Expel the Immoral Brother







So reads the chapter title in my 1984 version of the NIV bible over 1 Corinthians 5. When I look the same chapter up on Bible Gateway it has been ‘re-titled’ as ‘Dealing with a case of incest.’ A subtle change, but perhaps one that reflects a bit of how we treat things these days.

It ain’t cool to ‘expel’ people from church… It sounds like the kind of thing cults do and chances are you could even leave yourself open to litigation… In these days when numbers are already in decline who wants to willingly lose another person or family?

But what do you do with Paul’s words in 1 Cor 5:13? Is there ever a time for showing someone the door? Or do we always in every situation seek to keep them in the fellowship? Paul seems pretty clear on the fact that there is a time to exclude someone from the community and he speaks of it more than once. In 1 Timothy we hear him speak this way of Alexander and Hymenaues and in Titus he says similar of divisive people.

If we just take Paul’s words at face value then it seems very strong, but somewhat understandable. Where it gets a little complicated is when we read Jesus’ words in Matthew 18, where the final stage in the ‘conflict resolution’ process is to treat the person as if they were a pagan or a tax collector. What does that look like?

If we’re looking at how Jesus treated tax collectors and pagans then we see him eating with them and showing them love and acceptance, yet at the same time calling them to repentance. So some would suggest that ‘treating as a pagan’ is this kind of relationship. Normally I’m a fan of reading difficult passages thru the ‘lens of Jesus’ and concluding that his insights are given priority, but my take on this issue is that there is a time to show someone the door and let them feel the absence of Christian community.

The issue Paul deals with in 1 Cor 5 is one where he says ‘even the pagans don’t tolerate it’, so for the church to allow and even boast about their practice of incest is bizarre and abhorrent. Clearly no one in Corinth has been able to sort the issue out, or has been able to exert authority over the people responsible so Paul has been called in to make a judgement.

And that he does… He doesn’t mince words.

His clear point is that we aren’t to be about the business of judging those who claim no faith alignment, but when people do, and are part of a faith community then there is an obligation on the church to call them to account. To allow unrestrained, wilful sin in any form (Paul mentions sexual immorality, greed, idolatry. lying and cheating) is to minimise the problem of sin and to sap the church of its distinctive character.

The point to make here is that this is repeated and unrepentant behaviour that is clearly out of line. It isn’t for an occasional moral failure, or for sin that is confessed and repented of. Its directed at a person who rejects Jesus’ authority and insists on doing their own thing to the detriment of the community. And that’s another key – we don’t seek first the welfare of the offending person – we seek the welfare of the community as a whole and if by their actions they they show that they don’t value the broader community then they will inevitably bring destruction to that community.

In that case then they need to be asked to leave or even sent away from the community to live as an unbeliever and to accept the consequences of that. My experience is that we rarely get to this point as most people who choose a path of wilful sin slowly ebb away from the community anyway, or those who need to be confronted often get ‘offended’ and feel ‘judged’ and then leave because they believe they have been badly treated. Maybe they have… We don’t always do confrontation well in church, but even where a perfect process has been followed, a person who doesn’t want correction can find a reason to baulk.

In these situations I think Paul would say ‘Yes. You have been judged. Your behaviour and character has been considered to be destructive to both you and the community and for that reason you aren’t allowed to stay.’

That’s pretty unPC and sure would cause a fair degree of angsty vibe within a church, but if we are going to be a distinctive and Christ flavoured community then there is a time to say ‘we have exhausted every avenue of seeking to help you see the light – now you’re on your own.’

Its a tragic place to get to, but if we never allow for it then we end up with a church where anything goes and there is no authority.

So that’s tomorrow’s sermon in a nutshell…

Saturday Morning in Nebraska


I don’t often watch movies on a Saturday morning, but today I stumbled across Nebraska on the iTunes weekly special list and thought it looked worth a gamble. For 99c what’s to lose?…

Its the story of a cantankerous and doddering elderly man in Billings, Montana receiving a scam letter in the mail telling him he’s won a million dollars and his subsequent journey to claim the ‘winnings’. The movie opens with Woody staggering up the highway, determined to walk the 1000ks to Lincoln Nebraska, because he can’t drive and has no other way of getting there. As a long time alcoholic and showing signs of dementia, he just can’t accept that the letter is a mail-scam and he is determined to go collect his winnings. He wants to be a millionaire. His equally gnarly wife (Kate) tells him  that if he had that in mind he should have started working on it a lot earlier in life and tried ‘hard work’.

