Letter to the Editor

On Sunday night I fired off an email to the editor of the West Australian newspaper. I was angry at the preferential treatment outlaw bikers get over ordinary law abiding citizens.

Basically a well known biker died recently and at the funeral the bikers were refusing to wear helmets and stop for red lights as a ‘mark of respect’ for their fallen comrade. The police agreed to this on the basis that it would save a lot conflict. (and I know there is some wisdom in that)

However it is also allowing 300 people to run the show and do what they please.

My letter asks ‘if when next I attend a funeral I choose not to wear my seatbelt nor obey traffic signs because it is my custom and a mark of respect for the deceased will the police turn a blind eye or am I not considered dangerous enough to be given preferential treatment?’

They rang today to ask if they could publish it. I was about to say ‘sure… that’s why I wrote it… (duh!)’ when I suddenly thought I should check with Danelle… who it turns out wasn’t so comfortable with it being published – given that name and suburb are attached.

I could allow it to be published anonymously, but somehow that feels a bit cowardly.

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What would you do?

Are Youth Pastors a Dying Breed?

This week I start my role as a youth minisry coach with the Baptist churches of WA working 12 hours a week. My job is simply to meet with local youth pastors and help them be more effective in their roles.

Its not about influencing them to be like me or to buy into my psycho wacky missional ideas yada yada yada. It is about respecting the ecology of their own church environments and helping them to function within them as best they can.

And I am fine with that. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but…

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I sat down yesterday to begin making a database of who I needed to be in contact with and set up appointments with and discovered there aren’t a whole heap of youth pastors out there. It feels to me like there are fewer youth pastors in Baptist churches than when I was in the thick of it 7 years ago.

I could be reading it wrong, but I’m wondering if its ‘a fact’, if there are reasons for this, if we need to be concerned for it.

As I surveyed the churches in our denomination – 105 or so – most are small and do not have a dedicated’ and paid youth pastor’, 10 are ethnic (and usually very small), several of the larger churches do not have a dedicated youth staff member although they have ‘associate staff’.

I guessed at around 11 paid youth pastors and 3 or 4 churches seeking part/full timers to fill positions.

Is this saying something?

What are others discovering?

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Little Lleyton

I’m no fan, but I have been impressed with his gutsy efforts over the last week – even stayed up late to watch him!

We’ve invited a few of the neighbours round to watch the final at 5.00pm today. Tnnis starts at 5.00 or so and we’ll order pizza for 6.00, if its not all over by then 🙂


Today I woke up and rather than looking out the window, seeing a warm sunny day and launching the boat I said to Danelle that I’d like to ‘go to church’.

That’s a tad unusual for me as I am not part of any Sunday church these days. (Our church meets on a Monday night.)

"Where?" she asked.

"Probably just Quinns Baptist (our local)" I replied. "It’d be nice to get along and say g’day to some of the people there."

Now I know Quinns is a small church. Its definitely not bells and whistles, amazing music, sensational drama etc etc… But it  really was good to be there.

I am finding it hard to describe what I felt…

Perhaps it was the familiarity of being in a local Baptist gathering of 20 or 30 people that was nice – like a pair of comfortable slippers. Perhaps it was the lack of pretense or attempt to be anything other than ‘a church’, a bunch of people come together to worship, learn, hang out etc. I’m not sure.

We arrived late and were some of the last to leave as we spent some time chatting with the locals.

At Christmas time I went to my folks church, another small fairly stock standard Baptist church and felt some similar things to today. I think one of the things I liked in both was the sense of ‘everybody in’, the sense of all generations meeting together. There is a danger in new more homogenous groups that we separate into stages of life (for the purpose of mission) but then stay there because it is more comfortable.

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The ‘family of God’ notion is one that doesn’t seem to have as much currency in newer expressions of church because most of us are younger.

quest for camelot divx From a distance and occasions I enjoy these gatherings. I am not foolish enough to think they are anything but a bunch of people on a faith journey grappling with issues like we are. I know once you ‘lead’ something like that the joy of just being there evaporates pretty quickly as you hear people’s complaints about the noisy kids, or the inadequate music, or the tacky greeting routine… whatever.

You simply can’t please all the people all the time and as a visitor I don’t need pleasing.

I’m not sure if any of this makes much sense, but today I just enjoyed being there. I didn’t sense God ‘speaking’ in any discernible way, I wasn’t wowed by anything… it was just… enjoyable.

Thinking Incarnationally

I had a really good conversation today with both Ross Clifford and Phillip Johnson the two authors of Jesus and The Gods of the New Age.

They were both very helpful in explaining how to connect with people at the upcoming healing festival. After 13 years of involvement in this field they really did have some excellent ideas for making connections and engaging people. If you are interested in new age spiritualities and how to relate to people in this ball park then their book is a must read.

Some of the ideas included:

  • using the picture of Jesus face in the snow to get people stopping and talkingUnexpected_faces
  • offering free spring water as a way of starting conversation about water/life etc.
  • using crystals as symbols of the healing that is needed by a person, given that according to new agers each crystal has specific healing properties for specific ailments.
  • foot washing with aromatic oils – ross tells me this is a huge hit and people really appreciate it
  • massage and prayer
  • a simple prayer chair where people come for free ‘positive prayer’
  • explaining the gospel thru tarot cards – you would need a bit of expertise for this and I’m not clued up enough to do this one.

I am excited about the opportunity to be in a forum where people are genuinely seeking spiritual solace and healing. I imagine we will learn a lot this year and may be better placed next year to enter with some degree of confidence.

The danger is that in a ‘pick and mix’ consumeristic religious climate we may become simply another option to throw into the mix… which is why when push comes to shove Jesus is not just the healer… he is the one who calls us to deny ourselves take up our cross and follow him… and him alone.

