration, but not a large one. It worries me a bit.


Come and do my job

The MTS Challenge Conference is about challenging people to commit to full time paid Christian work. This begins with an apprenticeship (which is what I'm doing). This gives you a feel for what ministry would be like. Next you head off to Bible College in the wide blue yonder for a couple of years to "fill up your theological fuel tanks for the next 50 years". You then return and continue the work to train others (and recruit for new MTS apprenticeships).

They have been doing some work at Camp Clayton should look nice when it's finished.

Probably about 80 ish people there...

As part of the conference all delegates were interviewed with regard to future ministry aspirations and when they think they could take on an MTS apprenticeship. This was the most enjoyable part of the weekend for me personally. The most frustrating part was being away from Christine for the whole time.

I had my serious face on for the interviewing

The talks from Ben Pfarlet and Steve Cree were great. Both of them had a great sense of humour and spoke well. Get challenged and listen to the talks here.



A mate mentioned this morning;

I think 80s-90s evangelism and training was training people to join the cause and to have the skills to fight the fight. Values and lifestyle were communicated indirectly, along the way. The emphasis has to shift now. The focus is on the values and lifestyle with the skills and training communicated along the way.

That's not to set up a false dichotomy but so say that a shift needs to happen back the other way. What's this mean in plain English? People are looking at the lives and values that we portray as Christians not just "answers" so we must have lives of integrity and transparency as we seek to save the lost.


Jesus all about life...

The Jesus all about life V8 racing ute... I'm not kidding

If you haven't heard about the Jesus all about life campaign I imagine you will very soon. I've been doing some poking around their website and I'll post some thoughts some time soon.

In the meantime here are their youtube videos for Youth... and Family... and if you're in your Mid Life...

But the most interesting stuff is in the small print to be read (here) and downloaded (here).


Tog 3 Reviewed

One of the goals of AFES/FOCUS is "Local Sensitivity". When I think "local sensitivity" I think engagement in University culture. I think "missional" (to use that hideous expression that a number of you hate). So as part of this I'm going to engage with the Universities flagship magazine Tog*.

But what does Tog tell me about University culture and students?
Firstly there is an very interesting article (Do you care anymore) by the Union president. In it she (if I understand it rightly) points out the irony of students caring more about a microwave in the ref that was missing than they do about student activism (University cut backs etc).

The observation can be made that most students at Uni don't particularly care about issues until it can be shown how they effect them personally or effect them in tangible ways. People I've talked to on campus say student organisations on campus have universal widespread difficulties with student apathy. If students are like this then the question is to ask how to reach these people with the Gospel?

Secondly reading Tog tells me that the people who care about University (well enough to write for Tog) are by and large a bunch of lefties. They are generally against the Howard Government, in favor of socialism and environmentalism. Again how do I bring the gospel to these people?

*Tog and the University Union has struggled since the introduction of VSU or voluntary Student Unionism.


9 values for FOCUS

You might not know but AFES and therefore FOCUS actually have a set of goals and statements. Now before you switch off get bored and click on the next blog to read I want you to stop and think for a bit. This is what we should be on about at FOCUS this is what we should evaluate the effectiveness of ministries by. This is what I should be on about.

  1. The Primacy of the gospel in AFES ministry - AFES ministry is gospel driven and arises from our personal awareness of the grace of God in salvation.
  2. Passion for proclaiming the gospel - AFES is committed to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus because it brings honour to God.
  3. National and International gospel concern - AFES is committed to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus to all university students across Australia and to people throughout the world.
  4. Systematic Bible teaching - AFES is committed to teaching the whole counsel of God as revealed in the Bible.
  5. Prayer - AFES recognises its dependence on the sovereign God and so is committed to prayer.
  6. Leadership - AFES is committed to identifying and training people who will provide leadership for the Christian community and for the world.
  7. Partnership in the cause of the gospel - AFES is committed to a partnership in Christ-like love between staff, students, graduates, churches and other supporters in living under Jesus and preaching his message.
  8. Local Sensitivity -AFES seeks to develop methods and strategies appropriate to the particular campus, location or demographic group in which they are carried out.
  9. Commitment to biblical unity - AFES is committed to the unity that comes through the gospel and on that basis we welcome all who are in Christ.
The next question to ask is are we achieving these goals...?