Eventually his middle class, middle aged son relents, takes a few days off work and agrees to drive the irascible old man across the country, fully aware that all he is going to do is eventually bring him face to face with reality. The story takes shape on the father / son drive as they revisit Woody’s old home town of Hawthorne, where family and friends get wind of his ‘winnings’ and decide to try and cash in.

Shot in black and white, with a suitably melancholic musical score it is not a fast paced story, but that’s part of the point. Woody has all the time in the world and nothing to do – so why not chase the possibility of a big win? He’d like a new truck… even though he cant drive…

Woody’s wife Janet joins them along the way and adds a fair slice of comedy to the story. She has a bad word to say about everyone and doesn’t hold back. My favourite scene in the movie is her unloading on the redneck friends and relatives in Woody’s home town of Hawthorne who have been badgering him for ‘their share’ of he winnings.

Eventually Woody gets to Nebraska and discovers there is no pot of gold, although he does receive a free hat from the office girl who takes pity on him. ‘Does your dad do this often she asks?’

‘He just believes the stuff people tell him’ replies Woody’s son.

We always knew there was no million dollars, but the punch in the story is what happens next… however I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say it doesn’t change pace, or tone, but quietly takes a direction that offers a smile and some joy for Woody at the end of a long and dark road.

Spend the 99c – you won’t be disappointed.

Love this pic

Love this pic

A Week in the Life…

Well we’re back from holidays and life is in full swing.

The guys who looked after the church leadership while we were gone are ready to take a breath and a couple of hot days this week saw the phone ring hot with people needing retic fixed up.

How’s a week shape up for a retic bloke cum pastor? If you are interested here’s how this week rolled.


Slow start… most mornings begin with prayer and reflection and this one starts a little later as there is no rush to be anywhere. I’m back in Luke at the moment seeking to reconnect with Jesus in the gospels – a regular place I go…

Teaching prep and admin… we are hitting a new teaching series in the book of 1 Corinthians and I began some reading around this letter. When you go to a church conference inevitably you hear about the ‘Acts 2′ church and the Corinthians are held up more as a bunch of losers and the church not to be like. I wonder if they aren’t a bit more like us than we want to admit. Some meaty issues in this letter so I’m partly looking forward to it and partly wishing we had picked something easier…

Most of Monday happens at home around the computer, updating websites and writing emails as well as reading.

There are constant interruptions from phone calls as its that time of year when people want their sprinklers fixed and Monday is the day everyone rings. I’m pretty good at ignoring it, but right now I still need to generate work so I’ve had to multitask more than I’d like.


Reticulation install in Yanchep on a big block. I’m working alone but hope to get it all done by 3pm…

The plumber is late so its a slow start. I do other things while I wait, one of which is trying to push a pipe under the driveway using some dismal water pressure. If the plumber was here I would have a better water source and would be able to do it. He arrives at 9 instead of 7.30 and discovers he hasn’t got the right parts so he needs to drive back to Clarkson to pick up gear.

In the meantime I manage to break two stormwater pipes and hit a gas line just 50ml below the surface… After an hour of trying I can’t get the main irrigation feed under the driveway so I go and do something else and hope that when the plumber gets back things will change. I’m weary from the ‘plunking’ and the day is heating up.

I go drag the trencher around and dig a heap of trenches. I get most of the trenching done, but its heavy work in soft sand and warm sun so at 11.00 I head home as I’m feeling a bit woosy and like I need some food. I hate the first hot day of the year…

A quick sandwich and a coffee and back to it. The plumber finishes his bit at 1pm so I can ‘start’ from the new water source. Another half an hour and I have got under the driveway – a big relief as the day was looking grim with that problem unresolved.

