When God Shows Up… Part II

For those who aren’t likely to read the whole story here’s a quick snapshot of what has prompted me to start writing this.

As I was talking with a friend the other night I said:

‘At the moment I feel like a guy who spends a lot of his life trying to start a fire with two pieces of flint. I crack the flints together and try to generate a spark that might just ignite something nearby. Most of the time I can’t even see a spark, and a fire seems like a loooong way off, but without cracking those flints I know a fire will never start. Truth is I might crack the flints for years on end and see nothing at all combust, but trois 3 the escort download if I stop with the flints then its all over anyway.’

It was an image that stuck with me because as a missionary it feels very much like what I do each day – just ‘showing up’ and doing the stuff of life that fosters relationships.

During the LBC years I did much of that same ‘flint work’, but somehow something caught fire. Something began to burn and spread, such that it was way out of my control and definitely not down to me as an amazingly gifted leader!

People would come and ask me ‘how we did it’, and I’d tell them the things we did in our youth scene by way of activity and strategy, but I would always finish the conversation by saying, ‘the simple fact is I can’t explain it. It just feels like God has shown up and is doing something around here. And its great!’

Since then I wonder if I have come to expect those ‘God encounters’ as normal, because I am always disappointed if they don’t happen. I expect some bushfires start… I expect to see the Holy Spirit at work in wild ways.

The reality I imagine, is that most of life will be spent ‘cracking the flints’, sometimes with extreme results, and sometimes with nothing visible to report.

As I heard Deb’s story and as I have reflected on my own I wonder if they are abnormal. As wonderful as it is to be in the thick of some crazy times I wonder if we are to expect that sort of stuff everywhere we go.

Honestly… I think not.

I wish that weren’t true.

The tendency once something combusts is to put it down to ‘what the church was doing right.’ (and then package it, market and flog it the way), but I am increasingly believing that the church has much less to do with what transpires and much more of it is simply attributable to the grace of God.

I am very wary of that being a cop out. It could be a reason not to work hard and diligently. But I wonder if most of life is spent just ‘cracking the flints’ and leaving the resultant fire to the Holy Spirit.

Yes – I realise you can crack flints skilfully, or you can be lousy at it, but starting a bush fire… that’s another whole deal isn’t it?…

New Pope

My friend & ex co-pastor, Steve Smith is the man I affectionately refer to as the ‘pope’, our denominational leader who is retiring at the end of the year.

Today the news is out that after a long search the new man recommended for the job is Mark Wilson of Whitford Church of Christ.

In true Baptist form we need to vote on this (Aug 26th) before its a goer, but it seems all the lights are green for this to happen.

Mark and I go way back to when we were 18 years old and both volunteer leaders at Scarborough High School YFC Campus Life Club. Since then we have travelled very similar paths in that we both transitioned from youth pastors to team leaders in the same churches, but Mark seemed better suited to that kind of gig than me and he has continued at Whitford while I moved on to work in an experimental mission project.

Mark is very well suited to this kind of role and I’m sure will do a great job.

When God Shows Up… Part I

A few weeks back at our Forge

dante s peak download

download it s a mad mad mad mad world intensive I was listening to Deb Hirsch tell the story of how she and her friends from the punk/gay/druggie scene were all involved in a wild move of God amongst their community.

After taking the family Bible to a stint in prison, ‘George’ the local drug dealer came out a changed man, all fired up and passionate about Jesus. He set off spreading the good news of his new faith to all in his network and as he did, God was at work radically changing these folk’s lives. It was both an hilarious and inspirational story of gutsy crazy, messy faith from people who certainly didn’t fit the churchy stereotypes of the time.

As I listened to Deb I found myself wondering… does that kind of stuff still happen today? Does God still show up in wild and wonderful ways and transform a bunch of people in such a way that there can be no doubt it was him?

And if he does is there anything we can do to make it happen? Can we set the climate? Can we create the environment?

