photo | Joe Lanman via flickr

A fresh agenda

Everyday Ministry

I have never migrated from one country to another. The farthest I have ever moved was 500 miles from our family farm to go to university in Sydney. It was more than 30 years ago, but I can still remember the swirling sense of excitement, anxiety and disorientation of those early months in the Big Smoke. New streets, new transport, new housemates, new church… new everything. (more…)

→ Start with the heart

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Tim Zulker, one of the contributors to GoThereFor.com, on where to start in evangelism:

We often discuss barriers to outreach: fear, lack of knowledge, rejection, cultural disconnects, etc. These may be real barriers. And there are more. But the deeper barriers to fruitful outreach are what hinder the glory of Christ from shining out from our hearts: willful, unconfessed sin, and broken relationships between Christians in the church. If the gospel is fundamentally a heart issue, then it stands to reason that that’s where the battle will be—in our hearts. If we’re at odds with the Spirit, by consciously allowing sin to fester, we will be out of step with the Spirit and not seeing his fruit. In other words, we will not be abiding in Christ.

→ The ninjas

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I love this story about the Trellis and Vine ninjas from Miami:

Let me tell you about the Ninjas.

It started at a Trellis and Vine Workshop Marty Sweeney and I were running in an old weather-board Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia. We’d been invited there by a young black pastor (whose presence in Atlanta was a remarkable story in itself), and our job was to do what we have done over the past four years since The Trellis and the Vine became an unlikely bestseller—and that was to help a bunch of pastors and lay leaders talk through the ideas in the book, and figure out what it meant in practice for their ministry and their church.

Keep reading to find out who the ninjas were, and tell us what kind of thing you would do (or are doing) in your church along these lines.

→ A ministry manifesto

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Tony Payne explains what the thinking behind GoThereFor.com is about:

GoThereFor.com is a platform where gospel-minded Christians can find ideas, encouragement and resources for fulfilling Christ’s commission to make disciples of all peoples.

The team behind GoThereFor.com longs to see the fruit of the great commission in our lives and churches; we want to see Christ’s disciples go out with urgent love to the communities and peoples around them, to make new disciples and to teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded.  This is our vision because we believe it is God’s great plan and mission as revealed in Scripture, and we hold the Scriptures as our supreme and sufficient authority.

I’m interested to hear what you think of this statement about Christian discipleship.

The vision splendid

Resource Talk

In 1988, when Matthias Media opened its door (there was only one) in a dingy office in Kingsford, where a stingy ray of sunlight struggled feebly down between the houses tall,1 our ambitions were pretty modest. We wanted to make a difference—to produce really first rate resources that would help people at the coal face of gospel ministry—but as we turned out the first copies of The Briefing on the Gestetner duplicator that lived in the little back room near the toilet, I can’t say that our vision reached very far afield. We hoped to produce some good material for the network of churches in our own local area and region, and anything beyond that would be a bonus. (more…)

Catching eggs

Life

When my father-in-law fell on an escalator in a shopping mall, he was proud of his ability to catch his carton of eggs. “Not one of them broke”, he told me from his hospital bed. A true son of the Depression, breaking eggs was more significant than a damaged back. But as he stayed in hospital, two competing attitudes were expressed by staff and visitors. The older generation all said something along the line “You silly old goat, George, why didn’t you use the lift?” or “Why did you take the trolley onto the escalator?” The younger generation said “You should sue Westfield. They’ve got plenty of money.” and “They’ll settle out of court. They don’t want the bad publicity.” It was a stark cultural and generational difference. George, being an old man, simply laughed at his folly and was proud of catching the eggs.

Today in church life I also hear (and feel within myself) a similar clash of cultures. I’ll call them “family”, “government” and “business”. (more…)

How to read a Christian book

Life, Sola Panel

flickr: Abee5

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s forgetting. Your name. What I did on the weekend. The experiences of last year. Gone, every one.

I used to read Christian books and forget them. In one sense, that’s no big deal: we all forget, and it doesn’t mean we haven’t learned anything. But I also wasn’t absorbing what I read: crystallizing the key points, tasting the sweet, going away informed and transformed. That takes a different kind of reading. (more…)

Depression

Suffering service

Life

Life is pretty good at the moment. I have three great kids. My marriage is going well. We planted a church a few years ago, and we are starting to get some traction. The problems we have are because of growth. All in all, this is one of those seasons people dream about. Life is good. (more…)

Our People Die Well

Who are your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you? Most of us have many. In our childhood we may have been privileged to have parents who taught us God’s word, or there were Sunday school teachers or youth fellowship leaders at our church, or ISCF/Crusader teachers at school. For many it has been the pastor of our church, or the Bible study leader. During the lifetime of a Christian we usually have a range of leaders, who teach us God’s word.

There are some people whose leadership stretches well beyond personal ministry to affect whole communities with their teaching of God’s word. They speak at conventions, write books and articles, and travel to speak at evangelistic gatherings and church conferences. They become well known to the community as a whole, as they influence the culture of church life. And as we consider the outcome of the lives of those who lead us personally, we also remember and consider the lives of these more public leaders. (more…)

Supporting military Christians

Everyday Ministry

Military people have a very unusual role in our society. Along with the police, law courts, and legislators, they are agents of “kings and all who are in high positions”, responsible for maintaining the peace and justice that we have come to take for granted. (more…)

photo | babasteve on flickr

Vocation? What’s that?

Thought

In the last issue of the Briefing, we began a little quest to understand what God has to say about work. And, perhaps strangely, we ended up spending a whole article speaking about the creation mandate (God’s command to humanity to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it). Whether you found this helpful or frustrating will probably depend on two things. (1) Are you a big picture person or a details person? and (2) What were you expecting to hear? (more…)

Assessing Christian election guides

Life, Sola Panel

I certainly won’t be telling you how to vote here.

But as a complement to Geoff Robson’s series on Christians and voting, here I assess various ‘voting guides’ produced by Christian groups in the lead up to Australia’s federal election in September 2013. (more…)

Challenging the rushed ministry decision

Everyday Ministry, Sola Panel

Every person involved in leading or organising a church or Christian ministry activity will have had the experience of a member dropping out at short notice, leaving sudden gaps to fill, even gaping holes at times. (more…)

Thanking pollies

Life, Sola Panel

I’ve written plenty of letters to our parliamentarians regarding particular policy issues, sometimes quite critical of positions they’ve taken. But have I taken time to thank them. Here’s my attempt at the end of the current term of our federal Parliament… (more…)

photo | discosour on flickr

God’s plan for work: The cultural mandate

Thought

It’s lunchtime. A young mother sits on the bench, painting her eight-month-old’s face with food—that mouth is hard to find. With her spare third eye she watches her toddler negotiate the finer points of park etiquette with the oversized gorilla who isn’t interested in sharing the springy rocker thing—he’s four! For just a moment she gives herself permission to dream about being the council worker digging a trench on the other side of the park. What a life! (more…)