I begin installing the retic but text home at 2pm calling for help – one of the kids to come and fill trenches would be nice – and apparently I also asked Danelle to bring me a ‘fuzzy drunk’… whatever… auto correct is fun

Ellie comes as Sam is knackered from two hours of surfing (love home schooling for flex). I finish off the install and she follows me filling in trenches and sweeping up. With her help I finish at 4.30 and walk thru it with the client who is very happy. Not as happy as I am given it was looking seriously ugly earlier that day. Also very grateful for my daughter who helped me get thru and finished earlier and she earns some good $$ as well…

Danelle picks Ellie up while I head off to do a quote – a backyard retic and turf job. I get the job and head home for a shower. I spend another half hour returning calls, one to a woman who wants me to do her wedding because her current ‘pastor’ is moving house and can’t do it. I have no idea who she is and I’m not remotely interested. It probably doesn’t help that I’m exhausted…  There was a day when I would have felt an obligation to be available for this kinda thing, but not anymore. I love doing weddings for friends, but to be the religious guy for random strangers doesn’t light my fire. Sorry – nope…

There’s dinner and an early night. The first warm day wins again.


On the road early and not sure what I’m going to hit today. A nice easy one  for a regular in Butler to kick things off and then down to Ocean Reef to solve a solenoid puzzle. It is a puzzle and I don’t have the right parts to fix it, meaning a trip to Total Eden… down time…

I slip a couple of quotes in before I pick up the parts and head back to see Barry, an 80 year old whose son went thru Uni with me we discover. The puzzle is solved and we are all happy even if Barry’s wallet is now considerably  lighter.

Playing catch up now and a horrible job to come in Iluka on a day that is hotter than the previous one. I installed some retic for some folks before holidays and they would like all microsprays changed for drippers on tube… all 87 of them… because they have changed their minds… I let them know its going to cost a lot as it means digging up all the old stuff, removing it and then making up 87 drippers and installing them, under trees and in all sorts of crazy places. And its tedious work that won’t do the dicky knee any good. Two and a half hours later I get it finished. In the process I discover the concretors have damaged the main feed in about 5 places and it will mean some creative re-routing of pipe to repair. The owners are good people and happy for me to fix it, but its a tricky one… booked for next week…

I’m running well behind now so I skip a job I had intended to do, knowing I can do it next week and go to service another regular in Butler on the way home. Its a big block with the retic controller located in the most inaccessible place so I’m grateful for my remote control which turns a 90 minute job into a 45 minute one. I head for home at 4.30 and get in the door soon after, returning all my phone calls on the drive home.

The goal of finishing at 3pm isn’t going so well this week, but I’m just happy to be finished.

Its home group night so I shower, chill and scoff down some dinner before heading out to catch up with our crew for the first time in 10 weeks. Its good to see everyone, but I’m pretty wiped out so the early finish is nice.

I get home and read my Jo Nesbo novel until late. I’m tired but enjoying the book.


Its still early in the season so I’m prepared to travel a little further for work which means this morning I am in Kingsley. I use the drive to listen to the first chapter of 1 Corinthians a few times. I get a few inspirations and get Siri to take notes.

When I get to Kingsley a dodgy controller gets replaced as well as a solenoid and some sprinklers. A nice quick 45 min job to start the day before off to see a senior cit with another dodgy retic box. Fifteen minutes here and then off to Warwick where there is a wiring problem. Tracing wires… fun… not. An hour later the loose connnection is found and its pouring with rain as I hop in the car.

I drive to do another controller and a 5 minute job takes longer than it should. It starts to go bum up and the rain gets heavier, but I manage to find a way around the problem and get out of there only half drenched. Dodged a bullet…

I’m on the homeward stretch now and its only 11.00… This day is looking better.

I stop in for an old customer in Madeley, just to repair some dog damage and discover that as well as chewed sprinklers, he has left his control box door open and needs a new one of them as well. Easy work = happy Hamo

I grab some lunch from the lunch bar opposite Total Eden in Joondalup – supposedly satay chicken and fried rice, but more accurate would be satay potato with chicken flavouring. I have lunch in the shop chatting to the staff who I haven’t caught up with for a couple of months. I know this is a better day as I can stop and chat for half an hour and enjoy it.

I check out a water feature that isn’t working in Kinross on my way thru for a regular client. The pump has died, but I’m no expert with small pumps, so it would be trial and error to get it right and I pass the job on to someone else who might be able to solve it straight away. Ted shows me his backyard that backs onto the trainline and will soon back onto the freeway… He’s not a happy man as its all got very close to him. Crazy…

From there I head to Quinns and am nearly done. But of course, just when you think you’re on the home stretch you get a messy one. Not hard, just fiddly and in drizzle. I’m tempted to defer it to next week and head home, but I know that I can push thru if I want to… so I grit my teeth and trudge on. All done and another happy lady. (I’m constantly bemused by how happy a functioning retic system can make people!)