I remember reading an old Charles Finney book entitled (something like) ‘How to Start a Revival‘ and just thinking it wasn’t quite as cut and dried as Charles made it sound…

I was reflecting on this today as I was out walking and it took me back again to my days as a youth pastor at Lesmurdie Baptist when the youth ministry expanded rapidly and young people were becoming Christians at an incredible rate. We started with 20 or 30 young people who were fairly unmotivated and seemed to attend church mostly as a social event, but within two years there were over 250 regularly involved with the Sunday night service and a heap more connected to the different aspects of the youth scene.

That little core group that I almost lost hope with, had changed dramatically in their own outlook and something had happened to spark what I can only describe as a move of God.

In many ways they were similar wild and wonderful times, but I tend to look back on those years thru a rather pessimistic lens at times – a ‘where are they now?’ lens. And while I think that’s a really important question, as I walked along the beach today I felt God getting in my face about my perspective.

He seemed to be asking ‘why do you downplay the LBC years and sometimes speak of them as less than significant?’. I sensed God asking why I don’t remember them with greater fondness, because they certainly were wonderful years with some amazing transformation occuring in all of our lives.

In many ways the LBC years (1996-2002) were my first foray into church planting as I got handed the evening service and was asked to turn it into a youth gig.

So as I was praying this morning I thought I’d take a little space on here to tell some of that story because it was definitely a time when God was at work and those were years that I should celebrate more than I do. I felt he was asking me to look back and see him at work in all that transpired.

So for as long as I feel is needed I’ll be sharing some of that story on here. I hope it doesn’t come across as self indulgent, because its not intended that way.

If you’re an old LBC’er then you might find it valuable to share this journey also. And if you were there at the time then feel free to contribute in the comments section and add to the story as appropriate. You might even want to pass the page on to others who can chip in and make sure the story gets told correctly!


Ellie needs some dental work… a filling…

How much should a filling cost?

Well, at a normal dentist about a hundred bucks. But she has been to a normal dentist and because she is young and a bit freaked it didn’t go as planned.

He told us we need to go to a specialist. ‘It’ll cost around $2000.00-2500.00’

‘For a filling?!’


So off Danelle went to get her looked at. She came back and told me it was only going to be $1500.00 and that felt better.

The she rang to tell me she had read the invoice wrong and it actually turned out to be a mere $750.00

I didn’t think I would ever get excited at spending $750.00 on a kid’s filling, but right now I am ecstatic. Its all a matter of perspective.

The WCA Blatant Rip Off – How Silly Will YOU Be This Year?


hitcher the free download

beat me to the post on this one.

After the various discussions about conferences around the place we are soon to be hit with the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, but in what can only be described as the most absurd rip off I have come across (since last year’s WCA summit) these guys are going to slug you $179.00 to watch the conference on a DVD!!!

I would credit Bill Hybels with being one of the most influential communicators I have ever listened to. The man is simply brilliant, but who in their right mind is going to shell out that sort of cash to have someone press a button a machine.

If you want to do a conference by DVD then at least have the decency to charge people only for the cost of the auditorium.

I am not one for witch-hunts and exposes on so called corrupt ministers (no doubt some probably are) but this really deserves to be shamed out of existence.

Absolutely bloody appalling…


I had a friend gutsy enough to write to me and suggest this post was out of line because I hadn’t gone to the people concerned first (WCA) and asked what their reasons for the high cost were. He said also that it didn’t contribute anything to the body of Christ, but rather detracted from it because it wasn’t written with a loving spirit.

He’s right and I owe the WCA guys an apology for an uninformed rant. It was very poor form on my part and while my opinions on the cost of the conference may still stand, I regret having written this the way I did.

I figure a public stuff up warrants a public apology. So sorry to WCA and to anyone else who read it and found it unhelpful.

Youth Stuff

I was teaching on Tuesday night at the Baptist Theological College about Youth & Culture.