My First Love Affair – and its not over…

A few days ago we picked up a whole stack of 35 mm slides from my parents of my pre – teen years and the time we spent in Nth Ireland.

Danelle has been sorting thru them and we have been projecting them on the wall over the last few nights.


We have both observed something really unique. It seems that almost every time there is a photo of my brother/family and I by the ocean he/they is looking at the camera and I am looking at the sea. There are plenty of photos of the back of my head.

It starts around the time we shift to Oz and probably marks the period during which I was mesmerised by the ocean. I am still very much in love.


About 13 years ago now I was serving in my final year of youth minstry at Scarborough Baptist Church and some of the young guys in the church decided to play a rather inappropriate practical joke on Danelle and I. It’s a long story and would sound pretty lame if I tried to describe it on here, but at the time it was scary and disturbing… enough to warrant revenge… and so began one of my favourite scams of all time.

One of the guys who was responsible, Toddy, was also going out with Danelle’s sister, so I had very ready access to his car keys. This meant that strange things kep on happening to Todd’s car, because I borrowed them and created my own set… giving me ready acces to Todd’s car at all times.

It started off that every time he came round I would grab the set of keys I had copied and go out and turn everything on full bore – windscreen wipers, radio volume, fans, anything I could find. Which was always a hoot when he drove out of the driveway. Poor bloke was goig crazy trying to figure out why these things kept on arcing up on him. Meanwhile ‘the family’ are busting themselves laughing.

Then there was the dead fish I hid under the drivers seat – took him two weeks to find it – very stinky…

One night he parked in my in-laws driveway and blocked another car in, so I used my keys and moved it. Later we told him that Pete (Danelle’s dad) and I lifted it across the other side of the road. ‘It was heavy but we did it…’ Did I mention this guy was a tad naive?

After disconnecting his flasher unit for his indicators, a prank which wasn’t so funny because he spent ages trying to fix it I backed off for a while until one night I was driving down Scarborough Beach Road with Danelle and I saw his car parked outside Dominos where he worked as a delivery driver.

I thought, how funny would it be to just move it back a few parking bays while he is in the shop waiting for his next job?… So… I snuck up, moved it back 3 bays from its position right at the front of the store and hid in the bushes waiting for him to come out. Funniest thing I have seen!! Its not that someone stole the car… they just moved it! You could see his brain going crazy wondering what the hell was going on. We did that a few times before the end of the year always hiding in the bushes across the road and cacking ourselves with laughter at Todd’s increasingly puzzled looks.

On the night we finished at the church we made a small presentation to Toddy – his keys…

Suddenly the bits fell into place for this poor disturbed guy. He wasn’t going mad. There weren’t demons in his car from his heavy metal music habits as he had suspected.

It was just revenge… and you know what? It was a lot of fun!

Ethically Speaking

download marrying man the dvd I’ve started doing some work on this whole area of ethics and find it quite invigorating. As one who likes to think and enjoys intellectual challenge the area of ethics definitely does that.

I’m in the process of exploring various ethical frameworks and overviews as I sense that getting a hold of the different approaches will be the key to processing ethical decisions.

After that its more a matter of dealing with the issues in each individual decision. (I just made it sound very easy didn’t I?… 🙂

Healing Festival – How Would You Approach This?

A few days ago I spotted a sign on the local Supa Valu notice board advertising a ‘healing festival’ to be held in the local area over the weekend of Feb 19 & 20. There are over 40 different forms of healing going to be doing their thing over those two days… but I didn’t see anybody practicing ‘prayer healing’.

Now I wouldn’t say I have any kind of ‘gifts’ in healing per se, but I believe God heals and I believe I can pray…

So I figured I’d give the coordinator a call and see if we could have a space in the hall to do our thing alongside the 40 different new age healing specialities. She wasn’t real keen at first… bad experiences with Christians… bad experience growing up pentecostal… bad experience being told she is a devil worshipper (by Christians) because she is a ‘pagan’…

But even when we got past that and had a few laughs she still had no spaces to give me… All gone… join the queue… maybe next year… bugger…

I was rapt to hear that Dennis, my friend from the Uniting church had managed to find a way in and was going to do some ‘prayer healing’ so even if we couldn’t get there he would be able to take the opportunity to mix it in this environment and provide a different spiritual perspective.

Then tonight Dennis rang and told me he can’t use the spot and we can have his spot if we want it…

Two days at a ‘healing festival’ with all the local new agers and heaps of people from the community coming thru. Sounds like a ‘too good to miss’ opportunity.

I reckon these guys will be there, this mob and this crew as well.

So my question to all you incarnational thinkers and missioners is ‘how would you go about being a part of this festival’? Leave me your ‘tips’ for how we could be most effective in this context.

Blog changes

If I weren’t such a cheapskate and consigned to the ‘basic’ level of typepad I’d probably change the colour and design of my blog about now. I like a change every now and then and I reckon its about time.

What I have done is add a few new links in the ‘other blogs I read’ section as well as updating my ‘books’ list.

What I hope to do is list the books I have read in 2005 and include a bit of a review of each of them. So far I have just read two novels and Yancey’s ‘Reaching for the Invisible God’ but this week I began three other books which also look promising.

I enjoy De Bono’s thoughts although this book already reads like ‘The Six thinking Hats’ revamped. Coaching with Spirit looks interesting, but I don’t sense we are talking about the same spirit 🙂 even though the author uses a capital S for Spirit and Daniel Goleman’s Primal Leadership is looking like being a great read if I ca stick with it.

I’ll let you know what I think once I finish them.

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