Its 3pm now and I’m wondering about the next job… should I start it or head home? Its in Quinns so I drop in to have a look and assess whether I’m going to keep rolling. The owner tells me the solenoid does’t work, but I discover he simply hasn’t set the controller correctly. 5 minutes and I’m done… I hate to bill people $75+GST for an instant fix so I let him pick a number – ‘how’s $50?’ he says… ‘Sure’… I’m happy to be finished early and he’s happy its a cheap, quick fix.

I have a quote scheduled for 4pm but I’m not hanging around for an hour so I call and reschedule.

Heading home at 3pm – that’s the plan I am trying to work to…

I drop in for a haircut, to give Danelle a breather from the monthly shave and meet the world’s most extroverted hairdresser. She doesn’t pick the ‘I’m an introvert at the arse end of a long week leave me alone’ cues, so I make a mental note not to go back there. A quick stop at the chemist to pick up some anti-inflammatories for the dodgy knee and then home to have a shower.

Two weeks of invoices get entered while I down a coffee

Its a cruisy afternoon and evening as Danelle and the kids head out and leave me alone to cook my own dinner.


Tomorrow begins at 7am with our leader’s prayer meeting, before Ryan and I catch up for an hour and chat. That’s always one of the most valuable hours of my week. Having someone you talk honestly with is a gift so I enjoy this time.

Then I sit to write down the teaching for Sunday and hope that over the week the rough thoughts I had on Monday tumble out into some sensible order tomorrow morning. I like to close the laptop by 1pm with a solid first draft printed out. Then I revisit it later that day and give it a polish for an hour or so. I alloacte a sermon around 8 hours in total these days and if it isn’t done in that time then so be it… Such is life when you wear two hats. Its nice to rest the weary bones, but sometimes if its been a hard week the brain doesn’t kick into gear easily so I never know if teaching prep is going to come easy or hard. I sense some thoughts have been percolating, but I never really know until I start the writing process tomorrow.

Aash is coming for coffee at 2 so that’ll be good to catch up and share some stories and encourage one another.

Friday night will involve kids at kids ministry and then youth groups so I’ll be taxiing and shuffling them around while Danelle is on the Fresh Conference. Living in Yanchep means we do a bit of extra driving, but its just the price you pay for paradise!

Highlight of the day might just be pizza for dinner and a good book…


Will be veg day…

I have a new boost gauage and EGT gauge to go on the cruiser so that might get done. Ellie has her netball final and then the rest of the day is empty.


Church and chill

That’s the week… How’s yours looking?








Farewell to Facebook


For a few years now I’ve pondered dumping Facebook and the other social media I have active, but I’ve been hesitant to make the jump. Social media is a double edged sword, keeping me in touch with lots of people I rarely see, but also sucking me into its quicksand vortex of mental slush and holding me there way too long.

I’ve noticed my ability to think and concentrate has deteriorated and I’d say part of it is a result of the way I’ve been reading online. I read an article online (ironically…) a while back about how the ‘internet is rewiring our brains’ and shuddered because I could feel some of the effects on myself – a shortened concentration span and a distractedness that meant I struggled to read a book or fully engage in conversation because I was wondering if something ‘better’ was happening elsewhere. The fact that I have a naturally addictive component to my personality also means I tend to REALLY get stuck into things like this rather than just having the occasional skim. Its well documented that net surfing has an addictive component so I feel like I’m hitting some unhealthy territory at the moment hence the exit.

The other factor that concerned me was the way I may have been communicating the shape of my life online. I try to ‘keep it real’, but as I reflected on some of what I’d been posting I realised it could have been seen as a bit unbalanced towards my life being better than it is. No one really wants to know if you’ve had a boring day. No one really wants to hear your inner turmoils online, and no one certainly wants to read a vague attention seeking post that seems to imply the world has ended, when in reality you have just run out of milk.