I would have to say that at 42 years old I am somewhat out of touch with the current surface issues in youth culture, but as I prepared I felt what was most important was to look at the deeper cultural forces that actually give shape to the surface issues (TV shows, music, toys).

The bigger undergirding issues I chose to pick up on were:

1. Post-modernity – I know the whole pomo thing is very passe, but the relativity of truth is a huge issue for us as we seek to present Jesus as the only way and this is the current worldview of anyone in the youth scene today.

2. Consumerism lolita free – no big surprise here. The selfishness this engenders makes it hard to develop passionate followers of Jesus and when churches try to play to it, rather than confront it, we end up subverting discipleship completely.

3. Suburban living – the more I ponder this one the more I believe we are shaped by the values of the burbs – comfort, security, risk averse privatopia – and it is not a good thing.

We spent much of the evening discussing what impact these forces have on the way we do mission and church. It provoked some very healthy discussion and a rather quiet group managed to gain some steam after a while!

I’d be interested in what you would see as the prime forces shaping youth culture as. Would you add or subtract any?

If you want to see the notes you can click here.

Great Book!

Over the next couple of weeks I will be facilitating an .acom class on Culture & Mission, one of my favourite topics.

The text for the class is Church Without Walls, a 1992 publication by an American who served as a missionary in Brazil.

Its one of the simplest books I have read on why missiology should shape ecclesiology and the silly situations we get ourselves into when we ‘lead with church’. I don’t have time to review it here, but I would highly recommend it to anyone serious about engaging with the world and establishing indigneous churches.

I’m looking forward to the conversation it will stir over the next few weeks in class!

Here’s a piece of the review of the Amazon site:

“The sad reality is that going to the lost and living Christlike lives among them is not in our ecclesiology,” says author Jim Petersen. Throughout its history, the church has pushed for institutionalism in an effort to preserve the purity of the gospel. As a result, we’ve evolved into congregations that meet inside the walls of a building-rather than vital communities that live among the lost.

In Church Without Walls, Jim Petersen offers an exciting definition of the church that pushes beyond the too-small boundaries we’ve inherited from the past. The first-century Christians had to sort out Jesus from Judaism in order to become a people for all nations. Today, we have to sort out Jesus from our religious traditions in order to make Him available to our nation. That’s the challenge we face: Will we be the church without walls, communicating a gospel free of traditional and cultural trappings? Or will we continue to reproduce our forms and structures, hiding the essence of the gospel within?

Baby I salivate when I read this stuff!

What The?

Each day when I walk past Kailis Fish market they are advertising ‘Albany garfish’, or ‘Denmark whiting’, or ‘Kalbarri snapper’, or ‘Shark Bay red emperor’.

You get the idea.

Maybe I’m ignorant, but does the place where a fish is caught make any difference at all to what it tastes like?…

Conference Overload?

Last week I went to the 2Inspire conference down at Lake Joondalup Baptist Church. It was officially run as a combined denominational initiative (Baptist / Church of Christ) although in reality Whitford Church did the bulk of the work and probably own it more than anyone.

At the new Church of Christ blog Barry Austin (CEO of COCWA) has asked the question of those who weren’t present, ‘why did you stay away?’

Go and offer your opinon if you are a WA Baptist or CoCer.

By my guess there were 250 people there on Friday which looked like a pretty good result to me. But maybe there were many who also didn’t attend. I would have been happy with those numbers!

My own sense of things is that we are in conference overload and many of them are of the same ilk. We have just had Hillsong, Willow Creek are coming, then Transform, followed by Rise and somewhere in there we have the Baptist/CofC pastors conference. Whew… You could spend your life jus attending conferences!

My tip?

Come to Forge 🙂

But then you knew I’d say that didn’t you!

Seriously, we are in marketing overload and getting people to come to your gig is getting tougher and tougher. Maybe we need a 2 year ban on conferencing so we can all just get on with life and ministry?