Sherrin and Dave's Wedding

I've known Sherrin for a long time. We used to go to school together at good ol' Calvin. I also remember what she was like back in those days. Details aren't necessary suffice to say I'm very happy to see how much she has changed and grown over the years I've known her both as a person and in her faith. Sherrin you are a Christian I truly respect.

Ye Olden car (apparently Dave came in it)

Ye Olden Church

Ye Olden car #2 (Sherrin came in it)

I've never seen Sherrin look so serious

Looking more relaxed after the ceremony


The IBM blog...

Is up and pumping... about time Damo. For those who don't know IBM is FOCUS' international ministry.


supportMIKE news IV

Dear friends

It's not often that I feel the need to beg. Work this year has been a tremendously humbling experience, having to ask people for money in order to live and get by. So many people have been amazingly generous to me in providing the majority of my salary. But as the year hurtles towards its end I'm again asking for support. I'm approximately $5000 short of my target for the year.

As many of you may know I got married over the mid-semester break in Germany to the lovely Christine. I enjoyed the break from work and being able to get away from the worries and pressures of ministry. We arrived back from our honeymoon just in time for FOCUS' annual Mid Year Conference. This was an amazing time of spiritual renewal for both the students and us.

With married life now thrown into the mix I've realized just how little the MTS wage is. Christine and I look set to have real financial troubles over the next year and half, even with my full wage. Please keep Christine and I in your prayers as we work through this most difficult part of marriage. She is currently not able to work until her visa is approved (a massive process).

The semester began with a bang as we ran the worldview survey in week 3. The first couple of weeks were spent recovering from MYC and preparing the students for the survey. The worldview survey is, in my view, one of the best evangelistic tools out there. Students answer multiple choice questions before being analysed by a computer which tells them their worldview. This then leads to evangelistic conversations as the Christian explains the ins and outs of various worldviews. I spent 3 hours talking non-stop in just one day and had some awesome conversations. I don't say this to boast but to demonstrate just how effective a tool it really is.

I've also been excited by the prospect of running an evangelistic small group up at Jane Franklin Hall. This has flowed out of a small group that I started there in the middle of last semester (with help from others). It's been encouraging to see students in this group growing and being challenged in their faith.

I'll be preaching on Titus later in the semester. Please keep me in your prayers as it will be a struggle to get these talks completed in time. On top of all this Christine and I have recently moved to a new flat and continue to settle into sharing a home for the first time.

Although there are challenges ahead for the year we have every confidence in God and his ability to provide for us. Please feel free to check out my blog for updates on my progress (the link is below). You can also now donate to me online via my blog. May God Bless you especially through his son Jesus.

Mike and Christine Jolly


You can now...

...donate dosh to me online*.

If you check out the link in my sidebar "donate $ here". All you need to do is select my name from the pull down menu on the AFES donation page. For those who don't realise, AFES are the ones who manage my money. Supporters give money to them and they then redirect it to me.

*I'll point out that this post isn't spruking for students of FOCUS to donate to me but rather supporters who also read this blog.


This one is...

Blogworthy. I grabbed my copy of the latest Salt last night. Salt is the rag of AFES who are the people who manage the gifts of my kind supporters.

To be blunt in past years Salt looked like rubbish and I felt like reading it about as much as... well I didn't. But this one looks nice and made me want to pick it up and read it. I know the duders @ AFES have been trying to life their game and this one hits the spot.

It's also covers one of the topics that I constantly beat the drum about here on my blog... pornography.

Grab your copy @ FOCUS or from me.


What FOCUS really needs


Laser Skirmish

By popular demand... here are the photos. For those who don't know FOCUS and friends whose consciences would permit went to play laser skirmish on Saturday. As usual it was awesome. I'm sure others can report back.

Thanks to everyone for coming and a special thanks to Ed for organising it.


Supporting FOCUS part 2

I thought I’d address a number of criticisms from comments on the last post.

Firstly I’m not arguing that students should be taken away from the influence of older people (far from it). As Mikey rightly points out it is possible to maintain meaningful contact with local church while engaged in activity at FOCUS.

Secondly I’m not arguing that studies aren’t important. They are. Students need to be organized and manage their time so they can be committed to both University study and Christian service and evangelisation. It doesn’t have to be an either or scenario.