I had ‘unfollowed’ around 600 people on my ‘friend list’ in an attempt to keep the volume of info down, but over the years I’ve found some things just don’t happen in ‘moderation’ for me and I need to dump them entirely and recalibrate my internals. It isn’t as easy as ditching Facebook altogether because my business is linked to it, our church has a facebook site and people send me FB messages, so I will be there in some form by necessity. This blog is now linked to FB so I will still ‘pop up’ online occasionally when I post on here. But you probably won’t see many pictures of my holidays, dog, car or kids, nor will you hear my occasional snapshot reflections on the world… however there are a gazillion others to fill the void…

What’s odd is that in the last week as I have stopped using FB I’ve been conscious of framing some of my daily thoughts in the form of a FB post… bizarre hey… That my brain has begun to sift thoughts into public and ‘other’. I’ve had the odd moment where I’ve thought ‘I should post that!’ and then asked ‘what if I don’t?…’ and generally the end result is that nothing will change in the world.

As well as FB there is Instagram, and Gumtree, all ‘time wasting’ and ‘distraction’ sites that I’m going to be checking out of for a bit. This blog will keep rolling – its actually suffered from neglect because now I can just say in 50 words what used to take 500, but this is a format I enjoy and feel I need to invest more in. I’m hoping the end result will be that my ability to concentrate will return and I will be more mentally present in the conversations I have.

My plan is simply to skim FB / Instagram and Gumtree once a day for anything of value and interest but not to post and not to interact and see what develops.


So if you have seen me online and interacted and you are wondering ‘where did Hamo go?’ then this is just a heads up. I’m checking out at least for a while…




So we got home last weekend and have been adjusting back to reality.

Eight weeks is a long break. I noticed that after 2-3 weeks I had some sort of a tug to ‘go back’ and get on with work and life, but 8 weeks took me to a different place, almost like I had ‘forgotten’ that old life, so coming home was harder than I imagined.

We had got quite used to life on the road and were enjoying the time down south as a family. Someone asked me if we were feeling ‘cramped’ in the caravan. It seemed like an odd question… ‘Cramped?… Nope…’ Funny how you just adapt to things. 17 square metres is plenty once you get your routine sorted. I felt we could have rolled on indefinitely, but it was time to come back and replenish the bank account.

It was hard heading home knowing that with the kids going back to school next year, this was going to be our last big holiday for a while. School holidays are now setting the tone for our life… Blech…

So this week I launched back into work and went pretty hard – even fell asleep on the couch a couple of nights this week… I haven’t quite settled back into this life yet, but I’m hoping it will come, because it kinda has to…

The final part of our time away was great – probably better than the first 5 weeks even. Koh Samui was nice, but I’m glad it was free as I probably wouldn’t pay money to go there – a bit like a clean and expensive version of Bali. We had a good time there away from the kids, but the long flights and travel time weren’t great.


We came back from there and headed down south where we spent another 10 nights. We skipped our old favourites of Busso and Margs and headed inland to Bridgetown, before heading for Walpole, Parry’s Beach, Albany and the Stirling Ranges with a final night staying with friends in Narrogin.

The real value of this trip was that it reminded us again how much we love the southwest. Its been a long time since we had been there as most of our holidays are in winter, but this was beautiful… cold, often wet, but still really nice. We dodged the weather a bit as we travelled, but did get caught in a few storms here and there. One night in Walpole I remember going to sleep and reflecting on how good it was to be in such a remote, quiet and peaceful place, then at 5.00am we woke to a strong winds making our awning flap like crazy. Danelle and I hopped up and packed it away in the cold, raining darkness before tucking back into bed, only to hear the bed end flys trying to take off. So I was back out 3 more times tying things down before finally settling again at 6.00am. Of course by then I was wide awake…


All things considered the caravan served us really well and while we aren’t deeply attached to it, I think we will keep it for a bit. The extra space, the onboard bathroom and hot water system made life a lot easier. The hills and winding roads of the south west meant driving a little more concentration and the fuel bill was a little steeper, but given we only did a total of 2000ks it was hardly noticeable.



















We had some wonderful moments while away and the beauty of being ‘cramped’ up in a caravan is that you simply have to interact as a family. We had some fun and games, DVDs, some deep conversations and then other nights there was silence as all 4 of us read books.

Our kids were brilliant. At the end of week 1 I was worried as they were making unhappy noises about not having friends and being stuck with us for another 7 weeks… but we talked and they chose to enjoy the time rather than endure it. They made it as good for us as hopefully we did for them.

Sambo got right into the fishing standing outside in the freezing cold until dark some nights, we all climbed Bluff Knoll together, caught up with old friends and generally had a really memorable time.

Given it was so good I think we might do the shorter southern trips a little more often from here on it.

So now I’ve just got to adjust my mind to the demands of real life, a business to run and a church to lead… all very different to waking up when you like and the hardest part of the day being deciding what to have for dinner!


(Re) focus

Ten days ago we spent a few nights on holidays in Koh Samui, a trip I won thru our business along with a whole bunch of others from around Oz. I enjoyed the time away, but meeting with other irrigation guys and talking business is always problematic for me, because it usually involves the discussion of strategies for growth and expansion. And my ‘old self’ starts to get discontent. My competitive nature gets poked and stirred as I listen to what my competitors are doing and ponder what I could do to be bigger and more profitable (than them).


The tension is that I don’t want to be a bigger more expansive business. Increased profitability is always a win, but my question is usually ‘at what cost?’


I never set out to start a business like I currently have. It was a hobby and a small income stream to supplement the 3 different Christian leadership roles than I held. However one day my work coaching Baptist youth pastors ended and I needed to fill the time and pay the bills.


So I spent more time in my business. And it grew… It was fun doing things to make it more profitable – and let’s face it – when you are starting out the only way is up. I wasn’t any kind of genius – it just worked. I tinkered for two years doing a day a week of odd retic jobs but with no real concern for growth or expansion. I didn’t need the work and I was just having fun (which incidentally is a great way to kick off a business.)


When we came back from our round Oz trip in 2009 having lost a heap of money in the GFC I shifted focus and got cranking, seeking to earn back the money we had lost. I worked very hard and did what I could to make the business grow – and it did. But there came a time a couple of years back where we had to make a choice – to grow and expand to next level or… well, what else do you do in business?…


While there is part of me that would like to provide employment for people and develop a sustainable and valuable asset, I know that my primary vocation is not to be a successful business person, as good as that may be. My focus is Christian leadership and my business is there to facilitate that – to give me freedom to serve as I am gifted and not have to try and ‘grow a church’ big enough to sustain my income needs.


Last week around the other guys I found myself listening to their progress and it set me dreaming again of expansion, of possibilities and strategies for gradually developing a significant business. It is tempting and it is a possibility – I can see how it could be done… But the cost is still too high.


Maybe one day I will need to rethink the model but for now my focus is still ‘simplicity, autonomy and flexibility’ and whatever funds are generated have to fit within that frame. The choice has been to ‘compact’ the business rather than expand – a lifestyle choice rather than a financial choice. Ironically last year was our most profitable ever and I was pretty disciplined with only working locally.


The competitive urge is still alive and well in me, but these days it is tempered by the knowledge of the cost involved in pursuing that focus. I’m not getting any younger so perhaps one day I will be managing a younger guy or two… or three… But for now I will keep rolling solo, doing the grunt work myself and keeping the weight off in the process.


I imagine a sedentary version of me would be considerably weightier than the active version. So – the choice appears yet again – as it does every so often – to grow and develop or to take a different path. I remember the words of Robert Frost ‘I took the road less travelled by…’ and hopefully that will make all the difference

Complexities and ‘Simplicities’


I ‘shared’ this quote from my old friend Alan Hirsch on Facebook today but as I’ve pondered some thoughts over the day I’m not so sure the answer is actually a revised ecclesiology more fitting to our time. I think ecclesiology might look past the real problem we face and may provide a superficial fix.

It begs the question ‘what are the 21st C complexities?’ (You might like to elaborate Hirschy?…)

But it was a coffee with a mate this morning that percolated my thinking. So I’ll start to unpack it and you can see what you think.

We don’t live in the 16th century (thank God – or we would probably be burning pro gay advocates at the stake), nor do we live in the 20th century, not even 2014. In his book Kingdom Conspiracy, Scot McKnight describes the latter part of the 20th century as an optimistic era (especially the 80’s)  when we believed we were going to ‘take back ground ‘ and make a significant dent in a secular world. From the contemporary church movement to the missional / emerging church we all had an answer.

But… I’m not convinced that in the west we have taken much ground at all or made much of a dent in culture. l can’t speak for other parts of the developing world where the church seems to be growing, but my experience of church in the secular west is that the influence has been more upon us than by us. I would sense we have conformed to the culture more than we have influenced the culture.