Thirdly I’m not arguing that it should be “compulsory” for students to go to FOCUS. Nor should students "have to" or be coerced go to FOCUS OR be made to feel guilty for not going, far from it. Rather being involved in FOCUS should be something desired and owned. I’m after willing groups of young men and women for FOCUS who are enthusiastic and keen to see their friends saved and the campus reached for Christ.

Positioning a work at the ‘coalface’ allows for better and more effective engagement with a culture. In other words FOCUS is better positioned to equip students and engage University culture than any local church can ever afford to.

Students are missionaries called to their culture. While at University the University is that culture (or at least it should be for the purposes of evangelism) for the reasons I’ve listed below.

I maintain that the University period is unique in terms of it’s evangelistic edge. It’s a time of life when statistically, people are most likely to either become Christian (or give it away). It’s time when patterns and habits of thinking are solidified for life. It’s a time when Christians spend long periods of time in constant contact with non-Christians. It’s a time when people are more open to thinking and considering ideas.


Civilization comes in...

Small packages...

Sort out a few cables... won't need that installation CD on my mac

Plug it in. Neaten it up...

worked first time... thankyou; MacBook, airport express (with airtunes) and aapt.


Supporting FOCUS...

*Edit* Comments re-opened

Jerome (BSJ-rom) wrote about some ideas I had here . As I promised I have some thoughts that clarify my position.

I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about FOCUS and it’s involvement with churches in Hobart. The problem as I see it is that often for a number of reasons FOCUS often struggles to get most students from generally sympathetic evangelical churches in Hobart.

As things currently operate student’s interests are divided. They are forced to often make calls between church and FOCUS or are simply too involved in their local church to have time for FOCUS. This is thrown in with the fact that students are busier (and sometimes more disorganised) than ever before with internet, blogging, facebook, and work commitments.

By way of addressing the problem I float the following idea. I propose Christian students of University age are set aside by local churches to work with the FOCUS ministry. They are freed up from responsibilities at church specifically so they are able to devote their time and opportunity to the work on campus.

The key with this view is to recognize the University campus as a mission field. University sees students placed in an environment that in terms of evangelistic opportunity is virtually unparalleled later in life. Students then work missionaries to their University culture. This doesn’t come without a cost (as Jerome points out) it would involve spending less time with friends and mates from church. But what missionary activity doesn’t cost. I’d also point out that this form of “missionary” activity is far cheaper than sending people overseas on mission (although a lot less glamorous).


Worldview Survey... it doesn't get any better than this

I've most busy the last couple of weeks running this down at the University.

You can check out an online version here. basically it's multiple choice survey that gives the participant (based on their answers) one of six different worldviews. The survey is analysed by a computer program which also test the participant for consistency of their answers. The views are Theist, Deiest, Naturalist, Nihilist, Existentialist and Monist. (check em out on Wikipedia if you don't know)

Where so many evangelistic tools and techniques can be clunky and awkward the worldview survey neatly overcomes these problems. Discussions about matters of religion, spirituality and faith, flow in a particualrly natural way as you explain the implications of particular worldviews. As and example I spent 3 hours in constant and evangelistic conversation in one day alone*.

While it does have some draw backs I'd still argue that if you are involved in evangelistic ministry this is by far the best tool I've found. If you'd like to know more email me.

*Now I don't say this to boast rather to demonstrate the effectiveness of the tool.


Still no internet but...

I did finally get my awesome bed...

My new latex mattress (not much structural rigidity but very very comfortable)

The head

Close up of beautiful Australian timber

Damo and I make the finishing touches

Looks awesome

Could have had a taller head... but we were restricted by the length of the legs (which insedentally came from a chook house.)


Problems with...

...MTS and AFES? Like any organization they have their problems. My friend Seumas has some ideas...


Porn (again)

I read this interesting article quoting feminist Naomi Wolf who herself quotes from the Bible!

Wolf's original article here

Thanks Craig for the link


Still no internet

At the new house but we do have the phone connected... I wonder how long it will be?


I'm moving house

Check my facebook profile for the details...

More information will become available as it comes to hand.
In the mean time you may want to check out Christine's blog. I've been chipping in a bit as she answers questions on our first month of marriage.


Men (and Erica) like to pray

On Tuesday night we held the FOCUS prayer meeting at my house. We ate some great food including Shaun's birthday cake (he wasn't even there to cut it). A great time was had by all.

Unfortunately I missed a fair bit of it while I was printing out fliers for the Worldview survey. I then had to push on up to Jane to help run a small Bible study. These are busy times.