The problem may be that we can’t see it…  because it’s hard to notice an environment you are immersed in. Our sexual ethics have shifted – and I’m not referring to the gay debate. I doubt there would be many young people ‘waiting for marriage’ these days or even keeping themselves to one partner. The last stats I heard were about 15% ‘wait’. Our economics are decidedly similar to the world around us, and our politics are often similar too.  We veer right or left when the kingdom is in fact an alternate reality completely.

One of the oddities we were discussed  this morning was the challenge of church attendance in this time. In the 60s and 70s it was twice on Sunday that everyone attended church. In the 80s it was once but we were committed to the once, the 90s started to become fortnightly and the naughties and the 20teens have seen regular attendance pushed out to 3-4 weekly.

Is it ecclesiology that needs to shift to address the reason people aren’t part of the Sunday gathering?

Before I go on my concern is not with ‘attendance’, per se as you can attend a Sunday gig and not be a disciple, but my question is around how we imagine church for the future if this trend continues.

Is it OK to call yourself part of a church (or even ‘The Church’) if you only go once every 5 weeks?  6?… 8?…

What about twice a year?

That’s absurd you say…  Maybe…  but when does it start to become silly? When do we actually say ‘whoa… time out! ‘?

The conversation we had this morning focussed on the fact that people who were now irregular church attenders were not necessarily floundering disciples.  They may well be godly people for whom life has become increasingly complex and they are trying to balance the scales of work, family, friends, kids sport, the need for rest and so on.

So my point is that it’s not poor church attendance that is the problem – rather this is a symptom of how we have been immersed and inculturated into western values – how we have been secularised rather than the community being evangelised.

We need to work hard and provide… And provide well
We need ‘family time’… We need ‘me time’…
Then there are the kids activities that have us chaueffering endlessly… There are extended family to see, friends to catch up with, birthday parties, weddings, and then some days you just don’t feel like getting out of bed on a cold Sunday morning…

With all that ‘life’ going on it seems easier and wiser to eliminate church from our lives rather than anything else.  Because ‘church’ won’t complain…  church will ‘understand’…

‘How hard for you being so busy… ‘

‘How tricky for you to get time with the family…

And so on…

Reality is it wasn’t this hard 40 years ago.

So the question that arises for me as a Christian leader is ‘are we trying to run with a 20th century form of church in a 21st century world and do we need to seriously grapple with a strong but more fluid approach to church?

Or…  do we need to start calling it as the secularisation of the church?  Do we need a different expression, or we just need a rocket?

I’d suggest the problem is that we have allowed ourselves to believe that the secularisation we have experienced is just normal life, rather than challenging it and asking how we orient our lives around Jesus call and the community of faith.

The church is no longer central to the life of many Christians as it was 40 years ago. And while there may have been some unhealthy motivations in those days based around guilt and legalism, as well as a very inward focus, now we see a church that is fraying and in danger of either slowly dissolving or re-forming as an anaemic secularised version of itself.

The flip side of this argument is that we must simply adapt to the context we are in and currently the context is that everyone’s life is busy, busy, busy, so we simply can’t expect to do church as we once did.

Perhaps we genuinely have to consider a church that meets sporadically and where the major connections are outside of Sunday? Perhaps we need a shift in imagination that allows us to ‘roll with the punches ‘ in regards to how secular society shapes us and be less concerned with what happens on a Sunday? I don’t see us moving back to the 70s any time soon. So maybe we have to adapt our ecclesiology to suit? I have a pretty low church perspective anyway so that isn’t hard for me. I can meet in homes, I can meet in smaller communities, but…  what if people cant commit to participation in groups oriented and scheduled around their busy lives? Because I suggest we will simply see the same problem replicated in the smaller and more fluid environment…

At it’s core the church in its local expression is a community but if people are never together then it cant be a community and by definition can’t be a church either. In his book I referred to earlier McKnight puts Jesus and church as central to the coming of the kingdom and I sense we have allowed church to be a ‘desired’ focus, but not essential.

I don’t believe the problem is ecclesiology. The problem is that we have lost sight of who we are and who we are called to be. Life is complex today – no question – so more than ever we need to draw a line in the sand and in the words of Hauerwas declare ‘Jesus is Lord and everything else is bullshit’, because right now the bullshit seems to be having its way with us.

That’s a dark post I realise. But I’m close to the end of my rope as a leader wondering just how we lead communities where the shape of lives is more dictated by the culture than by the gospel and the call of Jesus.

The Expanda Experience… So Far

Thinking of buying an Expanda?
Here are some observations after 4 weeks in the Expanda… It’s a 2008 16 49-3 model which means it has two fold out beds and a bathroom and the soft bed ends.
  • We bought the soft top version for $23500, but the newer hard lid type would have been better. But… the cheapest versions of these are a fair bit more $$$ – prob about $34K for the cheapest I could find. The hard lid means no need to put up the bed end flys which add to set up and pack up time. It also gives a bit more protection from the elements. But if its $10K… then I’ll suck it up for now.
  • Having a hot water system is a huge bonus – something we didn’t have with the camper. Dishes and showering are much easier.
  • Jayco quality is average. Stuff feels flimsy and fragile but I guess you need to use lightweight materials to make a van.
  • The toilet / shower has been really good and we used it a few times when we bush camped.  The outdoor shower also allows us to rinse sand off or wash out wetsuits easily too. Both great value.
  • A water pump is much better than a hand pump, but you use more water as a result. We worked out that including quick showers we went they 40l/day as a a family, but I reckon we could trim this. We didn’t use that much with the Eagle.
  • Two water tanks is great as 1 x 80l just doesn’t go far.
  • The Expanda beds are harder to push in than you’d think. We have an an eggshell mattress cover which makes it significantly harder, but you still need two people on the job to do it easily. I thought this would have been much simpler
  • Roll out awnings are a big improvement over a canvas awning,  but they rattle and flap. We haven’t bought ‘de-flappers’ yet, but probably will. Still, once you get the hang of rolling the awning out its a two minute job.
  • Danelle likes the oven in this van whereas the previous didn’t have an oven.
  • A slide out BBQ has been great and makes outdoor cooking easy. Well worth adding to your options if you buy a van.
  • The dinette seating in this one is much bigger than the Eagle. We spent most meals seated at the dinette, partly because it was cold outside, but with the Eagle we generally ate outside as it was too squeezy.
  • The air conditioner in the wall is a bad idea. We used it just once when we were packing up in Broome and we were hot and sweaty. But otherwise it has been unnecessary. I think a roof version would be good and the room used by the air con given to a bigger fridge. I imagine we may use it if we got really hot.
  • We haven’t solved sleeping arrangements with our kids. Ellie often sleeps out in her tent, but on short stays she sleeps in on the back bed while Sam gets the dinette folded down into a bed. He is only just short enough to fit and won’t be able to fit in 12 months. We considered bunks but the bunks are pretty small and we weren’t convinced. I think either Sam or Ellie can fit diagonally but they are getting a bit precious…
  • The Jayco mattresses are a 1/3-2/3 split and you can feel the ridge a little in the mattress which means that one person gets to sleep on 1/3 of the bed while the other gets 2/3. I know the later models have been modified to include a 50/50 mattress which was obviously a response to customer needs.
  • The bathroom basin never gets used because it doesn’t fully drain and when it’s put back in position ends up leaking on the floor. Bad design flaw!
  • A battery and water monitor has been excellent. Good to know where you are at in this regard.
  • The built in radio with external speakers was a waste as we never use it. I can’t imagine playing my music for everyone else to hear and equally I can’t imagine going somewhere remote and then cranking up noise.
  • The ventilation in a pop up is much better than in a regular van and we like this.
  • At the end of the day the two ends that pop out effectively create a ‘tent’, so while it is a caravan in one sense it isn’t as water / sound tight as a full van would be. On wet nights we have to put up flys or expect to get wet. That gets old fast, but it’s what we have for now…
  • It’s been good to tow – no problems there and I like that the wheels are the same size as those on the cruiser so we effectively carry two spares now.
I guess whatever you buy is a compromise of sorts. A full van is heavier and generally less airy than the Expanda. It’s also hard to find a full van with bunks for a reasonable price. This one cost us $23500 but a full van would have been more like $40k for something similar. The cruiser also has a 2500kg tow limit and we’d be pushing it to find a family van that we could do that with legally.
I imagine this will meet most of our needs for the best 3-4 years but ultimately it will be a temporary solution. My guess is that eventually the kids will take it in turns to swag it – or maybe just Sam will get booted outdoors!